About this topic
Summary 'Immaterialism' was Berkeley's name for his theory of the perceived world. This theory consists of the negative thesis that there are not, and could not be, material substances or substrata, and the positive thesis that the existence of bodies consists in their being perceived (as Berkeley says: their esse is percipi).
Key works Major areas of dispute regarding Berkeley's immaterialism include the exact nature of the reduction of bodies to perceptions, and Berkeley's treatment of bodies unperceived by humans. On the first topic, Bennett 1971, sect. 29 defends a simple collection interpretation, which says that bodies are collections or sets of ideas. Atherton 2008 attributes to Berkeley a more sophisticated theory according to which an object is a structured collection of ideas. Winkler 1994, sect. 6.8, argues instead that Berkeley endorses a version of analytic phenomenalism, holding that claims about bodies are equivalent to certain subjunctive conditionals about human perceptions. On the second topic, it is widely recognized that Berkeley has two ways of talking about unperceived objects: he sometimes says that they exist because they would be perceived by humans under specified circumstances, and he sometimes says they exist because they are perceived by God. Bennett 1971, sect. 38, argues that Berkeley does not in fact believe objects unperceived by humans exist at all. Winkler 1994, ch. 7 argues that the two views are not contradictory, and Berkeley endorses both.
Introductions Most introductory texts on Berkeley focus primarily on his immaterialism. Stoneham 2002 provides a sympathetic introduction, focused on the presentation in the Three Dialogues. Dicker 2011 provides a critical introduction with focus on the presentation in the Principles.
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  1. C. P. A. (1957). The Idealist Tradition. [REVIEW] Review of Metaphysics 11 (1):170-170.
  2. E. M. A. (1935). "The Metaphysics of Berkeley" Critically Examined in the Light of Modern Philosophy. [REVIEW] Journal of Philosophy 32 (15):414-414.
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  3. Michel Adam (1982). Le Mot « Archétype » Chez Berkeley. Revue Philosophique de la France Et de l'Etranger 172 (3):523 - 528.
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  4. Timo Airaksinen (2011). Rhetoric and Corpuscularism in Berkeley's Siris. History of European Ideas 37 (1):23-34.
    Berkeley's Siris may be an unduly neglected treatise. Yet it reveals and confirms its author's philosophical ambitions and achievements. The greatest of them is his theory of causality. Berkeley tries to show that agents can influence the world by using ethereal corpuscles as their instruments. These particles are both material but also in some sense immaterial or occult because they both follow and do not follow the laws of nature. Siris is a rhetorical text which uses analogy, metaphor, paradox, and (...)
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  5. Edwin B. Allaire (1995). Berkeley's Idealism: Yet Another Visit. In Robert G. Muehlmann (ed.), Berkeley's Metaphysics: Structural, Interpretive, and Critical Essays. The Pennsylvania State University Press
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  6. Edwin B. Allaire (1982). Berkeley's Idealism Revisited. In Colin M. Turbayne (ed.), Berkeley: Critical and Interpretive Essays.
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  7. Edwin B. Allaire (1963). Berkeley's Idealism. Theoria 29 (3):229-244.
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  8. Stephen Paul Allen (2001). Berkeley's Realism: An Essay in Ontology. Dissertation, The University of Texas at Austin
    Berkeley's critics have long held that his ontology is nominalist. On this interpretation, Berkeley holds that sense qualities are particulars, completely determined and unique to the object they characterize. David Hume was the first to interpret Berkeley as a nominalist; he did so on three grounds. First, Hume sees Berkeley as inheriting Locke's empiricism and so too his nominalism. Second, Berkeley rejects the doctrine of abstract ideas. Hume, who identifies abstract ideas with universals, concludes that Berkeley must also reject universals. (...)
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  9. Henry E. Allison (1973). Bishop Berkeley's Petitio. Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 54 (3):232.
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  10. M. T. Antonelli (1947). A. A. LUCE, "Berkeley's Immaterialism". [REVIEW] Giornale di Metafisica 2 (3):278.
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  11. George F. American Catholic Philosophical Association & Mclean (1978). Immateriality.
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  12. M. Atherton (2013). Berkeley's Idealism, by Georges Dicker. Mind 122 (485):278-281.
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  13. Margaret Atherton (2008). 'The Books Are in the Study as Before': Berkeley's Claims About Real Physical Objects. British Journal for the History of Philosophy 16 (1):85 – 100.
    (2008). ‘The books are in the study as before’: Berkeley's claims about real physical objects. British Journal for the History of Philosophy: Vol. 16, No. 1, pp. 85-100.
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  14. Margaret Atherton (2003). How Berkeley Can Maintain That Snow is White. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 67 (1):101–113.
    Berkeley has made the bold claim on behalf of his theory that it is uniquely able to justify the claim that snow is white. But this claim, made most strikingly in the Third of his "Three Dialogues," has been held, most forcefully by Margaret Wilson, to conflict with Berkeley's argument in the First Dialogue that, because of various facts to do with perceptual variation, colors are merely apparent and hence, mind-dependent. This paper develops an alternative reading of the First Dialogue (...)
