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Language and the Structure of Berkeley's World$
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Kenneth L. Pearce

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198790334

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198790334.001.0001

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The Linguistic Structure of Berkeley’s World

The Linguistic Structure of Berkeley’s World

(p.173) 9 The Linguistic Structure of Berkeley’s World
Language and the Structure of Berkeley's World

Kenneth L. Pearce

Oxford University Press

Berkeley holds that the perceived world is “a most coherent, entertaining and instructive discourse” which is ‘spoken’ by God. Berkeley intends this claim literally and holds that this discourse exhibits linguistic structure: it has a lexicography, a syntax, and a semantics. Interpreting Berkeley’s claims about the world as a divine discourse in light of Berkeley’s own philosophy of language produces compelling solutions to a number of difficulties in Berkeley’s metaphysics and epistemology. Most notably, this chapter argues that our body talk, in both plain language and physics, aims to capture the grammatical structure of the divine discourse. This grammar aims to assist us in interpretation and the interpretation of the discourse brings us into appropriate relationship with God and other minds. Understanding our role as interpreters and grammarians and God’s role as ‘speaker’ also provides a solution to pressing problems about divine and human roles in object construction.

Keywords:   George Berkeley, philosophy of language, God, divine language, metaphysics, structure

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