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A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge

3.68 of 5 stars 3.68  ·  rating details  ·  1,790 ratings  ·  37 reviews
George Berkeley was an Irish Philosopher who is best known for putting forward the idea of subjective idealism. "A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge" is one of Berkeley's best known works and in it Berkeley expounds upon this idea of subjective idealism, which in other words is the idea that all of reality, as far as humans are concerned, is simply a co ...more
Paperback, 80 pages
Published January 1st 2006 by (first published 1710)
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William Arsenis
This work was the first I’d ever read by George Berkeley.

In this treatise, Berkeley expounds on his theory of immaterialism. This basically states that no material thing exists outside of that which perceives it and bears no relation whatsoever to solipsism—the belief that only the self exists.

Berkeley was a deeply religious man who believed that nature and matter did not exist without being perceived in consciousness; that this perception was an idea instilled in the spirits of men through the
Je n'avais pas été autant emballé par un ouvrage de philosophie depuis la lecture de l'enquête sur l'entendement humain de Locke. Berkeley est un ecclésiastique écossais du début du XVIIIème siècle, qui partant des positions empiristes, radicalise cette position pour partir en guerre contre l'abstraction qu'il considère comme la source des maux et errances de la philosophie. Il souhaite aussi abattre l'athéisme par des arguments définitifs; mais si je trouve qu'il ne parvient pas à convaincre su ...more
Noé Ajo caamaño
Ideas, y espíritus, es todo cuanto hay. Sin negar lo real y efectivo, convierte las cosas del mundo en ideas cuya existencia consiste en su ser percibido, percepción que revela al espíritu percipiente. Ser, lo más general; ideas, y espíritus. Y como no, como clave de bóveda, el gran espíritu, Dios, creador de la naturaleza (ideas que nos son entregadas por la percepción), y de la regularidad natural como muestra de su bondad de modo que podamos llegar a aprender a habérnoslas con esto real cread ...more
Cameron Davis
I gave this book three stars (rather than fewer) not because I agree with Berkeley's argument whatsoever or because his book is anything close to a model of careful, persuasive philosophy. I gave it three stars because:
(1) As an argument for idealism, and the first I've ever read, it was fascinating.
(2) Even though his argument for idealism is pretty lousy, the comprehensive philosophy he builds out of it--whereby he makes an, admittedly lousy, argument for God's existence and solves many dilemm
May 17, 2013 Ben rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: ireland
The brilliance of Berkeley's philosophy is that it gave David Hume something to improve on, and it opened up whole new areas to doubt and critical observation. These two contributions are staggeringly important to our advancement in my opinion (the fact that the prose is crisp and witty is simply an added bonus). Nonetheless, in the present day Berkeley's philosophy seems fairly bizarre. After all, only a seasoned obscurantist would claim that matter doesn't exist all things (perceptions) that d ...more
George Berkeley was an English philosopher in the empiricist school. In this short treatise, he put forward many of his most influential ideas, including his critique of intellectual abstraction, and the dependence of reality on perception.

Unlike many other philosophers I've come across, Berkeley is direct and terse. He does not insult the reader's intelligence by dwelling unnecessarily on one topic, but moves forward at a brisk pace. Further, his writing is clear, organized, and he actively see
Berkeley is basically the 18th century Plato. But not in that he does or develops further some of the interesting things Plato did all those years ago. No. He's the 18th century Plato in that he proves amazingly adept at the straw man fallacy, at what amounts to name-calling, and at being a smug prick who is mostly laughably wrong about everything.

But this thing is real entertaining, and Berkeley is adorable when he is complaining about language.
My summary of the book:

So once, Berkeley and Locke were hanging out at the Empiricism Hookah Bar. Don't ask me how.Anyway, Locke inhaled a deep breath from his apple-and-mint flavored Hookah and was thinking out loud:
Locke: "It is fascinating how this thing is wholly made out of particles and we can only understand it as something we see, touch and inhale".
-Berkeley: "How do you come to know it's a Hookah by sensory?"
-Locke: "Because my mind perceives it as an idea".
-Berkeley: "Correct!" he sh
Clifton Knox
The ever relevant Berkeley!

In the past Berkeley's ideas were viewed as a novelty. Something discussed as interesting but irrelevant. Now in the age of Quantum physics, theory and philosophy it is obvious that Berkeley was right about much more than he was wrong. His disapproval of Newtonian physics was prophetic, and his ideas on relativity foundational to Einsteins own theories. Berkeley's philosophy is nearly impregnable, and prophetic. This book is excellent because it is both a great version
bill clausen
berkeley's arguments for immaterialism, "to be is to be perceived," fascinating take on philosophy of science and nature as the "language of god." beautiful, brief, if demanding.
Ece Ilgaz
Can something exist without being perceived?
David Balfour
Berkeley is a smug, self-satisfied pedant with chronic babyface. Just look at that smirk. Bastard.

It's annoying how obvious it is that the Treatise is politically motivated. It seems almost entirely lacking in terms of a genuine desire for knowledge and understanding. Berkeley bends over backwards to avoid materialism because he's concerned that an independent external world of automated physical causation reduces the role of God and might encourage impiety. Fun quotes:

"How great a friend mater
Many of Berkeley's philosophical insights about sense, perception and the impossibility of "substance," published about 300 years ago, can sit comfortably and unrefuted alongside insights provided by modern quantum physics and mechanics. He was also a semiotician way before the field was invented. That's why I read this. It's the last edition he published in his life, and perhaps as a result, it's clear, concise (80 pages), and well-organized. Berkeley did not bloviate!

