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Old 19th February 2015
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Default George Berkeley

I know the BSDs have little to do with the man Berkeley was named after. But, have any of you actually read the stuff this guy contributed to philosophy? Very "brain in a vat" and "The Matrix" like.

I actually kinda like this guy, even if he was a bishop.

Here is the Wikipedia list of his philosophy.
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Old 19th February 2015
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I really never liked Berkeley's view of reality. He had some insights, of course, but overall his view was disjoined from his profession. Perhaps that's why I have issue with him, moreso how he managed to wrangle two very distinct views of the world without sticking to one.

I mean, the Christian worldview is considerably different from the sensationalist view he personally (apparently) held. How he never reconciled his faith and his philosophy has bugged me for years.

He did say this:

"It is evident to everyone, that those things which are called the works of Nature, that is, the far greater part of the ideas or sensations perceived by us, are not produced by, or dependent on the wills of men. There is, therefore, some other spirit that causes them, since it is repugnant that they should subsist by themselves."

His use of the word "spirit" here is misleading. Did he mean "spirit" in his philosophical sense, or "spirit" in the Christian sense?
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Old 19th February 2015
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You are totally right, rocket357!

His views did not support his profession.

I can't say what he meant by "spirit". It seems like the intimated definition would not align with the more accepted dogmas.

I can agree that it is a perceivable character flaw standing in one station of society, while supporting contradicting views. I imagine there is more to the story. Its hard to go into detail without discussion on mythologies and religion. Its probably wise to avoid delving too deep into those subjects, as someone will likely always be offended.

So, without entering the realms of theology, I contribute that there are many persons, in the history of opinions, that hold views not held in popular regard by persons of the same cultural or religious backgrounds.

Jacob Boehme and Emanuel Swedenborg are two well know examples. Perhaps Giordano Bruno is an even better example.

Berkeley, being a Bishop and in the maintenance of such views probably does ring of conflicting interests. He just seems to have gotten away with it better than Marcion of Sinope. But, even persons like Marcion caused to some degree the enjoyed reformations that his offended employed.

But, enough of that....

I just recently learned that George had these interesting philosophies. In some ways his controversial insights were defending his cultural station against the deep views of John Loche, which is likely the inspiration for developing them in the first place.
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Old 19th February 2015
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In some ways his controversial insights were defending his cultural station against the deep views of John Loche, which is likely the inspiration for developing them in the first place.
You can't shoot down a Catholic Saint without drawing additional fire =)

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Perhaps Giordano Bruno is an even better example.
Indeed. It doesn't get much more difficult than being burned at the stake as a heretic.
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Old 20th February 2015
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Indeed. It doesn't get much more difficult than being burned at the stake as a heretic.
I think we've seen it come close, from time to time, right here in these forums
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Old 20th February 2015
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Originally Posted by rocket357 View Post
"It is evident to everyone, that those things which are called the works of Nature, that is, the far greater part of the ideas or sensations perceived by us, are not produced by, or dependent on the wills of men. There is, therefore, some other spirit that causes them, since it is repugnant that they should subsist by themselves."

His use of the word "spirit" here is misleading. Did he mean "spirit" in his philosophical sense, or "spirit" in the Christian sense?
I don't know anything about him, but when I read this the use of the word "spirit" would seem to be used in a spiritual sense, such as in the Perennial Philosophy of Huxley. Not sure of this is a option for Berkeley, but just because you are a bishop does rule out that your concept of Christianity is more esoteric than most. Just my two cent.
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Old 20th February 2015
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Lecture 43: "Bishop Berkeley—Idealism and Critique of the Enlightenment" from the series "Great Minds of the Western Intellectual Tradition" provides a convenient introduction to his work. And the series as a whole provides some context - it's interesting to follow the evolution and development of the ideas and perspectives.
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Old 20th February 2015
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it's interesting to follow the evolution and development of the ideas and perspectives.
I completely agree. Even if you oppose the ideas and perspectives, the development process is like witnessing the folds of knowledge unravel.
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Old 20th February 2015
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Not sure of this is a option for Berkeley, but just because you are a bishop does rule out that your concept of Christianity is more esoteric than most. Just my two cent.
Makes one wonder about all the commonly heard rhetoric, and the possible elusive message only heard by a few.

