A while ago, I asked this question about Borges's philosophical influences, which yielded Berkeley.

Reading the wikipedia page on Berkeley, I can see that as far as philosophers go, his philosophy of subjective idealism indeed exactly what I was looking for:

This theory denies the existence of material substance and instead contends that familiar objects like tables and chairs are only ideas in the minds of perceivers, and as a result cannot exist without being perceived.

But none of the linked articles actually seem to mention a particular text!

I'm not interested in reading any more commentary. I want the real thing. Which text should I read?

1 Answer 1


According to the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, "Berkeley defends idealism by attacking the materialist alternative" in his two metaphysical works, the Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge and the Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous. His philosophy of subjective idealism is also primarily outlined by these two writings.

You should read them if you want to get an idea of Berkeley's own philosophy of subjective idealism.

  • 3
    Excellent answer. I'd point out that the Dialogues might make for easier reading if you like a little narrative around your philosophy (as in the Platonic dialogues), and that the Treatise is a bit more structured, if you prefer things that way. But both are definitely worth reading, if the subject interests you. Commented Feb 24, 2012 at 10:14

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