Berkeley's Separability Principle: Semantics, Psychology, and Ontology

Wayne Waxman

in Kant and the Empiricists

Published in print July 2005 | ISBN: 9780195177398
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780199786176 | DOI:
 Berkeley's Separability Principle: Semantics, Psychology, and Ontology

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This chapter examines Berkeley’s separability principle. It is argued that Berkeley misrepresented Locke’s doctrine of abstract ideas due to deficiencies in his initial characterization of it. Whenever Berkeley exposes a doctrine in Locke, in other philosophers, in Newtonian science, or in any other domain as an instance of the doctrine of abstract ideas, his reasoning turns on applications of the separability principle. Berkeley used this principle as an ontological touchstone: a means of deciding which of the things we can conceive by means of denotations correspond to things actually existing or capable of existing in the real world disclosed to us through our ideas.

Keywords: George Berkeley; separability principle; ideas; language; thought

Chapter.  15030 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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