Last time I went to a funeral, I really paid attention. The psychological craft was mind blowing. All the while, it seemed, even the speaker himself was unaware of the pervading potencies. It all just seems so ritual that the overall result of the custom is maybe overlooked.
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Old 20th February 2015
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I don't know anything about him, but when I read this the use of the word "spirit" would seem to be used in a spiritual sense, such as in the Perennial Philosophy of Huxley.
That's precisely how I took it, roddierod. He was such a linguistic "purist", requiring precision in his wording that, to my amateur eye, seemed to outstrip most of his colleagues and a good deal of his predecessors. Then, in one sentence he wrecks all of that by appearing to use the term in a spiritual sense as opposed to a philosophical sense.

The only resolution that comes to mind is that he was attempting to stay in the good graces of the Church and intentionally confused the terms for the benefit of his fellow theologians.

Or, perhaps I've misunderstood Berkeley's core thoughts =)
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Old 20th February 2015
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"Spirit"

It is really a tough word to nail down. Some folks use it interchangeably with the word soul. I can also be used to state incorporeal mind. For others the word means something like the wind from which an action is originated. Like acting out in the spirit of benevolence. Some Native Americans used it in this way, even though it was simultaneously a reference to the driving force behind nature. "The great spirit". He says "some other spirit".

So, it would seem that he may simply be saying a wind other than that of man's self perceived wind. Man may find it repugnant that his own wind ,ideas formed by reflection on sensed reality, is capable of the complete unfathomable movements seen in nature. This doesn't positively state that there is no will higher than that of the one behind nature.

In some understandings man's naturally stimulated reaction to environment is that of a creature, similar to plants and animals. This would be flesh or beast. Then there is the concept of absolute being beyond the state of reacting within the stimulation of nature. This being is often referred to as the power behind nature's manifesting purpose, simply put "will" or "spirit". The middle ground between these two is considered the place of ensoulment. The soul of something when the will has resulted in a manifested thing, matter acting out the cause of will, or even the encapsulation of spirit in the confines of a measurable experience.

The use of nature in this way has the hint of many a pagan cultures. However, while only expounded on to this extent, it does not necessarily oppose Christianity. Perhaps some secular dogmas would be repulsed by any use like his, but it isn't universal heresy.

What he has done, is declared that everyone can see there is something more causing natural activity than the sensation of it. This invites those that don't want to believe in an entity or grand persona, lording over all existence, to use the term God as something that science might label as the originating cause behind phenomena. Some minds prefer to avoid the idea of incorporeal bodies. So, if you prefer the ideal of unseen powers, like magnetism, working in a unison to bring about natural reaction, you can be free from entanglement of a spiritual mindset. He has not said that the will behind manifestation is a mindless accident. He has just said that all men should be able to recognize a driving force beyond that of man's sense and reflecting capacity.

Some of his deeper considerations are that the world of nature is the sensing of reality interacting with mans self realization. This is also sometimes a distressing thought for theologians. But, again he still has the convenience of saying the intent behind the interaction is due to the planed intent of some being other than man.

It seems like he is saying that nature is only there for the sake of our personal interaction with it. He also heads in the direction that nature is only really there in sensation. Sensed reality is only manifest to the degree required for us to actively participate, and has no real foundation beyond our sensing capacities or the energy that produced it. This encapsulates all of our scientific explorations, into the study of a fine crafted fractal. This is how he can get away with it. He submits that there is undeniably an interaction, which sense and reflection are a vehicle for. This, in some ways, undermines the use of analyzing nature to declare a mindless or accidental causation. This is done by pointing out that you are searching the perceived world for proof of mind, when you should be looking for the mind in the architecture of the laws governing your experience.

