Infomotions, Inc.The relation of Berkeley's later to his earlier idealism. / Tower, Carl Vernon

Author: Tower, Carl Vernon
Title: The relation of Berkeley's later to his earlier idealism.
Publisher: Ann Arbor [The Inland press] 1899.
Tag(s): berkeley, george, 1685-1753; berkeley; siris; sensations; abstract; philosophy; theory; phenomenal object; substance; perception; ideas; notion; principles; consciousness; idea; berkeley's theory
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The Relation of Berkeley's Later 
to His Earlier Idealism 


CARL V. TOWER, A.M., Ph.D., 






The Relation of Berkeley's Later 
to His Earlier Idealism 


CARL V. TOWER, A.M., Ph.D., 











Page 7. Note 1, read p. 176. 

Page 12. Note 5, read note 3, p. 47. 

Page 13. Note 1, read note 3, page 47. 

Page 20. Line 10, read muscle instead of muscular. 

Page 55. Line 29, read mists instead of midst. 

Page 66. Line 24, read Humian instead of human. 






1. Introduction. 

2. Abstract Ideas. 

(a) Abstract Images. 

(b) Universals. 


Ideas and Things. 

1. Idea as Mere Sensation. 

2. Idea as Percept. 

3. Spirit, Phenomenon and Idea. 

CHAPTER III. Constitution of Experience. 

1. Relations. 

(a) Arbitrary Connection. 

(b) Necessary Connection. 

2. Notions and Their Objects. 

(a) Notion of Relations. 

(b) Notion of Spirit. 

CHAPTER IV. Conclusion. 




On one of the pages of Berkeley's Commonplace Book, the 
author notes that ''nothing can be a proof against one side of a 
contradiction that bears equally hard upon the other." One might 
be inclined to admit that a just estimate of the Berkeleian philos- 
ophy resolves itself into this reflection, if it were not that historical 
evidence decidedly favors a more positive interpretation. Unfor- 
tunately, the true appreciation of the attitude adopted toward 
Reality by a philosopher who, like Berkeley, is not a system-maker 
— scarcely a systematizer of philosophic conceptions — is often 
partially obscured by the fact that the positive construction placed 
upon his work by subsequent thinking sometimes emphasizes the 
negative element of his philosophy, and so isolates it from the 
course of later philosophical development. This is a truism, 
but its explanation simply is that the spirit of philosophy respects 
the system by which its course of development is for a time 
apparently arrested. When theory succeeds theory in rapid suc- 
cession, the progress of thought is in single file. A feature, an 
aspect, is sufficient to constitute a farther step in advance. The 
value of the theory is merely extensive, while that of the system is 
also intensive. The system serves always to recall the personality 
of the system maker, the theory is merged in its later outgrowths, 
apart from which it is abstract and featureless. 

Berkeley was not the creator of a system. Rather was he a 
man with a theory of life, of morals, of Reality. Thus it is not 
surprising if, in his philosophy, the many definite tendencies in the 
direction of Empiricism have come to be regarded as almost the 
only positive elements in his conception of the world. 1 The his- 
tory of philosophy makes evident the value of Berkeley as a link 
in the empirical succession from Locke to Mill, though with 
regard to his philosophy as a whole, it may likewise be said that 
Empiricism forms a negative rather than a positive element. The 
lines of thought followed by him in his earlier metaphysical under- 
taking are undoubtedly those which make most clearly and defi- 
nitely toward the empirical views adopted by his successors. It 

1 " In its best known form, as a factor in the history of philosophy, only an 
empirical idealism." Burt: "A History of Modern Philosophy M ( 1S92). 

— 6 — 

was, perhaps, unfortunate for the later acceptance of the Berke- 
leian theory of immaterialism, in a form more acceptable to its 
originator, that the ' new doctrine ' found so ready an acceptance 
as to what have since been regarded as its essential features: The 
Cartesian dualism of thought and existence, so haltingly maintained 
by Locke 1 in his doctrine of substance, added to Berkeley's own 
nominalistic tendency and further sustained by his religious ' re- 
pugnance ' to an atheistical, unthinking ' matter', were the forces 
at work in the life of Berkeley, which early culminated in his view 
that, upon the existence or non-existence of abstract matter, there 
lay at stake the consistency of human reason with itself, and our 
only warrant for the objectivity of the ideals which human reason 
sets for itself. It may indeed be objected that these ideals, being 
so apparently of a theological cast, were the rocks and stubble 
which prevented the successful spading up of false notions und pre- 
judices so vigorously begun. But as Berkeley does not lay claim 
to a philosophy without presuppositions, so neither does he regard 
the prepossessions of his opponents as in themselves obstacles to 
truth, provided only the motives underlying them be not inherently 
self -contradictory. 

Whatever may have been the motive which determined Berke- 
ley to become the promulgator of immaterialism, the discoverer 
himself seemed scarcely aware that the world was already ripe for 
his views. In the enthusiasm which formed the necessary accom- 
paniment of the awakening consciousness of his mission in the 
world of philosophy, Berkeley was in part led to misconstrue 
the task which he had set for himself. Aware that he was to inau- 
gurate a revolution in the current modes of metaphysical thinking, 
and mindful of the "mighty sect of men" which was to oppose 
him, the single problem of the existence or non-existence of mat- 
ter assumed for him a size disproportionate to its true significance, 
in view of the other questions which an idealistic philosophy is 
called upon to solve. Immaterialism 2 is far removed from idealism 
in any positive and definite sense, though the former meant for 
Berkeley the latter, and accordingly upon the doctrine of the im- 
materiality of matter — the first step in the idealistic progression 
which ensued, his early efforts are chiefly directed. The success 
which he attained in the clear and forcible series of arguments em- 
bodied in the Principles of Human Knowledge, was at the time 
grudgingly attested in comments, which, however, may best be ex- 
pressed in the words of the more favorably disposed critic, Hume: 

i Cf. T. H. Webb: "Veil of Isis," p. 12. 

2 "It is the negative side of his philosophy to which— unfortunately, but 
naturally — he was led in his early works to give the greatest relative considera- 
tion." Morris: "British Thought and Thinkers", p. 221. 

Berkeley's arguments says he, "admit of no answer and produce 
no conviction." 1 

" But the lessons in scepticism which Hume drew from them 
were foreign, not only to the spirit and intention of Berkeley, but 
in not a few instances, even in his earlier philosophy seemed directly 
opposed to the mould in which it was cast. Berkeley certainly over- 
shot his mark in his too vigorous insistence upon the sensuous 
character of all that we know; and in consequence the objectivity 
of thought relations, which any idealism of value must in some 
sense lay claim to discover, appear, indeed, in his philosophy as 
a background, but highly colored with theological notions. His 
idealism, being a theory rather than a system, the various aspects 
which it assumes are external to one another; yet one form of ideal- 
ism drops out of sight, rather than is premeditatedly abandoned 
for another. He runs the whole gamut of idealisms from phe- 
nomenalism to what is in the end very like Platonic Realism. 
There is something kaleidescopic about this progression, one can- 
not say that there is any true line of demarcation between the 
earlier and the later, although the fundamental difference is appa- 
rent. Berkeley never deepens his conceptions to the extent of 
fully ascertaining if they are in agreement or non-agreement with 
the propositions which form the starting point of his early posi- 
tion. 2 Thus there results a number of seemingly heterogeneous 
lines of thought which are, in great part, rather suggestions and 
beginnings in thought than steps in a course of logical development. 
If, then, our interpretation shall endeavor to determine the resultant 
of these lines of thought it ought to effect this, not by a process of 
subjectively balancing the evidence for or against the earlier or the 
later theory as representative of Berkeley, but by taking such ex- 
plicit utterances as he offers us in his general attitude toward phil- 
osophy other than his own. Berkeley has most frequently been 
regarded as an extreme Nominalist, and upon this basis largely 
rests the claim of Empiricism upon him as its representative. This 
Nominalism, whether of an extreme or, as some would have it, of 
a modified type, is best set forth in his discussion of Abstract 

1 Works; Hume IV, p. 181. 

'* ''We may be "inclined to wonder," says Balfour in his biographical introduc- 
tion to Berkeley's works, that a man who had done so much before he was thirty, had 
not done much more by the time he was sixty. * * * That he produced so 
little in his maturer years is doubtless due in part to temperament, and to the dis- 
traction of an unsettled and wandering life, but it must also be largely attributed 
to the almost total absence of intelligent criticism, either from friends or foes, under 
which Berkeley suffered throughout the whole period during which criticism might 
have aroused him to make some serious effort to develop or to defend the work of 
his youth." "The Works of George Berkeley,'' edited by George Sampson, 

— 8 — 

Ideas, which constitutes his Introduction to the Principles of Hu 
man Knowledge, and it is accordingly with this work as a basis 
that we shall introduce the first of the topics in this discussion. 


(a) Abstract Images. 

The philosophical discussions and-dialogues of Berkeley every- 
where abound in figures, and the effect of his metaphors is sometimes 
to make one think that the Platonism of his later years was indeed the 
undercurrent of his life, for a time obscured by the new discovery 
which attracted him in his youth. The predominating figure which, 
in his early philosophy, serves to clothe his conception of the 
world is that of the analogy of human language to a divine lan- 
guage, which forms the interpretable system of nature. Our fail- 
ure to interpret correctly this divine nature-language is in a large 
measure owing to our lack of appreciation of the true function of 
human language. 

Now Philosophers have generally regarded the paradoxes and 
inconsistencies that reason is wont to encounter in its search for 
metaphysical truth as due to the inherent weakness of our faculties 
which, being finite, are unable to "penetrate into the inward 
essence and constitution of things" 1 in themselves infinite. But 
"it is a hard thing to suppose right deductions from true princi- 
ples should ever end in consequences which cannot be maintained 
or made consistent." 2 Human reason, we should think, ought, if 
unhindered, to yield more satisfactory conclusions to the problems 
which it has it self raised, and "we should believe that God has 
dealt more bountifully with the sons of men than to give them a 
strong desire for that knowledge which he had placed quite out of 
their reach." 3 

The errors to which the untrammelled exercise of reason has 
given rise have been attributed solely to the finitude of reason as 
such, and it has not yet been sufficiently pointed out that the most 
fruitful source of them is language. The flexibility of language, 
which adapts it to ordinary intercourse and the common business 
of life, becomes its chief difficulty when it is of necessity em- 
ployed in the nicer discriminations of metaphysics. Here as 
everywhere the word is our master, or is likely to become so, if the 
relations which it bears to our reasoning be not definitely under- 

1 Introduction to the Principles of Human Knowledge, § 2. 

2 Ibid. § 3. 

3 Ibid. 

— 9 — 

Usually the word may be said to signify a conscious process; 
frequently, also, it does not. In the former case a conscious con- 
tent is the equivalent of the word, in the latter merely a cerebral 
process. "Fear, love, hatred, admiration, and disdain, and the 
like, arise immediately in the mind upon the perception of certain 
words, without any ideas coming between " ' — or, on the other hand 
the word may arouse as its equivalent a more or less definite idea. 
Language has thus other uses than that of arousing conscious pro- 
cesses by coupling a word with a particular definitely recognized 
conscious content or idea, since the word may arouse to action or 
passion without the intervention of the idea. Thus we see that a 
word may stand for no idea at all. or it may stand for other par- 
ticular ideas than that of which it serves as the sign in any particu- 
lar instance. 

But the adaptability of language to the demands made upon it 
by ordinary life render it impossible for a word, by means of a fixed 
definition, to correspond in every case to the same definite con- 
scious content. The definition indeed serves to govern and 
restrict the corresponding idea to relation^ among other ideas to 
which the definition is also applicable; but it is not true that the 
word stands always for the same idea. The mistaken notion that 
every name has "one only precise and settled signification" 2 has 
occasioned the belief in abstract ideas or abstract notions from 
which has sprung much confusion in metaphysical thinking. 
Thus men have come to regard the concepts of qualities, or of 
beings, which include several coexistent qualities, as abstract ideas. 

We are now in a position to see a little way into the difficulty 
which Berkeley finds with the 'abstract idea' of his opponents. 
Without attempiing in this place to establish a rigid definition of 
the Berkeleyian idea, it may be noted that is is oftenest synonymous 
with the above acceptation of a particular, definite, recognizable 
content of consciousness. The freedom which Locke allowed 
himself in the definition of idea as, "whatever is the object of the 
understanding when a man thinks " 3 is a liberty which Berkeley 
does nothing to restrict. The two conditions which it seems are 
everywhere necessary to the idea are that it shall be (a) a content 
of consciousness, (b) recognized as a definite content of conscious- 
ness, i. e., perceived. 

Now the abstract idea appears in Berkeley's eyes to be in the 
following anomalous position. As idea, it must be recognizable as 
a definite content of consciousness, but, as abstract, it must — so 
it is claimed — be different in kind from the particulars, out of which, 

1 Principles of Human Knowledge; § 20 of Introduction. 

2 Ibid. § 18. 

3 " Essay concerning Human Understanding." Introduction, § 8 

— 10 — 

by observation of their common likenesses, the abstract idea has 
been formed. What Berkeley seems to say to his opponents in his 
polemic against abstract ideas is in effect this: 'You tell me that 
there are such things as abstract ideas — that besides the ideas of 
sense, the ideas of imagination, the ideas "perceived by attending 
to the passions and operations of the mind," 1 the ideas of mem- 
ory, ete., etc., you have also ideas from which all particulars are 
excluded, and which, though relating to the particular ideas that 
may be subsumed under them, are not themselves particular. But 
if these ideas for which you contend are anything at al/, they are 
recognizable by you as definite conscious contents, and are thus 
particular, and, in so far, like the other particular ideas which you 
have. You can accordingly describe them, and, having recourse 
to introspection, you must surely discover that all you have are 
particular ideas. By some of these ideas you may indeed denote 
numbers of other particular ideas — but nowhere will you find the 
thing you call abstract idea.' 

