Tag Archives: George Berkeley

Berkeley and Shaftesbury

Jaffro, L. (2022). Berkeley and Shaftesbury. In S. Rickless, The Oxford Handbook of Berkeley, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 539-559. https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780190873417.013.30

The Third Earl of Shaftesbury was one of Berkeley’s main targets throughout his career, and especially in Alciphron. The English moralist, who claims to adapt ancient philosophy, particularly Stoic philosophy, to the taste of a modern audience, is in Berkeley’s eyes a promoter of anti-Christian free-thinking. It is on the occasion of his criticism of Shaftesbury that Berkeley expounds his own views on the epistemology of ethical and aesthetic values, and on education. Berkeley sees in Shaftesbury, as in Hutcheson, a philosopher who makes the mistake of devaluing reasoning in favor of feeling, whereas it has a rightful place in the ethical and aesthetic fields. He rejects Shaftesbury’s appeal to “enthusiasm” and “natural taste.” Berkeley also blames him for trying to confiscate the Socratic legacy in the service of a libertine project, as if the philosophy of the ancients did not prefigure Christianity.

Language and Thought

L. Jaffro (2013). Language and Thought. In J. Harris (ed.); The Oxford Handbook of British Philosophy in the Eighteenth Century. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 128-148.

This chapter set outs the variety of eighteenth-century approaches to the relations between language and thought, beginning with post-Lockean debates focused on the status of abstract general ideas, and ending with anti-empiricist Scottish philosophy at the end of the century (especially Thomas Reid). The empiricist theory of signs, notably in George Berkeley, is one important dimension of the discussions: ‘Ideas’ are centre stage, although they do not exhaust the empiricist furniture of the mind. There is also a different philosophical trend illustrated by neglected figures (James Harris, Lord Monboddo), which may be termed Platonic, and which affects eighteenth-century philosophical conceptions of language. The project of conjectural histories of language (Adam Smith) and views about the connections between linguistic skills and the social nature of human beings are also covered.