Berkeley on Ordinary Objects


McDonough, Jeffrey K. “Berkeley on Ordinary Objects.” In The Bloomsbury Companion to Berkeley, edited by Bertil Belfrage Dick and Brook, 385-396. New York: Bloomsbury, 2017.
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Berkeley famously maintains that spirits and ideas exhaust the fundamental ontology of the world. How then do ordinary objects – tables and chairs, cats and dogs – fit into Berkeley’s metaphysics? Section 1 of this essay presents the core of Berkeley’s account of ordinary objects as well as a longstanding objection to that account, namely that he must deny the commonsense conviction that ordinary objects persist even when not perceived by us. Sections 2 through 4 consider three lines of response to the problem of the persistence of ordinary objects that have been attributed to Berkeley by his commentators. Finally, section 5 suggests that those three lines of response might perhaps best be seen as complementary – rather than rival – threads in Berkeley’s considered understanding of things such as birds and bees, mountains and lakes.

Last updated on 02/19/2019