If the foregoing is a correct interpretation of Berkeley's 
thought about abstract ideas, it is easy to see that his difficulty 
with them lay in the unimaginableness of such things. An abstract 
image is, as Fraser says, manifestly absurd. 2 Taken in this sense 
it is doubtful if Locke — whom Berkeley seems to have chiefly in 
mind — ever seriously contended for such a thing. 3 On the other 
hand, if Berkeley be not understood to have thus misconceived the 
doctrine of his opponent as grossly as ever Locke misconstrued 
Descartes' 'innate ideas,' the distinction between his own view 
and that of the upholder of abstract ideas is far less than is often 
supposed. For Berkeley by no means denies the possibility of 
there being general ideas. All he denies is that there are general 
ideas or general notions taken in the above sense of abstract 
images. Let us see if Locke's own description of abstract ideas 
may serve further to explain Berkeley's difficulties. 

Locke says: " The use of words then being to stand as out- 
ward marks of our internal ideas, and those ideas being taken 
from particular things, if every particular idea that we take in 
should have a distinct name, names must be endless. To prevent 
this, the mind makes particular ideas received from particular 
objects to become general; which is done by considering them as 
they are in the mind such appearances — separate from other exist- 
ences, and the circumstances of real existence, as time, place, or 

1 " Principles," § i. 

2 Selections, p 19, note. 

3 Like Berkeley, "Locke has everywhere a sober dread of abstraction, and 
clings to the particular and concrete with a sense of the risk of losing the real in 
the emptiness of the universal." Locke's 'Essay'; Fraser's ed., vol. II, p. 101, 
note 2. 

— 11 — 

any other concomitant ideas. This is called abstraction, whereby 
ideas taken from particular beings become general representatives 
of all of the same kind; and their names general names, applicable 
to whatever exists conformable to such abstract ideas. Such pre- 
cise naked appearances in the mind'" — -which Beckeley takes to mean 
images — " without considering how, whence, or with what others 
they come there, the understanding lays up (with names commonly 
annexed to them) as the standards to rank real existences into sorts, 
as they agree with these patterns, and to denominate them accord- 
ingly." 1 

Now this passage in which the doctrine of abstraction is ex- 
plicitly set forth, does not of itself particularly favor Berkeley's 
interpretation of Locke, but the subsequent use which the latter 
makes of abstractions in which e. g. the idea of extension is treated 
as something which we possess apart from the idea of that which 
is extended, and the idea of hardness apart from that which is felt 
— these, coupled with the passage immediately following the one 
we have just quoted, in which it is said that "the having of gen- 
eral ideas is that which puts a perfect distinction betwixt man and 
brute," induce Berkeley to think that the having of abstract ideas 
means the possession of a faculty the existence of which man is 
not able to verify by direct introspection of himself or by observa- 
tion of the way in which objects come to be recognized in consci- 
ousness of a lower order than his own. In one of the dialogues 
there is to be found this passage: " I understand that the several 
parts of the world became gradually preceivable to finite spirits, 
endowed with proper faculties." 2 If this maybe accepted as a 
hint toward an indeal evolution or spiritual unfolding of nature, 3 
it may be seen that Berkley would naturally rebel against the claim 
that man possesses a faculty so different in kind 4 from that belong- 
ing to animals of a lower order than himself, and so undesirable as 
an element of his own consciousness. The abstract idea, in the 
sense of abstract image — that indescribable something which is 
neither this nor that definite and particular thing, but which is set 
over against the other definite and imaginable contents of consci- 
ousness — an idea of this sort Berkeley claims it is impossible to/ 

(b) Universals. 

It would be in a great measure to anticipate a discussion of 
the notion and its objects if we were at this point to dwell at length 
upon Berkeley's positive conception of universals. Yet a few 

1 Locke's Essay, Bk. II, Ch. XI, 9. 

2 " Philonous", 3d dialogue. 

3 Cf. also, " Siris," note 2 of Fraser's "Selection's," p. 343. 
4 Intro. to "Principles," § n. 

— 12 — 

words may be sufficient to show that with the abstract idea, in any- 
other sense than that of abstract image, he finds no very great 
difficulty. He regards the abstract image as an absurdity because, 
although a content of consciousness different in kind from particu 
lars, it, however, always reduces itself to particulars which it pro- 
fesses not to be. "But," says he, "it is to be noted that I do not 
deny absolutely there are general ideas, but only that there are any 
abstract general ideas; for, in the passage we have quoted wherein 
there is mention of general ideas, it is always supposed that they 
are formed by abstraction after the manner set forth in sections 8 
and 9," 1 which last '-'I do not think a whit more needful for the 
enlargement of knowledge than for communication." 2 "It is, I 
know, a point much insisted on that all knowledge and demonstra- 
tion are about universal notions, to which I fully agree; but then it 
does not appear to me that those notions are formed by abstrac- 
tion in the manner premised — universality, so far as I can com- 
prehend, not consisting in the absolute, positive 3 nature or concep- 
tion of anything, but in the relation it bears to the particulars 
signified or represented by it; by virtue whereof it is that things, 
names, or notions, being in their own nature particular, are ren- 
dered universal." 4 

Thus it is not the claim that we are able to generalize experi- 
ence by means of "universal notions" to which Berkeley takes 
exception, but rather the claim, which rightly or wrongly he reads 
into Locke, "that those notions are formed by abstraction in the 
manner premised." And it is not so much the process of abstrac- 
tion that he objects to as the hypostatization of the abstraction 
thus formed; for, thus hypostatized, it is the abstract image to 
which every element of particularity is denied. The abstract 
universal, in fulfilling its claim to be idea in consciousness, must 
have its sensuous aspect, and so must submit itself to the condition 
of being particular, 5 though a particular with a universal reference; 
but this necessary element of particularity is denied it by its 
claimants; hence the falsity and uselessness of such an idea. But 
it might be objected to Berkeley, this abstract universal has indeed 
a sensuous side, though the particularity of the idea does not neces- 
sarily follow from this, and consequently it is not what you claim 
it to be — an abstract image. Thus it is surely possible to form the 
idea of man in general which, in the meaning that it has for me, is 

1 Introduction to Principles of Human Knowledge, § 12. 
1 Ibid. § 15 

s i. e. As an inflexible quasi-entity in the form of abstract image, having no 
relation to the particular to which it is presumably applicable. 
* Introduction to Principles of Human Knowledge, § 15. 
J v. note 2, p. 131 of this essay. 

— 13 — 

different from the particular fleeting images which accompany this 
abstract idea; and, as the latter has for me this universal meaning, 
it is in consciousness a something distinct from the particular. To 
this we might, in behalf of Berkeley, ask in reply: Why then is it 
not the case that, granted the same premises, we march straight to 
the same conclusions? If we differ in our reasonings, is it not 
because we differ in our experiences, and because, in consequence, 
the sensuous images, which are only the obverse of the universals 
we employ, necessarily have something to do with our conclusions? 
In the Commonplace Book, Berkeley instructs an imaginary reader 
as follows: "Let him not regard my words any otherwise than as 
occasions of bringing into his mind determined significations . . . 
I desire and warn him not to expect to find truth in any book or 
anywhere but in his own mind." Our assurance of truth, he seems 
to imply, is in the correspondence of the experiences of finite 
beings; and hence, if we would have truth we must not neglect the 
particular sensuous aspect of our experience, nor yet regard it as a 
hinderance to the universal which it bears within it. Not that we 
could ever attain truth by means of particulars which have no uni- 
versal aspect, though every idea is indeed particular. "If we will 
annex a meaning to our words and speak only of what we can con- 
ceive, I believe we shall acknowledge that an idea, which, consid- 
ered in itself, is particular, becomes general by being made to 
represent or stand for all other particular ideas of the same sort." 
The idea, then, which is in itself definite and particular, the 
image, and the conglomerate of particular experiences, has never- 
theless a representative character in which may be seen the 
evaluation by the rational consciousness of the particulars which 
the image is taken to represent. That is, we are confined to par- 
ticulars, Berkeley says; but particulars, at least some of them, have 
a universal reference, this universal reference consisting in simply 
recognizing that the general idea has no peculiarity which marks it 
off as the special property of any particular idea. 1 Thus the idea 
of a triangle is a general idea or notion, not "as if I could frame 
the idea of a triangle which is neither equilateral, nor scalenon, nor 
equicrural; but only that the particular triangle which I consider, 
whether of this or of that sort it matters not, doth equally stand 
for and represent all rectilinear triangles whatsoever, and is in that 
sense universal."' 2 • 

As a conclusion of the matter we may, I think, fairly interpret 
Berkeley as follows: In our thinking we are confined to particu- 
lars i. e., there are not in our consciousness universals existing as 
quasi-entities over against a number of particulars different from 

1 Cf . later discussions of the notion; also note 2, p. — of this essay. 
* Introduction to the "Principles," § 15. 

— 14 — 

them in kind. The human mind is of the nature of a republic 
rather than of a monarchical system. . On the other hand, the par- 
ticularity of the idea is not its only aspect; for the universality of 
certain of our ideas at least is as true and immediately recogniz- 
able as the particularity which belongs to them all. If this is a 
fair interpretation of Berkeley, as we read this doctrine in the 
Introduction to the Principles of Human Knowledge, I see noth- 
ing that can justify the belief that he assigns a prior right to the 
particular as against the universal. Rather does it seem to be a 
plea for the equal rights of the universal and the particular, as dis- 
tinguishable features of the idea. 

But the importance of Berkeley's defense of the particular, as 
against the asserted existence of a featureless abstraction, must 
not, on that account, be minimized. He is here as elsewhere more 
often the champion of the particular than of the universal; and the 
impetuosity of his attack upon the territory usurped by his oppon- 
ent doubtless prevented him from seeing that his own defenses 
were hastily constructed, sufficient for the occasion only, but not 
of a character to withstand the carefully planned attacks of later 
thought. Thus it comes about that "his defective views on this 
subject perplex his whole philosophy." Dr. James McCosh, no 
very friendly critic, says: "he rejects, as I believe he ought, 
abstract ideas, in the sense of Locke, that is, in the sense of im- 
ages of qualities; and he claims it is his merit that he gets rid of 

grand abstractions but, while he has exposed the errors 

of Locke, he has not established the positive truth Had 

he taken as much pains in unfolding what is contained in ' consid- 
ering ' a figure as triangular, and Peter as man, without consider- 
ing other qualities, and what is involved in forming general propo- 
sitions and reasoning about qualities, as he has taken to expel 
abstract ideas in the sense of phantasms, he would have saved his 
own philosophy, and philosophy generally from his day to this, 
from an immense conglomeration of confusion." 1 This is no 
doubt true; but it is not impossible that where, as in the case of 
Berkeley's philosophy, it is admitted on all sides that "an immense 
conglomeration of confusion " exists, a part of the confusion may 
be due to the neglect of certain strongly marked lines of thought 
in favor of others less prominent in his philosophy as a whole, but 
more clearly developed at certain stages of its progress. As Profes- 
sor Wenley says: "Like Kant, Berkeley is not to be regarded in one 
aspect of his work only, and the same materials which viewed in a 
certain aspect, constitute in a large measure his value for philos- 
ophy should perhaps be viewed in another light, if we are to be 
true to the thought of the founder of idealism himself." 2 

'McCosh: ''Locke's Theory of Knowledge with a notice of Berkeley " in 
■Criteria of Truth, p. 57. 

2 "British Thought and Modern Speculation," in Scottish Review, Vol. 19. 



In the beginning which we have thus made in our attempted 
determination of the general Berkeleian conception of the world, 
his view of abstract ideas has been given the first place as the 
epistemological moti£ of that idealistic attitude toward Reality 
which Berkeley Inaugurated. Partly on account of the natural 
limitations attaching to human language, partly because of the 
negligence of metaphysicians, who do not always verify the cor- 
respondence between the terms which they employ, and definite 
concrete thoughts, without which words are mere stumbling blocks 
in the way of logical thinking — it has come about that a kind of 
spurious currency was brought into circulation, which has not 
been without its effect upon the metaphysics of the past. It is 
Berkeley's professed task to recall men to a more adequate appre- 
ciation of the meanings that underlie the terms by which they 
designate supposed existences. "Nothing," says he, "seems of 
more importance toward erecting a firm system of sound and real 
knowledge, which may be proof against the assaults of scepticism 
than to lay the beginning in a distinct explication of what is meant 
by thing, reality, existence, for in vain shall we dispute concern- 
ing the ' real existence ' of things, or pretend to any knowledge 
thereof, so long as we have not fixed the meaning of those words." 1 

In this enquiry with which Berkeley sets out there may be 
found at least some feeble anticipation of that later " voyage of 
discovery " which was to tax the energies of a mightier intellect 
than his own. "'Tis on the meaning and import of existence that 
I chiefly insist." The metaphysical question: what is Reality? 
Berkeley is the first to raise explicitly in the form, what is the 
meaning of Reality or rather, we may say, what assignable mean- 
ing can we give to that which we call Reality, i. e. by what ideas 
can we designate the Real ? The solution of this problem is partly 
foreshadowed in the very manner of stating the question itself. 
The Real must at least fulfill the negative condition of not being 
that which cannot be expressed or in some way verified in ideas. 
But then what are ideas ? 

