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In the Principles of Human Knowledge George Berkeley argues that material objects are nothing more than images within the mind This idealism suggests that no physical non-thinking entities are real The only reality of the objects is the image within the mind of the perceiver of the objects For instance objects are perceived by the senses We then perceive or interpret our own ideas or sensations Thus the ideas have more reality to us than does the objects that we supposedly perceive Next Berkeley defines the term existence For a body to exist one must perceive it or have the potential to perceive it Yet everything that we perceive or have the potential to perceive is ideas Thus to say that a body exists is to say that you merely had an idea of that body An objection to this argument is that one cannot have an idea of something without perceiving the real object To retort this statement Berkeley suggests that we cannot distinguish the sensible objects form the perception of these objects In other words it is impossible to separate in thought the so called real bodies that we see and feel from the mental perception of these bodies Berkeley asserts that to separate these images would be analogous to dividing a human body or separating the image of a rose from the smell of a rose According to Berkeley separating these images would be an example of abstraction In his effort to prove that material objects only exist within the mind of the perceiver Berkeley asserts that one must actually perceive an object to have an idea about it An idea exists only if it is perceived Physical objects are collections of ideas Physical objects can therefore only exist when perceived For example consider a person to be thinking of a certain tree in his favorite pasture If he does not actually look at this tree or directly sense it
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