Berkeley argues that claims about divine predication (e.g., God is wise or exists) should be understood literally rather than analogically, because like all spirits (i.e., causes), God is intelligible only in terms of the extent of his effects. By focusing on the harmony and order of nature, Berkeley thus unites his view of God with his doctrines of mind, force, grace, and power, and avoids challenges to religious claims that are raised by appeals to analogy. The essay concludes by showing (...) how a letter, supposedly by Berkeley, to Peter Browne ("discovered" in 1969 by Berman and Pittion) is, in fact, by John Jackson (1686-1763), controversial theologian and friend of Samuel Clarke. (shrink)
Berkeley's doctrine of archetypes explains how God perceives and can have the same ideas as finite minds. His appeal of Christian neo-Platonism opens up a way to understand how the relation of mind, ideas, and their union is modeled on the Cappadocian church fathers' account of the persons of the trinity. This way of understanding Berkeley indicates why he, in contrast to Descartes or Locke, thinks that mind (spiritual substance) and ideas (the object of mind) cannot exist or be thought (...) of apart from one another. It also hints at why Gregory of Nyssa's immaterialism sounds so much like Berkeley's. (shrink)
For Berkeley, a thing's existence 'esse' is nothing more than its being perceived 'as that thing'. It makes no sense to ask (with Samuel Johnson) about the 'esse' of the mind or the specific act of perception, for that would be like asking what it means for existence to exist. Berkeley's "existere is percipi or percipere" (NB 429) thus carefully adopts the scholastic distinction between 'esse' and 'existere' ignored by Locke and others committed to a substantialist notion of mind. Following (...) the Stoics, Berkeley proposes that, 'as' the existence of ideas, minds "subsist" rather than "exist" and, accordingly, cannot be identified as independently existing things. (shrink)
Berkeley's doctrines about mind, the language of nature, substance, minima sensibilia, notions, abstract ideas, inference, and freedom appropriate principles developed by the 16th-century logician Peter Ramus and his 17th-century followers (e.g., Alexander Richardson, William Ames, John Milton). Even though Berkeley expresses himself in Cartesian or Lockean terms, he relies on a Ramist way of thinking that is not a form of mere rhetoric or pedagogy but a logic and ontology grounded in Stoicism. This article summarizes the central features of Ramism, (...) indicates how Berkeley adapts Ramist concepts and strategies, and chronicles Ramism's pervasiveness in Berkeley's education, especially at Trinity College Dublin. (shrink)
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, (...) considering how Stoics are considered arch-materialists and determinists. My aim is to suggest that our understanding of Berkeley’s philosophy is improved significantly by acknowledging its underlying Stoic character. I argue that Berkeley proposes not only a semantic ontology based on assumptions of Stoic logic but also a doctrine in which perceptions or ideas are intelligible precisely because they are always embedded in the propositions of a discourse or language. (shrink)
I will suggest that we can begin to see why Edwards and Berkeley sound so much alike by considering how both think of minds or spiritual substances notas things modeled on material bodies but as the acts by which things are identified. Those acts cannot be described using the Aristotelian subject-predicatelogic on which the metaphysics of substance, properties, attributes, or modes is based because subjects, substances, etc. are themselves initially distinguishedthrough such acts. To think of mind as opposed to matter, (...) or of acts of mind as opposed to mind itself, is already to assume the differentiation enacted by thoseacts. I argue that even though Edwards and Berkeley refer to distinctions such as mind vs. matter, they think that it is important to avoid treating mind, its acts, and its objects in terms of subject-predicate logic or substance metaphysics. (shrink)
(Original French text followed by English version.) For Berkeley, mathematical and scientific issues and concepts are always conditioned by epistemological, metaphysical, and theological considerations. For Berkeley to think of any thing--whether it be a geometrical figure or a visible or tangible object--is to think of it in terms of how its limits make it intelligible. Especially in De Motu, he highlights the ways in which limit concepts (e.g., cause) mark the boundaries of science, metaphysics, theology, and morality.
