The Other Bishop Berkeley: An Exercise in Reenchantment

The Other Bishop Berkeley: An Exercise in Reenchantment

Costica Bradatan
Copyright Date: 2006
Published by: Fordham University Press
Pages: 248
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  • Book Info
    The Other Bishop Berkeley: An Exercise in Reenchantment
    Book Description:

    Costica Bradatan proposes a new way of looking at the influential 18th-century Anglo-Irish empiricist and idealist philosopher. He approaches Berkeley's thought from the standpoint of its roots, rather than from how it has come to be viewed since his time. This book will interest scholars working in a wide variety of fields, from philosophy and the history of ideas to comparative literature, utopian studies, religious and medieval studies, and critical theory.This other Berkeley read and wrote alchemical books, daydreamed of Happy Islandsand the Earthly Paradiseand depicted them carefully, designed utopian projects and spent years trying to put them into practice. Bradatan discovers a thinker deeply rooted in Platonic, mystical, and sometimes esoteric traditions, who saw salvation as philosophy and practiced philosophy as a way of life. This book uncovers a richer Berkeley, a more profound and spectacular one, and, it is hoped, a more truthful one.

    eISBN: 978-0-8232-4825-4
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-17)

    The ultimate objective of this book is to propose a new way of looking at the philosophy of George Berkeley (1685 – 1753). Namely, to assess Berkeley’s thought from its roots, rather than from the point of view of the various developments that this thought has triggered in modern philosophy; in other words, from the perspective ofits pastrather thanits future. The most fascinating thing about such a shift in perspective is the fact that what we see when we look at George Berkeley from the perspective of his past is strikingly different from what we see when we...

  5. 1. George Berkeley and the Platonic Tradition.
    (pp. 18-39)

    There is already a certain amount of literature dedicated to the presence in Berkeley’s early philosophy of some typically Platonic topics (archetypes, the problem of God’s mind, the relationship between ideas and things, etc). Based on some of these writings, on Berkeley’s own works, as well as on the examination of some elements of the Platonic tradition in a broader sense, I suggest that, far from being just isolated topics, loosely scattered in Berkeley’s early writings, they form an entire network of Platonic features, attitudes, and mind-sets, and that however allusive or ambiguous these Platonic elements might seem, they constitute...

  6. 2. Philosophy as Palimpsest: Archetypal Knowledge in Siris
    (pp. 40-56)

    Although it is possible to talk of an entire network of Platonic notions, “traces,” and mind-sets in Berkeley’s early philosophical works, their Platonism might still be seen as veiled or somehow hidden behind the (non- Platonic) terminology, methodological preferences, and rhetorical protocols presupposed by the “new philosophy,” whose promoter Berkeley was in the early stages of his philosophical career.¹ It is in Berkeley’s last published work,Siris(1744), that one comes across the whole repertoire of topics, specific notions, and arguments, and the unmistakable “flavor” of the ancient Platonic style of philosophizing. InSirisBerkeley makes fully explicit and avows...

  7. 3. George Berkeley and the Liber Mundi Tradition
    (pp. 57-86)

    One of the distinctive features of the Platonic-Christian tradition is a consideration of the whole visible world in symbolic terms: namely, as a coherent system of signs, as a sophisticatedly encrypted message that God is continuously sending to his creatures. Born somehow out of the chapters dealing with Berkeley’s place in the Platonic tradition, the present chapter is a systematic attempt at considering George Berkeley’s immaterialist philosophy in close connection to the topic of the book of the world (liber mundiorliber naturae), with the twofold objective of pointing out, on the one hand, those of the medieval implications...

  8. 4. George Berkeley and the Alchemical Tradition
    (pp. 87-115)

    In chapter 2 of this book George Berkeley’s last published work,Siris, has been dealt with almost exclusively from the vantage point of the literary procedures and rhetorical techniques by means of which this writing was produced. In other words, in chapter 2 I consideredSirisfrom a formal angle, from the perspective of how it is written, without paying too much attention to whatSirisis about. In the present chapter I will deal withSiris’scontent. The central idea of this chapter is that inSirisBerkeley comes to employ and make extensive use of one of the...

  9. 5. Philosophy as Apologetics
    (pp. 116-145)

    God plays a central role in Berkeley’s immaterialism, as he is the supreme perceiver of the world, which means that it is only thanks to him that things exist in the fullest sense of the word. Yet, God cannot remain an abstraction and nothing else. Gods does not exist only in metaphysics, but also in history: there are always concrete modalities through which God pervades people’s lives, conferring upon them meaning, and through which people worship God, seek to approach him, and make him part of their lives. Hence the practical necessity of religion. Berkeley was not content with simply...

  10. 6. George Berkeley’s “Bermuda Project”
    (pp. 146-172)

    The objective of this chapter is twofold. First, I will show that not only was Berkeley’s philosophizing rooted in ancient and medieval traditions of thought, but also even when designing such a practical undertaking as the “Bermuda project” Berkeley was, in a serious way, under the modeling influence of the past. More precisely, this chapter offers a discussion of Berkeley’s plan to build a theology college in the islands of Bermuda (the so-called Bermuda project) in terms of symbolic geography and utopian projections, and in light of some traditions and patterns of thought governing Western representations of the “happy islands,”...

  11. 7. George Berkeley and Catharism
    (pp. 173-192)

    In this final chapter I take a slightly different approach to George Berkeley’s thought. Whereas in the other chapters, I have traced the roots of Berkeley’s thinking to a number of ancient traditions or schools of thought, pointing to a (stronger or weaker) relation of genealogy between them, what I want to do now is to look at Berkeley’s denial of matter experimentally, from the standpoint of the Cathar doctrines on matter. I am in no way saying that Catharism is at the origin of Berkeley’s denial of matter; however, it is theoretically interesting to undertake a comparative analysis of...

  12. Conclusion
    (pp. 193-196)

    As I have shown throughout the seven chapters of this book, there are in Berkeley a number of important topics, notions, and concerns that are not dealt with—sometimes, not even mentioneden passant—in today’s mainstream Berkeley scholarship. In other words, for various reasons, this scholarship is not interested in recognizing and taking aboard the entire intellectual universe that is Berkeley’s philosophy. Moreover, as it happens, sometimes Berkeley scholars are even embarrassed when coming across, in some of Berkeley’s writings, such out-of-fashion issues as alchemy, the search for the elixir vitae, the quest for the earthly paradise, utopianism, archetypal...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 197-210)
  14. References
    (pp. 211-222)
  15. Index
    (pp. 223-227)