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Summary From the very beginning of his career Berkeley was deeply concerned with the nature of signification and the role of signs in human thought, knowledge, and language. These concerns seem to be motivated primarily by concerns about religious mysteries, although they have much broader application. A 'mystery,' in the relevant sense, is a sentence to which religious believers assent 'by faith' which involves terms that do not stand for ideas possessed by those believers. In trying to explain how one can be said to believe what is asserted by a sentence without having an idea corresponding to each of the terms in that sentence, Similar problems are also raised by Berkeley's critique of abstraction: if there is no abstract, general idea triangle then there is no one idea which is the meaning of the word 'triangle'. These puzzles and concerns led Berkeley to rethink the ideational theory of meaning he had inherited from his predecessors. How far Berkeley goes in departing from that theory is a matter of considerable scholarly dispute.
Key works The main primary sources for Berkeley's theory of language are the manuscript and published versions of the Introduction to the Principles and the seventh dialogue of Alciphron. Berman 1981 makes the case for the origin of Berkeley's theory in a particular historical dispute about religious mysteries. The early development of Berkeley's theory is traced by Belfrage 1985, Belfrage 1986, and Belfrage 1986. Berman attributes to Berkeley a form of emotivism or non-cognitivism about religious mysteries and moral language. The claim that Berkeley was a non-cognitivist is disputed with respect to Berkeley's early manuscript materials by Jakapi 2003 and Williford 2003, and with respect to Alciphron by Jakapi 2002. An alternative interpretation of Berkeley's mature positive theory is provided by Williford & Jakapi 2009. The case for similarity between the philosophy of language in Berkeley's Alciphron and that of the later Wittgenstein is made by Flew 1974Roberts 2007 has argued that Berkeley already held this view as early as the 1708 Manuscript Introduction. This interpretation has been further developed and defended by Pearce 2017.
Introductions Overviews of Berkeley's philosophy of language include Winkler 2005 and Roberts 2017.
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  1. added 2020-05-19
    Browne’s Critique of Religious Propositions in Berkeley: A Reply to Pearce.Benjamin Formanek - unknown
  2. added 2020-05-04
    Lenguaje, materia y Dios. Un estudio sobre los Dialogues de Berkeley / Language, Matter, and God. A survey on Berkeley's Dialogues.Alberto Luis López - 2015 - Estudios Filosóficos 186 (2):213-233.
    En este artículo analizo algunas cuestiones centrales de la obra Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous, como son el lenguaje, el conocimiento sensible, la materia y Dios, a la par que desarrollo nuevos temas como el argumento del sostenedor o algunos aspectos teológicos. Pese a que estas cuestiones aparecen dispersas a lo largo de la obra considero que deben estudiarse en conjunto y en el orden en que las presento, porque ayuda a comprender mejor lo planteado en los Dialogues a (...)
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  3. added 2020-05-02
    Berkeley, Expressivism, and Pragmatism.Piotr K. Szałek - 2019 - Forum Philosophicum: International Journal for Philosophy 24 (2):435-456.
    There is a long-standing dispute among scholars concerning Berkeley’s supposed commitment to an emotivist theory of meaning as the very first instance of non-cognitivism. According to this position, the domains of religious and moral language do not refer to facts about the world, but rather express the emotional attitudes of religious or moral language users. Some scholars involved in the dispute argue for taking Berkeley to be an emotivist, while others hold that we should not do so. This paper puts (...)
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  4. added 2020-04-25
    Berkeley: el conocimiento nocional de la mente / Berkeley on the Notional Knowledge of Mind.Alberto Luis López - 2017 - Contrastes: Revista Internacional de Filosofía 22 (1):137-154.
    In this paper I expose and analyze the berkeleian proposal of notional knowledge. Among other things, this proposal represents Berkeley´s attempt to know the mind or spirit, that is, the thinking and active thing that, by its own activity, results unrepresentable as idea. As such knowledge is already mentioned in the Philosophical Commentaries I will refer to them to know the origins of that proposal. However, as notional knowledge appears in more detail in later works I will make use especially (...)
