Infomotions, Inc.The treatment of personality by Locke, Berkeley and Hume; a study, in the interests of ethical theory, of an aspect of the dialectic of English empiricism, by Jay William Hudson. / Hudson, Jay William, 1874-1958

Author: Hudson, Jay William, 1874-1958
Title: The treatment of personality by Locke, Berkeley and Hume; a study, in the interests of ethical theory, of an aspect of the dialectic of English empiricism, by Jay William Hudson.
Publisher: Columbia, Mo. : University of Missouri, 1911.
Tag(s): philosophy, english; personality; ethics history; berkeley; hume; locke; priori; missouri studies; ethical; missouri; substance; priori knower; freedom; priori cognition; self; innate ideas
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Identifier: mentofperso00hudstreatrich
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Volume i Number i 


A Study, in the hiterests of Ethical Theory, of an Aspect of the 
Dialectic of English Empiricism 



Assistattt Professor of Philosophy 


Columbia, Missouri 

May, 1911 







Volume i Numbbr i 


A Study ^ in the Interests of Ethical Theory, of art Aspect of the 
Dialectic of E?iglish Empiricism 



Assistant Professor of Philosophy 


Columbia, Missouri 

May, 191 1 


Copyright, 1911, by 

I 9 I I 


This essay represents the substance of a thesis accepted in 
partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor 
of Philosophy in Harvard University. Although chiefly expos- 
itory, it is written from the standpoint of constructive criticism. 
The standpoint itself was earned during a long apprenticeship in 
philosophy under Professor George Holmes Howison, of the 
University of California, who, the writer thinks, is one of the 
most significant of those contemporary philosophers who have 
made personality the fundamental problem of metaphysics. That 
the pupil has since modified the viewpoint of his master in im- 
portant particulars need not concern the reader in connection 
with the present study. The writer's total metaphysical doc- 
trine, so far as he has any, is not obtruded here save by sugges- 

All references to Locke's Essay, as well as to Berkeley's 
Works, are to the editions edited by A. C. Fraser, unless other- 
wise noted. All references to Hume's Treatise are to the Selby- 
Bigge edition. Other references are self-explanatory. Portions 
of citations ate italicized where emphasis is desirable and where 
no perversion of meaning is involved. 

J. W. H. 

University of Missouri, May, 191 1. 







The Conception of the Person as related to Ethical Theory 

1. Personal reference of fundamental ethical concepts I 

2. This reference forgotten in abstract discussion 2 

3. The fundamental query of ethics is : What is an ethi- 
cal person, and is he real ? or, How is an ethical person 
possible ? 2-3 

4. For convenience, the query may be narrowed at first 
to : What sort of person guarantees freedom ? What 

is a free person ? 3 

The Ethical Person as a priori Knower 

5. The school of evolutional moralists : "inner necessitjr" 
versus outer necessity 4 

6. Their distinction between freedom of persons and 
things : persons guide life by purposes 4 

7. But these purposes resolved to inner and outer neces- 
sity 5 

8. Crucial question : Does the "natural world" give us an 
ethically free person ? 5 

9. Science tolerates no exception to causal law 5-6 

10. Her persons are products of a process in time and 
space 6- 7 

11. So her persons not ultimately real, and thus, not free 7 


VIII Analysis of Contents 


12. Is there a realm other than that of natural science? 7 

13. The logic of science's assumptions demands one: 
Space, Time, Causation, Induction, Law, etc., involve 
persons as a priori knowers 7-8 

14. The guaranteeing of a world of persons, free or other- 
wise, if possible at all, is possible only through an a 
priori epistemology 8 

The Dialectic of Empiricism in English Thought 

15. Yet empirical epistemology, in various guises, pre- 
sumes to guarantee ethical personality 8-9 

16. The logical dialectic in general is often exemplified 

in concrete history 9 

17. The specific logic of empiricism is best exemplified 

in the concrete in English thought 9 

18. and the dialectical refutation of empiricism in its at- 
tempt to guarantee ethical personality is best revealed 
in the progressive fortunes of the person as treated 

by Locke, Berkeley and Hume 10 

Aim of this Essay 

19. First, and fundamentally to present the treatment of 
personality, particularly ethical personality, by Locke, 
Berkeley and Hume lO-il 

20. Second, to discover the place of the a priori, explicit 

and implicit, in that treatment 11 

21. Third, to exhibit by a historical dialectic represented 
by these three thinkers taken together, the gradual 
and final self-dissolution of empiricism in its specific 
attempt to guarantee ethical personality 11 

22. The three-fold aim is thus a restricted one and does 
not involve an elucidation of a total doctrine of the 
person, — ^that is, a total metaphysics, but rather the 
indication of one logical condition of such a total doc- 
trine 1 1-12 

Analysis of Contents ix 


23. Forecast of results in the case of each thinker .... 12 

24. Advantage to the doctrine of the person of the epis- 
temological approach 12 

25. Especially in the examination of Locke, Berkeley and 
Hume 12-13 


Locke's view of personality 

1. Locke originates an epoch 14 

2. Importance of careful review of Locke because: 

In him the logical genesis of Berkeley and Hume 14 

He represents the English popular consciousness 14 

3. Difficulties in interpretation 14 

4. Sources 15 

5. That 'T exist" intuitive 15 

6. But not the Cartesian view 15-16 

7. Spiritual being more certainly known than material . . 16 

8. Yet not logically primary 17 

9. Thus, once more, the view is different from Descartes' 17 

10. Nature of Spiritual Substance "irrelevant to his pur- 
pose" 17-18 

11. and unknowable 18 

12. Ignorant whether spiritual or material 18-19 

13. Stillingfleet's objection 19 

14. Thinking and Wilfing belong to spirit : "faculties" . . 19-20 

15. Duration and mobility common to matter and spirit. 20 

16. Proof of mobility of spirit 20 

17. Spirits are timed and spaced 20 

18. Immortality is endless continuance 20-21 

19. The principium individuationis 21 

20. Personal identity distinguished from substance-iden- 
tity 21 

21. Consciousness constitutes personal identity 21-22 

Analysis of Contents 


22, Difficulties with this theory : Bishop Butler 22 

2^. Locke is striving to guarantee an accountable person 22-2-^ 

24. Critics of this view ^ 

25. Locke's tacit supposition 



26. Account of freedom unsatisfactory " [ 

2y. Freedom of alternatives \ 24 

28. Will determined by "uneasiness" !!!.!! 24 

29. Modification of view in Second Edition '.'.'.'.* 24-25 

30. Hints a genuine freedom * ^^ 

31. Final verdict as to Locke's freedom reserved for fur- 
ther criticism 25-26 



1. Freedom as a mark of the ethical person 27 

2. Our question is, can Locke vindicate this ethical per- 
son ? ^ 


3. Source of all ideas in sense 27-28 

4. But Locke not a "radical" empiricist 29 

5. Misapprehension of critics ' 29 

6. What I propose to prove concerning Locke and the 

« p-r'^ori ^^ 

7. The Lockean sense of "innate ideas" 30 

8. Denial of innate ideas need not be denial of a priori'. 30-31 
9- Implications and hints of the a priori in Locke : ^ 

(a) The mind is "active" 31-32 

(b) "Operations," "Innalte Faculties," "Innate 
powers" ^2 

(c) Sense-perception reveals both ego and non- 

fP 32 

(d) "Self evident principles" 32-33 

(e) Complex ideas ^^ 

(f) Units of knowledge as relations between 



Analysis of Contents xi 


(g) The causal principle assumed 34 

(h) Pure mathematics and abstract ethics 34 

10. In spite of implications, Locke never asks real ques- 
tion about the a priori 34-35 

11. Assumptions uncritically accepted which might have 

led to the a priori 35 

12. Important questions that are unanswered 35-30 

13. Restricted conception of innateness keeps Locke from 

the main question • • • 30-37 

14. Resulting statements inimical to ethical personality: 

(a) Limited knowledge : 37-38 

Substance an incalculable factor 3^ 

No predictive science 3o"39 

Probability and its bases 4° 

(b) Creationism : 40-4I 

Locke saw the inconsistency 4i 

Which is inevitable 4i 

God can annihilate His creation 4i 

(c) Rigorism ;•••• 41-42 

(d) Will at the last determined by necessity . . 42 

15. Locke not only fails to guarantee true personality, but 
does not adequately conceive the problem: self-activ- 

ity, eternity ^-^ 

16. Yet another side to Locke 43 

17. The personality Locke ignores is needed to make even 

his inadequate personality possible 44 

18 Locke's practical hold on the great verities 45-46 

19. Limitations of Locke's method for the treatment of 
personality 4 4/ 

20. Locke's definite contribution 47-4» 

XII Analysis of Contents 




1. Logical approach to Berkeley is through Locke .... 49 

2. Contrast of Berkeley's fundamental statement with 
Locke's 49-50 

3. We seem to have a world of spirits at once 50 

4. Locke's trouble with Substance 50 

5. Distinction between primary and secondary qualities 
gives Berkeley a hint 50 

6. Berkeley's question: "What is 'real existence? ".. 50-51 

7. Esse of world is percipi 51 

8. Proof of spirits ^ 51-52 

9. Spirits are substances (objections answered) 52 

10. Intuitive certainty of self 52 

11. Berkeley and the Cogito ergo sum 52-53 

12. Berkeley decides Locke's doubt as to whether soul- 
substance is spiritual or material 53 

13. Not an "idea," but a "notion" of spirit 53-54 

14. Spirits are simple, undivided, active, thinking, and 
willing beings 54-55 

15. Spirits not mobile, as with Locke 55 

16. Yet, they have Duration 55 

17. Natural immortality 56 

18. Detailed account of freedom as contained in Alci- 
phron : 

(a) Arguments for determinism 57-58 

(b) Defense of freedom 59 

19. Identity of person and substance the same 60 

20. Knowledge of other spirits mediate 60-61 

21. Inference to the omnipresent, eternal Mind 61-62 

22. God the ultimate support of the being and order of 
Berkeley's universe 62 

Analysis of Contents xiii 


23. No causal or necessary connection between ideas . . 62-63 

24. "Significative" character of connection between ideas 63 




1. Berkeley's interest, as Locke's, fundamentally epis- 
temoiogical 64 

2. Berkeley's fundamental proposition would seem to af- 
firm the a priori 64 

3. Other hints of the a priori, especially in Siris 64-65 

4. But Berkeley an empiricist 65 

5. So far as universe referred to mind, it is the Infinite 
Mind 65 

6. Finite minds not constitutive of reality 66 

7. Kant's criticism of Berkeley: 

(a) Berkeley gives us no external world 66 

(b) Order of world grounded in Omnipresent 
Intelligence, and not in spontaneous unity 

of perceiving self 67 

8. Berkeley's failure to face the question as to a priori 
cognition seems to involve failure to guarantee ethi- 
cal personality 67 

9. As Locke, he fails adequately to conceive the prob- 
lem of personality in important aspects : 

(a) Immortality 6y 

(b) Freedom 6y 

(c) Self-activity 67 

10. As with Locke, even the person Berkeley gives us 

needs deeper person for its support 67-69 

IT. Berkeley as the foe of scepticism 69 

12. But his own principles lead to scepticism 69-70 

13. His true refuge rational self-activity 70 

14. Which is all along implied in Berkeley's assumptions 70 

XIV Analysis of Contents 


15. The Infinite Mind not proved 71 

16. If it were, we should have no persons 71-72 

17. Berkeley an advance over Locke 72-73 

18. Yet he keeps with him in the logical succession .... 73 



1. Method of discussing Hume different from that em- 
ployed in discussing Locke and Berkeley, because of 
nature of his philosophy 74 

2. In Hume is the best criticism of the treatment of per- 
sonality by Locke and Berkeley 74-75 

3. Neither Locke nor Berkeley a radical empiricist .... 75 

4. Thus we do not yet know whether empiricism will 
really guarantee personality 75 

5. Hume carries out the logic of empiricism 75 

6. He condemns the doctrine of Substance : 75-7^ 

(a) Neither an impression nor an idea "jd 

(b) "Inhesion" unintelligible '](> 

7. No personal identity: 

(a) No impression continuing invariably the 
same jy 

(b) Perceptions need no support 'j'j 

(c) Introspection gives us nothing but disparate 
perceptions 'j'j 

(d) Identity a fiction introduced by the imagina- 
tion through resemblance and causation . . 77-78 

(e) Simplicity also a "feigned" union 78 

8. Hume accepts consequences to vital truths 78 

9. Hume's predicament : experience gives no self, and yet 
without a self experience cannot be 78-79 

ID. He pleads the privilege of the sceptic 79 

Analysis of Contents xv 


11. But his true significance is the dialectical refutation 

of empiricism 79-80 

12. Hume not versed in "dialectic" 80 

13. Hume as the precursor of Kant 80 

14. Kant points out Hume's error 80-81 

15. Hiow Kant fulfills Hume 81-82 



1. Inadequacies of English school in light of Hume's ful- 
fillment in Kant. Philosophy versus Science. Expla- 
nation by description 83-84 

2. Locke, Berkeley and H'ume represent a real progress 

in the fortunes of the person 84-85 

3. The task of this essay herewith achieved 85 

4. Negative results of the criticism of Locke, Berkeley 

and Hume not to be taken too literally 85-86 

5. A word from Philonous 86 



1. The object of these remarks to indicate, within the 
logical condition vindicated by our inquiry, a ground- 
plan for a doctrine of the ethical person 87 

2. Our whole hope now is with the a priori knower, now 
shown as necessary to reality 87 

3. The a priori knower is the source of nature's necessity 

and so is not ruled by it 87 

4. As the source of Time, he himself is not a mere event, 87-88 

XVI Analysis of Contents 


5. and thus uncreated either by natural process or God 88 

6. Only with an a priori knower is freedom's demand for 
calculable action possible 88 

7. If the a priori knower as such has a moral ideal, his 
rationality freely creates it 88-89 

8. Freedom lost in solipsism or monism material or spir- 
itual : how will the fact of a priori knowing vindicate 

the person as saved from these ? 89 

9. The knower a priori, the thinking "I" cannot unthink 
itself, and is ultimately real 89-90 

10. and, as such, logically demands other egos as real, — 

as self-active Thinkings 90 

11. Descartes' error 90-91 

12. What a thorough-going metaphysics must do: a new 
deduction of categories needed 92 

13. Provisional definition of the person 92 

14. The logical birth of the moral ideal 93-94 

15. Values introduced into the world of persons 94 

16. Thus, the search for the free person leads to discov- 
ery of the ethical person, which not only guarantees, 

but demands, the complete circle of ethical conceptions 94 

17. Ethics and ontology meet in doctrine of person .... 94-95 

18. Unity and interdependence of ethical notions now 
truly discerned. Completely to validate one ethical 
notion is to validate all the rest 95 

19. Possibility of a historical critique proposed and illus- 
trated 95-96 

20. The progress of philosophy to be measured in terms 

of the recognition of personality : the modern spirit 96 



The Conception of the Person as related to Ethical Theory 

A casual glance at modern ethical systems reveals their use 
of such notions as: Ideal, Right, Wrong, Obligation, Responsi- 
bility, Freedom, and a number of closely allied conceptions which 
are usually given a meaning, however attenuated, in ethical sys- 
tems which claim adequacy. Certain other conceptions, whose 
names have come to be applied to familiar types of ethical 
theories, find their place in any systematic pronouncements ; and 
their disposal usually indicates the general character of the sys- 
tem. Among such conceptions are: Egoism, Altruism, Pub- 
licism. Hedonism, Rationalism, and the like. 

In dealing with fundamental ethical conceptions such as have 
been mentioned, the simplest fact of all concerning them has 
often been neglected. In ethical discussion they are frequently 
treated as merely abstract conceptions ; whereas their true sig- 
nificance is as determinations of persons, — indeed one might call 
Ihem predicates of ethical personality. For instance, it is not 
with Responsibility with which we have to do primarily, but 
with responsible persons ; not with Freedom as an airy some- 
thing with a name, but with free persons. And so Obhgation 
has no meaning apart from obliged persons. The Ideal is always 
the ideal of a person, — indeed, it itself may prove to be a person. 
And as for Right and Wrong, nothing is ever right or wrong 
in the last resort but persons, however fitly we may apply these 
terms, in a secondary sense, to particular courses of conduct. 
And so Hedonism has to do with persons as happy, and Rational- 



ism with rational persons; while Egoism and Altruism directly 
refer to a world of persons, each with its own peculiar emphasis. 
We deal not with Morality, but with moral persons, whose mor- 
ality is with reference to persons. In short, and above all, our 
'-.. question is never just "What is ethics?" Most truly stated, it 
is "What is the ethical person?" 

When this is once said, it all seems so very obvious that one 
suspects that it is hardly worth while to say it. And yet, one 
h-'is only to read ethical discussions to find that this fundamental 
personal reference of all ethical conceptions has frequently been 
forgotten, and that, as a result, these discussions often wander 
from the vital point, and never irrefragably attain their goal, — 
lK>\\cver well they play at the game of abstractions. For in- 
stance, to cite a conspicuous case, which will have prominent 
])lace in this essay, the history of the discussion concerning free- 
<]()VA reveals a series of controversies over what freedom means 
ill the abstract ; what a free "will" is ; what a free "volition" is ; 
what a free "motive" is; only rarely is the genuine question se- 
riously asked, — "What is a free person?" or, "On what condi- 
tions is a free person possible?" And yet this seemingly small 
change in the putting of the problem transforms the real char- 
acter of the search and makes the arguments of the ordinary 
free-will controversy seem trivially foreign to the final issue. 

With this discovery of the common personal reference, resi- 
dent in all fundamental ethical conceptions, it is also hinted that 
the logically validating ground of them which we seek is to be 
found in a finally self-sustaining doctrine of the person. One 
might add that in the nature of the person we may discover 
precisely that principle of definition, of unity, and of consistency 
among these conceptions which becomes the indication of what 
we must rationally mean by an adequate ethical system, as well 
as the sufficient critique of all inadequate ethical theories. 


What is the logical sine qua non of the ethical person? — 
that is, a person which shall guarantee freedom, responsibility, 
ideals, and all the rest of the supposed attributes of ethical per- 
sonality? Further, is such a person a reality, or is he a mere 
dream of ethical speculation? Is there any way that such an 
ethical person can be irrefutably proved? Or, to sum both ques- 
tions in a form reminiscent of Kant: How is an ethical person 
possible ? It is obvious at the very start that ethics cannot avoid 
metaphysics, if it is to answer the question in a real sense, — at 
least the ethical theorist must not be loth to carry his quest into 
ultimate regions, if nothing short of that will satisfy his search. 
If it cannot be shown that ethical persons are real, and, we are 
tempted to add, the ultimate reality, then there is no ethical 
world, — no ethics is genuinely possible. 

It is well, in any such search for the validating ground of 
the ethical person, to select some one of the conceptions in- 
dispensable for ethics from among those noted and ask what sort 
of personality will guarantee it. If the ethical person thus dis- 
covered is also the only one that will guarantee this, presumably 
we shall have achieved an answer to the query: What is the 
ethical person? For the interdependence, the inter-reference, of 
fundamental ethical conceptions becomes apparent as soon as 
one attempts to work with them. And this interdependence is an 
indication that their logically validating ground is one and the 
same. If one seeks a conception which has presented great 
difficulties in the history of ethics, and yet which is acknowl- 
edged to be necessary, in some sense or other, to make ethics 
possible, the conception just now particularly instanced, that of 
freedom, conspicuously offers itself. It will always emerge that 
freedom cannot be discussed adequately without involving the 
other ethical notions ; if this is true, the inter-reference and inter- 
validation of ethical conceptions is the more truly maintained. 



The Ethical Person as a priori Knower 
The question, then, What is ethical freedom? should be put 
in its genuine form. What is an ethically free person? Putting 
it in this way leads us far toward the answering of the question 
itself. With reference to this question, let us turn to certain 
deliverances of modern moralists of a prevailing school, who 
have come near to putting the question in the ultimate form 
which has been insisted upon. In that general school where 
evolution is made the universally reigning law, the question o£ 
whether actions, or volitions, or motives are free is often resolved 
to the deeper question of whether these acts, motives, volitions, 
belong to the *'agent" in some sense or other, — of whether the 
agent himself is free "in some sense or other". So far, good. 
But, obviously, the whole question is, which "sense or other" is 
the one that will guarantee any real freedom, a freedom that 
makes the agent's act really and finally "his own," and which 
thus gives him that moral responsibility in whose interest is any 
search for freedom at all. Now, in the school referred to, what 
is usually meant by saying that the agent is free is that he is not 
moved entirely from without, but also from within ; that there 
is a reaction of an inner influence upon extraneous influences. 
It is explained that each man has an inner necessity as well as an 
outer necessity; that he has a character of his own. His brain 
does not merely receive, but it transforms excitations. A man 
is free in so far as he is not coerced by anything outside himself. 
In this sense he may be said to mold his own future. 

