The 18th century Irish philosopher George Berkeley argued that we might know of the existence of other minds based upon our experience of having certain sense-data or “ideas” imprinted upon us. This served, for Berkeley, ultimately as a basis for us to know of a “grand” other mind orchestrating the order among said ideas imprinted upon us, that is, God. This leap to God, however, has been challenged over the past three decades. A very rudimentary form could still be retained though from Berkeley’s argument for God, whereby Berkeley argued that human minds were dependent upon other “more powerful” minds. I shall open with the contention that Berkeley did not actually show that there must exist one or many other minds orchestrating the order among imprinted ideas. This contention shall serve as the ground for speculating what form Berkeleyanism would take, if we posit many other minds instead of one God. I shall argue that this Berkeleyanism “reworked” on the premise of many other minds, could understand those ideas imprinted upon us as having been decided by a commune of finite other minds. I shall also argue that the experience of having ideas imprinted upon us is identical to an experience the Japanese thinker of the same century, Motoori Norinaga, expressed with the phrase semusubenaki (“There is nothing to be done”). This experience of there being “nothing-to-be-done” (Nasusubenaki) shall also be situated within the Berkeleyanism “reworked” around the premise of a commune of other minds imprinting ideas upon us to speculative ends.
CHIM, Wung Cheong
"George Berkeley and Motoori Norinaga on Other Minds and There Being “Nothing to Be Done”,"
Comparative Philosophy: Vol. 12:
1, Article 7.
Available at: https://scholarworks.sjsu.edu/comparativephilosophy/vol12/iss1/7