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Querist   By: (1685-1753)

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In George Berkeley's philosophical masterpiece, the "Querist," readers are treated to a thought-provoking exploration of the social, economic, and moral issues plaguing 18th-century Ireland. Through a series of 343 poignant and probing questions, Berkeley challenges the prevailing mindset of his time, urging readers to reflect deeply on the causes and potential remedies for the challenges faced by individuals and the society as a whole.

The book's unique format, consisting only of questions without explicit answers, allows for an interactive reading experience that compels readers to actively engage with the text. Berkeley's intention is clear: he seeks to awaken the minds of his readers, encouraging them to critically evaluate their circumstances and question the established norms and practices that maintain the status quo.

One of the prominent themes Berkeley addresses is the economic predicament facing Ireland and the issues resulting from poverty, inequality, and monopolization of resources. His questions explore the root causes of such inequalities and propose potential solutions, including the establishment of productive industries, improvements in infrastructure, and the promotion of educational opportunities for all.

Furthermore, Berkeley demonstrates his deep concern for moral issues, particularly the prevalence of vice and corruption. He inquires about the role of religion, education, and social institutions in fostering moral virtues and creating a just and harmonious society. Through his questions, he compels readers to reflect on the importance of ethical responsibility, accountability, and the pursuit of the common good.

While the absence of direct answers may frustrate some readers, Berkeley's approach serves a larger purpose: to awaken critical thinking and inspire dialogue. By refraining from providing ready-made solutions, Berkeley encourages the reader to actively engage with the book's content and draw their own conclusions. In this sense, "Querist" functions not only as an intellectual exercise but also as a call to action, urging readers to address the societal issues raised within their own lives and communities.

Furthermore, Berkeley's prose is eloquent and captivating, showcasing his mastery of language and rhetoric. His nuanced exploration of various subjects showcases his deep insights and impressive knowledge base. While some readers may find the philosophical nature of the work difficult to digest, Berkeley's ability to present complex ideas in a clear and accessible manner is commendable.

In conclusion, "Querist" is an intellectually stimulating and thought-provoking book that challenges readers to question the status quo and consider alternative possibilities. Berkeley's masterful use of the interrogative form encourages active engagement, fostering critical thinking, and a call for societal reflection and action. This book is a must-read for those interested in philosophy, social issues, and the human condition.

First Page:

The Querist


George Berkley


The Querist Containing Several Queries Proposed to the Consideration of the Public

Part I

Query 1.

Whether there ever was, is, or will be, an industrious nation poor, or an idle rich?

2. Qu. Whether a people can be called poor, where the common sort are well fed, clothed, and lodged?

3. Qu. Whether the drift and aim of every wise State should not be, to encourage industry in its members? And whether those who employ neither heads nor hands for the common benefit deserve not to be expelled like drones out of a well governed State?

4. Qu. Whether the four elements, and man's labour therein, be not the true source of wealth?

5. Qu. Whether money be not only so far useful, as it stirreth up industry, enabling men mutually to participate the fruits of each other's labour?

6. Qu. Whether any other means, equally conducing to excite and circulate the industry of mankind, may not be as useful as money.

7. Qu. Whether the real end and aim of men be not power? And whether he who could have everything else at his wish or will would value money?

8. Qu. Whether the public aim in every well govern'd State be not that each member, according to his just pretensions and industry, should have power?

9. Qu. Whether power be not referred to action; and whether action doth not follow appetite or will?

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