Berkeley and Irish Philosophy

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A&C Black, Oct 17, 2005 - Philosophy - 234 pages
The first essay in David Berman's new collection examines the full range of Berkeley's achievement, looking not only at his classic works of 1709-1713, but also Alciphron (1732) and his final book, the enigmaic Siris (1744). Item two examines a key problem in Berkeley's New Theory of Vision (1709): why does the moon look larger on the horizon than in the meridian? The third item criticizes the view, still uncritically accepted by many, that Berkeley's attacks on materialism are levelled against Locke.

Part 2 opens with Berman's two essays of 1982 - the first to show that Berkeley came from a rich and coherent Irish philosophical background. Next comes a discussion of the link between Berkeley and Francis Hutcheson, and particularly their answers to the Molyneux problem, which Berman takes to be the root problem of Irish philosophy.
The fourth essay looks at the impact of the golden age Irish philosophy on eighteenth-century American philosophy, where, again, Berkeley has a central position. The last item examines Berkeley's influence on Samuel Beckett.

Part 3 shows the many-sidedness of Berkeley's career, which is missed by those who concentrate exclusively on his work of 1709-1713. Each item here presents new material on Berkeley's life, or on his works and thought; most of these are new letters, not included in the Luce-Jessop edition of the Works of Berkeley. This section, therefore, can be seen a supplement to volumes 8 and 9 of the Works and also to Luce's Life of Berkeley.

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Page 9 - I find I can excite ideas in my mind at pleasure, and vary and shift the scene as oft as I think fit. It is no more than willing, and straightway this or that idea arises in my fancy; and by the same power it is obliterated and makes way for another.
Page 10 - I find indeed I have a faculty of imagining, or representing to myself the ideas of those particular things I have perceived, and of variously compounding and dividing them. I can imagine a man with two heads, or the upper parts of a man joined to the body of a horse. I can consider the hand, the eye, the nose, each by itself abstracted or separated from the rest of the body.

About the author (2005)

David Berman is Professor of Philosophy at Trinity College, Dublin. His previous books on Berkeley include Alciphron ...: In Focus (ed.), Routledge 1993, George Berkeley: Idealism and the Man, OUP 1994 and Berkeley: Experimental Philosophy, Phoenix Books 1997.

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