ABSTRACT George Berkeley is usually not discussed in the canonical histories of modern aesthetics. Similarly, Berkeley scholars do not seem to have paid attention to his possible contribution to modern aesthetics. Berkeley exploited certain theoretical potentials of the emerging aesthetic experience that was invented and formulated especially by his contemporaries like Joseph Addison, Richard Steele and Lord Shaftesbury. He applied these elements in shaping a theologico-aesthetic language in the very same period when Francis Hutcheson and Alexander Baumgarten wrote their widely (...) acclaimed first aesthetic theories in Europe. At the same time, Berkeley advances the linguistic and religious aspects of the modern aesthetic experience not in his theoretical, but in his pragmatical and popularizing writings. Instead of relying on a purely rational theology or a negative theology, he offers an ‘aesthetic’ one based on the model of the beautiful and the sublime. Aesthetically, this meant a re-interpretation and re-configuration of the duality of the beautiful and the sublime – decades before Edmund Burke's Philosophical Enquiry. (shrink)
This is a short scholarly note about my retrieval an original copy of the Daily Post-Boy issue no. 7024 from September 9th,1732 from a private seller. In this issue we find an anonymous letter addressed to Berkeley which gave rise to him writing the Theory of Vision Vindicated. While Berkeley Berkeley appended a copy of the anonymous critic’s letter to TVV, until now an original copy of The Daily Post-Boy issue had yet to be discovered. -/- I have donated the (...) original copy to the Marsh's Library in Dublin, but you will find a scan of the original document attached to the note. -/- . (shrink)
Berkeley holds that the essence of sensible objects is percipi. So, sensible objects cannot exist unperceived. Naturally, this has invited questions about the existence of sensible objects when unperceived by finite minds. This is sometimes called the Problem of Continuity. It is frequently said that Berkeley solves the problem by invoking God's ever-present perception to ensure that sensible objects maintain a continuous existence. Problems with this line of response have led some to a phenomenalist interpretation of Berkeley's claim. This paper (...) argues that neither of these are Berkeley's solution since he recognizes no such problem. The paper sketches a new interpretation of sensible objects that obviates the need for a "solution" by avoiding the "problem" in the first place. (shrink)
One of the most famous critiques of the Leibnitian calculus is contained in the essay “The Analyst” written by George Berkeley in 1734. His key argument is those on compensating errors. In this article, we reconstruct Berkeley's argument from a systematical point of view showing that the argument is neither circular nor trivial, as some modern historians think. In spite of this well-founded argument, the critique of Berkeley is with respect to the calculus not a fundamental one. Nevertheless, it highlights (...) central aspects of the calculus that are characteristic of modern scientific theories. (shrink)
In June of 2012 scholars from Europe and North America met in Montreal to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the publication of George Berkeley's *Passive Obedience*. In this article Stephen Daniel summarizes the English presentations, and Sébastien Charles summarizes the French presentations, on how Berkeley invokes naturalistic themes in developing a moral theory while still allowing a role for God.
This essay provides some historical background for, and considers the philosophical importance of, the collection of Anne Berkeley’s letters to Adam Gordon. The primary philosophical significance of the letters is her arguments against the so-called “free thinkers.” She discusses the philosophical view and the behavior of five prominent free-thinkers: Shaftesbury, Bolingbroke, Voltaire, Rousseau, and Hume. Her discussion of Shaftesbury is particularly illuminating and can be read as a commentary on Alciphron III.13-14. Because the work of the other four were published (...) mainly after the Bishop’s death, the letters also show Anne ’s independent lifelong interest in matters theological, philosophical, and moral. (shrink)
Chez Berkeley, la courte vue correspond, métaphoriquement, à l'inspection minutieuse d'un objet, tandis que la vision synoptique est la contemplation de l'univers d'un point de vue qui serait celui de Dieu. Dès 1707, Berkeley déclare qu'il est « naturellement myope », en ajoutant que ce défaut le conduirait à examiner les choses et les mots de beaucoup plus près qu'il n'est nécessaire pour les autres. Ses écrits sont entièrement soustendus par une dualité entre myopie et vue synoptique mais cette dualité, (...) très présente dans l'immatérialisme stricto sensu, peut être problématique pour les desseins apologétiques de Berkeley. With Berkeley, short-sightedness is a metaphorical description of minute inspection of a definite object, whereas long -sightedness is the idealized contemplation of universe from the standpoint of God. As early as 1707, Berkeley asserts that he is "naturally short-sighted", adding that this defect may induce him to examine things and words nearer than it is necessary for other people. My aim is to show that the duality between short sightedness and long -sightedness entirely underlies Berkeley's writings. I shall exhibit that such a duality is present in Berkeley's immaterialism, as well as in his moral philosophy, producing a clash between Berkeley's own free-thinking and his apologetic concerns. (shrink)
For the last 30 years I have been writing a trilogy on Locke’s, Berkeley’s, and Hume’s philosophies of money. With the publication of Clipped Coins. Abused Words and Civil Government; John Locke’s Philosophy of Money and Exciting the Industry of Mankind; George Berkeley’s Philosophy of Money and with the last volume on Hume in preparation, the trilogy is now almost completed.
