Friday, February 15, 2013

Dr Johnson and Bishop Berkeley

After we came out of the church, we stood talking for some time together of
Bishop Berkeley's ingenious sophistry to prove the nonexistence of matter, and
that every thing in the universe is merely ideal. I observed, that though we are
satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I never shall
forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty
force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it -- "I refute it

Dr Johnson's argument is a very good one, and puts philosophers in their place. A more sophisticated argument for common sense is 'Here is a hand" by GE Moore.

I often wonder if a 'Moorean Shift' is in order with all of this discussion of qualia and epiphenomenalism?

I am a direct realist - I think that what we see is real, and it just appears to us the way it appears to us. The fact that appearances are not consistent is not an argument against realism, it is actually an argument in support of direct realism. To say that we can't perceive the real object behind the appearance of the object is, to me, unhelpful and confusing.
If we make the assumption that the world is real and we are independent of it, and we accept the common sense and scientific explanation of the world, then we would expect the world to appear different to different people. So realism is coherent, common sense, justified by our experiences and the best explanation we have.

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