Tag: James Boswell

“I refute it thus”

James Boswell wrote this famous entry entitled “Refutation of Bishop Berkeley” in his blog — all right, maybe not a blog, being published in 1791 and all, but at least a log — on Samuel Johnson:

After we came out of the church, we stood talking for some time together of Bishop Berkeley’s ingenious sophistry to prove the nonexistence of matter, and that every thing in the universe is merely ideal. I observed, that though we are satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it — “I refute it thus.”

You’ll see where this is going after the jump.