Colloquium: Stephen Daniel, Texas A&M University
Stephen H. Daniel is a Professor of Philosophy at Texas A&M University, where he has taught for 36 years. He is a Presidential Professor in Teaching Excellence, former Fasken Chair in Distinguished Teaching, two-time University-level and twotime College-level Distinguished Teacher. He has written four books and more than 60 articles, and edited three other volumes on early modern thinkers and continental philosophy. He has spoken at numerous venues in North America, Europe, and Australia. From 2006 to 2016 he was the president of the International Berkeley Society, and for the past thirteen years he has been the editor of Berkeley Studies.
BERKELEY’S CONSTITUTIVE NOTION OF MIND:
Berkeley’s idealism and theory of signs are linked by his doctrine that mind is the cause by which objects are intelligible. What this means in the context of his claim that minds are spiritual substances has puzzled commentators, many of whom explain Berkeley’s position by suggesting that he draws on Cartesian assumptions. However, such explanations treat mind as an abstraction, something that Berkeley explicitly rejects. I argue instead that God creates finite spiritual substances by creating a system of representation in which objects are related in a way that constitutes a language (i.e. the language of nature). ‘Mind’ is thus the principle on which the meaning of ideas depends, not a Cartesian substance.