By Aaron Garrett
Berkeley's 3 Dialogues is a key textual content within the heritage of philosophy - the dialogues are, aside from Hume's, arguably crucial philosophical dialogues written in English. As such, this can be a highly fascinating, but problem.
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Additional info for Berkeley's 'Three Dialogues': A Reader's Guide
And it makes clear that the work is very much about spirits: ours and others, and God. 20 CHAPTER THREE READING THE TEXT 'PREFACE' AND THE 'FIRST DIALOGUE' (II: 167-207) The commentary on the 'First Dialogue' is far longer than the comment on the two dialogues which follow it. This is mostly due to the greater need for conceptual and historical stage-setting: much more needs to be said about Berkeley's initial concepts and arguments at the beginning than when they are referred back to later. And some concepts need to be treated, notably abstraction, which Berkeley only discusses scantily.
Solidity is crucial for Locke in that it is a basic (perhaps the basic) property of bodies, and although Locke does not explicitly refer to it as a primary quality it seems that he viewed it as an exemplary primary quality. For Locke solidity, as opposed to 'hardness', is not just a relational property of bodies ('I am made of feathers so that pillow feels mighty hard'), but instead appears to be an intrinsic non-relational property of all bodies. But what of heat and cold? Locke offers heat and cold as exemplary secondary qualities and argues that their paradoxical features can best be explained with a corpuscularian theory: Ideas being thus distinguished and understood, we may be able to give an Account, how the same Water, at the same time, may produce the Idea of Cold by one Hand, and of Heat by the other: Whereas it is impossible, that the same Water, if those Ideas were really in it, should at the same time be both Hot and Cold.
As with Plato's Republic and Symposium, the opening and closing of all three of Berkeley's Dialogues contain literary details that provide context for the arguments to follow. Philonous begins the dialogue by noting that Hylas is up uncharacteristically early. This greeting implies that Hylas is the sort of person who stays up late and rarely wakes early: one who is likely not leading the most proper life. As it turns out, Hylas is awake so early because he has never slept: he has stayed up all night due to philosophical agitation!
Berkeley's 'Three Dialogues': A Reader's Guide by Aaron Garrett