His pursuit of this direction has something to do with influencing the reasoning behind societal structure. If you use the observation of nature to determine the appropriate direction for mans efforts, you will only encourage the pursuit of sensations and the advancement of man built on endless fractals. His possible argument might have been that societal structure would be better directed towards integrating with the will that set the stage, rather than the stage itself.

Myself, I think that the danger he faces, in this line of thinking, is the door it opens for gnostic considerations.

Anyway, I probably overlooked something. But, this is the understanding I have gathered by my brief exposure to Berkeley. I admit I have read only a smaller portion of his material, and commenting in length exposes me to inevitable error. What can I say? I like it when it hurts
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Old 20th February 2015
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Originally Posted by hanzer View Post
Lecture 43: "Bishop Berkeley—Idealism and Critique of the Enlightenment" from the series "Great Minds of the Western Intellectual Tradition" provides a convenient introduction to his work. And the series as a whole provides some context - it's interesting to follow the evolution and development of the ideas and perspectives.
Man, that looks like an interesting series. I can also recommend Copleston's "A History Of Philosophy" (who openly admits his bias and calls it out when it comes into play) and Flew's "An Introduction to Western Philosophy". Copleston's approach is rather chronological, which has few jumps forward or backward in time (linking thoughts of immediate predecessors with current thinkers he does well, but large jumps across time are not considered), whereas Flew's approach is more "concept-based" and cross-time, which I enjoyed in contrast to Copleston.

I'll have to check out the series above, though. Really cool stuff.

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This doesn't positively state that there is no will higher than that of the one behind nature.
Careful, you are encroaching on Spinoza's territory there =)

I think that it's absurd to claim that we have full conscious view of our inner workings (a truth that must follow if you take Berkeley at face value...how could "external" forces possibly be internal if our consciousness is complete?). I say poppycock...who says consciousness isn't deeper than we understand? What if you are all figments of my imagination *and* I do not have complete control over you? How is it that the figments of my imagination have the capacity to "think up" things I would not have consciously dreamed up? Is our being completely in sync with our consciousness? Is my consciousness all there is to *me*?

I'm not saying you are all figments of my imagination, rather I'm saying that external forces being proof of God is akin to saying that we live in a closed system that isn't complete without a magical man in the sky. For what it's worth, I think Spinoza was closer to truth even if he dodged the question by his "God-or-nature" line of thinking.

Ok, enough of that. Back to figuring out why Linux can't boot without a swift kick in the a$$ sometimes...
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Old 21st February 2015
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I never read anything from Berkeley. When I studied sociology at what is now called Tilburg University philosophy was an obligated part of the curriculum during the first 2 years.

From what I remember Berkeley only was mentioned as one of the three British empiricists, the othersJohn Locke and David Hume, were given some more attention.

IMHO opinion David Hume is far more interesting as an philosopher than Berkeley. And being financially independent because of his best selling book about the history of England, he could be more critical and skeptical.

Many years ago I bought a Penguin edition of his "A Treatise of Human Nature" but although quite readable I never finished reading it.
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Old 21st February 2015
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I think that it's absurd to claim that we have full conscious view of our inner workings (a truth that must follow if you take Berkeley at face value...how could "external" forces possibly be internal if our consciousness is complete?). I say poppycock...who says consciousness isn't deeper than we understand? What if you are all figments of my imagination *and* I do not have complete control over you? How is it that the figments of my imagination have the capacity to "think up" things I would not have consciously dreamed up? Is our being completely in sync with our consciousness? Is my consciousness all there is to *me*?
We are figments of your imagination. I can never be the image you have created out of sensory data. I'm pretty sure Berkeley says you can reflect on data internally or creatively, but that other data is forced. Therefor, the seemingly independent figments of your imagination are built out of forced data organized by your collected filters of rationale observation.

