Oxford: Oxford University Press (2017)

Authors
Kenneth L. Pearce
Trinity College, Dublin
Abstract
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 and how these enduring objects can bear spatiotemporal, causal, and other relations to one another. I argue that Berkeley's solution to these problems lies in his views about language. At one level, human language allows us to exploit patterns in our perceptions to construct a highly structured representation of the physical world which allows us to make accurate predictions at minimal cognitive expense. At a deeper level, these patterns occur in perception because our perceptions themselves form a language in which God speaks to us.
Keywords George Berkeley  idealism  language  metaphysics
Categories (categorize this paper)
Reprint years 2017
Buy this book $62.45 used (16% off)   $70.00 new (5% off)   Amazon page
ISBN(s) 9780198790334   0198790333
Options
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy


Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 69,043
External links

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
Chapters BETA
Berkeley’s Attack on Meanings

Most of Berkeley’s predecessors assumed that words get to be meaningful by having meanings, where a meaning is understood as a special intrinsically representational entity such as a Platonic form, an Aristotelian universal, or an abstract idea. Berkeley’s arguments in the Introduction to ... see more

Berkeley’s Early Thoughts on Language

Berkeley’s rejection of meanings (intrinsically representational entities) requires a complete rethinking of the philosophy of mind and language. This chapter addresses Berkeley’s remarks on these subjects from the 1708 Manuscript Introduction to the 1721 essay De Motu. In these works, Ber... see more

Rules and Rule‐Following

Rules and rule-following play a foundational role in Berkeley’s philosophy, yet Berkeley never offers an explicit theory of these phenomena. This chapter pulls together Berkeley’s scattered remarks on these topics to explain how Berkeley thinks about them. In particular, it is argued that ... see more

Reference and Quasi‐Reference

In De Motu, Berkeley distinguishes between two uses of language, which we may call ‘genuine reference’ and ‘quasi-reference.’ Genuine referring expressions, like ‘red,’ are used to label language-independent objects. Quasi-referring expressions function syntactically, and hence inferential... see more

Quasi‐Referring to Bodies

It is widely held that, in Berkeley’s view, bodies (ordinary macro-physical objects) are either ideas or collections of ideas. This interpretation underestimates just how radical Berkeley’s claims in metaphysics and philosophy of language are. Berkeley’s fundamental criticism of materialis... see more

Referring to Spirits and Their Actions

According to Berkeley, we may genuinely refer only to things that resemble the objects of our immediate awareness. Immediate awareness is, however, of two types: perception and reflection. By perception we are aware of our ideas, and by reflection we are aware of ourselves and our actions.... see more

The Linguistic Structure of Berkeley’s World

Berkeley holds that the perceived world is “a most coherent, entertaining and instructive discourse” which is ‘spoken’ by God. Berkeley intends this claim literally and holds that this discourse exhibits linguistic structure: it has a lexicography, a syntax, and a semantics. Interpreting B... see more

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

Locke, Arnauld, and Abstract Ideas.Kenneth L. Pearce - 2019 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 27 (1):75-94.
How Berkeley's Gardener Knows His Cherry Tree.Kenneth L. Pearce - 2017 - Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 98 (S1):553-576.
Can the Berkeleyan Idealist Resist Spinozist Panpsychism?Graham Clay & Michael Rauschenbach - 2021 - History of Philosophy & Logical Analysis 24:296-325.
Berkeley on Unperceived Objects and the Publicity of Language.Kenneth L. Pearce - 2017 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 34 (3):231-250.

View all 8 citations / Add more citations

Similar books and articles

The Semantics of Sense Perception in Berkeley.Kenneth L. Pearce - 2008 - Religious Studies 44 (3):249-268.
On Hume's Defense of Berkeley.Alan Schwerin - 2015 - Open Journal of Philosophy 5 (6):327 - 337.
Was Berkeley a Subjective Idealist?G. Callahan - 2015 - Collingwood and British Idealism Studies 21 (2):157-184.
Is Berkeley's World a Divine Language?James P. Danaher - 2002 - Modern Theology 18 (3):361-373.
Berkeley's "Defense" of "Commonsense".S. Seth Bordner - 2011 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 49 (3):315-338.
Language and the Structure of Berkeley's World.Kenneth L. Pearce - 2014 - Dissertation, University of Southern California
Berkeley, the Ends of Language, and the Principles of Human Knowledge.P. J. E. Kail - 2007 - Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 107 (1pt3):265-278.
The Relation Between Anti-Abstractionism and Idealism in Berkeley's Metaphysics.Samuel C. Rickless - 2012 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 20 (4):723-740.
Berkeley, Perception, and Identity.Donald L. M. Baxter - 1991 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 51 (1):85-98.
Acts, Ideas, and Objects in Berkeley's Metaphysics.Melissa Frankel - 2013 - Canadian Journal of Philosophy 43 (4):475-493.
Berkeley’s Contingent Necessities.Daniel E. Flage - 2009 - Philosophia 37 (3):361-372.

Analytics

Added to PP index
2016-01-09

Total views
87 ( #132,251 of 2,498,558 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #282,166 of 2,498,558 )

How can I increase my downloads?

Downloads

My notes