Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Philosophy


Philosophy and Religion

First Advisor

Timothy P. Yenter

Second Advisor

Steven Skultety

Third Advisor

Donovan Wishon

Relational Format



Most Berkeley commentators agree that Berkeley’s theory of self-awareness depends on some type of direct introspective access to the self. In this paper, I challenge this consensus view, arguing that Berkeley’s theory does not claim that there is direct introspective access to the self until after his first publication of the Principles of Human Knowledge in 1710. The first edition of the Principles, as well as Berkeley’s Philosophical Notebooks, reveal a significantly different, perhaps more “Humean,” perspective concerning self-awareness than his works after 1710. During this period, Berkeley thought that the self cannot be encountered directly through introspection, but is in fact knowable only by means of an inference which integrates a crucial causal maxim. Further, I argue that Berkeley thought the causal maxim which grounds his argument for the existence of the self is itself grounded in experience. Berkeley’s early position on self-knowledge interestingly anticipates Hume’s criticism of the introspective availability of the self while denying any skepticism concerning causation.

Included in

Philosophy Commons



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