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Berkeley's IdealismA Critical Examination$
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Georges Dicker

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780195381467

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195381467.001.0001

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The Likeness Principle

The Likeness Principle

(p.149) 7 The Likeness Principle
Berkeley's Idealism

Georges Dicker

Oxford University Press

Berkeley's contemporaries commonly held a representational theory of perception, according to which our ideas yield knowledge of material things by resembling their primary qualities. Berkeley countered with his Likeness Principle, which says that “an idea can be like only an idea.” On reflection this arresting principle is not obviously true; it require argumentative support. This chapter offers two reconstructions of Berkeley's argument for the principle, criticizes Todd Ryan's recent reconstruction of that argument, and assesses the significance of the principle. It argues that while the principle is effective against crude forms of representationalism that hold that material things are unperceivable tout court, it cannot refute more sophisticated forms of representationalism that hold only that material things are not immediately perceivable, because the distinction between perception and immediate perception renders both reconstructions of the argument for the principle unsound, thereby depriving the principle of the argumentative support that it requires.

Keywords:   representational theory of perception, representationalism, Principles, ideaism, resemblance, immediate perception, Todd Ryan, Douglas Odegard, Locke, mind-dependence of relations, principle of perceptual immediacy

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