For answer Berkeley unquestioningly sets out from the Car- 
tesian separation of thought and existence, idea and thing. Re- 
ality was virtually comprehended under these two categories, and 

1 Principles of Human Knowledge § S9. 

— 1(5 — 

as the Lockian psychological theory of knowledge progressed it 
became more and more evident that these two heterogeneous quid- 
dities would never fulfill the requirement of explaining one another, 
which had been implied in the assertion of their mutual relation. 
There was needed a bold stroke which would at once destroy the 
independence of thought or substance. The violent disruption of 
these two existents effected by Decartes must be succeeded by the 
summary relegation of one or the other to the rank of dependent 
existence. And there was no question as to which should ulti- 
mately yield precedence to the other. The unknown must ever 
derive its explanation from the known. Knowledge had been de- 
fined by Locke as the preception of the connexion and agreement 
or disagreement and repugnancy between our ideas. It only 
remained to discover whether or not ideas alone, and the knowl- 
edge we have by means of them, are in harmony with the ordinary 
preceptions of life and that partially organized system of truth of 
which we are made aware in the knowledge of the several sciences. 
An affirmative answer to this question would mean that ideas, 
hitherto conceived as subjective merely, and thus in separation 
from an unknown substance, must declare their adequacy to fulfill 
all the conditions of objectivity required by the scientific and 
ordinary naive consciousness. The objectivity of the idea once 
established, as idea it would yet retain its essential relatedness t-j 
the percipient and cognitive consciousness, and thus maintain its 
position as an element in a system of conscious experiences. Carte- 
sian substance could thus be banished to the limbo of useless 
metaphysical abstractions. 

The obstacles in the way of the desired consummation which 
presented themselves to Berkeley were, in the first place, the preju- 
dices of mankind, and second, the semblance of agreement between 
substance and ideas, which still remained in the Lockian epistem- 
ology as the formal assertion of a correspondence between ideas, 
and the primary qualities of things. 

With regard to the first difficulty, the long established prepos- 
sessions of men in favor of unthinking substance would naturally 
render them unfavorably disposed toward an abrupt reversal of 
their customary ways of thinking. Thus, until they could be 
brought to see that true objectivity does not necessarily imply the 
existence of an unknown or unknowable substance, and that ideas 
do not of necessity mean floating fancies and mere subjective crea- 
tions of the mind, prejudice must be overcome by a review of the 
practical benefits conferred upon mankind by the Berkeleian "new 
discovery." Now, the extreme materialism of Hobbes and Gas- 
sendi, and the tendency towards the complete mechanical inter- 
pretation of everything, prevalent at the time of Berkeley, which, 
as b£ declares, is. foreign t& his nature, together with his own pious. 

— 17 — 

inclinations, brought it about that practical benefits were for him, 
in large part, synonymous with theological benefits. The result was 
that Berkeley fought the battle of Immaterialism with the Essay of 
Locke in one hand and the weapons of adeistic theology in the other. 

But, in the second place, as we have said, Locke's emphasis 
upon the ideal character of existence ill served to maintain a union 
between the primary qualities of substance and their ideal counter- 
parts in the mind. The 'secondary qualities' had already taken 
their places in the ideal, which was also the knowable, system of 
experiences. Color, sound, heat, etc., many of the 'ideas' 
which go to make up the world of which we have actual experience, 
had already been declared subjective. The 'primary qualities,' 
five in number, extension, motion or rest, figure and number, 
together with impenetrability or solidity, were also 'ideas;' 
although supposedly the conscious effects of unknown coexistent 
causes. The only inlets into the "dark chamber of the under- 
standing" were the senses; yet so far as concerned real knowledge 
of the world beyond consciousness, the senses were closed doors. 
The charge of subjective idealism would have been preferred 
against Locke had not Berkeley's own doctrine been at hand. 1 

The only egress from subjectivity lay in the recognition that 
all ideas of sense may, in one aspect, be viewed as subjective; 
while, in another aspect, it is equally true that they may be 
regarded as objective; and it is only in this way that objectivity of 
system, that is, rational knowledge, can declare itself. Thus we 
may, I think, understand Berkeley to say: If you have regard to 
an unthinking 'matter' or 'substance,' unknown or unknowable, 
independent of mind, I maintain that, in such a reference, ideas 
are subjective, mind-related things beyond which you cannot pass 
to supposed existences different from conscious facts. But if by 
'objective' you mean the system of factual experience which we 
term the objective world, it is in that case the objectivity of the 
idea for which I contend; and furthermore, "I make extension, 
color, etc., to exist really in bodies independent of our mind." 
"You mistake me," he says in his third dialogue between Hylas 
and Philonous, "I am not for changing things into ideas, but 
rather ideas into things." 

Primary qualities are then to he deposed from the position xif 
independent existences and are tfl rank now with secondary quali- 
ties. But how effect this? They are useless assumptions, for, 
just as. sound and color (subjective appearances) seem .to b^ essen- 

1 For Locke's own approach to an idealistic position, Cf. e. g. T. H. Webb; 
Veil of Isis, passage above quoted, pp. 12-13. Also Locke's Essay: Bk. IV., Ch. 
II., 14; Bk. IV., Ch. XL, 1; Bk. IV., Ch. XL, 3; IV., XI.,8(Cit. in " Veil of Isis"). 

— 18 — 

tially coexistent with the other objective aspects of our world of 
experience, so do the ideal counterparts of the primary qualities 
equally well fill up the manifold of objective experiences. Only 
the bare assertion remains that, corresponding to these ideal quali- 
ties, are their originals, presumably more real than they; the 
former being, as it were, photographs of the latter, shot into the 
mind, and preserving in some miraculous fashion the pristine 
beauty and truth belonging to the originals. But wherein lies the 
difference between these and the secondary; and why are not these 
latter also supposed to inhere in an unknown something beyond 

Now the primary qualities in their ideational character are 
referred to powers, secondary qualities to combinations of powers 
in an unknown substance. Accordingly the latter, although 
denominated by Locke 'simple ideas,' or simple elements of 
knowledge, are nevertheless, with reference to their origin in 
unknown combinations of 'powers,' complex; and it is because 
of their complexity that this class of ideas possess that distinctively 
ideal character which seems to belong- to them and not to the 
' primary qualities.' But how do we attain a knowledge of their 
complexity? By the introspection of conscious contents, of course, 
together with observation of the conditions under which we intro- 
spect; from which it appears e. g. that what is hot to one hand is 
cold to the other, or what is sweet to one palate may be bitter to 
another — requisite conditions being given. Thus you may refer 
secondary qualities to unknown combinations of powers, resident 
in one unknown substance if you will; but the real complexity of 
so-called mental elements is your test, and the condition under 
which your judgment is made, is relativity of the idea to the per- 
cipient organism. The complexity of the experienced mental contents 
is then the equivalent of their condemnation to rank also as inde- 
pendent entities by means of objective counterparts; and conversely, 
simplicity means the guarantee of their right so to exist. We have 
thus a sufficient criterion by which to judge of the validity of 
Locke's claim in behalf of primary qualities; and it is this task 
which Berkeley sets for himself in the Theory of Vision, though by 
no means attempting an exhaustive analysis of this class of ideas. 


Berkeley now proposes to turn the tables, and subject primary 
qualities also to the test of experience which, as we shall see, 
involves a reference of primary to secondary qualities. He wishes 
to test the less definitely known by the more completely known, 
rather than, with Locke, to refer the more definitely known to the 
more hypothetical. In the Theory of Vision the analysis of that 
class of ideas which have hitherto been regarded as simple elements 

— 19 — 

of consciousness is undertaken with reference to Sight and Touch 
only, although the essay undoubtedly implies far more than that 
which is explicitly set forth as the design of the author, which is: 
" to show the manner wherein we perceive by sight the Distance, 
Magnitude and Situation of objects; also to consider the difference 
there is betwixt the ideas of Sight and Touch and whether there be 
any idea common to both senses." 1 

In the second book of the essay, Locke had shown that "we 
get the idea of space, both by our sight and touch," which, says 
he, "is so evident, that it would be as needless to go to prove that 
men perceive, by their sight, a distance between bodies of different 
colors, or between the parts of the same body, as that they see 
colors themselves." 2 "This space, considered barely in length 
between any two beings, without considering anything else between 
them is called distance." 3 Now it was the current theory, to which 
Locke gave countenance, that the spatial determination, distance 
is perceivable by the sense or sight regardless of the way in which 
it is perceived by touch, against which the first argument in the 
Theory of Vision was raised. The initial assumption underlying 
the series Of arguments with respect to distance, is the common 
agreement that "Distance of itself, and immediately, cannot be 
see_n.~ Distance not being immediately perceivable by sight and 
yet being perceived, it follows that it is "brought into view by 
means of some other idea, that is itself immediately perceived in 
the act of vision." 4 These other ideas are then merely 'signs' or 
suggestions by which distance is introduced into the mind as a 
conscious percept or idea. Against the view that the mind by a 
kind of natural geometry immediately perceives distance by the 
mathematical judgment of lines and angles; and also against 
another opinion held by writers on optics to the effect that the eye 
judges distance by the greater or less divergence of the_ra^s_trans- 
mitted from the object, Berkeley urges objections which may be 
briefly stated as follows: (i) There are no such mathematical per- 
ceptions, for introspection does not reveal a process of computa- 
tion or comparison of lines and angles. (2) Lines and angles, 
being merely mathematical hypotheses, are not objectively existent. 
(3) If the foregoing mathematical judgments were involved in our 
preception of distance, they would yet be insufficient of themselves 
to explain the phenomena we are considering. For the idea of 
distance being mediated by other ideas we must necessarily have 

1 Theory of Vision, Jj 31. 

2 Locke's Essay; Bk. H, Ch. xiii, § 2. 
3 Ibid. § 3. 

* Theory of Vision § 2. 
5 Ibid. § n. 

— 20 — 

some regard to the latter in determining the composition of our 
perception of distance. Thus introspection will show us that ideas, 
or sensations as we might now call them, produced by the muscu- 
lar movement of the eyeball, accompany the accommodation of 
the eye for nearer or more remote vision. 

Again with regard to the phenomena of accommodation, 
Berkeley tells us that the perception of distance is aided by the 
"strain sensations " with which we correct the confused appear- 
ance of objects brought too near the eye. But besides these mus- 
cia sensations or 'visual ideas' or 'signs' accompanying the 
employment of the ' visive faculty,' there are also visible signs, 
such as the particular number, size, kind, etc , of the things seen; 
and all these are of use to us in the determination of distance. 
From the foregoing we may conclude, that a man born blind would, 
if he were subsequently enabled to see, receive an entirely new set 
of sensations, which would be mere mind-related symbols, but 
meaningless, until their significance was learned by means of asso' 
ciating them with those sensations earlier formed in his experience. 
Now color, Berkeley is ready to assume, is the proper and imme- 
diate object of sight, and this, being a secondary quality, is not 
without the mind; whereas 'outness' or independence of the 
mind is ascribed to extension, figure, and motion. But extension is 
inseparable from color, and where extension is there too is figure 
and also motion. In proof of this, we have the experience that 
the appearance of an object alters with its proximity to or distance 
from the observer, this difference displaying itself in the degree of 
faintness of color and outline. 

The conclusion now is that the strictly visual sensations, col- 
ors, refer us to tactual sensations, sensations of muscular effort 
experienced in the resistance which bodies offer to us, sensations 
of bodily movement and of the movement of bodily organs, and 
lastly, sensations of muscular effort experienced in going to the 
distant object. •' Ideas of space, outness, and things placed at a 
distance are not, strictly speaking, the objects of the sight; they are 
no otherwise perceived by the eye than by the ear." 1 But it has 
come about in our experience that ideas of hearing are more easily 
separable from ideas of touch than are those of sight. We hear 
the footfall of a man walking upon the street and we readily recog- 
nize the ideal character of the experienced sound; but it is a more 
difficult matter to realize that the man whom we see arouses a 
totally different class of sensations from the man whom we touch. 
Yet it is nevertheless true that, just as familiar words immediately 
arouse in our minds meanings far different from the sounds which 
are also conveyed, but of which we are scarcely aware, "so like- 

1 Theory of Vision § 46. 

— 21 — 

wise the secondary objects, or those which are only suggested by 
sight, do often more strongly affect us, and are more regarded, 
than the proper objects of that sense." ' 

As in the case of Distance, we find that Magnitude also is not 
immediate but suggested. The 'lines and angles' argument is 
reasserted to prove the immediacy of our preception of magnitude 
by Sight independently of the sense of Touch; but, again, recourse 
to introspection declares the experiential nature of judgments of 
this kind. The magnitude of the visible object constantly changes 
with change of distance between the real object and the observer; 
therefore, when we speak of the magnitude or size of a thing, it 
must be that we have reference to a more stable, tangible, magni- 
tude. 2 Again with regard to the Measurement of Magnitudes, the 
essentially relative and inconstant nature of visible Magnitude at 
once declares its utility as a standard. It is not the merely visible 
foot or visible yard that we adopt as the unit of linear measure- 
ment for these appear of different lengths according to their dis- 
tance from the eye; but it is rather a constant and invariable, tan- 
gible, magnitude to which we appeal. In further support of Berke- 
ley's contention that Magnitude is perceived in the same manner 
as Distance, we are reminded that "what we immediately and 
properly see are only lights and colors in sundry situations and 
shades, and degrees of faintness and clearness, confusion and dis- 
tinctness." 3 

The heterogeniety of the ideas of Sight and Touch is further 
shown by an analysis of what is contained in the ideas of Position 
or Situation. Experience teaches us that certain ideas of touch 
go with certain other ideas of 'visible' things, and that, on the 
occasion of the latter, an instantaneous and true estimate of the 
situation of outward tangible objects is made. These two classes 
of ideas are two entirely different kinds of experience. "That 
which I see is only variety of light and colors. That which I feel 
is hard or soft, hot or cold, rough or smooth. What similitude, 
what connexion, have those ideas with these ? " But some have 
nevertheless asserted the imposibility of thus divorcing visible and 
tangible ideas, urging as a reason the numerical identity of the 
objects of these senses and the equality of the number as given 
immediately in the visual idea. To this Berkeley replies that 

Ubid, §51. 

