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A Metaphysics for the MobThe Philosophy of George Berkeley$
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John Russell Roberts

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780195313932

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195313932.001.0001

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 One Berkeley

 One Berkeley

Protestant Semantics and the Curtain of Words

Chapter:
(p.40) II One Berkeley
Source:
A Metaphysics for the Mob
Author(s):

John Russell Roberts (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195313932.003.0002

This chapter proposes a dilemma: Berkeley's attack on abstract ideas appears to require an acceptance of a Lockean-style ideational semantics. However, such a semantics would seem to undercut the viability of his central religious convictions. It would seem Berkeley can only save the latter by rejecting the former or vice-versa. The dilemma is removed by a careful examination of Berkeley's famous Introduction to the Principles. It is shown that Berkeley's attack on abstract ideas is actually based on a rejection of ideational semantics. Instead, Berkeley advocates a “use theory” of meaning. This semantic theory is then applied to the interpretation of Berkeley's divine language thesis and shown to help support a pragmatic approach to the ontology of the natural world. This interpretation is defended against competing interpretations by Jonathan Bennett and David Berman.

Keywords:   abstract ideas, innate ideas, pure reflective intellect, pragmatism, Locke, Austin, Alciphron, picture theory, Jonathan Bennett, David Berman

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