George Berkeley: A Philosophical Life

George Berkeley: A Philosophical Life

by Tom Jones

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A comprehensive intellectual biography of the Enlightenment philosopher

In George Berkeley: A Philosophical Life, Tom Jones provides a comprehensive account of the life and work of the preeminent Irish philosopher of the Enlightenment. From his early brilliance as a student and fellow at Trinity College Dublin to his later years as Bishop of Cloyne, Berkeley brought his searching and powerful intellect to bear on the full range of eighteenth-century thought and experience.

Jones brings vividly to life the complexities and contradictions of Berkeley’s life and ideas. He advanced a radical immaterialism, holding that the only reality was minds, their thoughts, and their perceptions, without any physical substance underlying them. But he put forward this counterintuitive philosophy in support of the existence and ultimate sovereignty of God. Berkeley was an energetic social reformer, deeply interested in educational and economic improvement, including for the indigenous peoples of North America, yet he believed strongly in obedience to hierarchy and defended slavery. And although he spent much of his life in Ireland, he followed his time at Trinity with years of travel that took him to London, Italy, and New England, where he spent two years trying to establish a university for Bermuda, before returning to Ireland to take up an Anglican bishopric in a predominantly Catholic country.

Jones draws on the full range of Berkeley’s writings, from philosophical treatises to personal letters and journals, to probe the deep connections between his life and work. The result is a richly detailed and rounded portrait of a major Enlightenment thinker and the world in which he lived.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780691217482
Publisher: Princeton University Press
Publication date: 04/13/2021
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 648
File size: 29 MB
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About the Author

Tom Jones is Reader in the School of English at the University of St Andrews. His books include Pope and Berkeley: The Language of Poetry and Philosophy and an edition of Pope’s Essay on Man (Princeton). He lives in Dundee, Scotland.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“George Berkeley has found a worthy, dispassionate, and acute biographer in Tom Jones. His book—mature and judicious in tone, precisely and economically expressed—is bound to prove bracingly controversial as well as illuminating. As a biographer, Jones has few equals, but as a writer of philosophical biography he sets new standards.”—Brian Young, University of Oxford

“Tom Jones’s excellent book makes a major contribution to our understanding of George Berkeley and eighteenth-century intellectual life. Jones’s recognition of the ways in which Berkeley’s thought is simultaneously revolutionary and conservative is astute and compelling.”—Kenneth L. Pearce, Trinity College Dublin

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