Resisting Phenomenalism, From Bodily Experience to Mind-Independence

In Alsmith Adrian & Serino Andrea (eds.), The Routledge Handbook of Bodily Awareness. London: Routledge (2022)
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Can one refute Berkeleyan phenomenalism by arguing that sensory objects seem mind-independent, and that, according to Berkeley, experience is to be taken at face value? Relying on Mackie’s recent discussion of the issue, I argue, first, that phenomenalism cannot be straightforwardly refuted by relying on perceptual or bodily experience of mind-independence together with the truthfulness of experience. However, I maintain, second that phenomenalism can be indirectly refuted by appealing to the bodily experience of resistance. Such experience presents us with the causal activity of the resisting physical object. If experience is truthful, as the phenomenalist has it, physical objects are causally active. But then their effects no longer depend on our perceiving them, on pain of overdetermination.

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Olivier Massin
Université de Neuchâtel


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