A CRITICAL EVALUATION OF GEORGE BERKELEY’S IDEALISM ABSTRACT Idealism is the group of Philosophies which assert that reality, or reality as we can know it, is fundamentally, mentally, mentally constructed or otherwise immaterial. Epistemologically idealism manifest as a skepticism about the possibility of knowing any mind-independent thing. In a sociological sense, idealism emphasizes how human ideas especially beliefs and values, shape society. As an ontological doctrine idealism goes further, asserting that all entities are composed of mind or spirit. Idealism thus rejects physicalist and dualist theories that fail to ascribe priority to the mind. CHAPTER ONE: GENERAL INTRODUCTION 1.1 Background of Study The word idealism is a metaphysical and epistemological doctrine, which show that ideas or thought make up fundamental reality. Therefore the only thing actually knowable is consciousness, where as we can never be sure that matter or anything in the outside world really exists.1 But the only real things are mental entities, not physical things which exist only in the sense that they are perceived. The two basic forms of idealism are metaphysical idealism, which holds that in knowledge process the mind can grasp through knowledge. And metaphysical idealism is directly opposed to materialism, which show the view that the basic substance of the world is matter and that it is known primarily through material forms. It is known primarily through material forms. In its epistemology it is opposed to realism, which holds that in human knowledge objects are grasped and seen as they really are, in their existence outside and independently of the mind. 1.2 Statement of Problem The problem which we shall attempt to solve in this essay is to examine sense experience as a source of knowledge? Therefore the process of knowing and all we can know are the ideas produced by sensations, if all we can know are the ideas produced by sensations, what possible grounds do we have for inferring the actual existence of external objects that cause sensations in the first place? How can we be sure that our ideas copy any thing at all? For how can it be known, that the things which are perceived are conformable to those which are not perceived or exist without the mind? Berkeley could find no justification for asserting the independent existence of objects, or external things. All that we perceive are sensations from sensations from which our minds construct ideas. Thus the task of this work is to critically evaluate George Berkeley’s idealism2 1.3 Significance of Study This study is significant because it re-opens discussion criticism and the acquisition of knowledge. Since knowledge is of uppermost importance to humanity, another significant of this work hinges on the fact that philosophy being a theoretical activity is relevant, as it generates knowledge from which other discipline are found. Above all this work critically examined Berkeley’s theory of idealism. 1.4 The Purpose of Study The purpose of this study is to put Berkeley position as a form of idealism. However, he himself called it immaterialism, this position claims that only two kinds of things exist in reality which is known as minds or spirits and the ideas they perceive concerning the objects of our everyday experience.3 1.5 Scope of Study The scope of this study shall be limited to George Berkeley’s theory of Idealism. Therefore this work include Berkeley’s idealism and his influences on other philosophers, this work shall be limited on the available literature of the study.4 1.6 Methodology This project will critically analyse Berkeley idealism, by critical analyzing we mean the method of analyzing the concepts of idealism. This work involve around knowledge and perception of things. There is an exposition of the theories that we need to hold on in order to be more accommodative in our quest for knowledge.5 1.7 Literature Review George Berkeley’s idealism can be found in his numerous works, but his view concerning sources of knowledge, ideas perception and minds, the new principle are to be found in his book “the principle of Human knowledge”, which is regarded as Berkeley’s master piece which he tries to explain ht e “Origin of ideas was published in 1710” and the “Three Dialogue between Hylas nad Philonou in 1713”. In the following dialogue, Berkeley defends his idealism, which opines that the notion that only minds and ideas exist, “To be is to perceived”. The first book to reviewed here is authored by Richard Popkin and Avrum Stroll Philosophy Made Simple, with aim to attempt the view of Rationalism, which depends on ideas and reason for knowledge. The second book reviewed is by A.C Grayling titled “Modern Philosophy II, which shows the view that the source and test of contigent knowledge is by experience. The third book reviewed by William Lawhead titled, the Voyage of discovery, which opines a cursory for providing criteria for evaluating philosophical claim. The fourth book reviewed is by Samuel Enouch Stompf, Socrate to Satre and beyond, which shows the development within Europe and was later exported to the America and elsewhere around the world. The fifth by Joseph Omoregbe, title A simplified history of western philosophy, which shows a philosophical understanding with the study of human nature.
REFERENCES 1. R. Popkin, and A. Stroll, Philosophy Made Simple, (New York: 1985), page 18. 2. A.C. Grayling, Modern Philosophy II (Oxford University Press, 1998), page 509. 3. W. Lawhead, The Voyage of Discovery (London: Wadworth Publication, 2001), page 281. 4. S.E Stompf, Socrate to Satre and Beyond, (McGraw-Hill Higher Education Publication 1). 5. J. Omoregbe, A Simplified History of Western Philosophy, volume II (Lagos: Joja Press 1991), page 72.
A CRITICAL EVALUATION OF GEORGE BERKELEY’S IDEALISM
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