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Scholars Day 2008, Wednesday, April 9

Berkeley's Pain-Pleasure Argument

The cornerstone of Berkeley’s idealist metaphysics is his doctrine that we perceive only our own ideas or sensations. Yet his first published defense of idealism, the *Principles of Human Knowledge*, gives no arguments for this doctrine, but just assumes it. Only in his *Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous*, published three years after the *Principles*, does Berkeley try to show that we perceive only ideas. In the *Dialogues*, Berkeley deploys, with great ingenuity, lucidity and thoroughness, nearly all of the arguments on which the doctrine that we perceive only ideas rests. This paper examines critically Berkeley’s first argument for this doctrine--the “pain-pleasure argument.”

Presenter: Georges Dicker (Faculty)
Topic: Philosophy
Location: 30 Hartwell
Time: 1:15 am (Session III)