Ask the gardener why he thinks yonder cherry tree exists in the garden and he shall tell you, because he sees and feels it; in a word, because he perceives it by his senses. Ask him, why he thinks an orange tree not to be there and he shall tell you, because he does not perceive it. What he perceives by sense, that he terms a real being and saith it is, or exists; but that which is not perceivable, the same, he saith, hath no being.

In response to Hylas' charge that his idealism is in flagrant violation of common sense, Philonous tries to defend himself by pointing out that, contrary to Hylas' accusation, his view is actually the same as the view of the common man. Both he and the common man agree that the best way to know that something exists is to experience it—see it, hear it, smell it, taste it, and you cannot doubt that it is there.

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