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  5. added 2019-11-12
    Sobre la ontología inmaterialista: el concepto de idea en Berkeley / On Immaterialist Ontology: Berkeley's Concept of Idea.Alberto Luis López - 2019 - Areté. Revista de Filosofía 2 (31):427-449.
    Berkeley’s immaterialist philosophy has been frequently underestimated as a result of the misunderstanding of his ontological proposal, specifically because of the complexity of his concept of idea. The aim of this paper is then to clarify and explain that concept because from it depends the correct understanding of Berkeley’s ontological and immaterialist proposal. To do this, 1) I will show some examples of the misunderstanding that the berkeleian proposal has had, mainly due to his concept of idea; 2) I will (...)
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  6. added 2019-06-06
    Berkeley's Linguistic Criterion.M. W. Beal - 1971 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 52 (3):499.
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  7. added 2019-04-29
    Berkeley on Common Sense.S. Seth Bordner - forthcoming - In Samuel C. Rickless (ed.), The Oxford Handbook to Berkeley.
    Debate surrounds whether Berkeley’s philosophy is a defense of, or merely consistent with, common sense, as well as what Berkeley means by “common sense.” This paper defends a view that synthesizes elements of recent approaches: by “common sense” Berkeley means primarily the (de re) belief that the things immediately perceived are the real things, characteristically held by the vulgar and exemplified by vulgar ways of speech. In holding that it is a natural belief, this view is consistent with recent accounts (...)
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  8. added 2019-01-04
    Berkeley on the Relation Between Abstract Ideas and Language in Alciphron VII.Peter West - 2019 - Ruch Filozoficzny 74 (4):51.
  9. added 2018-11-15
    Berkeley's Theory of Language.Kenneth L. Pearce - forthcoming - In Samuel C. Rickless (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of Berkeley. New York: Oxford University Press.
    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: (...)
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  10. added 2018-06-19
    Language and the Structure of Berkeley’s World. [REVIEW]Eugene Callahan - 2019 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 27 (1):218-221.
  11. added 2018-06-19
    Language and the Structure of Berkeley's World. [REVIEW]Melissa Frankel - 2017 - Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews 2017.
  12. added 2018-06-08
    The Rhetoric of Berkeley's Philosophy. [REVIEW]James Mahon - 1996 - Berkeley Newsletter 14:15-17.
    In this review of Peter Walmsley's book, the first book-length treatment of Berkeley as a writer, Berkeley is shown to be a master stylist. He is also shown to have a theory of language that is "explicitly rhetorical," since he held, contrary to Locke, that language had ends other than the communication of ideas.
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  13. added 2017-10-03
    Universality Without Universals: A Deleted Argument From Berkeley's Introduction to the "Principles".M. W. Beal - 1973 - Modern Schoolman 50 (3):301-310.
  14. added 2017-06-12
    Daniel E. Flage, "Berkeley's Doctrine of Notions: A Reconstruction Based on His Theory of Meaning". [REVIEW]Antony Flew - 1989 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 27 (4):622.
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  15. added 2017-06-12
    Thought, Language, and Meaning in Berkeley’s Philosophy.John K. Kearney - 1975 - New Scholasticism 49 (3):280-294.
    This paper evaluates karl popper's claim in his "conjectures and refutations" that berkeley's "nominalism" is at the root of his "instrumentalist" philosophy of science. the argument of the paper is divided into two parts. in the first part, it is argued that, according to berkeley, "thought" is ontologically prior to "language". in this sense, berkeley's instrumentalism is rooted in a metaphysics of experience and not in a theory of language. in the second part, it is argued that the meaning of (...)
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  16. added 2017-04-12
    A Categorial Difficulty in Berkeley.Harry A. Nielsen - 1980 - Philosophy Research Archives 6:393-401.
