Most of us have often been curious enough to ask our parents why they named us what they named us or have Googled what our names really mean. But have you ever wondered why the place that we’re living in is named the way it is? Is it just simply named after a city that was already in existence? Does it have a cryptic history? Why is Berkeley even named Berkeley?
It turns out that our university is named after George Berkeley, an Anglo-Irish philosopher and empiricist whose major contribution in his field was that of subjective idealism. This essentially means the absolute denial of materialism and states that only mental things, and no material things, exist.
Additionally, quite different from modern thought, he strongly argued that forces and gravity constituted occult qualities that they didn’t directly express anything. He stated that those who believed in such phenomena didn’t base judgement on experience. So even if you’re a physics major who is currently scoffing at his doctrines, we at the Clog strongly suggest you read more about George Berkeley and his contributions to the understanding of the abstract world and how his work has come to influence our lives through years beyond his own.
Along similar lines, Berkeley was equally abstract in his thinking along the lines of mathematics. A strong believer in the vagueness of axioms, he published treatises in this field. One of his famous lines is, “Take away the signs from arithmetic and algebra, and pray what remains?” The quote makes a great start to initiating a good dinner table conversation by overlapping our worlds of physical knowledge and imagination.
If you were to bring back George Berkeley and place him in the center of our university in today’s time, he would most certainly be considered quite an eccentric man. But maybe that’s what our name suggests. A name that resonates with different thinking for a university that contains several kinds of streams of thought representing all sorts of crazy ideas is what UC Berkeley should have.