Philosophy optional 791 Views

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To discuss Philosophy optional for CSE 2020&2021

If anyone is interested, to prepare for philosophy optional, we can do daily answer writing chosing one topic a day. I am willing to add a topic and its questions everyday and at the end of the day we can cross check answers and discuss the topic

PS  for prep, free notes are avaiable on

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  1. G.E.Moore’s refutation of idealism.(2015/10) 
  2. Are G.E.Moore’s arguments in defence of common sense satisfactory. Give reasons. (2014/15) 
  3. Comment : ‘Moore’s defence of common sense essentially is defence of common language ’ (2013/12 1⁄2) 
  4. Are the arguments given by G.E. Moore against Idealism adequate? Give reasons for your answer. (2011/30) 

Moore is a contemporary analytical philosopher who provided a critic of Idealism and defended common sense realism

Refutation of Idealism

  • Moore states that idealism takes reality to consist of mind and the content within mind. The universe is spiritual and external objects are dried existence beyond conscious mind
  • He believes that central tenet of Idealism is Berkley’s dictum “Esse est percipe” and all Idealist philosopher relies on this statement in its thesis
  • Thus its refutation is taken up to counter idealism
  • This is done by analysing the role of connection ‘is’ that defines the relation between ‘to be’ and  ‘to be perceived’
  • Complete identity - to be and to to be perceived are synonymous hence ‘to be perceived’ would serve as a definition of ‘to be’ and statement takes the form of and analytical definition. However in that case , it cannot prove anything specially the tenet of idealism as it is tautology and devoid of factual content, useless
  • Partial Identity - ’to be perceived’ is contained in the meaning of ‘to be’. Hence in this case also, statement takes an analytical form that cannot be used as the proof for any idealist thought. Also in this case, as ‘to be perceived ‘ is only a part of ‘to be’ hence ‘to be’ is more than ’to be perceived’. Hence merely on the basis of perception, object cannot be known
  • Different yet necessarily connected - ‘to be’ and ‘to be perceived’ are entirely different yet they are necessarily related to each other. Hence, this is the likely interpretation of idealists. However since the two are different, this statement is synthetic, so the necessity of connection is not possible, being a property of analytical statement, hence resulting in contradiction
  • Thus none of the argument support Idealism. From this, it does not follow that Idealism is false but that it cannot be proved
  • Moore considers differentiation between 2 elements of sensation - consciousness and object of consciousness and consider possible idealist postulate regarding the relation between them
  • Object and object of consciousness have a necessary and internal relation hence it cannot exist without being perceived . Moore takes an example that if we have the sensation of blue colour. An idealist would say that blue colour and its sensation are the same, but now how can we distinguish blue from another colour we observe. Thus to explain the difference between them, we must accept the distinct object of consciousness. Hence these objects are separate from conscious.
  • Object of conscious is the content of conscious - consider a yellow flower. If it is assumed that sensation of yellow is content of consciousness itself, that means yellowness is contained in consciousness itself implying consciousness is yellow but this is absurd
  • It is not the object that is the content of consciousness but the image of object that is the content of consciousness- here it does not follow that object itself is contained in the mind. The image alone is contained in the mind and we can conclude that objects exist independently from the mind while its images are sensed leading to realistic viewpoint
  • Moore suggest that we have an equal connection with ideas and awareness of material objects, this awareness is so basic that it cannot be argued Hence material objects do exist apart from consciousness eg image of tiger and tiger in front of us are different


  • No sound argument is given to show esse est percipe to be central doctrine of Idealism which it is not as philosophies of Plato and Hegel are not based on it
  • Moore have not completely refuted Berkeley as he don’t refute acceptance of God as the source of all ideas
  • The third interpretation is not final as Kant have accepted the policy of synthetic a priori judgement, hence debate is not resolved

Though Moore could not refute idealism, he is considered as pioneer of British realism movement of 20th century. He caused a reduction in influence of Idealist thought and developed the analytical method which have lasting effect on philosophy

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