By Aaron Garrett
Berkeley's 3 Dialogues is a key textual content within the heritage of philosophy - the dialogues are, apart from Hume's, arguably crucial philosophical dialogues written in English. As such, this can be a highly interesting, but problem.
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Additional info for Berkeley's 'Three Dialogues': A Reader's Guide
Yet it is certain . . that all these qualities do not exist outside the soul that perceives them - at least it is not evident that they are in the bodies that surround us. 26 Malebranche notes that we perceive colours as spatially extended and 'on' bodies and sounds as 'spread out through the air'. If this is the case, why should we have faith either that states of bodies (or primary qualities) are accurately represented by their ideas, or indeed that bodies exist at all? Berkeley considers each of the different senses - touch, taste, smell, sound, and sight.
It was common practice from the Renaissance onward to give characters in philosophical dialogues names derived from Greek and Latin words that told the reader something about them (as opposed to how Plato used the names of real historical figures like Socrates and Alcibiades in his dialogues). 'Philonous' means 'lover of the mind' or 'lover of knowledge' (which is an appropriate epithet for Berkeley as well, as we shall see) in Greek. 4 The very first words of the dialogue are Philonous' greeting: 'Good morrow, Hylas: I did not expect to find you abroad so early' (D 11:171).
It is amenable to the new science and the corpuscularian physics of Robert Boyle, but does not commit to one ontology or physical theory. At the same time, Locke allows that there is something mental and qualitatively irreducible about experiences of colour and pain. That there is an explanation of how I experience red does not mean that it explains the particular qualitative features of the experience of red. Even if there is an explanation in principle, it does not mean that I or any other finite creature can ever access it.