In this set of previously unpublished essays, noted scholars from North America and Europe describe how the Irish philosopher George Berkeley (1684-1753) continues to inspire debates about his views on knowledge, reality, God, freedom, mathematics, and religion. Here discussions about Berkeley's account of physical objects, minds, and God's role in human experience are resolved within explicitly ethical and theological contexts. This collection uses debates about Berkeley's immaterialism and theory of ideas to open up a discussion of how divine activity and (...) human experience are reconciled in a recurring appeal to the laws of nature. In that context, objects in the world are linked to one another by means of the perceptions and affections whereby minds come into being. The laws of nature thus become crucial for Berkeley in revealing how objects are unintelligible apart from being apprehended by minds that are themselves connected to one another in virtue of their ideas. -/- Overall, the essays indicate that, for Berkeley, our apprehension of the world as real depends on recognizing how the world expressed by our ideas is not a mere aggregate of disconnected bodies but is rather an integrated unity of the things we experience. This provides an antidote against the loss of unity created by Descartes' isolation of the self from nature and Locke's account of objects in terms of simple, discrete ideas. -/- In juxtaposing discussions of Berkeley's later writings with his earlier works, this volume shows not only how, for Berkeley, mind is intrinsically linked to things in nature as the principle of their determination in law-governed ways, but also how minds are practically related to the objects of the physical world, one another, and ultimately God. (shrink)
An explanation of how to organize and teach a course in recent continental thought, including treatments of the major figures in critical theory, hermeneutics, structuralism, deconstruction, psychoanalytic feminism, poststructuralism, postcolonialism, and postmodernism. Reprint from *In the Socratic Tradition: Essays on Teaching Philosophy*, ed. Tziporah Kasachkoff (Lanham, Md: Rowman and Littlefield, 1998).
Berkeley’s appeal to a posteriori arguments for God’s existence supports belief only in a God who is finite. But by appealing to an a priori argument for God’s existence, Berkeley emphasizes God’s infinity. In this latter argument, God is not the efficient cause of particular finite things in the world, for such an explanation does not provide a justification or rationale for why the totality of finite things would exist in the first place. Instead, God is understood as the creator (...) of the total unity of all there is, the whole of creation. In this a priori argument, we should not focus on the specific objects that God creates, for that requires that we think that God knows each finite thing as distinct from every other. Rather, we should recognize how God creates all things in creating the complex, infinite totality of finite perceivings, each of which exists in virtue of the distinctions and relations it expresses. (shrink)
There is a widespread assumption that Berkeley and Spinoza have little in common, even though early Jesuit critics in France often linked them. Later commentators have also recognized their similarities. My essay focuses on how Berkeley 's comments on the Arnauld-Malebranche debate regarding objective and formal reality and his treatment of god's creation of finite minds within the order of nature relate his theory of knowledge to his doctrine in a way similar to that of Spinoza. On estime souvent que (...) Berkeley et Spinoza ont peu en commun, même si les premières critiques jésuites en France les ont souvent liés. D'autres commentateurs ont également reconnu leurs similitudes. Mon essai se concentre sur la manière dont 1 / les remarques de Berkeley sur la discussion entre Arnauld et Malebranche concernant la réalité objective et formelle et 2 / son traitement de la création par Dieu des esprits finis dans l'ordre de la nature mettent en relation sa théorie de la connaissance et sa doctrine de la liberté dans une manière semblable à celle de Spinoza. (shrink)
Clues about what Berkeley was planning to say about mind in his now-lost second volume of the Principles seem to abound in his Notebooks. However, commentators have been reluctant to use his unpublished entries to explicate his remarks about spiritual substances in the Principles and Dialogues for three reasons. First, it has proven difficult to reconcile the seemingly Humean bundle theory of the self in the Notebooks with Berkeley's published characterization of spirits as “active beings or principles.” Second, the fact (...) that Berkeley did not publish his Notebooks insights on mind has led some to claim that he later rejected his early views. Third, many of the Notebooks entries on mind have a ‘+’ sign next to them, which has been understood for decades to comprise a Black List of views about which Berkeley had doubts or subsequently rejected. In my dialogue, I describe how Berkeley's “congeries” account of mind (1) differs from Hume's bundle theory in a way that complements Berkeley's published remarks and (2) undercuts the claim that he later rejected his early views. Most importantly, (3) I show how a careful analysis of the British Library manuscript of the Notebooks refutes the Black List hypothesis. (shrink)
