Berkeley's Theory of Language

In Samuel Charles Rickless (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Berkeley. New York: Oxford University Press (2021)
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In the Introduction to the Treatise concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge, Berkeley attacks the “received opinion that language has no other end but the communicating our ideas, and that every significant name stands for an idea” (PHK, Intro §19). How far does Berkeley go in rejecting this ‘received opinion’? Does he offer a general theory of language to replace it? If so, what is the nature of this theory? In this chapter, I consider three main interpretations of Berkeley's view: the modified ideational theory, the speaker intentions theory, and the use theory. I argue that the use theory does, and its competitors do not, make sense of Berkeley's remarks on language in both the earlier and later works.



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Kenneth L. Pearce
James Madison University

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Berkeley on religious truths: a reply to Keota Fields.Kenneth L. Pearce - 2022 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 30 (6):1121-1131.

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Philosophical Investigations.Ludwig Wittgenstein - 1953 - New York, NY, USA: Wiley-Blackwell. Edited by G. E. M. Anscombe.
Philosophical investigations.Ludwig Wittgenstein & G. E. M. Anscombe - 1953 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 161:124-124.
Locke, Berkeley, Hume; Central Themes.Jonathan Bennett - 1971 - Oxford,: Oxford University Press UK.
Logic, or, The art of thinking: containing, besides common rules, several new observations appropriate for forming judgment.Antoine Arnauld - 1996 - New York, NY, USA: Cambridge University Press. Edited by Pierre Nicole & Jill Vance Buroker.
Berkeley: An Interpretation.Kenneth P. Winkler - 1989 - Oxford, GB: Oxford University Press UK.

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