Berkeley's Doctrine Of Conformion By George Berkeley

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Register to read the introduction… This is evident in the sheer fact that Berkeley devoted his introduction of Principles to the refutation of the doctrine of abstraction. However this raises the question: Why did Berkeley feel so strongly? Why does Berkeley feel the need to reject abstraction? The answer to these questions is two-fold. First and foremost, Berkeley sees Locke’s doctrine of abstraction as a detractor from the overall purpose of his philosophical work. “Philosophy being nothing else but the study of wisdom and truth.. a greater clearness and evidence of knowledge, and be less disturbed by with the doubts and difficulties of other men. yet so it is, we see the illiterate bulk of mankind walk the high-road of plain common sense.” (PHK intro 1) In this example Berkeley establishes himself as the “no nonsense” defender of common sense . Throughout Principles, Berkeley often mentions his disdain for simply verbal philosophical questions that are ultimately speculative and accomplish nothing. By disproving abstraction, he can avoid what he believes to be useless philosophy. Instead, Berkeley presents himself to be rooted more so in specifics and what can be known. An example of this exists in his discussion of mathematics, arithmetic and the natural sciences and abstraction. In this discussion, Berkeley argues that abstraction plays no part in these concepts. (PHK …show more content…
Holding back no punches, Berkeley directly quotes Locke in his introduction to Principles. “. . does it not require some pains and skill to form the general idea of a triangle . . . for it must be neither oblique, nor rectangle, neither equilateral, equicrural, no scalenon, but all and none of these at once.”(Essay 596) Berkeley is quick to respond to this statement. “In effect, it is something imperfect that cannot exist, an idea wherein some parts of several different and inconsistent ideas are put together.” (PHK intro 13) In this example, Berkeley criticizes Locke’s doctrine as not only being impossible to achieve, but also inconsistent. In his reading of Locke, Berkeley states that Locke's’ description of the abstraction process as encompassing “all and none.” Berkeley outlines the contradiction that object or idea cannot posses both all and none of the same qualities. Because there exists a contradiction within Locke's argument, Berkeley asserts, that the doctrine of abstraction is flawed and therefore impossible. However, it is in this example it becomes apparent that Berkeley mis-interprets Locke’s doctrine. Perhaps in angst to defeat abstraction, Berkeley gets tripped up on Locke’s wording. Abstraction only deals with the subtraction of the differences, but keeps the commonalities between

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