De Motu and the Analyst: A Modern Edition, with Introductions and Commentary

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Springer Netherlands, Nov 30, 1991 - Computers - 232 pages
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Berkeley's philosophy has been much studied and discussed over the years, and a growing number of scholars have come to the realization that scientific and mathematical writings are an essential part of his philosophical enterprise. The aim of this volume is to present Berkeley's two most important scientific texts in a form which meets contemporary standards of scholarship while rendering them accessible to the modern reader. Although editions of both are contained in the fourth volume of the Works, these lack adequate introductions and do not provide com plete and corrected texts. The present edition contains a complete and critically established text of both De Motu and The Analyst, in addi tion to a new translation of De Motu. The introductions and notes are designed to provide the background necessary for a full understanding of Berkeley's account of science and mathematics. Although these two texts are very different, they are united by a shared a concern with the work of Newton and Leibniz. Berkeley's De Motu deals extensively with Newton's Principia and Leibniz's Specimen Dynamicum, while The Analyst critiques both Leibnizian and Newto nian mathematics. Berkeley is commonly thought of as a successor to Locke or Malebranche, but as these works show he is also a successor to Newton and Leibniz.

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About the author (1991)

George Berkeley (1685-1753) was an Anglo-Irish philosopher whose primary achievement was the advancement of a theory he called "immaterialism." This theory denies the existence of material substance and instead contends that familiar objects like tables and chairs are only ideas in the minds of perceivers, and as a result cannot exist without being perceived. Thus, as Berkeley famously put it, for physical objects "esse est percipi" ("to be is to be perceived"). Berkeley is also known for his critique of abstraction, an important premise in his argument for immaterialism. In 1709, Berkeley published his first major work, An Essay towards a New Theory of Vision, in which he discussed the limitations of human vision and advanced the theory that the proper objects of sight are not material objects, but light and colour. This foreshadowed his chief philosophical work A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge in 1710 which, after its poor reception, he rewrote in dialogue form and published under the title Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous in 1713. In this book, Berkeley's views were represented by Philonous (Greek: 'lover of mind'), while Hylas (Greek: 'matter') embodies the Irish thinker's opponents, in particular John Locke. Berkeley argued against Sir Isaac Newton's doctrine of absolute space, time and motion in De Motu (on Motion), published 1721. His arguments were a precursor to the views of Mach and Einstein. In 1732, he published Alciphron, a Christian apologetic against the free-thinkers, and in 1734, he published The Analyst, an empiricist critique of the foundations of infinitesimal calculus, which was influential in the development of mathematics. His last major philosophical work, Siris (1744), begins by advocating the medicinal use of tar water, and then continues to discuss a wide range of topics including science, philosophy, and theology. Interest in Berkeley's work increased after World War II, because he tackled many of the issues of paramount interest to philosophy in the 20th century such as the problems of perception, the difference between primary and secondary qualities, and the importance of language.

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