Berkeley on Certainty: A Dilemma

Przemysław Spryszak



In this paper it is argued that it is a condition sine qua non of the success of Berkeley’s anisceptic project that the concept of certainty (i.e. of infallibility, required in philosophy of his time and, according to Berkeley, plainly gained only by his immaterialist solution) have to be fully analysable in terms of his own philosophy, otherwise the very concept should be dismissed by him owing to its meaninglessness. I maintain that his philosophy makes two general ways of the analysis in question possible. I think, however, that both of them seem to have unexpected implications, especially in that it makes our empirical knowledge flowing from immediate perception become not absolutely certain. The alternative: meaninglessness of the term “certain” or uncertainty of that knowledge is what I call “a dilemma” here. Then I try to show that three additional ways of avoiding (or explaining) that dilemma, available assuming Berkeley’s philosophy, i.e. the ways which probably remain in accordance with his position, unfortunately fail as well.

Słowa kluczowe

George Berkeley; certainty; scepticism; perception; ideas; sensations; immaterialism

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