A guided reading by a noted authority of early modern philosophy through George Berkeley’s essential texts on idealism As one of the leading thinkers of the early modern period, George Berkeley revolutionized metaphysical thought through his arguments in defense of idealism – the belief that there is no reality outside of ideas and minds and thus no material reality. By contrast to his philosophical predecessors and contemporaries, most notably Locke and Descrates, Berkeley refused the more popular notions of materialism and dualism, and in so doing, developed a defense against skepticism as well as one of the most remarkable and enduring arguments for the existence of God. In Berkeley, noted scholar of early modern philosophy Margaret Atherton explores Berkeley’s most influential works, Principles of Human Knowledge and Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous, providing careful and thorough analysis of the logical structures that define Berkeley’s metaphysics. As the newest addition to the Blackwell Great Minds series, Berkeley is a novel contribution to the scholarship surrounding George Berkeley, his philosophical legacy, and his contributions of early modern philosophy. Designed to act as resource on Berkeley’s essential writings, Berkeley offers insight into the foundations of modern metaphysical and religious philosophy. Berkeley’s works have influenced great minds from Kant to Hume, and through Atherton’s astute criticism, students will find firm footing in the works of one of the most important philosophers of the early modern period.
Preface x Acknowledgments xiii Abbreviations xiv 1 Berkeley’s life and work 1 1685–1713 2 1713–1734 4 1734–1753 7 2 An essay towards a new theory of vision 13 Distance Cannot Be Seen of Itself and Immediately 16 We Don’t See Distance by Anything Necessarily Connected with It 16 Distance Is Only Suggested to Our Thoughts by Certain Visible Ideas and Sensations Attending Vision 18 What We Learn from the Man Born Blind 18 Heterogeneity, Visible Ideas, and Tangible Meanings 19 Size Perception and the “Picture” Picture 21 Situation Perception and the “Picture” Picture 25 “The Main Part and Pillar” 27 Vision Is a Language 29 3 Principles of human knowledge: The introduction 33 Berkeley’s Outline of His Project (PHK Introd. 1–5) 34 Abstract Ideas (PHK Introd. 6–17) 35 The Abuse of Language (PHK Introd. 18–25) 43 4 Principles of human knowledge: berkeley’s summary statement of his position (PHK 1–33) 46 PHK 1–7: The Statement of Idealism 47 PHK 8–25: The Refutation of Materialism 54 PHK 25–33: Minds and Ideas: Berkeley’s Positive Argument 59 5 Principles of human knowledge: berkeley’s replies to objections (PHK 34–84) 67 First Objection (PHK 34–40) 68 Second Objection (PHK 41) 69 Third Objection (PHK 42–44) 69 Fourth Objection (PHK 45–48) 71 Fifth Objection (PHK 49) 73 Sixth Objection (PHK 50) 74 Seventh Objection (PHK 51–53) 75 Eighth Objection (PHK 54–57)8 75 Tenth Objection (PHK 58–59) 77 Eleventh Objection (PHK 60–66) 79 Twelfth Objection (PHK 67–81) 82 Objections from Religion (PHK 82–84) 82 Conclusions 83 6 Principles of human knowledge: the consequences of the principles (PHK 85–156) 86 General Consequences for Knowledge of Ideas (PHK 86–100) 87 The Consequences for Knowledge of Natural Philosophy (PHK 101–134) 91 Newton on Absolute Space and Motion (PHK 110–117) 94 Consequences for Our Knowledge of Mathematics (PHK 118–134) 100 Consequences for Knowledge of Spirits (PHK 135–156) 106 Consequences for Knowledge of God (PHK 145–156) 108 7 Three dialogues between hylas and philonous: the preface and first dialogue, 1 171–194 114 The Preface 114 First Dialogue, 171–194 116 Initial Scene Setting 116 Sensible Things 117 What Is Immediately Perceived 118 “To Exist Is One Thing, and to Be Perceived Is Another” 122 Heat 123 Further Sensible Qualities 126 Colors 127 The Very Same Arguments 129 Summing Up 131 8 Three dialogues between hylas and philonous: first dialogue, 2 195–207 135 The Act–Object Distinction 136 Modes, Qualities, and Substratum 137 The Unconceived Tree (The Master Argument) 138 “Without the Mind” and “At a Distance” 139 Two Kinds of Objects 140 The Relationship between the Principles and Three Dialogues 144 9 Three dialogues between hylas and philonous: the second dialogue 147 A Psychophysical Cause of Ideas 147 The Real Beauties of Nature 148 Ideas Caused by God 150 Matter (and God) as the Cause of Our Ideas 152 What Has Been Achieved in the Second Dialogue 155 10 Three dialogues between hylas and philonous: the third dialogue 157 What Philonous Believes 159 An Annihilation Objection 161 Knowledge of Immaterial Substance 162 The Gardener and His Cherry Tree 165 Real Things and Imaginary Things 167 Things and Ideas 167 Spirits as Causes 168 Divine Causation and Human Agency 168 Substance and Spiritual Substance 171 Trusting the Senses 172 Further on Substance and Spirits 173 God and Pain 174 Matter and Gravity 175 Explaining the Phenomena 176 Believing in Matter 177 Introducing Novelties 177 Changing Ideas into Things 178 Perceiving the Same Thing and Perceiving Cherries 182 Existence in the Mind 184 The Creation Story 185 Philonous’s Defense of His Theory 188 Final Thoughts 191 11 taking stock: berkeley’s three books 199 Index 208
Margaret Atherton, PhD, is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, where she has been teaching since 1980. She has published numerous articles in the history of early modern philosophy, and has special interests in the works of John Locke and George Berkeley, as well as in the philosophy of perception and the recovery of women philosophers.
As one of the leading thinkers of the early modern period, George Berkeley revolutionized metaphysical thought through his arguments in defense of idealism—the belief that there is no reality outside of ideas and minds and thus no material reality. In contrast to his philosophical predecessors and contemporaries, most notably Locke and Descrates, Berkeley refused the more popular notions of materialism and dualism, and in so doing, developed a defense against skepticism as well as one of the most remarkable and enduring arguments for the existence of God. This latest addition to the Blackwell Great Minds series outlines the fundamental principles of Berkeley's highly influential contributions to philosophy, paying particular attention to his most influential works, Principles of Human Knowledge and Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous. Noted scholar of early modern philosophy Margaret Atherton conducts a careful and thorough analysis of the logical structures that define Berkeley's metaphysics and underpin his religious philosophy, and articulates the significant conceptual impact of his ideas in the development of these areas of thought. Berkeley's work has influenced great minds from Kant to Hume, and through Atherton's astute analysis and novel contribution to Berkeley scholarship, readers are equipped to find firm footing in his wider body of published work. Designed as a concise, yet rigorous primer on Berkeley's philosophical thought, Berkeley is an evocative intellectual history of the life and ideas of one of the most important thinkers of the early modern period, emphasizing the significance and impact of his work in the history of philosophy.
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