Berkeley’s solipsism





Berkeley’s solipsism

One criticism that has been consistently leveled against Berkeley is that his arguments end in solipsism. Solipsism refers to the philosophical notion that only one’s own mind is sure to exist. This idea holds that anything outside an individual’s mind is uncertain. This is what arises from the ideas of Berkeley on sensible objects. There is an issue of objectivity for the thoughts of Berkeley. This is because people may perceive things differently. This is based on the idea that each individual has only one sensation to go on and; therefore, it cannot be assumed that people share the same perceptions of there being a common world. Berkeley states that because it is not possible to form an idea of an object that is not perceived, the argument for unthinking objects to exist is for them to be supposed. This brings out the error of confusing perceptual thoughts as the driving factor of thinking with perceptual knowledge as an element of the object of reflection. Berkeley’s form of argument is incomparably more unreasonable than any normal religious faith.

According to Berkeley, whenever individuals say that certain physical things or objects exist, it implies that the things or objects are perceived, or they would be supposed under such conditions. This does not make sense or rather it is self-contradictory to state of a physical thing that it is not perceived and would not be supposed under whatever circumstances. The response that Berkeley gives to this argument is that it does not mean that physical objects are supposed or would be supposed under such conditions when it is said that they exist. He argues that this is something that whoever comprehends English should be aware of. In his idealism, Berkeley appears to be a supporter of common sense. He holds that individuals can instantly perceive the rational qualities of physical things and individual ideas. He also states that the rational qualities of physical things are simply ideas that only exist in the mind.

The fact that makes the main criticism of Berkeley’s idea is that he goes on to state that it is crucial to take into account the existence of many perceivers. What individuals perceive are just rational objects, collectivities of sensible qualities that are just in the minds of perceivers. Looking at the two statements from Berkeley can best illustrate his ideas. The first is that rational objects are things that individuals perceive while the second is that what individuals perceive are their perceptions. These give rise to the idea that sensible objects are simply perceptions. Although the argument may appear valid, the conclusion holds true only if the premises are factual. The first argument is factual only by definition of rational objects as held by Berkeley. On the other hand, the second argument seems startling. Most individuals may hold that whatever they perceive are the objects as they exist in the world or space external to the mind. But, Berkeley is determined to show that this is merely confusion. Berkeley holds that what people instantly perceive are their perceptions and this itself is the conclusion of ideas that concern his opinions on perceptions of individuals about objects in the world. Although, Berkeley tries to defend his arguments, he does not seem to have a logical solution to this problem.

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