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Well-structured, well-thought-out, clear, and reasoned response
Write a well-structured, well-thought-out, clear, and reasoned response to 2 of the topic questions below. You should spend between 3 and 4 pages on each of your 2 answers; the exam must be no more than 8 pages total in length, excluding the “References” – see below. Your assignment must typed, double-spaced, in a normal-sized font (like this one: 12 pt.), with normal-sized margins (like these ones: 1” on each edge), and with numbered pages. The use of outside materials — i.e., any readings or sources not assigned for the course — is permitted only if you receive the instructor’s permission in advance.Papers not meeting these minimal requirements will be returned ungraded; the revised/corrected version will be marked as late.
Text 1: Principles of Human Knowledge & Three Dialogues, edited by Howard Robinson. Oxford, 2009.George Berkeley.
If you choose topic 2,Text 2:John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, edited by Peter Nidditch. Oxford, 1979.
TOPICS 1. As thoroughly and as clearly as you can, set out Berkeley’s critique of materialism. Be sure to make it clear just what materialism is and what material things (and/or substance) are (/is) supposed to be. Make it clear too what exactly Berkeley’s position concerning matter is. (Does Berkeley deny that matter exists? Does he deny that we can know anything about it? Or what? What is/are his main contention(s) about ‘matter’?) Do you find Berkeley’s critique of materialism (/material substance) convincing? Why/why not? Give reasons for what you say.
2. Both Locke and Berkeley believe that a term is meaningful because of the idea(s) associated with it. The Lockean account of the meaningfulness of general terms (“cow”, “triangle”, etc.) involves an appeal to abstraction and ‘abstract ideas’. Briefly set out the Lockean account and then explain Berkeley’s argument(s) against it. (Don’t spend too much time on the former task – focus on Berkeley’s arguments and position.) How does Berkeley explain the meaningfulness of general terms? Do you think that his account is superior to Locke’s? Why/why not? Give reasons for what you say.
3. Samuel Johnson is said to have reacted to Berkeley’s immaterialism by kicking a stone as he said, “I refute him thus!” And in his Sixth Meditation, Descartes seems to raise a problem for the immaterialist who (like Berkeley) believes in God, when he writes: “I do not see how we could clear God of the charge of deceit if [certain of our] ideas did in fact come from some other source or were produced by other causes than corporeal objects.” As clearly and persuasively as you can, defend Berkeley’s view against each of these two objections. (Be sure you make it clear why each of the two objections is supposed to present a problem for Berkeley’s position.) Do you think these responses are adequate? Why/why not? Give reasons for what you say.
4. Explain the role that God plays within Berkeley’s “immaterialist” system. What argument does Berkeley offer for God’s existence? Berkeley admits that we can have only a ‘notion’ of God; what does this mean and why does he think this? How do we come by that notion? Hylas argues that, since Philonous admits that we cannot have a perfectly adequate idea of God, that ought to put God and matter (/material substance) on the same footing. How does Philonous/Berkeley respond? Why does he think that thoughts about matter are problematic in a way that thoughts about God are not? Do you think Philonous/Berkeley’s position here — his response to Hylas, and his claim that there is an asymmetry between matter and God on this point — is satisfactory? Why/why not? Give reasons for what you say.
Your responses should be clear, concise and to the point: do not include anything that does not help you to address the topic questions on which you are writing. Beyond your adequately addressing the topic questions on which you write, evaluation of assignments will be based on: evidence of comprehension of the materials and issues addressed; evidence of original and critical thought with regard to that material; the extent to which you stake out a position and provides good reasons and arguments for it; the extent to which you communicate your ideas clearly (using complete and grammatical sentences, the correct philosophical terms, a clear structure, and so on).
Whenever you use someone else’s words or ideas, or whenever you are referring directly to some portion of a text, indicate this. So, citations are not reserved only for direct quotes. Give the author name and Page Number in brackets in the text itself (e.g., “….(Berkeley, p. 47).”). List full sources, even if you are using only the one text, separately in a “References” section at the end of your paper. (It does not matter which style you use for that.)Plagiarism and other forms of cheating will not be tolerated.
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