George Berkeley

An insight into the theories of the philosopher, George Berkeley.

This paper discusses how George Berkeley’s beliefs are in direct contrast to those of Locke and Hume concerning the nature of God, the nature of man, and the nature of being. It examines how, to Berkeley, there really are no things and how nothing actually exists except when perceived by a human being. It looks at how he takes his beliefs further and initiates the modern conception, in some quarters, that we are all simply part of God’s dream. It also discusses how Berkeley posits that every object we experience as “real” or “solid” or made of matter actually is simply a construct created by God for human convenience, or inconvenience as the case may be.
“To prove his point, Berkeley used the analogy of the chair. He asks that we imagine a person alone in the world and without language. There are all sorts of physical things around this person, including rocks, rivers, mountains and chairs. She can see them, perceive them, but has no words to describe them or refer to them. Berkeley asks if she can think about them anyway, and he proposes that she can. “Thoughts, like words, have the capacity to refer to things, a capacity they do not owe to language.” (quoted by Winkler 1) Berkeley goes beyond that, noting that although we could use the word chair to refer to a table, we could not use the thought chair to refer to table. Calling up the thought of table produces a perception that is table, not chair. (Winkler 1)”