George Berkeley - the Bishop in the Cybermall
George Berkeley, later known as Bishop Berkeley was on March 3, 1685, at Dysert Castle in County Kilkenny, Ireland.
He was an Anglo-Irish thinker and Anglican bishop with a devout belief in himself as English, and a great deal of thought and publication on original philosophical views.
Berkeley travelled to England in 1713. He was an intellectual and social success in London; he met the essayists Joseph Addison and Richard Steele and later contributed articles to the Guardian. He became, in short, a respected thinker of his time.
One of his greatest unique-for-the-time philosophical views, that pertains to modern virtual reality as much as it did his world, was the materialism of objects.
In Essay towards a New Theory of Vision he argued that man does not immediately perceive either the distance of objects from him or their spatial relations to others. He states that distance and magnitude are suggested by past experience of the correlation between sight and touch.
According to Berkeley, it was a short step for him from the psychological recognition of the ideality of sense perceptions to the metaphysical acknowledgement of the immateriality of all reality.
He was the first thinker to take the position of denying material reality. In Principles of Human Knowledge (written in 1710) and Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous (written in 1713) he argued that if the only evidence for an object's existence is its being perceived, then the conclusion is that existence consists entirely in being perceived or perceiving and that minds and their ideas constitute reality.
For Berkeley the fundamental question was what is it we actually mean we say that something "exists"?
His analysis from multiple vectors, looks at the question from almost every conceivable angle, and he concludes that all we can possibly mean when we say that a thing exists is that the thing is being perceived. To exist, and to be perceived, for Berkeley come down to the same thing. To be means to be perceived, or esse est percipi, Berkeley's famous principle.
Berkeley retired to Oxford University in 1752 and died suddenly on Jan. 14, 1753, aged 67.
George Berkeley: Information from Answers.com
Wikipedia entry on George Berkeley
Introduction to Philosophy: Bishop George Berkeley