Peter Browne, Berkeley, and the Deists

  • Paul J. Olscamp
Part of the Archives Internationales D’histoire Des Idées / International Archives of the History of Ideas book series (ARCH, volume 33)


Among the best known critics of the Deists was Bishop Peter Browne. He became famous for his attack on Toland’s Christianity not Mysterious, and he was primarily responsible for the persecution of its author. Interestingly enough, Browne also went to some lengths to criticize Berkeley over the latter’s arguments against Browne’s theory of analogical argument. The analysis of Berkeley’s arguments against Browne and Browne’s criticisms of him is interesting, for aside from the inherently intriguing question of analogical argument, the study reveals that Berkeley, in spite of his disagreements with the Deists, held certain principles which leave him rather more on their side than on Browne’s over certain key questions. On some issues of course, Berkeley is in major disagreement with the Deists, and these areas of contention are informative for my purposes, because they show how moral and theological principles are for Berkeley deeply embedded in the fabric of his ontology and epistemology. First, I shall discuss Peter Browne, his criticisms of the Deists, and of Berkeley. Then I shall discuss Berkeley’s examination of Browne, and his criticisms of the Deists.


Moral Philosophy Analogical Argument Probable Argument Probable Knowledge Real Essence 
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    Browne, P., A Letter in Answer to a book entitled Christianity Not Mysterious, Dublin (1697) p. 14 (BL)Google Scholar
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    Gueroult, M., “Dieu et la grammaire de la nature selon George Berkeley,” Revue de de théologie et de philosophie, 3 (1953) p. 163Google Scholar
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    Browne, P., Things Divine and Supernatural, London (1733), p. 384 (DS)Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, Netherlands 1969

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  • Paul J. Olscamp

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