George Berkeley, also Bishop Berkeley, Bishop of Cloyne

Berkeley, also Bishop Berkeley, Bishop of Cloyne

Anglo-Irish Philosopher whose primary achievement was the advancement of a theory he called "Immaterialism" (later referred to as "Subjective Idealism" by others)

Author Quotes

And first, I shall observe· that the minimum visibile is exactly equal in all beings whatsoever that are endowed with the visive faculty. No exquisite formation of the eye, no peculiar sharpness of sight, can make it less in one creature than in another; for it not being distinguishable into parts, nor in any wise a consisting of them, it must necessarily be the same to all. For suppose it otherwise, and that the minimum visibile of a mite, for instance, be less than the minimum visibile of a man: the latter therefore may by detraction of some part be made equal to the former: it doth therefore consist of parts, which is inconsistent with the notion of a minimum visibile or point.

Circumstances give in reality to every political principle its distinguishing color and discriminating effect. The circumstances are what render every civil and political scheme beneficial or noxious to mankind.

For my own private satisfaction, I had rather be master of my own time than wear a diadem.

I know of nothing sublime which is not some modification of power.

In this choice of inheritance we have given to our frame of polity the image of a relation in blood; binding up the constitution of our country with our dearest domestic ties; adopting our fundamental laws into the bosom of our family affections; keeping inseparable and cherishing with the warmth of all their combined and mutually reflected charities, our state, our hearths, our sepulchres, and our altars.

Laws, like houses, lean on one another.

Never despair, but if you do, work on in despair.

People must be taken as they are, and we should never try make them or ourselves better by quarreling with them.

That a stone falls to the earth, or the sea swells towards the moon, may to some appear sufficiently explained thereby. But how are we enlightened by being told this is done by attraction?

The objects of a financier are, then, to secure an ample revenue; to impose it with judgment and equality; to employ it economically; and, when necessity obliges him to make use of credit, to secure its foundations in that instance, and forever, by the clearness and candor of his proceedings, the exactness of his calculations, and the solidity of his funds.

Thus, greater confusion having been constantly attended with nearer distance, no sooner is the former idea perceived, but it suggests the latter to our thoughts. And if it had been the ordinary course of Nature that the farther off an object were placed, the more confused it should appear, it is certain the very same perception that now makes us think an object approaches would then have made us to imagine it went farther off. That perception, abstracting from custom and experience, being equally fitted to produce the idea of great distance, or small distance, or no distance at all.

We must not always judge of the generality of the opinion by the noise of the acclamation.

You will say there have been a great many things explained by matter and motion: take away these, and you destroy the whole corpuscular philosophy, and undermine those mechanical principles which have been applied with so much success to account for the phenomena.

And having looked to government for bread, on the very first scarcity they will turn and bite the hand that fed them. To avoid that evil, government will redouble the causes of it; and then it will become inveterate and incurable.

Color, figure, motion, extension and the like, considered only as so many sensations in the mind, are perfectly known, there being nothing in them which is not perceived. But if they are looked on as notes or images, referred to things or archetypes existing without the mind, then are we involved all in skepticism. We see only the appearances, and not the real qualities of things. What may be the extension, figure or motion of anything really and absolutely, or in itself, it is impossible for us to know, but only the proportion or the relation they bear to our senses.

For the better explaining the nature of vision, and setting the manner wherein we perceive magnitudes in a due light, I shall proceed to make some observations concerning matters relating thereto, whereof the want of reflection, and duly separating between tangible and visible ideas, is apt to create in us mistaken and confused notions.

I know what I mean by the term I and myself; and I know this immediately, or intuitively, though I do not perceive it as I perceive a triangle, a color, or a sound.

In vain do we extend our view into the heavens and pry into the entrails of the earth, in vain do we consult the writings of learned men and trace the dark footsteps of antiquity- we need only draw the curtain of words, to hold the fairest tree of knowledge, whose fruit is excellent, and within the reach of our hand.

Liberty must be limited in order to be possessed.

No passion so effectually robs the mind of all its powers of acting and reasoning as fear.

People will not look forward to posterity who will not look backward to their ancestors.

That neither our thoughts, nor passions, nor ideas formed by the imagination, exist without the mind, is what everybody will allow. And it seems no less evident that the various sensations or ideas imprinted on the sense, however blended or combined together (that is, whatever objects they compose), cannot exist otherwise than in a mind perceiving them.- I think an intuitive knowledge may be obtained of this by any one that shall attend to what is meant by the term exists, when applied to sensible things. The table I write on I say exists, that is, I see and feel it; and if I were out of my study I should say it existed- meaning thereby that if I was in my study I might perceive it, or that some other spirit actually does perceive it. There was an odor, that is, it was smelt; there was a sound, that is, it was heard; a color or figure, and it was perceived by sight or touch. This is all that I can understand by these and the like expressions. 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 percepi, nor is it possible they should have any existence out of the minds or thinking things which perceive them.

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.

To be a good patriot, a man must consider his countrymen as God's creatures, and himself as accountable for his acting towards them.

We ought to think with the learned, and speak with the vulgar.

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Berkeley, also Bishop Berkeley, Bishop of Cloyne
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Anglo-Irish Philosopher whose primary achievement was the advancement of a theory he called "Immaterialism" (later referred to as "Subjective Idealism" by others)