The dialogue deals with some of the most important perennial problems of philosophy, including: the materialism-idealism dispute, skepticism in rationalist and empiricist epistemology, the conflict over apriorism and aposteriorism, rationalism versus empiricism, the existence and nature of God, the philosophy of science, philosophy of mathematics, abstract general ideas, the role of perception in human knowledge, and the metaphysics of causation.
This edition combines a usefully annotated version of Berkeley’s complete original text with a substantial critical introduction, a chronology of events in Berkeley’s life and career, and supplementary annotated appendices of original sources from thinkers relevant to Berkeley’s work.
An Irish clergyman who spent his entire philosophical career as a churchman, Berkeley linked his investigations to his religious interests. A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge opens with an assault on Locke’s theory of abstract ideas and proceeds with arguments that sensible qualities exist only when perceived as ideas. Physical objects, he claims, are no more than collections of qualities, and these sensible objects, too, are merely ideas. Berkeley relates his position to the achievements of eighteenth-century science, and proclaims the compatibility of immaterialism with traditional religion.
The fullest expression of Berkeley’s doctrine of immaterialism, this classic work influenced British philosophers from David Hume to Bertrand Russell and the other logical positivists. It is essential reading for all students of philosophy.
Description: Berkeley uses the Socratic mode of
inquiry in Three Dialogues between Hylas
and Philonous to question fundamental beliefs about knowledge and reality.
These dialogues are between Hylas (whose name is derived from the ancient Greek
word for matter) and Philonous, whose name means “lover of mind.” The new
physical sciences developed in the seventeenth century supported the
materialism proposed by Thomas Hobbes and several other philosophers. This
worldview proclaimed that all of reality consists of nothing but matter in
motion, thus promoting atheism and ethical skepticism. The implications for
politics, ethics, and religion caused concern among leading intellectuals in
the eighteenth century. Whatever the value of the positive claims presented in
this work, Berkeley foreshadows the philosophical impact of twentieth century
physics, which challenges the foundations of such materialism and calls for a
better understanding of both the physical and the mental aspects of reality.