Berkeley Revisited

BookBerkeley Revisited

Berkeley Revisited

moral, social and political philosophy

Oxford University Studies in the Enlightenment, 2015:09


September 7th, 2015



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Since the publication of Paul J. Olscamp’s The Moral philosophy of George Berkeley (1970), research has focused on Berkeley’s theory of immaterialism as the defining element of his thinking. New readings of his work gathered in this volume position immaterialism as a component of a much broader, overarching apologetic project, which is highly pragmatic in nature.
Through close examinations of Berkeley’s writings on key political, economic, social, moral and ethical debates, leading experts demonstrate that his writings are not simply theoretical but also bound to a practical concern with the well-being of humanity. The volume opens with nuanced analyses of Berkeley’s utilitarianism, which contributors position more precisely as a theological utilitarianism, a facet of natural law and a theory with a distinctly pragmatic basis. This doctrine is reconsidered in the context of Berkeley’s moral philosophy, with contributors highlighting the implications of free will for the evaluation of personal (or divine) responsibility for one’s actions. Berkeley’s concept of desire is reconfigured as a virtue, when channelled towards the common good of society. Contributors close by reassessing Berkeley’s political and economic thought and uncover its practical dimension, where individualism is sacrificed for the greater, national interest.
The George Berkeley to emerge from this book is a philosopher deeply concerned with the political, economic and social problems of his time, and whose writings proposed practical and not simply theoretical solutions to the challenges facing Britain in the eighteenth century.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
Cover 1
Title Page4
Copyright Page5
List of abbreviations10
Berkeley as a worldly philosopher36
Berkeley on the natural laws of society50
Ethics in Alciphron66
Berkeley, Hobbes and the constitution of the self82
Berkeley's pragmatic bent: its implications for his social philosophy96
Actions, behaviours and volitions in Berkeley's moral philosophy112
Vulgar thoughts: Berkeley on responsibility and freedom128
Berkeley on doing good and meaning well144
Berkeley's double understanding of 'social appetite'160
Improving the health of the nation: Berkeley, virtue and Ireland174
De Pascal à Locke: la reprise berkeleyenne des enjeux philosophiques concernant la tolérance religieuse et civile190
Berkeley on economic bubbles204
George Berkeley's understanding of beauty and his polemic with Shaftesbury222
La bonne société d'après Berkeley: entre éducation religieuse et coutume raisonnable240
Berkeley's Bermuda project and The Ladies library256
Le travail de la sagesse: philosophie et exercice spirituel chez George Berkeley272