George Berkeley's principal metaphysical position is idealism; nothing including material objects, exists apart from perception; external objects are ultimately collections of ideas and sensations. From his earliest writings in the philosophical commentaries, Berkeley's idealism is evident. Taking into consideration his thoughts as taken from The Empiricists when he contends that his belief is that apples, trees, mountains exist out there, unperceived by any mind. Some may view this as a contradictory view. The reasons that some interpret this as contradictory are numerous. If we examine more of Berkeley's views as set forth in his essays from The Empiricists the disagreements regarding his view may be clearer.
Berkeley's early treatment of idealism is evident. He refers to his doctrine of "the immaterial hypothesis. Only persons exist: "all other things are not so much existences as manners of the existence of persons." This could be perceived as a contradiction to his belief that apples, trees, mountains and other matter does not exist out there, unperceived my any mind. In his quote he insinuates material items exist in a person if the person exists. Even if they are in the mind of the person they exist in the mind if not materially.
He anticipates that "a mighty sect of men will oppose me," that he will be called young and upstart, a pretender, vain but his confidence is not shaken. This could be perceived as paranoid if not contradictory because he has thoughts that exist that his views will not be accepted. This is a thought that exists and is perceived by Berkeley.
Berkeley's early work is devoted to explaining the apparent immediateness with which the distance of an object is seen. The essence of the whole consists of two propositions (1) that the object (or ideas) of sight have nothing in common with the objects of touch and (2) that the connection of sight and touch is arbitrary and learned by experience only. The connection is arbitrary but it is regular and constant. What we see suggests to us that we may experience only. The connection is arbitrary but it is regular and constant. What we see suggest to us what we may expect to touch and handle. (Atherton). Given this scenario on Berkeley's thoughts it and be received that he does not believe that objects are figments of our imaginations. Rather if it does not exist as a tangible touchable object it does exist as an idea. The idea is not imagined it is real, therefore it exists.
The whole visible world, according to Berkeley in his work Theory of Vision or Visual Language, consists of a set of signs which, like a language have for their purpose to convey a meaning, though like the words in a language they neither resemble not cause that meaning nor have any necessary connection with it. In using sight to guide our movements we interpret the language of God. (Atherton). Once again an implication that 'something' exists even if it is as a thought or idea. It exists more deeply than imagination it is a conviction and so in some form it must be perceived as something tangible in nature.
Berkeley's early theory of idealism, the version now associated with his name, is found in The Empiricists in his essays. In his writings Berkeley argues that no existence is conceivable and therefore not possible. This is not either conscious spirit or the ideas (i.e. objects) of which such spirit is conscious. Locke affirmed secondary and primary qualities of the material world. Secondary qualities including color and taste do not exist apart from sensations; primary qualities exist irrespective of our knowledge. Berkeley denies this distinction. (Atherton). He holds that external objects exist only as they are perceived. There are however, two classes of ideas (1) the less regular and coherent, arising in the imagination, and (2) the more vivid and permanent, learned by experience. "Imprinted on the senses by the author of nature." So Berkeley is saying that even perceptions and the idea of the belief that they were made some higher order does exist. They exist as memories and perceptions and are real memories and perceptions therefore they are not imagined.
Berkeley further contends that they are the real things, matter is not an objective reality but a composition of sensible qualities existing in the mind. "No object exists apart from the mind, mind is therefore the deepest reality it is the prius, both…