Published: Berkeley Studies 29 (2021), p. 34-39.
Is Tom Jones’ book George Berkeley: a Philosophical Life not the first comprehensive philosophical biography of George Berkeley? Arthur Luce’s mid-twentieth century biography is not philosophical: this fact is stressed both by Luce 1and Jones (3). Another book that comes to mind for comparison is David Berman’s George Berkeley: Idealism and the Man, 2and this one does not seem to be comprehensive enough. I don’t take into account Alexander Fraser’s nineteenth century biography, 3although it might be considered good for its time. During the last few decades, the quality of philosophical biographies has increased dramatically: the high standards set by Ray Monk’s Ludwig Wittgenstein, 4Manfred Kuehn’s Kant, 5and other such books must be met by anyone who dares write a story of a philosopher’s life. Tom Jones’ work, based on an incredibly broad range of contemporary and modern sources, meets these standards and sets the bar even higher, finding new connections in Berkeley’s life and suggesting new interpretations of the facts well known.