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Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  1,628 Ratings  ·  60 Reviews
First published in 1713, this work was designed as a vivid and persuasive presentation of the remarkable picture of reality that Berkeley had first presented two years earlier in his Principles of Human Knowledge. His central claim there, as here, was that physical things consist of nothing but ideas in minds--that the world is not material but mental. Berkeley uses this t ...more
Paperback, 144 pages
Published January 11th 1954 by Pearson (first published 1713)
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Roy Lotz
Jan 15, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
--Hylas: I say, Philonous, can I talk to you about something? I have just read a bizarre, horrible book by George Berkeley, where he argues all sorts of nonsense.

--Philonous: Is that so, Hylas? Pray, what was this book?

--Hylas: Why, it was none other than Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous.

--Philonous: Really? I thought that book was quite wonderful. What problems do you have with it?

--Hylas: He argues that matter doesn't exist! That everything that exists only exists in a mind, and the
Jul 16, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
While reading this book for a philosophy course, I wrote this limerick to describe my feelings:

There once was a man from Nantucket,

Who put one hand in hot water and the other hand in cold water and then both hands into the same water and discovered that the conflicting sensations of heat and cold indicated that there was no way to objectively determine the temperature of the water in the bucket,

And little did he know,

'Twould cause a young girl centuries later to go,

"Oh my god, I'm getting reall
I was a terrible philosophy major. I think that they all sound like great arguments. One moment I was reading Aristotle thinking “Well, that makes complete sense,” and the next moment I was reading Plato thinking, “Ah, a good point, yesyes!”. In my defense, they were generally good arguments, that’s why they are still taught. I’m just stating this now because I find Hylas and Philonous a great read. I’m not saying its good metaphysical philosophy- I have no right to label any of that sort of th ...more
Apr 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Berkerley explains Being as thought not as becoming, nor appearance, nor ought. Sounds absurd until you realize the Copenhagen Interpretation (CI) appeals to an observer for the existence of reality in order to collapse the wave function. Applying Ockham's razor, by not assuming entities unnecessarily and eliminating the observer, leads to Hugh Everett III's Multi-World Interpretation (MWI). A situation that sounds just as absurd. The later Einstein joins the anti-realist (positivist) and knows ...more
Jan 26, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
Berkeley makes so many mistakes in this work that his philosophical position appears absurd by its nature. However, it is by far the most entertaining philosophical read in Modern Philosophy, as when read aloud, and in character. It is a work through which the reader can follow a man in the prime of his youth through the initial conception of a theory, and watch him unfold it, to its maturest state, right before her eyes. It also happens to be a pretty good case against a bold and unyielding emp ...more
Dec 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully written. Berkeley believed that everything is in the mind. The reason things still exist in a room when you have left it is because God keeps it there in His mind as He keeps you in His mind, hence overcoming the problem of continuity without sense perception. A very eloquent argument.
Mar 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
J’avais déjà été familiarisé avec la doctrine de Berkeley en lisant ses Principes de la connaissance humaine, et comme ils m’avaient laissé la meilleure impression du monde, j’ai eu la curiosité de jeter les yeux sur ces petits dialogues dans lesquels l’auteur se flatte d’avoir donné dans un ton populaire et agréable l’essentiel de sa doctrine, au lieu d’une longue démonstration numérotée. Berkeley met donc aux prises deux personnages ; Hylas (du mot grec ὒλη qui signifie matière) et Philonous ( ...more
Peter J.
Oct 10, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent work challenging the materialists, though I haven't entirely decided if I agree or not with the ultimate conclusion, that all is either spirit or idea. Was an interesting thought experiment either way.
Rowland Bismark
Jun 03, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Despite the fact that Berkeley was at the forefront of one of the most outrageous trends in the history of philosophy (that is, idealism), he was actually a conservative; in fact, his radicalism grew out of his excessive conservatism. Faced with the freethinking 17th century scientists and writers who sought to overthrow traditional forms of religion, government, and conceptions of reality, Berkeley reacted by making a drastic philosophical move meant to prevent any further movement on these oth ...more
Jan 23, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: school, philosophical
Since I first heard about Berkeley's subjective idealism I has grabbed my intention. The notion that to be is to be perceived was so strange, yet at the same time so difficult to counter that it blew my mind.

Now, a few years later I'm still very interested by his subjective idealism. I don't think he's right (at all), but it's a very interesting theory and I think he's on to something (the fact that we can't imagine anything without its properties for example).

