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Berkeley and the Ineffable.pdf


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BERKELEY

AND

THE

INEFFABLE

233

it
to put the whole
is "content
upon this issue; if you can conceive
or in general,
for
one
moveable
for
extended
substance,
any
possible
than in a mind
one idea or any thing like an idea, to exist otherwise
it, I shall readily give up the cause".2
perceiving
from historians
has not drawn attention
This
propor
argument
to Berkeley,
and among
those who have
tionate to its importance
been viewed as nothing more
has generally
noticed
it, the argument
on
a
is found to be
howler
than
part. Typically,
Berkeley
Berkeley's
simply confused.
not to say
in print to the hostile,
I daresay
the only exception
Ten years ago he wrote of
reaction has been Ian Hacking's.
outraged,
as the most
"This proof, widely
the Master
regarded
Argument:
ever to achieve
lasting fame among philoso
argument
preposterous
But as far as I can make out,
phers, seems to me very impressive".
never gave any good reason why he should have been so
Hacking
impressed, although he rightly enough saw that the argument was tied
to Berkeley's
the universal
of abstract
ideas.3 Otherwise,
rejection
as simply
to regard Berkeley
to the argument
has been
reaction
can
to
in fact,
be classified according
confused. The whole
literature,
suffers. One
from which Berkeley
five kinds of confusion
allegedly
and conceiving
is in the order of the existential
confusion
operators;
to A. N. Prior4 and J. L. Mackie,5
doesn't see the
Berkeley
according
I conceive
that it
between
difference
saying there is a tree of which
that there is a tree that exists
and I conceive
exists unconceived,
to this is a second confusion
Related
unconceived.
charged by Robert
con
conflates
and Andre Gallois7 who find that Berkeley
Turnbull6
true
of
A
it.
of
is
with conceiving
that something
ceiving
something
came
Barton
also
from
from
but
third charge
Gallois,
Ralph
Perry8
all find
and Mackie
again,10 who basically
Marc-Wogau9
a
because
he
confuses
of
modal
(x is con
fallacy
Berkeley
guilty
Still
with x is conceived ?> Dx is conceived.
ceived?> x is conceived)
and
is found by George
another confusion
Marc-Wogau,12
Pappas11
confuses
who effectively
conceiving
that-p with
charge that Berkeley
Konrad

that-p. The final and best known charge, coming most
is that Berkeley
and George
G. E. Moore13
Pitcher,'4
and the object perceived.
tinguish the act of perceiving
The
strategic
problem
on which
interpretations
out to be a philosophical

notably from
fails to dis

the
with
these criticisms,
and thus with
is that they make Berkeley
they are based,
if eccentric,
Irishman is
nitwit. The astute,