A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge George Berkeley with Introduction By Costica Bradatan (The Barnes and Noble Library of Essential Reading)

A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge George Berkeley with Introduction By Costica Bradatan (The Barnes and Noble Library of Essential Reading) - George Berkeley Berkeley does not hedge on his maxim esse est percipi (being is being perceived). He jumps in head first, bets all on black and puts all of his eggs in one basket without actually mixing metaphors. Berkeley ramps up Locke’s arguments and simplifies them. He does away with Locke’s notion of a substratum of existence and commits fully to the idea that all we can perceive are Ideas. What has hindered his predecessors was their unfounded belief that Matter has existence apart from the mind. By casting aside Matter, the paradoxes of geometric problems, as well as the dilemma in deciphering levels of reality, are set aside.

Which leads to the next question. Dr. Bradatan writes a great Introduction in which he summarizes the question and answer:
If there is no such thing as matter, what is it, then, that we experience in the outside world? It is God’s Discourse. The world is living word. In Principles, as well as in most of Berekely’s other philosophical works, nature is seen as the “visual language” that God uses to speak with us. The things we see around us, their unfolding and succession, their changing into one another, are not meaningless occurrences, but they form divine speech; they say something about the “Author of Nature.” Introduction, Pg. XIII.
The world only exists because it is perceived. Not only by us (or more appropriately me, because I can’t be sure you exist), but by the Spirit (codename : God) as well. It is the Spirit’s act of perception which maintains existence when I am not actively perceiving. It’s all very Hindu actually. There’s a story in which Vishnu sleeps dreaming of the universe and Brahma sits on a lotus growing from his navel. When Brahma opens his eyes, the world is created and, after millions of years, Brahma blinks and the world is destroyed only to be recreated when Brahma reopens his eyes. Or something close to that. Though I’m sure Berkeley, who was a Bishop in the Anglican Church, would object to the comparison.

Berkeley dispenses with any drawn out methodology underlying his premise that we experience the Idea of things, and not things themselves. Which probably doesn’t win any converts to his extreme view of existence. But it’s a fascinating way to view the world.