These dialogues were very long and

I greatly prefer Descartes's meditations on first philosophy. Which isn't to say that I agreed with all of those meditations, but rather that I found the method being used to convince readers of the sincerity/validity of the arguments was more agreeable. There's something very confrontational about the way that Berkeley seems to confront the reader (via Hylas) with his views (via Philonous). Descartes is much friendlier (not so much in his objections/replies section, but still)
رؤیای الهی

اسقف جورج بارکلی فیلسوف ایرلندی، توی این کتاب نظریه اساسی خودش رو مطرح می کنه که بهترین و جذاب ترین راه برای آغاز کنجکاوی فلسفیه. اگه من کاره ای بودم، اولین درس فلسفه رو توضیح این کتاب میذاشتم تا کنجکاوی دانش آموز به اندازه کافی برای سفر دشواری که قراره آغاز کنه، تحریک بشه.

ما همواره در رؤیا اشیایی رو می بینیم، صداشون رو می شنویم، لمس شون می کنیم، و در حین رؤیا هرگز متوجه نمی شیم که اینا واقعیت ندارن. متوجه نمیشیم که اینا تنها تصویری بدون حقیقت هستن. بلکه حتا گاه بعد از بیدار شدن هم فکر
Apr 01, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
Skip it and read Hume, who says the same stuff more quickly, takes it further, and doesn't go god-mad. Or if you must have a taste, only suffer the first dialogue - it's downhill from there.

This doesn't feel like a dialogue: Berkeley has given his man Phil all the words and prepared thoughts he needs, and left his opponent only breath enough to ask the right questions, and say variations of "Oh gee Phil, I guess you're right! I must admit I have no thoughts really on that!". The first dialogue d
Apr 12, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A perennial favorite among intellectuals for what most see as batshit crazy metaphysical conclusions, Berkeley’s arguments are notoriously hard to counter. Situating himself more or less explicitly contra Cartesian and Lockean dualism and representationalism, Hobbesean materialist atheism, and the “repugnant wild imaginations” of Spinoza and Malebranche, the bishop holds there are no mind-independent entities, and the existence of real objects are due to the constant perception of a volitional a ...more
Apr 02, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
It's full of things that are interesting to consider as thought experiments, but invariably piss you off when forced to inspect them more closely. I vaguely almost wish that the city of my birth and higher education was named after someone a bit cooler.
Sep 08, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Rhetors, Equivocators, Relativists.
Suffer me then to ask you this farther question.
Onyango Makagutu
Nov 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Loved it
Jun 25, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: myth-religion
Berkeley is not a philosopher, he is a theologian. No philosopher begins with a premise and then explains how that premise is true. He explains everything to death except his assertations about his god... oi!

Our Universe has to be conceived by someone, hummm OK? Even if (pffft!) that were true, how does he know his god is as he conceives him (see what I did there?).

This is a dry, specious and tedious discussion of why some sort of deity exists - and must exists. Hylas is a simple(ton) tool, yes
William Arsenis
Jan 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy
Esse est percipi— “To be is to be perceived.”

That is immaterialism in a nutshell, but I found this quote from the THREE DIALOGUES BETWEEN HYLAS AND PHILONOUS to be both more comprehensive and more comprehensible: “There are only things perceived and things perceiving; or that every unthinking being is necessarily, and from the very nature of its existence, perceived by some mind; if not by any finite created mind, yet certainly by the infinite mind of God, in whom we live, move and have our bei
Garrett Ryan
Jul 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
A great and compelling introduction to the world of immaterialism. Berkeley goes a bit far with his idea that God is necessary to maintain a continuous (not constantly being destroyed and created) universe, but other than that it is definitely worth the short read. Most readers can probably get through the whole thing in a bout an hour and a half.
Mar 24, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Clever way to avoid being accused to be a heretic, but his ideas are just so ridiculous.
Del Herman
Nov 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
George Berkeley's famous 1713 work Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous is one of the most revolutionary works of philosophy ever composed: a work that piggybacks off the empiricist theory of knowledge offered by his predecessor, John Locke. In this work, Berkeley defends the ideas of immaterialism and idealism, the view that there is no such thing as material substance and that the world is composed solely of ideas, respectively. Berkeley's development of this idea comes straight from L ...more
Ali Reda
Dec 03, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The Main idea of the Book is amazing, Subjective idealism or immaterialism in which only minds and mental contents exist and we are all ideas in the mind of a perceiving God. But most of the arguments presented by Berkeley to support his case are terrible and wrong. I'll give a few examples:

His Master Argument to demonstrate that it is inconceivable for an object to exist outside of a mind:

In order to conceive if it is possible for a tree to exist outside of all minds, we need to be able to thin
Nov 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic dialogues, and very thought provoking. Berkeley uses his two characters to discuss the dilemma of Materialism and rejects that there is anything that exists beyond our senses, other than God. Well, that is a very brief nutshell of this interesting philosophical theory.

