David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
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In Kenneth Winkler (ed.), Philosophical Review. Cambridge University Press 126-128 (2005)
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.
|Keywords||Mathematics Berkeley, George|
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|ISBN(s)||0226398978 (alk. paper)|
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Citations of this work BETA
Melissa Frankel (2009). Something-We-Know-Not-What, Something-We-Know-Not-Why: Berkeley, Meaning and Minds. Philosophia 37 (3):381-402.
Stefan Storrie (2012). What is It the Unbodied Spirit Cannot Do? Berkeley and Barrow on the Nature of Geometrical Construction. British Journal for the History of Philosophy 20 (2):249-268.
Daniel E. Flage (2009). Berkeley's Contingent Necessities. Philosophia 37 (3):361-372.
Emil Badici (2011). Standards of Equality and Hume's View of Geometry. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 92 (4):448-467.
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