Extracts

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Only ideas exist


essay

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[1 of 8] Berkeley, George (Bishop) (1685-1753, Ireland): primary subject "Philosophy, extracts" (search under Inner Life/Mind, Psyche, Soul, Spirit)": detail "“Three Dialogues”, First Dialogue"
Properly and immediately nothing can be perceived but ideas.

[2 of 8] Berkeley, George (Bishop) (1685-1753, Ireland): primary subject "Philosophy, extracts" (search under Inner Life/Mind, Psyche, Soul, Spirit)": detail "“Three Dialogues”, Second Dialogue"
The sensible world is that which we perceive by our several senses; and nothing is perceived by the senses beside ideas; and no idea or archetype of an idea can exist otherwise than in a mind.

[3 of 8] Berkeley, George (Bishop) (1685-1753, Ireland): primary subject "Philosophy, extracts" (search under Inner Life/Mind, Psyche, Soul, Spirit)": detail "“Principles of Human Knowledge”, Part I.3"
For as to what is said of the absolute existence of unthinking things without any relation to their being perceived, that seems perfectly unintelligible. Their esse is percipi [“their being or mode of existence consists in their being perceived”], nor is it possible they should have any existence, out of the minds or thinking things which perceive them.

[4 of 8] Berkeley, George (Bishop) (1685-1753, Ireland): primary subject "Philosophy, extracts" (search under Inner Life/Mind, Psyche, Soul, Spirit)": detail "“Principles of Human Knowledge”, Part I.24"
I insist that he absolute existence of unthinking things are words without a meaning, or which include a contradiction.

[5 of 8] Berkeley, George (Bishop) (1685-1753, Ireland): primary subject "Philosophy, extracts" (search under Inner Life/Mind, Psyche, Soul, Spirit)": detail "“Principles of Human Knowledge”, Part I.78"
Qualities are nothing else but sensations or ideas, which exist only in a mind perceiving them; and this is true not only of the ideas we are acquainted with at present, but likewise of all possible ideas whatsoever.

[6 of 8] Berkeley, George (Bishop) (1685-1753, Ireland): primary subject "Philosophy, extracts" (search under Inner Life/Mind, Psyche, Soul, Spirit)": detail "“Principles of Human Knowledge”, Part I.5, and “Principles of Human Knowledge”, Part I.6-7"
Hence as it is impossible for me to see or feel anything without an actual sensation of that thing, so is it impossible for me to conceive in my thoughts any sensible thing or object distinct from the sensation or perception of it. …
 Some truths there are so near and obvious to the mind, that a man need only open his eyes to see them. Such I take this important one to be, that all the choir of heaven and furniture of the earth, in a word all those bodies which compose the mighty frame of the world, have not any subsistence without a mind, that their being is to be perceived or known; that consequently so long as they are not actually perceived by me, or do not exist in my mind or that of any other created spirit, they must either have no existence at all, or else subsist in the mind of some eternal spirit: it being perfectly unintelligible and involving all the absurdity of abstraction, to attribute to any single part of them an existence independent of a spirit. To be convinced of which, the reader need only reflect and try to separate in his own thoughts the being of a sensible thing from its being perceived.
 From what has been said, it follows, there is not any other substance than spirit, or that which perceives.


[7 of 8] Berkeley, George (Bishop) (1685-1753, Ireland): primary subject "Philosophy, extracts" (search under Inner Life/Mind, Psyche, Soul, Spirit)": detail "“Principles of Human Knowledge”, Part I.33"
The ideas imprinted on the sense by the Author of Nature are called real things: and those excited in the imagination being less regular, vivid and constant, are more properly termed ideas, or images of things, which they copy and represent. But then our sensations, be they never so vivid and distinct, are nevertheless ideas, that is, they exist in the mind, or are perceived by it, as truly as the ideas of its own framing. The ideas of sense are allowed to have more reality in them, that is, to be more strong, orderly, and coherent than the creatures of the mind; but this is no argument that they exist without the mind. They are also less dependent on the spirit, or thinking substance which perceives them, in that they are excited by the will of another and more powerful spirit: yet still they are ideas, and certainly no idea, whether faint or strong, can exist otherwise than in a mind perceiving it.

[8 of 8] Berkeley, George (Bishop) (1685-1753, Ireland): primary subject "Philosophy, extracts" (search under Inner Life/Mind, Psyche, Soul, Spirit)": detail "“Principles of Human Knowledge”, Part I.35"
I do not argue against the existence of any one thing that we can apprehend, either by sense or reflection. That the things I see with my eyes and touch with my hands do exist, really exist, I make not the least question. The only thing whose existence we deny, is that which philosophers call matter or corporeal substance. And in doing of this, there is no damage done to the rest of mankind, who, I dare say, will never miss it.