By focusing on the exchange between Descartes and Hobbes on how the self is related to its activities, Berkeley draws attention to how he and Hobbes explain the forensic constitution of human subjectivity and moral/political responsibility in terms of passive obedience and conscientious submission to the laws of the sovereign. Formulated as the language of nature or as pronouncements of the supreme political power, those laws identify moral obligations by locating political subjects within those networks of sensible signs. When thus (...) juxtaposed with Hobbes, Berkeley can be understood as endorsing a theologically inflected version of deontological ethics in which moral laws are linked directly to the constitution of the self. (shrink)
As central as the notion of mind is for Berkeley, it is not surprising that what he means by mind stirs debate. At issue are questions about not only what kind of thing a mind is but also how we can know it. This convergence of ontological and epistemological interests in discussing mind has led some commentators to argue that Berkeley's appeal to the Cartesian vocabulary of 'spiritual substance' signals his appropriation of elements of Descartes's theory of mind. But in (...) his account of spiritual substance, Berkeley focuses much more than Descartes on the intrinsic relation between mind and its ideas and less on the nature of mind as such. This makes it difficult to justify the claim that mind is... (shrink)
Since nothing about God is passive, and the perception of pain is inherently passive, then it seems that God does not know what it is like to experience pain. Nor would he be able to cause us to experience pain, for his experience would then be a sensation (which would require God to have senses, which he does not). My suggestion is that Berkeley avoids this situation by describing how God knows about pain “among other things” (i.e. as something whose (...) identity is intelligible in terms of the integrated network of things). This avoids having to assume that God has ideas (including pain) apart from his willing that there be perceivers who have specific ideas that are in harmony or not in harmony with one another. (shrink)
For decades Continental theorists from Derrida to Deleuze have engaged in provocative, penetrating, and often extensive examinations of modern philosophers-studies that have opened up new ways to think about figures such as Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Locke, Hume, Rousseau, and Kant. This volume, for the first time, gives this work its due. A systematic rereading of early modern philosophers in the light of recent Continental philosophy, it exposes overlooked but critical aspects of sixteenth- through eighteenth-century philosophy even as it brings to (...) light certain historical assumptions that have colored-and distorted-our understanding of modernist thought. This volume thus retrieves modern thinkers from the modernistic ways in which they have been portrayed since the nineteenth century at the same time, it enhances our view of the roots and concerns of current Continental thought. What claims does the early modern period have on contemporary philosophy? How have recent theorists engaged this material, and why? In answer, some of these essays explore how major Continental theorists such as Derrida, Deleuze, Le Doeuff, Irigaray, Kristeva, and Althusser explicate the ideas of classical modern thinkers others draw on recent Continental insights to examine the doctrines of modern philosophers beginning with Machiavelli and ending with Kant. Together they show how current Continental theory reinvigorates the study of the history of modern philosophers by transforming not only how we interpret their answers to certain questions, but also how we understand the very nature of these questions. (shrink)
A survey with readings in critical theory, hermeneutics, structuralism, deconstruction, psychoanalytic feminism, poststructuralism, postcolonialism, and postmodernism. Aimed at students and scholars interested in an overview of movements in continental philosophy in the past century.
Descartes’ “natural light” has been interpreted as a faculty of the mind, the sense-imagination-reason-under-standing composite, the principle of intellectual integrity and growth, or even God himself. In Meditations III and IV in particular, the meaning of lumen natural depends on recognizing how light and nature define one another and how “my nature” serves as the basis for pointing to what is beyond the domain of natural reason, including religious faith and natural belief (especially regarding morality).
