Pos­ing the Ques­tion

If a tree falls in a for­est, and no­body is there to hear it, does it make a sound?

That's China - - If A Tree Falls In A Forest... 森林里倒下了一棵树 - Text by Gemma Piali

This per­plex­ing ques­tion has oc­cu­pied the minds of many philoso­phers for cen­turies. If no ones eyes or ears are avail­able to per­ceive ob­jects, do they still ex­ist? While hu­mans have ex­panded their reach to al­most all cor­ners of the globe, there are still dense forests and bar­ren deserts where the foot­prints of hu­mankind do not tread of­ten and have not left well-worn beaten path­ways.

nd Bri­tish em­piri­cist Bishop Ge­orge Berke­ley (16851753), held the motto “To be is to be per­ceived” or in Latin,“Esse est Per­cipi”.The doc­trine re­volves around the ideas of “ide­al­ism” (ev­ery­thing that ex­ists is mind de­pen­dent, and the ob­jects of knowl­edge are in some­way de­pen­dent on the ac­tiv­ity of the mind) and “im­ma­te­ri­al­ism” (mat­ter has no ob­jec­tive ex­is­tence). He be­lieved knowl­edge comes from per­cep­tion, so there­fore the world con­sists of ideas and per­ceiv­ing minds. He wrote in The Prin­ci­ples of Hu­man Knowl­edge, “It is ev­i­dent to any­one who takes a sur­vey of the ob­jects of the hu­man knowl­edge, that they are ei­ther ideas ac­tu­ally im­printed on the senses; or else such as per­ceived by at­tend­ing to the pas­sions and op­er­a­tions of the mind; or lastly, ideas formed by the help of mem­ory and imag­i­na­tion- ei­ther com­pound­ing, di­vid­ing or barely rep­re­sent­ing those orig­i­nally per­ceived in the afore­said ways.” As Berke­ley’s catch­phrase was “Esse est Per­cipi”, if a tree was fall­ing in a for­est with­out any eyes to ob­serve the fall, nor a mind avail­able to per­ceive the ac­tion, then surely he would have be­lieved it would not make a sound? Per­haps some of Berke­ley’s ideas seems ab­surd to us to­day, but strangely the an­swer

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