By Stephen Daniel

Author: DANIEL, Stephen H. (Professor of Philosophy and Presidential Professor for Teaching Excellence at Texas A&M University, College Station)

Reference: George Berkeley and Early Modern Philosophy. Oxford/New York: Oxford University Press, 2021. 350 pp. ISBN: 9780192893895.

George Berkeley and Early Modern Philosophy is a study of the philosophy of the early 18th century Irish philosopher George Berkeley in the intellectual context of his times, with a particular focus on how, for Berkeley, mind is related to its ideas. It does not assume that thinkers like Descartes, Malebranche, or Locke define for Berkeley the context in which he develops his own thought. Instead, he indicates how Berkeley draws on a tradition that informed his early training and that challenges much of the early modern thought with which he is often associated. Specifically, the book indicates how Berkeley’s distinctive treatment of mind (as the activity whereby objects are differentiated and related to one another) highlights how mind neither precedes the existence of objects nor exists independently of them. This distinctive way of understanding the relation of mind and objects allows Berkeley to appropriate ideas from his contemporaries in a manner that transforms the issues with which he is engaged. The resulting insights–for example, about how God creates the minds that perceive objects–are only now starting to be fully appreciated