What is George Berkeley and Immaterialism?

What is George Berkeley and Immaterialism?

June 27, 2021 Off By Felso

Immaterialism or immaterialism is the doctrine that accepts that matter does not have a reality of its own. Immaterialism is the doctrine that the basis of the universe, and generally the essence of reality, is immaterial. The doctrine that the soul is immaterial.

Berkeley, the creator of the term Immaterialism or Immaterialism, used this word for his philosophy. His understanding of idealism is called immaterialism.

Immaterialism is the exact opposite of materialism and argues that the world has no reality of its own, therefore neither matter nor the outer world, objects and all kinds of matter derivatives exist outside of our imaginations and ideas. According to him, there is only the soul. The existence of matter consists in being “Understanded”, the reason for our perceptions is the will of God, and no other external cause. In this respect, no separate entity can be attributed to the substance.


The immaterialism (immaterialism) put forward by Berkeley is a subjective approach. This is a feature of the Modern Age in which it was produced.

The term “idealism”, which started to be used in the 18th century, has become established by citing Berkeley’s philosophy as an example. Three different sources of influence can be cited that lead Berkeley to his original philosophy. The first and most important of these is the empiricism and realistic perception theory that coexist in Locke. Berkeley adopted Locke’s empiricism and criticized European rationalism (rationalism) in this respect. On the other hand, he saw the incompatibility of this empiricism with the realistic perception theory and used this fact to deny materialism.

According to the scientific point of view originating from Galileo and Descartes and maturing in Locke’s friends Such and Newton, the universe consists of physical particles located in space and time. Their motions and relations can be represented mathematically. The properties that particles actually have are in the form, size, motion, location, and number. These qualities should not be confused with the effects that particles cause in perceiving humans.

George Berkeley is the founder of the immaterialism movement.

The perceived temperature is the effects of the rapid motion of the particles, the sound is the effects of the wave motion of the air, and the color is the effects of the wave propagation of the particles on the perceivers. If there were no living beings with perceptual mechanisms in the universe, these effects would not exist, but the particles that cause them would still exist. Reflecting this materialism brought by science in his philosophy, Locke gathered the qualities we attribute to objects in two groups as primary and secondary.

He distinguished them in terms of perception, based on the principle of whether they change according to circumstances and person. According to him, primary qualities such as form, covering, and motion can be measured by scientific methods and do not change according to the state of the perceiver or the environment. Therefore, they must be objective. Secondary qualities such as color, sound and smell are subjective as they can change according to conditions, that is, they belong to the perceiver.

For example, if we put one hand on the same object directly and the other after first touching the ice, our hands will perceive this object at different temperatures. On the other hand, the primary qualities we perceive are similar to the qualities possessed by material objects in the external world; however, perceived secondary qualities have no counterparts in the outside world.


Berkeley attempted to refute these materialist arguments expressed in Locke’s philosophy under four headings:

There is no proposed distinction between primary and secondary qualifications. Therefore, all qualities are subjective in the perceiver. Primary and secondary qualities cannot be separated. For example, an amorphous color, a color without diffusion is unthinkable. It is a logical impossibility to think about it. It is not possible to draw the distinction in the way suggested, because if secondary qualities change with circumstances, so too do primary qualities change with circumstances. For example, a square tower appears cylindrical from afar. In misty weather, objects look bigger than they are. It appears slow as it is remotely sensed motion. Thus, there is no justification for drawing the said distinction. To the extent that mutability brings subjectivity, all qualities are subjective and can only exist as long as there is someone who perceives.

George Berkeley is the founder of the concept of immaterialism.

It is a logical impossibility to argue that material objects will remain in existence in the absence of a perceiving entity. Because the concept of the unperceived being is contradictory. In any case, when one tries to imagine an unperceived being, it is necessarily imagined as being perceived.

The view that the cause of perception is objects that fill an environment outside of perception is wrong. Because objects are nothing but clusters of perception. Perception, on the other hand, is not an active being, it cannot cause anything.

There can be no justifiable argument that the perception of primary qualities resembles those of an external world beyond perception. The reason is to understand our perception, whether such a similarity exists or not.