Alciphron, or, The Minute Philosopher: In Focus

Alciphron, or, The Minute Philosopher: In Focus

Alciphron, or, The Minute Philosopher: In Focus

Alciphron, or, The Minute Philosopher: In Focus


Alciphron, or the Minute Philosopher (1732) is Berkeley's main work of philosophical theology and a crucial source of his views on meaning and language. This edition contains the four most important dialogues and a selection of critical essays and commentaries reflecting the response of such writers as Hutcheson, Mill and Antony Flew. The only single edition currently in print, it argues that Alciphron has a more important place both in the Berkeley canon and in early modern philosophy than is generally thought.


George Berkeley

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The author’s design being to consider the Free-thinker in the various lights of atheist, libertine, enthusiast, scorner, critic, meta-physician, fatalist, and sceptic, it must not therefore be imagined that every one of these characters agrees with every individual Free-thinker; no more being implied than that each part agrees with some or other of the sect. There may, possibly, be a reader who shall think the character of atheist agrees with none; but though it hath been often said there is no such thing as a speculative atheist, yet we must allow there are several atheists who pretend to speculation. This the author knows to be true; and is well assured that one of the most noted writers against Christianity in our times declared he had found out a demonstration against the being of a God. and he doubts not, whoever will be at the pains to inform himself, by a general conversation, as well as books, of the principles and tenets of our modern Free-thinkers, will see too much cause to be persuaded that nothing in the ensuing characters is beyond the life.

As the author hath not confined himself to write against books alone, so he thinks it necessary to make this declaration. It must not, therefore, be thought that authors are misrepresented, if every notion of Alciphron or Lysicles is not found precisely in them. a gentleman in private conference, may be supposed to speak plainer than others write, to improve on their hints, and draw conclusions from their principles.

Whatever they pretend, it is the author’s opinion that all those who write either explicitly or by insinuation, against the dignity,

[The two following paragraphs appeared first in 1732b.]

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