An objection might be made (the hint of a more significant 
objection to be made presently) that a snowflake, a book, a street- 
car, is free in the sense of having an inner as well as an outer 
necessity, and that in this sense each "molds its own future." 
But that is the freedom (if freedom it is) of mere things; but 
surely we discriminate a freedom of persons from that of mere 
things. Some moralists of the general type we are considering, 


when pressed for the distinction between the freedom of men 
and of things, answer that man indeed has a freedom that 
things and animals (at least, as we conceive them) have not. 
The difference is this : animals are moved to action by momentary 
impulses, while man determines himself by ideas oi ends. His 
life is made a purpose, a unity; and all momentary choices are 
subordinated to that. 

When one says that he is free because he determines his 
life by the idea of a purpose, he has not finally guaranteed his 
freedom until he answers the crucial question : PVho, or what, in 
the last resort, determines your purpose f Is your purpose really 
and finally your own, or is it determined for you? We may 
conceive most evolutionists as replying that one's purpose is 
determined not only by the character of one's environment but 
by his "inner necessity", or ''character of his own", which latter 
consideration, as we have just seen, is, in general, sufficient to 
satisfy the evolutionist's notion of freedom, so far as such a 
notion is possible at all. But suppose that a man is free in so 
far as he has a character of his own (and no one will deny 
such a general statement), or, as he has an inner influence which 
must be accounted with along with the extraneous influences 
called "environment", one cannot rest satisfied in any serious 
search for free personality until it is guaranteed that a person's 
character is really and ultimately "his own" and is not merely 
the product of a process. We come now to a vital query: 
Strictly in the world of efficient causation, in the world of time 
and space, taken as the only world there is, are free persons 
possible in that logically ultimate sense that carries with it moral 
responsibility? In short, does nature, as such, give us in all 
her realm an ethically free person? 

When the logic of science is asked this question fairly and 
unequivocally it answers : Science, in any real sense, is made 
possible only with the supposition that there is no such thing as 


an uncaused process either in the physical or psychical sphere. 
There is no reason for making an exception of human willing, 
or even of the human mind as a whole. It, too, is caught in 
the causal nexus of the Cosmic Whole. The fact is, science 
tolerates no exceptions. Suppose we agreed with Professor 
James that we are not always able to detect the precise causal 
nexus in subtler regions of psychology, this would be no reason 
for supposing chance, which he himself would admit, although 
he espouses chance on other grounds. Where science is not 
able to find causes, she must, perforce imagine them present, 
even though their discovery be practically impossible. This is 
the only rational alternative. For observe, the scientific investi- 
gation even of mind seems to show uniformity of action. Under 
the same circumstances the same states occur. If this were 
not so, experimental psychology could not be a science at all. 
But if one is still in doubt as to the absolute determination 
of all acts, all volitions, in short, of all that pertains even to 
minds, by the iron necessity of causal law, one need but consider 
all in the light of science's modern conception of evolution. 
Then, if not until then, we see that we are not only dependent 
upon nature, but all that we are is derived from nature. What 
we are can be accounted for by the causal chain, nor can we say 
that we could have been otherwise. All is determined. Our 
parentage, and hence our inheritance, — this, at least, is no matter 
for choice; nor is our time and place of birth, our sex, the 
peculiarities of the family and of the people among whom we 
find ourselves, their language, their customs, their church, their 
politics, their society, and their place in that society. Our educa- 
tion reflects the general culture and ideals of our particular 
times. Through all the seven ages, from the infant in the nurse's 
arms to the "last scene of all that ends this strange eventful 
history" in "second childishness and mere oblivion," there is no 
break in the causal chain ; man's birth is a product ; his career a 


product; and to both, as to death, his only Hberty is to submit; 
he is a part, and only a part, of the total life of humanity, and 
finally of universal nature. 

Thus, when that science, whose world is the world of space 
and time and efficient causation, is asked whether her persons 
are free or determined, she answers unequivocally that all the 
persons she knows are, in the last resort, determined. Persons 
are denied as ultimately responsible, as ultimately real, and so as 
ultimately ethical. 

To many moderns this is, indeed, the conclusion of the whole 
matter. And it is a valid conclusion so far as we have gone. 
But can we not go farther in our search? Rather, must we not 
go farther if we follow the lead of that very logic which has 
made our world of science possible? Our whole question at once 
becomes this : Is there a realm other than that of natural sci- 
ence ? If so, we can at least renew our thwarted search for free 

All the laws of science's world purport to be generalizations 
from observed spaced and timed "facts", the supreme generaliza- 
tion of all being in terms of the law of Universal Causation. 
But precisely what is "causation," '"space," and "time;" and, 
above all, what makes generalization itself possible? Here we 
come to the Kantian questions. Science explains away the free 
person, but how is science itself explicable? What guarantees 
its basal assumptions? If science is self-explanatory, it behooves 
science to show this. If its assumptions can be explained only 
by principles, themselves beyond the world of natural science, 
then perhaps we shall have a realm in the light of which the 
arguments of science concerning persons will not appear so final, 
and indeed may have to be essentially revised. 

The fact is of course that science as such utterly fails to 
account for space and time. To say that they are products of 
evolution, or generalizations from experience, is to ignore the 






fact that they are presuppositions for the possibiHty both of 
experience and its interpretation in evolutional terms. They 
are logically "prior" to experience, — a priori forms in short, 
forms which the experiencer himself contributes to his world of 
experience as constitutive of it. The logic of time and space, if 
we follow the interpretation of Kant, leads us to a new and 
significant conception of persons as a priori knowers. But, even 
apart from the consideration of time and space, granting them 
for the moment as valid assumptions, the conception of any uni- 
versal and necessary causal nexus, assumed in all science, is 
wholly unwarranted by mere experience in time and space. For 
how, on the basis of what occurs in time and space, can one rise 
to universal laws at all? How can one say that what has been 
is a criterion of what is to be? One cannot verify a universal 
law by any particular experience; one can say only that he has 
found another example of it. No necessary judgments, causal or 
other, can be accumulated in the course of time. The series is 
never complete, and if it were complete, the element of neces- 
sity would still be lacking. One can maintain the validty of uni- 
versal judgments only when he conceives the person as an a 
priori knower, a person who is the very source of that necessity 
which he discovers in nature. Before asking whether the con- 
ception of the person as a priori knower is identical with the free 
person in any real sense, it is crucially important for the doctrine 
of ethical personality to see that no person at all, free or other- 
wise, is possible to any hut an a priori epistemology. 

The Dialectic of Empiricism in English Thought 

Still, that philosophers by no means are agreed upon such 
a pronouncement as this must be admitted. The case of a typical 
school of evolutional moralists has just been cited. Modern 
Pragmatism, with its radical empiricism and open denial of the 
a priori would be far from confessing that it has no ethics; in- 


deed, its very name would seem to connote an overwhelming 
emphasis upon "truth" as in a sense fundamentally ethical in 
its import and test. And there have been conspicuous attempts 
in the history of philosophy, to guarantee a person of some sort 
through a purely empiristic epistemology. 

Indeed, we sometimes find the dialectic of pure logic very 
strikingly exemplified in philosoph/s concrete development, not- 
withstanding the frequent attacks upon the general Hegelian 
thesis concerning logic and history. Where the logical dialectic 
is thus concretely presented, a twofold advantage occurs to the 
philosopher from taking careful cognizance of the living drama; 
mutual light is thrown upon the essential meaning of the historic 
denouement itself and upon the full significance of the purely 
logical development particularly exemplified. Hegel himself 
strikingly exhibited the value of this illustrative dialectic in his 
early^ The Phenomenology of the Spirit, as well as in his later 
works. Now, if it is true that only the doctrine of the self as a 
priori knower can guarantee ethical personality, this ought to 
appear in the self-defeat of any particular concrete empiristic 
attempt to maintain a doctrine of the person. If only one could 
find an actual historic attempt of this kind, persistent and thor- 
ough-going enough to carry the merely empirical guarantees of 
personality to the utter goal of their own full meaning, one would 
discover a philosophical movement well worth minute review 
for its own sake, as well as for the sake of the final theory of 
the ethical person. In the examination of such a movement any 
insufficiency of empiricism in this regard would soon emerge in 
the inevitable exposure of fundamental contradictions and of in- 
adequate conceptions. 

It can hardly be doubted that it is in the history of English 
thought that one finds the most striking modern instances of 
persistent attempts to construct metaphysics upon an empiristic 
basis. And in all English thought there has never been a better 


exhibition of the logical bearings of empiricism upon the for- 
tunes of the person than in the writings of that notable and 
vitally related succession of philosophers, Locke, Berkeley and 
Hume. No succession of thinkers has so thoroughly expressed 
the strength and limitations of the characteristically English 
mode of thinking; and this is made no less apparent by the fact 
that no Englishmen have had so appreciable an influence upon 
the total development of later English philosophy. Above all, 
no English thinkers have treated the problem of personality so 
strikingly and so fully: and this too, within empiristic presup- 
positions. Further, the interest of each of these men was to 
achieve the vindication of an ethical person : a person that should 
be morally accountable. Here, then, if anywhere, is to be found 
the historic dialectic of empiricism with relation to the special 
problem of ethical personality. 

Aim of this Essay 

The aim of this essay is three-fold. First, it attempts care- 
fully to gather from the sources and to marshal into coherency 
the more or less detached utterances of Locke, Berkeley and 
Hume concerning human personality. First of all, such a task 
should bear in mind that while each of these philosophers has 
something explicit to say on the subject, no one of them made 
the question of the ultimate nature and reality of persons his 
central and determining problem. Thus it is not unreasonable 
to expect more or less inconsistencies emerging as the result 
of any attempt to gather together their views on this subject. The 
first prerequisite for the success of the attempt is that sympa- 
thetic spirit, which, in seeking the general view of a thinker, ig- 
nores for the time any lurking contradictions, which, neverthe- 
less, will be brought to light in the proper place. 


Now, if a priori knowledge is in reality the true presupposi- 
tion of ethical personality, we shall expect that logic will compel 
to emerge from the views of each thinker one, at least, of two 
predicaments : first, the more or less tacit assumption of the a 
priori in some guise; second, in the absence of such a tacit as- 
sumption, an inner contradiction which calls for the a priori as its 
solution. The latter situation will be found to be Hume's. As 
a matter of fact, both situations emerge in the views of Locke 
and Berkeley. 

Thus the second aim of this essay is to discover the place of 
the a priori, explicit or implied, in the treatment of personality 
by Locke, Berkeley and Hume. We may find some of these phil- 
osophers, Locke, for instance, less empiristic than is very com- 
monly supposed. And at all events it is uniquely profitable to sec 
in what manner the a priori emerges with thinkers who have not 
yet recognized the true question as it has appeared since Kant 

The third aim of this essay is to exhibit, by a historical 
dialectic represented in our three thinkers taken together, the 
gradual and final self-dissolution of empiricism in its specific 
attempt to guarantee personality. Just these three men are 
chosen because they exhibit in their succession, as will be shown, 
a dialectic intimate and continuous. 

To summarize in one sentence, our three-fold task is : to 
present the treatment of personality by Locke, Berkeley and 
Hume, especially with reference to the place of the a priori in] 
that treatment, with the subsidiary aim of showing by a sort 
of illustrative dialectic, in each case and together, the necessity 
of the a priori for any personality such as they tried to guarantee, 
and such as is adequate for ethics. Thus our aim is plainly a 
restricted one. The working out of a total ethics or metaphysics 
is the least of the intention. The most that can be essayed is to 
indicate one logical condition which such a total view must ob- 


serve — the logical condition of rational self-activity, in the sense 
of a priori cognition. 

I may forecast here that we shall find that Locke, empiricist 
that he is, inevitably assumes a priori elements to make even his 
persons possible at all. Berkeley, whom I shall hold to be an 
even more radical empiricist, and so on that side showing more 
clearly the dialectic of empiricism, yet calls in, for that very 
reason, more evident a priori assumptions than Locke, and these 
of a vicious sort, so that the inconsistency of his position and 
the insufficiency of his empiricism becomes still more apparent 
We shall then come to the final self-refutation of the empiristic 
view of personality, — a self-refutation which is the significance 
of Hume, who furnishes empiricism its own dialectic by consist- 
ently carrying it out even to its utter contradiction, — which 
plunges him into scepticism simply because he does not see how 
the contradiction can be rationally transcended. 

Apart from the motive adduced from the fact of the evident 
bearing of a priori cognition upon the fortunes of personality, 
there are other cogent reasons for supposing that a philosopher's 
epistemological utterances, more directly than his utterances on 
any other theme, settle what he must hold concerning the human 
person, and that thus our epistemological approach is the most 
fruitful one we could choose. 

Apart from other grounds, this much is evident at once in 
favor of the epistemological approach : epistemology as such 
assumes and treats persons in some sense as knowers, that is, in 
some sense as minds, even though this assumption be afterwards 
denied as untenable; it directly answers the question within what 
meaning persons are rational; and in its decision as to whether 
we can know reality at all, it decides at the same time, however 
unwittingly, whether we can vindicate the person as real. 

I add that the epistemological approach commends itself as 
especially happy in an examination of English thought when we 


remember that it is one of the characteristics of English philoso- 
phy to make its problem epistemological, rather than ontological. 
This is the significant quest of Locke's Essay; and it sounds an 
emphasis that has appeared throughout all English speculation, — 
becoming England's supreme contribution to continental think- 



Locke's view of personality 

We approach Locke conscious of a double interest at the 
very start. For not only is he the originator of a new tendency, 
a new epoch, by his broaching of the epistemological question as 
primary, but since an answer to this very question is most vital 
to our quest, we feel sanguine that here that quest will not be 

Since Berkeley finds the logical genesis of his own system 
in aspects of that of Locke, a more than cursory examination of 
the latter is imperative in order really to comprehend the former. 
We recognize a further importance attaching to a study of Locke's 
treatment of personality when we remember that in his general 
outlook he represents the popular common sense not only of his 
day, but of our own. Thus, in examining the philosopher whose 
Essay ran into over forty editions in a century, we shall also 
have the advantage of revealing the implications of the popular 
consciousness of the English people. 

I might add that we shall have to pay dearly for this ad- 
vantage, for the popularity of the Essay was made possibly partly 
by its being couched in the inexact language of every-day life, — 
which of course begot obscurities and difficulties in the way of 
precise interpretation, and that, with regard to important issues. 
The difficulty which has beset commentators should serve from 
the first to warn us not to be too literal in pressing home the 
logic of some of Locke's statements. We should seek to de- 
serve the commendation which Locke wrote to Anthony Collins : 
"You have a comprehensive knowledge of it (the Essay), and 
do not stick in the incidents, which I find many people do." 



For one who is not chiefly concerned with questions regard- 
ing personality, Locke wrote a surprising amount of matter direct- 
ly on the subject. In the Essay, these direct utterances are found 
principally in three chapters of Book II, Chapter XXI, "Of 
Power," where the subject of freedom is discussed; Chapter 
XXIII, "Of the Complex Ideas of Substances"; and Chapter 
XXVII, "Of Identity and Diversity" Besides these chapters 
should be mentioned Chapter IX of Book IV, "Of our Knowl- 
edge of Existence." But scattered all through the Essay are 
found important statements directly pertaining to our theme. 
Nor can Locke's other works be ignored, notably the utterances 
brought forth by the attacks of critics. 

That 'T exist" is to Locke an intuitive certainty. In some 
of his phrases we are dimly reminded of Descartes, whom 
Locke greatly admired, as is evident from the Icstiniony of Lady 
Masham and from the frequent mention of Descartes in Locke's 
letters to Stillingfleet. And while Locke obviously did not sound 
the real meaning of the "Cogito ergo sum" even so well as did 
its author, still the following passage sounds like a muffled echo 
of Descartes : "As for our own existence, we perceive it so plain- 
ly and so certainly that it neither needs nor is capable of any 
proof. For nothing can be more evident to us than our own 
existence: I think, I reason, I feel pleasure and pain; can any 
of these be more evident to me than my own existence? // / 
doubt of all other things, that very doubt makes me perceive my 
own existence . . . Experience then convinces us that we have an 
intuitive knowledge of our own existence and an internal infal- 
lible perception that we are" (Essay, IV, ix. § 3), 

After all, the assurance of our own existence is with Locke 
a verdict of our experience rather than the result of the dialectic 
which is concealed in the Cartesian statement. It is a certainty 
discovered in the course of the search for the origin of ideas, — 
a search which reveals that origin as Sensation, on the one hand, 


■ O I- fc) ■ 


and Reflection on the other. While Sensation furnishes us with 
the certainty of substances outside ourselves, Reflection fur- 
nishes us with a certainty of our own individual substance, or 
self. We frame the complex idea of an immaterial spirit "by 
the simple ideas we have taken from those operations of our own 
minds, which we experiment daily in ourselves, as thinking, 
understanding, willing, knowing, and power of beginning mo- 
tion, etc., coexisting in some substance." "And thus, by putting 
together the ideas of thinking, perceiving, liberty, and power of 
moving themselves and other things, we have as clear a percep- 
tion and notion of immaterial substances as we have of material. 
For by putting together "those ideas" joined with substance . . . 
we have the idea of an immaterial spirit" (II, xxiii, § 15). The 
second edition of the Essay adds : "Every act of sensation, when 
duly considered, gives us an equal view of both parts of nature — 
the corporeal and the spiritual. For whilst I know, by seeing or 
hearing, that there is some corporeal being without me, the ob- 
ject of that sensation, I do more certainly know that there is 
some spiritual being withm me that sees and hears.'' 

Thus, whatever limits Locke will find imposed upon the 
understanding, the existence in some sort of the mind itself is 
among the few unconditional certainties which may be dignified 
with the name of "knowledge"; indeed, in the passage above 
cited, "my existence" is treated as the logically primary certain- 
ty, to which experience bears witness even "more" indubitably 
than to anything else. Perhaps the implications of Locke's 
treatment will destroy the soul as the primary certainty in any 
real sense. But from beginning to end the Essay is pervaded 
with the presupposition of the two substances, "outer substance" 
and "inner substance" ; so that to think of Locke at all is to 
think of him in terms of this intuitive faith. 

And now we come to some characteristically Lockean state- 
ments. We may as well realize at once that with Locke's general 


point of view, content to base itself upon a strong faith in the 
verdicts of common sense, questions subtle, though none the less 
important, will remain unanswered^ and from his standpoint un- 
answerable. In being told merely that "I exist,'^ we are not yet 
satisfied. We say: the bare certainty that I really exist is inter- 
esting and fundamentally important; but we press for answers 
to ulterior questions involved in this certainty. What, essential- 
ly, is this self that you say you are certain really exists, and how, 
indeed, do you define *'real existence?" 

In propounding such questions to Locke we immediately 
become aware that the certainty of the self is not a primary 
certainty in the sense of a logical first principle — a source-prin- 
ciple from which other certainties shall receive their valid deriva- 
tion. In this we see a contrast between Locke and Descartes : 
for the latter did make an attempt, however abortive, to deduce 
other certainties from the nature of the irrefutable primal cer- 
tainty, and did insist that the establishing of the self at once 
put him in possession of the essence of the self as "thinking." 
Locke strongly intimates that he cannot regard thinking as the 
"essence" of the self, but prefers to call it the "action" of the 
soul. For thought sometimes suspends itself, as in sound sleep; 
but while "the operations of agents will easily admit of intention 
and remission, . . . the essences of things are not conceived 
capable of any such variation" (II, xix, § 4). Thus it is not that 
thinking is our substance, but it belongs to our substance to think. 
It is no more necessary to suppose that the human soul is always 
thinking than that bodies always move. God, indeed, may think 
always — He who "never slumbers nor sleeps"; but not so with 
human spirits (II, i, § 10). So Locke never conceives of a self- 
subsistent thinking in men, whatever may be said of God ; think- 
ing must ever "inhere" in something. 

What the self is as substantial substrate Locke expressly 
tells us does not concern him. His attitude to this and other 


ultimate questions, as that of a humility befitting merely human 
minds, is revealed in the quotation from Ecclesiastes placed on 
the title-page of the fourth edition of the Essay : "As thou know- 
est not what is the way of the Spirit, nor how the bones do grow 
in the womb of her that is with child ; even so thou knowest not 
the works of God, who maketh all things" (Eccles. XI, 5). In 
announcing his design in the Introduction of the Essay he says 
that he will not trouble himself to examine wherein the essence 
of the mind consists, dismissing this as among the "speculations 
which, however curious and entertaining" he will decline as lying 
out of his way in the design he is now upon, namely, the "inquiry 
into the original, certainty and extent of human knowledge, 
together with the grounds of belief, opinion, and assent." 
Whether Locke does not misconceive the nature of the episte- 
mological task when he supposes he can dismiss as irrelevant to 
it the question regarding the nature of the knowing mind, I 
hope to point out later. In discussing the complex idea of 
immaterial substance, he characteristically speaks of it as "but a 
supposed I know not what, to support those ideas we call ac- 
cidents" (II, xxiii, § 15). Again, "Of substance we have no 
idea of what it is, but only a confused, obscure one of what it 
does" (II, viii. § 19). Locke silences the clamors of him who 
complains that "he knows not what it is thinks in him," that is, 
who "knows not what the substance is of that thinking thing," 
by retorting, "No more, say I, knows he what the substance is 
of that soHd thing" (II, xxiii, §23). 