Like many other Goodreads
Berkeley does not hedge on his maxim esse est percipi (being is being perceived). He jumps in head first, bets all on black and puts all of his eggs in one basket without actually mixing metaphors. Berkeley ramps up Locke’s arguments and simplifies them. He does away with Locke’s notion of a substratum of existence and commits fully to the idea that all we can perceive are Ideas. What has hindered his predecessors was their unfounded belief that Matter has existence apart from the mind. By casti ...more
Decided to reread this for the first time since college, and ended up getting a surprising amount out of it on my own. In response to Locke's Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, Berkeley sought to overcome metaphysical and epistemological skepticism by claiming that "mind" is the only substance in existence, and that the external world is essentially a collection of accidents incidental to the mind (be it individuals' minds or God). By discounting the possibility of abstract ideas, Berkeley ...more
Dec 13, 2012 i! marked it as to-read
I might have read this whole thing; definitely bits and pieces. Will have to revisit it to be sure. Whatever, Berkeley's conclusion is pretty ridiculous, IIRC, that because we cannot imagine a world without a point of view, without a mind receiving this world, then an objective, point-of-viewless world must not exist. Spirits cause impressions, QED. What Berkeley didn't seem to realize is that this teardown only applies to a subjective idea of the world, with the objective world, if there is one ...more
Richard Newton
This is a great version of Berkeley's text, and Dancy has written a very helpful introduction. I have two other books by Dancy, which are intellectually substantial but can be difficult to get into and at times are challenging reads. In this case, his introduction contains a powerful and accessible analysis. Dancy's introduction is interesting, and directly useful to anyone at an undergraduate level facing the challenge of writing good essays on Berkeley. If you just want Berkeley's text you can ...more
Rego Hemia
Firstly, not being Christian, and secondly, not being local to the 18th Century, there are some ways in which Berkeley's writing isn't as accessible to me as a more contemporary sharing of these ideas might be.
The content is amazing. Berkeley's examination of abstract ideas, and the differences between general abstractions and particulars, could be extremely useful to those in the early stages of studying philosophy, particularly metaphysics.

Just one of those books I think everyone could read

The body of ideas in this book are communicated quite neatly in Berkeley's introduction, which whether you agree with what he says or not is a really neat rounded little idea. For the most part of the book Berkeley goes through these ideas in much needed greater detail, but he often will repeat the same arguments over and over in a monotonous chant, which towards the end of the book gets very tiresome, as he has failed to see that the true implications of his philosophy are exactly nothing, and
Enjoyable book, although his writing style get's on my nerves.
I found it easier going than many like it. So ... what does this mean? According to the author's subjective idealism, if you haven't perceived this book it doesn't exist. So if you haven't read it, don't worry. You're not missing anything.
Declan O'mahony
Okay, so someone tells you the world is all is in your mind. The world is an idea, nothing exists unless it is perceived by a mind. Crazy right? Well no - it just might be the case. We know Reality as a mental construct - a product of our minds. This book makes you think - what does it mean to exist, what is it, and that is a question worth looking at. George should be on everybody's self.
Entertaining and an easy read, I got a kick out of this. As a work of "philosophy" it leaves much to be desired, some of its assertions and conclusions are preposterous, but for 'laugh out loud' moments, it is hard to beat this as far as a work of 'serious' philosophy goes.
what a weird bit of empiricism-gone-wild: phenomena are in fact the noumena; all that exists are the ideas, which exist when perceived. to be is to be perceived in this idealist, immaterialist doctrine.
Jan 01, 2009 Alessandro rated it 2 of 5 stars
Recommended to Alessandro by: INS Philosophy Club
A somewhat disappointing attempt to prove the existence of God by use of some very counter-intuitive and unjustified assumptions. I find Berkeley's idealism quite unsatisfying as a metaphysical position.
Though Berkeley did not manage to convince me that there is (or is not) a God, I did enjoy reading this. It is certainly a good read for anyone studying the philosophy of religion.
Wow. Being a Christian, it's difficult to find a philosopher who's both brilliant and faithful.Berkeley seems to fit the bill.
Berkeley radicalizes Locke's theories by arguing that all perception is only in the mind of the perceiver.
Andrej Drapal
Extremely contemporary views on epistemology and ontology. He was quantum theoretician in his times.
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  • Philosophical Essays
  • Pragmatism: A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking
  • A Treatise of Human Nature
  • The Advancement Of Learning
  • Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics
  • Language, Truth, and Logic
  • The Elements of Law, Natural and Politic: Part I: Human Nature; Part II: de Corpore Politico with Three Lives
  • The Enneads
  • Word and Object
  • An Essay Concerning Human Understanding
  • The Ethics/Treatise on the Emendation of the Intellect/Selected Letters
  • The World as Will and Representation, Vol 2
  • The Categories
  • A History of Philosophy 2: Medieval Philosophy
Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous Principles of Human Knowledge & Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonius An Essay Towards a New Theory of Vision Philosophical Works, Including The Works On Vision The Analyst a Discourse Addressed to an Infidel Mathematician

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“It is indeed an opinion strangely prevailing amongst men, that houses, mountains, rivers, and in a word all sensible objects have an existence natural or real, distinct from their being perceived by the understanding. But with how great an assurance and acquiescence soever this principle may be entertained in the world; yet whoever shall find in his heart to call it in question, may, if I mistake not, perceive it to involve a manifest contradiction. For what are the forementioned objects but the things we perceive by sense, and what do we perceive besides our own ideas or sensations; and is it not plainly repugnant that any one of these or any combination of them should exist unperceived?' (Berkeley, 1710: 25)” 7 likes
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