BERKELEY, George (1685-1753). A Treatise concerning the Principles of Human Knowlege. Part I. Dublin: Aaron Rhames for Jeremy Pepyat, 1710.
8° (200 x 121mm). Title within double typographical rule. (Title browned, earlier quires also rather browned, occasional crease marks, 2C1 with rust spot at inner margin.) Contemporary speckled sheep with central panel in blind (rebacked and newly-lettered in gilt, joints and corners rubbed).
FIRST EDITION of a work propounding the idea that 'no object can exist without a Mind to conceive it.' Berkeley's doctrine of immaterialism was of undoubted appeal to other philosophers such as the Scottish intellectuals in the Rankenian Club, formed in Edinburgh around 1716. However, despite the acuteness of his mind and the graces of his literary style, it was difficult for a larger, more practically-minded audience to apply it to a material world. Dr. Johnson's method of refutation by kicking a stone is well-known. Lord Chesterfield was also baffled. 'Doctor Berkley, Bishop of Cloyne, a very worthy, ingenious and learned man, has written a book to prove that there is no such thing as matter,' he wrote to his son, 'and that nothing exists but in idea: that you and I only fancy ourselves eating, drinking and sleeping. His arguments are, strictly speaking, unanswerable; but yet I am so far from being convinced by them, that I am determined to go on to eat and drink, and walk and ride, in order to keep that matter, which I so mistakenly imagine my body at present to consist of, in as good plight as possible' (The Letters of Philip Dormer Stanhope, Fourth Earl of Chesterfield, ed. B. Dobrée, 1932, 1232). This was the only separate edition of the Principles to appear in the author's lifetime. Keynes Berkeley 5; Norman 196; PMM 176.