Berkeley on Unperceived Objects and the Publicity of Language

History of Philosophy Quarterly 34 (3):231-250 (2017)
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Abstract

Berkeley's immaterialism aims to undermine Descartes's skeptical arguments by denying that the connection between sensory perception and reality is contingent. However, this seems to undermine Berkeley's (alleged) defense of commonsense by failing to recognize the existence of objects not presently perceived by humans. I argue that this problem can be solved by means of two neglected Berkeleian doctrines: the status of the world as "a most coherent, instructive, and entertaining Discourse" which is 'spoken' by God (Siris, sect. 254) and the nature of language as a public social practice. Together these doctrines entail that ordinary physical objects, including those that are not presently perceived, are a joing product of divine discursive activity and human interpretive activity.

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Kenneth L. Pearce
James Madison University

Citations of this work

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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