George Berkeley “We have first raised a dust and then complain we cannot see.” meaning

This quote from George Berkeley is a critique of a certain approach to philosophy and knowledge. Berkeley was an idealist who believed that reality consists solely of minds and their ideas; material objects, according to Berkeley, exist only as perceptions in the minds that perceive them. This notion contrasts sharply with other philosophical perspectives, such as materialism and dualism.

The metaphor of “raising a dust and then complaining we cannot see” can be understood as a criticism of those who create complex theoretical systems or concepts (i.e., “raise a dust”) that are detached from our direct experiences and perceptions, and then become puzzled or troubled when these theories or concepts lead to confusion, scepticism, or paradoxes (i.e., “complain we cannot see”).

In essence, Berkeley is arguing that many philosophical problems arise from overcomplication or abstraction that strays too far from our immediate experiences. His philosophy emphasized returning to direct experience and perception as the basis for understanding reality.

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