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Saturday, August 18, 2012

Berkeley

The Distinguished Bishop of Cloyne Wearing a Silly Hat.

It is incredibly cheeky of me to say so, but I really think Western philosophy has been in a funk since Berkeley. It seems to me Berkeley resolved everything and has never been successfully challenged. Nevertheless, his conclusions have been so difficult for many to swallow that ever since, philosophers have turned on philosophy itself, seeking to deny it in order to deny Berkeley.

As my first-year philosophy professor said, “but we know there are no unicorns.” Struck me as special pleading at the time, and it still does. The real problem with Berkeley, I think, is that he leaves God too prominent. That is intrinsically frightening to anyone with something to hide. 

Hume Wearing an Even Sillier Hat and Playing the Clown.

Therefore, philosophers since Hume have gone after the fundamental premise that reason can lead us to truth. This is the essence of Hume, Kant, Hegel, and Nietzsche; of the entire Romantic movement, from the 19th century until now; Marx and Freud and Modernism and Post-Modernism too. It gets quite tedious. It has also been an axe hacking sat the root of Western civilization ever since—rejecting reason means rejecting all established order. We have seen great bloodbaths since. 

Kant, Seen from
Above.

But it is all also, surely, self-contradictory. As we mentioned earlier with regard to Hume, to use a rational argument to show that reason cannot be trusted is to show that this argument, too, cannot be trusted. It is self-contradictory.

It is therefore necessary to conclude that reason can be trusted. The basic operations of reason must be understood as essential, eternal elements of the universe as it truly is—the eternal Logos. 

Hegel, on a Good Day.


Which slams us right into the imaginary stone wall of Berkeley. Since then, there has been nothing in the field of ontology, although there have been good social and natural philosophers.

Berkeley says only perceptions exist; there is no independently existing material world to which they refer. Everything subsists in the mind of God. We are all avatars in a cosmic video game. 

Nietzsche in the Old Philosophers' Home, Dying of Syphilis.

Deal with it, already.

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