Essay about Of Ideas, the Mind, and the Universe

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Perception is a concept that we take for granted in our everyday lives. We assume that what we perceive are the physical properties of the objects we encounter. George Berkeley, through his work Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous , questions these notions of what is truly real. Berkeley voices his opinion through the character Philonous, who assumes a very similar role to Socrates in the Platonic dialogues. First, it is necessary to distinguish between different types of sensory perception for clarity’s sake. Philonous systematically shows where all sensory perceptions break down to qualia within the mind in the beginning of his dialogue, first with secondary qualities, and then primary qualities. To explain our sense of objective…show more content…
Hylas believes that heat is inherent within the object (and is thus an example of one of Locke’s primary qualities), but Philonous presents him with a simple thought experiment which dispels Hylas’ belief: “Supose now one of your hands hot, and the other cold, and that they are both at once put into the same vessel of water, in an intermediate state; will not the water seem cold to one hand and warm to the other?” Here, Philonous has given an example of two opposite sensations arising from the same object, which, if we assume heat to be a property inherent of the object, creates a contradiction. Therefore, Philonous concludes that heat cannot be a sensible quality. Philonous gives another example, in which he says that if one pricks their finger with a pin, the pain obviously occurs from the prick, not a property inherent in the pin. He presents this as analogous to the fire, and claims that it is just as absurd to say that the pain from a burn, which he equates with a great heat, is inherent within the fire as it is to say that pain is inherent within the pin . Philonous uses this technique of pleasure and pain existing within senseless objects in order to debunk a number of other sensory perceptions, including sweetness, bitterness, and odour . As for sound, Hylas admits that the sensation of sound occurs within the mind, but that it is based upon the movement of air. Philonous refutes
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