Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous
  • Publication Date: December 28, 2012
  • ISBN: 9781551119885 / 1551119889
  • 264 pages; 5½" x 8½"

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Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous

  • Publication Date: December 28, 2012
  • ISBN: 9781551119885 / 1551119889
  • 264 pages; 5½" x 8½"

This is a new critical edition of Berkeley’s 1734 (third edition, first 1713) Three Dialogues, a text that is deservedly one of the most challenging and beloved classics of modern philosophy. The heart of the work is the dispute between materialism and idealism, two fundamentally opposed positions that are embodied by Hylas and Philonous, the characters in this philosophical drama. The book is packed with brilliant arguments and counter-arguments of an extraordinarily sophisticated nature. Amid all this philosophical swordplay one would think that there could be scant room for the characters to develop any sort of personality. Yet in Berkeley’s hands, and with his literary gifts, the interlocutors are both vivid and funny.

The dialogue deals with some of the most important perennial problems of philosophy, including: the materialism-idealism dispute, skepticism in rationalist and empiricist epistemology, the conflict over apriorism and aposteriorism, rationalism versus empiricism, the existence and nature of God, the philosophy of science, philosophy of mathematics, abstract general ideas, the role of perception in human knowledge, and the metaphysics of causation.

This edition combines a usefully annotated version of Berkeley’s complete original text with a substantial critical introduction, a chronology of events in Berkeley’s life and career, and supplementary annotated appendices of original sources from thinkers relevant to Berkeley’s work.


“Among the most welcome and distinctive features of this new edition are the editor’s substantial and informative introduction, and also a helpful set of appendices, including passages from Locke that define Berkeley’s main target, a substantial correspondence with Samuel Johnson, and a set of interpretations and convergences in other eighteenth-century writings. Highly recommended for use in upper-level courses.” — Ernest Sosa, Board of Governors Professor, Rutgers University

“A very welcome addition to Berkeley studies is Dale Jacquette’s new edition of Berkeley’s Three Dialogues. Professor Jacquette’s introduction and annotations are extremely helpful, as is his inclusion of Berkeley’s letters to his American correspondent Samuel Johnson. … This book would be quite useful for general courses in Early Modern Philosophy, more advanced courses in Empiricism, and certainly for one devoted just to Berkeley.” — Richard Brook, Professor Emeritus, Bloomsburg University

George Berkeley: A Brief Chronology
A Note on the Text

Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous

  • Berkeley’s Original Preface
    The First Dialogue
    The Second Dialogue
    The Third Dialogue

Appendix A: Targets of Berkeley’s Immaterialism

  1. From John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690)

Appendix B: Berkeley’s Philosophy in His Own Words

  1. Correspondence between Berkeley and Samuel Johnson (1729–30)

Appendix C: Berkeley’s Eighteenth-Century Legacy: (Mis-)Interpretations and Philosophical Convergences

  1. From James Boswell, Life of Samuel Johnson LL.D. (1791)
  2. From Arthur Collier, Clavis Universalis (1713)
  3. From Andrew Baxter, An Enquiry into the Nature of the Human Soul (1737)
  4. From Philip Doddridge, A Course of Lectures (1776)

Bibliography and Selected Recommended Readings


The late Dale Jacquette was Senior Professorial Chair in Philosophy, Division for Logic and Theoretical Philosophy, at the University of Bern.