Locke’s Qualities vs. Berkeley’s Idealism

Topics: Epistemology, George Berkeley, Metaphysics Pages: 2 (754 words) Published: May 11, 2012
Locke’s Qualities vs. Berkeley’s Idealism
In the modern period of philosophy, around the 16th and 17th century, after the fall of Rome and the rise of the dark years, three major events had occurred. The first began with the scientific revolution, where many philosophers were becoming scientist, such as the philosopher of science Francis Bacon. The next event was the resurgence of skepticism, where one questions everything until they discover the truth. For instance, the philosopher famous for saying the phrase “Cogito, ergo sum,” (translated as I think, therefore I am) was the skeptic Rene Descartes, who came up with this quote by doubting everything until there was nothing else to doubt except doubting. The final altering event in the modern period was the split in epistemological perspectives, the study of knowledge and justified belief. The philosophical knowledge is divided into two parts, rationalism and empiricism. Rationalist believes knowledge is obtained in some form or other that provides additional information about the world, which outstrips the information that sense experience can provide. Empiricists develop methods as a means to obtain knowledge through one’s own experience over reason.

There are many great empiricists in the philosophical world, however the most well known are John Locke and George Berkeley. Although, these two philosophers lived in about the same time frame and had the same epistemological perspective, Berkeley did not agree on Locke’s view on qualities, the characteristics of an object that exerts itself on one’s senses. Locke states that one’s perception of an object is categorized into two qualities, primary and secondary. Primary qualities are objective characteristics of objects, such as solidity, height, shape, etc. Secondary qualities are subjective, only exist in the mind of the observers, like color, taste, smell, etc. According to Berkeley, there is no variation between the two behaviors since God produces our...
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