Critiques and Addresses eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 350 pages of information about Critiques and Addresses.

The latter part of this notice of the Natuerliche Schoepfungs-Geschichte, brings so strongly into prominence the points of difference between its able author and myself, that I do not like to conclude without reminding the reader of my entire concurrence with the general tenor and spirit of the work, and of my high estimate of its value.

XII.

BISHOP BERKELEY ON THE METAPHYSICS OF SENSATION.[1]

Professor Fraser has earned the thanks of all students of philosophy for the conscientious labour which he has bestowed upon his new edition of the works of Berkeley; in which, for the first time, we find collected together every thought which can be traced to the subtle and penetrating mind of the famous Bishop of Cloyne; while the “Life and Letters” will rejoice those who care less for the idealist and the prophet of tar-water, than for the man who stands out as one of the noblest and purest figures of his time:  that Berkeley from whom the jealousy of Pope did not withhold a single one of all “the virtues under heaven;” nor the cynicism of Swift, the dignity of “one of the first men of the kingdom for learning and virtue;” the man whom the pious Atterbury could compare to nothing less than an angel; and whose personal influence and eloquence filled the Scriblerus Club and the House of Commons with enthusiasm for the evangelization of the North American Indians; and even led Sir Robert Walpole to assent to the appropriation of public money to a scheme which was neither business nor bribery.[2]

[Footnote 1:  “The Works of George Berkeley, D.D., formerly Bishop of Cloyne, including many of his Works hitherto unpublished, with Preface, Annotations, his Life and Letters, and an Account of his Philosophy.”  By A.C.  Fraser.  Four vols.  Oxford:  Clarendon Press. 1871.]

[Footnote 2:  In justice to Sir Robert, however, it is proper to remark that he declared afterwards, that he gave his assent to Berkeley’s scheme for the Bermuda University only because he thought the House of Commons was sure to throw it out.]

Hardly any epoch in the intellectual history of England is more remarkable in itself, or possesses a greater interest for us in these latter days, than that which coincides broadly with the conclusion of the seventeenth and the opening of the eighteenth century.

The political fermentation of the preceding age was gradually working itself out; domestic peace gave men time to think; and the toleration won by the party of which Locke was the spokesman, permitted a freedom of speech and of writing such as has rarely been exceeded in later times.

Fostered by these circumstances, the great faculty for physical and metaphysical inquiry, with which the people of our race are naturally endowed, developed itself vigorously; and at least two of its products have had a profound and a permanent influence upon the subsequent course of thought in the world.  The one of these was English Freethinking; the other, the Theory of Gravitation.

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