Friday, May 28, 2021

Two thinkers …

… Mind over matter: the contradictions of George Berkeley - Prospect Magazine. (Hat tip, Dave Lull.)

Born in south-east Ireland in 1685, Berkeley studied at Kilkenny College and then Trinity College Dublin. He entered a world of ideas recently transformed by the likes of Descartes, Locke and Malebranche, and was publishing from his early twenties, when he developed the theory that would come to define him in the public imagination: immaterialism, the view that matter does not actually exist and all objects are in the mind.

The Hume paradox: how great philosophy leads to dismal politics.

Overall, for Hume, philosophical reasoning was not a matter of going wherever logic takes us, no matter how absurd, but acceding to what experience demands. Reason divorced from experience defeats itself, leaving us convinced that nothing can be known. To be a person of true reason is to understand that reasoning is not just a matter of constructing arguments but attending to all the reasons we have to believe things or not, and some of those reasons are furnished by experience, not logic.

J. B. Priestley, in Literature and Western Man, said that Berkeley was thought to have posited that there was only mind and no  matter, while Hume was thought to contend that there was only matter and no mind. He cited a contemporary wit who summed up their differences thus: No matter, never mind.


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