wisdom to win

 Wisdom to Win
search bar left
search bar right

George Berkeley - Philosophy Knowledge and PerceptionGeorge Berkeley - Philosophy Knowledge and Perception


George Berkeley (1685-1753)

An Anglo-Irish philosopher (pictured right) famous for emphasizing the importance of perception.

The city of Berkeley, California, was named after him.


His most famous book is...

A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge (1710)



What did he say about knowledge and perception?

 George Berkeley - Philosophy Knowledge and Perception

1. Knowledge is experience

Like the English philosopher, John Locke (pictured right), Berkeley believed that the main source of knowledge is experience.

So they are both called empiricists.


2. “Immaterialist idealism”

This is what he called his belief that the world is made up of only one substance - mind or thought .

This leads to the vital importance of perception (see point 3).


3. “To be is to be perceived” (esse est percipi in Latin)

Because the world totally consists of mind or thought, what we experience is

  • what we perceive.
  • how others perceive us.

Berkeley called such perceptions  “ideas”  , although he used the term “spirit” to describe spiritual matters that are discovered through reflection and obedience to God.

This spirit can lead to

  • passive inaction (when spiritual things are perceived), or George Berkeley - Philosophy Knowledge and Perception
  • positive results from willing things to happen (see point 4).


4. The importance of the will

Things are caused by willing them to happen through “volition” (or acts of will).

So success is dependent on self-discipline and determination to turn your thoughts into positive action.

George Berkeley - Philosophy Knowledge and Perception 

5. God is great

Berkeley was a devout Christian and believed that all our perceptions and experiences come from God.


Key quote on influencing people

To be is to be perceived

Free Newsletter
Enter your name and e-mail address to receive our free newsletter with analysis of business issues and new business books