Verlag: Oxford, Oxford
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"Being in the company with a gentleman who thought fit to maintain Dr. Berkeley's ingenious philosophy, that nothing exists but as perceived by some mind; when the gentleman was going away, Dr. Johnson said to him, 'Pray, Sir, don't leave us; for we may perhaps forget to think of you, and then you will cease to exist.'" Taken out of context, the famous doctrine here ridiculed by Johnson, and its corollary, that there is no such thing as matter, are easy to misunderstand and underestimate. But by viewing Berkeley against a wider intellectual background than is customary, Urmson achieves an unusually sympathetic assessment of his philosophy. He sees Berkeley's work as a serious critical analysis of the scientific thought of Newton and his predecessors and of its metaphysical basis. He starts with the philosophy of science accepted from Galileo to Newton and uses this as a basis for his discussion of Berkeley's writings. He gives a clear account of the relationship between science and common sense and shows, too, that Berkeley anticipated by more than two centuries a version of utilitarianism usually thought of as belonging to our own time. James Opie Urmson (1915 - 2012) was a philosopher and classicist who spent most of his career at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He was a prolific author and expert on British analytic/linguistic philosophy, Berkeley, ethics, and Greek philosophy (especially Aristotle). Urmson and his co-editor G. J. Warnock performed an invaluable service to the development of "analytic" or "linguistic" philosophy by preparing for publication the papers of the Oxford linguistic philosopher J. L. Austin. Urmson translated or wrote notes for a number of volumes of Aristotle, and commentaries on Aristotle's Physics by Simplicius, for the Ancient Commentators on Aristotle series. His book Aristotle's Ethics was praised by no less than Ackrill and Moravcsik as an excellent introduction to Aristotle's Ethics.
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