    In Principles of Human Knowledge Berkeley speaks of the sensible qualities of an apple as being its parts. The paper argues that our words for sense-qualities play a role so unlike that of part-words that verbal atrocities would result from treating qualities as parts. Berkeley lends a surface plausibility to this move by focusing on a narrow selection of the normal linguistic accompaniment of the noun 'apple'. He puts out of mind the language of 'doing things with apples'— peeling, dicing, (...)
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  17. added 2017-04-12
    Abstract Ideas and Meaning in Berkeley and Hume.Donald Gotterbarn - 1975 - Proceedings of the XVth World Congress of Philosophy 5:701-705.
  18. added 2017-01-03
    Berkeley on Language.John Russell Roberts - 2017 - In Richard Brook & Bertil Belfrage (eds.), The Bloomsbury Companion to Berkeley. London: Bloomsubry.
  19. added 2016-11-16
    Language and Thought.Laurent Jaffro - 2013 - In James A. Harris (ed.), The Oxford Handbook of British Philosophy in the Eighteenth Century. Oxford University Press. pp. 128.
    This chapter set outs the variety of eighteenth-century approaches to the relations between language and thought, beginning with post-Lockean debates focused on the status of abstract general ideas, and ending with anti-empiricist Scottish philosophy at the end of the century. The empiricist theory of signs, notably in George Berkeley, is one important dimension of the discussions: ‘Ideas’ are centre stage, although they do not exhaust the empiricist furniture of the mind. There is also a different philosophical trend illustrated by neglected (...)
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  20. added 2016-11-16
    Berkeley's Doctrine of Notions: A Reconstruction Based on His Theory of Meaning. [REVIEW]Jonathan Dancy - 1990 - Philosophical Review 99 (1):111.
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  21. added 2016-11-16
    Universal Language and the Sciences of Man in Berkeley's Philosophy.Sidney Gelber - 1952 - Journal of the History of Ideas 13 (4):482.
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  22. added 2016-05-06
    Berkeley's Pragmatic Bent: Its Implications for His Social Philosophy.Richard J. Van Iten - 2015 - In Sebastien Charles (ed.), Berkeley Revisited: Moral, Social and Political Philosophy. Voltaire Foundation. pp. 83-98.
  23. added 2016-05-06
    Intentionality, Semantics, and Esse = Percipi.Jan Woleński - 1989 - Topoi 8 (1):9-14.
  24. added 2016-05-06
    A Linguistic Approach to Berkeley's Philosophy.Alan R. White - 1955 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 16 (2):172-187.
  25. added 2016-04-29
    La muralla del sujeto: Percepción y lenguaje en Berkeley.Alejandro Vázquez Ortiz - 2008 - A Parte Rei 58:3.
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  26. added 2016-04-29
    George Berkeley Filosofia E Critica Dei Linguaggi Scientifici.Luigi Neri - 1991 - Clueb.
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  27. added 2016-04-29
    Semiotyka sensualizmu immanentnego. Idea, pojęcie i słowo w filozofii Berkeley\'a'.Jerzy Kopania - 1990 - Idea 3 (3):45-68.
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  28. added 2016-04-29
    "To stand for " et "to represent" dans l'introduction manuscrite de Berkeley.Dominique Berlioz Letellier - 1986 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 3:331-338.
  29. added 2016-04-29
    A Note on "Berkeley's Linguistic Criterion".Joseph Kupfer - 1973 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 54 (3):227.
  30. added 2016-04-25
    « To Stand for » Et « to Represent » Dans l' « Introduction Manuscrite » de Berkeley.Dominique Berlioz - 1986 - Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 176 (3):331 - 338.
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  31. added 2016-04-18
    Why Does Language Matter to Philosophy?Ian Hacking - 1975 - Cambridge University Press.
