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The Works of George Berkeley ...

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Pages: 340

Book format: An electronic version of a printed book that can be read on a computer or handheld device designed specifically for this purpose.

Publisher: Date:8/5/2009 - General Books LLC

By: George Berkeley

Excerpt from book: modes of thought: and that he puts the infinitely small moments of the Principia against contradictory declarations in the Quadratura. In this congenial field Berkeley shews his characteristic subtlety. He boldly challenges the modern analysts: argues that mathematicians are obliged in their demonstrations to assume what cannot be resolved into finite objects of sense: and concludes that reasoners who can accept mysteries in their own province are inconsistent in rejecting religion, because it makes a like demand upon imperfectly conceivable trust. All human knowledge, physical, mathematical, and theological, is thus, in the last resort, practical faith, rather than perfectly conceived science. It may be allowed that Berkeley's natural impetuosity, and disposition to push conceptions to extremes, leads him in the Analyst to positions that are at least apt to be misunderstood. Not contented with pressing the incomprehensibility, if not the contradictiveness, of the foundations of mathematics, especially of fluxions, he attributes fallacies to the Newtonian analysis. He speaks as if fluxions involved positive contradictions, and not merely relative incomprehensibility: and mathematicians complain that he was blind to the Newtonian conception of continuity. But he was arguing with persons who were supposed to assume that words must signify what is resolvable into data of sense, and who rejected the mysteries of religion because they were not thus analysable, except at the expense of a contradiction. He seems to regard the Newtonian conception of continuity as open to a like objection, at the same point of view: as incapable of reduction to data of sense and imagination, accordingly involving contradictions when dealt with as if it were. If this is all he meant, his language is ...  


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