2 Note: Throughout the essay, tangible magnitude, tangible idea, tangible 
object, etc.. mean for Berkeley real magnitude, real idea, real object. At this 
juncture Berkeley enlightens us somewhat vviih regard to his apparent use of 
" tangible ideas" as the ultimate sense data. The reason here given is the evi- 
dent utility of such sensations for the perservation of the bodily organism, "they 
are adapted to benefit or injure our bodies, and thereby produce in our minds the 
sensations of pleasure or pain." Cf. § on Suggestion, 

3 "Theory of Vision," § 77, 

— 22 — 

number also is a "creature. of the mind" 1 nothing fixed and set- 
tled, really existing in things themselves; whatever the mind 
chooses to regard as one is a unit, and the same thing from another 
point of view may be a manifold. "We must learn the applicability 
of number to visible as well as to tangible ideas. The confusion 
between these two kinds of ideas has led to the above mentioned 
difficulty about objects being painted inverted upon the retina yet 
seen upright; for, relatively to the visible earth, the position of 
the retinal object is correctly depicted, and relatively to the tan- 
gible earth, that with which we are concerned is only the outward 
tangible object. 

The conclusion with regard to Distance, Magnitude and SituV" 
ation, warrants us in affirming the following proposition: "The 
extension, figures, and motions perceived by sight are specifically 
distinct from the idea of touch, called by the same name; nor is 
there any such thing as one idea, or kind of idea, common to both 
senses." 2 There is no idea common to both these senses, because 
ideas of light and color, being the only immediate objects of sight, 
are specifically distinct from ideas of touch, and in consequence, 
Space, Distance, Magnitude, Extension and Motion 3 are suggested 
mediate ideas. 

But if Sight and Touch yield us two entirely different sets of 
ideas, why do we denote by the same name these groupings of dif- 
ferent ideas ? Furthermore, why are these ideas so mingled to- 
gether in our experience as to seem inseparable ? The answer to 
both these questionsjs: In the course of our experience it has 
come about that Visible and Tangible ideas have been constantly 
associated together so that one has become the mark or sign of 
the other. Thus a visible square suggests a tangible square 
because, having learned the applicability of number to both sets of 
ideas, we see that one resembles the other in having a correspond- 
ing number of parts or marks. But this 'sign language' whereby 
visible ideas suggest tangible ideas, has been learned early in our 
experience; and there has thus resulted the constant confusion 
between them. The perception of an external world is apparently 
immediate, experience having brought about such facility in the 
interpretation of signs; but because of this, we are led to the 
wrong inference that this immediateness is due to the sense of 
sight alone, whereas by that sense we are made aware of colors 
only, in 'varying degrees of light and shade. 

It is now time to enquire more particularly into the nature of 

1 " Principles," § 12. 
^-2"Theory of Vision," § 127. 

3 Not?.: That visible and tangible motion have nothing in common follows 
as a corollary from the difference between visible and tangible extension — vide § 
137. " Theory of Vision." 


— 23 — 

the Berkelian idea as set forth in the preceding sections of the 
Theory of Vision. On the way to this we may note the definition 
that occurs in § 45 of the Essay in which it is said: "I take the 
word idea for any immediate object of sense or understanding 
— in which large signification it is commonly used by the mod- 
erns." This statement, however, is made with reference to "tang- 
ible ideas " only. In its scope it is equivalent to the Lockian idea 
and also to Berkeley's ordinary use of the term. As so extended, 
it has not properly been the object of our consideration. It is 
true that the above definition is inclusive of the narrower meaning, 
in which the word 'idea' has been used throughout the Theory of 
Vision, but it is with this restricted use that we are here concerned. 

And I think it cannot fail to be readily understood from the 
foregoing brief consideration of the essay that ' idea 'is throughout 
used in the narrower meaning of mere sensation. The proper 
objects of sight are colors, just as the proper objects of hearing 
are sounds, but in the perception of any external object there is 
more involved than the mere sense-presentation of color. The 
object presented in perception possesses 'outness,' extension and 
figure, is, in short, externalized in space in a way that cannot be 
accounted for by reference to the mere data of sight alone. The 
true object of perception is therefore mediately constituted by 
means of these visual data, which serve as signs or suggestions of 
tactual and muscular sensations, to which the last appeal is made. 
On the other hand, the true object of sight is a mere mind-depend- 
ent sensation, colors — our sole visual data — being admittedly only 
in the mind. Extension, figure and motion, three of Locke's pri- 
mary qualities, are so far as concerns their reference to the visual 
faculty, reduced to a condition of mind-dependency — a result 
which Berkeley practically achieves here in the Theory of Vision. 
Number, another of Locke's primary qualities, has also been de- 
clared a creature of the mind. With the disposal of figure, exten- 
sion and distance in space, the perception of solidity, by means of 
the visual faculty alone, is declared impossible. But the primary 
qualities nevertheless reappear in another form, for tangible exten- 
sion, magnitude, figure, etc., yet remain. It is true they are de- 
nominated "tangible ideas"; and are regarded as subjective, sen- 
sations, as in the case of "visual ideas"; but for all that they are 
looked upon as ultimate data, beyond which we cannot pass. The ; 
externality of the world remains for us an irreducible fact, as far 
as the Theory of Vision is concerned; and visual ideas are related) 
to tangible ideas as signs to the thing signified. 

But though we may as yet determine nothing further with 
regard to tangible ideas, it is possible that additional light may be 
thrown upon the Berkelian conception of visual ideas. We have 
seen that, throughout the essay, i dea isjsynonymous with sensa- 

— 24 — 

tion; but in what acceptation shall we take this equivalent term — 
sensation ? Is it a recognized conscious content; or is it an unre- 
cognized and subconscious datum ? Although here as elsewhere 
Berkeley's theory of knowledge is undeveloped and fragmentary, 
we may, I think, find a justification for holding to the latter of the 
two constructions indicated as possible. For, in the first place, 
idea, we have been told, may have another function than that of 
arousing its precise equivalent in consciousness. Thus, the sen- 
sation of color may suggest other sensations; though color may 
not be consciously recognized as present in the percept. Again, 
our visual sensations have, in the upbuilding of our conscious ex- 
perience, become so inextrically interwoven with their suggested 
tangible sensations, that it is only by attention to the physiologi- 
cal processes underlying the phenomena of vision that we can ob- 
tain a just estimate of what may be attributed to the functioning 
of that 'faculty' alone. But we never perceive mere colors, i. e. , 
mere visual sensations; or 'ideas'; for what in our perception we 
are actually conscious of are colors extended, figured, etc. Visual 
sensations, then, although necessary to the explanation of the 
growth of our experience by means of their association with other 
sensations, are strictly not perceived. This is the conclusion 
reached in the Vindication of Theory of Vision 1 in which we are 
told that the colored point " projected in the fund" of the eye is 
unperceived. It is "tangible and apprehended only by imagina- 
tion " i. e., it is a sign or 'suggestion' of other ideas with which 
our knowledge of the outer world seems more intimately con- 


The Theory of Vision to which we have referred in order to 
obtain Berkeley's earliest acceptation of 'idea' was, as Fraser 
says, the "opening wedge " which served to introduce the doc- 
trine of Immaterialism as set forth in the Principles of Human 
Knowledge. Little fault has been found with Berkeley for having 
left so much of the work of associational psychology to be per- 
formed by his successors; yet during the year which elapsed be- 
tween the publication of the Theory of Vision and the appearance 
of the Principles, we must assume that the work of associational 
psychology had considerably advanced. So far as concerned the 
Essay, we were left with the literal fact of tangible sensations, as 
ultimate sense criteria of objectivity. But the notion that tangi- 
ble sensations are really more ultimate than any other we must now 
suppose to be a 'vulgar error,' which it was not Berkeley's pur- 

1 "Theory of Vision Further Indicated and Explained,'' § 50; Fraser's note 
to § 3, "Theory of Vision," p. 168 of "Selections." 

— 25 — 

pose to examine and refute in a discourse concerning Vision. The 
latter is merely an experiment, pursued a little way for the purpose 
of satisfying himself with his new conception of objective exist- 
ence, and further investigation along that line is no longer of para- 
mount interest to him. 

We are accordingly invited to take a fresh start with sensa- 
tions, as it were*, all on the same level. Analysis of the meaning 
of supposed objective, mind-independent qualities (so far as we 
were concerned with them in the Theory of Vision) has every- 
where revealed their essentially composite character, and each one 
of those units into which they resolve themselves declares itself in 
consciousness as mind-dependent, a sensation. In short, when we 
look to the meaning of objective existence in any of its particular 
qualities, a sensation, in conjunction with some other sensation, 
offers itself to us as the readiest and most complete explanation of 
the quality. It seems we must conclude that all we have are these 
ideas or sensations. In sensation, we have apparently come in 
touch with Reality. We have now a fairly complete psychological 
theory of knowledge; and we wish to discover the extent of its use- 
fulness in metaphysic. We are no longer concerned with the 
question of whether qualities of the object may be explained in 
terms of sensation, but whether the object itself, in all the ways in J 
which it appeals to our sense-perception and cognitive conscious- 
ness, may be accounted for by means of the same sensations. 

Now, with regard to the object, there is the commonly ac- 
cepted opinion that by it we denote an existent which has a pecu- 
liar reality of its own, distinct from its being perceived. But if we 
attempt to describe any natural object apart from its relation to 
others, we can only describe it as it affects us; i. e. , each special 
determination of the object is seen to be some one or other of 
the special revelations of sense. " The table I write on I say 
exists, that is, I see and feel it; furthermore if I were out of my 
study I should say it existed — meaning thereby that if I was in my 
study I might perceive it, or that some other spirit actually does 
perceive it." What more can be said of the existence of an object 
than this ? The object is a mere plexus of sensations, "and as 
several of these are observed to accompany each other, they come; 
to be marked by one name and so to be reputed as one Thing." 
These clusters of sensations give to us all the meaning that is con- 
tained in the 'existence' of the Thing. Beyond the Thing, as so 
constituted, there is nothing. Some indeed, on the basis of a 
distinction between the above mentioned primary and secondary 
qualities, assert the existence of an object independent of sense 
perceptions; but this can be no longer maintained, if, as will be 
seen by reference to the Theory of Vision, primary maybe equated 
with secondary qualities. And after all, "it is but looking into 

— 26 — 

your own thoughts, and so trying whether you can conceive it pos- 
sible for a sound, or figure, or motion, or color, to exist without 
the mind or unperceived." 1 Ideas cannot then be taken in any 
sense as copies of external things, for the external thing and the 
idea would of necessity be identical. If the orginals are perceived 
they are ideas; if unperceived, then that which is perceived is identi- 
cal with that which is unperceived — a manifest contradiction. 

Thus far with regard to the ordinary common sense distinc- 
tion between thing and idea, as also the further distinction between 
object and percipient consciousness by means of supposed quali- 
ties inherent in the former. But in addition to the foregoing ways 
of conceiving the object, philosophers have asserted the existence 
of 'matter' variously regarded as 'substratum,' 'occasion,' 
'substance,' to which the knowledge of our ideas and their rela- 
tions to them, admittedly ideal, is ultimately to be referred. Now, 
aside from the uselessness of such a conception for purposes of 
explaining our experience, matter in this sense is in itself contra- 
dictory; for either it is something out of all relation to ideas, in 
which case it is unknowable and even its existence cannot be 
asserted, or else it is the things which we see and touch and handle, 
and thus a complex of sensations. If we are careful always to use 
words in their proper significations, that is, if we admit no term 
for which we cannot discover a definite mental equivalent, it is 
plain that we must reject the materialistic hypothesis of an "inert, 
senseless, unthinking substance," as self-contradictory because 
lending itself to no idea that we can frame of its existence But, 
if on the other hand, by matter is meant merely the things present 
to us in external preception, Berkeley says that he finds no great 
difficulty with the term. "I do not argue against the existence of 
any one thing that we can apprehend either by sense or reflection. 
That the things I see with my eyes and touch with my hands do 
exist, I make not the least question. The only thing whose exist- 
ence we deny is that which Philosophers call Matter or corpoajal 
substance." 2 

Our knowledge seems then only in a sense to be confined to 
existences which are merely subjective. We are, indeed, Berkeley 
tells us, confined to ideas or phenomena, and "to explain the 
phenomena, is all one as to show why, upon such and such occa- 
sions, we are affected with such and such ideas." 3 But, on the 
other hand, the distinction between ideas as things, and ideas as 
mere creations of the mind, appears for Berkeley to keep its full 

1 Principles of Human Knowledge § 22. 

2 Principles § 35; repeated frequently in the dialogues between Hylas and 

'Principles of Human Knowledge § 50. 

-27 — 

significance. "There is a rerum natura and the distinction be- 
tween realities and chimeras retains its full force." 1 For after all 
we have been considering the object in one of its aspects merely. 
The object has been shown to be resolvable into a complex of sen- 
sations, and is thus a percept or idea. But these sensations are 
for Berkeley only the hypothetical conscious elements into which 
the percept is ideally resolvable, and its existential nature is by no 
means exhausted. The object of perception has been called idea 
" because," as Berkeley tells us in the third dialogue between Hylas 
and Philonous "a necessary relation to the mind is understood to 
be implied by that term." But this does not of necessity mean 
that it is not likewise dependent for its existence upon something 
beyond the individual consciousness in which it is held. 

Now Locke has found that in order to determine the nature 
of certain of our ideas, viz., those complexes of sensation, or per- 
cepts which we have been considering, we must take into account 
the causal origin or source of these simple ideas of which the per- 
cept (as we shall now call it) is made up. The percept in other 
words has a reference beyond itself, it can only be defined by 
something that is in a certain sense not itself; to understand its 
complete nature, we must recognize that its being is not wholly 
subjective, but dependent also upon something objective. We 
have seen that powers residing in an unknown ' corporeal sub- 
stance ' were supposed by Locke to fulfil the condition of supply- 
ing this need for something objective by reference to which ideas 
of sense could be explained. But these powers being conceived 
as objective counterparts of ideas, no distinction remained between 
ideas and their counterparts. This Berkley has pointed out with 
the conclusion that, as "an. idea can be like nothing but an idea," 2 
a mind dependent thing like nothing but a mind-dependent thing; 
so all things that we know involve a reference to percipient con- 
sciousness. Thus, that objective something has been wrongly con- 
ceived, for true objectivity means, not objectivity of mind to some- 
thing which is ex hypothesi different from it, but objectivity of 
mind, by means of the double reference of the percept, to mind and 
to objective Being — as also Mind. 

