George Berkeley  

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"If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?"


"Esse est percipi"


'However, Berkeley had written (Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous, II): “The brain . . . being a sensible thing, exists only in the mind. Now, I would fain know whether you think it reasonable to suppose, that one idea or thing existing in the mind, occasions all other ideas. And if you think so, pray how do you account for the origin of that primary idea or brain itself?”'

“ . . . in consequence of your own principles, it should follow that you are only a system of floating ideas, without any substance to support them. . . . And as there is no more meaning in spiritual substance than in material substance, the one is to be exploded as well as the other.”

--quoted in Borges, "A New Refutation of Time"


"In "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius" (1940) Borges playfully explores the imaginary world Tlön where the 18th century philosophical subjective idealism of George Berkeley is viewed as common sense and "the doctrine of materialism" is considered a heresy, a scandal, and a paradox." --Sholem Stein

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

George Berkeley (12 March 168514 January 1753), also known as Bishop Berkeley, was an Irish philosopher. His primary philosophical achievement was the advancement of a theory he called "immaterialism" (later referred to as "subjective idealism" by others). This theory, summed up in his dictum, "Esse est percipi" ("To be is to be perceived"), contends that individuals can only directly know sensations and ideas of objects, not abstractions such as "matter." His most widely-read works are A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge (1710) and Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous (1713), in which the characters Philonous and Hylas represent Berkeley himself and his contemporary John Locke. In 1734 he published The Analyst, a critique of the foundations of calculus, which was influential in the development of mathematics.



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