I studied George Berkeley as an undergraduate, and though I absolutely loved his work and his philosophy, many of my peers, and even some of my professors, found his philosophy wholly unappealing, even worth mocking. My school offered full classes on Kant, Nietzsche, the Greeks, and even Wittgenstein. Berkeley on the other hand received some attention in a larger Metaphysics course, and a cursory mention in a course on Modern Philosophy that lead quickly into Hume, and little discussion beyond that. This despite two out of four professors calling themselves fans of Berkeley's work.
Now for some time therefore I thought he was a somewhat of a second-rate philosopher, worthy of mention but simply not as valuable or interesting a contribution to philosophy as people like Kant. I personally continued to appreciated Berkeley, and didn't concern myself too much with what other people thought of him. However while working on my senior thesis on Berkeley, I read The two-hundredth birthday of Bishop George Berkeley, a discourse given at Yale college on the 12th of March, 1885, by Noah Porter. This work, in addition to being an insight into Berkeley's life and work is a fascinating snapshot of how (one) academic thought of Berkeley 130 years ago. Most notably, Porter writes:
The effect of Berkeley's idealism was no nine days' wonder. It became the problem of the century which followed; we should rather say it has continued to be the problem nearly two centuries since. ~P17
This seems to me a drastic change from the way things are now. It is a heavy claim to say a man's work has been the problem of an entire discipline for nearly two hundred years - one would not be remiss in saying such about Einstein's work in Physics, and he is a household name, perhaps the most famous scientist today.
And so my question is, what changed? Why was Berkeley the talk of the town less than 150 years ago, yet today my peers and professors consider him worthy of mention, but not serious consideration or exploration?