Sunday, June 26, 2005

Refutation Thus

There are two famous put downs of Bishop Berkeley's views. Boswell writes in his famous Life of Johnson:

After we came out of the church, we stood talking for some time together of Bishop Berkeley's ingenious sophistry to prove the non-existence of matter, and that every thing in the universe is merely ideal. I observed, that though we are satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it, "I refute it thus."
Mgr Ronald Knox, coined both the limerick summary I posted yesterday and his own response in the same form.

Dear Sir: Your astonishment's odd:
I am always about in the Quad.
And that's why the tree
Will continue to be,
Since observed by
Yours Faithfully, GOD.
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