Instead of focusing on the Malebranche-Edwards connection regarding occasionalism as if minds are distinct from the ideas they have, I focus on how finite minds are particular expressions of God's will that there be the distinctions by which ideas are identified and differentiated. This avoids problems, created in the accounts of Fiering, Lee, and especially Crisp, about the inherently idealist character of Edwards' occasionalism.
In several essays I have argued that Berkeley maintains the same basic notion of spiritual substance throughout his life. Because that notion is not the traditional (Aristotelian, Cartesian, or Lockean) doctrine of substance, critics (e.g., John Roberts, Tom Stoneham, Talia Mae Bettcher, Margaret Atherton, Walter Ott, Marc Hight) claim that on my reading Berkeley either endorses a Humean notion of substance or has no recognizable theory of substance at all. In this essay I point out how my interpretation does not (...) assume that Berkeley adopts a bundle theory of mind, but instead redefines what it means for a simple substance to be the principle by which ideas are perceived. (shrink)
Instead of interpreting Berkeley in terms of the standard way of relating him to Descartes, Malebranche, and Locke, I suggest we consider relating him to other figures (e.g., Stoics, Ramists, Suarez, Spinoza, Leibniz). This allows us to integrate his published and unpublished work, and reveals how his philosophic and non-philosophic work are much more aligned with one another. I indicate how his (1) theory of powers, (2) "bundle theory" of the mind, and (3) doctrine of "innate ideas" are understood in (...) a way significantly different from that found in the standard account. (shrink)
This study is the first sympathetic philosophical treatment in English of the complete works of John Toland . Professor Daniel presents Toland as a champion of religious toleration and civil liberty whose writing is important because it brings together many of the ideas, themes, and controversies that dominated the early modern period in Europe. Best known for his call for common-sense thinking in the deist manifesto Christianity Not Mysterious, Toland gained notoriety as editor and biographer of Milton, Harrington, and Ludlow; (...) translator and publicist of Giordano Bruno; pamphleteer and spy for Robert Harley, and purveyor of Hermetic and clandestine manuscripts for Prince Eugène of Savoy. A self-proclaimed atheist, he amused, annoyed, and embarrased such personal acquaintances as Locke, Swift, Bayle, Leibniz, Shaftesbury, and Sophie Charlotte of Prussia. His works on biblical criticism, philosophical materialism, and the Druids became sources for Diderot and Holbach; and historians of Freemasonry and of English political and diplomatic affairs continue to search for keys to the intrigue that surrounded him. (shrink)
Bernard Mandeville's early work *Typhon* reveals how his *Fable of the Bees* can be understood not only as an extended commentary of an Aesopic fable but also as a form of mythic writing. The appeal to the mythic in discourse provides him with the opportunity to give both a genetic account of the development of language and social practices and a functional account of the the socializing impact of myths (including classical ones). The artificial distinction between treating Mandeville's writings as (...) exclusively philosophy or literature is overcome by means of his identification of the mythic origin of meaning and rationality. (shrink)
In June of 2012 scholars from Europe and North America met in Montreal to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the publication of George Berkeley's *Passive Obedience*. In this article Stephen Daniel summarizes the English presentations, and Sébastien Charles summarizes the French presentations, on how Berkeley invokes naturalistic themes in developing a moral theory while still allowing a role for God.
Though some of the critical reviews of Frank M. Coleman's Hobbes and America have alluded to the affinities of his work to that of Strauss, Macpherson, Laslett, and Oakeshott, most have ignored Coleman's specifically philosophic treatment of Hobbes as the foundational thinker most responsive to political realities which emerge in the seventeenth century and still characterize American politics. Coleman's purpose is to demonstrate how the operative American constitutional philosophy can be recognized clearly only when understood in the context of its (...) Hobbesian origins. But, Coleman suggests, this does not necessarily exclude the possibility of gaining insight into the thought of Hobbes, Locke, and Madison in virtue of reflection on contemporary American political experience. (shrink)