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

Young man, there is America, which at this day serves for little more than to amuse you with stories of savage men and uncouth manners.

Applaud us when we run, console us when we fall, cheer us when we recover.

Corresponding to these two defects of sight, we may imagine as many perfections, to wit, first, that of comprehending in one view a greater number of visible points. 2dly, of being able to view them all equally and at once with the utmost clearness and distinction. That those perfections are not actually in some intelligences of a different order and capacity from ours it is impossible for us to know.

From my own being, and from the dependency I find in myself and my ideas, I do, by an act of reason, necessarily infer the existence of a God, and of all created things in the mind of God.

I might add, my lord, that the extraordinary favor and bounty you have been pleased to show towards our Society gave me hopes you would not be unwilling to countenance the studies of one of its members. These considerations determined me to lay this treatise at your lordship's feet, and the rather because I was ambitious to have it known that I am with the truest and most profound respect, on account of that learning and virtue which the world so justly admires in your lordship.

It does not appear to me that there can be any motion other than relative: so that to conceive motion, there must be at least conceived two bodies, whereof the distance or position in regard to each other is varied. Hence if there was only one body in being, it could not possibly be moved. This seems evident, in that the idea I have of motion does necessarily include relation.

Likewise the idea of man that I frame to myself must be either of a white, or a black, or a tawny, a straight, or a crooked, a tall, or a low, or a middle-sized man. I cannot by any effort of thought conceive the abstract idea above described. And it is equally impossible for me to form the abstract idea of motion distinct from the body moving, and which is neither swift nor slow, curvilinear nor rectilinear; and the like may be said of all other abstract general ideas whatsoever. To be plain, I own myself able to abstract in one sense, as when I consider some particular parts or qualities separated from others, with which, though they are united in some object, yet it is possible they may really exist without them.

Nobility is a graceful ornament to the civil order. It is the Corinthian capital of polished society.

Restraint and discipline and examples of virtue and justice. These are the things that form the education of the world.

That the matter of fact is true will be evident to anyone who considers that a man placed at ten foot distance is thought as great as if he were placed at a distance only of five foot: which is true not with relation to the visible, but tangible greatness of the object: the visible magnitude being far greater at one station: than it is at the other.

The people never give up their liberties, but under some delusion.

To be satisfied of the truth of this, there is nothing else requisite but a bare observation of our ideas. For, since they and every part of them exist only in the mind, it follows that there is nothing in them but what is perceived: but whoever shall attend to his ideas, whether of sense or reflection, will not perceive in them any power or activity; there is, therefore, no such thing contained in them. A little attention will discover to us that the very being of an idea implies passiveness and inertness in it, insomuch that it is impossible for an idea to do anything, or, strictly speaking, to be the cause of anything: neither can it be the resemblance or pattern of any active being, as is evident. Whence it plainly follows that extension, figure, and motion cannot be the cause of our sensations. To say, therefore, that these are the effects of powers resulting from the configuration, number, motion, and size of corpuscles, must certainly be false.

Westward the course of empire takes its way; the four first Acts already past, a fifth shall close the Drama with the day; Time's noblest offspring is the last.

Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion.

As we see distance, so we see magnitude. And we see both in the same way that we see shame or anger in the looks of a man. Those passions are themselves invisible, they are nevertheless let in by the eye along with colors and alterations of countenance, which are the immediate object of vision: and which signify them for no other reason than barely because they have been observed to accompany them. Without which experience we should no more have taken blushing for a sign of shame than of gladness.

Custom reconciles us to everything.

Frugality is founded on the principal that all riches have limits.

I might as well doubt of my own being, as of the being of those things I actually see and feel.

It hath been an old remark, that Geometry is an excellent Logic. And it must be owned that when the definitions are clear; when the postulata cannot be refused, nor the axioms denied; when from the distinct contemplation and comparison of figures, their properties are derived, by a perpetual well-connected chain of consequences, the objects being still kept in view, and the attention ever fixed upon them; there is acquired a habit of reasoning, close and exact and methodical; which habit strengthens and sharpens the mind, and being transferred to other subjects is of general use in the inquiry after truth.

Magnanimity in politics is not seldom the truest wisdom; and a great empire and little minds go ill together.

Nothing is so fatal to religion as indifference which is, at least, half infidelity.

Rightly to conceive this point we must carefully distinguish between the ideas of sight and touch, between the visible and tangible eye; for certainly on the tangible eye nothing either is or seems to be painted. Again, the visible eye, as well as all other visible objects, hath been shown to exist only in the mind, which perceiving its own ideas, and comparing them together, calls some pictures in respect of others. What hath been said, being rightly comprehended and laid together, doth, I think, afford a full and genuine explication of the erect appearance of objects; which phenomenon, I must confess, I do not see how it can be explained by any theories of vision hitherto made public.

That there is no such thing as what philosophers call material substance, I am seriously persuaded: but if I were made to see anything absurd or skeptical in this, I should then have the same reason to renounce this, that I imagine I have now to reject the contrary opinion.

The prejudice which is grounded on these, and whatever other causes may be assigned thereof, sticks so fast that it is impossible without obstinate striving and labor of the mind to get entirely clear of it. But then the reluctancy we find in rejecting any opinion can be no argument of its truth to whoever considers what has been already shown with regard to the prejudices we entertain concerning the distance, magnitude, and situation of objects; prejudices so familiar to our minds, so confirmed and inveterate, as they will hardly give way to the clearest demonstration.

To innovate is not to reform.

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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)