Discussion Psychology Questions II
Describe the ways in which Berkeley’s writings are consistent with the epistemological philosophy of idealism.
When we see objects, we never doubt whether they, in fact, exist as physical objects in the real world. We often consider the physical matters we can touch, see and feel as separate entities from the ideas that we have about them. Berkley is however opposed to this and proposes that it is only ideas that exist (Goodwin, 2015). For him, only the mental ideas can be attributed to the reality. These mental ideas are formed due to our daily experiences, and this is what can actually be considered as knowledge. Therefore, knowledge and reality are in our mental images but not in the physical objects.
According to Berkley, the ordinary objects that exist in our daily lives are simply collections of ideas which are dependent on our minds. Berkley asserts that reality is fundamentally a mental construction, in other words, immaterial but not in the physical, visible materials (Goodwin, 2015). He was inarguably an idealist. Berkley’s contention that the ideas make up the physical world is encapsulated in the famous principle of that ‘to be is to be perceived’ (Esse is percipi). In his writings, Berkley acted consistently on the idealistic epistemological foundations. This has been accounted for in the Principles of Human Knowledge on the first thirty-three sections.
Berkley opens his discussion by clearly implying that ideas are the immediate items of knowledge in the basic sense (Goodwin, 2015). Ideas are perceived as objects of knowledge because there is something that construes or knows them, imagines them and remembers about them. Berkley refers to this as the ‘spirit’ or the ‘mind.’ He further defends his two theses: idealism and immaterialism on metaphysics in the Three Dialogues. He presupposes that it is the ideas that exist in our minds that make us believe in the objects which are the visible reality. If we have no ideas about the physical objects in our environment, we can hardly decipher what the objects are. For instance, the notion of a chair exists in our minds. We have specific characteristics that we presume that a chair must have such that any time we see a four-legged furniture with a surface and a back we call it a chair. This is a mental idea. Thus, knowledge is based on mental formations but not in the physical objects.