Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous - The First Dialogue: Pages 30-42 Summary & Analysis

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Summary

After having initially succumbed to Philonous’s critique of sensation, Hylas comes up with several suggestions to try and save matter. First, Hylas brings an objection to Philonous’s rejection of extension. Though we might reject what he calls “sensible extension,” which is the size and shape that we observe, we do not have to reject “absolute extension,” which is the extended substance that actually exists independent of our observations. Philonous rejects this view as ridiculous. Every thing which exists is a specific thing. In other words, anything that exists is its own thing, distinct from everything else. Since we can only distinguish extension from other extension based on its relative size, an extension without relative sense or other sensible qualities would be “extension in general” (28). But this is impossible; nothing can exist in general.

Drawing from this, Philonous engages...

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