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Berkeley's Three DialoguesNew Essays$
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Stefan Storrie

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198755685

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198755685.001.0001

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Berkeley on God’s Knowledge of Pain

Berkeley on God’s Knowledge of Pain

(p.136) 9 Berkeley on God’s Knowledge of Pain
Berkeley's Three Dialogues

Stephen H. Daniel

Oxford University Press

Berkeley notes that despite the fact that God does not experience pain passively or by sense as we do, he comprehends what pain is because he is omniscient and the cause of our sensations. Critics have noted, however, that if God causes our ideas of pain, he must know what pain is by modelling our sensations of pain on his own ideas; otherwise, he is a blind agent. After considering accounts by Thomas, Winkler, McCracken, Frankel, Roberts, and Pitcher, the chapter argues that, for Berkeley, God’s ‘comprehension’ of all things refers to how God knows things not as discrete, unconnected objects but as ideas that are perceivable in harmonious relations. Our experience of pain is thus due not to any divine idea but to our failure to comprehend that harmony.

Keywords:   pain, God, blind agency, comprehension, divine idea, harmony, sensory perception

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