Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name



Philosophy, religion and theology, Geroge Berkeley




The subject of this thesis is Berkeley's doctrine of substance. The doctrine which is studied is drawn chiefly from those of his works in which it is most clearly set forth: A Treatise concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge, and the Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous. Berkeley's own statements are examined, and some attention is given to the sources of his thought, as they appear in the writings or René Desecrates, Nicholas Malebranche, and John Locke. Berkeley himself is more concerned with proving that it is possible to know substances, than with discussing their nature; consequently, his arguments on this point are examined at length. Reality, he says, is known directly, and not "by way of" anything; and by reality, he means the ideas or sense which of themselves compose the whole perceivable universe, the finite soul (or self) and God. The ideas, we perceive; not so God and the soul: of these, we have "notions", that is, knowledge. We know that they must exist and what their nature must be, even though we do not sense then, because the ideas, which we do sense, require a cause and something which perceives them. These can only be self-subsistent, conscious spiritual beings: the one we call God, the other the soul. But the spiritual mind can know only spiritual objects; therefore it cannot have a "notion" of anything outside it that to material.


Theses and Dissertations prior to 1954 from the University of Windsor were published as part of the University of Western Ontario.