Idea and ontology. An essay in early modern metaphysics of ideas (review)

Journal of the History of Philosophy 49 (1):123-124 (2011)
"Based on a true story: the early modern tale." In Idea and Ontology, Marc Hight argues that the story we have been told about early modern philosophy is false. What Hight calls the "early modern tale" tells us that beginning with Descartes and ending with Berkeley, metaphysics began its slide into the historical dustbin, replaced by epistemology as first philosophy. The categories of medieval metaphysics, substance and mode, so the story goes, could no longer serve the needs of the moderns, specifically their questions about the nature of ideas. Ideas could not easily be categorized as either substances or modes, and because of this difficulty, metaphysical questions were abandoned in favor of epistemological questions about the nature of representation and certainty. Hight reexamines the early modern tradition to find the metaphysicians behind the epistemologists' masks supposed by the early modern tale.Once the metaphysical questions are revealed as central to early modern philosophy, Hight argues that Berkeley's immaterialism, rather than ridiculous, is the final and triumphant conclusion of the metaphysical speculations of the seventeenth and eighteenth
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