Berkeley, George

(1685-1753)
   An empiricist philosopher, and Bishop of Cloyne from 1734 to 1752, Berkeley is now known chiefly not for his sermons and ecclesiastical works or even for his strange writings on tar-water, but rather for his philosophical works, in which he defends subjective idealism, that is, the view that everything that exists is mental or immaterial. This does not imply that trees (for example) do not exist, for a tree is simply a collection of ideas in the minds of perceivers. Indeed, for Berkeley to exist is to be perceived. But what happens to the tree when we are all soundly asleep - does it then go out of existence, only to reappear when someone wakes up and looks out of the window? No, because God is always watching the tree and everything else. Berkeley comes up with this theory in order to circumvent the atheistic implications he suspected lay in Locke's theory of substance, as well as to preserve our knowledge of the world - if we were purely mental and trees were not at all mental then how could we know about them? Few today follow Berkeley down the idealist path, but one cannot ignore his arguments and the problems he raises for other views.
   See empiricism; idealism
   Further reading: Berkeley 1948-57 and 1975; Warnock 1953

Christian Philosophy . . 2015.

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  • Berkeley, George — George Berkeley David Berman BACKGROUND AND EARLY WORK George Berkeley was born on 12 March 1685 in Co. Kilkenny, where he spent his early years. His father was from England, his mother (very probably) was born in Ireland.1 After attending… …   History of philosophy

  • Berkeley, George — known as Bishop Berkeley born March 12, 1685, near Dysert Castle, near Thomastown?, County Kilkenny, Ire. died Jan. 14, 1753, Oxford, Eng. Irish bishop, philosopher, and social activist. He worked principally at Trinity College, Dublin (to 1713) …   Universalium

  • Berkeley, George — (1685–1753)    Bishop and Philosopher.    A native of Ireland, Berkeley was educated at Trinity College, Dublin. He was appointed Dean of Derry in 1724 and, after a period as a travelling missionary in America, he was consecrated Bishop of Cloyne …   Who’s Who in Christianity

  • Berkeley, George — (1685–1753) Irish idealist . Born at Kilkenny in Ireland, Berkeley entered Trinity College, Dublin in 1700. In 1707 he became a Fellow of the College and two years later published An Essay towards a New Theory of Vision (his Philosophical… …   Philosophy dictionary

  • Berkeley, George — ► (1685 1753) Filósofo inglés. Sostiene que lo único real son nuestras ideas y su realidad consiste en las que percibimos. Sus obras principales son los Principios del conocimiento humano (1710) y Tres diálogos entre Hylas y Filonús (1713). * * * …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • BERKELEY, GEORGE —    bishop of Cloyne, born in Kilkenny; a philanthropic man, who conducted in a self sacrificing spirit practical schemes for the good of humanity, which failed, but the interest in whom has for long centred, and still centres, in his philosophic… …   The Nuttall Encyclopaedia

  • Berkeley, George — (1685 1753)    Philosopher, eldest s. of William B., a cadet of the noble family of Berkeley, b. at Kilcrin near Kilkenny, and ed. at the school of his native place and at Trinity Coll., Dublin, where he graduated and took a Fellowship in 1707.… …   Short biographical dictionary of English literature

  • Berkeley,George — Berke·ley (bärkʹlē, bûrkʹ ), George. 1685 1753. Irish prelate and philosopher whose idealist philosophy, directed against the materialism of Thomas Hobbes, is based on the thought that to be is to perceive or to be perceived. His works include… …   Universalium

  • BERKELEY, George — (1685 1753)    Irish clergyman and philosopher. Author of A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge (1710) …   Concise dictionary of Religion

  • Berkeley, George Cranfield — (1753 1818)    Entered the navy, 1766; accompanied Cook in survey of coast of Newfoundland and Gulf of St. Lawrence, 1766 1769; and was on the Victory at Ushant, 1778. In 1786 surveyor general of ordnance, 1786; and vice admiral on the Halifax… …   The makers of Canada

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