    Many people find themselves dissatisfied with recent linguistic philosophy, and yet know that language has always mattered deeply to philosophy and must in some sense continue to do so. Ian Hacking considers here some dozen case studies in the history of philosophy to show the different ways in which language has been important, and the consequences for the development of the subject. There are chapters on, among others, Hobbes, Berkeley, Russell, Ayer, Wittgenstein, Chomsky, Feyerabend and Davidson. Dr Hacking ends by (...)
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  32. added 2016-01-09
    Language and the Structure of Berkeley's World.Kenneth L. Pearce - 2017 - Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    Berkeley's philosophy is meant to be a defense of commonsense. However, Berkeley's claim that the ultimate constituents of physical reality are fleeting, causally passive ideas appears to be radically at odds with commonsense. In particular, such a theory seems unable to account for the robust structure which commonsense (and Newtonian physics) takes the world to exhibit. The problem of structure, as I understand it, includes the problem of how qualities can be grouped by their co-occurrence in a single enduring object (...)
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  33. added 2015-09-16
    On Hume's Defense of Berkeley.Alan Schwerin - 2015 - Open Journal of Philosophy 5 (6):327 - 337.
    In 1739 Hume bequeathed a bold view of the self to the philosophical community that would prove highly influential, but equally controversial. His bundle theory of the self elicited substantial opposition soon after its appearance in the Treatise of Human Nature. Yet Hume makes it clear to his readers that his views on the self rest on respectable foundations: namely, the views of the highly regarded Irish philosopher, George Berkeley. As the author of the Treatise sees it, his account of (...)
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  34. added 2015-08-17
    Stoicism in Berkeley's Philosophy.Stephen H. Daniel - 2011 - In Bertil Belfrage & Timo Airaksinen (eds.), Berkeley's Lasting Legacy: 300 Years Later. Cambridge Scholars Press. pp. 121-34.
    Commentators have not said much regarding Berkeley and Stoicism. Even when they do, they generally limit their remarks to Berkeley’s Siris (1744) where he invokes characteristically Stoic themes about the World Soul, “seminal reasons,” and the animating fire of the universe. The Stoic heritage of other Berkeleian doctrines (e.g., about mind or the semiotic character of nature) is seldom recognized, and when it is, little is made of it in explaining his other doctrines (e.g., immaterialism). None of this is surprising, (...)
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  35. added 2015-04-20
    Berkeley ’in Dil Ve Anlam Yaklaşimi Üzerine Bir İncelemeA Study On The Design Of Language And Meaning In Berkeley‘.Atakan Altınörs - 2010 - Ethos: Dialogues in Philosophy and Social Sciences 3 (1).
    Bu makalemizde, Berkeley’in dil ve anlam yaklaşımını incelemeye çalıştık. Söz konusu yaklaşımının tarihî bağlamını belirtmek üzere, öncelikle Locke’un anlam teorisine yönelttiği itirazı takdim etmeyi denedik. Locke’a yönelik itirazının temelinde, “soyut idealar”ın mevcudiyeti konusunda, aralarındaki bir fikir ayrılığının yattığını gözlemledik. Locke’un anlam teorisinin aksine, Berkeley kelimelerin sadece ve her kullanıldıklarında soyut ideaların yerini tutmaya -veya aynı manâda, onlara işaret etmeye- yaramadığını savunur; bu bakımdan Berkeley’in nezdinde anlamlılık, bir kelimenin bir ideanın yerini tutması olgusuyla açıklanamaz ve açıklanmamalıdır.In this article, we sought to (...)
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  36. added 2015-04-20
    Berkeley's Alchiphron or the Language of God.Teja Oblak - 2003 - Phainomena 43.
    The author of the article presents Berkeley's theory of emotive language as seen in his book Alchiphron or the Minute Philosophy. Through the presentation of Berkeley's book the author tries to present her own interpretation of the emotive language theory and thus descend from the strict metaphysical framework to the grounds of linguistics and religion. By connecting the fields that seem extremely separate from each other, the author endeavours for a sort of re-actualization of the Berkeleyan theory of language. Her (...)
