Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name




First Advisor

Wright, John P.,





Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.


In the present work Berkeley's theory of vision is considered in its historical origins, in its relation to Berkeley's general philosophical conceptions, and in its early reception. Berkeley's theory replaces an account of vision according to which distance and other spatial properties are deduced from elementary data through an unconscious geometric inference. This account of vision in terms of "natural geometry" was first introduced by Descartes and Malebranche. Among Berkeley's immediate sources of knowledge of the geometric theory of perception, a key role was played by the treatise of dioptrics of William Molyneux, Dioptrica Nova. Berkeley's understanding of "natural geometry" relies closely on Molyneux's description of the mechanism of vision which avoids the complexities of the accounts of Descartes and Malebranche. In the first chapter Berkeley's theory is presented by way of contrast with Molyneux's theory. In the second chapter I consider the relation between the theory of vision and immaterialism. In the final chapter I examine one of the first criticisms of Berkeley's theory, that which is found in William Porterfield's Treatise on the Eye. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)Dept. of Philosophy. Paper copy at Leddy Library: Theses & Major Papers - Basement, West Bldg. / Call Number: Thesis1997 .G72. Source: Masters Abstracts International, Volume: 37-01, page: 0076. Adviser: John P. Wright. Thesis (M.A.)--University of Windsor (Canada), 1997.