Locke will not even commit himself decisively as to whether 
the soul is "material" or "spiritual" substance. True it is he 
most often speaks of the soul as ^'immaterial spirit" and doubt- 
less leans to this as the probable truth; yet he considers it not 
impossible that matter could be endowed by God with the power 
of thought. To deny it would be to impugn God's omnipotence, 
"it being, in respect of our notions, not much more remote from 


our comprehension to conceive that God can, if he pleases, su- 
peradd to matter a faculty of thinking, than that he should su- 
peradd to it another substance with a faculty of thinking" (IV, 
iii, §6). 

This very point became a much mooted one between Locke 
and Stillingfleet, who criticised the above passage by saying that 
according to Locke's principles it could not be proved that there 
is a spiritual substance in us. To detail the highly interesting 
arguments in their correspondence is not necessary here, save to 
say that in his first letter, Locke grants that if the Bishop means 
by spiritual substance an immaterial substance, it cannot be prov- 
ed, that is, demonstrated; though Locke hastens to add that he 
thinks it in the highest degree probable that the thinking sub- 
stance in us is immaterial, and says that he would welcome with 
joy a conclusive demonstration, from the Bishop or anyone else. 
Locke's appeal is ever to the omnipotence of God, to whom he 
accuses the Bishop of setting bounds. To this omnipotence he 
reverts when, dissenting from the Bishop, he asserts that "All 
the great ends of morality and religion are well enough secured 
without philosophical proofs of the soul's immateriality" (IV, 
iii, § 6). For even though we be material, God's power is great 
enough to annex immortality even to material substance. Locke 
cites: "For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this 
mortal must put on immortality." We are interested here merely 
in seeking Locke's view; in the proper place its bearings on per- 
sonality will be considered. 

If we cannot know what spiritual substance is, at least we 
can determine what qualities primarily "inhere" in it, just as we 
can determine the primary qualities of "body." The primary 
ideas peculiar to spirit are two: thinking and zvilling, the latter 
being "a power of putting body into motion by thought, and, 
which is consequent to it, liberty" (II, xxiii, § i8. cf. § 22, and 
xxi, § 75). How the soul can excite motion by thought is another 


of Locke's admitted mysteries; but the fact of such imparting 
of motion is regarded as plain enough in anybody's experience. 
And its mystery need not especially harass us when we see that 
the communication of motion by bodies is equally unintelligible 
and yet equally a fact. 

The powers of thinking and willing Locke elsewhere terms 
"faculties" under the names, Understanding and Will (II, vi). 
To these two primary ideas peculiar to spirit, Locke adds the 
ideas common to both matter and spirit, viz., existence, duration 
and mobility (II, xxiii, § i8). By "mobility" Locke means 
change of place. This attribute the soul must have in common 
with the body, for the soul, in this life at least, is united with the 
body; it must be where the body is, to operate on it; and where 
the body goes, there the soul also must go. And if this is not 
sufficient to convince, we still have the crucial argument, that the 
soul, in being separated from the body at death, leaves. the body, 
which of course involves its motion. If anyone objects that 
spirits cannot change place because, as spirits, they are not in 
loco, he is simply speaking unintelligibly. If God doesn't move, 
it is not because He is a spirit, but because He is infinite (II, 
xxiii, §§ 19-20). 

It is well to see that Locke does not hesitate to regard human 
spirits as finite in the sense that each has a definite beginning in 
time and place. So far as Locke's treatment goes, the soul is 
supposed to begin to exist with the body, although Locke will not 
commit himself on that point, — doubtlessly considering it ir- 
relevant and at all events unascertainable. "Whether the soul be 
supposed to exist antecedent to, or coeval with, or sometime af- 
ter the first rudiments of organization, or the beginnings of life 
in the body, I leave to be disputed by those who have better 
thought of that matter" (II, i, § 10). It is easy to see that 
whether the soul exists before the body or not, Locke conceives 
it as timed and spaced. His idea of immortality is that of endless 


continuance, belief in which he bases on revelation, — though we 
are made the creatures of God in this matter. Moreover the 
relation to tlie time and place of its existence always determines 
the identity of the finite spirit, "as long as it exists" (II, xxvii, 
§ 2). Thus, when Locke essays to propound the " principium 
individuationis," he names it as "existence itself; which deter- 
mines a being of any sort to a particular time and place incom- 
municable to two beings of the same kind" (II, xxvii, § 4). The 
reason why there can be no doubt of God's identity is that he 
endures through all time and is everywhere. 

Thus far, the identity of the self as the same perduring 
substance has been considered; but another sense of identity is 
brought out by Locke, — tlie identity of the person, which Locke 
is explicit in saying need not be considered the same as identity 
of substance. In this sense the same self or person may or may 
not be continued in the same substance (II, xxvii, § 11). Locke's 
view on personal identity I shall cite as revealing a significant 
motive which runs all through the Essay, namely, the interest of 
Locke in guaranteeing "accountability" or moral responsibihty. 
It is important to note that the chapter on "Identity and Diversi- 
ty" is the result of Locke's maturer thought, being added to the 
second edition on the suggestion of Molyneux. 

Towards the beginning of this chapter, Locke promises that 
it will prevent many difficulties if we see that it is one thing to 
be the same substance, and another thing to be the same person. 
Now, what does Locke mean by a "person" if not the "immaterial 
spirit?" He says he means "a thinking, intelligent being, that 
has reason and reflection and can consider itself as itself, the 
same thinking thing, in different times and places" (II, xxvii, 
§ 11). Hozv does this being "consider itself as itself?" Only by 
that consciousness which is inseparable from thinking, and es- 
sential to it. Since consciousness "makes everyone to be what he 
calls a Self, and thereby distinguishes himself from all other 


thinking beings, in this alone consists personal identity, i. e. the 
sameness of a rational being; and as far as this consciousness 
can be extended backwards to any past action or thought, so far 
reaches the identity of that person." All through the chapter this 
distinction between identity of person and identity of substance 
is maintained, as, when, toward the end, he reiterates that in all 
this account of the self, the same numerical substance is not con- 
sidered as making the same self, but the same continued con- 
sciousness (§ 26). 

Of course the immediate difficulties involved in this account 
.^^ are obvious. Is personal identity to be limited to what is ac- 
tually remembered, or to what is latent in memory ? — is one query 
of commentators. Bishop Butler descends upon Locke with the 
\ comment: ''One should think it self-evident that consciousness 
presupposes and cannot constitute personal identity,'^ But how- 
ever valid we shall find such criticisms in an ultimate verdict as 
to the worth of Locke's view, a most important thing here is to 
see that he earnestly desires to define personality in terms of 
moral accountability. Now, with Locke, a person is not an ac- 
countable person, and thus not a "person" at all in this restricted 
sense, any further than extends his appropriation of past actions 
,, to his present consciousness (II, xxvii, § 26). It is in this sense 
that consciousness "constitutes" [accountable] personality. No 
person can be justly punished, held accountable, for a deed which 
cannot be pressed home to his present conscionsness as his own. 
To be punished for such an action is to be punished "without any 
demerit at all." "Whatever has the consciousness of present and 
past actions is the same person to whom they both belong" (II, 
xxvii, § 16). But in the "last judgment," say, shall we be 
accountable for only those past actions which we appropriate 
in consciousness as our own? Yes, says Locke, — only "at the 
great day when everyone 'shall receive according to his doings, 
the secret of all hearts shall be laid open.' The sentence shall 


be justified by the consciousness all persons shall have, that they 
themselves in what bodies soever they appear, or what substances 
soever that consciousness adheres to, are the same that com- 
mitted those actions, and deserve that punishment for them" 
(II, xxvii, § 26). 

This last sentence gives us a clue as to why Locke considers 
it necessary to make of substance-identity and personal identity 
separate questions. If he is to guarantee with any certainty a 
personal identity with moral accountability, he feels it must be 
fi-eed from all speculations regarding the nature of the substance 
of the soul, for such speculations are uncertain in their issue: 
Locke thinks the human understanding impotent to decide them. 
He has already hinted that for aught we know soul-substance is 
material; and, if so, soul-substance continually changes, as do 
all bodies. But even so, Locke insists that his theory still affords 
us personal identity constituted by the appropriation of past 
acts in present consciousness, and "the same person is preserved 
under the change of various substances." 

Locke admits that his view of personal identity will probably 
look strange to some, and suggests that possibly it is strange in 
itself. Already has been cited an objection by Bishop Butler; 
among others taking part in this discussion were Sergeant, Still- 
ingfleet, Lee, Clarke, Collins, Reid, and Vincent Perronet. But 
the view will lose a little of its ''strangeness" if we keep in mind 
that Locke's real opinion all through the discussion is, that while 
we can and ought in all caution to distinguish between "personal" 
identity and the identity of soul-substance, the two identities are 
probably one. Thus, the consciousness which makes personal 
identity possible is probably "annexed to and the affection of one 
individual immaterial substance." 

The interest Locke shows in making his views consistent 
with moral accountability lends especial interest to his discussion 
of freedom, which is the theme of the long chapter, "Of Power." 


That he reaHzed the importance of this problem in its theoretical 
and practical implications, and that it especially troubled him, 
is apparent in that part of the "Epistle to the Reader" added in 
the second edition. Here he states that, so far as he was able, 
he has tried to be accurate in treating this problem which has 
perplexed the learned in all ages and has such important bearings 
on "morality and divinity." But in spite of his efforts to be ac- 
curate; in spite of the material additions and corrections made 
in the second and later editions; and notwithstanding the manifest 
worth of many of his remarks, Locke is far from successful in 
giving us any consistent and well-defined view of freedom. 

Without going into Locke's long and complicated exposition, 
I venture to say that so far as he gives us any freedom at all, 
it is the freedom of choice of alternatives. I am free in the 
sense that I can walk or sit, speak or remain silent, "liberty con- 
sisting in a power to act or to forbear acting, and in that only" 
(II, xxi, § 24). I am not free to will or not to will; for instance, 
I must will either to walk or not to walk. But so far as I can 
choose between these alternatives, I am free (§23). 

But what determines us to choose the particular alternative 
we do choose? Locke answers that it is satisfaction or dissatis- 
faction with our present ''state or action." The motive to change 
is always some "uneasiness"; and by the most pressing present 
uneasiness Locke explicitly states the will is "determined" (§§ 29, 
41). What does Locke mean by "uneasiness"? That which is 
desire, orjs accompanied by desire for some absent good, — 
"good" which is to be taken in the sense of happiness; for, says 
Locke, "What has an aptness to produce pleasure in us that we 
call good, and what is apt to produce pain in us we call evil" 
^ (§ 43)- The will, then, is moved by a desire for happiness, 
this desire accompanying or identical with a present uneasiness. 

But in the second edition of the Essay ^ Locke, as he informs 
us in the "Epistle to the Reader," seeks to modify his view "con- 


cerning that which gives the last determination to the will in all 
voluntary actions." In this revision we are told that it is not 
the satisfaction of any particular desire that immediately deter- 
mines the will ; for we have the power of suspending such deter- 
mination by the interposition of deliberation, which can examine 
"whether the particular apparent good which we then desire 
makes a part of our real happiness" or is "consistent or incon- 
sistent with it. The result of our judgment upon that examina- 
tion is what ultimately determines the man; who could not be 
free if his will were determined by anything but his own desire, 
guided by his own judgment" (§ 73), Webb (in The Intel- 
lectualism of Locke, p. 148) calls this the "liberty of self-sus- 
pense." It is a most valuable addition to Locke's treatment of 
the subject; at least it shows us that he sees the need of a deeper 
liberty than he at first defined. He seems very near indeed to 
a conception of genuine freedom that underlies and makes pos- 
sible the mere freedom of alternatives when he writes such sen- 
tences as these: "Nay, were we determined by anything but 
the last result of our own minds judging of the good or evil 
of any action, we were not free." "And therefore every man 
is put under a necessity, by his constitution as an intelligent 
being, to be determined in willing by his own thought and judg- 
ment what is best for him to do; else he would be under the 
determination of some other than himself, which is want of 
liberty" (§49). 

But how near Locke actually approaches any real freedom 
must not be hastily concluded from isolated passages, but must 
be considered with reference to the necessary implications of his 
general epistemological position. To find what is the inherent 
logic of Locke's Essay with regard to the freedom of the per- 
son as well as with regard to personality in general, is the deeper 
and subtler task we must next undertake. The attempt to 
marshal Locke's explicit statements on our subject may be con- 


sidered as hardly more than introductory to this more profound 
search, — a search all the more necessary in the light of the sub- 
sequent history of philosophy. For after all, Locke has not 
touched explicitly questions vitally connected with the full mean- 
ing of personality. In our examination of logical implications 
we may find much that is at variance with what Locke thought 
he had a right explicitly to propound or without examination 
to assume 



It was said in the Introduction that in examining a philoso- 
pher's basic positions with regard to their ultimate bearings on 
ethical personality, it is convenient to narrow the problem by 
selecting some one essential "mark" of any personality that shall 
be called ethical and trace out the precise effects of the implica- 
tions of his system upon the guaranteeing of this mark. And 
freedom was found to be a convenient concept of this sort. We 
have just been discussing Locke's view of freedom. Now Locke 
at least emphasizes what most will admit, and what the logic of 
any moral personality affirms, that freedom in some sense or 
other is necessary to constitute a person. If a person's thoughts 
and acts are to be his own; if he is to be held morally 
responsible ; if in short he is to be a "self" at all, he himself 
must, in some sense, originate his thought and deed, — he must, 
in some sense, be free. It was hinted, too, in the Introduction, 
that freedom, bound up as it is with the other marks of real per- 
sonality, carries with its own vindication the vindication of all 
other marks of the person, the ultimate vindication of personality 
and of all its marks being found in the proof of a priori cogni- 
tion, together with the nature of its fundamental deliverance. 
Our historical study is yet to furnish an illustrative dialectic of 
this. Under the supposition that the vindication of a free per- 
sonality depends upon the recognition of rational self-activity 
in the sense of a priori cognition, one would approach Locke 
with little doubt of the outcome. For is not Locke's characteristic 
position the denial of all innate ideas, and the counter-thesis 



that all our ideas are derived from "experience," — from external 
sense on the one hand, and from internal sense on the other? 
All ideas (and "idea" means "whatever it is which the mind 
can be employed about in thinking") are adventitious. "Nihil 
est in intellectu quod non fuerit in sensu." The mind is origin- 
ally an absolute blank, a "white paper," a "tabula rasa" upon 
which experience gradually writes its record. Or, again, it is a 
"dark room" says Locke: "for methinks the understanding is 
not much unlike a closet wholly shut from light, with only some 
little openings left to let in external visible resemblances or 
ideas of things without" (II, xi, § 17). 

Complex ideas, ideas of Modes, Substance, Relation, may 
appear at first sight underivative from experience ; but in the last 
resort they may be resolved to simple ideas ; these are obviously 
experiential in their origin. To experience may be traced even 
those ideas which seem remotest from it, — such as Infinity, 
Power, Identity, and others of like character. Even "in our 
ideas as well of spirits as of other things, we are restricted to 
those we receive from sensation and reflection" (II, xxiii, § 36). 
This is true even of our idea of God. Yea, even in that which 
for Locke constitutes "knowledge," namely, the perception of 
"connexion or repugnancy, of agreement or disagreement" (IV, 
i, § i), we are led to suppose that there is, properly speaking, 
no "act" of comparison, but just a passive receptivity. It is not 
a comparison made, but just a comparison seen. 

Looking at Locke in this way we seem to discover an em- 
piricist pure and simple. We are prone to consider his denial 
of innate ideas as tantamoimt to a denial of the a priori. Locke 
interpreted thus is the Locke who is the precursor of Hume; 
a Locke who, as a radical empiricist, can give us no necessary 
judgments, — but at best only loose, discontinuous, incomplete 
aggregates: who thus can give us no spontaneous self which 
makes eternal syntheses, — and so, of course, no freedom in this 


sense. But Locke is not a radical empiricist, however Hume- 
ward sundry of his emphasized premises may lead if taken alone. 
You cannot "pigeon-hole" him so easily. Much of the historic 
appreciation and criticism of Locke has been abortive because of 
the desire, natural enough, but deadly to catholicity of inter- 
pretation, — the desire rigidly to classify him in the name of some 
precisely defined "school." In Locke will be found hints of 
many schools. As the high priest of a common sense however 
so subtle and cautious, Locke represents the breadth of common 
sense, along with the inconsistencies born of its largeness, — in- 
consistencies which, with Locke, are never reconciled, partially 
because never recognized. True enough we shall find in Locke 
a marked tendency, and that tendency is notably and broadly 
empiristic. But that tendency is not all there is, and we must 
not do him the violence of contorting all he says to fit that 
tendency. Of course Locke should have been consistent, but 
the fact remains that he was not. It is too late now to intro- 
duce a consistency into his writings and justly label it "Locke." 

That he could not be consistent with empiricism and with 
his conception of personality at the same time, and that for the 
sake of the latter he was compelled to call in the a priori in spite 
of himself, is part of the dialectic of empiricism and personality 
which we are to observe. 

Now, what does Locke mean by denying innate ideas? 
Does he mean to deny the cooperative activity of mind in cogni- 
tion? I propose to show in the discussion that follows, first, 
that Locke's denial of innate ideas in no sense directly means, 
or indirectly involves the denial of the a priori in cognition; 
second, that Locke makes definite assumptions and hints, which 
if logically followed out, would have committed him to the 
fact and validity of a priori cognition ; third, that nevertheless it 
must be confessed that Locke never reaches nor shows that he 
even understands the real question about a priori cognition at 
all, and thus cannot be said to ;inswer it directly. 


In the Lockean sense, an "innate idea" is an idea con- 
sciously possessed by all minds from birth, underivative from 
any experience and antedating all experience. The first chapter 
of the Essay is devoted to showing that there is no evidence 
for the existence of such ideas, — which is not a very arduous 
task if "idea" be taken in Locke's sense, and if to be in the 
mind necessarily means to be consciously known. In fact, so 
easy is it to disprove innate ideas within Locke's meaning that 
it has been an interesting question against whom in particular 
Locke was directing his assault. Perhaps it was Lord Herbert, 
mentioned in the second book of the Essay (I, i, §§ 15-19). 
It is more than likely that Locke had in mind continental philoso- 
phers in general and Descartes in particular, although Descartes 
held to no such theory of innateness as Locke combats. No 
doubt Locke's general motive was to put a stop to the spinning 
out of elaborate theories from presuppositions wholly unguaran- 
teed by the unconsulted facts of experience, — a procedure which 
"eased the lazy from the pains of search" ; which only encouraged 
dogmatic speculation and led the understanding to go beyond its 

But to deny innate ideas in this sense does not necessarily 
involve the denial of the a priori, when we use "a priori" to 
signify the elements which the mind contributes of its own 
activity to make experience possible, — elements not, indeed, tem- 
porally, but logically "prior" to experience. These necessary 
and logical implicates in experience express an innateness of 
which we may or may not be "conscious," though they make 
consciousness possible. They, at least, are instances of principles 
which are "in the mind" in so deep a sense that they are of its 
eternal constitution: "known" to but few, and yet at the basis 
of all knowing; when known, found only among the last objects 
of matured cognition, — not among the first, not connate. 


Thus, because of the mere fact of the denial of consciously 
innate "ideas," we must not accuse Locke of denying the a priori. 
That which is implicitly present in cognition — the a priori — is 
ipso facto ignored by any consideration devoted only to what is 
consciously present as the object of cognition. 

It is easy to succumb to the temptation to go further and 
to say that Locke not only did not repudiate the self-active co- 
operation of the mind in cognition, but actually implied it and 
consciously recognized it; that, though this aspect of knowing 
is not duly emphasized by him, still it is presupposed and quietly 
revealed all through the Essay. 

