Religious Studies

Articles

The semantics of sense perception in Berkeley

KENNETH L. PEARCEa1

a1 Department of Philosophy, University of California, 221 H0B2, Irvine, CA 92697-4555

Abstract

George Berkeley's linguistic account of sense perception is one of the most central tenets of his philosophy. It is intended as a solution to a wide range of critical issues in both metaphysics and theology. However, it is not clear from Berkeley's writings just how this ‘universal language of the Author of Nature’ is to be interpreted. This paper discusses the nature of the theory of sense perception as language, together with its metaphysical and theological motivations, then proceeds to develop an account of the semantics of the perceptual language, using Berkeley's theory of reference for human language as a guide.