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

I do not deny the existence of material substance merely because I have no notion of it, but because the notion of it is inconsistent, or in other words, because it is repugnant that there should be a notion of it

In doing good, we are generally cold, and languid, and sluggish; and of all things afraid of being too much in the right. But the works of malice and injustice are quite in another style. They are finished with a bold, masterly hand; touched as they are with the spirit of those vehement passions that call forth all our energies, whenever we oppress and persecute.

It is the nature of all greatness not to be exact.

Mere parsimony is not economy. Expense, and great expense, may be an essential part in true economy.

Our youth we can have but to-day, we may always find time to grow old.

Society is indeed a contract. It is a partnership in all science; a partnership in all art; a partnership in every virtue, and in all perfection. As the ends of such a partnership cannot be obtained in many generations, it becomes a partnership not only between those who are living, but between those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born.

The fawning courtier and the surly squire often mean the same thing,--each his own interest.

There being in the make of an English mind a certain gloom and eagerness, which carries to the sad extreme religion to fanaticism; free-thinking to atheism; liberty to rebellion.

Upon the whole it seems that if we consider the use and end of sight, together with the present state and circumstances of our being, we shall not find any great cause to complain of any defect or imperfection in it, or easily conceive how it could be mended. With such admirable wisdom is that faculty contrived, both for the pleasure and convenience of life.

Where the people are well educated, the art of piloting a state is best learned from the writings of Plato.

But perhaps we may be too partial to ourselves in placing the fault originally in our faculties, and not rather in the wrong use we make of them. It is a hard thing to suppose that right deductions from true principles should ever end in consequences which cannot be maintained or made consistent. We should believe that God has dealt more bountifully with the sons of men, than to give them a strong desire for that knowledge, which he had placed quite out of their reach.

Few men think; yet all have opinions.

I do not design to trouble myself with drawing corollaries from the doctrine I have hitherto laid down. If it bears the test others may, so far as they shall think convenient, employ their thoughts in extending it farther, and applying it to whatever purposes it may be subservient to: only, I cannot forbear making some inquiry concerning the object of geometry, which the subject we have been upon doth naturally lead one to. We have shown there is no such idea as that of extension in abstract, and that there are two kinds of sensible extension and figures which are entirely distinct and heterogeneous from each other. Now, it is natural to inquire which of these is the object of geometry. Berkeley, George. An Essay Towards a New Theory of Vision.

In effect, to follow, not to force the public inclination; to give a direction, a form, a technical dress, and a specific sanction, to the general sense of the community, is the true end of legislature.

It is therefore plain, that nothing can be more evident to anyone that is capable of the least reflection, than the existence of God, or a spirit who is intimately present to our minds, producing in them all that variety of ideas or sensations, which continually affect us, on whom we have an absolute and entire dependence, in short, ‘in whom we live, and move, and have our being’. That the discovery of this great truth which lies so near and obvious to the mind, should be attained to by the reason of so very few, is a sad instance of the stupidity and inattention of men, who, though they are surrounded with such clear manifestations of the Deity, are yet so little affected by them, that they seem as it were blinded with excess of light.

Much is here said of the difficulty that abstract ideas carry with them, and the pains and skill requisite to the forming them. And it is on all hands agreed that there is need of great toil and labor of the mind, to emancipate our thoughts from particular objects, and raise them to those sublime speculations that are conversant about abstract ideas.

Parliament is not a congress of ambassadors from different and hostile interests; which interests each must maintain, as an agent and advocate, against other agents and advocates; but parliament is a deliberative assembly of one nation, with one interest, that of the whole; where, not local purposes, not local prejudices ought to guide, but the general good, resulting from the general reason of the whole. You choose a member indeed; but when you have chosen him, he is not a member of Bristol, but he is a member of parliament.

Some, perhaps, may think pure space, vacuum, or trine dimension to be equally the object of sight and touch: but though we have a very great propension to think the ideas of out-ness and space to be the immediate object of sight, yet, if I mistake not, in the foregoing parts of this essay that hath been clearly demonstrated to be a mere delusion, arising from the quick and sudden suggestion of fancy, which so closely connects the idea of distance with those of sight, that we are apt to think it is itself a proper and immediate object of that sense till reason corrects the mistake.

The first and simplest emotion which we discover in the human mind is curiosity.

There is a limit at which forbearance ceases to be a virtue.

Upon the whole, I am inclined to think that the far greater part, if not all, of those difficulties which have hitherto amused philosophers, and blocked up the way to knowledge, are entirely owing to ourselves. That we have first raised a dust, and then complain we cannot see.

Whether others have this wonderful faculty of abstracting their ideas, they best can tell: for myself, I find indeed I have a faculty of imagining, or representing to myself, the ideas of those particular things I have perceived, and of variously compounding and dividing them. I can imagine a man with two heads, or the upper parts of a man joined to the body of a horse. I can consider the hand, the eye, the nose, each by itself abstracted or separated from the rest of the body. But then whatever hand or eye I imagine, it must have some particular shape and color.

All those who write either explicitly or by insinuation against the dignity, freedom, and immortality of the human soul, may so far forth be justly said to unhinge the principles of morality, and destroy the means of making men reasonably virtuous.

Ambition can creep as well as soar.

A disposition to preserve, and an ability to improve, taken together, would be my standard of a statesman.

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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)