George Berkeley was an Irish bishop and empiricist. His core philosophy was ‘esse est percipi’ this translates to, to be, is to be perceived. Berkeley believed that both primary and secondary objects were perceiver dependent believed that the world was not was not separate from the mind ergo; he was an immaterialist (we perceive things in the mind). He started his argument for empiricism by stating that in order for things to exist they must be perceived, due to holding this view point he thought that everything depends on the mind.
This raises an immediate problem. If everything is perceiver dependent, what happens when an object is not being perceived? Does it simply pop out of existence? This argument does not seem coherent. This is due to the idea being an extremely irrational understanding of the world. The concept can also be disproved. This is because if we could put a video camera into a room and leave it so no one perceived the room and the objects in it and it would not disappear.
Berkeley later added to his argument, as an attempt to solve this problem that no object is un-perceived. He claims objects do not disappear out of exist due to there being a constant perceiver, God. This is as God is omnipresent therefore, he always perceives the world. Thus objects do not pop out existence as they are constantly perceived. However by adding the existence of God to his argument it became weak. This is due to a huge assumption. This assumption is that God exists. There are many arguments both for and against God’s existence, such as the teleological argument and the problem of evil. It seems strange to base a theory of object’s existence on a being whose existence is unproven.
Bertrand Russell disagreed with Berkeley’s argument for objects existences. Russell argued that if he was sat in his chair and his cat was in one corner of the room and he turned round on his chair and the cat was at the other side of the room, according to Berkeley there was only two possible ways this could have happened. Firstly the cat could have popped out of existence when Russell turned on his chair and then popped back into existence when he had turned back round. Or secondly, the cat could have walked across the room when he was turned on the chair due to God perceiving it. Russell claimed that these two possibilities were irrational and we could not use these two claims for the existence of objects.