The Theory Of Perception Of The Existence Of God

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In Principles of Human Knowledge, Berkeley posits the doctrine of idealism largely in response to the theory of perception connected to representationalism. While the representationalist would agree that only sensory ideas can be immediately perceived, Berkeley 's view dramatically differs from representationalism in that he denies the existence of material objects and, consequently, the causal role they are presumed to hold in producing sensations (Heide 15 Sept). Berkeley takes this immaterialist position to undoubtedly prove the existence of God while attributing to him a properly significant causal relationship to sensible ideas. It will be appropriate to assume that immaterialism is true, as his argument for God 's role in the…show more content…
An idea is dependent on the mind of the perceiver, meaning that all components of that idea must be perceivable by nature. The idea, the perceived, is distinct from the perceiver in that there is no “power” or “agency” existing in it. Since “it is impossible for an idea to do anything, or, strictly speaking, to be the cause of anything: neither can it be the resemblance or pattern of any active being” (34; sec. 25). Berkeley 's argument here is simple, yet highly intuitive. It makes little sense to claim that something mind-dependent could contain anything, like agency, that could escape the perception of the mind! If there was agency in an idea, it would be a clearly perceivable aspect of it, and surely ideas cannot do anything and perform actions, being fundamentally different than minds. Evidently something causes sensations, as Berkeley points out they are constantly appearing, altering and ceasing to be. If physical objects are nonexistent, and ideas cannot be causally active, he insists that “incorporeal active substance or spirit” is all that remains (35; sec. 26). Spirit is defined as unified, possessing two powers: the understanding and the will, the first which “perceives ideas” while the second “produces and otherwise operates about them” (35; sec. 27). Berkeley examines his own spirit as the next contender for the cause of his sensible ideas, rejecting this proposal on the basis that he does not bring about
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