Nor is it apparent — to dwell somewhat at length upon this 
point — that the Berkelian percept or thing is, in its total character, 
entirely comprehended in the psychological description of the 
bundle of sensations which compose it; and that the causal refer- 
ence ~"ut the percept to objective existence is a mere artifice by 
which to escape solipsism. It is not as though, by defining the 

1 Principles of Human Knowledge ^ 34. 

2 Vid. Ueberweg's discussion of this point (Annotations to "Berkeley's Prin- 
cipien," trans, in Krauth's "Principles of Human Knowledge," p. 343. 

— 28 — 

object in terms of sensation, one were thereby precluded from the 
recognition that objects involve a reference beyond the individual 
consciousness, any more than, in regarding the object as through- 
out constituted by thought-relations, one would be taken to imply 
the categories which he as an individual finds it convenient to em- 
ploy in thinking of the object. What Berkley means is rather the 
universal character which attaches to the percipient as well as to 
the cognitive consciousness — the universality of sense-perception 
as an element not to be neglected in our explanation of experience. 
Again, it is not as though a mass of sensations were thrust into the 
mind, and the door closed upon all objective existence; but we 
first define the object as having a necessary reference to percipi- 
ency, and then, from the dual character of mind-related existents, 
as objects of sense and objects of imagination or memory, etc., 
arrive at the distinction of mind and mind. The objective char- 
acter which necessarily belongs to the peculiar nature of the thing 
or percept cannot consistently be conceived as matter; it must 
then be conceived in analogy with that to which the percept has 
been shown to have a necessary reference, i. e. mind. How well 
Berkeley succeeds in thus substituting objective mind for objective 
matter is another question. All that we are here concerned to set 
forth is his insistence upon a fundamental distinction between 
ideas; and that the understanding of idea as percept involves a con- 
sideration of its reference to other than the individual percepient 
mind. Accordingly we shall now briefly discuss the Berkelian 
idea in connection with a second class of Things which he denom- 
inates mind or spirit. 


Tn section 89 of the Principles we are told that our knowledge 
is not entirely confined to ideas, that "the term idea would be im- 
properly extended to signify everything we know or have any notion 
of." For, "besides all that endless variety of ideas or objects of 
knowledge there is likewise something that knows or perceives 
them." 1 This perceiving, active being is what I call Mind, Spirit, 
Soul or Myself" — "that which I denote by the term I — which is 
neither an idea, nor like an idea, but that which perceives and 
wills, and reasons about them." 2 It is to this active perceiving 
principle that all the objects of sense must ultimately be referred 
for their explanation since, as Berkeley has told us, the reason for 
using the term idea rather than object is that there is thereby im- 
plied a necessary relation to the mind. Accordingly, if there are 
recognizable differences in the ideas which the mind possesses, it 

1 Principles of Human Knowledge § 2. 

2 Principles of Human Knowledge § 139, 

— 29 — 

may be possible to discover wherein this consists, not by the refer- 
ence of ideas to a material substance, but by the relation which 
seems to subsist between them and the active, perceiving mind. 

Now all ideas are divided into three classes: "ideas actually 
imprinted on the senses; or else such as are perceived by attend- 
ing to the passions and operations of the mind; or lastly, ideas 
formed by help of memory and imagination — either compounding, 
dividing, or barely representing those originally perceived in the 
aforesaid ways." 1 All ideas, however, regarded as mere objects of 
consciousness, are in themselves passive — "there is nothing of 
Power or Agency included in them." 2 With regard to certain of 
these there seems to be involved the creative or combining activ- 
ity of mind; for "I find that I can excite ideas in my mind at 
pleasure and vary and shift the scene as often as I think fit" 3 and 
"this making and unmaking of ideas doth properly denominate 
the mind active." 4 But over another class of ideas, viz., those of 
sense, I find that I have no control. These have a strength, a live- 
liness and distinctness which do not belong to the ideas of the 
imagination. They are chiefly to be distinguished from ideas that 
are purely subjective by the fact of their appearing in an orderly 
and coherent series, and also because of their entire independence 
of the will. However, these ideas like all others are passive and 
mind-dependent, they have no being apart from percipient mind. 
If, then, the nature of these ideas, in distinction from those of 
memory and imagination, is such as to warrant us in affirming 
their objective reference — since they are not wholly dependent 
upon individual mind — we are led to conclude their dependence 
upon other mind. "They are not generated from within by the 
mind itself" 5 and are therefore imprinted upon it "by a spirit 
distinct from that which perceives them 6 , or "there is some other 
Will or Spirit that produces them." 7 

We may now summarize Berkeley's finding with regard to 
idea, so far as it has been considered in the present and preced- 
ing sections. It is (i) the mere atomic element of conscious- 
ness or sensation; (2) the object of external perception, or 
bundle of sensations, or percept, as we have chosen to call it, 
of whose being relation to percipient mind is a necessary 
condition; (3) this same object of external perception or 
percept in the being of which there is also involved a necessary 

1 " Principles," § 1. 

2 Ibid § 25. 
a Ibid § 2S. 

4 Ibid." 

5 Ibid § go. 

6 Ibid. 

7 Ibid § 29. 

— 30 — 

dependence upon objective mind. . Gradually as the philosophy of 
Berkeley progresses, the term phenomenon ' is substituted for idea, 
but if, in our interpretation, we discard the latter and adopt the new 
term, the two-fold meaning which may be given to the 'phenom- 
enon ' must be borne in mind. On the one hand 'phenomenon' 
implies for Berkeley a reference backward to the elemental con- 
scious facts which make up its being, on the other hand there is in 
it implied a reference forward to objective consciousness. 

In truth, the object and the sensation are the same and can- 
not therefore be abstracted from each other." 2 This was Berke- 
ley's answer to the Cartesian dualistic hypothesis. As the object 
and sensation can only be ideally separated, we must interpret one 
in terms of the other. Thus, upon the direct evidence of consci- 
ous experience, we have partially carried out this programme as 
witnessed in the fact that the object is resolvable into sensation. 
But it would be a misinterpretation of his principle if we were to 
stop at this single and one-sided application; for if the object and 
sensation are only ideally separable, it seems not an illegitimate 
method of procedure to insist that, as sensational character is 
always necessary to the being of an object, so also sensation pos- 
sesses a true objective character which cannot rightfully be 
denied it. 

In order to exhibit these two equally necessary views of the phe- 
nomenon, their mutual relation would have to be shown; but this 
would involve a discussion of the Berkelian ' relations ' between 
ideas, the third of the objects of our knowledge, and this we have re- 
served for the succeeding chapter, as also the more complete deter- 
mination of his view of the self and objective mind, for upon this 
depends in large part the adequacy or inadequacy of the hypo- 
thesis which he substitutes for Cartesian "corporeal substance." 
All that we are concerned with here is the determination of the 
various meanings in which Berkeley uses idea. This we have seen, 
in one of its aspects, viz., from the point of view of its objectivity, 
involves a reference to Things to which in the present chapter we 

1 One of Ueberweg's objections to Collyn's use of ' phenomenon ' rather 
than 'idea,' in his interpretation of Berkeley, is that the term phenomenon 
denotes a complex of sensations. (Annotations; Krauth's " Principles," p. 331). I 
cannot avoid thinking, however, that idea is more often used in the later works 
for the composite, the phenomenon, rather than for the object of the special senses. 
Another of Ueberweg's objections is that the "word Erscheimmg presupposes a 
thing-in-itself of which it is the phenomenon." Now with all Berkeley's zeal in 
disclosing to us the 'new doctrine' that the senses report truly an external world, 
with all his eagerness in demonstrating the non-existence of ' unknown substance ' 
this insistence upon the esse-is-percepi should not conceal the fact that for Berke- 
ley the being of the phenomenon is grounded upon something other than the indi- 
vidual consciousness. The thing-in-itself is, in short, the content of the divine con- 
sciousness, an unknown but not an unknowable. 

2 "Principles," § 5. 

— 31 — 

shall attempt to assign no precise signification. For the present 
we shall content ourselves with the simple recognition that the 
being of the phenomenon is in part dependent upon the Will of a 
more powerful Spirit than the finite, viz., God, who is able to pro- 
duce in the latter the regular and orderly series of phenomena 
which constitute the objective system of Nature. 

In the Theory of Vision, we saw that ideas as sensations were 
merely the signs which enabled us to become aware of other sen- 
sations; and, JiuTther, we saw that sensations always come to us in 
groups. It is the extended, colored, tangible thing that we actu- 
ally meet with in our experience, rather than the mere sensation. 
The latter, as it were, receives its being merely from the fact of its 
being one of a manifold. This truth was expressed, in the case of 
visual signs, by instituting an analogy of visual signs with those of 
human language, colors i. e. mere visual sensations, together with 
their variations of light and shade, make up for us a sort of visual 
sign-language or "Universal Language of Nature." In the Prin- 
ciples, however, in which, it is true, the sensationalistic or empiri- 
cal view is brought to a completion and throughout emphasized, it 
is also apparent that this "Universal Language of Nature " is of 
supersensous or extra human origin. The phenomenal object or 
intuited manifold of sensations in turn receives its complete expla- 
nation not only in the sensations of which it is made up but by its 
objective reference to something other than itself. As sensations 
are significant of the object, as by them we are taught to expect 
the possible future sensations in the groups constituting the object 
of external perception, so on the other hand is the phenomonal 
object itself representative of a Divine order of Nature with regard 
to which the phenomenon is merely the significant sign. It is this 
second meaning of ideas that occasions the frequent use of the 
word phenomenon in the dialogues of Berkeley and particularly in 

Viewed from the standpoint of the Berkelian idea, the altered 
meaning which it receives by being regarded as phenomenon is 
one of the chief features which distinguish the later philosophy of 
Siris from the earlier standpoint of the Theory of Vision and the 
Principles. In the latter work phenomenon and Idea, rather than 
sensation and percept claim our attention. 

In the Principles of Human Knowledge. "Idea" and 
"archetype" receive only a brief treatment at Berkeley's hands. 
In this work, as we know, his chief insistence was upon the im- 
possibility of the existence of abstract matter in any of the signi- 
fications in which it had hitherto been maintained by the philoso- 
phers. Accordingly, ai_Jthis_„pQint/ having considered various 

1 "Principles of Human Knowledge," § 71. 

32 — 

other meanings of matter, he briefly dismisses the notion of arche- 
typal ideas, understood as quasi-material forms, independent of the 
Divine mind, and in accordance with which the latter creates the 
world. 1 The constitution of the world must throughout conform 
to that type of reality which, as it enters into our experience, we 
variously denote by the terms mind, or self or spirit; and arche- 
types of our own ideas, if such be admitted, can exist only in some 
other mind.} 

But that there are certain unknown Ideas in the Mind of God 
— archetypal forms not independent of his will — Berkley does not 
deny. Indeed his later philosophy moves almost exclusively in 
the region of these Platonic existences. This does not mean how- 
ever that the earlier empirical standpoint is now abandoned, but 
only that there is a greater insistence upon the objectivity of the 
idea which we have before noticed. In this latter aspect, the re- 
ality of the thing or phenomenal object is seen to depend not only 
upon its relation to percipient mind; its complete reality can only 
be understood by reference to universal, creative mind. Accord- 
ingly Berkeley is brought to the fuller recognition of an archetypal 
system of forms, Ideas, or Divine meanings, of which the phenom- 
enal object is merely the significent sign. For "do I not acknowl- 
edge " says he in the third dialogue between Hylas and Philonous 
"a two-fold state of things — the__ane ectypal or natural, the other 
archetypal and eternal? The former was created in time, the lat- 
ter existed from everlasting in the mind of God." In Siris the 
discovery of this archetypal system by means of interpretable 
sense-given phenomena, is regarded as the true end of all human 

But the archetypal form or Idea, although certainly indicat- 
ing a much closer affiliation to the Platonic philosophy than is dis- 
coverable in any of Berkeley's earlier works, cannot be identified 
with Idea in the strictly Platonic sense of the word. For it is 
with Berkeley equivalent to the "notion," which in our discussion 
of the Introduction to the Principles of Human Knowledge we 
took to be his recognition of the conceptual character that attaches 
to ideas. If we read this later doctrine in the light of his earlier 
work, idea does not appear to us as the vague and shadowy rem- 
iniscence of an intangible universe of pure forms, from which we 
are cut off, save by the negation of sense-reality and the indulgence 
of the contemplative and speculative mood. Rather is it the case 
that the Berkelian world appears here and now, with the noticeable 
difference between the earlier and later construction of it, that the 
conceptual is at last accorded the just recognition which was ever 

x Fraser; "Philosophy of Berkeley," Blackwood series pp. 350-353. 
2 " Principles," § 99. 

— 33 — 

implied in Berkeley's insistence upon the objective nature of the 
idea, as of equal importance with its subjective reference. Objec- 
tive and subjective are alike aspects of the phenomenon, the thing 
present to perception. In this objectivity of the idea we have one 
of the elements by which the antithetical poles of Berkeley's phil- 
osophy, his earlier empiricism and later Rationalism, are united in 
the thought of a spiritual unfolding of Nature in which we pass by 
gradual steps from the mere sense-given phenomena to the Ideas 
of imminent law and order, goodness and moral government, in 
the absence of which imminent Ideas of Reason there would be for 
us no world, but chaos. 

To treat otherwise than in this brief fashion these objects of 
human knowledge which, because of their changed notation, appear 
in Siris as new elements foreign to the earlier thought of Berkeley, 
would be to run too far afield upon ground which should more 
properly be covered in our subsequent enquiries. We have so far 
attempted to show, not without the cost of some tedious but neces- 
sary repetition, the various meanings which Berkeley assigns to the 
word idea. In the interest of clearness, I subjoin the following 
summary at the close of this chapter: 
J "Vi. Idea is used as object of the special senses, sound, color, 
j touch, etc.; but color is never perceived except as something col- 
ored and extended; touch is always the feeling of something resist- 
I ing and possessing form. Consequently single objects of the special 
\ senses are never true objects for us, i. e. perceived. Idea in this 
first sense is then 'mere sensation'. 

