Berkeley's natural philosophy and philosophy of science

In Kenneth Winkler (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Berkeley. Cambridge University Press. pp. 230--265 (2005)
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Although George Berkeley himself made no major scientific discoveries, nor formulated any novel theories, he was nonetheless actively concerned with the rapidly evolving science of the early eighteenth century. Berkeley's works display his keen interest in natural philosophy and mathematics from his earliest writings (Arithmetica, 1707) to his latest (Siris, 1744). Moreover, much of his philosophy is fundamentally shaped by his engagement with the science of his time. In Berkeley's best-known philosophical works, the Principles and Dialogues, he sets up his idealistic system in opposition to the materialist mechanism he finds in Descartes and Locke. In De Motu, Berkeley refines and extends his philosophy of science in the context of a critique of the dynamic accounts of motion offered by Newton and Leibniz. And in Siris, Berkeley's flirtation with neo-Platonism draws inspiration from the fire theory of Boerhaave as well as Newton's aetherial speculations in the Queries of the Optics. In examining Berkeley's critical engagement with the natural philosophy of his time, we will thus improve our understanding of not just his philosophy of science, but of his philosophical corpus as a whole.



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Lisa Downing
Ohio State University

References found in this work

Force (God) in Descartes' physics.Gary C. Hatfield - 1979 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 10 (2):113-140.
Siris and the scope of Berkeley's instrumentalism.Lisa J. Downing - 1995 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 3 (2):279 – 300.
Locke, Berkeley, and Corpuscular Scepticism.Daniel Garber - 1982 - In Colin Murray Turbayne (ed.), Berkeley: Critical and Interpretive Essays. University of Minnesota Press.
De Motu.George Berkeley & Mariapaola Fimiani - 1991 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 181 (1):119-119.
A Specimen of Dynamics (Specimen Dynamicum).Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz - 1989 - In Roger Ariew & Daniel Garber (eds.), G. W. Leibniz Philosophical Essays. Indianapolis: Hackett. pp. 117-138.

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