First published in 1710, George Berkeley's A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge is a seminal contribution to Empiricist philosophy. Making the bold assertion that the physical world consists only of ideas and thus does not exist outside the mind, this work establishes Berkeley as the founder of the immaterialist school of thought. A major influence on such later philosophers as David Hume and Immanuel Kant, Berkeley's ideas have played a role in such diverse fields as mathematics and metaphysics and continue to spark debate today.
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Berkeley uses the Socratic mode of inquiry in Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous to question fundamental beliefs about knowledge and reality. These dialogues are between Hylas (whose name is derived from the ancient Greek word for matter) and Philonous, whose name means "lover of mind". The new physical sciences developed in the 17th century supported the materialism proposed by Thomas Hobbes and several other philosophers.
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