Kucharski Dariusz
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48(2012)2 - Papers

Dariusz Kucharski

“Common sense” as an argument for the Berkeleyan immaterialistic thesis

  • language: Polish


Summary

Writing his Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge, George Berkeley was well aware that his thesis about non-existence of material substance would not be welcomed equally by learned and ordinary people. However, he was prepared for the expected discussion and tried to answer some objections in advance. He continued the fight against his opponents in his second work, Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous. The controversy embraced many topics and the aim of this paper is to present Berkeley’s attempt at showing his immaterialism as a position being in complete agreement with the world view (and cognition thereof) of so–called plain people. Berkeley considered himself a defender of their common sense, standing in opposition to the views of the learned. Berkeley maintained that the concept of material substance was an abstract idea invented by philosophers to explain the structure of the material world, but in his view the very idea was at the same time simply incomprehensible and redundant. He tried to persuade his readers that a ‘plain man’ neither uses nor needs the abstract idea of substance to understand and know the world he perceives. Berkeley points out some common–sensical beliefs and then puts forward arguments that his immaterialistic thesis is in full agreement with these beliefs. What is more, he argues that the views of his opponents stand in contradiction to these very common–sensical beliefs. To prove this, he identifies some metaphysical consequences of the representationalistic theory of perception. He says that in the world of this theory there exist only some material particles furnished with primary qualities but no objects from our ordinary sensory experience. According to this theory, we cannot trust our senses and that is why we must abandon it and adopt the position of presentationalism and common sense.

 

 
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48(2012)3 - Papers

Dariusz Kucharski

The nature of the object of perception in Thomas Reid’s philosophy

  • language: Polish


Summary

The philosophy of Thomas Reid, the founder of the Scottish School of Common Sense, was intended by its author to be a reaction against the so-called, ‘way of ideas’, a philosophical position that took the representationalist theory of perception. Such theory led, according to Reid, inevitably to scepticism about (amongst other things) the material nature of an object of perception. The most striking example of a skeptical system of this sort is, for Reid, philosophical views of David Hume. The aim of this paper is to show how Reid argued against representationalism and defended the conviction that the nature of objects of perception is material and, as such, these objects are independent in their existence of perceiving consciousness. To reach this goal Reid creates a philosophical system which is founded on the concept of ‘common sense’. The very concept was defined by Reid in such a way that it is a sort of cognitive faculty which is also a source of many fundamental beliefs of ‘mankind’. These beliefs do not need to be proven, they are like axioms in mathematics and lay foundations of any other knowledge. There are two types of principles of common sense – of necessary truths and, of contingent truths. The belief of the material nature of objects of perception is one of the contingent truths, so it is an intrinsic part of common sense. And any discussion with that sort of belief is impossible. They are always correct because we know them intuitively, there is no need for any reasoning to accept their validity. Needless to say Reid’s position about common sense is not free of problems, one of them being the question about the source of ‘necessity’ of common-sense beliefs. This problem is a subject for another paper, but one of the possible answers could be a logical rather than psychological interpretation of the principles of common sense.

 

 
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46(2010)2 - Dissertations

Dariusz Kucharski

Scepticism and its refutation in George Berkeley’s and Thomas Reid’s philosophies

  • language: Polish


Summary

The main aim of the paper is an attempt to characterize two different approaches to refute skepticism, namely, that of George Berkeley and Thomas Reid. The reason to choose these thinkers is twofold. First, the Berkeley’s system (among other systems labeled by Reid as ‘theory of ideas’) was an object of a very serious and even fierce critique by T. Reid. That critique was meant as a first step for creating his own system known as the Scottish School of Common Sense. Second, despite of that critique, in many respects the philosophical views of Reid strikingly resemble these of Berkeley. And among the resemblances, the opinions of the two about the nature of perception of external objects play a very important role. Both philosophers take presentationalism as their own position. Both of them maintain that the other possible view, representationalism, leads inevitably to skepticism. And, last but not least, one should remember that for G. Berkeley and equally T. Reid the refutation of skepticism was one of the most important reasons for building their own systems.

However, the similarities mentioned above prove to be rather superficial. It is common knowledge how much differ the outcomes of the attempts taken by Berkeley and Reid to refute skepticism. So similar assumptions and goals do not bring similar answers at all.

The paper attempts to show how Berkeley and Reid dealt with the problem of skepticism. Namely, what they meant by skepticism, how they understood an object of perception, and how they defined the reality of an object. And what solution against skepticism they offered. As we know Berkeley came to the conclusion that immaterialism is the best remedy against skeptical doubts about perceiving the real world. The concept of material substance and the mediate perception of things were the main sources of skepticism. Reid, however, defended the material nature of objects of perception – that belief was an intrinsic part of common sense. He maintained that any discussion with that sort of beliefs is impossible, they lay the foundations of any other knowledge. Consequently Reid builds such a philosophical system that would justify and prove right the beliefs of common sense.