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A Metaphysics for the MobThe Philosophy of George Berkeley$

John Russell Roberts

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195313932

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195313932.001.0001

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Epigraph

Epigraph

Source:
A Metaphysics for the Mob
Publisher:
Oxford University Press

(p.vii) Phaedrus: It is somewhere here at which Boreas is said to have carried off Orithyia from the banks of the Ilissus. … I wonder Socrates, do you believe this tale?

Socrates: I should be quite in the fashion if I disbelieved it, as the men of science do. I might proceed to give a scientific account of how the maiden, while at play with Pharmacia, was blown by a gust of Boreas down from the rocks hard by, and having thus met her death was said to have been seized by Boreas. For my part, Phaedrus, I regard such theories as no doubt attractive, but as the invention of clever, industrious people who are not exactly to be envied, for the simple reason that they must then go on and tell us the real truth about the appearance of centaurs and the Chimera, not to mention a whole host of such creatures, Gorgons and Pegasuses and countless other remarkable monsters of legend flocking in on them. If our skeptic, with his somewhat crude science, means to reduce every one of them to the standard of probability, he'll need a deal of time for it. Now I have no leisure for such inquiries; shall I tell you why? I must first know myself, as the Delphian inscription says; so long [as] I am still in ignorance of my own self, it seems to me ridiculous to inquire into extraneous matters. And therefore I bid farewell to all this; the common opinion is enough for me. For, as I was saying, I want to know not about this, but about myself: am I a monster more complex and swollen with pride than Typho, or a being whom heaven has blessed with a simple and quiet nature?

—Plato, Phaedrus (p.viii)