How Many Arguments Does Berkel Essay

1911 words - 8 pages

How many arguments does Berkeley offer for the existence of God When first encountered with this question, the answer seems almost simple and obvious: one, possibly two. All one would have to do is read Berkeley and count exactly how many arguments he gives for the existence of God. However, it seems that after reading the text and reading two of the responses to the text and a response to one of the responses, it really is not that simple at all. Instead it became horribly complicated with questions of the importance and definitions of certain words that Berkeley uses. In my essay, I am going to present Berkeley's supposed arguments for the existence of God followed by three different philosopher's opinions of what he actually meant in using these arguments and what the purpose of each argument was. The philosopher's names are Jonathan Bennett, E.J. Furlong, and Jonathan Dancy. The arguments that supposedly exist in Berkeley's Principles and Dialogues are not presented in argument form, but I will use instead, Bennett's argumentative form of the arguments. By using his form, I do not concede that Bennett is correct in his own opinions, but that he has laid out a clear path to the arguments that Berkeley has given us. The arguments' names for the remainder of the essay will be the Continuity argument and the Independence argument (Bennett calls this argument the passivity argument, but for purely aesthetic reasons alone, I prefer to call it the independence argument). First of all, the continuity argument may be found, albeit in controversy, in §48 presented by Berkeley: For though we hold indeed the objects of sense to be nothing else but ideas which cannot exist unperceived; yet we may not hence conclude they have no existence except only while they are perceived by us, since there may be some other spirit that perceives them, though we do not...It does not follow from the foregoing principles, that bodies are annihilated and created every moment, or exist not at all during the intervals between our perception of them.The argument form of this statement, according to Bennett would then go as follows: (a) Objects are collections of ideas, and therefore cannot exist when not perceived by some spirit; (b) No idea, and therefore no collection of ideas, can exist not perceived by some spirit; (c) Objects do sometimes exist when not perceived by any human spirit; Therefore (d) There must be one or more non human spirits which perceive objects when no human spirits perceives them.What Berkeley is supposedly asking when presenting the first premise is if a mind is not perceiving of an idea, then how can that idea be called one that is existing? The second premise is simply a statement that material items as we think we know them, are just collections of ideas themselves, so they, too, fall victim to the need of perception to subsist. Since it is 'obvious' that objects do sometimes exist without human perception, the conclusion that there is...

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