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June 25, 2017

Local Legend Claims One Of The Most Famous Questions in History Was Formulated at Sachuest Beach


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In 1728, after marrying Anne Forster (daughter of John Forster, Chief Justice of the Irish Common Pleas), Dr. George Berkeley, an Anglo-Irish philosopher moved from Ireland to America.

Upon arrival he bought a plantation in Middletown, RI and spent three years in Newport and was much indebted to the members of the congregation at the Trinity Church.

In fact, the original organ at Trinity Church was a gift from Dr. George Berkeley, later Bishop of Cloyne (Ireland).

It was Bishop Berkeley who posed the famous question: “If a tree falls in the forest, but there is no one to hear, is there sound?”.

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According to Trinity Church , local legend has it that the Bishop first formulated his query while meditating in his favorite retreat, a niche (still called “Bishop’s Seat”) in the craggy rocks overlooking Sachuest Beach.

“If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?” is a philosophical thought experiment that raises questions regarding observation and knowledge of reality.

Read More About Bishop Berkeley on Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Bishop-George

This story was originally published on November 7, 2015.

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