Introduction to Philosophy, S04 PHI 100 @ Cortland College, FA 11


Notes: 3 Dialogues

3 Dialogues

Between Hylas and Philonous in Opposition to Sceptics and Atheists


The Characters

  • Hylas (Matter)- Locke’s position
  • Philonous (Lover of Mind)- Berkeley’s position


Material Substance

  • Do we experience an object as it truly is?

We experience the object to what is particular to us; this means that our experiences are what give us a sense of a particular object. We do not experience an object by what it really is, so everyone has their own perspective on different objects although it may be the same object different people are talking about.

(Example: the color green is what people see, but people may have a different experience if for example they are color blind.)

Another experience might be a fire distinguisher. Someone who has used one may be more grateful for that certain object while a person who has never experienced using one might not care as much of the fire extinguisher and what it is really made of.

Material Substance- Hylas

  1. We experience objects through our senses.
  2. The source of our experiences are objects independent of us.
  3. These objects exist independent of us because they are made of a material substance.

All objects are made of a material substance and we might look at them a different way due to our experiences.

Material Substance- Philonous



  • All sensible qualities are in the mind, not the object and
  • All experience is of sensible qualities


  • There is no reason to think that the objects exist at all

Because everything is in the mind, Philonous believes that all material substances are created and derive from the mind which is true because our mind is what helps us to perceive objects.

Material SubstancePhilonous

Belief in material substance must read to lack of belief in knowledge of the world.

Mental Substance- Philonous

Can you imagine a tree that is unperceived?

If you were to ask someone if there was a tree in the middle of the room they might think you are going crazy, and no one else might help you back up your idea because of how crazy it might seem.

  1. All sensory experience is in the mind and, so, an idea.
  2. All ideas must exist in a mind
  3. Experience shows me that objects (ideas) exist without me, so…
  4. There must be a mind that perceives everything all the time.

Some people may have a mind full of creativity, but because that is one person’s own experience, another person would have to see the physical object to try to understand what the other person is talking about.


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