2. Idea as the immediate object or phenomenon of percep- *•> 
tion, resolvable into particular sensations and consequently depen- 
dent for its being upon percipient mind. Idea as such is the 
complex of sensations, marked by one name, and so regarded as a 


3. Idea in the foregoing sense, but distinguished from the 
'subjective contents of the individual consciousness, and thus 

regarded as dependent upon objective mind. 

-Q 4. Idea as archetype, Platonic idea or Notion. Or we may 
express it thus: 

1. idea = 'mere sensation'. 

( a. as complex of sensations. 

2. idea = phenomenon -j b. as conceptual, and in this latter 

( sense the equivalent of: 

3. Idea as Notion. 

A concluding word with regard to these three classes in order 
to free from ambiguity these various meanings of the word idea, may 
be necessary, and may serve to acquaint us in advance with some 
of the difficulties we are likely to encounter in our farther review 
of Berkeley's interpretation of experience. In the fir st place, idea 

— 34 — 

as 'mere sensation' seems grossly at variance with his frequently 
repeated assertions that ideas are particular, definite, discoverable 
mental contents. I am also of the opinion that idea is most fre- 
quently used by Berkeley in the sense of phenomenon, i. e. it implies 
more than the sensations which constitute it actually reveal in per- 
ception. In fact it is never the -mere sensation' when the idea is 
consciously perceived. -jjBut the phenomenon, it was in part Berke- 
ley's mission to tell us, is in every case resolvable into those units; 
and, as it is only the complex that is perceived, it seems that in his 
earlier philosophy Berkeley does have reference to these atomic 
elements of consciousness or hypothetical sensations. The phen- 
omenon, as a complex of sensations, needs no further notice here; 
but to the phenomenon in its objective reference, attach, in one 
form or another, most of the difficulties we are likely to encounter 
in the following chapters. And, as a tentative step, we take the 
philosopher's word for it that in doing away with Locke's 'abstract 
material substance', he has merely denied the causal reference of 
sense objects to such substance, while, in doing this, by showing 
the necessary relation to percipient consciousness of all such ob- 
jects, he has not thereby affected the object, or denied to it all 
causal reference to objective existence, but has merely substituted 
mind for matter. 

The question which is thus raised for us is: What is the nature of 
the Divine Being which Berkeley thus substitutes for substance? 
Is it a deistically conceived contrivance, artificially introduced to 
escape subjectivity and support theistic belief, or is his view of the 
personality of God and man the rationally grounded consequence 
of a new meaning which he gives to 'idea'? Again, is the order, 
steadiness and regularity which he ascribes to the ideas of sense, 
thereby distinguishing them from subjective fancies, consistently 
maintained in a philosophy which seems to destroy the ground on 
which it stands by the acknowledgment that all ideas are particular? 
And, finally, in the archetypes or Ideas of Reason which occupy 
so bold a position in Siris, do we encounter importations foreign 
to the life current of Berkeley's thought, or are we here only 
brought to a better understanding of less familiar but none the less 
important elements in his early theory of knowledge? If the 
philosophy of Siris merely represents a platonizing mood into which 
Berkeley fell in his declining years, there is no discoverable rela- 
tion between his earlier negative and his later positive idealism. 
But if the Idea, which seems in Siris the instrument and motive by 
which he reaches his final conclusions is affiliated, as we have sug- 
gested, to other elements of his earlier works, we may not be forced 
to a decision between Empiricism and Rationalism which will be 
altogether without evidence in support of the latter and less fre- 
quently accepted view. 



i . Relations, 
a. Arbitrary Connection . 

A third of the objects of human knowledge are relations. We 
have thus far instanced the various meanings in which Berkeley- 
used the word idea in the earlier and later phases of his idealism, 
and we have now to consider the manner of their connection. In 
the first place, we may again note that the point cP appui which 
served to introduce Berkeley into his new idealistic universe was 
the reduction of Locke's primary qualities to the secondary, there- 
by equating all the sensations derived from the special senses. 
This constituted his negative disproof of matter. So far as con- 
cerned the existence of 'abstract matter', the testimony of the 
senses at any rate could not be alleged in its behalf. But matter 
had been regarded as the cause, if not primary, at least the causal 
agent, and idea the effect. Accordingly in the absence of matter and 
the consequent denial of a material cause it results that any phen- 
omenal object or any object of the special senses is, in itself, re- 
garded as particular, inactive, destitute of power or causal agency. 

Now the principle of cause and effect may be for us an orig- 
inal, und-erivative revelation of the rational consciousness 1 ; and 
this is by no means denied, for in the second dialogue between 
Hylas and Philonous the latter is made to say: 'I do by no means 
find fault with your reasoning in that you collect a cause from the 
phenomenon, but I deny the cause deducible by reason can prop- 
erly be termed matter.' But, on the other hand,. if causal agency 
can no longer be attributed to the objects of sense, since they are 
now phenomena; and since the combining and relating activity, in 
so far as that may be attributed to the mere individual conscious- 
ness, does not extend to these ideas of sense; we must discover 
some other connection, by means of which the presence of the 
phenomenon may be accounted for and the nature of the cause 
revealed to us. 

Now, in the process of introspectively analysing the contents 
of consciousness, we found that the ideas obtained by one sense 
are translatable into terms of another sense. But we further dis- 

1 Fraser; "Berkeley," Blackwood Phllos. Classics, p. ig8. 

— 36 — 

covered that the objects of one sense are, so far as we can see, 
totally unlike those of another. True, the very process which 
serves to display their heterogeneity exhibits also — because of the 
parallel discovery of their interpretability in terms of each other — 
the mind-dependence of all objects of consciousness. Yet, intro- 
spection stops short of telling us why the objects should be inter- 
pretable in terms of others unlike them. There is then, for us, no 
discoverable necessary connection between ideas. 1 But we can no 
longer explain the phenomenal object in terms of matter; and 
mind, if it cannot discover to us the why, may at least serve to 
exhibit the how of the connection. 

This Berkeley proceeds to show by instituting the parallelism 
between sense symbols and words, the significant signs of human 
speech. In the latter case, words have no similarity to the mean- 
ings which they serve to .convey, to the sound waves or the 
nerve processes by which the result is brought about. That sounds 
should signify meanings at all does not seem necessary; and the 
fact that an articulate word is understood to have a definite meaning 
shows the arbitrariness of human speech. Thus also the written 
word 'distance' is wholly unlike the uttered sound or the visual 
colors which also serve to suggest distance, or finally the tactual 
or muscular data which likewise introduce the idea of distance into 
the mind. Neither is there any necessary connection between col- 
ors and tangible magnitude. "Confusion [in the outlines of the 
object] or faintness [of color] have no more a necessary connec- 
tion with little or great magnitude than they have with little or great 
distance." 2 "Farther, when one has by experience learned the con- 
nection there is between the several ideas of sight and touch, he 
will be able, by the perception he has of the situation of visible 
things in respect of one .another, to make a sudden and true esti- 
mate of the situation of outward, tangible things corresponding to 
them. And thus he shall perceive by sight the situation of external 
objects, which do not properly fall under that sense. 3 " 

With regard to the nature of this connection, "when, upon 
perception of an idea, I range it under this or that sort it is 
because it is perceived after the same manner, or because it has a 
likeness or conformity with or affects me in the same way as the 
ideas of the sort I rank it under"* Thus the experience of a 
customary connection between ideas is sufficient to account for 
the presence of the phenomenal object, and the manner in which 
this connection is brought about is by our perceiving the likeness 

1 ' Philosophy of Berkeley ' in "Life, Letters, etc.," pp. 374—375. Fraser; 
"Berkeley," Blackwood Series P- 198. 
1 "Theory of Vision," § 58. 

3 Ibid § 99. 

4 Ibid 8 128. 


— 37 — 

or conformity of one idea with another or recognizing that we are 
affected by one idea as we are affected by another. The arbi- 
trariness of human language is paralleled by this arbitrariness of 
the sense symbolism, and in both cases it is experience that 
instructs us in the use of these symbols. The externalization of 
objects in space Berkeley takes to be accounted for by his sensa- 
tionalistic machinery; and Space, in any other sense than as an 
empirical product, here falls under the general condemnation of 
abstract ideas. 1 So likewise Time is the empirical succession of 
sensations, not, as with Locke, a succession taken to denote time, 
but a succession constitutive of time. 

In § 147 of the Theory of Vision the empirical theory as it 
appears to Berkeley is fairly summed up. It is as follows: 
"Upon the whole, I think we may fairly conclude that the proper 
objects of vision constitute the Universal Language of Nature, 
whereby we are instructed how to regulate our actions, in order 
to attain those things that are necessary to the preservation and 
well being of our bodies, as also to avoid whatever may be hurtful 
and destructive of them. It is by this information that we are 
principally guided in all the transactions and concerns of life. 
And 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 connection that experience has made us to observe 
between them." 2 This constitutes Berkely's empiricism, " a posi- 
tion which was never lost sight of in spite of later rationalistic 
developments; for, twenty-three years after the Theory of Vision 
was published, its vindication appeared, in which is maintained the 
governing principle of that former work, viz. the passivity of 
all ideas in so far as they are received as mere particulars, regard- 
less of the combining and relating activity" of mind. 

But we may ask: does this perceived likeness between ideas 
mean merely a way that sensations have of forming themselves 
into groups, and so constituting a product utterly unlike the 
sensations of which it is composed; or, since sensations are in 
themselves heterogeneous, is there implied in the perceived like- 
ness a reference to the combining activity of mind? Now Berkeley 
makes no enquiry into the presuppositions which render experience 
possible; he does not search out principles or categories which 
function in a manifold of sense foreign to them by nature. 
Unitary mind, as active, synthetic, is the presupposition from 
which he starts. His dualism is not between sense and under- 

1 Fraser; " Berkeley," Blackwood Philos. Classics, p. 136. 
2 Theory of Vision, § 147. 

— 38 — 

standing; it is between mind and mind. By reference to mind as 
the conscious unity of a manifold, Locke's primary qualities had 
been reduced to their condition of mind-dependence, and in Berke- 
ley's empirical explanation of the constitution of the object, sensa- 
tions are regarded as significant signs only because of their relation 
to mind. This is apparent even in the "Theory of Vision," and, if 
one reads his earlier philosophy in the light of his later work, it 
seems less necessary to read Berkeley through Hume. That mind 
or self was at first conceived by means of crude categories, and 
thus justly merited the censure of Hume, it would be idle to dispute; 
but the spirit-substance was only a feeble echo of Locke's tabula 
rasa and foreign to Berkeley's 'active mind' and to the 'Reason' 
of " Siris." 

b. Necessary Connection. 

We have already noticed that the ideas of sense are distin- 
tinguished from those of imagination, first, because of their greater 
liveliness and distinctness; second, because of their independence 
of the individual mind; finally, from the observed fact of their 
appearing in a regular, orderly and coherent series. Itwas reserved 
for Hume to give exclusive prominence to the first of these distinc- 
tions; but for Berkeley this liveliness and distinctness of the ideas 
of sense is merely a characteristic mark observed to accompany 
ideas whose special designating feature is the orderliness and regu- 
larity of their production. 

The phenomenal object having been resolved into its sensa- 
tional constituents, no likeness or affinity between these sensations 
or objects of the special senses can be discovered. No value at- 
taches to them except as they are understood to be signs and so 
recognized by the mind by reference to which their meanings are 
exhibited in the gradual unfolding of experience. Experience 
"teaches us that such and such ideas are attended with such and 
such other ideas "' — herein consists the arbitrariness of the connec- 
tion — but "the set rules or established methods wherein the Mind 
we depend on excites in us the ideas of sense, are called the laws 
of nature; and these we learn by experience." 2 And "all this we 
know, not by discovering any necessary connection between our 
ideas, but only by the observation of the settled laws of nature." 3 
The law of cause and effect does not subsist between ideas, for 
these, as mere passive particulars, serve only as signs by which the 
mind is enabled to gather rational meanings and understand the 
laws imposed upon the finite by a Supreme Mind; for ideas of 
sense, being impressed in accordance with "Rules or Laws of 

1 "Principles"; § 30. 

2 Ibid. 
3 Ibid §31. 

— 39 — 

Nature, speak themselves the effects of a mind more powerful and 
wise than human spirits." 1 Thus no phenomenal object can be a 
cause, phenomena are merely effects, and, in the case of an apparent 
affinity of one substance for another or the observed attraction of 
one body to another, nothing is signified besides the effect itself. 

To the objection that for purposes of scientific enquiry secon- 
dary causes, at least, must be admitted, Berkeley replies that the 
hypothesis of the uniformity and invariability of nature is in no 
wise affected upon his principles. "There are certain general 
laws that run through the whole chain of natural effects; these are 
learned by the observation and study of nature, and are by men 
applied . . -to the explaining of the various phenomena — which 
explanation consists only in showing the conformity any particular 
phenomenon hath to the general laws of nature, or, which is the' 
same thing, in discovering the uniformity there is in the production 
of natural effects." 2 Complete knowledge of the phenomenon we 
cannot have, not because it is in its nature alien to mind, but be- 
cause the 'efficient cause' which produces it is the 'will of a 
spirit'; yet we can obtain "a greater largeness of comprehension, 
whereby analogies, harmonies and agreements are discovered in 
the works of nature, and the particular effects explained, that is, 
reduced to general rules" 3 — or categories. 