The notion of idea is a key concept in early modern philosophy. From Descartes seminal works at the beginning of the 17th century to the work of Thomas Reid in the closing years of the 18th century, discussion in theoretical philosophy is dominated by the debate about the core concept of idea. This two-volume textbook introduces eleven key authors from this period. The first volume presents the central texts in modern translation, often new translations based on the source texts. The (...) second volume contains commentaries on each text with a systematic introduction, a line-by-line commentary and a contextualisation of the contents. Thus this textbook provides students of philosophy with a comprehensive overview of the modern discussion of the concept of idea. ". (shrink)
Berkeley’s critique of the calculus is a well-known topic, as are his attempts to build a brand-new geometry based on sensible minima, but the notion of a Berkeleian mathematical philosophy has hardly been examined. Some recent works have nevertheless tried to analyze what this philosophy could be.
The first study dedicated to the relationship between Alexander Pope and George Berkeley, this book undertakes a comparative reading of their work on the visual environment, economics and providence, challenging current ideas of the relationship between poetry and philosophy in early eighteenth-century Britain. It shows how Berkeley's idea that the phenomenal world is the language of God, learnt through custom and experience, can help to explain some of Pope's conservative sceptical arguments, and also his virtuoso poetic techniques.
This article explores George Berkeley's philosophy of mathematics, in comparison with his philosophy of religion, with particular attention to his book, The Analyst, and other contemporaneous texts. Through this comparison, it sheds light on his real attitude to the calculus, as well as other mathematical impossibilities such as negative or imaginary numbers. In both mathematics and religion, Berkeley rejected "barren speculation," but he found value in both from their practical benefits in life. Viewed in this way, it turns out that (...) he really wasn't an enemy of the calculus at all, as he has often been portrayed. (shrink)
I will suggest that we can begin to see why Edwards and Berkeley sound so much alike by considering how both think of minds or spiritual substances notas things modeled on material bodies but as the acts by which things are identified. Those acts cannot be described using the Aristotelian subject-predicatelogic on which the metaphysics of substance, properties, attributes, or modes is based because subjects, substances, etc. are themselves initially distinguishedthrough such acts. To think of mind as opposed to matter, (...) or of acts of mind as opposed to mind itself, is already to assume the differentiation enacted by thoseacts. I argue that even though Edwards and Berkeley refer to distinctions such as mind vs. matter, they think that it is important to avoid treating mind, its acts, and its objects in terms of subject-predicate logic or substance metaphysics. (shrink)
This book offers the first full-length study of philosophical dialogue during the English Enlightenment. It explains why important philosophers - Shaftesbury, Mandeville, Berkeley and Hume - and innumerable minor translators, imitators and critics wrote in and about dialogue during the eighteenth century; and why, after Hume, philosophical dialogue either falls out of use or undergoes radical transformation. Philosophical Dialogue in the British Enlightenment describes the extended, heavily coded, and often belligerent debate about the nature and proper management of dialogue; and (...) it shows how the writing of philosophical fictions relates to the rise of the novel and the emergence of philosophical aesthetics. Novelists such as Fielding, Sterne, Johnson and Austen are placed in a philosophical context, and philosophers of the empiricist tradition in the context of English literary history. (shrink)
Les critiques que Berkeley adresse à la géométrie, à la dioptrique, comme à l'analyse des modernes sont radicales et ont de quoi surprendre. Elles ne peuvent prendre sens qu'en référence au Principe, « exister, c'est percevoir ou être perçu »; ce qui implique que la mathématique soit et demeure sensible et pratique. Ces deux attributs renvoient démontrablement à l'absolue priorité de l'attouchement pour l'être pensant et mathématicien. L'expression la plus achevée de l' identité des êtres mathématiques implique le développement d'une (...) classification des signes fondateurs des langues fondamentales. The critics that Berkeley adresses to Geometry, Dioptries and the Modems' Analysis are most radical and surprising. We cannot understand them regardless the Principle, « to exist is, either to be perceived, either to perceive »; it implies that mathematics have to be sensible and practical. We demonstrate that both attributes command the absolute priority of the sense of touch in the mathematician's mind. To express perfectly what is the identity of mathematical beings, we need a theory about the different sorts of signs and languages. (shrink)
The dissertation is a detailed analysis of Berkeley's writings on mathematics, concentrating on the link between his attack on the theory of abstract ideas and his philosophy of mathematics. Although the focus is on Berkeley's works, I also trace the important connections between Berkeley's views and those of Isaac Barrow, John Wallis, John Keill, and Isaac Newton . The basic thesis I defend is that Berkeley's philosophy of mathematics is a natural extension of his views on abstraction. The first chapter (...) is devoted to a consideration of Berkeley's treatment of abstraction, including his arguments against the doctrine of abstract ideas and his own account of how the explanatory ideas traditionally assigned to abstract ideas can be filled by a non-abstractionist account of human knowledge. In chapter two I investigate the details of Berkeley's proposed new foundations for geometry, showing how his rejection of abstract ideas led him to a critique of the traditional conception of geometry . Of particular importance in this context is Berkeley's denial of infinite divisibility and his attempts to show that a satisfactory account of geometry does not require that geometric magnitudes be infinitely divisible. Chapter three is concerned with Berkeley's treatment of arithmetic and algebra. Here I argue that Berkeley's denial of the claim that arithmetic is the science of abstract ideas of number ultimately results in his advocacy of a strongly nominalistic conception of arithmetic which has strong similarities to modern fomalism. In chapter four I discuss Berkeley's famous critique of the calculus in The Analyst and other works, concluding that his criticism of the calculus is essentially correct, although his attempted explanation of the success of infinitesimal methods is unconvincing. (shrink)
I have recently been collaborating with my colleague Stewart Thau in teaching a 200-level course on early modern philosophy. The students are given a "Guide to Reading" for each class's reading assignment, along with about six questions on the assignment, one of which is then selected as a mini-quiz in class at the start of the next lecture. Failures and no-shows in the quizzes have an effect on the final grades.
