George Berkeley

George Berkeley

George Berkeley

George Berkeley

Excerpt

There is a copy of Berkeley Siris that contains marginal notes in the hand of William Blake. Samuel Taylor Coleridge chose 'Berkeley' as the Christian name for one of his sons. There is admiration of Berkeley in the pages of the scientist T. H. Huxley as well as in those of J. S. Mill. One of the most appreciative essays we have on him came from the pen of the statesman and philosopher A. J. Balfour, and another from that of Bergson. The literary critic George Saintsbury tells us that it was Berkeley who first brought to his mind 'the idea of beautiful prose as such'. An author who has drawn and held the positive interest of such diverse minds can scarcely have a common complexion or a low stature. That he has caught the attention of scholars in many countries is shown by the number of tongues into which several of his pieces have been turned--the process still continuing. In British and American universities he has been read for several generations by students of philosophy as part of the routine; in universities elsewhere by not infrequent choice. In the United States of America his name is used to commemorate his visit there, and the influence that lived on after it: on the Atlantic shore Yale University has a Berkeley Divinity School, and its Pacific coast has a city called Berkeley. We are about to look, then, at a man whose name and work have passed into a cultural heritage.

What sort of a writer was he? And which is the more important, the form or the matter of his writings? Let us begin by saying that he was not a detached writer. He looked on the human scene before him with a longing to mend it. Expressed summarily, he had a concern for the intellectual, moral, religious and bodily betterment of his fellows. As in that large sense a philanthropist, he might . . .

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