What is it the Unbodied Spirit cannot do? Berkeley and Barrow on the Nature of Geometrical Construction
David Bourget (Western Ontario)
David Chalmers (ANU, NYU)
Rafael De Clercq
Jack Alan Reynolds
Learn more about PhilPapers
British Journal for the History of Philosophy 20 (2):249-268 (2012)
In ?155 of his New Theory of Vision Berkeley explains that a hypothetical ?unbodied spirit? ?cannot comprehend the manner wherein geometers describe a right line or circle?.1The reason for this, Berkeley continues, is that ?the rule and compass with their use being things of which it is impossible he should have any notion.? This reference to geometrical tools has led virtually all commentators to conclude that at least one reason why the unbodied spirit cannot have knowledge of plane geometry is because it cannot manipulate a ruler or a compass. In this article I will show that such an interpretation is flawed. I will instead argue that Berkeley's understanding of Euclidian geometry was based on Isaac Barrow's account of the foundations of geometry. On this view geometrical objects are conceived in terms of the idealized motion that generates the objects of geometry. Consequently, that what the unbodied spirit cannot do in this context is to form an idea of motion rather than being unable to handle geometrical tools. 1All references to Berkeley are from, A. A. Luce and T. E. Jessop (eds.), The Works of George Berkeley, Bishop of Cloyne (London: Thomas Nelson and Sons, Ltd., 1948) The following abbreviations are used: An Essay Towards A New Theory of Vision, section x = New Theory x; Philosophical Commentaries, entry x = Commentaries x; Part I of A Treatise concerning the Principles of Knowledge, section x = Principles x. All other references to Berkeley's works are of the form The Works of George Berkeley, Bishop of Cloyne, volume x, page y = Works, x, y
|Keywords||No keywords specified (fix it)|
|Categories||categorize this paper)|
Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
|Through your library|
References found in this work BETA
D. M. Armstrong (1960/1988). Berkeley's Theory of Vision: A Critical Examination of Bishop Berkeley's Essay Towards a New Theory of Vision. Garland Pub..
Margaret Atherton (1990). Berkeley's Revolution in Vision. Cornell University Press.
Lorne Falkenstein (1994). Intuition and Construction in Berkeley's Account of Visual Space. Journal of the History of Philosophy 32 (1):63-84.
Robert Fogelin (1988). Hume and Berkeley on the Proofs of Infinite Divisibility. Philosophical Review 97 (1):47-69.
Rick Grush (2007). Berkeley and the Spatiality of Vision. Journal of the History of Philosophy 45 (3):413-442.
Citations of this work BETA
No citations found.
Similar books and articles
Richard J. Brook (2012). Berkeley and Proof in Geometry. Dialogue 51 (3):419-435.
A. D. Ritchie (1959). The Works of George Berkeley. (Nelson.) Volume Eight, Edited by Professor Luce, Berkeley's Letters. (1956. Pp. Viii + 312. Price 30s.)The Works of George Berkeley. (Nelson.) Volume Nine, Edited by Professors Luce and Jessop. Notes to Berkeley's Letters, Addenda, Etc. General Index. (1957. Pp. Viii + 192. Price 30s.). [REVIEW] Philosophy 34 (128):74-.
Claire Schwartz (2010). Berkeley and His Contemporaries: The Question of Mathematical Formalism. In Silvia Parigi (ed.), George Berkeley: Religion and Science in the Age of Enlightenment. Springer.
A. A. Luce & T. E. Jessop (eds.) (1948-1957). The Works of George Berkeley, Bishop of Cloyne. Thomas Nelson.
Ekaterina Y. Ksenjek & Daniel E. Flage (2012). Berkeley, the Author of Nature, and the Judeo-Christian God. History of Philosophy Quarterly 29 (3):281-300.
Jaimir Conte (2008). A Oposição de Berkeley Ao Ceticismo. Cadernos de História de Filosofia da Ciência 18 (2):3225-355.
Lisa Downing, George Berkeley. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
G. J. Warnock (1954). The Works of George Berkeley, Bishop of Cloyne; Vols. V and VI. Edited by T. E. Jessop. (Nelson and Sons, Ltd. 1953. Price 30s. Each.). [REVIEW] Philosophy 29 (110):271-.
David Berman (2005). Berkeley and Irish Philosophy. Thoemmes Continuum.
George S. Pappas (2007). Berkeley's Assessment of Locke's Epistemology. In Stephen H. Daniel (ed.), Reexamining Berkeley's Philosophy.
Jody Graham (1997). Common Sense and Berkeley's Perception by Suggestion. International Journal of Philosophical Studies 5 (3):397 – 423.
Lisa Downing (2005). Berkeley's Natural Philosophy and Philosophy of Science. In Kenneth Winkler (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Berkeley. Cambridge University Press. 230--265.
Silvia Parigi (ed.) (2010). George Berkeley: Religion and Science in the Age of Enlightenment. Springer.
Thomas Edmund Jessop (1964). Berkeley's Theory of Vision. A Critical Examination of Bishop Berkeley's Essay Towards a New Theory of Vision (Review). Journal of the History of Philosophy 2 (2):265-269.
Luc Peterschmitt (2010). Berkeley and Chemistry in the Siris. In Silvia Parigi (ed.), George Berkeley: Religion and Science in the Age of Enlightenment. Springer.
Added to index2012-04-19
Total downloads4 ( #254,284 of 1,100,864 )
Recent downloads (6 months)1 ( #289,727 of 1,100,864 )
How can I increase my downloads?