Combining Philosophers

Ideas for Speussipus, Noam Chomsky and George Berkeley

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4 ideas

26. Natural Theory / A. Speculations on Nature / 7. Later Matter Theories / a. Early Modern matter
No one can explain how matter affects mind, so matter is redundant in philosophy [Berkeley]
     Full Idea: How matter should operate on a spirit, or produce any idea in it, is what no philosopher will pretend to explain; it is therefore evident there can be no use of matter in natural philosophy.
     From: George Berkeley (The Principles of Human Knowledge [1710], 50)
     A reaction: An intriguing argument for idealism, which starts in Cartesian dualism, but then discards the physical world because of the notorious interaction problem. Of course, if he had thought that matter and spirit were one (Spinoza) the problem vanishes.
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 9. General Causation / a. Constant conjunction
We discover natural behaviour by observing settled laws of nature, not necessary connections [Berkeley]
     Full Idea: That food nourishes, sleep refreshes, and fire warms us; all this we know, not by discovering any necessary connexion between our ideas, but only by the observation of the settled laws of nature.
     From: George Berkeley (The Principles of Human Knowledge [1710], 31)
     A reaction: Hume is famous for this idea, but it is found in Hobbes too (Idea 2364), and is the standard empiricist view of causation. The word 'settled' I take to imply that the laws are contingent, because they could become unsettled at any time.
26. Natural Theory / D. Laws of Nature / 4. Regularities / a. Regularity theory
The laws of nature are mental regularities which we learn by experience [Berkeley]
     Full Idea: The set rules or established methods wherein the Mind we depend on excites in us the ideas of sense, are called the 'laws of nature'; and these we learn by experience, which teaches us that such and such ideas are attended with certain other ideas.
     From: George Berkeley (The Principles of Human Knowledge [1710], 33)
     A reaction: He observes that the ideas of sense are more regular than other mental events, and attributes the rules to an Author. He is giving the standard empirical Humean view, with his own quirky idealist slant.
26. Natural Theory / D. Laws of Nature / 8. Scientific Essentialism / e. Anti scientific essentialism
If properties and qualities arise from an inward essence, we will remain ignorant of nature [Berkeley]
     Full Idea: An inducement to pronouncing ourselves ignorant of the nature of things is the opinion that everything includes within itself the cause of its properties; or that there is in each object an inward essence which is the source whence its qualities flow.
     From: George Berkeley (The Principles of Human Knowledge [1710], 102)
     A reaction: This remains a good objection to essentialism - that while it remains quite a plausible picture of how nature operates, it makes the task of understanding nature hopeless. We can grasp imposed regular laws, but not secret inner essences.