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Critical Analysis of Locke's Representative Realism and Berkeley's Subjective Idealism - Essay Example

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Critical Analysis of Locke's Representative Realism and Berkeley's Subjective Idealism

However, some phenomena are best represented using the theory of realism, while other phenomena are best represented by idealism. An example of which is when attempting to understand the basis of phenomena that are usually labeled as miracles, magic, spontaneous healing, or shamanism. The best theory to adopt in this case is that of idealism. So in practice, a thinker will determine what phenomena are most essential to him, and then support the theory that he deems best to interpret them. In Berkeley’s point of view, all thoughts, passions and ideas exist within the mind, while anything that is outside of the mind is unintelligible. His claims is such that it is impossible for us to ever come to know what is outside the mind, and so, we cannot even think about it. This claim would then entail that anything that is outside of mind has no meaning for us. If something is outside of the mind, it means that we are incapable of receiving any sensory input and any sensations from it. This entails that we are incapale of even perceiving it because we cannot detect it in any way. Sensations are meaningless except to the mind that receives them. All the ideas that we have of objects are derived from sensation and so are set within mind. Objects necessitates a mind to perceive them. It is impossible for us to imagine any sensible thing or object distinct from the sensation or perception of it. While imagination, on the otherhand, is based on what we have already seen. In this view, even mythical ideas such as centaurs, which we have never seen but can imagine, are made up of a collage of other ideas that we are capable of perceiving. The sensations of objects are indivisible from the ideas of them. Berkeley further insists that even though objects exist, they are not made up of an independent medium called matter. The existence of these objects is dependent only on their being perceived by an observer. A mind connects only to other minds while ideas can only relate other ideas. However, if Berkeley is right, if an object did exist that was not related to mind, which means that it would have to be an unthinking thing, then how could it form a mental image in us? If an object is not related to the mind, then it cannot affect our mind in much the same that for an object to affect our mind, it must be a mental product first. In opposition to Berkeley's views, “Representative realism” is Locke’s view that we experience objects indirectly through “representations” wherein the mind represents the world, but does not duplicate it. Primary qualities are measurable using numbers such as those of sizes and weight. Relativism is the view that no one can have perfectly objective knowledge. “Objective” in this context is defined as being “the same for everyone.” Secondary qualities, on the otherhand, results from the interaction of sense data with our sense organs, meaning they are “subjective”. They correspond to nothing about the world as it is, but only about the world as it seems to each of us individually and privately. Locke claims that all knowledge comes from the senses and because each individual has a unique set of sense experiences, no two people will have exactly the same sense experiences. If knowledge comes only from the senses, no two people will have the same knowledge, and as long as people ground their beliefs in their sense data, nobody’ ...Show more


John Locke's theory of representative realism and George Berkeley's subjective idealism are two opposing views. There is no determinate means of deciding between them since there is no actual experiment that can be executed in order to determine whether reality is formed by realism or by idealism…
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Critical Analysis of Lockes Representative Realism and Berkeleys Subjective Idealism essay example
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