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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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Referring to Spirits and Their Actions

Referring to Spirits and Their Actions

(p.125) 7 Referring to Spirits and Their Actions
Language and the Structure of Berkeley's World

Kenneth L. Pearce

Oxford University Press

According to Berkeley, we may genuinely refer only to things that resemble the objects of our immediate awareness. Immediate awareness is, however, of two types: perception and reflection. By perception we are aware of our ideas, and by reflection we are aware of ourselves and our actions. Although a spirit (self) or an action is neither an idea nor like an idea, our reflective awareness of ourselves and our actions allows words like ‘spirit’ and ‘action’ to be employed as genuine referring expressions. That Berkeley’s philosophy of language permits genuine reference to spirits is important because of the central role played by spirits—and particularly God—in Berkeley’s metaphysics.

Keywords:   George Berkeley, reflection, reference, philosophy of language, philosophy of action, spirit, self, God

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