Berkeley, God and the Succession of Ideas

Dissertation, University of Ottawa (2021)
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Our thesis asks the question, for Berkeley does there exist a succession of ideas in the mind of God? Presented are five chapters. First, we consider Berkeley's definition(s) of the term, God. We contend that two distinct and opposing definitions of God emerge. Second, in the context of both definitions of God we assess Berkeley's Theory of Knowledge and his definition of the term, notion. By way of this analysis we argue that Berkeley himself maintains that only one of his two definitions of God is comprehensible and applicable to his metaphysics. Third, we turn to Berkeley's definition(s) of the term idea as interpreted through the one comprehensible definition of God that Berkeley posits. The distinction that Berkeley makes between archetypal and ectypal ideas will be considered in this light. Fourth, in relation to our analyses of God, notions and ideas, we consider Berkeley's Theory of Cause and Effect with respect to action, or the agency of finite spirits, humans. And fifth, we discuss the interpretations of various commentators with respect to the topics and questions that arise throughout the course of our investigation. Finally, we offer concluding remarks in answer to our original question. Does there exist for Berkeley a succession of ideas in the mind of God?

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Brad Thomson
University of Ottawa


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