October 26, 2007

"The Semantics of Sense Perception in Berkeley"

My paper "The Semantics of Sense Perception in Berkeley" is now available on my writings page. An earlier version of this paper served as my undergraduate honors thesis, and a somewhat reduced version of it has been accepted for publication by Religious Studies. I haven't heard anything about what issue it will appear in.

This paper discusses Berkeley's theory that our sense perceptions (especially visual perceptions) form a language by which God communicates with us, and asks how we are to interpret this language. In particular, it argues, against Walter Creery and Kenneth Winkler, that Berkeley's language must have what Winkler calls "vertical signification" - that is, ideas must be able to signify non-ideas - or Berkeley will be stuck in solipsism. (Winkler denies "vertical signification" on p. 21 of Berkeley: An Interpretation; Creery denies that the Berkeley's language has any "referential function" at all on p. 219 of "Berkeley's Argument for a Divine Visual Language," International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 3 (1972). See my paper, endnote 8.) The paper goes on to discuss a number of ways in which the difficulties in the semantics of this language mirror difficulties in the semantics of human language, and briefly discusses the interpretation of a few specific perceptions.

I have also reorganized my writings page to give a feel for which papers I regard as finished and/or good and which I am currently still working on, rather than just organizing them chronologically or lumping them all together. Go check it out.

Posted by Kenny at October 26, 2007 7:13 PM
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The official online version of the paper is now available to subscribers here. Your local university library should have a subscription.

Posted by: Kenny at August 25, 2008 12:16 AM

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