Home Random Page



The sensualism and skepticism


The next stage of empiricism in England was sensualism (the trend in epistemology doing accent on sensebilia or sense data). The founder of sensualism is the English philosopher John Locke. His philosophy is founded on the robust sense and deprived of any dogmatism. The main work of Locke dedicated to epistemology and sensualism is the treatise "An Essay concerning Human Understanding". Therein Locke asserted there are no inborn ideas (as it was affirmed by Leibniz or Spinoza) and all man knows he gets from sensual experience. Namely its data fill consciousness. These data were those Locke called ideas. The ideas are divided into simple and complex ones. The simple ideas are elemental sensual perceptions such as 'whiteness', 'hardness' etc. In short they are sensual perceptions of color, form and so forth irreducible to any others. The complex ideas are compounded of simple ones. Especially Locke singled out 'substances' or the complex ideas the bearers of simple ones and modes (sing. modus) the ideas having no independent existence (such as extent, time, space etc.). The simple ideas can be obtained only from the outside. Man can't invent or elaborate them himself. As the argument for it Locke put an instance when they tried to explain a blind (with the inborn blindness) what the yellow color is. They endeavored very long till he had cried out "I've realized what it is, it's like a trumpet's sound". The complex ideas can be invented by human imagination. E. g. it's possible to imagine a horse with lion's head [3, p. 93 – 395].

Ideas by themselves are neither true nor false but being referred to something outer they acquire according marks. The truth is a joint of simple ideas corresponding to the real (outer) state of affairs. Another sensualist the Irish philosopher George Berkeley (in his honor a town in the future USA was named) is famous with his objections against materialism. He affirmed 'to exist is to be perceived' i.e. the reality of a thing consists therein the thing is perceived. There is no underlying substratum. To assert that there exists a matter means to contradict to the Bible because therein it's said that God created the world of visible but is not said the world of the visible matter. Therefore materialism is erroneous and harmful. As the arguments of the non-material character of being Berkeley put a lot of examples demonstrating the subjectivity of the perceived world. For example if we put in one hand into a hot water and another into an icy-cold one then put both hands at once into the water with the normal temperature the hand which was in the hot water will have a sensation of cold but the hand that was in the cold one on the contrary will feel warmth. Two hands of the selfsame person will have different sensations. It according to Berkeley indicates on the subjective (non-material) character of the sense of touch. With similar arguments Berkeley shows the subjective character of visible and audible data and thereby immaterial character of reality.

But the question arises ─ what happens with things when nobody perceives them. They go on to exist, don't they? Yes, they do ─ responds Berkeley. They do because God continues to observe them from any possible point of view even when nobody else is looking at them. Thus we come to the transcendent perception as a ground underlying existence. Berkeley recognized however the substantial character for consciousness because with it all is in quite another way [3, p. 405 – 444]. The substance is something possessing an independent being. The perception can't be recognized as such because it depends on the perceiving consciousness, but the consciousness can because it exists by itself depending on no things. Sensualistic ideas were led to their logical end by the Scottish philosopher David Hume. In his philosophy sensualism passes into skepticism. Hume gave up the idea of substance even for consciousness (i.e. for 'I'). According to Hume 'I' don't exist without sensual perceptions accompanying it. It's only a bunch (some sort of center) of perceptions but no new thing or idea.

We can't get out beyond our Egos, that means only it can be a ground for arranging outer world objects. If there is no substantial "I' there is no grounds for it at all. We arrange the outer objects and events through our causal presentations. But the causality too according to Hume is not something objective or fixed. The idea of it appears when we observe two phenomena together constantly for a long time and one precedes another. This engenders a habit that is the real ground of our causal ideas. What is in real beyond our perceptions and habits we can't know. "The necessity is something existing in reason but not in things" said Hume.

The single possible conclusion from here is skepticism and agnosticism (the approach negating knowability of reality). We can know nothing for sure. What should a scepticist do further? According to Hume he should do the same and behave in the same way as other people. He does and believes the same as usual people but unlike them for himself he restores a probability that all isn't so as it's seen [3, p. 451– 509].


Control questions and exercises


1. What does the specifics of world outlook paradigms of the East and West lie What is rationalism? and what are its peculiarities in a new time?

2. What is empirism? And what are its peculiarities in a new time?

3. What are the problems of induction through the complete and incomplete enumeration?

4. What kinds of "idols" has F. Bacon pointed out? Put examples of them from the modern sciences, social life and so forth.

5. In what and for which reasons according to R. Descartes is it possible or impossible to doubt? Give a ground or objection to these things.

6. What are the simple and the complex ideas according to J. Locke and D. Hume?

7. What according to G. Berkley occurs with the things when nobody is observing (percepting) them? Why?

8. What according to D. Hume does the skeptic and what does the usual person believe in?

9. Give your own grounds or objections to the Hume's views on the nature of causality, matter and human ego.

10. What are the similitudes and differences in the Leibniz's and Spinoza's views on the nature of Universe, God, human soul? Compare these views with the ones of Christian Church, Buddhism and Advaita­vedanta.



Date: 2014-12-21; view: 1320

<== previous page | next page ==>
Leibniz’s philosophy | Chapter 6. The Classical German philosophy
doclecture.net - lectures - 2014-2024 year. Copyright infringement or personal data (0.008 sec.)