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  15. Margaret Atherton (1996). Lady Mary Shepherd's Case Against George Berkeley. British Journal for the History of Philosophy 4 (2):347 – 366.
  16. Margaret Atherton (1995). Berkeley Without God. In Robert G. Muehlmann (ed.), Berkeley's Metaphysics: Structural, Interpretive, and Critical Essays. The Pennsylvania State University Press
  17. M. R. Ayers (1982). Berkeley's Immaterialism and Kant's Transcendental Idealism. Royal Institute of Philosophy Lectures 13:51-69.
    Ever since its first publication critics of Kant's Critique of Pure Reason have been struck by certain strong formal resemblances between transcendental idealism and Berkeley's immaterialism. Both philosophers hold that the sensible world is mind-dependent, and that from this very mind-dependence we can draw a refutation of scepticism of the senses.
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  18. Michael R. Ayers (2007). Berkeley, Ideas, and Idealism. In Stephen H. Daniel (ed.), Reexamining Berkeley's Philosophy.
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  19. H. E. Baber (1989). Berkeley and the Tattletale's Paradox. Idealistic Studies 19 (1):79-82.
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  20. J. D. Bastable (1958). The Idealist Tradition. Philosophical Studies 8:197-199.
  21. D. Baumgardt (1933). Joseph, H. W. B., A Comparison of Kants Idealism with that of Berkeley. [REVIEW] Société Française de Philosophie, Bulletin 38:441.
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  22. Donald L. M. Baxter (1991). Berkeley, Perception, and Identity. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 51 (1):85-98.
    Berkeley says both that one sometimes immediately perceives the same thing by sight and touch, and that one never does. To solve the contradiction I recommend and explain a distinction Berkeley himself makes—between two uses of ‘same’. This solution unifies two seemingly inconsistent parts of Berkeley’s whole project: He argues both that what we see are bits of light and color organized into a language by which God speaks to us about tactile sensations, and yet that we directly see ordinary (...)
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  23. Bertil Belfrage (1992). The Constructivism of Berkeley's New Theory of Vision. In Phillip D. Cummins & Guenter Zoeller (eds.), Minds, Ideas, and Objects: Essays in the Theory of Representation in Modern Philosophy. Ridgeview Publishing Company
  24. George Berkeley & Collyns Simon (1890). The Principles of Human Knowledge a Treatise on the Nature of the Material Substance and its Relation to the Absolute. Routledge Dutton.
  25. George Berkeley & Collyns Simon (1878). The Principles of Human Knowledge Being Berkeley's Celebrated Treatise on the Nature of Material Substance. Wm. Tegg.
  26. David Berman (ed.) (2015). George Berkeley : Eighteenth-Century Responses: Volume Ii. Routledge.
    The material reprinted in this two-volume set, first published in 1989, covers the first eighty-five years in responses to George Berkeley’s writings. David Berman identifies several key waves of eighteenth-century criticism surrounding Berkeley’s philosophies, ranging from hostile and discounted, to valued and defended. The first volume includes an account of the life of Berkeley by J. Murray and key responses from 1711 to 1748, whilst the second volume covers the years between 1745 and 1796. This fascinating reissue illustrates the breadth (...)
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  27. David Berman (ed.) (2014). George Berkeley : Eighteenth-Century Responses: Volume I. Routledge.
    The material reprinted in this two-volume set, first published in 1989, covers the first eighty-five years in responses to George Berkeley’s writings. David Berman identifies several key waves of eighteenth-century criticism surrounding Berkeley’s philosophies, ranging from hostile and discounted, to valued and defended. The first volume includes an account of the life of Berkeley by J. Murray and key responses from 1711 to 1748, whilst the second volume covers the years between 1745 and 1796. This fascinating reissue illustrates the breadth (...)
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  28. David Berman (1986). Berkeley's Quad. Idealistic Studies 16 (1):41-45.
  29. Daniele Bertini (2007). Berkeley and Gentile: A Reading of Berkeley's Master Argument. Idealistic Studies 37 (1):43-50.
    My purpose is to compare Berkeley’s and Gentile’s idealism, interpreting Berkeley’s Treatise, §§22–23, and Gentile’s reading of this passage. The Italianphilosopher finds in Berkeley’s master argument the original source of the true idealistic way of thinking, but he believes that Berkeley has not been sufficientlyconsistent in deducing all the consequences from his new principle. This criticism is the ground of Gentile’s actual idealism. Comparing the two positions is very instructive both to elucidate the general issue of idealism and to understand (...)
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  30. Daniele Bertini (2007). Berkeley and Gentile. Idealistic Studies 37 (1):43-50.
    My purpose is to compare Berkeley’s and Gentile’s idealism, interpreting Berkeley’s Treatise, §§22–23, and Gentile’s reading of this passage. The Italian philosopher finds in Berkeley’s master argument the original source of the true idealistic way of thinking, but he believes that Berkeley has not been sufficiently consistent in deducing all the consequences from his new principle. This criticism is the ground of Gentile’s actual idealism. Comparing the two positions is very instructive both to elucidate the general issue of idealism and (...)
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  31. Daniele Bertini (2006). Hume e l'immaterialismo. Aquinas (2/3).
