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Principles of Human Knowledge and Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous (Penguin Classics) Paperback – July 5, 1988


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Principles of Human Knowledge and Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous (Penguin Classics) + An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding: with Hume's Abstract of A Treatise of Human Nature and A Letter from a Gentleman to His Friend in Edinburgh (Hackett Classics) + An Essay Concerning Human Understanding
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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Penguin Classics edition (July 5, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140432930
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140432930
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 5.2 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #800,467 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"There is something beautiful about the design of this series: their portability, even their tendency to become dog-eared. And this is a welcome reprint, sensitively edited." --Nicholas Lezard, The Guardian 22/07/1996

"the editions deserve great credit for the enthusiasm of their approach ... The introductions by eminent scholars put the thoughts of the author and the history of the time into clear perspective. Oxford should be given credit for making the classics accessible for all rather than just crib notes for students." --Jonathan Copeland, Lincolnshire Echo 03/09/1996 --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Bishop Berkeley (1685-1753) was one of the greatest British philosophers. Roger Woolhouse Roger Woolhouse is a Professor in the Philosophy Department at York University. He has written extensively about philosophy in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries - mainly focusing on metaphysics and the philosophy of science. He is currently working on Leibniz and on Spinoza.

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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful By mp on August 23, 2001
Format: Paperback
George Berkeley's early 18th century treatise "Of the Principles of Human Knowledge" was written in response to the current popular philosophical leanings of Locke, Descartes, Hobbes, Malebranche, and others. Berkeley's major problem with the philosophy of his age was in its materialist leanings. Berkeley at base had issues with the indefinite nature of philosophical terminology, and the ways in which the foundations of knowledge seemed to be centered on unknowable concepts like 'abstract truths,' 'matter,' and 'absolute' entities. The solution?
Berkeley reasons that philosophy has gotten away from common sense, and that the way to make philosophy and natural science more accessible is to use the vocabulary and understanding of the 'vulgar' masses. Berkeley's philosophy is called Immaterialism. He holds that the only things that can properly be said to exist are 'ideas' and 'spirits.' Ideas are all objects perceived by our five senses or by logic and inference from those objects. Spirits are our minds or souls, those things that perceive, think, and exercise will. He says that all other philosophical terminology only tends to confuse us. We cannot doubt the real existence of anything in the world, because we see, feel, hear, touch, and taste these things every day. What we can doubt are philosophical quandaries like abstract ideas - for existence, while we can think of a particular person in motion, we can neither conceive of a person in abstract nor of motion in general. This, Berkeley contends, is all that common sense gives to the plainest of people. Ordinary people do not doubt the existence of trees or gloves, nor do they conjecture about matter or substrata underlying the things they interact with everyday.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By meadowreader on July 13, 2006
Format: Paperback
The main text of any edition of Principles/Three Dialogues will be virtually the same, but this one is especially good for its superb introduction, by Roger Woolhouse. I can't imagine that there is anywhere a better short introduction to Berkeley's thought, the issues that motivated his work, and where he fits into the history of philosophy both before and after his time.

Berkeley really was a radical thinker, following the premises of others, like Descartes and Locke, to their logical, and deeply troubling, implications. He was out to defeat skepticism, which he saw as corrosive of religion, yet ended up a primary representative of the skeptical view. As Woolhouse points out, modern phenomenalism can find roots in Berkeley, and perhaps even the logical empiricism of the Vienna Circle. If someone were just starting out reading Western philosophy and wondered where to begin, I would recommend Berkeley as the best place to start.
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11 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
Berkeley's principle, esse est percipi aut percipere, denies the bustance's existence and assents that all things are only minds or ideas perceived by minds. This is the starting point for the idealism and all this is exposed in his first work, the "Principles of human knowledge" (1710). Since his first work was met with disfavour, he resposed to his critics with his second work, the "Three dialogues" between Hylas and Philonous (1713). This edition contains the two keys works and also has an introduction wich examines Berkeley's arguments.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By CB on October 25, 2012
Format: Paperback
On paper, this book should be a zero star for someone like me. As people know, I'm a militant atheist, materialist, Marxist, and I wear my politics and philosophy on my sleeve - sometimes even on other peoples' sleeves. And Berkeley is basically the stark opposite of me: a Christian, immaterialists, who undoubtedly held conservative views. Nonetheless, Berkeley was unequivocally a philosophical gangster in the streets, and a freak in the bed.

Seriously though, Berkeley gives every materialist, in his time, hitherto, a run for their money. As the introduction essays remarks, Lenin, and Engels, recognized Berkeley's philosophy was not easy to transcend. And anyone who has read Engels's attempt to transcend it (I have not read Lenin's), knows he failed. According to my friend, Lenin failed too. For Berkeley only two things exist, minds/spirits, and ideas. Well God too, but his argument in favor of God's existence ultimately boils down to: atheist are repugnant, hallelujah.

Despite the extreme advances made in the cognitive sciences, and philosophy overall, returning to the empiricist tradition is always a treat. The writing is clear, the philosophy is simple, and their epistemological system is completely summarizable. Berkeley is no exception. He sets out to rid the world of abstractions, and abstract ideas, especially Platonic forms. Moreover, he wants to make necessary advancements upon Locke's philosophy of primary qualities (i.e., substance, extension, etc), and secondary qualities.

Locke believed when we perceived an object, we perceived secondary qualities, that is qualities that only exist for our mind, such as colors, sounds, tasted, etc.; and primary qualities, which existed independent of observation (e.g., extension, substance).
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