What are the evidences for such an interpretation of Locke? 
As one follows Locke's analysis of knowledge, he does become 
aware that Locke is not adhering consistently to his initial 
description of the mind as a blank sheet of paper, if we are 
to take the metaphor literally. The bare items of knowledge, 
however well accounted for, do not of themselves entirely ex- 
plain the "knowledge." The merely passive "capacity" takes on 
character and proves to be a very definite kind of activity.' 
Indeed, we find Locke directing our minds "to the consideration 
of God and spirits for the clearest idea of active power." For, 
says he significantly, though "active powers make so great a 
part of our complex ideas of natural substances ; and I mention 
them as such according to common apprehension ;" yet they are 
not, perhaps, "so truly active powers as our hasty thoughts 
are apt to represent them" (II, xxi, § 2). Locke speaks of think- 
ing as what "in the propriety of the English tongue, signifies 
that sort of operation in the mind about its ideas, wherein the 
mind is active" (II, ix, §1). In this same passage he seems 
to imply that, after all, the mind is to be regarded as passive 
chiefly in the relative sense that "what it perceives, it cannot 
avoid perceiving;" but he states that even "in bare, naked per- 
ception" the mind is not entirely, but only "for the most part" 


passive. Locke constantly speaks of the mind as the seat of 
operations, of which we become conscious in reflection. The 
mind may not have innate "ideas," but it has natural, and so 
innate "faculties," "fitted by nature to receive and judge" of 
that with which they are "duly employed" (I, iii, §24). We 
find that the mind has the power of "elaborating" in myriad 
ways the ideas involuntarily received. The understanding can 
abstract and generalize ideas in ways different from their group- 
ings and aggregations in the involuntary experience of sense; — 
indeed, it is in this way it often falls into error. In speaking 
of the ideas, Locke writes to Stillingfleet that he purposes to con- 
sider among other things "what use the mind makes of them 
in its several ways of thinking" (Second Letter, p. 72). Actual 
knowledge must be acquired; but the power to know is innate. 
Thomas Burnet, in his third letter in the form of a pamphlet 
criticising Locke, asks whether he "allows any powers to be 
innate to mankind." In the margin of this pamphlet found among 
Locke's papers, is found this note in his hand-writing: "I 
think noe body but this author who ever read my book could 
doubt that I spoke only of innate ideas; for my subject was the 
understanding, and not of innate powers" (See "Marginalia 
Lockeana" by Noah Porter, in New Englander and Yale Revieiv, 
July, 1887). A" advocate of the "intellectualism" of Locke could 
well cite passages where we are told that sense-perception simul- 
taneously reveals both ego and non-ego, and could assert with 
some show of reason that here is unconsciously hinted the co- 
operative power of mind, not absolutely alien to the Kantian 
view. Certainly Locke does admit self-evident principles, upon 
which all demonstration rests. He says in the Third Letter to 
Stillingfleet: "I contend for the usefulness and necessity of 
self-evident propositions in all certainty, whether of intuition, 
or of demonstration" (p. 286). Again he says, "I make self- 
evident propositions necessary to certainty, and found all knowl- 


edge or certainty in them" (p. 340). Locke seems to forsake 
his mere temporal apriority for a logical apriority when he 
says further that whether these self-evident principles come into 
view of the mind sooner or later, this is true of them, that they 
are all known by their native evidences. Thus, while Locke 
denies innate ideas, he does seem to make room for some sort 
of intellectual necessity. "He would be thought void of common- 
sense, who, asked on the one side or on the other, went about 
to give a reason why it is impossible for the same thing to be and 
not to be. It carries its own light and evidence with it and needs 
no other proof" (I, ii, § 4). Such a principle, Locke implies, 
is independent of experiential proof, although it may not become 
evident save in the course of experience. 

Other traces of a recognition of the activity of mind are 
found in the account of complex ideas as "inventions" of the 
understanding, — ideas formed by the soul through its power of 
combination. In the chapter, "Of Complex Ideas," Locke added 
in the fourth edition, "As the mind is wholly passive in the 
reception of all its simple ideas, so it exerts several acts of its y 
own, whereby out of its simple ideas, as the materials and 
foundations of the rest, the others are framed^' (II, xii, § i). 
Locke's insistence that the units of knowledge are the relations 
between ideas and not the ideas themselves, might lead us to 
expect a conscious implication of the active power of comparing 
at least, especially when we find him speaking of "comparing" 
as an "operation of the mind about its ideas" (II, xi, §4). 

But to search out and present all the interesting indications 
of this side of Locke's thinking would mean the compiling of a 
volume or two. It has been noted that Locke more distinctly 
recognizes the intellectual elements in the last book of the Essay ; 
and this is somewhat doubtfully explained by Dr. von Hertling 
as a result of the gradually modifying influence of the Cambridge 
thinkers {John Locke und die Schule von Cambridge: 1893). 


It is sufficient to see now, what was forecast at the beginning, 
that Locke is not the radical empiricist he apparently sets out to 
be ; that, under his treatment, the human understanding gradually 
becomes active in spite of him. The mind is not satisfied with 
merely beholding the puppets of its ideas come and go; it arises 
and bestows upon them life, and the complex of the living drama. 

Now what shall we conclude? No one can deny that Locke 
pronounces a series of assumptions which have no validity apart 
from the validity of a priori cognition. This was predicted as 
one of the dialectical results of empiricism. For instance, in 
letters to Stillingfleet, as well as in his demonstration of God 
in the Essay (IV, x.), Locke assumes the universality and nec- 
essity of the causal principle. "Everything that has a beginning 
must have a cause, is a true principle of reason which we come 
to know by perceiving that the idea of beginning to be is necessar- 
ily connected with the idea of some operation; and the idea 
of operation with something operating, which we call a cause" 
(First Letter to Stillingfleet, p. 135). Again, Locke gives us 
absolutely necessary relations in pure mathematics and in ab- 
stract ethics : unconditional certainties which he thinks may most 
deeply be called "knowledge ;" and speaks, in a reply to Lowde, 
of the eternal and immutable nature of right and wrong. 

But although Locke in these and in scores of other vital 
statements silently assumes the fact and the validity of a priori 
cognition, he is not at all conscious of this assumption in its 
true import. He did not question his assumptions sufficiently to 
know their implications; and to say that while denying innate 
ideas he affirms, nevertheless, a priori elements in experience, is 
to urge Locke further than he ever went, — however willingly 
he would have gone, had he lived to be shown the way by the 
great Konigsberger. While affirming the mind's "capacity," 
Locke never deeply asked just what this capacity meant. While 
asserting the mind's "activity," he never asked the question 


which would have transfigured vague "activity" into an episte- 
mological asset of critical worth. He tells us at the very thresh- 
old of his search that he will not trouble himself to examine 
wherein the essence of the mind consists. A score of paths 
might have led him from the path he trod to the center of 
knowledge; but he passed them by, — indeed he perceived them 
not. Perception itself challenged him to solve its riddle, but he 
was content to call it inexplicable, saying, "How it is that I 
perceive, I confess I understand not." Had he examined per- 
ception deeply, he might have found that there are no "simple" 
ideas. He should have searched the real meaning of his com- 
plex ideas ; and then he might have seen that mere experience, 
at best, can give us only a sum of simple ideas, an aggregation, 
possibly a "compound," but never that new thing called a "com- 
plex." He ignores the combinative aspect of judgment. He 
should have guessed the significance of the helplessness of em- 
piricism in the attempt to account consistently for the complex 
idea of "substance." It does not come ab extra. Space is a 
generalization? But how is generalization itself possible? "Im- 
mensity" implies the intellectual obligation to add without limit 
(n, xiii, § 4) ; how could such an obligation come through the 
gates of sense? Suppose a person who has not the notion of 
Infinity; he starts to find it; will he ever get it? What is it in 
the mind that makes it necessary for us to form the idea of "Pow- 
er" wherever "change" is seen? (II, xxi, §3). Granted that 
self-evident principles are not consciously innate, and that they 
are "discovered" and are at once self-evident: what is really in- 
volved in their self-evidence? What is their nature and origin? 
Locke makes much of language in the processes of knowledge. 
The universal becomes a trick of speech. Nominalism is an easy 
outcome of empiricism. But what about the mental operation 
that makes the trick of speech possible? Locke is everywhere 


conscious that the knowledge of which he can really assure us is 
far from fulfilling the intellectual ideal: whose ideal? And 
whence came it? 

Locke never answers these questions ; indeed, he never deep- 
ly asks them. Yet they are questions which, if asked, find their 
adequate answer only in the affirmation of a priori knowledge. 
Or, on the other hand, one believing in the a priori would not 
have left these problems unanswered, or at any rate untrans- 

Thus, though Locke's approach is epistemological, he never 
comes in sight of the central problem of epistemology. To put 
him in the school of the apriorists is a logical anachronism; just 
as to account him too absolutely among the empiricists is to shut 
one's eyes. His only definite conception of "innateness" was so 
restricted and, in his view, so important to refute, that he ignored 
the deeper meaning of innateness contended for in many forms 
and with varying success from Plato to Kant and Hegel. So that 
Hegel could say, criticising Locke in his History of Philosophy, 
that the true significance of innate principles "is that they are 
implicit, that they are essential moments in the nature of thought, 
qualities of a germ which do not yet exist : only in relation to this 
last is there an element of truth in Locke's conclusions.'' Locke's 
view of mind is static, not dynamic. He is so interested in what 
the mind has that he ignores what it does. So he attacks innate- 
ness only in its crudest form. He neglects the deeper question 
partly because he is not well enough acquainted with philoso- 
phy's history, and partly because his overweening interest in the 
concrete of physical experience shuts him out from critical 
insight into experience as resolved into implicates. He is guilty 
of an overemphasis that blinds. He sees clearly that one must 
stop trying to know the world independent of any experience 
of it; this is so true that he comes near thinking that it is tlie 
whole truth. His is a reaction against apriorism run wild. 


In this reaction, experience is seen to be so necessary for thought, 
that the thinking is forgotten. 

Perhaps it is idle to ask what Locke would have said had 
he been confronted with Kant's doctrine of the a priori. He 
would surely have recognized the illumination of a new ques- 
tion, and would not have answered it hastily. He would not 
have found here all the difficulties and dangers he found lurk- 
ing in the "innate ideas." 

But as it is, we have no verdict from Locke on the question, 
one way or another. It has been justly said that Locke is a 
magnificent confusion of all philosophers ; he is not greatly 
troubled with consistency, the "bugbear of little minds." It is 
to be regretted that so many commentators have insisted on tak- 
ing sides in opposite interpretations. In Locke, we see the "im- 
pHcations" of several positions; but for a philosopher to imply 
a position is very different from consciously and consistently an- 
nouncing it. Let us be content to say that in Locke we have 
implications of idealism; and, much more obviously, implications 
of empiricism. It is easiest to ignore him on his idealistic side; 
for his rather suppressed belief in an active self was held so un- 
critically and with such annulling modifications. The meta- 
physical reality Locke believes in does not play much of a part 
in the development of his system. He was in keeping with the 
age he helped to make. After the Renaissance, idealism, how- 
ever much implied, was not greatly carried out. The "carrying 
out" was realistic. 

Locke thus left the way open for the statement of various 
views utterly incompatible with freedom or moral responsibili- 
ty, — incompatible in short with moral personality. 

What are these views? The view most intimately involved 
in the failure to recognize the a priori is that which forms 
Locke's characteristic message, — namely, the limited character 
cf human knowledge. In placing these limits, Locke's empiri- 


cism is most plainly manifest; and here is revealed a partial, 
though only partial, insight into the logical results of avowedly 
empiristic premises. Man stands between omniscience on the 
one hand, and nescience on the other. The Essay seems to start 
with this presupposition of limits ; the chief thing is to decide 
just what those limits are, and then to find the foundation of 
assent to those probabilities which are made to play so large a 
part in practical life. We shall find this assent based on a deep 
belief in the rationality of the universe. Locke holds that reality 
is ever reasonable, but that the human understanding is not big 
enough to grasp it utterly. God's knowledge indeed is infinite; 
but ours is finite. 

For Locke is an ontological dualist. He shuns the sol- 
ipsistic result he thinks he sees in certain continental thinkers; 
we must have an outer reality independent of the knower. Both 
substratic realities are in the last resort inscrutable. The self in 
which the qualities of mind inhere is, as we have seen, the for- 
ever unknown self. Matter in its essence is a mystery, despite 
knowable primary qualities. Substance, thus, is an incalculable 
factor which vitiates the supposition of any absolute science in 
the world of nature. Knowledge is limited to the deliverances 
present in sense, or remembered as once present. Depending 
always upon the incomplete, knowledge itself is forever incom- 
plete. We have no absolutely predictive science. There is no 
"certain knowledge of universal truths concerning natural bodies" 
(IV, iii, § 25). "I am apt to doubt that, how far soever human 
industry may advance useful and experimental philosophy in 
physical things, scientifical will still be out of our reach" (IV, 
iii, §26). 

Locke's chapter, "Of the Extent of Human Knowledge," 
is full of this modest doubt regarding the necessary validity of 
induction, — a doubt which, in some of its phrasings, makes us 
think of Hume. Perhaps the following declaration toward the 


close of the chapter is as characteristic and unequivocal as any: 
"We are so far from being able to comprehend the whole nature 
of the universe, and all the things contained in it, that we are 
not capable of a philosophic knowledge of the bodies that are 
about us, and make a part of us; concerning their secondary 
qualities, powers and operations, we can have no universal cer- 
tainty. Several effects come every day within the notice of our 
senses, of which we have so far sensitive knowledge; but the 
causes, manner, and certainty of their production, for the two 
foregoing reasons, we must be content to be very ignorant of. 
In these we can go no further than particular experience in- 
forms us of matters of fact, and by analogy to guess what ef- 
fects the like bodies are, upon other trials, likely to produce. 
But as to a perfect science of natural bodies (not to mention 
spiritual beings), we are, I think, so far from being capable of 
any such thing, that I conclude it lost labor to seek after it" 
(IV, iii, §29). 

Of course, in all this, Locke is more consistent with his 
empiricism than many a modern who, while shunning idealism, 
still holds to induction as giving the highest conceivable cer- 

But the denial of the attainment of absolute necessity in 
the realm of natural law means the utter paralysis of all calcu- 
lable action, and thus sounds the death of freedom. Experience 
loses all power of teaching. No one can be morally responsible 
for carrying out a purpose in a world, however rational, whose 
rationality he cannot fathom. Still more deeply, such a world, 
so far as it has a law, reveals the knower as subject to it and not 
the eternal and sovereign legislator of that law. And with 
Locke the hurt is incurable; it arises from man's nature as 

Locke himself did not consider the absence of a certain 
knowledge of nature a fatal defect. Absolute certainty is not 


what we finite beings require. We are too proud; we soar too 
high. Practical certainty is enough; and that, insists Locke, is 
ours. We should not "peremptorily or intemperately require 
demonstration and demand certainty where probability only is to 
be had, and which is suflficient to govern all our concernments" 
(Introduction, §5). This kingdom of probability, as has been 
mentioned, Locke builds on faith in the rationality and morality 
of the universe, — a faith which is at the last faith in God. Even 
a miracle is irrational only to us. Most of our actions are in the 
light of these "presumptive" probabilities. 

How faith in the rationality of the universe can be made 
a rational faith; whether, in the carrying out of our moral pur- 
poses we would not soon despair if our action were really based 
upon mere probabilities ; and how probability itself is determined 
as such without the idea of perfect knowledge, Locke does not 
tell us. Had he considered these questions thoroughly, he might 
have seen that the candle he gives us not only does not shine 
^'bright enough for all our purposes," but itself sputters out, — 
and with no eternal flame to lend it light. Our "concernments" 
are greater than Locke thought ; either they are the concernments 
of persons requiring eternal knowledge, or all concernment 

In my introductory remarks I tried to make it plain that 
real ethical personality precludes all derivation of the self from 
merely efficient causation. For, as efficiently caused, persons are 
lost in the chain of necessity where moral responsibility is im- 
possible. It was also anticipated that the only way of escape 
is with Kant, to regard the self as not conditioned by nature's 
law, but as giving to nature her law. The logical carrying out 
of this view, as was indicated, can assign to the self who creates 
causation by its categories no efficient origin in time. Locke 
was not at variance with the traditional Hebrew theology which 
teaches that souls were efficiently created by the fiat of God. He 


expressly speaks of spirits as "created spirits'' (II, xxi, §2). 
Indeed, in so far as he adduces a proof of the mere fact of God, 
he bases it on the principle that what begins must be caused ; and 
man began, — so he must be caused. "What was not from eter- 
nity had a beginning; and what had a beginning must have been 
produced by something else" (IV, x, § 3). Locke was not blind 
to the fact that all this is inconsistent with human freedom. A 
most significant passage on the subject appears in a letter to 
Molyneux (Jan. 20, 1693) in which he says: "Though I cannot 
have a clearer conception of anything than that I am free, — yet 
I cannot make freedom in man consistent with omnipotence and 
omniscience in God ; though I am as fully persuaded of both as 
of any truths I most firmly assent to. And therefore I have 
long since given off the consideration of this question, resolv- 
ing all into this short conclusion : — that if it be possible for God 
to make a free agent, then man is free ; though I see not the way 
of it." 

It is greatly to Locke's credit that he saw and frankly 
confessed the absolute inconsistency of freedom with creation- 
ism. No one since Locke's day has made the inconsistency dis- 
appear, save by calling upon a mystic omnipotence, just as Locke 
did, — and then the inconsistency is only concealed, not solved. 
Even if we overlook the logic of our creation by God's fiat, 
of what worth is our individual being, and how is our moral task 
possible, when our assurance of continuance after the death 
of the body is dependent not only upon His revelation, but upon 
His arbitrary will? 

It is only carrying this Hebraism a little further when we 
are told that "Moral good and evil is only the conformity or 
disagreement of our voluntary actions to some law, whereby 
good or evil is drawn on us, from the will and power of the 
lawmaker; which good and evil, pleasure or pain, attending our 
observance or breach of the law by the decree of the lawmaker, 


is that we call reward and punishment" (II, xxviii, §5). We 
almost think we are reading a line from the hymnology of Israel 
when we find Locke declaring: "We are His creatures — for 
nobody can take us out of His hands" (II, xxviii, § 8). It was 
not altogether unfitting that among the last words Locke heard 
were those read from the Psalms of David. But such a pious 
rigorism as Locke gives us destroys even its own law, because it 
ultimately demands the utter sacrifice of the subjects that make 
it possible. In such a view, the last trace of moral autonomy 
disappears ; or more correctly, the conception of moral autonomy 
has not yet been born. 

In view of these various positions inimical to any real moral 
freedom, and thus to any real ethical personality, we are not 
surprised to find Locke somewhat troubled when he comes to 
deal explicitly with freedom, in the long chapter, ''Of Power," 
already cited. There, we have seen, Locke aimed to give us the 
freedom of alternatives. He failed by making the will determin- 
ed at last by natural necessity, in the name of "uneasiness," or 
the desire for happiness. At best, his later modifications of view, 
when considered in the light of our investigations of his general 
epistemological position, do not give us a will self-determined 
by reason, but a will whose determination has reason as one of 
its conditions. Even Webb (in his Intellectiialism of Locke, 
p. 148) makes Locke's liberty "glide down the slope of motives 
into the chasm of necessity." And Eraser notes near the end of 
the chapter "Of Power" that, "Naturalism, or the universal ap- 
plicability of physical causation as an adequate account of the 
voluntary determinations of spiritual agents equally with events 
in the material world, notwithstanding his vacillations, is Locke's 
implied principle." 


Sufficient has now been said to show that Locke's empi- 
ricism does not consistently guarantee us any satisfactory ethical 
personality. Further, it ought to appear that the inadequacies 
which have emerged are due to a failure to understand the real 
question about the a priori and thus either silently to assume 
such cognition, or to be lost in contradictions which loudly call 
for it. That Locke does not apprehend what it means to be 
rationally self -active I have attempted to show mainly by call- 
ing attention to his emphasis on the superficial meaning of innate- 
ness. Of course, as a necessary result, an "eternal" person is 
a conception he never reaches. Eternity is made a mode of du- 
ration, along with hours, days, years (II, xiv, § i). Eternity 
is simply duration without bounds. Thus, "eternal" in the sense 
of supertemporal is not conceived as belonging even to the Per- 
fect Person: who dwells in time, though it is infinite time; and 
in space, though it is infinite space. 

Locke is so many-sided that he is full of surprises. Although 
it has not been difficult to show that in the main he has not only 
left ethical personality unguaranteed, but has not even conceived 
it deeply, it is only just to add that his jealousy for moral free- 
dom often gives him flashes of the deeper metaphysical conditions 
of freedom. In a posthumous writing, we find him criticising 
Malebranche in a way to suggest the bearings of monism on 
freedom, — saying that to explain the perception of sensible things 
as perception of divine ideas, is to lose our own power and per- 
sonality in God's ; and with this our moral responsibility. "This 
is the hypothesis that clears doubts, but brings us at last to the 
religion of Hobbes and Spinoza; by resolving all, even the 
thoughts and wills of men, into an irresistible, fatal necessity" 
'{Remarks on Some of Mr. Morris's Books, Wherein He As- 
serts P. Malebranche' s Opinion of Seeing All Things in God). 
This passage also hints what Locke might have said to the sys- 
tem of Berkeley. 