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  37. added 2015-04-20
    Les relations de signification chez Berkeley.R. Glauser - 1983 - Studia Philosophica 42:165.
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  38. added 2015-03-05
    Berkeley's Analysis of the Linguistic Sources of Philosophical Perplexity.Vahan Edward Benglian - 1983 - Dissertation, University of Toronto (Canada)
    In view of the therapeutic and methodological significance Berkeley ascribes to the refutation and explanation of philosophical error, his treatment of the way in which language has been misunderstood and misused forms an integral part of his philosophical project. The task of the present study is to bring to light certain latent aspects in his analysis of the linguistic sources of philosophical error and perplexity. I seek to establish, within the perspective of Berkeley's system, the various kinds of ways in (...)
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  39. added 2015-03-05
    Segno E Linguaggio in George Berkeley.Paolo F. Mugnai - 1979 - Edizioni Dell'ateneo & Bizzarri.
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  40. added 2015-03-05
    The Divine Visual Language Argument in George Berkeley's "Alciphron.".Donald Edward Baldwin - 1978 - Dissertation, University of Missouri - Columbia
  41. added 2015-03-05
    George Berkeley's Views on Linguistic Meaning.Kay Codell Carter - 1968 - Dissertation, Cornell University
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  42. added 2015-03-05
    A Philosophical Analysis of Metaphor Applied to George Berkeley's Theory of Meaning.Elston Wells Van Steenburgh - 1960 - Dissertation, University of Michigan
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  43. added 2015-03-05
    A Study of George Berkeley's Theory of Linguistic Meaning: With a Discussion of Locke's Account of Language and a Consideration of the Relevance of Their Philosophies of Science.David Aaron Givner - 1959 - Dissertation, Columbia University
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  44. added 2015-03-05
    George Berkeley's Theory of Language.Rena Josephine Ratte - 1959 - Dissertation, Duke University
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  45. added 2015-03-05
    The Theory of Vision, or Visual Language, Shewing the Immediate Presence and Providence of a Deity, Vindicated and Explained, by the Author of Alciphron.George Berkeley - 1733
  46. added 2015-02-16
    Berkeley Et le Voile des Mots.Geneviève Brykman - 1993 - Vrin.
    Appuyé d’abord sur la critique de l’abstraction, l’immatérialisme de Berkeley évolua sensiblement par la mise en avant du caractère inévitablement métaphorique des formes de discours des hommes. En effet, le voile des mots était en réalité un double voile : le premier se tient dans la poussière savante des partisans des idées abstraites; le second se montre dans le caractère indicible de ce dont nous n’avons pas d’idées et dont nous parlons par analogies et métaphores.Or, si l’immatérialisme au sens strict (...)
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  47. added 2014-04-02
    Faith, Truth, Revelation and Meaning in Berkeley’s Defense of the Christian Religion.Roomet Jakapi - 2002 - Modern Schoolman 80 (1):23-34.
  48. added 2014-04-02
    Berkeley's Doctrine of Notions: A Reconstruction Based on His Theory of Meaning. By Daniel E. Flage.Roland J. Teske - 1989 - Modern Schoolman 66 (3):234-236.
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  49. added 2014-03-31
    Berkeley, Causality, and Signification.Richard Brook - 1995 - International Studies in Philosophy 27 (2):15-31.
  50. added 2014-03-27
    Language and the Structure of Berkeley's World.Kenneth L. Pearce - 2014 - Dissertation, University of Southern California
    Berkeley's philosophy is meant to be a defense of commonsense. However, Berkeley's claim that the ultimate constituents of physical reality are fleeting, causally passive ideas appears to be radically at odds with commonsense. In particular, such a theory seems unable to account for the robust structure which commonsense (and Newtonian physics) takes the world to exhibit. The problem of structure, as I understand it, includes the problem of how qualities can be grouped by their co-occurrence in a single enduring object (...)
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1 — 50 / 99