A treatise concerning the principles of human knowledge - PDF by George Berkeley

A treatise concerning the principles of human knowledge

George Berkeley
George Berkeley


Berkeley'sTreatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge, of which a reprint is here produced as the fourth of the series of Philosophical Classics of the Religion of Science Library, was first published in Dublin in 1710. The second edition, the last of the author's life-time, appeared in London in 1734, in the same volume with the third edition of the Three Dialogues Betzueen Hylas and Philonous, a reprint of which has also been issued in this series as a companion-piece to the Principles. 


The text of both reprints embodies all the essential matter of the edi- tions of Berkeley's life-time. The Principles, published when the author was only twenty- six, is the most systematic of all of Berkeley's expositions of his theory of knowledge : it was the direct outgrowth of the Essay Towards a New Theory of Vision (1709), which sought to ban- ish the metaphysical abstractions of Absolute Space and Extension from philosophy, and was itself mainly concerned with the aboli- tion of Abstract Matter and of the ontological and theological corollaries of that concept. 

The Dialogues treat of substantially the same subjects, but are more familiar and elegant in form and are devoted in the main to the refutation of the most plausible popular and philosophical objections to the new doctrine. 

The two books mark a distinctively new epoch in philosophy and sci- ence, and together afford a comprehensive survey of Berkeley's doctrines, placing within the reach of every reader in remarkably brief compass opinions which have profoundly influenced the course of intellectual history. Works of this kind have been almost invariably distinguished by their brevity. "I had no inclination," is Berkeley's characteristic remark, "to trouble the world with large volumes. 

What I have done was rather with the view of giving hints to thinking men, who have leisure and curiosity to go to the bottom of things, and pursue them in their own minds, Two or three times reading these small tracts, and making what is read the occasion of thinking, would, I believe, render the whole familiar and easy to the mind, and take off that shocking appear-ance which hath often been observed to attend speculative truths." 

Berkeley's philosophy having been the victim of much popular, and even professional misapprehension, it shall be our endeavor in these prefatory remarks to give by appropriate quota- tions and digests a synthesis of current philosophical opinion concerning his doctrines, to point out his relation to his predecessors, to indicate certain peculiarities of terminology and thought necessary to the understanding of his theory, and to show finally wherein certain of his analyses have been rendered antiquated by modern scientific inquiry. 

We shall begin by reproducing the sketch of his life and aims given in Lewes's Biographical History of Philosophy (1845), a work which, though on technical points partisan and not always trustworthy, has at least the merit of a vivacious style.


the book details :
  • Author:George Berkeley
  • Publication date : 1910
  • Company: Chicago : The Open Court Publishing Co.

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