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Volume 29 • Number 3

July 2012



Berkeley, the Author of Nature, and the Judeo-Christian God

by Ekaterina Y. Ksenjek and Daniel E. Flage

Does George Berkeley provide an argument for the existence of the Judeo-Christian God at Principles of Human Knowledge, part I, section 29? The standard answer is that he does. In this paper, we challenge that interpretation. First, we look at section 29 in the context of its preceding sections and argue that the most the argument establishes is that there are at least two minds, that is, that the thesis of solipsism is false. Next, we examine the argument in section 29 in light of the conclusions Berkeley draws in sections 30–33. There Berkeley concludes that there is one cause of the ordered world of ideas, a cause he calls the "Author of Nature." We argue that Berkeley's Author of Nature is conceptually distinct from, although numerically identical with, the Judeo-Christian God, for whose existence Berkeley argues in section 146. Finally, we ask whether, if our conclusion is correct, it is significant that Berkeley drew a conceptual distinction between the Author of Nature and the Judeo-Christian God.

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ISSN: 2152-1026