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George Berkeley

Дата рождения: 12. Март 1685
Дата смерти: 14. Январь 1753


George Berkeley — known as Bishop Berkeley — was an Irish philosopher whose primary achievement was the advancement of a theory he called "immaterialism" . This theory denies the existence of material substance and instead contends that familiar objects like tables and chairs are only ideas in the minds of perceivers and, as a result, cannot exist without being perceived. Berkeley is also known for his critique of abstraction, an important premise in his argument for immaterialism.

In 1709, Berkeley published his first major work, An Essay towards a New Theory of Vision, in which he discussed the limitations of human vision and advanced the theory that the proper objects of sight are not material objects, but light and colour. This foreshadowed his chief philosophical work, A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge, in 1710, which, after its poor reception, he rewrote in dialogue form and published under the title Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous in 1713.

In this book, Berkeley's views were represented by Philonous , while Hylas embodies the Irish thinker's opponents, in particular John Locke. Berkeley argued against Isaac Newton's doctrine of absolute space, time and motion in De Motu , published 1721. His arguments were a precursor to the views of Mach and Einstein. In 1732, he published Alciphron, a Christian apologetic against the free-thinkers, and in 1734, he published The Analyst, a critique of the foundations of calculus, which was influential in the development of mathematics.

His last major philosophical work, Siris , begins by advocating the medicinal use of tar water and then continues to discuss a wide range of topics, including science, philosophy, and theology. Interest in Berkeley's work increased after World War II because he tackled many of the issues of paramount interest to philosophy in the 20th century, such as the problems of perception, the difference between primary and secondary qualities, and the importance of language.

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„Few men think; yet all have opinions.“

—  George Berkeley
Philonous to Hylas. The Second Dialogue. This appears in a passage first added in the third edition, (1734)


„Our youth we can have but to-day,
We may always find time to grow old.“

—  George Berkeley
Can Love be controlled by Advice?, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).


„[Tar water] is of a nature so mild and benign and proportioned to the human constitution, as to warm without heating, to cheer but not inebriate.“

—  George Berkeley
Paragraph 217. Compare: "Cups / That cheer but not inebriate", William Cowper, The Task, book iv, reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919).

„Westward the course of empire takes its way;
The four first acts already past,
A fifth shall close the drama with the day:
Time's noblest offspring is the last.“

—  George Berkeley
On the Prospect of Planting Arts and Learning in America (written in 1726<!-->),reported in Bartlett's Familiar Quotations, 10th ed. (1919). Compare: "Westward the star of empire takes its way", Epigraph to Bancroft's History of the United States; "What worlds in the yet unformed Occident / May come refin'd with th' accents that are ours?", Samuel Daniel, Musophilus (1599), Stanza 163. According to W. Cleon Skousen, the first four empires are the Neo-Babylonian Empire, the Persian Empire, the Macedonian Empire, and the (Western, Eastern, and Holy) Roman Empire (Gospel Diamond Dust, Volume Two, Verity Publishing, 1998).

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