In 1713 Berkeley went to London and there published the <i>Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous</i>, a more popular statement of the doctrines of the Principles. While in London, Berkeley became acquainted with Addison, Swift, Pope, and Steele and contributed articles to Steele’s Guardian, attacking the theories of the freethinkers.
In 1729 Berkeley crossed the Atlantic to inquire into the condition and character of the North American Indians in expectation of a royal grant for founding a college for native American youth on the island of Bermuda. By accident or design, he landed in Newport in the company of Scottish-born artist John Smibert who had earlier emigrated to Boston and was returning to America after a period of study at Rome and London. So warm was the welcome accorded Dean Berkeley by the local Anglican community in Newport’s Trinity Church and at St. Paul’s in Narragansett that Berkeley stretched his anticipated brief visit into a two-and-one-half-year stay. For his residence he bought a hundred-acre farm and remodeled its modest house into a stately mansion which he called Whitehall.
Berkeley came to believe that Rhode Island was a much better place than Bermuda for his college and preferred a site on Hammond Hill in North Kingstown. However, the college grant was never made, and a disappointed Berkeley returned to Ireland in 1732 to continue his illustrious career. In 1734, he was consecrated Bishop of Cloyne where he presided until 1752 when he retired to Oxford. He died in this university town in the following year.
In his major work, <i>Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge</i>(1710), Berkeley asserted that nothing exists except ideas and spirits (minds or souls). He distinguished three kinds of ideas: those that come from sense experience correspond to Locke’s simple ideas of perception; those that come from “attending to the passions and operations of the mind” correspond to Locke’s ideas of reflection; and those that come from compounding, dividing, or otherwise representing ideas correspond to Locke’s compound ideas. By “spirit” Berkeley meant “one simple, undivided, active being.” The activity of spirits consists of both understanding and willing: understanding is spirit perceiving ideas, and will is spirit producing ideas.
"It happened well, to let you see what innocent and agreeable pleasures you lose every morning. Can there be a pleasanter time of the day, or a more delightful season of the year? That purple sky, those wild but sweet notes of birds, the fragrant bloom upon the trees and flowers, the gentle influence of the rising sun, these and a thousand nameless beauties of nature inspire the soul with secret transports."
"Many commentators have pointed out that Berkeley's account of physical objects appears to be inconsistent with his commonsensical belief that we can cause our own bodily movements."
"Among the different areas of Berkeley's philosophy, surely his views on minds, ideas, and the relations between them are central and of the first importance. One would expect, then, that Berkeley would have a great deal to say about these matters. In fact, though, he says comparatively little."
Berkeley was made a deacon in 1709 and ordained a priest in 1710. He held his fellowship for 17 years, acting as librarian (1709), junior dean (1710–11), and tutor and lecturer in divinity, Greek, and Hebrew. In politics Berkeley was a Hanoverian Tory (a Tory supporter of the British royal house of Hanover, which originated in Germany), and he defended the ethics of that position in three sermons, published as <i>Passive Obedience</i> (1712).
Brought up at Dysert Castle, Berkeley entered Kilkenny College in 1696 and Trinity College, Dublin, in 1700, where he graduated with a B.A. degree in 1704. While awaiting a fellowship vacancy, he made a critical study of time, vision, and the hypothesis that there is no material substance. The principal influences upon his thinking were empiricism, represented by the English philosopher John Locke, and Continental skepticism, represented by Pierre Bayle.
"It is evident to any one who takes a survey of the objects of human knowledge, that they are either IDEAS actually imprinted on the senses; or else such as are perceived by attending to the passions and operations of the mind; or lastly, ideas formed by help of memory and imagination -- either compounding, dividing, or barely representing those originally perceived in the aforesaid ways."