Yet this eternal, self-active and only sufficing sense of the 
person, which Locke ignored was needed to make possible even 
that sort of personality he does give us, and even what knowl- 
edge is conceived within our reach. For, of course, there can 
be no thinking at all, even within Lockean limits, without cate- 
gories, which find their meaning in the ultimate unity of the 
rational self. Locke affirms and denies; he discerns differences 
and identities to make possible his sense of judgment as com- 
parison of two different things. We have seen that he does not 
always avoid judgments involving the necessity of the causal 
nexus ; his Substance is causality run mad. Above all, he cannot 
even make the bare statement, which is his primal one, that all 
our ideas are derived from sense, without involving something 
more than mere experience in the assertion. For we can at once 
turn upon Locke and ask him : How can you, on your principles, 
certainly make out this statement? Hoiv can you get over the 
millions of ideas we have and make this universal judgment about 
ideas f 

But I have already dwelt on this aspect of Locke in a man- 
ner quite sufficient for my purpose. To say that Locke unwit- 
tingly invokes a deeper conception of the person, even to make his 
partial conception intelligible, is simply to state that no partial 
truth is true if it is merely partial. A personal identity, such as 
Locke gives us, calls upon memory; but memory itself presup- 
poses an absolutely self-identical self. Then, with regard to the 
existence of other minds, Locke is content to say: "That there 
are minds and thinking beings in other men as well as himself, 
every man has a reason, from their words and actions to be satis- 
fied" (IV, iii, §27). But this common-sense unquestioning of 
the existence of other minds, each specifically itself, must find 
its rational vindication. Vitally interested in questions of social 
polity, Locke's empiricism never sees that which makes the social 
regard fundamentally possible and eternally imperative. Whether 


empiricism can ever see this unaided can await the treatment of 
Berkeley and Hume. 

Again, Locke's faith in the immortality of the self is vindi- 
cated on no empirical grounds. His empiricism nowhere saves 
the self from being a mere "event." Stillingfleet saw deeper 
when he urged Locke to prove immortality from the very nature 
of tlie soul, — a task from which Locke piously and reprovingly 
withdraws, to make room for God's omnipotence. 

Even if Locke had clearly seen the bearings of his episte- 
molog}^ on ethics, it is doubtful that it would have troubled him 
greatly. It would have been interesting to see just what sort of 
ethics he would have formulated had he seriously set about it. 
Urged to address himself to the subject more thoroughly, he 
considered it long; but his was a busy life, and at last he was 
content with saying that the Gospel is enough. The same answer 
no doubt contented him in the face of any inadequacies or any 
contradictions of his position with reference to the great verities. 
Whether he could rationally justify it or not, Locke believed in 
a religion in the very center of whose doctrine is the message 
of the eternal worth of the spiritual self, — the self that is worth 
more than "the whole world"; which is free through the truth, 
and whose supreme duty is to recognize other selves as equally 
eternal and free; with the perfect God as the ideal of all, love 
toward whom illuminates that love which souls reciprocally be- 
stow upon one another. For while Locke may not have looked 
upon Christianity in the light of all these involvings, he was more 
than a nominal Christian. He writes on the reasonableness of 
Christianity; early in life he entertains the ideal of restoring 
Christianity to its original simplicity; his dying words bespeak 
his "sincere communion with the whole Church of Christ, by 
whatever names Christ's followers call themselves." 

So Locke believes in the meaning and worth of persons 
more deeply than the limits of his philosophy will admit. A 


person is always greater than any of the reasonings by which he 
denies himself. 

The negative results to which we have come in the study 
of personality as treated by Locke are inevitable outcomes of the 
nature of his method and the express character of his limited 
purpose. He is imbued from the first with the spirit of science 
rather than with the spirit of metaphysics. The beginning of his 
external career as an empirical enquirer in the study of medicine 
becomes typical of his subsequent mode of regard. Those whom 
he esteems "master-builders" in the "Epistle to the Reader," — ■ 
Boyle, Sydenham, Huygenius, and "the incomparable Mr. New- 
ton," were all men with scientific rather than metaphysical in- 
terests. Locke aims to be an "under-laborer" in the same realm, 
"clearing the ground a little and removing some of the rubbish 
that lies in the way to knowledge." It would seem that a search 
into the final grounds of induction would have been an important 
task in this clearing of the ground, but Locke avoids the inquiry. 
He is not primarily interested in speculative questions ; they may 
be all very well, most alluring mysteries, but Locke prefers the 
practical world of fact as of fundamental importance. Thus it is 
as he truthfully announces, — his is the "historical plain method." 
In that phrase is told the story of Locke's greatness, but of his 
inadequacy as well. The "historical plain method," taken by 
itself, is thoroughly helpless for discovering the real meaning of 
knowing, or for proving the reality of persons. The history of 
consciousness will never show how consciousness is possible. As 
Lord Shaftesbury well remarks : "What has birth or the 
progress of the foetus to do in this case?" Description can never 
be complete and it merely presents what needs itself to be ex- 
plained. So the origin of ideas is not logically explained by 
tracing their temporal rise in man's conscious life. No super- 
temporal self will ever be found in mere observation of the tem- 
poral. The logical is not explained by the chronological. Locke 


observes the understanding as a fact among other facts in a world 
of time and space without asking what makes possible such 
facts. He likes the introspective method of Descartes; but he 
looks inward with the eye of sense, and not with logic's inter- 
pretative vision. 

The result of all this is that we have no critical analysis 
of knowing. We are told zuhat is, or what appears to be, but 
are not told zvhy it is. Locke himself consciously circumscribes 
his aim when he says in the Introduction that it will suffice to 
his "present purpose to consider the discerning faculties of a 
man as they are employed about the objects which they have to 
do with." Of course the historical plain method of observa- 
tion does not, as such, take us beyond sensation and reflection. 
If the results of the method are taken as giving any answer re- 
garding the nature of knowing, in that answer the intelligible is 
inevitably reduced to the sensible. 

The fact is that Locke's presupposition about "substance" de- 
termines for him the limitations of his method. When the 
nature of spirit is inscrutable at the outset ; when inquiry con- 
cerning its real character is dismissed as irrelevant, — the only 
"method" left us is, of course, the historical plain method. This 
view of unknowable substance at "the basis of the material and 
spiritual worlds must be reconsidered before we can progress fur- 
ther toward a real knowledge of anything, — let alone a real 
knowledge of the knower. 

Yet, even in Locke's restricted method we can see an im- 
portant step toward the recognition of real personality. If this 
question is one which keen epistemological inquiry can best il- 
lumine, we must not withhold credit from one who is the first 
of moderns definitely to attack the question concerning what we 
can know, — even if he did not sufficiently ask the deeper ques- 
tion concerning how we can know. This latter question was not 
critically considered until Kant, who it should be remembered, 


carefully read and admired his English predecessor, although he 
does not name him as often as he does Hume. Kant's admira- 
tion is most eloquently revealed in the fact that the form of his 
own great Kritik is modelled on that of the Essay. 


berkelet's view of personality 

The logical approach to Berkeley is the approach through 
Locke, however much historians of philosophy have tended to 
separate the two men by all the difference of two contrasted 
schools. Such idealism as can be attributed to Berkeley is bom 
of a criticism of the realism of his predecessor ; a criticism made 
possible not so much by a principle of Berkeley's origination as 
by principles already enunciated by Locke. It is Hegel, with his 
ever-illuminating insight into the inner relations of historic sys- 
tems, who rightly gives as the logical first sentence of his lecture 
on Berkeley: "This Idealism, in which all external reality dis- 
appears, has before it the standpoint of Locke, and it proceeds 
directly from him'' (History of Philosophy, tr. by Haldane, Vol. 
Ill, p. 364). 

This logical derivation of Berkeley from Locke is supported 
by the known fact that the Essay was the subject of Berkeley's 
serious study at Trinity College, Dublin. The Essay is obviously 
in mind throughout the pages of the Common Place Book, begun 
when Berkeley was a young man of twenty (1705). In the 
Principles of Human Knowledge, published five years later, the 
Essay' is still the regnant inspiration, even when the argument 
looks toward the negation of some of Locke's fundamental views. 
And in Siris, the more constructive expression of Berkeley's 
mature thought, one is constantly reminded of the spirit that 
first set Berkeley to thinking. 

However close may be the relationship between Locke and 
Berkeley, we find the fundamental message of the latter ap- 
parently very divergent from that of his predecessor, — a diverg- 



ence of a character calculated to make us suppose that at last 
we have come to a thinker who will guarantee to us the ultimate 
reality of spirits. For whereas Locke told us there are two 
fundamental substantial realities, material on the one hand, and 
spiritual on the other, Berkeley announces that what is real must 
be resolved to spirits and their ideas. In order to see this 
proposition as Berkeley saw it, we must note how he was led to 
it by a consideration of Locke's views. 

That which had troubled Locke most was his complex idea 
of Substance. Strictly adhering to his doctrine of the source 
of ideas, the idea of this mystic but indispensable "something 
I know not what" could not be justified. Yet to his spiritual 
and material "substrates" Locke felt he must hold as to un- 
questionably "real existences;" indeed, with Locke, Substance is, 
after all, what we mean by the ultimately real, — a reality that 
merely finite minds can never adequately fathom. To be true, 
Locke had said that we do have ideas which represent primary 
or real qualities in this mystic substrate, but by far the greater 
number of qualities perceived — the "secondary" — are to be re- 
garded as subjective, although in some way dependent upon 
primary qualities. 

This discussion about secondary as distinguished from pri- 
mary qualities in the ''real existence" of outer substance is a 
hint which Berkeley is not slow in following. What, after all, 
do we mean by "real existence?" What is it to be? In the 
X^ommon Place Book we find a remark which is the key to Berke- 
ley's initial search ; he jots down : "Cause of much errour & 
confusion that men knew not what was meant by Reality" (cf. 
Principles, § 89). 

Locke had not discussed this question. Can there be any 
reality independent of perceiving mind? How can ideas be rep- 
resentative of that which is utterly independent and different 
from the ideas themselves? If ideas had such a representative 


power (which is inconceivable), how could we know it? How 
could we compare ideas with the independent reality they repre- 
sent in order to ascertain their truth? 

In all this Berkeley is not denying the reality of what we 
call the material world; but he wants to know what that reahty 
means. He concludes that there can be no primary qualities 
in the Lockean sense; that "nothing can be hke a sensation or 
idea but a sensation or idea"; that so far as the outer world 
has "real existence," it consists in being perceived by mind. 
It is not a world in itself. If it has any reality apart from its 
perception by finite minds, it must be a reality derived from the 
mind of God. This fundamental conception of the reality of 
the outer world is forcibly presented toward the very beginning 
of the Principles: "Some truths there are so near and obvious 
to the mind that a man need only open his eyes to see them. 
Such I take this important one to be, viz., that all the choir of | 
heaven and furniture of the earth, in a word all those bodies \ 
which compose the mighty frame of the world, have not any 
subsistence without a mind, that their being is to be perceived or 

Of course this means the assumption of a mind or minds 
to do that perceiving which gives to all that is not mind the 
only reality it possesses. Ideas (and Berkeley includes sensa- 
tions under "ideas") are passive and have no power of them- 
selves to produce or to change ideas. "To be satisfied of the 
truth of this, there is nothing else requisite but a bare observa- 
tion of our id^as" (Principles,.^ 25). "There is therefore some 
cause of these ideas, whereon they depend, and which produces 
and changes them. That this cause, cannot be any quality or 
idea or combination of ideas, is clear." "It must therefore be a 
substance; but it has been shewn that there is no corporeal or 
material substance; it remains therefore that the cause of ideas 
is an incorporeal active Substance or Spirit" (Principles, § 26). 


Merely noting, for the time being, the interesting fact that 
here we have an argument apparently based on the necessity 
of the causal principle, we see that Berkeley lays it down as his 
general proposition that "human knowledge may naturally be 
reduced to two heads — that of ideas and that of Spirits" (Prin- 
ciples, § 86), and that he so far agrees with Locke as to conceive 
Spirit as Substance; though for Berkeley "there is. -not any otber— 
Substance than. Spirit, or that which perceives" (Principles, § 7). 

In the third edition of the Dialogues Between Hylas and 
Philonous, Hylas makes the significant objection that the same 
reasons which obtained against the affirmation of material sub- 
stance apply with regard to spiritual substance as well, since 
the ground for rejecting the former is that we can have no idea 
of it; and Philonous has admitted that "spirits are a sort of 
beings altogether different from ideas'^ (Vol. I, p. 449). To 
this Philonous answers that he does not deny material substance 
merely because he has no idea of it, but because the very "defini- 
tion'j^.^of_ material substance involves an inconsistency or "re- 
pugnance," which does not inhere in the supposition of spirit. 
"That ideas should exist in what doth not perceive, or be pro- 
duced by what doth not act, is repugnant. But it is no repug- 
nancy to say that a perceiving thing should be the subject of 
ideas, or an active thing the cause of them." 

Aside from the negative fact that the supposition of spiritual 
substance is not open to the charge of inconsistency, Berkeley 
further asserts its reality partly on the ground of intuitive cer- 
tainty ("I know what is meant by the terms / and myself; and 
I know this immediately or intuitively". Vol. I, p. 447), and 
partly on inference from the fact of ideas and their changes, as 
shown above (Principles, § 26). 

We have already noted that Locke did not appreciate the 
meaning of the "Cogito ergo sum" of Descartes. Nor does 
Berkeley consciously adopt it, also showing a misapprehension 


of its real import when he sets down in his Common Place Book, 
" 'Cogito ergo sum.' Tautology. No mental proposition answer- 
ing thereto" (Vol. I, p. 44), — a sentence written in the shadows 
of Trinity College, where Descartes was an acknowledged au- 
thority. Suppose it is a "tautology?" Was Berkeley bothered 
by Descartes' "ergo," supposing an inference to be intended? 
In reality, Berkeley is getting very near the best there is in the 
"Cogito" when he says, no doubt with Descartes in mind, 
"Whoever shall go about to divide in his thoughts or abstract 
the existence of a spirit from its cogitation, will, I believe, find 
it no easy task" (Principles, § 98). 

We recall that Locke had held that spiritual substance (as 
material substance) is inscrutable; that, indeed, the human under- 
standing cannot even ascertain whether the soul is spiritual or 
material, since God might bestow the power of thinking upon 
matter; that, after all, the question is not of vital importance 
to our concerns. It is here that Berkeley differs profoundly. 
To Berkeley, it does make all the difference in the world 
whether, soul-substance is matter or spirit; and, having shown 
the irresolvable inconsistency in supposing a matter-substance, 
he did away with the open doubt that Locke had left, in his 
deference to the omnipotence of God. On the very title-page 
of the Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous^ Berkeley 
states as part of his design, "plainly to demonstrate . . . the 
Incorporeal Nature of the Soul." 

This much we know then : that spirit exists and that it can- 
not be lost in any material substrate. Can we know aught 
further of this substance? Here we must pause to observe a 
distinction Berkeley makes between having an "idea" and hav- 
ing a "notion" of spirit, the latter alone being regarded possible. 
We cannot have any idea of spirit, for "that this substance which 
supports or perceives ideas should itself be an idea, or like an 
idea, is evidently absurd" (Principles, § 135). 


In Berkeley's argument to show why we cannot be said 
to have an "idea" of spirit, there emerges what spirit essentially 
is. Indeed the known nature of spirit as such is always given 
as the very reason why we can have no idea of it. An idea is 
inactive and since its very existence consists in being perceived, 
it is dependent. But spirits are active and subsist by themselves 
{Principles, § 137). The esse of ideas is percipi: the esse 
of spirits is percipere. How can an idea, which can neither 
will, nor think, nor perceive be like a spirit, which does? '^And 
there remains nothing else wherein the idea can be like a spirit. 
For by the word spirit we mean only that which thinks, wills 
and perceives ; this and this alone constitutes the signification of 
that term" (Principles, § 138). 

Thus Berkeley holds that the term "spirit" signifies a real 
thing, though it is not an "idea." He is somewhat at loss what 
to call it. He sees that the word "spirit" has for him a definite 
meaning, and suggests that "in a large sense indeed, we may be 
said to have an 'idea' of spirit." In the first edition of the 
Principles the term "notion" was used interchangeably with 
"idea," but in the second edition Berkeley adds a paragraph 
in which he proposes to call spirit a "notion" and to confine the 
use of this term to spirit and to all relations, of which we can 
have no "idea." "I have some knowledge or notion of my mind 
and its acts about ideas; inasmuch as I know or understand 
what is meant by these words" (Principles, § 142). 

A spirit then is thinking, willing, perceiving, substance. "A 
Spirit is one simple, undivided, active being — as it per- 
ceives ideas it is called the understanding, and as it produces 
or otherwise operates about them it is called the wiU" (Princ- 
iples, § 27). Again, "I must include understanding and will in 
the word Spirit — by which I mean all that is active" (Common 
Place Book). In this we are reminded of Locke in so far 
as he mentioned thinking and willing as the qualities peculiar to 


In all these passages note that activity is the very essence 
of spirits with Berkeley, — that which differentiates them from 
their ideas. I have remarked that Locke obscurely presages 
the Berkeleyan view when he makes secondary qualities of matter 
subjective. He still more strongly prophesies Berkeley when he 
speaks, as he often does, of spiritual substances as the only 
active powers in the universe, matter being regarded as wholly 
passive (Essay, II, xxi, § 2). 

It should be observed that in a passage above quoted from 
the Principles, Berkeley speaks of a spirit as a "simple and 
undivided" being. In the third dialogue between Hylas and 
Philonous, Berkeley explains that he calls the soul indivisible 
"because unextended; and unextended, because extended, figured, 
moveable things are ideas ; and that which perceives ideas is 
plainly itself no idea, nor like an idea" (Vol. I, p. 448). 

If we are to infer from this that "mobility" is not to be 
ascribed to the soul, we find a divergence from Locke, who 
added to thinking and willing, as qualities peculiar to spirit, 
duration and mobility, which were regarded by him as common 
to both spirit and matter. Duration, however, Berkeley seems 
to apply to finite minds ; for apart from what is revealed by his 
view of the creation of finite spirits by God, and his notion of 
immortality as merely everlasting continuance, we find him speak- 
ing explicitly of the "duration" of finite spirits, which "must be 
estimated by the number of ideas or actions succeeding each 
other in the same spirit or mind'' (Principles, § 98). 

It will be remembered in this connection that Locke made 
even God a spaced and timed being, — only, God was conceived 
as occupying infinite time and infinite space. He is every- 
where, so that, on this account Locke said, there is no doubt of 
God's identity. In a letter to the Reverend Samuel Johnson, 
Berkeley is careful to explain not only that God is unextended; 
l)ut he goes on to say that "By the ' rd vuv ' I suppose to be im- 


plied that all things, past and to come, are actually present to 
the mind of God, and that there is in Him no change, variation, 
or succession. A succession of ideas I take to constitute Time, 
and not to be only the sensible measure thereof, as Mr. Locke 
and others think" (Vol. II, p. 19). In Siris, God is spoken 
of as a Spirit "distinct or separate from all sensible and cor- 
poreal beings" (Vol. Ill, p. 280). 

On the immortality of the soul Berkeley has considerable 
to say. A sermon written when he was twenty-three, on The 
'Revelation of Immortality seeks to vindicate the life and im- 
mortality brought to light in the Gospel. The subject turns up 
in various places in the Principles and in Alciphron. One 
of the articles in the Guardian is on "Natural Grounds to 
expect a Future State," and this title hints what it was Berke- 
ley's real interest to show, that the soul is, {n its very nature, 
immortal, — an interest Locke did not have, for which he was 
criticized by Stillingfleet who felt that in admitting that the 
soul may be immaterial, all natural proofs of immortality were 
made impossible. 

In the Principles Berkeley submits that the natural im- 
mortality of the soul is the direct consequence of its nature as 
indivisible, incorporeal, and unextended, all of which involves 
its incorruptibility. For "nothing can be plainer than that the 
motions, changes, decays, and dissolutions which we hourly see 
befall natural bodies — cannot possibly affect an active, simple, un- 
compounded substance: such a being therefore is indissoluble 
by the force of nature ; that is to say, the soul of man is naturally 
immortal" (Principles, § 142). 

Because man is naturally immortal is no reason in Berkeley's 
mind for saying that he is necessarily immortal ; for though the 
ordinary laws of nature cannot dissolve the soul, this is not to 
say that "the Creator who first gave it being" cannot annihilate 
it if he choose (Ibid.). 


Already we have come in sight of doctrines which have an 
obvious bearing on the question of moral freedom. Reserving 
until later our final decision as to whether Berkeley guarantees 
any real freedom, as well as the presentation of the contradic- 
tions inherent in the explicit statement of his view, it is well 
first to present just what that view is. 

While the nature of the will is discussed in various places 
in the Principles, freedom is the special theme of several sec- 
tions in the middle of the seventh dialogue in Alciphron, the 
work of Berkeley's middle life. Euphranor, who represents 
Berkeley's view, contends for human liberty as against the de- 
terminism which Alciphron urges as making impossible religion 
and morality. It is in examining the answers given by Euphranor 
to Alciphron's objections that Berkeley's view of freedom will 
best assert itself. 

Alciphron first objects that human liberty, which alone can 
vindicate moral responsibility, is impossible because volition is 
merely the mechanical effect of the striking of corporeal objects 
upon the organs of sense, — "communicated to the soul or animal 
spirit in the brain," in which is produced a determination which 
necessarily results in action. "This being the case, it follows that 
those things which vulgarly pass for human actions are to be 
esteemed mechancial, and that they are falsely ascribed to a free 
principle" {Alciphron, § i6). We think we are free, but in 
reality we are puppets, whose threads or wires are invisible. 

