Biography of George Berkeley

Biography of George Berkeley

George Berkeley is a philosopher, known primarily for his empirical and idealistic views.

Childhood and early years

The son of the Englishman William Berkeley, George was born in Ireland. Despite the roots of his father, the boy considered himself Irish.

In 1696, Berkeley Jr. enters the Kilkenny College. Later, he studies at Trinity College in Dublin, where in 1704 he defends a bachelor’s degree in the humanities. With this college, albeit with interruptions, George will be connected until 1724.

In 1707, he received a Master of Arts degree and became a junior member of the teaching staff. In 1710, Berkeley takes the priesthood of the priest of the Anglican Church. In 1717, becoming a doctor of philosophy, he became a senior teacher of the college.


Already during his stay at Trinity College, Berkeley prints his first works. The first book, “The Experience of a New Theory of Vision,” was published in 1709. In this work, which at that time caused a storm of disputes and discussions, the author touches on the issues of visibility range, its characteristics, vision and touch problems, and so on.

In 1710, Berkeley publishes a “Treatise on the Principles of Human Knowledge.” In this book, the author attempts to refute John Locke’s propositions about the nature of human perception.

His next book, Passive Obedience, dealing with questions of morality and political philosophy, was published in 1712.

In 1713, Berkeley’s famous work “The Three Dialogues of Gil and Filonius” was published, in which the philosopher discusses the theory of the relativity of perception and the understanding of reality by the observer.

In 1721, Berkeley’s scientific essay On Traffic, in which he denies the theory of the absoluteness of space, time and motion, put forward by the scientist Sir Isaac Newton, is published.

In 1721, Berkeley received his doctorate in theology, taking the priesthood of the Church of Ireland, and giving lectures on theology and Jewish language and culture at Trinity

College in Dublin. In the same year, he heads the diocese of Dromor, and in 1724 and the Diori diocese.

In 1734, Berkeley became Bishop of Clonia, where he would serve until he retired.

In 1744 he wrote a paper on the use of wood tar and its application, called “Seyris, or Chain of philosophical reasoning and research on the use of tar water,” after which, in 1752, the book “Further Reflections on tar water. “

The main works

The most important work of Berkeley is his “Three Dialogues of Gil and Filonius”, in which questions of the relativity of perception, the comprehensibility of reality and phenomenalism are raised. Metaphysical views of the author in this work are transmitted through a dialogue between two characters, Gil and Filonii.

A scientific essay on the nature of movement, called “On the movement,” refutes a number of representations of Sir Isaac Newton on space, time and motion. For example, Berkeley challenges Newton’s assertion that motion is an abstract concept, independent of space and time.

In 1732 the dialogue “Alkifron” was published, in which the action takes place in the form of a conversation between four free-thinkers Alkifron, Lisikl, Euphranon and Crito.

One of the last works of Berkeley was the book “Seyris, or Chain of philosophical reasoning and research on the use of tar water.” In it, the author describes a number of medical applications of tar, and also discusses abstract topics of science, philosophy and theology.

Personal life

In 1728, George Berkeley married Anne Forster, daughter of the Supreme Judge of the Court of Common Irish Justice. Seven children were born in the family, but only three of them survived to adulthood.

Berkeley takes an active part in humanitarian activities, helping abandoned children in London. He becomes one of the first rulers of the Educational House, founded by the Royal Charter of 1739.

Berkeley was a cheerful, friendly and good-natured man, loved by everyone who knew him. In 1752, he retired, and spent the rest of his days with his son.

Berkeley died at the age of 67 years.

Interesting Facts

On behalf of this great philosopher, the city of Berkeley in the state of California, the USA, received its name.

The philosophy of Berkeley influenced the views of many contemporary thinkers, Immanuel Kant and David Hume among them.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (1 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)
Biography of George Berkeley