In the Principles of Human Knowledge the objectivity of the 
laws, by means of which a world in space and time is made possible, 
is seemingly accepted as a fact based upon simple observation of 
phenomena, than which there are no more ultimate facts for us. 
In the unitariness of the phenomenon we have not only a thing as 
a cluster of sensations marked by one name, but a thing which in 
its unity is itself an object of consciousness, an idea. Accordingly, 
as we have elsewhere said, the character of the phenomenon is not 
completely exhausted in the mere discovery of its sensational con- 
stituents, for simple observation of it, as it is intuitively appre- 
hended in consciousness, reveals it a thing, distinguished from other 
things, in spite of psychological analysis and the mere description 
of how it has come to be. But not being independent of mind, the 
further explication of phenomena must again take place only with 
reference to mind; i. e., I must simply observe the relation between 
mind and phenomena in this second character. This reveals that 
phenomena, as also the relations which apparently subsist between 
them, are independent of my mind, i. e., mind in so far as I have 
a knowledge of its acts and operations; and this constitutes, in 
Berkeley's earlier philosophy, the objectivity of natural phenomena 
and the laws by which they are governed. 

1 ''Principles"; § 36. 
2 Ibid § 62. 
3 Ibid § 105. 


— 40 — 

Thus, (i) the 'Principles' endeavors to establish the objec- 
tivity of laws upon the the observation of ideas as ultimate facts 
of consciousness, which presumably reveals the fact that these 
phenomena and their relations are independent of the indiviual 
will. (2) Accordingly they are to be referred to a Supreme Mind 
here conceived under the catagory of Will. From this there results 
a subordination of Reason to Will and the apparent liability of 
these objective laws of nature (even granting their objectivity to 
have been established by so simple a process) to be subverted by 
a capricious Will; — "we may discover the general laws of nature, 
and from them deduce the other phenomena; I do not say demon- 
state, for all deduction of that kind depends on a supposition that 
the Author of Nature always operates uniformily, and in constant 
observance of those rules we take for principles — which we cannot 
evidently know." 1 

It is in the 'Principles' that the sufficiency of the Berkeleiansign 
language for the explanation of experience seems most apparently 
to depend upon the support of a deistic theology, while, in Siris, 
Reason rather than Will is looked upon as the supreme category; 
and the discovery of the objectivity of law is based upon a deeper 
insight into the implications of the phenomenal objects, and a 
recognition of the inadequacy of the early empirical position as an 
ultimate explanation of the phenomenal universe. "The inner bonds 
which weld the perceived universe into a rational whole are now 
made subjects of reflection, 2 and the issue is the discovery that the 
universals of Reasons are immanent in sense. In accordance with 
the established connections, no longer referred to the arbitrary 
imposition of Divine Will, it is seen that "the mind of man acts 
by an instrument necessarily. The to 7]y£p.ovix ) n\, or mind presiding 
in the world acts by an instrument freely. 3 Secondary causes are 
now admitted; for "without instrumental and secondary causes, there 
could be no regular course of nature. And without a regular course 
nature could never be understood." 4 Berkeley never dreams ofi 
departing from his early belief that mechanical causes cannot be 
received as ultimate explanations; but there is a much stronger in- 
sistence upon their usefulness and necessity, as mechanical hypoth- 
eses. "There is an analogy, constancy and uniformity in the phenom- 
ena or appearances of nature, which are a foundation for general 
rules; and these are a Grammar for the understanding of Nature" 5 
and "so far as men have studied and remarked its rules, and can 

^bid §107. Works Yol. I. 

2 Wenley; "British Thought and Modern Speculation"; in Scottish Review, 
Jan., 1892, vol. 19, p. 150. 
8 " Siris " § 160. 
*" Siris" § 160. 
5 "Siris" § 252. 

— 41 — 

interpret right, so far they may be said to be knowing in nature." 1 
We must now elearly recognize that sense is of itself insufficient to 
constitute the phenomenal world of objects as we find it. The phe- 
nomena of nature strike on the senses and are understood by the 
mind 2 i.e., 'Thought, Reason, Intellect, introduce us into the 
knowledge of their causes.' 3 Again, it is certain that the "princi- 
ples of science are neither objects of Sense or imagination;"* "Sci- 
ence consists not in the passive perceptions but in the reasoning 
upon them." 5 

Thus we are brought in Siris to the knowledge of a new world 
in which "such is the mutual relation, connection, motion and 
sympathy of the parts that they seem, as it were, animated and 
held together by one soul; and such is their harmony, order, and 
regular course, as sheweth the soul to be governed and directed by 
a Mind." 6 

As we are now constrained to interpret Berkeley's Language of 
Nature, we find that we must no longer read it as a system of signs, 
arbitrarily instituted by capricious Will, but as signs whose sole 
value is in their rational significence. In the new universe, with 
which we are now made acquainted, the continuity remains unbro- 
ken. From the lowest sense given phenomena we ascend in a series 
of gradations to the highest products of Reason by means of which 
are discovered the inviolable laws immanent in an objective system 
of nature. True,' the various steps by which this unfolding of 
nature is accomplished are frequently dominated by the hylo- 
zoistic and animistic conceptions of the past. Accordingly no 
philosophy of nature, worthy the name, is offered us, nor indeed 
is such seriously intended by Berkeley in his review of the anti- 
quated categories of past philosophies; but the central feature which 
serves to differentiate his later from his earlier idealism nevertheless 
remains. The world is now to be viewed as an organic whole, whose 
several parts are throughout concatenated and sustained by one 
Mind. Exeept for the important fact that Mind is now conceived 
as Reason immanent in the world rather than as dominant Will, 
the new conceptions do not seem so foreign to his former idealism; 
yet by this there is apparently introduced a world-wide distinction 
between his later and earlier doctrines. 

If we attempt to discover the source of these new conceptions 
we come upon a nowise unfamiliar assertion that 'the Mind, her 
acts and faculties, furnish a new and distinct class of objects,' 7 and 

1 " Siris," § 254. 


3 Ibid § 268. 


5 Ibid § 305. 

6 Ibid § 273. 

7 Ibid § 297. 

— 42 — 

these 'objects' are what Berkeley variously denominates 'Ideas,' in- 
tellectual "ideas," intellectual "notions," and 'notions.' Now the 
thorough recognition of the immanence of Reason in the Berkelian 
world of phenomena forbids our believing that he has espoused the 
cause of Platonism with the ardor of a complete devotee. Siris, 
indeed, is thoroughly imbued with the spirit of Plato; but to Plato, 
Berkeley has never been a complete stranger, either to his spirit or 
in the knowledge of his works. The passages suggestive of Plato, 
and in some instances quoted from him, Berkeley turns to account 
in showing a 'closer correlation of sense and intellect' than the 
former achieves, while at the same time the passivity of the idea 
through which Berkeley reached his early empiricism is not aban- 
doned. 1 The following indicate his more explicit recognition in 
"Siris " of the several functions that maybe assigned to mind it its 
diverse operations. 

In the first place "Sense implies an impression from some 
other being, and denotes a dependence in the soul which hath 
it,' 12 a statement clearly recalling the influence of Locke and in- 
deed not unsuggestive of Kant, if one bears in mind that the ding- 
an-sich must somehow be conceptualized, or else — an alternative of 
course adopted by Fichte and the Hegelians — it declares itself to 
be nothing. Again: — "By experiments of sense we become ac- 
quainted with the lower faculties of the soul; from them, whether 
by a gradual evolution or ascent, we arrive at the highest. Sense 
supplies images to memory. These become subjects for fancy to 
work upon. Reason considers and judges of the imaginations. 
And these acts of reason become new objects of the understand- 
ing.' 3 Further to illustrate the small part that is played by mere 
sense, apart from the active functioning of Reason: — "as under- 
standing perceiveth not, that is, doth not hear, or see, or feel" [as 

do the special senses], "so sense knoweth not sense or 

soul, so far forth as sensitive, knoweth nothing." 4 And now if we 
would know what this has to do with the phenomenal object, we 
may note that "we know a thing when we understand it; and we 

understand it when we can interpret or tell what it signifies 

We perceive, indeed, sounds by hearing, and characters by sight. 
But we are not therefore said to understand them." 5 They are 

1 Berkeley's 'notions' are Locke's ideas of relation and by them "he pro- 
poses to effect a compromise between the tabula rasa of Aristotle and the innate 
ideas of Plato and suggests that though "there are properly no ideas or passive 
objects but what were derived from Sense," yet there are also, besides these, "her 
own acts and operations [acts of the mind], such as notions,' which must be 

referable to the understanding, here Berkeley clearly approximates 

to Kant." T. H. Webb; "Veil of Isis," p. 27. 

2 "Siris," § 286. 

3 Ibid § 303. 
* Ibid § 305. 
5 Ibid § 253. 

— 43 — 

unintelligible save as they are subjected to the unifying acts of 
Reason. In the uncategorized sense impressions there is only 
unintelligible sound, unintelligible color, 'perceived' or 'rather 
present to sense, but not understood, not truly perceived or apper- 
c'eived.- Only the correlate of sensations into which unity is intro- 
duced by the mind is truly regarded as an object distinguished from 
other objects and related to them. The former individualized per- 
cept is now looked at from the point of view of its other implica- 
tions, and there is seen to be involved in its being the informing 
principle of active, unitary mind. 1 

We may now ask whether this later Rationalism is at variance 
with Berkeley's early idealism, or whether it merely represents the 
greater elaboration of elements already contained in the philosophy 
of the "Principles of Human Knowledge." Accordingly, let us. 
retrace our steps, delaying for a moment at the fourth of the seven 
dialogues entitled "Alciphron, or the Minute Philosopher." The 
series of arguments here put forth are in the nature of rational infer- 
ences from the various sensations with which we are affected, pur- 
porting to discover to us that the ' Optic Language' we before con- 
sidered solely from the point of view of the arbitrariness of signs 
regarded in themselves ' 'hath a necessary connexion with knowledge 
wisdom and goodness." By rational inferences from the acts, ges- 
tures, and speech of our fellowmen we are enabled to conclude the 
existence of other selves conceived in analogy with our own. By 
parity of reasoning the sign language of Nature viewed in its total- 
ity is significant of a Mind upon whom Nature is constantly de- 
pendent for its existence, a design argument being supported in 
maintenance of a theistic view. Here we are told, in anticipation 
of Siris, that every perception of an object involves the work of 
rational inference. The mere signs or sensations which, like the 
printed words of a page, are, in their own Nature of small 
moment, carry the attention onward to the very things signified . . 
which in truth and strictness are not seen, but only sug- 
gested and apprehended " by means of the proper objects of sight. 
We have, again, the doctrine of the Theory of Vision, with a 
greater insistance, not only upon the insignificance of sensations 
regarded in themselves, but also a more explicit recognition of the 
function of mind in apprehending the object. Likewise the cus- 

1 ' No sooner does intellect dawn upon the shadowy scene, ' than we perceive 
the true principle of unity, identity and existence.' Those things which before 
seemed to constitute the whole of being, upon taking an intellectual view of things 
[i. e., viewing them as conceptions] prove to be but fleeing phantoms.' 

In presence of such declarations, Professor Fraser declares that Berkeley ' not 
only was not a sensualist of the school of Condillac, not only not an empiricist of 
the school of Hume, but he was a transcendentalist of the highest and purest 

school of Kant ' Cf. also Lewis: " The History of Philosophy from 

Thales to Comte," vol. II, pp. 304, 305. 

— 44 — 

tom-induced association between sensations takes on a different 
coloring now from that observable in the Theory of Vision, and 
we are told that "there must be time and experience, by repeated 
acts, to acquire a habit of knowing the connexion between the signs 
and the things signified." ' This seems in essential agreement with 
a passage in Siris 2 which states that "mind, knowledge and notions, 
either in habit or in act, always go together." That habit which 
is unconsciously rational is the basis of our immediate perceptions 
of the phenomenal object, is the view which Berkeley adopts in 
" Alciphron " and later urges in his doctrine of the immanence of 
Reason in the world of sense. 

Here we must pause for the moment, since it is plain that the 
negative theory of the "Principles" and the dialogues between Hylas 
and Philonous, repeating with slight variations the former doctrine, 
can offer but feeble suggestion of the rationalism which creeps into 
"Siris" through the dialogue we have briefly noticed. There thus 
arises the question of whether "Alciphron" and "Siris" should not be, 
together,regarded as representative of Berkeley's later thought, while 
the " Theory of Vision, " the "Principles" and the earlier dialogues 
remain to vindicate a view of the world between which and the 
later idealism there is little or no connection. The lines upon 
which we must seek an answer to this question are suggested by 
the further inquiry that naturally arises from the preceeding, viz. : 
how, in a Philosophy which preached Nominalism at the outset, 
have we any right to speak of rational connections and the domi- 
nance of mind in a universe in which by hypothesis our knowledge 
is confined to particulars. Accordingly we can expect to find 
essential agreement between these two seemingly opposed types of 
philosophy only in the discovery that the conceptual processes 
implied in Berkeley's later theory of the constitution of experience 
are not at variance with the earlier. That the mind and its acts 
make us aware of an entirely different class of objects from the mere 
sense ideas, we are told in " Siris " ; and this is but a repetition of 
§ 89 3 of the ' ' Principles " in which we learn that we have a notion of 
relations between things or ideas — which relations are distinct from 
the ideas or things related, inasmuch as the latter may be perceived 
by us without our perceiving the former. In other words, the 
mind by its acts conceives the relations between things, while these 
latter may be viewed as mere particulars apart from the rational 
implications that are throughout contained in the constitution of 
the object. Thus from the consideration of relations between 
ideas, which has so far in this chapter occupied our attention, we 

1 Fraser; "Selections from Berkeley," p. 269. 

2 "Siris," § 309. 
s Cf., p. 13 — note. 

— 45 — 

must now turn to the ' notion ' by means of which we obtain our 
knowledge of relations. 


(a). Meaning of 'Notion.' 

In the section on abstract ideas we endeavored to set forth 
Berkeley's distinction between ideas in the sense of abstract images, 
and in that of representative notions. All ideas, which are, in one 
aspect, particular, — herein consists his Nominalism — are in another 
aspect representative of other particulars, — and in this consists his 
Rationalism. They are alike abstractions from the phenomenal 
object. In one aspect we see that they are translatable into terms of 
mind as percipient, in the other into terms of mind as cognitive. 
In any case, the existence of the object involves a reference to 
mind, not only as merely perjipient, but as cognitive. 

