Jordg Berkeley

Jordg Berkeley

English philosopher, representative of subjective idealism, bishop of Cloyne
Date of Birth: 12.03.1685
Country: Great Britain

  1. Biography of George Berkeley
  2. Philosophy of George Berkeley

Biography of George Berkeley

George Berkeley was an English philosopher and bishop in Cloyne, Anglo-Irish philosopher. He was born near Thomastown in County Kilkenny, Ireland on March 12, 1685. He studied at Kilkenny College and then at Trinity College in Dublin, where he later taught. In 1713, he moved to London and gained recognition in the intellectual circles with his early philosophical works, "An Essay Towards a New Theory of Vision" (1709), "Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge" (1710), and "Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous" (1713), as well as his wit and charm. He became a priest in 1710 and traveled throughout Europe from 1713 to 1721. In 1724, he was appointed as the Dean of Derry. Around 1723, Berkeley was inspired by the idea of establishing a college for Native Americans in the Bermuda Islands. While waiting for funding for this project, which never materialized, he stayed in Newport, Rhode Island from 1728 to 1731, where he wrote his work "Alciphron; or, The Minute Philosopher" (1732). In 1734, Berkeley was appointed as the Bishop of Cloyne in Dublin, where he created his last significant work, "Siris: A Chain of Philosophical Reflexions and Inquiries" (1744). In 1752, he retired and moved to Oxford with his family. Berkeley passed away in Oxford on January 14, 1753.

Philosophy of George Berkeley

Berkeley's philosophy, which had a strong religious foundation, emerged as a response to the skepticism and atheism that were gaining popularity and replacing scholasticism. He sought to create a doctrine that harmoniously combined the new philosophy and spirituality. Like John Locke, Berkeley believed in the human capacity for knowledge and emphasized the importance of sensory experience as a source of knowledge. However, in contrast to Locke and materialism, he argued that all qualities, both secondary (such as color) and primary (such as extension), which Locke attributed to an independent material substance, were merely products of sensory perception. He also argued that the idea of matter as a "reality" existing independently and beyond primary and secondary qualities cannot be derived from experience. According to Berkeley, the main error of any philosophy lies in incorrect abstraction. For example, he considered Locke's "material substance" to be a false idea. According to Berkeley, to exist means to be perceived or to perceive. Sensory objects, or "ideas" as Berkeley called them, cannot be produced by inert and insensible matter. Instead, they are the result of the active and incorporeal substance of the mind. From this, Berkeley concluded that matter beyond experience is unimaginable and contradictory. However, he suggested that the term "matter" can be used to denote a particular case of the organization of ideas. Nature is an ordered sequence of such ideas, generated by the World Spirit, and the laws of nature are "established rules or methods by which this Spirit generates in us ideas of sensation." In reality, only "spirits" exist, which can be of two kinds: finite minds and the World Mind (God). We do not have any idea of spirits because ideas are passive and inactive, and they cannot grasp that which acts. The spirit can be known only through its manifestations. We have only a "notion" of the spirit, which, unlike the notion of matter, is not contradictory. In his later works, Berkeley, in the third Dialogue, expands the concept of perception to the concept of comprehension, and in "Siris," he argues that knowledge is understanding. Finally, departing from even understanding, Berkeley writes about our complete dependence on the spiritual world in which we exist as finite beings.