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Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous

Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous by George Berkeley
By: (1685-1783)

Berkeley uses Hylas as his primary contemporary philosophical adversary, John Locke. A Hylas is featured in Greek mythology and the name Hylas is derived from an ancient Greek word for “matter” which Hylas argues for in the dialogues. Philonous translates as “lover of mind.” In The First Dialogue, Hylas expresses his disdain for skepticism, adding that he has heard Philonous to have “maintained the most extravagant opinion… namely, that there is no such thing as material substance in the world.” Philonous argues that it is actually Hylas who is the skeptic and that he can prove it. Thus, a philosophical battle of wit begins.

First Page:



George Berkeley (1685 1753)


PHILONOUS. Good morrow, Hylas: I did not expect to find you abroad so early.

HYLAS. It is indeed something unusual; but my thoughts were so taken up with a subject I was discoursing of last night, that finding I could not sleep, I resolved to rise and take a turn in the garden.

PHIL. It happened well, to let you see what innocent and agreeable pleasures you lose every morning. Can there be a pleasanter time of the day, or a more delightful season of the year? That purple sky, those wild but sweet notes of birds, the fragrant bloom upon the trees and flowers, the gentle influence of the rising sun, these and a thousand nameless beauties of nature inspire the soul with secret transports; its faculties too being at this time fresh and lively, are fit for those meditations, which the solitude of a garden and tranquillity of the morning naturally dispose us to. But I am afraid I interrupt your thoughts: for you seemed very intent on something... Continue reading book >>

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