Berkeley: Philosophical Writings

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Cambridge University Press, 2008 - Philosophy - 338 pages
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George Berkeley (1685-1753) was a university teacher, a missionary, and later a Church of Ireland bishop. The over-riding objective of his long philosophical career was to counteract objections to religious belief that resulted from new philosophies associated with the Scientific Revolution. Accordingly, he argued against scepticism and atheism in the Principles and the Three Dialogues; he rejected theories of force in the Essay on Motion; he offered a new theory of meaning for religious language in Alciphron; and he modified his earlier immaterialism in Siris by speculating about the body's influence on the soul. His radical empiricism and scientific instrumentalism, which rejected the claims of the sciences to provide a realistic interpretation of phenomena, are still influential today. This edition provides texts from the full range of Berkeley's contributions to philosophy, together with an introduction by Desmond M. Clarke that sets them in their historical and philosophical contexts.
 

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Contents

An Essay towards a New Theory of Vision I
1
A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge
67
Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous 15 1
151
An Essay on Motion
243
or the Minute Philosopher excerpts
269
A Chain of Philosophical Reflexions and Inquiries
315
Glossary
332
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About the author (2008)

Born and reared in Ireland, George Berkeley studied at Trinity College, Dublin, and then taught as a fellow there, eventually becoming Dean of Derry (1724) and Bishop of Cloyne (1734) in the Irish branch of the Anglican church. His primary philosophical interests included metaphysics and epistemology, the psychology of perception, philosophy of science, and natural theology. But he is best known for his defense of metaphysical idealism and denial of the existence of matter. Berkeley's best-known writings were produced relatively early in his life, between the ages of 24 and 28: They included Essay Towards a New Theory of Vision (1709), Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge (1710), and Three Dialogues (1713). In 1728 Berkeley made a voyage to the United States in an unsuccessful attempt to found a college in Bermuda. He lived for two years at Newport, Rhode Island, and had a significant influence on American education, chiefly through his association with and donation of books to Yale University and his correspondence with Samuel Johnson, the first president of what is now Columbia University.

Desmond M. Clarke is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at University College Cork.

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