Monday, May 30, 2011

Bishop George Berkeley (1685-1753):  Introduction.

"As a philosopher, he was antagonistic to the intellectual tone of his age.  He opposed Newton's metaphysics, philosophy of science, much of his optics, and some of his mathematics, and admitted that much of Newton was 'so directly opposite' to his own doctrine. ... Such opposition to established authorities in so many fields by a man not yet turned thirty produced the expected reaction.  That of Leibniz is representative: 'I suspect that [the man in Ireland] is one of those people who seek to become famous by their paradoxes.'  Many, not so kind, said he was mad ..." - A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge, edited by Colin M. Turbayne, Introduction.

With the city of Berkeley and the University of California at Berkeley being just a few miles from my house, there is a certain curiosity regarding the name Berkeley.  Seeing his name on this small work at a used bookstore, it seemed good to learn something.  According to the wiki article, the name Berkeley was chosen in 1866 when some men looking were looking out towards the Golden Gate and one of them quoted Berkeley: 'westward the course of empire takes its way'.   For those who are tempted to link the madness of George Berkeley to the city and university that carry his name, this whimsical sort of naming choice wouldn't seem too promising.


Rummuser said...

I was introduced to smoking at the nice ripe age of 13 and the brand of cigarettes that got me hooked was Berkley!

Looney said...

So do you still smoke? Or to put it another way, did philosophy conquer smoking or smoking conquer philosophy? I do know that great thinkers used to smoke, like Sherlock Holmes did.