In this first modern, critical assessment of the place of mathematics in Berkeley's philosophy and Berkeley's place in the history of mathematics, Douglas M. Jesseph provides a bold reinterpretation of Berkeley's work.
The dissertation is a study of Berkeley's ideas on mathematics in which an evaluation is made of their merit and of their possible relevance to present day studies on the subject. ;The study is divided in five chapters and four appendices, in which the following subjects are discussed: Berkeley's arguments against infinite divisibility; his ideas on arithmetic and algebra, plus an appendix on the several views on numbers held by philosophers and mathematicians contemporaneous to or of about Berkeley's time. A (...) third chapter deals with Berkeley's ideas on geometry; I add two appendices: one on Berkeley and the Pythagoreans, where I consider with some detail problems which arise within Berkeley's perceptual geometry and irrational magnitudes; the second one, on Berkeley and Epicurus on minima, where I argue that Berkeleyan minima have to be extended, and I show that this view was held also by Epicurus, whom I take as a strong influence on Berkeley's thought. Chapter four is a schematic survey of the historical of the calculus, from its Greek origins to the eighteenth century, underlining the several methods used by the mathematicians to obtain their results, methods which will come under attack in Berkeley's Analyst. Finally, in chapter five I study Berkeley's attack to the foundations of the calculus as is put forth in The Analyst. I conclude the dissertation with a brief appendix on A. Robinson's work on infinitesimals, which sheds light both on why infinitesimals were so useful to XVIIth and XVIIIth century mathematicians, and why they were so difficult to be subjected to a systematic treatment by means of the mathematical tools then available. ;My overall appraisal of Berkeley's work is not uniform: there are points where he was ahead of his time, in his views on arithmetic and algebra; at other points, in geometry, say, he did not have a clear view of what was the aim of the mathematicians. As regards the calculus, I consider his criticism pointed in the right direction and was an important element in moving the mathematicians to look for sounder foundations for their discipline. (shrink)
Whereas previous studies have made George Berkeley (1685-1753) the object of philosophical study, Peter Walmsley assesses Berkeley as a writer, offering rhetorical and literary analyses of Berkeley's four major philosophical texts, A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge, Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous, Alciphron, and Siris. Berkeley emerges from this study as an accomplished stylist who builds structures of affective imagery, creates dramatic voices in his texts, and masters the range of philosophical genres--the treatise, the dialogue, and the (...) essay. (shrink)
Since both berkeley and hume are committed to the view that a line is composed of finitely many fundamental parts, They must find responses to the standard geometrical proofs of infinite divisibility. They both repeat traditional arguments intended to show that infinite divisibility leads to absurdities, E.G., That all lines would be infinite in length, That all lines would have the same length, Etc. In each case, Their arguments rest upon a misunderstanding of the concept of a limit, And thus (...) are not successful. Berkeley, However, Adds a further ingenious argument to the effect that the standard geometrical proofs of infinite divisibility misread the unlimited representational capacity of geometrical diagrams as a substantive feature of the objects that these diagrams represent. The article concludes that berkeley is right on this matter, And that the traditional proofs of infinite divisibility do not show what they are intended to show. (shrink)
Peirce described himself as a disciple of Berkeley, and described the truth of Berkeleyanism as consisting, in part, of “hinging” all philosophy (or "all coenoscopy") on the concept of sign. This article collects Berkeley’s chief semiotic contributions, and discusses how it may have influenced Peirce’s semiotic.
Berkeley construes his own immaterialist philosophy as facing a serious competitor, namely, what he often termed ‘materialism.’ He tries on several grounds to eliminate materialism from the competition, thus leaving immaterialism as the most plausible metaphysical theory of perception and the external world. In this paper these grounds are explored, and it is found that Berkeley’s method for rational choice between materialism and immaterialism involves consideration of a host of criteria for choice between competitive theories.