Proceedings of the XXII World Congress of Philosophy

Volume 45, 2008

Philosophy of Religion

Eduard I. Sorkin
Pages 501-509

Rethinking Ideas of Newton, Berkeley and Mach Today

The report is dedicated to modern understanding of the correlation between science and religion that is based on the analysis of certain ideas formulated by Newton, Berkeley and Mach. Newton proceeded from the existence of infinite (absolute) Space that he interpreted as the Sensory of the intelligent omnipresent Being (God) who sees things themselves intimately, and throughly perceives and comprehends them. Human being also has his little “Sensoriums” perceiving the images of things, the Order and the Beauty of their arrangement. Mach emphasized that since Newton’s period space and time have become “immaterial substances that form the most important basis of our sensual world outlook”. Apparently, this “immateriality of substances” manifests itself in the way Mach interprets our perceptions, conceptions, will, feelings, i.e. all inner and outer world, which he understands as small number of homogeneous elements called sensations (Empfindungen). These sensations are compared in the report to what Berkeley called ideas while he denied the existence of the real absolute noncreated space that is part, or attribute, of God. If we accept the idea that beside space and time inseparable from matter as it is scientifically comprehended, there exist absolute space and time as Newton interpreted them, then these space and time must exist outside our universe or parallel to it. This brings us to the panentheistic model (Eduard I. Sorkin, ХХIst World Congress of philosophy, Abstracts 2003, pp. 374‐375). According to Mach the law of causality is separated from space and time while the laws of nature are just limitations that our experience dictates to our expectations. The report shows that if the Mach’s concept had been supplemented by the “idealistic” views of Newton and Berkeley, it would have been more convincing – something contrary to fideism.