George Berkeley

Locke Berkeley Hume

Easton Press George Berkeley books

Selected Writings of George Berkeley - Library of The Great Philosophers
Works of George Berkeley - Harvard Classics - 1993

Franklin Library George Berkeley books

Works of George Berkeley, John Locke and David Hume - Great Books of the Western World - 1984

George Berkeley biography 

Born on March 12, 1685, in Kilkenny, Ireland, George Berkeley emerged as one of the most influential philosophers of the early modern period. His contributions to metaphysics, epistemology, and the philosophy of perception left an indelible mark on the landscape of Western philosophy. Berkeley's ideas, often characterized as idealism, challenged prevailing notions about the nature of reality and the relationship between mind and matter. Berkeley's academic journey began at Kilkenny Grammar School, and he later attended Trinity College, Dublin, where he immersed himself in the study of classical and scholastic philosophy. His intellectual pursuits earned him a Bachelor's degree in 1704 and a Master's degree in 1707. Berkeley's early philosophical inclinations were influenced by thinkers like John Locke, René Descartes, and Isaac Newton.

In 1709, Berkeley published his first major work, An Essay Towards a New Theory of Vision, in which he explored the psychology of perception. This work laid the groundwork for his subsequent philosophical inquiries, particularly in the realm of idealism. Berkeley's departure from traditional empiricism became more evident in his seminal work, A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge (1710). Here, he put forth the revolutionary idea that the physical world, as conventionally conceived, is nothing more than a collection of ideas perceived by the mind. The core of Berkeley's philosophical stance is encapsulated in the dictum "esse est percipi" or "to be is to be perceived." According to Berkeley, the existence of objects is dependent on their being perceived by a mind, challenging the notion of an external, mind-independent reality. This perspective, often referred to as subjective idealism or immaterialism, marked a departure from prevailing philosophical views of the time. Berkeley further expounded his idealist philosophy in Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous (1713), a series of dialogues exploring the nature of reality and the relationship between the perceiver and the perceived. Through engaging dialogues, Berkeley articulated his idealist vision with clarity and rhetorical finesse.

In addition to his philosophical pursuits, Berkeley had a significant ecclesiastical career. He was ordained as an Anglican priest in 1710 and later served as the Bishop of Cloyne from 1734 until his death. Berkeley's commitment to his religious vocation coexisted with his intellectual endeavors, and he sought to reconcile his philosophical ideas with his religious beliefs.

George Berkeley passed away on January 14, 1753, in Oxford, England. His legacy endures through his contributions to the philosophical discourse, particularly his idealist perspective that continues to stimulate discussions about the nature of reality, perception, and the mind. Berkeley's intellectual daring and his challenge to conventional philosophical assumptions have left an enduring imprint on the history of ideas, influencing generations of philosophers who grapple with the profound implications of his idealist vision.

One of the greatest British philosophers, Berkeley was the founder of the influential doctrine of immaterialism the belief that there is no reality outside the mind, and that the existence of material objects depends upon their being perceived. The Principles of Human Knowledge eloquently outlines this philosophical concept, and argues forcefully that the world consists purely of finite minds and ideas, and of an infinite spirit, God. A denial of all non-spiritual reality, Berkeley's theory was at first heavily criticized by his contemporaries, who feared its ideas would lead to scepticism and atheism. The Three Dialogues provide a powerful response to these fears.

George Berkeley's most important philosophical works contains Essay Towards a New Theory of Vision; Principles of Human Knowledge; Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous; Theory of Vision Vindicated and Explained; De Motu (in translation); Philosophical Correspondence between Berkeley and Samuel Johnson, 1729-30; and Philosophical Commentaries.

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