Wednesday, October 24, 2007

What Berkeley Said in America

Another doggerel, this time summarizing Berkeley's comments on visual language in the Alciphron.

What Berkeley Said in America

If you ask if there's a God,
Berkeley says that you should know;
If you haven't seen it all by now,
You're really rather slow.
Take any man you wish,
Whomever he may be,
His seeing God is more certain
Than his seeing you or me.

How can this be? you cry!
It just takes a bit of sense
(The sense of sight to be exact)
And, no more words to mince,
If you attend to all your vision,
If you have the eyes to see,
Seeing God is more certain
Than is seeing you or me.

When I see my good grandmother,
I see her by her signs;
The tokens that I see
Suggest a mind's designs.
Take this idea and follow it
And soon you'll come to see
That seeing God is more certain
Than seeing you or me.

If we see the signs of mind,
Then a mind we should conclude
(For if we ever let go this
We are both absurd and rude).
As you see your own dear mother
You may your Creator see:
Proving God is at least as easy
As proving her to be.

I see you in the street
So I know that you exist
Though I do not see the thinking
In which your mind consists;
For I see and hear the tokens
Of your mind's pure poetry.
But seeing God is far more easy
Than seeing you or me.

If you see a person's figure,
Perhaps you are deceived.
But if he stops to talk with you
His existence you'll believe.
Ah, but now beware
For the conclusion you cannot flee:
Knowing God is quite easy
If God speaks to you or me.

We think we see distance in itself,
Though we never really do,
As you can find discussed
In New Theory section 2.
So distance is not immediate
And soon you shall see
That seeing God is as easy
As seeing you or me.

When we see things far or near
We see distance by its signs,
For they have no intrinsic connection
Like geometric lines.
So by word-like convention
We know the things we see,
And almost we are there,
To seeing God like you or me!

The object of our sight
Is always what we see,
But see it far then near
And different it will be;
A dot on the horizon
Cannot be the massy tree,
So sight must work by sign.
Soon God, you'll admit, you see.

Now, varied are these symbols,
And yet they work by rules;
And they inform us by convention
Just like our verbal tools.
For we see by mediation
The firm and bulky tree;
But, since vision is a language
God speaks to you and me.

The Author of our Nature
Speaks to our human eyes
Always, in all places,
And don't act so surprised.
In Him we live and move,
And God is always truly near,
And to every single open eye
He speaks with witness clear.

So open up your senses
And no religious view despise;
To know that there's a God
Just open up your eyes.
To see there is a God
You must have eyes to see;
But seeing God is far more easy
Than seeing you or me.

Thus spake Berkeley in America.

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