Mind-Dependence in Berkeley and the Problem of Perception

Australasian Journal of Philosophy 99 (4):648-668 (2021)
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Abstract

ABSTRACT On the traditional picture, accidents must inhere in substances in order to exist. Berkeley famously argues that a particular class of accidents—the sensible qualities—are mere ideas—entities that depend for their existence on minds. To defend this view, Berkeley provides us with an elegant alternative to the traditional framework: sensible qualities depend on a mind, not in virtue of inhering in it, but in virtue of being perceived by it. This metaphysical insight, once correctly understood, gives us the resources to solve a central problem that still plagues the philosophy of perception—the problem of how, given the power of the mind to create phenomenally rich experiences, ordinary perception can nonetheless be said to acquaint us with the mind-independent world.

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Umrao Sethi
Brandeis University

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