By Mark Aldanov
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Additional info for L'Evasion
Berkeley is not very careful about this distinction, but in fact he takes himself to have done both, as we can see in two passages in the Dialogues. ' (p. 258). For the second: 'Wood, stones, fire, water, flesh, iron, and the like things, which I name and discourse of, are things that I know. And I should not have known them, but that I perceived them by my senses . . Away then with all that scepticism' (p. 230). Page 21 By the time we reach §24, an enormous amount has been achieved. Berkeley has already established the central elements of his metaphysical scheme, and saved us from the errors of materialism.
But Berkeley defends his claims with extraordinary skill, using a minimum of resources but marshalling his arguments impeccably. The basic moves are not too difficult to grasp, but the question where, if anywhere, he makes his mistakes is still unsolved. If Berkeley's key to the problems of philosophy requires us to say about size and shape what others have said about colour and sound, he is Page 6 standing on the shoulders of his predecessors; his views do not come from nowhere. His originality as a philosopher lies in the fact that he presses harder than anyone before him on the relation between our experience and the supposedly independent world that our experience tells us about.
In the third part, where he is listing advantages, things are rather more positive. As far as common sense goes, Berkeley's official position is that he has nothing to fear. He claims that the ordinary person will find nothing substantial to disagree with in immaterialism. The notion of material substance is an invention of philosophers, not part of the common-sense picture of the world. On the immaterialist account, the world we live in remains as real and as independent as common sense takes it to be.