Euphranor willingly admits that this argument is pertinent 
enough in the case of one who concedes that the soul is corporeal ; 
but the soul is incorporeal, and so one cannot speak of it as 
being "moved." Much less then can he identify its volition with 
mechanical motion. "Motion and thought are two things as 
manifestly distinct as a triangle and a sound" {Ale, § i6). 

Alciphron now takes up a different line of argument. He 
strives to prove his point despite the supposition that the soul 


is incorporeal. The will is not free, for it is determined as the 
necessary result of a process of which everybody is conscious 
when he wills. This process is as follows: ''An object offers 
itself to the mind. First the understanding considers it; in the 
next place the judgment decrees about it, as a thing to be chosen 
or rejected, to be omitted or done in this or that manner; and 
this decree of the judgment doth necessarily deterniine the will, 
whose office is merely to execute what is ordained by another 
faculty; consequently there is no such thing as freedom of the 
will" (Ale., § 17). A perfectly free will, Alciphron argues, is a 
will that is controlled by nothing but itself: but the will is gov- 
erned by judgment and so is under a necessity imposed by some- 
thing foreign to itself. In fact, man has no faculty in which 
the principle of freedom obtains ; for every faculty is determined 
in all its acts by something foreign to it. The understanding is 
compelled to see its idea as it presents itself; the appetites are 
the subjects of natural necessity; even reason has its limits, for 
it "cannot infer indifferently anything from anything, but is lim- 
ited by the nature and connexion of things, and the eternal rules 
of reasoning" (Ale, § 17). 

It will be seen that Alciphron is conceiving of the will as a 
separate and independent "faculty," a mere "power," separated 
from reason, and whose true freedom, thus, is conceived as the 
freedom of utter indifference, or better, of caprice. 

As a final argument, Alciphron mentions the prescience of 
God as meaning predetermination, since what is foreknown will 
certainly be, and what is certain is necessary. 

Euphranor replies to this last point by merely stating that 
"certain" and "necessary" seem to him very different; the first 
does not involve the second in the sense of constraint ; and while 
an action may be foreseen, it may also be foreseen as the effect 
of choice. 


As to Alciphron's main argument, it is objected that all the 
perplexities raised are consequent upon abstracting and distin- 
guishing the actions of the mind, judgment and will. Euphranor 
says that he himself cannot abstract the decree of judgment from 
the command of the will ; but the terms used in the whole argu- 
ment, such as power, faculty, act, determination, freedom, neces- 
sity and the like, are used "as if they stood for distinct abstract 
ideas." Of course if we adopt the doctrine of abstract ideas 
we shall be able to raise a dust. But apart from such subtle 
distinctions, "it is evident to us in the gross and concrete" that 
we are free agents. In spite of all argument, I am indubitably 
conscious that I am "an active being who can and do determine 
myself." The plain man will confirm this. It is folly to puzzle 
ourselves with an attempt at a notion of freedom in the abstract. 

Furthermore, if we are free, we are plainly accountable. 
If you challenge this, "I shall make bold to depart from your 
metaphysical Abstracted Sense and appeal to the Common Sense 
of mankind" (Ale, § i8). Everyone knows that he acts and 
that what he acts he is accountable for. It isn't necessary to 
go into such subtle questions as "What determines the will?" It 
is enough to say that man, "acting according to his will, is to 
be accounted free." To go behind this and ask whether a man 
can will as he wills is absurd. According to received natural 
notions *'it is not doubted that man is accountable, that he acts, 
and is self-determined" (Ale, § 19). 

Looking at this defense of freedom as a whole, we see that 
the arguments for determinism are regarded as proceeding upon 
either of two false suppositions, — the corporeal nature of the 
soul, or the legitimacy of abstract ideas. The fact is, says 
Euphranor, as a fitting period to his defense, "the only original 
true notions that we have of freedom, agent, or action, are ob- 
tained by reflecting on ourselves and the operations of our own 
minds" (Ale, § 20). 


Berkeley's expressed views on freedom have been presented 
in such detail because the question has such vital bearings upon 
our general theme, and because there will be occasion to com- 
pare Berkeley's explicit view on this subject with the implications 
of his empiric epistemology, as well as of his ontology, so far as 
he has one. 

We observe that the desire for the vindication of moral 
accountability which appears in Locke's Essay is a characteriz- 
ing element of Berkeley's thought. We have seen how Locke, in 
order to give us a "person" whose accountability would not be 
perilously dependent upon any theories of substance, developed 
a theory of personal identity as constituted by the appropriation 
of past acts to present consciousness. In this way, he thought, 
we would have an accountable person whether the soul be ma- 
terial or spiritual substance. 

But Berkeley, who has settled once for all that soul-sub- 
stance is incorporeal, does not find it necessary to separate iden- 
tity of substance from identity of person. It is no longer merely 
probable that in consciousness the spiritual substance is mani- 
festing itself to itself. With Berkeley, persons are the only 
substances. Besides, Berkeley regards Locke's view that person- 
ality is constituted by consciousness open to many objections. 
Berkeley demands wherein the identity of a person consists and 
answers : "Not in actual consciousness ; for then I am not the 
same person I was this day twelve-month, but only while I think 
of what I then did. Not in potential; for then all persons may 
be the same for aught we know" (Com. PL Bk.). 

Thus far I have endeavored to present Berkeley's explicit 
account of spirits as regards their bare existence and their na- 
ture as thinking and willing, as free and as immortal. In this 
exposition, however, the existence of other minds has been 
taken for granted. Passages regarding the existence of other finite 
minds are to be found here and there in Berkeley's writings, 


from the Principles to Siris. The import of all these pas- 
sages is substantially the same. While I have an immediate 
knowledge of my own mind, my knowledge of other spirits is 
mediate, depending upon the intervention of ideas, by me re- 
tferred to agents or spirits distinct from myself, "as effects or 
concomitant signs" (Principles, § 145). 

Passing from the consideration of finite minds to that of 
the Infinite Mind, or God, we pass to what Berkeley all along 
regards as the ultimate support and triumph of his ''system." 
Were one developing an exposition of Berkeley's philosophy 
as such, instead of merely presenting his expressed views regard- 
ing personality, one should introduce the Infinite Mind near 
the very beginning. The postponement of this central theme 
to this place is not disadvantageous, since it is so intimately linked 
with our succeeding task, the finding of the logical bearings on 
personality of Berkeley's total position. 

The being of sensible things, of ideas, is in their being per- 
ceived by mind. But their reality does not for that reason 
depend upon their being perceived by my individual mind. In 
fact I find that while I may control my individual fancies, the 
ideas of sense are not dependent upon my individual will. They 
come without my volition. They are more strong, lively and 
distinct than the ideas of my imagination. And, above all, the 
ideas of sense appear in a certain regular order or connexion 
which does not obtain in thoughts that are my own creation. 
But this is the experience of any and all individual, finite minds. 
The inevitable inference from this independence of individual 
minds which ideas of sense have, is that their ultimate being, 
together with their order is to be attributed to the mind of an 
infinite spirit, or God. So, Philonous is made to say in one of 
the most comprehensive passages in the Dialogues: "When I 
deny sensible things an existence out of the mind, I do not mean 
my mind in particular, but all minds. Now it is plain they have 


an existence exterior to my mind ; since I find them by experience 
to be independent of it." Philonous concludes that "there is, 
therefore, some other Mind wherein they exist during the in- 
tervals between the times of my perceiving them; as likewise 
they did before my birth, and would do after my supposed 
annihilation. And as the same is true with regard to all other 
finite created spirits, it necessarily follows that there is an omni- 
present eternal Mind which knows and comprehends all things, 
and exhibits them to our view in such a manner, and according 
to such rules, as He Himself hath ordained, and are by us 
termed the laws of nature" (Vol. I, pp. 446-7). 

Thus, in Berkeley's view a certain externality is not denied 
sensible things with reference to each individual mind, although 
nothing is external to all mind. Ideas are external in two 
senses : first, their origin is external, since the individual finite 
mind does not create them though it perceives them ; and, second, 
their existence is in another Mind when any particular mind 
perceives them not (Principles, § 90). Berkeley is careful to 
state that the real question between himself and the materialists 
is not whether things have a real existence out of particular 
minds, but whether they have a real existence independent of 
all mind whatsoever (Vol. I, p. 452). 

So God is the ultimate explanation of the being of sensible 
phenomena, as well as the meaning of the cosmical order and 
law that appears in all the change of experience. Since ideas 
of sense are at last referred to the one Mind, we have a clue as 
to why they appear practically the same to diflferent minds. 
And the order in nature, sustained by the mind of God is what 
makes possible any predictive science, by which our lives may 
be made calculable. Not that there is any causal connexion 
between ideas ; that is impossible, for there is nothing of power 
or agency included in mere ideas; "so that one object of thought 
cannot produce or make any alteration in another" (Principles, 


§25). The very being of an idea implies passiveness, — the 
being perceived. 

Nor is there discoverable any necessary connexion between 
ideas. No, — all order, all succession, all natural law is the issue 
of the Will of the Governing Spirit {Principles, § 32). 

Instead of relations of cause and effect, we have relations 
of sign and thing signified {Theory of Vision, § 13). To be 
true, there is a cause which makes the connexion of ideas pos- 
sible, but God is this cause, and not the ideas. This significative 
character of the connection between ideas was clearly enunciated 
in Berkeley's early work just cited, the Essay towards a Nezv 
Theory of Vision (1709), where the proper objects of vision 
are made to constitute the universal language of nature; for 
"the manner wherein they signify and mark out unto us the 
objects which are at a distance is the same with that of languages 
and signs of human appointment; which do not suggest the 
things signified by any likeness or identity of nature, but only 
by an habitual connexion that experience has made us to observe 
between them" (§ 147). 

We have, thus, a universal sense-symbolism, a divine lan- 
guage. Communion with nature is communion with God. So 
that God is even more evidently perceived than the existence of 
other finite spirits ; for "whereas one finite and narrow assem- 
blage of ideas denotes a particular human mind," tokens of divin- 
ity are manifested at all times and in all places. Everything 
perceived by sense, including "those very motions produced by 
men," we are bound to infer as the effect of the Eternal Spirit, 
the Creator and the conservator of the world; "in whom," as 
Berkeley is fond of quoting, "we live and move and have our 
being" (cf. Title-page, Theory of Vision). 



Berkeley's interest, no less than Locke's, is fundamentally 
epistemological. Though he puts his initial question in the form, 
"What is it to be ?" his decision of this question is suggested and 
gathers point as an answer to the question about the nature of 
mind as a perceiving and knowing mind. "How ca,n ideas be 
representative ?'' is Berkeley's query. 

In the fundamental position at which Berkeley has been seen 
to arrive, — that all reality save minds is derived from being per- 
ceived by mind, we seem to have the implications of an aprior- 
ism which will release us from the difficulties Locke's empiricism 
met with in seeking to found ethical personality. As Locke's 
characteristic position seemed at first utterly to nullify the a 
priori, so, on the other hand, Berkeley's premises, at first sight, 
seem to affirm it. Spirits are primal, and the essence of spirits 
is their activity. The most thorough-going apriorist would agree 
with Berkeley so far as he holds that nature cannot be explained 
without the world of spirits, including God. 

Especially in the Siris, Berkeley is enthusiastic in acclaim- 
ing active intelligence as the only explanation of the universe. 
And, read in their isolation, many passages might be taken to 
hint an apriorism almost of a Kantian sort. Here it is dis- 
claimed that the mind is a tabula rasa; and it is suggested that 
"Some, perhaps, may think the truth to be this: that there are 
properly no ideas, or passive objects in the mind but what were 
derived from sense ; but that there are also besides these her own 
acts or operations; such are notions" (Siris, § 308). Even in 
the Principles, "all relations, including an act of the mind" are 
regarded as notions (§ 142). 




In the seventh dialogue of Alciphron, we are told that 
Reason is under "the eternal rules of reasoning." The prescrib- 
ing necessity of reason is implied when Philonous says : "I 
know nothing inconsistent can exist" ; and he concludes that 
matter cannot exist, since it implies an inconsistency (Vol. I, 
p, 451). And, as has been seen, so far as Berkeley makes the 
existence of mind a necessary inference from the fact of the 
existence and succession of ideas, he is implying the principle 
of causality in a way that cannot be allowed a mere empiricist. 
Add to this Berkeley's belief in the possibility of predictive 

However much these and other of Berkeley's assumptions 
may imply a priori cognition if they are to be made valid, it 
is not hard to show that Berkeley is really an empiricist. In 
common with Locke he denies innate ideas and believes that all 
our ideas are derived from sensation and reflection^ In the 
Common Place Book we find Berkeley saying: "I approve of 
this axiom of the Schoolmen, 'Nihil est in inteUectu quod non 
prius fuit in sensu.' 1 wish they had stuck to it. It had never 
taught them the doctrine of abstract ideas" (Vol. I, p. 48). 
The mind is originally empty and God gives it its ideas. Re- 
flection is always ''maturer" than sensation ; by this we separate 
out the meaning in sensation. Berkeley does not ask how a 
secondary sense can get anything out of sensation that is not in 
sensation itself. In order to get a meaning out of experience, 
we must show that the meaning is really there. Empiricism 
does not see that only reflection can afford the meaning. 

In so far as Berkeley holds that the universe is to be re- 
ferred to mind, it is in the last resort to be referred to the 
Infinite Mind. Whatever "acts" or "operations" of minds are 
recognized, they are not constitutive save in the case of God ; 
and then only in the questionable sense of the productive activity 
of his arbitrary will. 





This of course is not a priori cognition nor rational freedom 
in any defensible sense. Finite minds are not made rationally 
self-active; in no sense are they recognized as originative of 
the unity and permanence of the world of experience, — contrib- 
utive of the necessary ties that make experience possible. 
Berkeley sees order. Its ground, he assumes, is God, — a pure 
assumption, a mystic solvent; but once assumed, fatally annull- 
ing of any a priori theory of knowing. 

Kant, "critical" idealist that he is, "will object to Berkeley 
as a "dogmatic" idealist (Kant calls him "visionan^" as well) 
in two principal ways. In the first place, "the good Bishop 
Berkeley" degrades bodies to mere illusion, for he goes so far 
as to give us no external world. He can give us no difference 
between a sensation and an image, save a difference in vivacity. 
For space is reduced to a "sense of locomotion" (muscular sense, 
sense of effort) between vision and touch; that is, external sense 
is confounded with and reduced to internal sense. The reality 
of the world is not denied ; but its externality is lost. Berkeley's 
great interest was to show that Absolute Space, such as he 
mentions was argued for by Sir Isaac Newton, is unreal (Siris, 
§271). Says Kant: "Berkeley declares Space and all things 
to which it belongs as an inseparable condition, as something 
impossible in itself, and therefore the things in Space as mere 
imaginations. Dogmatic Idealism is inevitable if we look 
upon Space as a property belonging to things by themselves, for 
in that case Space and all of which it is a condition would be a 
non-entity" (Critique of Pure Reason, tr. Miiller, Vol. I, p. 475). 
Kant, in treating Space and Time as the two a priori forms of 
sense-perception, and distinguishing Time, as the form of internal 
sense, from Space, which (together with Time) is the form of 
external sense, sought to give us a really external world, and 
yet an external world that need not destroy idealism. 


In the second place, instead of grounding the order of the 
world in an Omnipresent Intelligence, Kant most consistently- 
interpreted, finds it in the spontaneous unity of the perceiving 
self. In this vital regard at least, and ignoring Kant's own un- . 
satisfactory account of God, an idealism that shall be genuinely '' 
idealistic and genuinely personalistic as well, must part company 
with Berkeley and affiliate with Kant. 

Again, as in the case of Locke, the failure to answer in the 
affirmative the real epistemological question as to the a priori 
involves Berkeley in the failure to guarantee human personality 
in the ultimately real sense of a personality that can rightly be 
called rationally self -active, — eternal, as the source of Time, and 
thus eternal in the real sense of super-temporal, — underived, free. 
Again, as with Locke, Berkeley fails not only to affirm a priori 
cognition, but obviously fails to face the question at all; while 
maintaining that all reality is derived from mind, he does not 
critically ask how this is possible. And so, like Locke, he cannot 
be said to answer one way or another a question he has never 
recognized. And again, as Locke, having never duly appreciated 
the question which is at the heart of epistemology, he not only ^ 
fails to vindicate personality, but does not even conceive what 
personality in its deepest sense must mean. For instance, we ,, 
have seen that immortality is taken in the sense of everlasting 
duration. No attempt is made to argue this on empiristic 
grounds. The discussion on freedom, too, does not go back 
of the empirical fact that we do will. And the self-activity^^.- 
alleged of spirits is not, in the last resort, .y^//-activity at all. 

Yet, to guarantee the person, even in Berkeley's inadequate 
sense, means the adducing of proof founded on the assumption 
of that deeper personality which he omits. Even Berkeley's '^im- 
mortality" of never-ending continuance, the lifting of the soul 
above the event called death, means the proof of a soul which is 
above all mere "events" and which is the source of Time which 


makes a world of events possible. But though Berkeley does not 
perceive this, he does see that without immortality any moral 
ideal becomes a mockery, its realization impossible, — yea, morals 
in any deep and proper sense vanishes. In a short essay in the 
Guardian Berkeley realizes that "The thought that our exist- 
ence terminates with this life doth naturally check the soul in 
any generous pursuit, contract the views, and fix them on tem- 
porary and selfish ends. It dethrones the reason, extinguishes 
all noble and heroic sentiments, and subjects the mind to the 
slavery of every present passion" (Vol. IV, p. 162). In another 
■essay he exclaims: "If it were not for this thought (of im- 
mortality), I had rather be an oyster than a man, the most stupid 
and senseless of animals than a reasonable mind tortured with 
an extreme innate desire of that perfection which it despairs 
to obtain" (Vol. II, p. 184). And yet, Berkeley, though striving 
to prove for us a "natural" immortality, so failed that he had 
to grant at last that our annihilation is in the power of God ! 
Again, "free agents," even in Berkeley's limited and ques- 
tionable meaning are impossible without free persons in a deeper 
sense of freedom. It will be remembered that Alciphron con- 
ceived of no freedom save freedom of the will isolated from rea- 
son, and so, undetermined by reason — a freedom of indifference, 
of caprice. It is to the credit of Berkeley that he makes Euph- 
ranor object to this conception of an "abstract" will, although 
he does so by an appeal to common sense. But he does not pro- 
ceed to urge a rational self-determination. To be true, he does 
use the word "self-determined", but in the loose sense that we 
are conscious that we do act and that we are accountable for 
our actions, in spite of Alciphron's "abstractions." Berkeley 
misses the true question about freedom when he makes Euph- 
ranor repudiate as irrelevant the question "whether a man be free 
to will." After all, the whole question with regard to a man's 
freedom is "whether he can will as he wills", although this very 


question is dismissed by Euphranor as unintelligible. The out- 
ward action attributed to me does not determine the philosophical 
question as to whether / act, and does not prove freedom at all. 
Alciphron could not reconcile an utter "freedom" of the will 
with its determination by reason. Berkeley was not in a posi- 
tion to make the only reconciliation possible, — the reconciliation 
which finds itself in a freedom which proceeds from a definiteness 
which is not determinism in any fatal sense, but only in the 
saving sense of a definiteness self -originative in the reason of the 
agent. This would have made possible an answer to Alciphron's 
objection that reason itself is not free because it is limited by 
"the eternal rules of reasoning." But of course for Berkeley 
to have seen all this would have meant a transfiguration of his 
entire philosophy. 

Apart from its philosophic inconceivability, Berkeley op- 
poses Locke's realism because he sees in it scepticism which he 
believe is the death of religion and morality. Thus, he sees 
that the question of moral responsibility is vitally connected with 
the question of whether we can know. Ostensibly, Berkeley is 
the champion of the reality of human knowledge. On the title- 
page of the Principles he announces that one aim of his in- 
quiry is to discover "the grounds of scepticism"; and the title- 
page of Three Dialogues Betzveen Hylas and Philonoiis states 
that part of his design is "plainly to demonstrate the reality and 
perfection of human knowledge ... in opposition to scep- 
tics . . . also to open a method for rendering the sciences 
more easy, useful, and compendious." 

