These are summary notes for the Idealism topic in the unit 2 AS AQA philosophy specification for Knowledge of the external world.

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  • Created on: 20-05-12 18:33
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Point Rejoinder Rejoinder
1. All that exist are mental secondary qualities Berkeley misses the point because size can But, Berkeley's explanation seems to make
as primary qualities are also subjective e.g. to be objectively measured whereas secondary sense: what is there beyond sense data? Is
a mite I seem large but to an elephant I seem qualities cant e.g. I can't minus the flavour of there anything we can't explain in these
small so size (primary) is not constant salt and vinegar from prawn cocktail. terms? This deals with scepticism.
2. But if there is no external world (RR) then But Berkeley denies the existence of material But according to idealism, how can God exist
what causes our experience? Why is the substances (matter is non physical causing if we can't perceive him in the world as he is
universe predictable and regular? This is the physical experience). And explains this not knowable through sense data? This goes
problem of gappiness for idealism E.g. bath, instead in terms of God perceiving everything for all abstract concepts e.g. we can't
according to RR this is due to matter. all the time e.g. Bath or apple in drawer smell/taste/hear justice, morality or God.
3. Idealism leads to solipsism as all we can But this is the logical conclusion that we Simplicity relies on the conflation of terms.
be certain of is the contents of our own minds come to when pushing empiricism. And is Berkeley uses the word `idea' to mean
"a man will be imprisoned in a room that's fairly simple as all that exists is the mental concept and sense data but you can think of
unlocked with a door that opens inwards" (Occam's razor) not the veil of perception as something (concept) and have it in mind but
(Wittgenstein) e.g. Descartes' evil demon and is the case in RR. not physically have it in mind (sense data) as
hallucination as we only have past Russell claims e.g. ice cream in Locke's RR.
experiences to refer to (flying pink elephant).
Conclusion = It is simpler to suppose that the world actually exists (realism) as is it seems Berkeley is not arguing for anything radically different.
This would allow us to get rid of the use of God, which Idealism relies on but offers no independent justification for (God does not save the
theory, instead the theory amounts to demonstrate God's existence). Idealism is also self refuting as the theory is not composed out of sense
data as according to itself can't exist. It would be easier to suppose a physical world exists causing the theory to exist.


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