Essay on Lockes Doctrine of Abstraction

2049 Words May 11th, 2014 9 Pages
John Locke and George Berkeley are two famous philosophers whose work found similarities in their proximity of publication, but stark differences in their beliefs. In Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding, he argued passionately for his doctrine of abstract ideas. On the other hand, Berkeley, in his work, Principles of Human Knowledge, he made every effort to reject all of Locke’s claims. Although viciously attacked by Berkeley, Locke’s doctrine of abstraction holds true as a fundamentally sound and practical doctrine for the advancement of knowledge and communication.
In Book II of Essay, Locke formulates theories on how knowledge is acquired. Previously in Essay, Locke establishes his position as an empiricist through his
…show more content…
“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 118-122) Building on this, abstraction also threatens Berkeley's overarching theme of “esse este percepi,” Or rather “to be is to be perceived.” Throughout Principles, Berkeley essentially argues that specific qualities such as color, size, and odor cannot exist unless they are perceived. By this logic, abstract ideas, ideas born absent of perception and stripped of specific qualities, cannot adequately fit into the constraints of his requirement for existence. This being so, Berkeley openly objects to and attacks Locke’s doctrine. Despite this effort,

Related Documents