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Margaret Atherton

ISBN: 978-1-119-53207-1 March 2019 Wiley-Blackwell 240 Pages

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Presents a concise and comprehensive analysis of George Berkeley’s thought and the impact of his intellectual contributions to philosophy

In this latest addition to the Blackwell Great Minds series, noted scholar of early modern philosophy Margaret Atherton examines Berkeley’s most influential work and demonstrates the significant conceptual impact of his ideas in metaphysics and the philosophy of religion.

  • A concise and rigorous primer on Berkeley’s essential writings and contributions to modern philosophy
  • Written by a leading scholar of early modern philosophy
  • Offers insight into the foundations of modern metaphysical and religious philosophy
  • Equips readers to find firm footing in Berkeley’s wider body of published work in the canon of Western philosophy

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

Principles of Human KnowledgeThe 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 KnowledgeBerkeley’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 KnowledgeBerkeley’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 PhilonousThe 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 PhilonousFirst 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