Berkeley Answers: Basic arguments

This page provides answers to the basic arguments exercise in the excerpt from Berkeley.


Basic arguments

Q1. From paragraphs 1 & 2, explain Berkeley’s argument that an apple does not exist unless it is perceived.
Berkeley claims that an apple is nothing more than a regular pattern of sensory experiences, or ‘ideas’, and that ideas only exist in ‘minds’ which perceive them. Therefore, if there is no mind to perceive that collection of ideas, there is nowhere for it to exist.

Q2. In §10, how does Berkeley use the distinction between primary and secondary qualities to support his idealism?
Berkeley points out that materialists concede that secondary qualities are mind-dependent. He then argues that one cannot conceive of any object as having only primary qualities and no secondary quality. Since primary and secondary qualities are inseparable in the imagination, he concludes that they both must be mind-dependent.

Q3. In §11, Berkeley argues that there is no such thing as extra-mental extension on the premise that “if there is extension outside the mind, it must be neither large nor small.” Is this a good or bad argument?
It is a poor argument because it is based on the false premise that being ‘large’ or ‘small’ depends on “the condition or location of the sense-organs of the perceiver”. In fact, relative size depends on the perceiver making a comparison between two things.

Q4. Why does the supposition of matter have no explanatory power?
Berkeley objects that matter does not explain anything as materialists have no idea how mind and matter could causally interact.



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