The dialogues take place over three days with the first two ending in Hylas pondering what Philonous has declared that day in the garden. The arguments are interestingly through but I find myself lost in thought regarding
Mar 10, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
George Berkeley presented in the essay, Principles of Human Knowledge, a natural philosophy so outlandish that he thought it proper to more clearly formulate it in dialogue form. The participants are Hylas, or "matter," and Philonous, or "lover of mind." Hylas, as his name suggests, attempts to maintain the seemingly reasonable stance that the external object or matter exists and exerts its effect upon the minds of those who perceive. Philonous argues that any perceived thing, what he terms idea ...more
Mary-Jean Harris
This is a great book, not too long, but packed with good philosophy. Basically, Berkeley goes through arguments against materialism (not just that everything is made of matter, but that matter exists at all), against skepticism (especially people saying that they don't know whether the world exists or not), and about how idealism (that all that exists are minds and ideas) is the best theory to describe the world. You might think, "no one could ever prove that!", but I thought, at least, that he ...more
Feb 04, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm having a similar problem with this that I was with Descarte's _Meditations_, i.e. long-winded and ended up relying heavily on the existence of a God/proving it, or taking as given.
The ideas, once again, deserve merit. To be is to be perceived: that is, if nobody perceives something, it doesn't exist. As absurd as the notion sounds, Philonous goes on to prove it decently well, as Hylas cannot refute it. That's the thing about these philosophies, anyone can go about saying nearly anything with
Is that what you think it is? No. Obviously. Because you can only rely on your senses. And they are imperfect, when it comes to actualities. Everyone has different perception. What's green to me may be blue to you. Even if we both see blue, if we took a microscope to a subject and it was green at 100X what is the actual colour - blue or green? How's that for a question? Everything I 'know' is based on my mind and my perception. Are there actual substances? Only the great deity apparently knows w ...more
Dec 10, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
While interesting from a historical perspective and a good basic sample of Berkely's ideas, Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous is not great. Most of the assertions are explained well enough with modern science (at a minimum can be reformed into more interesting questions). Hylas is a weak, and almost brainless, interlocutor. Automaton to sage conversations are just not that interesting. This dynamic, of give and... give, creates a type of tabula rasa (funny since Hylas primarily represe ...more
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  • Discourse on Metaphysics and Other Essays
  • Prolegomena to Any Future Metaphysics
  • The Blue and Brown Books
  • The Philosophical Writings of Descartes (Volume I)
  • Naming and Necessity
  • An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals
  • From a Logical Point of View: Nine Logico-Philosophical Essays
  • Philosophy of Language: A Contemporary Introduction
  • Minds, Brains and Science
  • A History of Philosophy, Vol. 3: Late Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy, Okham, Francis Bacon, and the Beginning of the Modern World
  • The View from Nowhere
  • Philosophy of Science: The Central Issues
  • Readings in Ancient Greek Philosophy: From Thales to Aristotle
  • The New Organon
  • The Methods of Ethics
  • The Philosophy of Logical Atomism
George Berkeley (/ˈbɑːrklɪ/;[1][2] 12 March 1685 – 14 January 1753) — known as Bishop Berkeley (Bishop of Cloyne) — was an Anglo-Irish philosopher whose primary achievement was the advancement of a theory he called "immaterialism" (later referred to as "subjective idealism" by others). This theory denies the existence of material substance and instead contends that familiar objects like tables and ...more
More about George Berkeley...
“I know what I mean by the term I and myself; and I know this immediately, or intuitively, though I do not perceive it as I perceive a triangle, a colour, or a sound.” 11 likes
“truly my opinion is, that all our opinions are alike vain and uncertain. what we approve today, we condemn tomorrow. we keep a stir about knowledge, and spend our lives in the pursuit of it, when, alas! we know nothing all the while: nor do i think it possible for us to ever know anything in this life. our faculties are too narrow and too few. nature certainly never intended us for speculation.” 2 likes
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