But on his principles, can Berkeley make out any science 
at all, — any necessary and predictive knowledge, indispensable to 
calculable, that is to say rational, action ; indispensable to freedom 
in short? Has he any principle by which he can gain any valid 
inferential certainty? To be sure, the order, the regular suc- 
cession which obtains among ideas of sense, is empirically recog- 


nized. The very name of his mature work, Siris (fretpd), 
suggests this order as a universal "chain" with no broken links 
in all the vast concatenation. But, as we have seen, this order 
is referred to the mind of God. So far as finite minds are con- 
cerned, Berkeley gives us only the resources of empiricism as a 
foundation for prediction, — which is no foundation at all. For, 
as empiricist, Berkeley can only tell, at best, what has been. 
Mere "faith" that there is a divine order, even if it were justified, 
does not tell us what that divine order infallibly must be. 
Habitual connexion that experience has made us to observe 
between ideas does not show us how experience can teach, or 
that habitual connexion is more than habitual. In Siris, more 
than in his earlier works, Berkeley seems to rest on a "faith" 
and "probability" which made Locke give man's knowing 
powers an intermediate place between omniscience and nescience. 
The universe is too great for our finite understandings, which 
interpret sense-symbolism imperfectly. Thus, we are left in the 
questionable realm of probable certainty, — where, to be left is 
to be left nowhere, if we are good logicians and seek a meaning 
in our judgments. 

In attempting to dissolve scepticism and dogmatism by re- 
solving matter to spirit and its activity, Berkeley has proved 
an infallible knowledge for spirits only if he has proved them 
in some sense rationally self-active. This he has not done. Yet, 
this deeper person is assumed in all Berkeley's inferences; in all 
the power Berkeley as a nominalist gives to language as the 
money of thought; in all the capacity to acquire ideas, — which 
presupposes elements whose logical meaning is not found merely 
in their psychological genesis ; yes, in perception itself. As an 
empiricist, Berkeley cannot make out "substance", spiritual or 
other, for "substance" finds its home in the world of the uncon- 
ditionally real, — and the paths of experience as such lead not 
thither. Much less can the inference to other finite spirits be 


If all this is true, even the Infinite Mind, without whom 
Berkeley's idealism falls to pieces, becomes a pure assumption, - 
being based on "empirical inference". An infinite conclusion 
cannot be drawn from finite premises. God is not proved ; what is 
proved is that Berkeley's system will not ''work" without God. 
If there were not an omnipresent consciousness, matter would 
"slump." It is the office of God in Berkeley's system to "bear 
away its inconsistencies," as Hegel phrased it. But is any "sys- 
tem," logically defenseless, yet so important that God may 
be called in to save it ? This is doing too much violence to logic, — 
let alone God. 

But even if Berkeley had proved the kind of God he wished 
to prove, it would not have greatly helped the situation, so far 
as the guarantee of real personality is concerned. For assum- 
ing his God valid, He is valid only as all reality ultimately pro- 
ceeds from Him. The activity of other spirits, no less than the 
ideas they perceive, are at the last derivatives of the activity 
of the Eternal Mind. To my mind, any such theological idealism 
may as well be called pantheistic idealism. God is not a link ■>■ 
in the chain {aeipd) ; He is the chain. "All things necessarily 
depend on Him as their Conservator as well as Creator; — all 
nature would shrink to nothing if not upheld and preserved 
in being by the same force that first created it" {Letter to Rev. 
S. Johnson, Vol. II, p. i6). God is He who "works in all" and 
"by whom all things consist." Spirit is the only cause: but that 
turns out to mean that the Eternal Spirit is the only cause. 
Thus, a finite persons is not "causa sui." He is a receptacle of 
God's activity. His experience is intercourse with the Absolute. 
"In Him we live and move and have our being" with a vengeance. 
Really to he is to be God. He who made us can annihilate us 
when he pleases. 

In this we observe the indirect influence of Hebraism on 
Berkeley's thought. As in Locke so in Berkeley, we hear the 


echoes of the thunders of Sinai when Berkeley enunciates that 
conformity to God's will and not any prospect of temporal ad- 
vantage is the sole rule whereby every man must govern and 
square his actions. We may take for granted that what He 
proposes is good. Absolute unlimited passive obedience is due 
to the Supreme Power (Discourse on Passive Obedience, §§ 6, 7, 
32). Autonomy is out of the question. With the destruction of 
the ultimate reality of finite spirits is destroyed their ultimate mor- 
al responsibility, — that is to say, all real moral responsibility. 
Locke saw more deeply than Berkeley when he perceived an in- 
consistency, however mysteriously to be overcome, in affirming 
God as the omnipotent Creator and in affirming human freedom at 
the same time. Berkeley on the other hand, can see no contra- 
diction in supposing that God can create free beings (Alciphron, 
p. 350). Hylas is nearer right than Philonous when he declares 
that "in making God the immediate author of all the motions 
in nature, you make Him the Author of murder, sacrilege, adult- 
ery, and the like heinous sins." When Philonous comes to 
God's rescue, he is guilty of a woful misapprehension concern- 
ing what "consistency" in this case means when he says: "It 
is true I have denied there are other agents besides spirits ; but 
this is very consistent with allowing to thinking, rational beings, 
in the production of motions, the use of limited powers, ulti- 
mately indeed derived from God, but immediately under the 
direction of our own wills, which is sufficient to entitle them 
to all the guilt of their actions (Vol. I, p. 454). 

A careful scrutiny of Berkeley's central proposition, that 
reality is to be interpreted as the existence of spirits and their 
ideas, has not justified the hope with which we started. The 
spirits have been lost in Spirit; either in "God," (as panthe- 
istic or as creative), if we choose to assume him, or in the 
solipsistic self, if we decline to share Berkeley's leap across the 
chasm of the infinite. Yet, it is a great advance upon Locke, in 


all that concerns our question, to have done away with the 
mystical material substratum, — a stroke of genius, John Stuart 
Mill regarded it. In this regard, Berkeley showed his genius 
in knowing how to ask the right question, — which he con- 
sidered the very essence of philosophizing. In his answer, his 
triumph is that in spite of his empiricism he does take us the 
idealistic way, although our guide is "dogmatic", "visionary", 
and loses us for the time in the horizonless desert of pantheism. 
His great defect is that he does not see that his leading the; 
idealistic way is indeed in spite of his empiricism. Yet, notwith- 
standing great defects of exposition and system, the significance 
of his procedure cannot be denied, in so far as he directs our 
attention to thinking mind, and suggests the criticism which 
he does not supply. Even here we have an advance over Locke; 
for Berkeley's is a mind to which questions of speculative im- 
port are more congenial and more acutely apprehended; a mind 
much better acquainted with the history of philosophy, as Siris 
well attests ; a mind not so cautious of forsaking the common 
road, if it be necessary to forsake it to "follow the gleam." 

Thus, as was forecast, the inner contradictions and insuffi- 
ciency of empiricism for guaranteeing personality becomes still 
more apparent in Berkeley. The spirit which expresses itself 
in the aversion for empty abstractions and in an appeal to the 
concrete data of experience, is the spirit that keeps him well in 
the historic succession with Locke, and prevents his profounder 
criticism of fundamental premises. 

What befalls even the persons Berkeley gives us, when em- 
piricism attempts a stricter criticism of itself, will be found in 
an examination of Hume, where the dialectic, which has been 
struggling to express itself, will enunciate its utter word. 



In discussing the treatment of personality by Locke and 
Berkeley, we have been dealing with philosophers who do as- 
sume, with more or less explicitness, the reality of persons. 
Persons being supposed in some sense or other, we could ap- 
proach these thinkers and demand further what sort of person- 
ality each recognized, and challenge the worth of the concep- 
tion and its proofs. But with Hume, the overt assumption of 
a perduring ego vanishes. No longer is there given us the 
genial task of gathering together an author's total view of per- 
sonality; for Hume will not seek to vindicate any; and our func- 
tion of criticism, such as was based on former expositions is sim- 
ultaneously overthrown by a thinker who has instituted a self- 
criticism so acute that we can only supplement him by asking 
what his criticism really means, and whether it has been carried 
as far as logic would have us go. 

The center and import of Hume's work has often been term- 
ed a critique of causality, but it might also be called a critique 
of personality, within empiristic bounds. From this point of 
view, Hume is, after all, the best criticism of the doctrine of the 
person as held by Locke and Berkeley. Indeed, much of our 
critical task with reference to these men was but an anticipation 
of Hume. 

The character of that philosophy which is called English 
has emerged in the empiricism of Locke and Berkeley. And that 
other English trait, the persistent holding to truths regarded 
vital, but which empiricism will not support, has also appeared 
in them. Locke, empiricist that he is, resolutely seeks to save 



his precious world of matter, and his world of accountable spir- 
its, whether or no. He will sacrifice his "system" sooner than sac- 
rifice them. Berkeley, who is a more radical empiricist (strange 
as that sounds), does away with the mystic world of matter as 
inconceivable and redundant. But he cannot part with spirit, 
however weak he makes the answer of Euphranor to Hylas, who 
sees spirit, escorted by empirical logic, go the way of all sub- 
stance. Berkeley, too, if driven to choose between his spirits 
and a rigidly consistent system, will save his spirits, and trust 
the system to God's almighty power of solving human contradic- 

Thus far we are in no position to see whether empiricism 
will really guarantee personality. The only way to discover this 
is rigidly to carry out empiristic epistemology without regard 
for the consequences to verities esteemed priceless by common 
sense or religious feeling. This carrying out we should have to 
do, even if there were not a Hume; for only in this way could 
our criticism reach any final worth. But Hume has done it for 
us ; it is his great contribution to the history of philosophy ; 
and it is in reminding ourselves of his work in this regard, that 
we shall elicit the best light that he, or the English school, can 
give us on the question of the philosophic bases of personality. 

I have just mentioned H34as, of Berkeley's famed Dialogues. 
It is not until the third edition that this objection occurs to 
Hylas : "You acknowledge that you have, properly, no idea of 
your own soul. You even affirm that spirits are a sort of beings 
altogether dififerent from ideas. Consequently that no idea can 
be like a spirit. We have therefore no idea of any spirit. You 
admit, nevertheless that there is a spiritual Substance, although 
you have no idea of it ; while you deny there can be such a thing 
as material Substance, because you have no notion or idea of it. 
Is this fair dealing? To act consistently, you must either admit 
Matter, or reject Spirit" (Vol. I, p. 449). Berkeley can "answer" 



this objection; but only by abandoning his empiristic ground, 
even more than he does in his actual attempt to answer it. 
Hume, who will not abandon his empiristic ground, since he sees 
none other, condemns the whole doctrine of substance as a doc- 
trine with no meaning. 

For where, among all our "impressions," shall we find the 
impression of "substance"? Even the adherents of substance 
would not claim the existence of such an impression. Is sub- 
stance, then, an idea? But '*we have no perfect idea of anything 
but of a perception. A substance is entirely different from a 
perception. We have, therefore, no idea of substance" {Trea- 
tise, p. 234). If any one object that perceptions cannot exist 
unless they "inhere" in something, it is enough to remind him that 
there is nothing in perceptions which calls for any theory of 
"inhesion," — of which, indeed, we have no idea. 

Hume is too precise a thinker to take refuge in Berkeley's 
"notion." To him, with his premises, such a "notion" is merely 
a verbal makeshift, philosophically meaningless. As empiricists, 
we must be content to see that "nothing is ever present to the 
mind but its perceptions"; and all the perceptions of the human 
mind resolve themselves into two distinct kinds. Impressions and 
Ideas, — the latter being faint images of the former. Our knowl- 
edge is limited by our discrete perceptions ; any going beyond 
them as such is an unwarranted leap into darkness. Such a 
leap is the leap to Substance. 

But surely I have a "self," I am a self, that continues through 
changes invariably the same, maintaining perfect identity ! Hume 
treats this question in detail in his section, "Of Personal Iden- 
tity," (Treatise, IV, vi), which is one of the ablest exhibitions 
in the entire Treatise of the logic of empiricism. It led to re- 
sults which much perplexed Hume, and which were the occasion 
of notes in the Appendix, where the perplexity presents a 
problem confessedly beyond his solution. 


That there is not any real idea of such a perduring self, 
Hume makes appear, in brief, from the following considerations : 
An idea that is "real" must originate in one impression; but 
no one has any impression continuing invariably the same through 
the whole course of his life. But it will be said that while the 
self is not any one impression, it is "that to which our several 
impressions and ideas are supposed to have a reference." But 
what can we mean by such reference? Perceptions are par- 
ticular, separate, and different, and may be considered as existing 
separately. Their existence needs no self as a support at any 
rate, as has been seen already. And if this is not the way in 
which perceptions are to be referred to a self, have they really 
any connection with a self? "For my part," says Hume, in his 
famous passage, "when I enter most intimately into what I call 
myself, I always stumble on some particular perception or other. 
. . . I never can catch myself at any time without a percep- 
tion, and never can observe anything but the perception." Hume 
now proceeds to give as his conclusion, that the self can be said 
to be nothing but "a collection of different perceptions, which 
succeed each other with an inconceivable rapidity." 

The trouble is, says Hume, that we lose sight of the fact 
that these perceptions are, as such, distinct and separate, and we 
bind them together by the association of their ideas in the imagi- 
nation, so that we suppose them united by a real bond. Yet, 
whatever identity we presume as a result of this is a fiction, for 
''the understanding never observes any real connexion among ob- 
jects"; "even the union of cause and effect, when strictly ex- 
amined, resolves itself into a customary association of ideas." 
The imagination introduces into its ideas the three relations of 
resemblance, contiguity and causation (the second we are not 
concerned with here) ; which render it easy to make a transition 
from one idea to another, and to confound a train of ideas thus 


related with one continued object. It is not hard then to yield to 
the notion of a soul, or self, or substance, "to disguise the varia- 

But, after all, memory is at the basis of personal identity, 
for it alone informs us of "the continuance and extent of this 
succession of perceptions." The notion of causation itself finds 
its origin in memory; yet the notion of a chain of causes once 
attained, we can extend it beyond what we remember, and thus, 
at the same time, project our personal identity. 

As for the alleged "simplicity" of the self, which Berkeley 
had defined as the basis for the argument to natural immortality, 
this, too, is merely a "feigned" union on principles analogous to 
those which have shown the identity of the self to be a feigned 
identity (Treatise, p. 263). 

Of course if there is no self, the same yesterday, today and 
tomorrow, there is no such thing as "duty." And Hume ac- 
cepted this consequence. Morals becomes mores, custom. 
Morals may be spelled "manners," — no necessary law is involv- 
ed. It is the same with the other verities essential to genuine 
personality. Whereas Locke and Berkeley thought that on the 
wings of experience we can fly into the regions of Immortality 
and God, the truth is that we cannot fly even into the nether 
regions of science. 

After Hume has lost the self, experience cries for it again 
and Hume is at a loss what to do. His afterthought exclaims: 
"All my hopes vanish, when I come to explain the principles 
that unite our successive perceptions in our thought or con- 
sciousness. . . . Did our perceptions either inhere in some- 
thing simple and individual, or did the mind perceive some real 
connexion among them, there would be no difficulty" (Treatise, 
pp. 635-6). Hume finds himself confronted with the strange 
contradiction that "experience" can give him no abiding self, 
and yet without an abiding self experience is seen to be impossi- 



ble. For what we call our "real experience" is always past, how- 
ever much we believe it to be vitally now. A presentation must 
last in order to be a presentation at all. So, that we may have 
faith in the reality of experience, the past object must be vindi- 
cated as real ; but only a changeless self can do this. The whole 
question now turns on the reality of that self. But, asks Hume, 
what is this self? Is it at all? It is out of the reach of experi- 
ence, so why should I say it is real? It is simply an infer- 
ence, and what does the inference rest on ? It rests on the ideas 
of resemblance and causality. Are these real ideas, or are they 
not, rather, artificial? The latter. So the self inferred is ob- 
viously an illusion. And now comes the surprising thing: ex- y 
perience itself is an illusion, — even the momentary presentation, 
for we have already seen that its very reality presupposes a self. 
Now, what is the significance of all this to Hume? And, 
above all, what is its real significance? To Hume it means the 
impotence of an understanding put to rout, and all that he can 
do is to plead the privilege of a sceptic. In the concluding section 
of the First Book of the Treatise, he pictures himself as one ^ 
plunged in deep despair and melancholy ; as one who is "affright- ■^ 
ed and confounded," fancying himself "some strange uncouth 
monster.''^ And, above all, note, he feels his opinions "loosen 
and fall of themselves." That were a hint well worth the trust- 
ing, if Hume could have known it as a hint. If Hume has fol- 
lowed out his "opinions" logically, and if the inevitable result of 
this logical carrying out is, that the premises with which he start- 
ed "loosen and fall of themselves," it means as complete a dia- / 
lectical refutation of those premises as one could wish. This is 
precisely what Hume has accomplished, — the dialectical refuta- '" 
tion of empiricism. He has shown that experience is not self- 
explaining; that, however real it is, it is not real enough. Berke- 
ley is no judge as to where Locke's premises really lead, save with 
regard to matter; still less is Locke aware that the hidden name 


of his limited knowledge is nescience. It is Hume who brought 
the English view to its conclusion. 

But Hume did not comprehend the real import of what he 
had done. Apparently he did not apprehend the meaning of "dia- 
lectic" refutation. If he had, he would have seen that the logic 
of its movement would not allow him to remain in scepticism, but 
must lead him out of empiricism and its despair to a view which 
at last is triumphantly self-sustaining. Even from the wilder- 
ness of such destruction, there is a path that issues into the high- 
way of affirmation. 

True, Hume is cautious enough to suggest that his sceptical 
result need not be final ; that "others perhaps" or himself, "upon 
more mature reflections, may discover some hypothesis, that will 
reconcile these contradictions" (Treatise, p. 636). What he did 
not see, was that "experience," refuting itself, was thereby call- 
ing out for something more than its mere self; that its very 
self-negation was a demand for the a priori cognizing self. 

But there was to come one, of whom Hume was as a prophet 
in the wilderness, — one who would not undo Hume's work, but 
who would do the essential thing toward completing it. For Kant 
is the real successor of Hume. Even as in revealing the logic of 
empiricism throughout this essay, we were anticipating Hume, 
so, in showing empiricism's unavoidable implications of the a 
priori, we were anticipating Kant. It is in Kant that Hume's 
true significance comes to the surface. 

Hume sees that it is the mind which supplies the relations 
we attribute to experience ; but for this reason these relations are, 
for him, not objectively valid. We do not derive universal judg- 
\ ments from experience, and must not put into experience what 
experience does not of itself warrant. The ties we introduce into 
experience have their origin in the subjective imagination; they 


all are to be explained by "association of ideas," which, in Hume, 
take the place of any synthetic principle, — if indeed, anything 
thus accidental and itself unexplained, can be remotely similar •-' 
to a principle, let alone a synthetic principle. To empiricism, 
subjectivity means variability, privacy, and hence, lack of reality. 
Of course the habit of expectation, born of custom, is a most use- 
ful one, — but it is blind. 

Had Kant known the Hume of the Treatise, he would 
have found half his work done. For Hume does discover what 
ICant will rediscover, that the linkages of experience come from 
the subject. But Kant will see also that these linkages need not 
be regarded as merely fictitious unless, like Hume, we persist 
in regarding objects as things in themselves. For the objects of 
experience are not things in themselves; they are phenomena, 
though real as phenomena. Hume, in spite of his caution, reach- 
es his scepticism of the validity of the a priori linkages through 
the assumption of an outer world of things in themselves. Hume 
contrasts the mind with what we call an objective thing. Kant 
shows that there are subjective acts entering into the very con- 
stitution of every object as such. Hume is right, Kant virtually 
says, so far as he goes. But Hume cannot see that the subject 
can legislate over a world. Hume is correct so far as he sees 
that we do not derive universal judgments from experience; but ./ 
the universal judgments are in experience, and without them no 
experience can be. With Kant, causality is no longer a fiction 
of the imagination, but an organic principle of reason. We are 
accustomed to speak of antecedent change as the "cause" of a suc- 
ceeding change ; but the real cause, the logical cause, is the a priori 
synthesis of the mind. "Customary" coherence is supplanted by 
"intellectual" coherence; combination supersedes mere addition, 
and experience emerges with an interpretable meaning. 

Thus, however much Hume adheres to "mere" experience, 
Kant will show that this very experience is marvellously complex. 


He will show that even mere perception involves the active coop- 
eration of the mind ; that categories are necessarily working in and 
through all Hume's thinking; that mere discrimination means 
the presence of the ultimate forms of discrimination; in short, 
that the Humean understanding is not quite human. There 
is a tacit ^^//-consciousness in all consciousness. The self as 
transcending experience is assumed in the very disproof of it by 
experience. Even Hume's scepticism was due to his faith in the 
consistency of reason. 



It is in the light of the self-defeat of empiricism's person 
in Hume that the utter impotence of the English empirical 
method for the treatment of personality, now becomes clearly- 
revealed. A self cannot be refuted by an epistemology that re- 
futes itself ; nor by such an epistemology can the self, or anything 
else be guaranteed. If Locke and Berkeley tried to guarantee it, 
it was as we have seen, only by forsaking their premises. 