Quote:
I'm not saying you are all figments of my imagination, rather I'm saying that external forces being proof of God is akin to saying that we live in a closed system that isn't complete without a magical man in the sky. For what it's worth, I think Spinoza was closer to truth even if he dodged the question by his "God-or-nature" line of thinking.
Spinoza seems to be saying that nature and the laws of nature are one thing, amounting to an end of the line God. Berkeley is saying that obviously their is an external spirit contributing to your experience. You might call this nature. But, adds that God is the cause of nature and its laws, outside of nature itself. It would seem that you cannot find the cause or will behind nature from within nature. The attempt would be like looking for the end of a fractal. The big bang has been mentioned, but the bang itself had to follow laws in order to occur. So, the bang is one answer, but not the last one. It is just a platform for a new level of investigation. I doubt Berkeley would have approved, but this is where the ouroboros comes into play. This is also where he is in danger of inviting gnostic speculation. Likely he just meant to say that his creed had the inside track on the intent behind experience of nature.

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Ok, enough of that. Back to figuring out why Linux can't boot without a swift kick in the a$$ sometimes...
Good luck, thanks for hangin' out.
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Old 21st February 2015
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Nature itself is one funny bird.

Try as you may to escape the laws of nature, the best you will obtain is a new experience in nature. If you look for the cause of nature, you will find more nature. You might even ask what caused you to look for the cause of nature. You will find that you are made of nature. Your provocation to find the cause or even escape the causes of nature, are of your nature.

This can be compared to the ego trying to solve the problems created by the ego. The problems created by the ego are the ego. To solve the problems of ego from within the ego is an endless cycle (fractal).

Ego, is the the focus point of the senses. Since these senses are made out of nature, they are a focus point of nature looking out and about on itself (ouroboros). There are two ways to find the deeper meaning to the you beyond ego or the total sum of your senses.

One way, is to consider the the fuller extension of yourself, the nature beyond the focus point of your senses. This means the nature that exists outside of your own nature. Consider that your heart and lungs are separated by different tissues and fluids, and yet are part of a larger organism. Your intake of food produces material and energy, for the maintenance and function of both your heart and lungs. But, both of these, also in combination with other organs like sensory, make up a larger organ you call self. Some organs you are interactive with at a conscious level, and others you are not. In the end you consider these things to be the sum of you. In expanding beyond the organ of you, there is air, and a whole other collections of elements and other organisms. You could be a fish in the water, a deer in the park, or a man on the street. None of these organisms could be what they are without the other organisms, materials, and energies that abound around them. You will have the organ you call self in relation to things external to that organ creating a yet larger organism. In this way you may find the nature of your consciousness is extended beyond your senses, by chemical, nutritional, and other environmental variables. These contribute to the function and position of your sense experience.

The other way, to seek out extension of your consciousness, is to consider the total sum of nature, internal and external, as an image on a mirror. This is somewhat similar to Plato's "shadows on the wall of the cave". Also this is, the benefit and detriment, to Berkeley's position. With this you could enter quantum physics, or metaphysics. But, entertaining these ideas could lead to a theoretical acceptance of incorporeal consciousness, or spirituality. This is the cause of nature outside of nature causing nature. This realm of thinking has many different schools of thought, of which Christianity is just one. Zen, Buddhism, Paganism, Greek mythology, and even branches of science. The basic premise is that there is a self you are beyond nature. By some external energy, you are able to see and reflect off of nature like it is a mirror. In many ways this is the old concept of light in enlightenment. It would not have been just an estate of higher learning, but an experience of your light without associating self as the images on the mirror. From here it could be concluded that the images on the mirror are an educational tool, usable by interacting with reflection. It could also be considered a trap, using the observational power of light to power the manifestation of images on the mirror. This fits in with the mythology of Narcissus, and many other systems of thought.

However, if you choose one of these system, for searching out a deeper existence of consciousness, you will find that the other system seems a little disillusion. This is especially true if you choose the first system. The only nagging issue with the first system is that you cannot prove that there is no underlying foundation, beyond nature. As a kind of side note, if you say there is nothing outside of nature, you would be in agreement with many eastern schools of thought. They say that what resides out side of nature is "No Thing" or "Neti, Neti" (not this, not that). This concept points to the the old idea of Light in enlightenment. But, the concept of light is not the actual light. This is because the concept must exist on the mirror, within nature. The only way to point to this light, is to suggest no-thing at all.
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