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‘The Table, Which We See’: An Irresolvable Ambiguity

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 February 2006

James Somerville
The University of Hull


The argument presented on behalf of ‘the slightest philosophy’ by Hume that ‘The table, which we see, seems to diminish, as we remove farther from it: But the real table, which exists independent of us, suffers no alteration’, in contrasting the seen with the real table requires the first relative clause to be defining; but the possibility of identifying tables independently of being seen requires the clause to be non-defining. John P. Wright's objection to Reid's rejoinder is rebutted. A similarly worded argument in Alciphron avoids confusion since Berkeley denies that things like tables can be said in any unqualified sense to be seen.

Research Article
The Royal Institute of Philosophy 2006

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