The Other Bishop Berkeley: An Exercise in Reenchantment

The Other Bishop Berkeley: An Exercise in Reenchantment

The Other Bishop Berkeley: An Exercise in Reenchantment

The Other Bishop Berkeley: An Exercise in Reenchantment

Synopsis

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 Islands" and the "Earthly Paradise" and 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.

Excerpt

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 of its past rather than its 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 consider him from the perspective of our own time. It is as if there were two Berkeleys, separated from each other. One is the Berkeley of today’s mainstream (analytically minded) scholarship, the Berkeley taught in schools, dissected and debated in journals, and occasionally even turned into a source of philosophical humor, whereas the other one is more obscure and humble. One of the major aims of this book is to show not only that this other Berkeley exists (even if he has not been perceived very much in the literature), but also that he is a fascinating character.

In what follows I will, in the first place, deal with a number of specific introductory issues: what are the primary objectives to be attained through the present work, why these particular objectives rather than any others, what are the main guidelines and principles on which my approach is based, how is this work related to the existing scholarship, and what precisely a reader should not expect from this book. in the second place, in light of the fact that the book is intended to be, above all, a study in the history of philosophy, I will advance some general considerations of the nature and significance of the historical research, of the role that the past plays in the configuration of the present, and, very briefly, of the philosophical significance of the study of the past. Finally, the philosophical past will be specifically considered, along with a number of issues in the history of philosophy. These rather general considerations are intended as an attempt at delineating . . .

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