Single Idea 6734

[catalogued under 26. Natural Theory / D. Laws of Nature / 8. Scientific Essentialism / e. Anti scientific essentialism]

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.

Gist of Idea

If properties and qualities arise from an inward essence, we will remain ignorant of nature


George Berkeley (The Principles of Human Knowledge [1710], 102)

Book Reference

Berkeley,George: 'The Principles of Human Knowledge etc.', ed/tr. Warnock,G.J. [Fontana 1962], p.115

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.