Berkeley's Idealism : A Critical Examination


Berkeley's Idealism : A Critical Examination



By Georges Dicker.

In his two most important works, the Principles of Human Knowledge and Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous, Berkeley argues, against the prevailing Cartesian-Lockean worldview, that there is no such thing as matter, that only minds and ideas exist, and that physical things are nothing but collections of ideas. In defense of this idealism, he advances a battery of challenging arguments, and he puts forward an alternative world‐view that purports to refute both skepticism and atheism. This book expounds and critically examines both the destructive and the constructive sides of Berkeley's thought, against the background of key elements of the mainstream views that he rejected. Its analysis of Berkeley's arguments is text‐based, accessible, and rigorous, and it shows that the Principles and the Dialogues dovetail and complement each other in a seamless way, rather than being two self‐contained defenses of idealism. In addition to relating Berkeley's work to the main thinkers that he reacted against, the book discusses work by several contemporary Berkeley scholars, and uses notions and distinctions forged by recent and contemporary analytic philosophers.



Publication Date


Publication Information

New York : Oxford University Press, c2011.

xiv, 310 p. ; 24 cm.






Located in Drake Library at: B1348 .D53 2011

CONTENTS: The theory of primary and secondary qualities -- The representational theory of perception and the problem of perception -- Locke's defense of the senses -- Berkeley's case for idealism in Principles I, sections 1-7 -- Direct arguments for idealism in the first dialogue between Hylas and Philonous -- The argument from the ego-centric predicament -- The likeness principle -- Berkeley's attack on the theory of primary and secondary qualities -- Substance/Substratum -- The epistemological argument -- Mind -- God, nature, agency, and causation in perception -- Continuity -- Intersubjectivity.

Berkeley's Idealism : A Critical Examination