A Treatise Concerning The Principles Of Human Knowledge By George Berkeley Analysis

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1. Describe the argument of the assigned text in your own words.
2. Make one objection to the argument as you have reconstructed, and suggest how Berkeley could reply to it.

The aim of this essay is to demonstrate both an appreciation of George Berkeley’s ‘A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge’(1-15), and a thorough understanding of the text. In addition, this essay will offer an objection to Berkeley’s treatise, and a counter argument to that objection, influenced by Berkeley’s idealism.
Berkeley introduces his treatise by categorising the ‘objects of human knowledge’ into three parts: sensation; ‘ideas’ gained through our senses, thought, and imagination/memory; imitations of ‘ideas’ collected through either sensation or thought. One could suggest this is a dangerous opening for Berkeley; he is asking his readers to, in the first sentence alone, accept that there can exist nothing except ‘ideas’.
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Berkeley offers the proposition that primary qualities are inseparable to secondary qualities, and in his response, remains consistent with his argument of abstraction, in that we could not abstract the primary from the secondary qualities. So, it cannot be possible that primary qualities act independently of the mind, since they cannot be abstracted from secondary qualities which are undoubtedly, ‘ideas’. A further examination of primary qualities leads Berkeley to disregard the way we talk of primary qualities; instead of talking about motion as fast or slow, we need to talk about motion in general terms. By viewing motion this way, and still believing that it exists outside the mind, demonstrates its dependence upon abstraction. Without fast or slow, we cannot conceive motion, thus if fast and slow are ‘ideas’, it must be true of the general

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