Ideas of George Berkeley, by Theme

[Irish, 1684 - 1753, Born at Kilkenny. Bishop of Cloyne, in Ireland. Died in Oxford.]

green numbers give full details    |    back to list of philosophers    |     expand these ideas
3. Truth / C. Correspondence Truth / 3. Correspondence Truth critique
An idea can only be like another idea
6. Mathematics / A. Nature of Mathematics / 5. The Infinite / k. Infinitesimals
Infinitesimals are ghosts of departed quantities
7. Existence / A. Nature of Existence / 4. Abstract Existence
Abstract ideas are impossible
7. Existence / A. Nature of Existence / 5. Reason for Existence
I do not believe in the existence of anything, if I see no reason to believe it
7. Existence / A. Nature of Existence / 6. Criterion for Existence
I know that nothing inconsistent can exist
7. Existence / D. Theories of Reality / 4. Anti-realism
Berkeley does believe in trees, but is confused about what trees are [Cameron]
8. Modes of Existence / E. Nominalism / 1. Nominalism / b. Nominalism about universals
Universals do not have single meaning, but attach to many different particulars
No one will think of abstractions if they only have particular ideas
8. Modes of Existence / E. Nominalism / 2. Resemblance Nominalism
Universals do not have any intrinsic properties, but only relations to particulars
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 2. Substance / d. Substance defined
Material substance is just general existence which can have properties
There is no other substance, in a strict sense, than spirit
9. Objects / B. Unity of Objects / 2. Substance / e. Substance critique
A die has no distinct subject, but is merely a name for its modes or accidents
10. Modality / A. Necessity / 10. Impossibility
A thing is shown to be impossible if a contradiction is demonstrated within its definition
11. Knowledge Aims / C. Knowing Reality / 1. Perceptual Realism / a. Na´ve realism
Since our ideas vary when the real things are said to be unchanged, they cannot be true copies
11. Knowledge Aims / C. Knowing Reality / 1. Perceptual Realism / b. Direct realism
If existence is perceived directly, by which sense; if indirectly, how is it inferred from direct perception?
11. Knowledge Aims / C. Knowing Reality / 2. Phenomenalism
Perception is existence for my table, but also possible perception, by me or a spirit
Berkeley did not deny material things; he merely said they must be defined through sensations [Ayer]
Berkeley needed a phenomenalist account of the self, as well as of material things [Ayer]
Sensible objects are just sets of sensible qualities
11. Knowledge Aims / C. Knowing Reality / 3. Idealism / c. Empirical idealism
The only substance is spirit, or that which perceives
The 'esse' of objects is 'percipi', and they can only exist in minds
When I shut my eyes, the things I saw may still exist, but in another mind
'To be is to be perceived' is a simple confusion of experience with its objects [Russell]
For Berkelely, reality is ideas and a community of minds, including God's [Grayling]
Time is measured by the succession of ideas in our minds
There is no such thing as 'material substance'
I conceive a tree in my mind, but I cannot prove that its existence can be conceived outside a mind
There is nothing in nature which needs the concept of matter to explain it
Perceptions are ideas, and ideas exist in the mind, so objects only exist in the mind
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 2. Qualities in Perception / c. Primary qualities
Primary qualities (such as shape, solidity, mass) are held to really exist, unlike secondary qualities
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 2. Qualities in Perception / e. Primary/secondary critique
No one can, by abstraction, conceive extension and motion of bodies without sensible qualities
Motion is in the mind, since swifter ideas produce an appearance of slower motion
Figure and extension seem just as dependent on the observer as heat and cold
A mite would see its own foot as large, though we would see it as tiny
The apparent size of an object varies with its distance away, so that can't be a property of the object
'Solidity' is either not a sensible quality at all, or it is clearly relative to our senses
Distance is not directly perceived by sight
12. Knowledge Sources / B. Perception / 3. Representation
Berkeley's idealism resulted from fear of scepticism in representative realism [Robinson,H]
Immediate objects of perception, which some treat as appearances, I treat as the real things themselves
12. Knowledge Sources / D. Empiricism / 1. Empiricism
Knowledge is of ideas from senses, or ideas of the mind, or operations on sensations
Real things and imaginary or dreamed things differ because the latter are much fainter
12. Knowledge Sources / D. Empiricism / 4. Pro-Empiricism
Geometry is originally perceived by senses, and so is not purely intellectual
13. Knowledge Criteria / D. Scepticism / 3. Illusion Scepticism
It is possible that we could perceive everything as we do now, but nothing actually existed.