    In this paper I provide a definition of immaterialism as a kind of philosophy holding five grounding principles: a) any evidence is ontologically unsubsisting without the mind; b) all evidences are ontologically unrelated among them; c) the mind supports the subsistence of what is actually evident to her perceiving; d) the mind produces or acknoweldges an order in the coming of an evidence after the others; e) experience is the symbolic framing of relationships among given elements. After having defined immaterialism, (...)
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  32. L. Bertoni (1947). LUCE A. A., Berkeley's Immaterialism. A commentary on his " A Treatise Concerning the principles of Human Knowledge. [REVIEW] Rivista di Filosofia Neo-Scolastica 39:60.
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  33. Martha Brandt Bolton (1987). Berkeley's Objection to Abstract Ideas and Unconceived Objects. In Ernest Sosa (ed.), Essays on the Philosophy of George Berkeley. D. Reidel
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  34. S. Seth Bordner (forthcoming). Immaterialism and Common Sense. In Bertil Belfrage & Richard Brook (eds.), The Continuum Companion to Berkeley. Continuum
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  35. S. Seth Bordner (forthcoming). If We Stop Thinking About Berkeley's Problem of Continuity, Will It Still Exist? Journal of the History of Philosophy.
    Berkeley holds that the esse of sensible objects is percipi. So, sensible objects cannot exist unperceived. Naturally, this has invited questions about the existence of sensible objects when unperceived by finite minds. This is sometimes called the Problem of Continuity. It is frequently said that Berkeley solves the problem by invoking God’s ever-present perception to ensure that sensible objects maintain a continuous existence. Problems with this line of response have led some to a phenomenalist interpretation. This paper argues that neither (...)
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  36. George Botterill (1990). Particles and Ideas: Bishop Berkeley's Corpuscularian Philosophy. [REVIEW] Philosophical Books 31 (2):75-77.
  37. Philip Bourdillon (1972). Berkeley and Reid: An Analysis of Reid's Reaction to Berkeley's Rejectionof Material Substance. Dissertation, The University of Rochester
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  38. Harry M. Bracken (1976). Berkeley: The Philosophy of Immaterialism. Journal of the History of Philosophy 14 (2):235-236.
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  39. Harry M. Bracken (1958). Berkeley's Realisms. Philosophical Quarterly 8 (30):41-53.
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  40. Harry Mcfarland Bracken (1965). The Early Reception of Berkeley's Immaterialism, 1710-1733. M. Nijhoff.
  41. Costica Bradatan (2008). Review: Stephen Gersh and Dermot Moran, Eds. Eriugena, Berkeley, and the Idealist Tradition. [REVIEW] Berkeley Studies:40-43.
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  42. Charles Wesley Bradley (1881). Berkeley's Idealism. Journal of Speculative Philosophy 15 (1):67 - 75.
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  43. David M. Brahinsky (1988). Contingent Immaterialism. International Studies in Philosophy 20 (1):96-97.
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  44. Bill Brewer, Berkeley and Modern Metaphysics.
    Notoriously, Berkeley combines his denial of the existence of mind-independent matter with the insistence that most of what common sense claims about physical objects is perfectly true (1975a, 1975b).1 As I explain (§ 1), he suggests two broad strategies for this reconciliation, one of which importantly subdivides. Thus, I distinguish three Berkeleyian metaphysical views. The subsequent argument is as follows. Reflection, both upon Berkeley’s ingenious construal of science as approaching towards an essentially indirect identification of the causal-explanatory ground of the (...)
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  45. C. D. Broad (1954). Berkeley's Denial of Material Substance. Philosophical Review 63 (2):155-181.
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  46. C. D. Broad (1943). Berkeley's Argument About Material Substance. Annual Philosophical Lecture, Henriette Hertz Trust, British Academy. Philosophy 18 (70):173-176.
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  47. C. D. Broad (1942). Berkeley's Argument About Material Substance. Haskell House Publishers.
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  48. C. D. Broad & British Academy (1942). Berkeley's Argument About Material Substance. H. Milford.
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  49. Richard Brook, Berkeley and the Causality of Ideas; a Look at PHK 25.
    I argue that Berkeley's distinctive idealism/immaterialism can't support his view that objects of sense, immediately or mediately perceived, are causally inert. (The Passivity of Ideas thesis or PI) Neither appeal to ordinary perception, nor traditional arguments, for example, that causal connections are necessary, and we can't perceive such connections, are helpful. More likely it is theological concerns,e.g., how to have second causes if God upholds by continuously creating the world, that's in the background. This puts Berkeley closer to Malebranche than (...)
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  50. Richard Brook (2005). Berkeley, Bundles, and Immediate Perception. Dialogue 44 (3):493-504.
    I argue in this article that, contrary to some recent views, Berkeley’s bundle theory of physical objects is incompatible with the thinking that we immediately perceive such objects. Those who argue the contrary view rightly stress that immediate perception of ideas or objects must be non-conceptual for Berkeley, that is, the concept of the object cannot be made use of in the perception, otherwise it would be mediate perception. After a brief look at the texts, I contrast how a direct (...)
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