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Dr. Johnson kicks a rock, cleans Berkeley's clock

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  • Robert Mason
    The Philosophy 333 seminar is now in session; Mr. Boswell will present the first paper. From Boswell s *Life of Samuel Johnson*: After we came out of the
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 25, 2009
      The Philosophy 333 seminar is now in
      session; Mr. Boswell will present the
      first paper.

      From Boswell's *Life of Samuel Johnson*:

      "After we came out of the church,
      we stood talking for some time together
      of Bishop Berkeley's ingenious sophistry
      to prove the non-existence of matter,
      and that every thing in the universe is
      merely ideal. I observed, that though
      we are satisfied his doctrine is not
      true, it is impossible to refute it. I
      never shall forget the alacrity with
      which Johnson answered, striking his
      foot with mighty force against a large
      stone, till he rebounded from it,
      'I refute it thus.'"

      From Ernst Lehrs' *Man or Matter*:

      "[Thomas] Reid himself rightly placed
      Berkeley amongst the representatives of
      the 'ideal system' of thought. For
      Berkeley's philosophy represents an
      effort of the onlooker-consciousness,
      unable as it was to arrive at certainty
      regarding the objective existence of a
      material world outside itself, to secure
      recognition for an objective Self behind
      the flux of mental phenomena. Berkeley
      hoped to do this by supposing that the
      world, including God, consists of nothing
      but 'idea'-creating minds, operating
      like the human mind as man himself
      perceives it. His world picture, based
      (as is well known) entirely on optical
      experiences, is the perfect example of
      a philosophy contrived by the one-eyed,
      colourblind world-spectator."

      Steiner said:

      ". . . . with what the sense of touch
      attains in touching . . . . What does,
      however, stream into the soul is nothing
      else but being permeated with the feeling
      of God. Without the sense of touch, man
      would have no feeling for God. What is
      felt by the sense of touch as roughness
      and smoothness, hardness and softness,
      is the element streaming outward. What
      is turned back as a soul phenomenon is
      the condition of permeation with universal
      cosmic substance, with being as such. It
      is precisely through the sense of touch
      that we ascertain the existence of the
      outer world. When we see something, we
      do not immediately believe that it is
      indeed present in space; we are convinced
      of its spatial existence when the sense
      of touch can grasp it. What permeates all
      things and penetrates into us also, what
      holds and bears all of you — this
      all-pervading substance of God — enters
      consciousness and is the inwardly
      reflected experience of the sense of touch."

      That, from *Spiritual Science as a Foundation
      for Social Forms*, Lecture III -- recently
      up at the eLib. As you can see, this cycle
      contains much more than would seem to be
      obviously concerned with sociology:

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