13. Knowledge Criteria / E. Relativism / 3. Subjectivism
A hot hand and a cold hand will have different experiences in the same tepid water
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 4. Other Minds / a. Other minds
Berkeley's idealism gives no grounds for believing in other minds [Reid]
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 4. Other Minds / c. Knowing other minds
I know other minds by ideas which are referred by me to other agents, as their effects
Experience tells me that other minds exist independently from my own
15. Nature of Minds / A. Nature of Mind / 7. Animal Minds
If animals have ideas, and are not machines, they must have some reason
15. Nature of Minds / B. Features of Minds / 4. Intentionality / b. Intentionality theories
Berkeley replaced intentionality with an anti-abstractionist imagist theory of thought [Robinson,H]
15. Nature of Minds / C. Capacities of Minds / 3. Abstraction by mind
The mind creates abstract ideas by considering qualities separated from their objects
I can only combine particulars in imagination; I can't create 'abstract' ideas
16. Persons / D. Continuity of the Self / 7. Self and Thinking
Ideas are perceived by the mind, soul or self
17. Mind and Body / E. Mind as Physical / 5. Causal Argument
How can that which is unthinking be a cause of thought?
18. Thought / C. Content / 2. Ideas
Berkeley probably used 'idea' to mean both the act of apprehension and the thing apprehended [Russell]
19. Language / A. Nature of Meaning / 2. Meaning as Mental
Language is presumably for communication, and names stand for ideas
19. Language / D. Propositions / 4. Mental Propositions
I can't really go wrong if I stick to wordless thought
22. Metaethics / A. Ethics Foundations / 1. Nature of Ethics / a. Preconditions for ethics
Immorality is not in the action, but in the deviation of the will from moral law
26. Natural Theory / A. Speculations on Nature / 7. Later Matter Theories / a. Early Modern matter
No one can explain how matter affects mind, so matter is redundant in philosophy
26. Natural Theory / C. Causation / 9. General Causation / a. Constant conjunction
We discover natural behaviour by observing settled laws of nature, not necessary connections
26. Natural Theory / D. Laws of Nature / 4. Regularities / a. Regularity theory
The laws of nature are mental regularities which we learn by experience
26. Natural Theory / D. Laws of Nature / 8. Scientific Essentialism / e. Anti scientific essentialism
If properties and qualities arise from an inward essence, we will remain ignorant of nature
27. Natural Reality / B. Modern Physics / 1. Relativity / a. Special relativity
All motion is relative, so a single body cannot move
27. Natural Reality / D. Time / 1. Nature of Time / c. Idealist time
I cannot imagine time apart from the flow of ideas in my mind
28. God / B. Proving God / 1. Proof of God
There must be a God, because all sensible things must be perceived by him
There must be a God, because I and my ideas are not independent
28. God / B. Proving God / 3. Proofs of Evidence / b. Teleological Proof
It has been proved that creation is the workmanship of God, from its beauty and usefulness
29. Religion / D. Religious Issues / 3. Problem of Evil / a. Problem of Evil
Particular evils are really good when linked to the whole system of beings
29. Religion / D. Religious Issues / 3. Problem of Evil / b. Human Evil
People are responsible because they have limited power, though this ultimately derives from God
29. Religion / D. Religious Issues / 3. Problem of Evil / d. Natural Evil
If sin is not just physical, we don't consider God the origin of sin because he causes physical events