The Error of George Berkeley's Tree in the Park Argument
The so-called Tree in the Park Argument or Master Argument of the Irish philosopher, Bishop George Berkeley (1685-1753), has been analyzed and rejected by most philosophers, but it remains intriguing to many lay people. The following is Berkeley's presentation of the argument from his 1710 book, A Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge. The conclusion of the argument is that there are no material substances, that is substances "existing unthought of or without the mind," and the argument is trying to prove that we can't even conceive of such things existing independent of mind. It is worthwhile for us who are studying things from a psychological angle to show the fallacy of his argument in a way that helps us remember the differences between imagination and perception and between the real and the unreal (and the ideal).