The English school makes a vicious identity in its tendency 
to lose philosophy in science, — just as it makes a vicious breach 
when it separates philosophy and religion. Pure observation 
has its place and description is good, — so long as it is not taken 
for ultimate explanation. Yet, we have seen that the English 
tendency, as expressed in Locke, Berkeley, and Hume, has been 
to explain by description ; to make empirical psychology perform 
the office of rational psychology; to give a static or structural 
instead of a dynamic or functional account of mind. Too often 
English thought would take the Kingdom of Heaven by vio- 
lence. Too often it represents the tendency of Locke to seek to 
reduce the intelligible to the sensible, instead of transmuting the 
sensible into the intelligible. Modern thought begins with the 
study of nature ; the tendency in England has been to end thought 
there. The "flower in the crannied wall," at least in its mere 
physical involvings, simply cannot "tell what God and man is." 
Personality is not a problem in physics ; it is not an object of 
scientific consideration. All empiricism can prove is a person 
in time and space ; and so no eternal, free, rational person. And 
it does not even prove a person in time and space, — for both time 




and space are stolen. One cognizant of this inner dialectic of 
empiricism will not be deceived by those of more recent times 
who would derive the seemingly necessary ties of experience from 
the inheritance of ages of past experience. If this statement of 
derivation itself is taken as a judgment necessarily true, whence 
that necessity? And in any supposed succession of inheritances, 
time itself is assumed as a necessary fact. We should be in a 
position to see that minds cannot be the products of an evolu- 
tionary process, since minds must be presupposed to make such 
a process possible. Modern Pragmatism, or Humanism, with its 
reality larger than reason ; with its end, source and measure of 
truth beyond reason, resting as it does on a "radical" empiricism 
utterly repudiating the a priori, — this we must perceive furnishes 
us no person, which can face the fire of the analysis of Hume and 
the criticism of Kant. 

The best thing that Locke did was to fix the attention of 
English thought upon the problem of certitude. The real in- 
jury that has been done has resulted from the characteristically 
English reply to that problem, — the denial of certitude. It has 
come to pass that the Englishman is celebrated for his onto- 
logical agnosticism. In this regard, he is the doubting Thomas 
among the disciples of Truth; he must see and feel, forgetting 
that they are blessed who have not seen with eyes of sense, and 
yet have believed. The world of persons cannot be "seen." Per- 
haps the deep-seated trouble with the English school, even as in 
the case of Hume, its greatest representative, is the utter ignoring 
of the logic of premises. 

Yet, let it be added, within the English school, as represented 
by Locke, Berkeley and Hume, there is an observable progress 
in the fortunes of the person. Berkeley makes a measurable 
advance over Locke when he gives us the idealistic statement 
indispensable to the proving of valid personality, — that spirits 
and their ideas make up the real. However, we have seen tliat 


this was not sufficient, since Berkeley lost his minds in Mind. 
Above all, while the announcement was idealistic, the premises 
were empiristic, — the foundation would not support the super- 
structure. So, though Hume guarantees no self at all, still his 
is an advance over Berkeley, for he has shown what will not 
guarantee personality, and has forever revealed the futility of the 
empiristic attempt. Deeply seen, as has been insisted, the whole 
progress from Locke to Hume is the progress in empiricism's 
self-dissolution. Yet in spite of the fact that it is dissolution, 
it is a progress in the interests of personality because only of this 
dissolution could be born the supports of real personality. The 
dissolution must be reached before Kant will emerge. Kant 
builds on Hume. And on the foundations Kant laid, must be 
reared the superstructure of an adequate doctrine of ethical per- 

So the attempts of Locke and Berkeley to vindicate the 
spirit must never be considered futile; the attempt of each is a 
necessary, although insufficient element in whatever achievement 
shall be acclaimed as ultimate with regard to personality and its 
philosophic basis. 

The threefold aim of this essay as previously defined, must 
herewith be regarded as attained. It has presented in detail the 
treatment of personality by Locke, Berkeley and Hume; it has 
shown the explicit and implicit assumptions of the a priori in 
that treatment and has exhibited by an illustrative dialectic in the 
case of each thinker and in the succession as a whole the gradual 
and final self-dissolution of empiricism in its specific attempt 
to guarantee personality, and the necessity of the a priori for any 
personality such as they tried to guarantee and such as is ade- 
quate for ethics. 

Finally, although, in the treatment of personality by Locke, 
Berkeley and Hume, we have come upon results largely and 
unavoidably negative, it is thoroughly unjust to suppose that in 



these negative results the practical temper either of these think- 
ers or of the English people is adequately reflected. There is a 
deep religious earnestness native to the English mind which ever 
holds practically to the great verities, even where theory fails. 
The very cutting loose from traditions, eminently characteristic 
of the thinkers we have been considering, is, in a deep sense, 
faith in the individual and in his validity ! English institutions 
eloquently point in the same direction. It is the same with En- 
glish poetry, where George S. Morris says we find the best En- 
glish philosophy, from Spenser, influenced by the Platonic re- 
vival, and Shakespeare, "the poet of the moral order," to Ten- 
nyson, with his message of "self-reverence, self-knowledge, self- 

It is Philonous who says to Hylas, as his parting words, 
"You see, Hylas, the water of yonder fountain, how it is forced 
upwards, in a round column, to a certain height; at which it 
breaks, and falls back into the basin from whence it rose, its 
ascent as well as descent proceeding from the same uniform law 
or principle. . . . Just so, the same principles which, at first 
view, lead to scepticism, pursued to a certain point, bring men 
back to common-sense." In a deeper and better sense than even 
Berkeley knew, this loosely symbolizes English philosophy com- 
ing to its own. When it really shall have come to its own, it 
will have consciously achieved the inevitable dialectical advance 
to a recognition of the problem of the person as the one problem 
where empiricism crucially defeats itself and in the triumph 
of that defeat lifts the person beyond mere experience. 

And then English philosophy will no longer be insular. 



While the exact scope of the present task is now complete, 
and while it is obviously far outside the limits of the undertak- 
ing to attempt such a metaphysical superstructure as would give 
a complete doctrine of ethical personality upon the logical founda- 
tion dialectically revealed to be necessary, I cannot refrain from 
appending a few remarks announcing the general outlines which 
I think such a superstructure would logically define. These re- 
marks are to be taken only in the sense of an architect's tentative 
and yet thoroughly indicative ground-plan. That the person 
knows a priori and what the person supremely knows purely as 
such an a priori knower, — these are to give us the vindication, 
the only vindication there is, of an ethical world. 

Persons are not ultimately free and responsible in the world 
of efficient causation, because science can tolerate no exceptions 
to the universal causal nexus. The iron necessity which rules 
things, rules minds also. In the language of evolution, persons 
also are "products," and, in the last resort, are what they are 
because they cannot be otherwise. But the person as a knower 
a priori is the very source of that necessity which he discovers in 
nature, and thus is not determined by that necessity. So far, this 
is akin to the negative freedom for which Kant contended, — 
although it is a misnomer if by "negative" is meant merely 
negative freedom, for the heart of its meaning is the positive 
and active legislation of the self over its own world. The self, 
thus, is not the product of a process, but is that which makes 
the process possible. Or, from the standpoint of the apriority 
of Time, we see that the person, who indeed makes events pos- 



sible, is not himself a mere event. He himself cannot be a 
process with beginning and end; a beginning and end presup- 
pose Time, and hence presuppose the person. 

Thus the person can have neither an origin nor an end. 
He is uncreated either by natural processes or by the fiat of 
God. He is more than "everlasting", — he is super-temporal, 
eternal. We have escaped that temporal creationism of the old 
theologies, which was so in conflict with any genuine ethical 
freedom and responsibility, despite traditional attempts to effect 
reconciliation. For anything created must be in Time and must 
be efficiently caused, and a rigid logic must trace the final re- 
sponsibility for what he is to his Maker. 

Again, the validating of a person as free means the guar- 
anteeing of his power to know, and to form judgments that are 
necessary. Now, without the a priori knower, there is no at- 
tainment of necessary judgments. But as was noted in the dis- 
cussion of Locke, the denial of the a pripri support for induction 
in the world of science is the denial of the attainment of abso- 
lute necessity in the realm of natural law, and means the utter 
paralysis of calculable action, and thus sounds the death of free- 
dom. Experience loses all power of teaching. And no one can 
be morally responsible for carrying out a purpose in a world, 
however rational, whose rationality he cannot fathom. 

Thus far the free person means the rational person; and 
a completely rational person, a knower a priori, is one who holds 
within himself the eternal sources of knowledge. But, now, even 
the moral ideal of such a person, if there be a moral ideal, and 
if the person know it, must be an ideal arising out of the demands 
of his own rational nature as such ; for, carried out consistently, 
this is precisely what it means to know a priori. If he can know 
his ideal at all, he knows it as his own rational creation, — it 
is not a mandate thrust upon him from without, willy-nilly, — 
the "ought" which it commands is autonomous. If such a self 


does really recognize such an ideal, it is at least within the de- 
mands of that rational freedom which calls for rational au- 
tonomy. This could be made clear by asking not only concern- 
ing the fact and nature of a priori cognition, but concerning 
what the a priori knower, as such, fundamentally knows. One 
more condition that must be fulfilled before we can have a gen- 
uinely free person : The deeper reason why persons, regarded 
as mere products of evolution were thought of as absolutely 
determined is that they were caught in that thoroughly monistic 
cosmic whole, from the bond of whose causal nexus there was 
no escape. Now, the important thing to note is that, so far as 
the freedom of the person is concerned; it makes no difference 
in principle whether the monism affirmed is spiritual or material. 
The ultimate reality, and so the freedom, of the person is lost 
in the premising of any monism, whatsoever kind it is. Monism, 
with its engulfing One, erases the individual as ultimately real, — 
which is the same as to deny him ultimate freedom, ultimate 
moral responsibility. He is not self -active, for all self-activity^ 
is lost in the ultimate originative activity of his "ground". Like 
Spinoza's fllying stone come to sudden consciousness, he may 
think he is free; but the thought is born of ignorance, and his 
deepest freedom is to realize that he has none. If the individual 
is ultimately reducible to a One and All, then there is only one 
being that is not extraneously determined, and it is that One 
and All, who is self-determined. // a person is not ultimately 
real, he is determined by zuhat is. 

How will the fact, the nature, or even the deliverances of 
a priori cognition help us to maintain the reality of the individual 
thinker, and so vindicate him as a thinker self-originating, self- 
active, self-determining? 

First, he is at least a knower, a thinker, — that we have 
rightly taken to be his essence, and as such we have been con- 
sidering him all along. Now, this self, which we call essen- 





tially a "knowing", or a "thinking", Descartes was somewhat 
famiUar with, and he laid the foundations of modern idealism 
when he showed, with however much inadequate appreciation, 
that the supreme fact which, of all facts, can dialectically main- 
tain itself, is the reality of the thinking which I call "I". Think- 
ing is the one thing in the universe of thought which is self- 
sustaining. The true Brahma is the thinking which can say: 
"AVheUime they fly, I am the wings." Thinking cannot unthink 
itself. Thinking is ultimately real, and such an eternal thinking 
which is thus proved is a thinking zvhich is a priori in the 
deepest sense of that term, since, as ultimately real, it furnishes 
the conditions not only of all knowing, hut of all that can he 
known, — it furnishes that which is logically "prior" to any ex- 
perience whatsoever. 

Am I a self-active Thinking of this sort? Again, is there 
only one, or are there many such self-active Thinkings? In 
asking the first question, I answer it ; for if I think that I am not a 
self-active Thinking, my thought — I — maintains itself as precisely 
that which I momentarily and only formally deny it to be. I, 
at least, am ultimately real, self-active and free in that sense. 
But am I the only self or person of this kind? Again the ques- 
tion answers itself. I can think identity only in terms of dif- 
ference; and if I think of my identity in terms of a real dif- 
ference, it must be in terms of another ego as real as the only 
reality has dialectically heen proved to he, — as real as I am as a 
self-active thinker, — in other words, I define myself only in 
terms of another, the genus of the definition being self-active 
thinking. So far, this is clear : I am a person only as I recognise 
others as persons, and thus as ultimately real as am I. 

Referring again to Descartes, we now see how fundamental- 
ly he was right, — and how fundamentally he was wrong. Des- 
cartes was right in so far as he showed that the fundamental 
thought is the thought "I". The thinking self is the one "kernel 


of reality" which can be husked out of the "shell of conception." 
So, we cannot agree with Arthur Hugh Clough when he says: 
"It fortifies my soul to know 
That though I perish, truth is so." 
Bad poetry, and worse logic, for there is no truth if there is 
no real "I." Truth is always thought; thought is always an 
individual act. In a way, Descartes sees this. But while truth 
is always an individual act, it is an act which expresses uni- 
versality and unites me with other minds. There is a tendency in 
idealism toward solipsism. Descartes shuts himself up in him- 
self and then vainly tries to prove existence outside himself. 
He can get no further than his ideas. In that sense, and in that 
sense only, Bain is pertinent when he facetiously remarks, re- 
garding the Cogito ergo sum, that he is "of the opinion that 
we should cease endeavoring to extract sunbeams from that 
cucumber" (Dissertations, p. 8). Descartes should have seen 
that when I think "I" "distinctly", I think in distinction to the 
reality of other minds. All distinction implies a genus or kind, 
— a background of kind and other species of the same kind. 
Rationality is the kind. Every rational consciousness necessarily 
conceives itself in terms of contrast with other selves. Ego 
thinks itself in terms of non-this-ego, and not in terms of utter 
non-ego. Logical consciousness is always generic, and means an 
intelligent community of selves recognizing each other. 

Such an argument is not entirely foreign to that of Leibniz, 
when, considering substance as "living activity", he maintains 
that substance, exercising an activity, is essentially an "ex- 
cludent" power, — a power that excludes others. But this argu- 
ment is fraught with metaphor, as are most of Leibniz' meta- 
physical arguments. My position is more in accord with the con- 
ception of personality maintained in the metaphysical theory of 
Personal Idealism as announced and defended by Professor G. H. 
Howison in his Limits of Evolution, and Other Essays. 



I know a priori; this is my essence ; I am not alone : so far, 
the argument has been intent upon indicating that the very nature 
of persons as knowers, as thinkers, maintains their ultimate 
reality, — their underivative, self-active, self-defining and so eter- 
nally free, character, as against all solipsisms and monisms which 
make correlation more real than the things correlated. This 
fundamental judgment of self-recognition in terms of others, 
with its logical implications, is zvhat the person fundamentally 
knows as an a priori knower, and is at the basis of all other 
knowledge whatsoever, and so is the basal import of all logical 
judgment as such. 

A thorough-going metaphysics of personality, logically car- 
ried out into detail, must show the precise relation between the 
unit-thinking called "I" and the categories which move 
throughout all thinking as modes of that unit-thinking, — how 
these particular modes of synthesis directly refer to that ulti- 
mate synthesis which we call a self, which fundamentally judges 
in the manner that has been shown. This would involve a new 
deduction of the categories and, again with reference to Kant, a 
bridging of the unlucky chasm between the Theoretical and Prac- 
tical Reasons. The fundamental significance of even Kant's 
apriorism is the grounding of the order of the world in the spon- 
taneous Unity of the perceiving self. 

So far, we have restricted our search for the ethical person 
to the search for the free person. What we have thus far dis- 
covered might be put into some such general definition as this: 
A person is a self-active, self-defining and so self-differentiating, 
intelligence. Such a person, in so far, fulfils the conditions of 
that free personality which we seek. But is this sufficient to 
guarantee us the free person with all of his ethical significance? 
He is free, but free for what? Is his freedom simply this splen- 
did freedom of abstract membership in a rational democracy 
where each is sovereign ? What, indeed, does it mean in the full 


to call it a rational democracy? Let us consider the strictly 
logical implications and demands which reside in the personality 
so far indicated. Let us see in what sense, if any, our world 
of persons is moral, and so how the person may be truly called 
morally free. 

The genus of self-definition, I said, is self-active rationality. 
What is the differentia? You and I are self-active intelligences, 
but what is the difference between you and me, logically speak- 
ing? We may dismiss the answer that there is no difference, 
for then the self-definition that has been argued is made im- 
possible; the law of the "identity of indiscernibles" would re- 
duce others to me, and the impossibility of a logic of affirmation 
without a real negation would reduce me to nought. But what- 
ever else might be said, this fact of fundamental ethical im- 
portance is unquestionably true: if persons are different by their 
very self-definition, it also follows that no two persons can be 
perfect. Perfection will not allow of differing degrees. If the 
genus against which different persons define themselves is "self- 
active rationality" as such, it follows that the differentia inevita- 
bly means some departure from this rationality. Complete 
rationality, perfect rationality, ideal being, no person but one can 
have, since the Fulfilled has no degrees. There are no two per- 
fects. But if self-definition of all the rest is real, the ground 
of definition must be equally real ; — there is at least this one 
supremely real self-active Thinking. On the other hand, the 
difference between persons — ^between you and me — is precisely 
a difference in approximation toward this perfect, an approxi- 
mation, too, which may become more and more if, and only if, 
that aspect of the self which is in a world of events or of pos- 
sible progress is determined by the eternally constitutive, that is, 
a priori, nature of the self, — a thing which has already been 
dwelt upon as the inevitable outcome of Hume's dialectic, read 
aright. Thus, for one to define himself and freely to be himself 


by that very self -definition, is to recognize others as equally real 
and freely to define a perfect self, an Ideal, as the mandatory goal 
of all changing experience; this, in truth^ is the creation of a 
self, which, a priori, constitutes and thus controls his ozun ex- 
perience. This necessary and yet spontaneous recognition of the 
Perfect Person introduces values into the world of persons, trans- 
forming as it does the world of mere change into a world o£ 
progress. The supreme cause becomes the logically final cause, 
which in turn is what we must deeply mean as the "moral ideal." 
The search for the free person at last leads us to the finding 
of the ethical person, which we suddenly discover to guarantee 
not only freedom, but every other conception we are accus- 
tomed to call ethical; yes, not only are these conceptions guar- 
anteed, they are absolutely demanded. We come upon the in- 
sight that the person reached is not needed merely if the funda- 
mental notions of ethics are to be assumed; but if just this con- 
ception of the person is discovered as an absolutely logical neces- 
sity if we are to have any reality at all, the ethical notions merely 
assumed are necessarily involved and justified, and must find their 
place in an adequate ethical theory, their place being determined 
by the nature of the world which has been proved their justifica- 
tion. In finding the freedom we sought, we find the conception 
also of an ideal, which is indeed the Ideal Person. We find, too, 
a world of obliged persons who live in a world of values ex- 
pressed in terms of right and wrong. We have not far to seek 
for a justification and criterion for a doctrine of happiness; 
and egoism and altruism are now plainly seen to be complemen- 
tary conceptions. The working out of these concepts in detail 
in connection with their ground is foregone here, but we must be 
aware that instead of an excursion into metaphysics by the way 
of epistemology proving unethical, it leads us to the very heart 
of ethics. Indeed, ethics and ontology meet in the doctrine of 
the person. Incidentally, logic as well as morality is shown in- 


compatible with such anti-monisms as are either atheistic or 
irrationally anarchic. The universe is rational. Each thinks his 
own world, but not capriciously therefore, but with primary ref- 
erence to the equally spontaneous and other-referred thought of 
all the rest. The universe is still a universe, not a multiverse, 
but it is made one by final, not efficient causation. 

Further, the unity and interdependence of ethical notions 
is now not only suspected, but really discerned. For the search 
for the justification of one ethical notion, freedom, gradually in- 
volves all the rest ; each implies the rest through the one validat- 
ing ground. Thus, thoroughly to prove one ethical notion, in 
howsoever an attenuated sense, is to demand not only its own 
completed meaning, but the completed meaning of the whole 
circle of ethical concepts. 

Further, with a complete doctrine of the Ethical Person we 
should have an obvious criterion for approaching all in- 
adequate ethical systems from the trivial Aristippian type 
to the modern social rationalisms such as those of 
Kant and of Hegel. The dialectical refutation of each 
could be shown to result in the last resort from a merely 
partial and thus self-defeating conception of ethical personality. 
For instance, the egoistic hedonism of Aristippus, or even of 
Epicurus, could be shown to demand not only the incomplete 
conception of the person as happy, but of the person as rational 
before even the former is possible. The cosmocratic rigorism 
of the Stoics could be shown as at the last annulling its own 
agents by the final sacrifice of the individual to external law, and 
thus, again, crying for its own modification in a law compatible 
with the possibility of agents, which, in turn, make a law possi- 
ble. Egoistic rationalism, such as the aesthetic self-realization 
of Plato, would be seen to pass over of itself into a rationalism 
that is social. This task would form an excellent key to a thor- 
oughly logical history of ethics. As one's criticism approached 



modern times, one would find this encouraging fact : that the es- 
sential spirit of modern philosophy is discovered in the growing 
realization of the fullness, and, in a certain sense, the supremacy 
of the individual. It is this tendency toward an interpretation 
of reality in terms of individuality that places the modern in 
broad contrast with the ancient, who was prone to lose the con- 
sciousness of the individual in the universal. Without being too 
dogmatic, it seems just to say that, in the largest and most im- 
portant sense, whatever progress is deeply discerned in the his- 
tory of philosophy, or of ethics proper, is to be measured in terms 
of the consistent development of a doctrine of personality. 



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