George Berkeley’s Language of Religion and Edmund Burke’s Language of Poetry

24 August, 2023

Besedin A.
Published in: Вестник Московского университета. Серия 7: Философия. 47 (3). 2023. С. 20-35.

The article analyses the influence of George Berkeley’s philosophy of language on the aesthetic conception of Edmund Burke. The author provides a brief analysis of two theories presented in Berkeley’s philosophy of language: the representative theory of abstraction and the theory of operative language, compares Berkeley’s and Hume’s explanations of how common terms get their meaning, as well as examines the fifth part of Burke’s “A Philosophical Enquiry into the Origin of Our Ideas of the Sublime and Beautiful” devoted to the philosophy of language. The article shows that Burke’s theory, presented in the fifth part of the “Enquiry”, combines elements of the theories of Berkeley and Hume. Nevertheless, just Berkeley’s theory of operative language is of particular importance for explaining the aesthetic effect of poetry. Finally, the article shows that the theory of operational language, which was originally created by Berkeley to solve specific problems regarding the language of religion, retains its theological basis in Burke’s “Enquiry”.