Influence of George Berkeley

Influence of George Berkeley

Length: 845 words (2.4 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Excellent

Open Document

Essay Preview

More ↓
The Influence of George Berkeley

George Berkeley (1685-1753) was an Irish clergyman and philosopher who studied and taught at Trinity College in Ireland, where he completed some of his best known works on the immateriality of matter (believing that all matter was composed of ideas of perception and therefore did not exist if it was not being perceived).

Coleridge himself acknowledge the influence of Berkeley on his work, in particular his poem “This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison” when he wrote a letter to Robert Southey in July 1797, in which the poem was included, with the following note, “You remember, I am a Berkleian.” We can see the influence of Berkeleyin “This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison” in three main ways: perceptions of light, the idea of a divine spirit in everything yet still separate and itself, and the idea that there are as many “minima visibilia” in an enclosed space as out in the wide-open spaces.

According to Stephen Prickett, one of the main ideas that Berkeley had hoped to prove was that all reality is mental, but the idea that truly came through in his works is that each person does not perceive object, but instead qualities (like color, form, sent, and sound), and each person perceives these qualities differently. Prickett goes further to claim that the effect of this idea on Coleridge “was to make him intensely conscious of light” (12). We can see this obsession with light and they way it plays on different object throughout “This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison”:

Pale beneath the blaze

Hung the transparent foliage; and I watch’d

Some broad and sunny leaf, and lov’d to see

The shadow of the leaf and stem above

Dappling its sunshine! And that walnut-tree

Was richly ting’d, and a deep radiance lay

Full on the ancient ivy, which usurps

Those fronting elms, and now, with blackest mass

Makes their dark branches gleam a lighter hue

Through the late twilight…

Coleridge’s preoccupation with light and the way in which it changes the perception of the object is what links this passage with the ideas of Berkeley. Even though Coleridge and many other Romantics (such as Wordsworth) used the came to different conclusions about perception than Berkeley, his theories about light “pointed to the why in which such phenomena of light as the rainbow could be used as a scientific model for the imagination as a perceptual relationship between man and nature” (Prickett 13).

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"Influence of George Berkeley." 23 Aug 2019

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay about An Analysis Of George Berkeley 's The Italian Renaissance

- George Berkeley said in his Principles of Human Knowledge, “Esse is percipe,” or, “To be is to be perceived” (Sobieszek). The human condition dictates that human beings are confined to their own body and experience, and can only perceive another’s experience through communication and individual expression. In a never ending bridge of communication between isolated minds, expression and body language can indicate one’s emotional or intellectual state where words fall short. Throughout history, people have sought to immortalize the human form and the human face; to see and be seen as they truly are within....   [tags: Renaissance, Florence, Art, Aesthetics]

Research Papers
1862 words (5.3 pages)

Borge's Use of Berkeley's Idealism Essays

- Borge's Use of Berkeley's Idealism Jorge Luis Borges drew upon a number of philosophical and intellectual models in his writing, one of which is George Berkeley’s subjective idealism. In "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius," Borges paints a picture of a perfect reality governed by Berkeley’s idea that matter only exists in perception, and in "The Circular Ruins," he presents a man who creates a boy who cannot exist independent of his perception. However, by employing Berkeley’s logic in these stories, Borges is in fact denying Berkeley’s ultimate purpose: the justification of the existence of God....   [tags: Essays Papers]

Research Papers
1859 words (5.3 pages)

Essay about George Berkeley 's Philosophy Of Subjective Idealism

- Bishop George Berkeley is often thought to be the leading proponent of subjective idealism, and is commonly held to have endorsed scepticism about the existence of an external world. George Berkeley’s philosophy of subjective idealism is one that is often argued with both evidence proving and disproving its validity. According to Berkeley, only mind and ideas within the mind exist while matter does not. These ideas were developed off foundations of Empiricism, which emphasizes the role of experience and sensory perception in the formation of thought whereas it discounts innate ideas....   [tags: Perception, Mind, George Berkeley, Ontology]

Research Papers
1115 words (3.2 pages)

Rene Descartes and George Berkeley on God Essay

- Rene Descartes builds his epistemic views in his meditations. In Meditation 1, he set out to rid himself of the false knowledge which was the foundation for which he built his life. If there was any doubt to these foundational beliefs, he threw the idea out. Descartes broke down his beliefs in Mediation 2 and found that he is a thinking thing and because he thinks, he exists. That is, he knew he is at least a mind. By Meditation 3, Descartes built upon the foundations of the two previous meditations and defined substances....   [tags: philosophical analysis]

Research Papers
904 words (2.6 pages)

Essay on The Between Hylas And Philonous By George Berkeley

- Throughout his Dialogue between Hylas and Philonous, George Berkeley aims to counter the prevalence of skepticism among philosophers and bring the subject closer to common sense. Somewhat counterintuitively, he goes about this by attempting to disprove the existence of matter outside of perception, which seems to initially contradict common sense. However, Berkeley thought that getting rid of the idea of material objects outside of the mind would oppose the skepticism surrounding the knowledge of an object beyond our perceptions....   [tags: Perception, Sense, Mind, Metaphysics]

Research Papers
1007 words (2.9 pages)

