Philosophy



God and First Person in Berkeley


George Botterill a1
a1 University of Sheffield

Article author query
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Abstract

Berkeley claims idealism provides a novel argument for the existence of God. But familiar interpretations of his argument fail to support the conclusion that there is a single omnipotent spirit. A satisfying reconstruction should explain the way Berkeley moves between first person singular and plural, as well as providing a powerful argument, once idealism is accepted. The new interpretation offered here represents the argument as an inference to the best explanation of a shared reality. Consequently, his use of the first person must be taken as ‘exemplary’ rather than ‘Cartesian’. This explains the freedom of movement in the text between singular and plural. However, it also reveals Berkeley as side-stepping sceptical doubt.