Irish philosopher George Bishop Berkeley was one of the greatest philosophers of the early modern period. Along with David Hume and John Locke he is considered one of the fathers of British Empiricism. Berkeley is a clear, concise, and sympathetic introduction to George Berkeley’s philosophy, and a thorough review of his most important texts. Daniel E. Flage explores his works on vision, metaphysics, morality, and economics in an attempt to develop a philosophically plausible interpretation of Berkeley’s oeuvre as whole.

Many scholars blur the rejection of material substance (immaterialism) with the claim that only minds and things dependent upon minds exist (idealism). However Flage shows how, by distinguishing idealism from immaterialism and arguing that Berkeley’s account of what there is (metaphysics) is dependent upon what is known (epistemology), a careful and plausible philosophy emerges.

The author sets out the implications of this valuable insight for Berkeley’s moral and economic works, showing how they are a natural outgrowth of his metaphysics, casting new light on the appreciation of these and other lesser-known areas of Berkeley’s thought.

Daniel E. Flage’s Berkeley presents the student and general reader with a clear and eminently readable introduction to Berkeley’s works which also challenges standard interpretations of Berkeley’s philosophy.
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  • April 2014
  • 224 pages
  • 160 x 237 mm / 6 x 9 in
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  • 9780745656335
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements ix

Abbreviations xi

Chapter 1: Berkeley’s Life and Writings 1

Why Study Berkeley Today? 1

Early Life 3

Bermuda and Rhode Island 7

Bishop of Cloyne 12

On Reading Berkeley 17

Further Reading 21

Chapter 2: Vision 22

The Historical Context: Methods of Inquiry and Theories of Vision 23

Berkeley on Seeing Distance (NTV §§2–51) 26

Perception of Magnitude (NTV §§52–87) 31

Situation and Numerical Heterogeneity (NTV §§88–120) 33

Heterogeneity and the Universal Language of Vision (NTV §§121–158) 36

A Look Back; A Look Ahead 39

Further Reading 41

Chapter 3: Abstraction 42

Historical Context 43

The Principal Arguments 48

Language 53

A Look Back; A Look Ahead 54

Further Reading 55

Chapter 4: The Case for Idealism and Immaterialism in the Principles 56

The Case for Idealism (Sections 1–7) 58

The Attack on Matter (Sections 8–24) 70

Onward to Ordinary Objects (Sections 25–33) 86

A Look Back; A Look Ahead 94

Further Reading 95

Chapter 5: Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous 97

Background 98

Dialogue One 99

Dialogue Two 105

Dialogue Three 108

A Look Back; A Look Ahead 112

Further Reading 113

Chapter 6: Minds: Yours, Mine, and God’s 114

The Principles 116

Knowing Minds: Dialogue Three 124

Your Mind and God’s 131

A Look Back; A Look Ahead 136

Further Reading 136

Chapter 7: Moral Philosophy 137

Moral Theories 138

The Egoistic Notebooks 142

Passive Obedience 147

Alciphron 158

A Look Back; A Look Ahead 162

Further Reading 163

Chapter 8: Economics and the Irish Condition 164

Eighteenth-Century Ireland and the South Sea Bubble 164

An Essay towards Preventing of the Ruin of Great Britain 166

The Querist 169

Further Reading 176

Chapter 9: Concluding Remarks 177

Endnotes 182

Bibliography 189

Index 197

About the Author
Daniel Flage is Professor of Philosophy at James Madison university.
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"Daniel Flage's book provides much of value for all readers.  His clear exposition and acute argumentation make it an excellent choice for beginners to Berkeley, while his careful account of the epistemological grounding of Berkeley's theory will interest and challenge Berkeley scholars."
Margaret Atherton, University of Wisconsin

"Daniel Flage's clear, engaging, and wide-ranging introduction is a welcome resource for anyone who is studying Berkeley for the first time.  Readers already familiar with Berkeley will be intrigued by its argument that Berkeley's idealism and immaterialism rest on epistemological premises."
Kenneth Winkler, Yale University

"One puts down this volume with admiration for the person of Bishop Berkeley and for the clarity in which Daniel Flage presents Berkeley's philosophy."
Fellowship of Catholic Scholars Quarterly
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