xxxxxThe Irish philosopher and clergyman George Berkeley read Descartes, Locke, Hobbes, Boyle and Newton while studying divinity at Trinity College, Dublin. His philosophy is contained in his The Principles of Human Knowledge of 1710, and his The Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous, published three years later. In these he developed his dictum esse est percipi -
GEORGE BERKELEY 1685 -
Berkeley: detail, by the Scottish/American artist John Symbert (1688-
xxxxxThe Irish philosopher and clergyman George Berkeley was born at or somewhere near Dysart Castle in county Kilkenny. He studied divinity at Trinity College, Dublin, and while there immersed himself in the ideas of the great thinkers, Descartes, Locke, Hobbes, Boyle and Newton. He graduated in 1704, stayed on as a fellow and, six years later, 1710, published his The Principles of Human Knowledge. This was followed in 1713 by a more popular version, entitled The Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous.
xxxxxIn these works he outlined his philosophy, arguing that matter cannot be seen as existing independent of the mind. Objects that are seen, therefore, are simply collections of ideas and sensations. In brief, his doctrine could be broadly summarised in the dictum esse est percipi -
xxxxxHe was, with the Englishman John Locke -
xxxxxIn 1709 he was made a deacon in the Anglican Church of Ireland, and ordained a priest the following year. He then spent some time travelling in Italy as a chaplain and tutor, and, by his return in 1720, had become widely recognised, by his writings, as a man of considerable learning. He married in 1728, and then went to America, setting up home at Newport, Rhode Island (illustrated). From here he hoped to found a missionary college in Bermuda for the education of young Indians, but the idea had eventually to be abandoned through lack of funds. He stayed in America for three years and, during this time, played a prominent part in the development of education, notably in the universities of Yale and Columbia.
xxxxxHe returned to London in October 1731, and in 1734 was made bishop of Cloyne in Ireland. Here he became deeply involved in the immense social and economic problems besetting the island at this time. To this period belongs his three-
xxxxxBerkeley was a prolific writer over a wide field of interest. Only a cross-
xxxxxBerkeley was highly regarded in the literary world. The Anglo-