George Berkeley 's Principles Of Human Knowledge Essay

- George Berkeley George Berkeley was one of the most famous British empiricists who is well known for his early works on vision perceptions, ideas, mind and God. He argues that the correlation of perception is through ideas of sight and touch. His idealism is the theory that the physical world exists only in the experiences the mind has of it. After reading Berkeley’s work on the Introduction of Principles of Human Knowledge, he explains that the mental ideas that we possess can only resemble other ideas and that the external world does not consist of physical form or reality but yet they are just ideas....   [tags: Mind, Perception, Metaphysics, Sense]

Research Papers
1573 words (4.5 pages)

Locke, Barkley And Hume, The Real World Essay

- Is there a real world. I believe so, but based the concepts of Locke, Barkley and Hume, the real world isn’t actually how I perceive it to be. Locke’s concepts outline the distinction between the two types of ideas produced by sensations. In this concept, there is a real world In Locke’s concept, there is a real world that is produced by sensations. From sensations there are two qualities that Locke elaborates on: Primary and Secondary qualities. The distinction between primary and secondary qualities, as defined by Locke, is made by the different kinds of ideas the qualities of the object produce in our minds....   [tags: Mind, Metaphysics, George Berkeley, Perception]

Research Papers
842 words (2.4 pages)

George Berkeley Essay

- George Berkeley was an Irish philosopher. His philosophical beliefs were centered on one main belief, the belief that perception is the basis for existence. In doing so, he rejected the notion of a material world in favor of an immaterial world. Berkeley felt that all we really know about an object we learn from our perception of that object. He recognized that in the materialist’s view the real object is independent of any perceiver’s perception. The pen on my desk would exist, whether or not I was in the room to see it or have a sensory experience of it in some way....   [tags: Irish philosopher philosophy]

Research Papers
574 words (1.6 pages)

Essay on John Locke, George Berkeley and David Hume

- John Locke, Berkeley and Hume are all empiricist philosophers. They all have many different believes, but agree on the three anchor points; The only source of genuine knowledge is sense experience, reason is an unreliable and inadequate route to knowledge unless it is grounded in the solid bedrock of sense experience and there is no evidence of innate ideas within the mind that are known from experience. Each of these philosophers developed some of the most fascinating conceptions of the relationships between our thoughts and the world around us....   [tags: Empiricists, Empiricism]

Research Papers
1235 words (3.5 pages)

Berkeley Essay

- Berkeley As man progressed through the various stages of evolution, it is assumed that at a certain point he began to ponder the world around him. Of course, these first attempts fell short of being scholarly, probably consisting of a few grunts and snorts at best. As time passed on, though, these ideas persisted and were eventually tackled by the more intellectual, so-called philosophers. Thus, excavation of "the external world" began. As the authoritarinism of the ancients gave way to the more liberal views of the modernists, two main positions concerning epistemology and the nature of the world arose....   [tags: essays research papers]

Free Essays
2560 words (7.3 pages)

Related Searches

Berkeley believed that “all visible nature constitutes a divine natural language…seen and interpreted as signifying the presence of an Almighty Spirit…[but] the Spirit has created those objects of sense and remains immanent in them, yet also exists as a Spirit in its own original identity” (Engell, 84). This idea is clearly seen in Coleridge’s poem when he writes:

I have stood

Silent with swimming sense; yea, gazing round

On the wide landscape, gaze till all doth seem

Less gross than bodily; and of such hues

As veil the Almighty Spirit, when yet he makes

Spirits perceive his presence.

Moreover, this idea of objects being invested with a divine Spirit, yet the Spirit remaining whole in its original form is brought into play by the many references to light and the sun. James Engell notes, “Not only is the sun the source of all light, what Berkeley calls ‘the spirit of the world,’ making all things visible to us, it also appears as a separate, distinct body” (85).

Third is the idea of being able to see just as many vistas in an enclosed space as out in the open. The poem “This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison” was written initially as a complaint because Coleridge was forced to remain at home because of an injured foot while his friends went walking through the hills, enjoying views of the “roaring dell” and waterfalls. But by the end, Coleridge realizes that “No plot so narrow, be but Nature there.” This line expresses an opinion that Berkeley directly puts forward: “that in an enclosed space, such as his study…, there are as many minima visibilia as in ‘a full prospect of the circumjacent fields, mountains, sea, and open firmament’ (82;1:74)” (Engell 86).

Finally, and just in general, the influence the Berkeley had on Coleridge can be seen in details about Coleridge’s life, such as the fact that he read much of his work and commented on it (there is a copy of Berkeley’s Siris at Yale University with a long note on the fly-leaf, and eight other annotations within the text of the work), and the fact that he named his second son Berkeley Coleridge on May 17, 1798.

Works Cited

Engell, James. “Imagining into Nature.” In Coleridge, Keats, and the Imagination: Romanticism and Adam’s Dream. Ed. J. Robert Barth and John L. Mahoney. Columbia: University of MissouriPress, 1989. (81-96)

Haney, John Louis. “Coleridge the Commentator.” In Coleridge: Studies by Several Hands on the Hundredth Anniversary of His Death. Ed. Edmund Blunden and Earl Leslie Griggs. London: Constable & Co, Ltd, 1934. (109-129)

Prickett, Stephen. Coleridge and Wordsworth: Poetry of Growth. Cambridge: CambridgeUniversityPress, 1970.
Return to