Locke and Berkeley’s Views on Representative Realism

Length: 6 Pages 1470 Words

Philosophy Assignment Locke and Berkeley’s Views on Representative Realism What are Berkeley’s main criticisms of Locke’s representative realism? Are his objections good ones? Representative realism is the belief that physical objects are independent from the mind and that they carry certain characteristics that have nothing to do with the individual perceiving them. It is the belief that objects exist whether or not they are being perceived or not. John Locke was a realist, who held a strong belief in the idea that physical objects are real and that they carry specific characteristics no matter whom the perceiver is. He held that our perception is not always accurate as it does not always tell us how something really looks or feels or smells, etc. and that objects will always be there, that we, as human beings, perceive ideas first and than the physical object itself. We perceive primary qualities, i.e. physical properties. Locke believes that primary qualities, such as motion or shape, are in the objects themselves and do not rely on being perceived. Secondary qualities, such as colour or temperature, depend on the mind of the perceiver. They produce specific sensations in us, which affect how we view th Continue...


If idealism is true, than no objects can exist outside of the mind; yet objects do exist so idealism must be false. Berkeley's master argument is his strongest argument to Locke. Berkeley believes that material substance does not exist meaning objects must exist in our minds if they don't exist independently. He states that we cannot attempt to conceive an object which is outside of our mind; nothing can be thought of that is un-thought-of. He believes that objects do exist outside of the mind, but that they are unable to be conceived without a perceiver. I do not agree with Berkeley on this statement because many things to exist outside of our mind and dreams are very different from reality. Berkeley and Locke contained very different views and ideas on representative realism. Locke states in his "Common World Objection, that if idealism is true and physical objects are ideas, i. It would be a contradiction to say that we thought of something that was outside of our mind and that existed un-thought-of. ) Therefore, secondary qualities are also mind-dependent, for it is in our biological make-up, like the firing of our nerves that tells us how hot or cold the water is. All physical objects depend on the human mind in order for them to exist. However, if Berkeley were to respond he would likely state that we are able to tell the difference between dreams and reality, since dreams are more dependent on our views and ideas, but that dreams work the same way as ideas do, in our mind. Berkeley replies to this argument by stating that the word "same is a misrepresentation as it is being used in two different contexts. He held that primary qualities are no different from secondary qualities in that they are both mind-dependent. These qualities do not need a perceiver as they will stay the same no matter who is viewing them.