- With reference to Locke's theory regarding ideas as well to the idea of primary and secondary qualities, breakdown and explain in Locke’s own terms what exactly you are perceiving when you perceive an object that you would identify as “a yellow banana”. In other words, what exactly are the primary qualities of this object, and what are its secondary qualities?
A yellow banana would be identified according to Locke’s analogy using various steps. The idea that the object is a banana to start with, is derived from learning and after the individual has interacted with bananas and learnt to identify as such by their qualities. A baby, according to Locke would not identify a banana upon its birth but goes on to learn the qualities of a banana and is later able to identify it. The banana is identified by using its qualities both primary and secondary. The primary qualities of the banana are that of its shape and solidity. The physical presence of the banana builds the case towards it correct identification as a banana as bananas being physical objects, occupy space and have matter. The secondary attributes that would be used in identifying the banana in this case are its color yellow; it is uncommon to see bananas of other colors other than yellow. The appearance of another object resembling a banana but without the characteristic yellow color would encourage further investigation. The smell of the object would also be important as bananas have a characteristic smell w3hich is identifiable to bananas only. The secondary attributes give the banana its specific attributes which differentiates it from anything else.
- At the very beginning of his analysis, Berkeley states that in addition to the ideas of the mind he believes that there is “something entirely distinct from them, something in which they exist, or by which they are perceived” namely, the mind or "the self".
Hume, on the other hand, notes that this "perceiving subject" is never directly perceived but that it represents something we are strongly inclined to assume must exist since we are inclined to believe that "something" must be the subject of all of these various experiences (ideas or impressions).
Who is correct? Is Berkeley correct when he suggests that "the self" represents a real thing that is distinct from these experiences, or is Hume correct that the idea of a "distinct self" represents a fictional entity that we invent to account for our psychological tendency to believe that "something or someone" must be the subject of the ideas and impressions.
Hume in his analysis credits our knowledge to the ability of the mind to process and relate our certain ideas and experiences to the things we know. Berkeley, on the other hand holds that our ideas and knowledge must rest in something distinct from them. Berkeley holds that knowledge lies in ideas of our perceptions and that for knowledge to be present; one must have the ability to perceive the thing they purport to know. I find Berkeley’s analogy weak in the sense that, failure of an individual to perceive something does not refute its existence. For Berkeley, what exists is what is perceived, it would be wrong to make this assumption as, for instance, people are able to relate for instance a moving tractor, sighted in the distance as to be producing a sound even when they cannot perceive it.
Hume on the other hand is right in my view since he takes into consideration that what exists is as a result of experience and what the brain relates to certain things. The sight of a tractor in this case can stimulate an individual to relate that tractor to the sound it produces even without actually hearing it.
- Is there a flaw in Hume's argument when he claims that our experience of any given case of cause and effect represents nothing more than a psychological tendency within our minds to assume a necessary connection where no such connection can be demonstrated? If there is a flaw in Hume's argument, what is it? If Hume’s argument is not flawed, what impact does this particular insight have with respect to the scientific disciplines (that seem to rely rather heavily on experimental methods
I find that there is no flaws in Hume’s analysis as our mind accumulate knowledge, as we grow older and learn to associate things to others. our knowledge of the world around us is progressive as we accumulate association between the various phenomena of the world. It would be normal to assume that our experience of pain, for instance, is as a result of a physical discomfort caused by an external force such as a piercing, or an ailment. We learn over time that certain scenario leads to certain experiences and our minds learn to make these associations. This is the learning capacities of humans which enables us to be more proactive in our relations to the environment rather than reactive. We avoid things that our minds associate with discomfort, rather than experience that discomfort every time and take remedial measures instead.
There is no significant impact on science by this analogy as experimental methods, if pioneering, establish a certain result and it is set as a standard for subsequent experiments. A different result in an experiment repeated over many years, by association as held in Hume’s analysis would mean that the methods applied were flawed.
Response to a friend’s response
The identification made to the banana is as a result of ideas held in the brain with regards to how it associates with bananas. The idea is a regurgitation of memory, while it would be hard to identify a banana without having prior interactions with them, say; growing up in an area that does not grow bananas, my friend identified the banana as a result of familiarity. An individual without prior interaction with bananas would perceive these qualities, but associate them with nothing.
Berkeley’s analogy with relation to God and the role he plays in our knowledge lend his arguments some sense of vanity. He holds that God is an integral part in determining what we know, while in essence contradicting his view on knowledge being based on perception. God is a concept that is not perceptible by any human senses and as such, Berkeley fails in supporting his arguments concretely.
Hume is comprehensive and relatable in his analysis. Human beings learn primarily because of memory and relation. It would be wrong to discredit knowledge, despite its method of acquisition, as wrong as it is correct and corroborated for not being acquired through perception.
Bennett, Jonathan F. Learning from Six Philosophers: Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Berkeley, Hume. Oxford: Clarendon, 2001. Print.