Comparative analysis of sign concepts of G. Berkeley and J. Lock
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G. Berkeley, J. Locke, sign, speech, word, idea, thing, sensation, semiotics

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Mamenko, T. (2019). Comparative analysis of sign concepts of G. Berkeley and J. Lock. Multiversum. Philosophical Almanac, (1-2), 31-48.


The article deals with Berkeley's semiotic views as alternatives to J. Lock's views. According to Locke, science deals not with things themselves, but with their signs. They are ideas that represent things for us and words that represent our ideas to others. Rejecting the materialist ontology, Berkeley rethinks the meaning of the linguistic sign. Since ideas cease to refer to things, and things are a combination of simple ideas, their meaning language signs (words) obtained through the connection between ideas. This gives grounds to speak about the functional significance of the sign in contrast to the substantive, where behind the word must be a particular material thing, or a clear idea. Berkeley also expands the functions of language, language is needed not only for the transmission of information, it can express emotion, will, belief, etc. It is noted that Berkeley, by striking the traditional modern ontology, lays the foundation for a non-substantive approach in understanding the sign. In Locke, the word sign derives its meaning from the idea behind it and which in turn takes its meaning from things. Berkeley, analyzing the language of view, notes that the sign indicates a connection between things, which gives us reason to talk about the functional meaning of the sign. The word doesn't make sense to him unless he has a clear idea behind it. Berkeley strongly criticizes the notion of force, substance, space, traditional for physics. Also important is the expansion of Berkeley's language. He concludes that, although Berkeley feels the need to search for common values not in things but in relations between ideas, he does not understand that it is impossible to explain common ideas only by the mechanics of simple ideas. Berkeley's critique of material substance had a great influence on the further development of philosophy.
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