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Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous Paperback – September 5, 2013


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About the Author

Jonathan Dancy is at University of Reading.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 94 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (September 5, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1463799993
  • ISBN-13: 978-1463799991
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.2 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,467,120 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Rlotz on January 16, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a wonderful little book. However clever Kant may have been, prose style took a turn for the worse in his systematic treatment. Berkeley, by contrast, is a great writer, and these dialogues brim with wit and charm.

Many of the arguments that Berkeley puts forward in these dialogues will seem very strange to a modern reader who is used to the discoveries of the natural sciences; and it is certainly true that many of Berkeley’s arguments against materialism are fallacious. Nonetheless, Berkeley’s thinking was a giant leap forward from Locke’s (whose position is represented by Hylas), and is in many ways strikingly modern.

Here is the best way I can frame it for the philosophical debuttante. Philosophers have long had the nasty habit of positing unknowable metaphysical entities to account for the world. In Aristotelian and Cartesian conceptions, this was simply ‘substance’; in Leibniz, it was the ‘monads’; in Locke—Berkeley’s main opponent—it was ‘primary qualities’; and in Kant, it was ‘noumena’. These entities are, as it were, conjured up by the philosopher’s magic wand to account for the existence of matter, as an underlying substratum that is forever unknowable to us puny mortals.

Berkeley pulls this position to pieces, and for good reason. Why conjure up a mysterious ‘substance’ or ‘primary quality’ with no discernible characteristics? It is only a name we give to the unknown. Instead, Berkeley argues, we should concentrate on what we can access with our senses. ‘Matter’ is not some ghost-like thing without extension of weight, but is instead what we normally take for granted as matter—something with weight, extension, that exists in space and time.
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0 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Tony on May 16, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Not my cup of tea. Some good reflective points, but in all I found the translation and wording to be too laborious.
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