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Berman, David (20th Century)
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Berman is the author of A History of Atheism in Britain: From Hobbes to Russell (1988) and George Berkeley: Idealism and the Man (1994).
- that atheism, while not openly avowed until late in the eighteenth century, was implicit in many of the writings of some of the seventeenth century’s most influential thinkers. Even in the present day, it remains the view that dare not speak its name.
Courses he has taught at Trinity include Psychological Philosophy; Berkeley; 18th Century Philosophy; and Philosophy of Religion.
Berman’s research has been said to continue and sometimes correct that of J. M. Robertson. He has written book reviews for the British New Humanist.
In September 2012, Philosopedia came upon the following that Dr. Berman had written::
- After an unpromising school education in Brooklyn, where he grew up, David Berman attended the University of Bridgeport, which proved, at least for him, a stimulating intellectual environment, the high-point coming in his second year (1962), when taking a history of philosophy course given by [Justus Vanderkroef, he fell in love with philosophy. He then moved to the New School for Social Research to pursue this love, taking his B.A., then to the University of Denver for his M.A. Inasmuch as his Master's dissertation was on George Berkeley, it was suggested to him by his supervisor, W. Yourgrau, that he might continue this work with A. A. Luce, the foremost Berkeley scholar, in Trinity College, Dublin, which he did, beginning in 1966 and receiving his Ph.D. in 1972.
- In 1968 he applied for and was appointed to a Junior Lectureship in Trinity's Philosophy Department, where (passing through the ranks or Senior Lecturer) he has continued. What had started as a love of philosophy became, largely under pressure of research and teaching, more a business arrangement. His work focused on the history of philosophy, particularly 18th century philosophy, especially on Berkeley, but more generally on Irish philosophy, the history of atheism in Britain, and on Arthur Schopenhauer and Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, two who have encouraged an abiding interest in the deep psychological forces motivating philosophers.
- His main publications are
- George Berkeley: idealism and the Man, Oxford University Press 1994
- A History of Atheism in Britain, Routledge, 1990
- Berkeley and Irish Philosophy, Continuum 2009, and
- 18 articles in Thoemmes Dictionary of 18th Century British Philosophers, 1999
- his edition of Schopenhaur’s World as Will and Idea, Everyman, 6th ed. 1994.
- Around 1992, he had "a dark night of the soul," concerning his death. Although he never doubted that he would one day die, he found that he did not actually believe it; slowly and painfully over the next months, however, he did - or as he misleadingly described it at the time- did "accept his mortality."
- " Following this experience came a change in his philosophical outlook and work, with the result that he came to believe he had found a way of doing substantive philosophy by means of the history of philosophy, within a broad idealistic framework, broad enough to allow for a material type mind, exemplified, he believes in William James, among others, as well a dualistic type, exemplified in Descartes. In short, the great philosophers supply the data for this way of doing philosophy, once their distinctive theories are recognized to be also expressions of their deep distinctive mental types, which in accordance with idealism are what really exist. This position, which he calls psychological philosophy, is set out in limited ways in his Berkeley: Experimental Philosophy, Orion, 1997, and his Philosophical Counseling for Philosophers: a Confession of Images, Philosophical Practice, 2006, and Manual of Experimental Philosophy, 2009, A Handbook of Tea-Tasting, 2011, and Penult. ΨΦ, 2010/11, the last three privately issued, partly for students, and available in the Trinity College Dublin Library.
- What he thinks particularly recommends this psychological philosophy is not only that it gets to the truth, indeed the perennial metaphysical truth or truths, but offers a way of dealing with the problem of fundamental differences between the great philosophers, especially between the monists and materialists, as against the dualists and mentalists, which he thinks his broad idealism and typology, largely inspired by Plato and Berkeley, can accommodate without (as it might be thought) falling into relativism, psychologism, or the genetic fallacy.