George Berkeley, Common-sense Realist

"According to Berkeley, the perceived world is itself a language -- or, rather, a discourse in a language. Berkley intends this claim quite literally. It is the linguistic structure of the perceived world that our thought and speech about co-instantiation, physical causation, and other structural concepts aims to capture. In this way, I argue, Berkeley succeeds in preserving the common sense and scientific structure of the perceived world... Bodies can be regarded as a joint product of God's activity as speaker and our activities as interpreters and grammarians of nature." -- Pearce, Language and the Structure of Berkeley's World, pp. 2-3


  1. Gene, I don't think it makes sense to call Berkeley a common sense realist. For one thing, our common-sense understanding of the world would say that there is nothing incoherent about there being a house that is currently unperceived by any conscious mind (human or divine). Berkeley, on the other hand, would have us believe, contrary to common sense, that it is incoherent.

    1. To the contrary, Berkeley shows that position is incoherent *per common sense*.

    2. Gene, what do you think is the best place to read the argument that there's something incoherent about there being a house unperceived by any conscious mind? Berkeley's own works, or the works of Collingwood, or your paper about Stove, or what? Who do you think phrases the argument most clearly and persuasively?


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