Combining Philosophers

Ideas for Speussipus, Noam Chomsky and George Berkeley

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7 ideas

15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 4. Other Minds / a. Other minds
Berkeley's idealism gives no grounds for believing in other minds [Reid on Berkeley]
     Full Idea: I can find no principle in Berkeley's system, which affords me even probable ground to conclude that there are other intelligent beings, like myself.
     From: comment on George Berkeley (The Principles of Human Knowledge [1710]) by Thomas Reid - Essays on Intellectual Powers 2: Senses 10
     A reaction: I agree, which means that Berkeley's position seems to entail solipsism, unless God is the Cartesian deus ex machina who rescues him from this wall of ignorance.
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 4. Other Minds / c. Knowing other minds
I know other minds by ideas which are referred by me to other agents, as their effects [Berkeley]
     Full Idea: The knowledge I have of other spirits is not immediate, as is the knowledge of my ideas; but depending on the intervention of ideas, by me referred to agents or spirits distinct from myself, as effects or concomitant signs.
     From: George Berkeley (The Principles of Human Knowledge [1710], 145)
     A reaction: This strikes me as gross intellectual dishonesty, since the argument Berkeley uses to assert other minds could equally be used to assert the existence of tables ('by me referred to agents distinct from myself, as effects'). Be a solipsist or a realist.
Experience tells me that other minds exist independently from my own [Berkeley]
     Full Idea: It is plain that other minds have an existence exterior to my mind, since I find them by experience to be independent of it.
     From: George Berkeley (Three Dialogues of Hylas and Philonous [1713], III p.220)
     A reaction: This is a surprising claim from Berkeley. If trees only exist through their experience in my mind, why don't other minds exist in the same way?
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 7. Animal Minds
If animals have ideas, and are not machines, they must have some reason [Berkeley]
     Full Idea: If the brutes have any ideas at all, and are not bare machines (as some would have them), we cannot deny them to have some reason.
     From: George Berkeley (The Principles of Human Knowledge [1710], Intro 11)
     A reaction: It seems possible to imagine a low level of mind, where a few ideas (or concepts) float around, but hardly anything worth the name of reason. However, a Darwinian view suggests that concepts must bestow an advantage, so the two go together.
15. Nature of Minds / B. Features of Minds / 4. Intentionality / b. Intentionality theories
Berkeley replaced intentionality with an anti-abstractionist imagist theory of thought [Berkeley, by Robinson,H]
     Full Idea: By Berkeley - with his anti-abstractionism and imagist theory of thought - the classical sense-datum conception was firmly established, and intentionality had disappeared as an intrinsic property, not only of perceptual states, but of all mental contents.
     From: report of George Berkeley (The Principles of Human Knowledge [1710]) by Howard Robinson - Perception 1.6
     A reaction: Intentionality was originally a medieval concept, and was revived by Brentano in the late nineteenth century. Nowadays intentionality is taken for granted, but I still suspect that we could drop it, and talk of nothing but brain states caused by reality.
15. Nature of Minds / C. Capacities of Minds / 3. Abstraction by mind
The mind creates abstract ideas by considering qualities separated from their objects [Berkeley]
     Full Idea: We are told that the mind being able to consider each quality of things singly, or abstracted from those other qualities with which it is united, does by that means frame to itself abstract ideas.
     From: George Berkeley (The Principles of Human Knowledge [1710], Intro 7)
     A reaction: A helpful explanation of 'abstract' ideas. Berkeley gives colour and movement as examples. Fodor suggests that abstraction is the key strategy in empiricist epistemology. The difficulty is to decide whether the qualities are natural or conventional.
I can only combine particulars in imagination; I can't create 'abstract' ideas [Berkeley]
     Full Idea: Whether others can abstract their ideas, they best can tell. For myself, I find I have a faculty of imagining, or representing to myself, only the idea of those particular things I have perceived, and of compounding and dividing them.
     From: George Berkeley (The Principles of Human Knowledge [1710], 10)
     A reaction: He is admitting mixing experiences, but always particulars, never abstract. His examples are 'man' and 'motion'. Compare Aristotle Idea 9067. Berkeley is, I think, trapped in a false imagistic view of thought. My image of Plato blurs young and old.