In Berkeley's early idealism we have seen that it is the relation 
of the phenomenal object to percipient consciousness that is chiefly 
insisted upon. The percept is individualized, resolved into its 
constituent factors by means of its discoverable relation to con 
sciousness in so far as the latter denotes a passive experience — 
percipience. At this stage we note the arbitrariness of the relation 
between phenomena thus particularized. Why this particular 
atomic element of consciousness should be connected with that 
other particular, passive experience, does not appear. 1 The reason 
of the connection, if any there be, has been lost in the past expe- 
rience of the individual or the race, in the course of which such 
facility has been gained in interpretation of this Universal Sign 
Language that the necessity of its origin and maintenance in Uni- 
versal Mind is neglected. '1 he sensations, which have no bond in 
themselves, since they serve only as signs, must have a causal 
source or ground in which the reason of their connection can be 
found, a source that is independent of the individual will, and in 
which, as we finally learn in "Siris," we can only participate by 
means of the universals of Reason. 

In the ' ' Principles of Human Knowledge, " Berkeley recognized 
the existence of these universals; for, as Mr. Bradley 2 has said, he 
knew that " Relation constitutes the universality of ideas." Hence 
" his third kind of existence, the knowledge of which is given us by 
a notion." But, as the same author further says, Berkeley does not 
follow up the 'notion' "because blinded by the ambiguity of the 
idea derived from Locke." Abstract ideas Berkeley indeed denies, 
— though only, as we have said, in the sense of abstract images — 

Berkeley — Fraser (Blackwood Series), p. 198. 

*C. W. Bradley; "Berkeley's Idealism," in Journal of Speculative Philos. 

— 46 — 

for every idea has its particular aspect; but the phenomenal object 
likewise retains its conceptual character; it is related to other 
things, and is one of an organic whole whose several parts are 
interdependent and ultimately imply a rational nexus. That the 
unifying bond between phenomena, implied in the recognition of 
their causal source, is not suggested in the " Principles " otherwise 
than in his brief acknowledgement of 'relations,' is true; but it 
would be false to assert that Berkeley had no basis for his future 
rationalizing, and that he reached his later philosophy by means 
of the abstractions which he had at first denied. Nor is this so 
inconsistent with a statement occurring early in the "Principles" 
and which seems to curtail our knowledge: " my conceivingor imag- 
ining power", he there tells us, " does not extend beyond the possi- 
bility of real existence." For, as we have endeavored to show, by 
real existence Berkeley never means the mere object of the special 
senses, but the percept J 1 and the doctrine of "Alciphron, " that 
"every perception implies more than it preceptively intimates," 2 is 
but the development of a view for which he was already prepared 
in the recognition of the representative character belonging to all 

To repeat in brief Berkeley's theory respecting universals, the 
percept, or phenomenal object, immediately present to conscious- 
ness is, in so far as it can be referred to individual conscious ex- 
perience, resolvable into particulars. Accordingly, the percept is 
itself particular, and likewise all general notions or concepts are 
particular, since by reference to the immediate perceptual charac- 
ter of the individual consciousness their composite nature is dis- 
covered. " But two things which God has joined together cannot 
be put asunder without loss to both," and if we cannot, from the 
foregoing, abstract the object from sensation and ascribe to it an 
existence independent of conscious experience, neither can we 
hypostatize mere sensations and give to them an ultimate reality 
which we deny to the objective consciousness involved in the im- 
mediate perception of things. 

From the third dialogue between Hylas and Philonous it may 
be seen that a possible Humian hypostatization of sensations was 
present to Berkeley's mind; and he seems there struggling to free 
his conception of the self from the crude categories in which it 
appears clothed in the Principles, a task which he better achieved 
in Siris. But it never appeared to him that he would himself be 
regarded as a representative of sensationalism, and that, in exhib- 
iting the necessary relation of all objects to the percipient con- 

1 Philosophy of Berkeley in " The Life, Letters and Unpublished Writings of 
Berkeley," p. 371-372. 

2 Wer.ley; "British Thought and Modern Speculation," in Scottish Rev., 
Vol. 19, p. 140. - 

— 47 — 

sciousness, he had debarred himself from any further consideration 
of those universals of Reason, upon the assumed existence of which 
the whole of his later theory reposes. To hypostatize universals or 
notions, in other words, to conceive an 'abstract idea' that cannot 
be shown to bear the marks which signify its origination in indi- 
vidual experience, is an impossibility. While on the other hand, 
to hypostatize sensations, to regard them as having an existence 
independent of the relating activity of mind, is again to commit 
that fallacy of abstractly conceiving existence to which it was 
Berkeley's purpose to call attention. That particular sensations 
are of themselves insufficient for the ultimate explanation of our 
experience of an objective world, Berkeley acknowledges in the 
admission that "all knowledge and demonstration are about uni- 
versal notions." Things which, regarded in themselves, and as 
mere passive objects of mind, are particular, become universal by 
being regarded in their relation to mind from which they cannot 
ultimately be separated. 

In the second edition of the Principles 1 we are told that there 
subsist relations between things and that these relations are discov- 
erable by means of the 'notion.' The notion, we are also told in 
the first edition, is the particular in its representative character, not 
as representative of anything beyond and distinct from conscious- 
ness, but representative of other particulars whose sole significance 
is their relation to conscious mind. Accordingly, the Berkelian no- 
tion is a representative image, 2 the obverse of the particular whose 
constituent elements are discoverable by psychological analysis; 
bul this representative or conceptual 3 character is as much a given 

!The fact that this statement occurs only in the second edition of the 
Principles has been cited as proof positive, not only that in the earliest phase of 
his idealism Berkeley had but imperfectly conceived the function of the intellec- 
tual notion, a fact readily to be conceded; but it has also been held to denote a 
more fundamental difference, such that the earlier and later theories could not have 
been held together in solution by Berkeley. Such objections do not however suf- 
ficiently explain the fact that in the second edition of the Principles, published in 
1732, so shortly before the appearance of Siris, the empiricism of the first edition 
reappears in substantially the same form that it assumes in the earlier. Cf. McCosh; 
"Locke's Theory of Knowledge with a notice of Berkeley" in "Criteria of 

2 Representative of conscious experience, not of a reality independent of all 
consciousness tor, as Lewes says: "Nothing can be more inaccurate than to class 
Berkeley among those who maintain ideas to be representative of things: ideas he 
says are things. Yet Hamilton commits this inaccuacy." — History of Philo., Vol. 
II, p. 313, note. 

3 i. e., 1'he concept must be individualized. " Yet this rule," says Mansel, 
(' Proleg. Logica,' pp. 23, 33, quoted by Fraser in ' Selections,' page 21, note 2)," 
individualize your conceps does not mean sensationalize them. With Berkeley, 
however, as we have seen, it does mean sensationalize them, although this does not 
exclnde the representative character of ihe concept. For: " a blurred picture is 
just as much a single mental fact as a sharp picture is; and the use ot either picture 

— 48 — 

fact of consciousness as the particular image which in one aspect 
it is seen to be. The particular only exists with reference to the 
universal, while, on the other hand, the universal has no abstract 
existence apart from the particular. For this reason Professor 
Fraser's contention that Berkeley makes ideas objective, rather than 
things subjective, 'seems to be borne out even in the earlier theory, 
"lam not for changing things into ideas, bat rather ideas into 
things," says Berkeley; "since those immediate objects of percep- 
tion, which, according to you, *are only appearances of things, I 
take to be the real things themselves " 

Judging from his early statements with regard to the notion, 
and from the subsequent part which they play in his later idealism, 
it does not seem that such statements of the realistic position he 
wished to defend should be taken merely as an attempt to square a 
subjective idealism with the common sense conviction that there is 
an external world which is for its existence independent of the in- 
dividual consciousness. For Berkeley, the objectivity of ideas 
and relations between ideas was guaranteed, ( i ) by throughout 
maintaining that, in showing the subjective reference which any 
phenomenon has, he is not thereby destroying the independent 

by the mind to symbolize a whole class of individuals is a new mental function,' 1 '' 
(James: "Psych.," vol. II, p 49). In other words: the "Mind, her acts and fac- 
ulties, furnish a new and distinct class of objects," (cited above, "Siris,'' § 247) or 
' notions,' and the notion is just this ' blurred picture,' not in its character as re 
solvable into its constituents in the individual consciousness, but in the use which 
the mind makes of it. To quote from an article of recent date, (Dr. A. 
K. Rogers' " Epistemology and Experience:" Philos. Rev., Sept., 1898). "The 
concept has existence only as a tool, a method. It is not any element of expe- 
rience as an existence, but simply the way we use that particular element which we 
call the image. Accordingly, the concept, the universal as such does not enter 
into reality at all except in its functional use. It is quite impossible that anything 
should exist in general." 

Now I think Berkeley would say, this functional use of the concept in expe- 
rience must be justified, and we find its justification in the representative image; for, 
in the latter, this functional use of the concept, this reference beyond the mere 
particulars of which the representative image is composed is a given fact of expe- 
rience. The dynamic representative character of the concept or 'notion,' the ref- 
erence forward to other reality than itself, is as much a fact, seized and transfixed, 
and thus justified in experience, as its static character — which is its natural history 
and the description of its particular, constituent, psychic factors — and experience 
cannot be other than it takes itself to be. 

The representative 'image or notion' is thus a go-between in two phases of 
oar attitude toward reality. As representative it is functionally active as the con- 
cept; as static, passive, translatable into terms of the individual consciousness, it is 
composite and thus resolvable into particulars. As concept it is ideally predicable 
in the judgment but this predication, though ideal, finds its justification in the fact 
that the sense datum which forms the subject of judgment is also ideal and in the 
unitariness of the representative image are the two made one. 

Thus, beneath the surface contradiction which appears in many parts of 
Berkeley's philosophy the divergent lines of Siris and the Principles meet in a com- 
mon focus — the doctrine of the 'notion.' 

— 49 — 

character of the object, since objectivity is a given fudamental 
fact of consciousness; (2) by the presence in consciousness of 
universals or 'notions.' In denying the existence of abstract no- 
tions, 2 i. e., in the discovery that the notion always involves a re- 
lation to sense perception Berkeley had vindicated the reality of 
the notion and thus the objectivity of the relations which form its 
content by the direct evidence of the perceptual consciousness. 
For the content of the notion is, he tell us, relations, relations 
which at any rate appear objective, and since the notion is, in its 
individual character, as the image, experiential, the objectivity of 
relations is directly evinced by consciousness; for — to use Professor 
Royce's language experience cannot be other than it takes itself 
to be. In other words, Berkeley asserts a common sense realism,' 2 
resting the existence of universals upon the direct testimony of 
consciousness. His realism is not, however, a copy theory, for 
there is nothing foreign to consciousness of which the idea can be 
the copy, and in this respect it is idealism. 

In the third dialogue between Hylas and Phylonous, the notion 
in the guise of the archetype plays a more prominent part than in 
the "Principles," and likewise the objectivity of ideas is further in- 
sisted upon. While in the later work we find Berkeley denying the 
existence of abstract matter, for the reason that the existence of a 
thing cannot be abstracted from the perception of it, we here find 
him using the same argument in' support of the objectivity of 
things or ideas to mind, for "that a thing should be really perceived 
by my consciousness and at the same time not really exist is to me 
a plain contradiction, since I cannot prescind or abstract, even in 
thought, the existence of a sensible thing from its being per- 

In "Siris" we receive further insight into the doctrine of the 
objectivity of ideas, which, from his now complete recognition of 
the immanence of reason, one would expect to find him regard as 
active in their objective aspect. And so it is, for he there says 
that sensible qualities are to be regarded as acts only in the cause, 
and as passions in us. In Siris also 3 Berkeley favors a doctrine of 
'innate notions,' although, as he tells us, it is different from that 
which is favored by the moderns, doubtless meaning the abstract 
idea of Locke as well as the innate idea of Descartes. For the 
' innate notion ' Berkeley describes as having a potential existence: 

1 It is the emptiness of the abstract universal as well as its unimaginableness 
against which Berkeley declaims — the unschematized category. But Berkeley had 
no dualism as had Kant — no violent severing of sense-given impressions from the 
activity of thought. 

2 Cf. Wenley — British Thought and Modern Speculation, p. 148 of Scottish 
Rev., vol. 19. 

3 Siris § 308-309-315. 

— 50 — 

it is connate rather than innate. The finite mind or self, by par- 
ticipation in the Divine Mind, possesses the power of reflection 
and of originating its own products, the notions; but since this 
reflection is employed upon sense phenomena, which are not by 
nature foreign to Mind, the notion amounts to an active synthesis 
of this given material, and is thus for Berkeley constitutive, or to 
express it more nearly in Berkeley's Platonic language, by means 
of the notion we rediscover the universal creative ' form ' of the 
Divine Reason immanent in sense. 

( b ) Notion of Self and God. 

Parallel to Berkeley's theory of a notion of relations there also 
develops his 'notion' of the Self and God. With regard to our 
knowledge of Self it is again Locke who furnishes a point of 
departure for Berkeley's theory. The former, in close imitation of 
Descartes, had said 1 that "as for our own existence we perceive it 
so plainly, that it neither needs nor is capable of any proof. For 

nothing can be more evident to us than our own existence 

Experience convinces us that we can have an intuitive knowledge 
of our own existence, and an internal infallible perception that we 
are. In every act of sensation, reasoning, or thinking we are con- 
scious to ourselves of our own being; and in this matter come not 
short of the highest degree of certainty." 

Apparently in entire agreement with this, Berkeley sets out 
with a intuitional view of the self. Such passages as the following 
appear in considerable profusion throughout his earlier philosophi- 
cal works, and demonstrate his inability to free himself from an 
apparent necessity of giving to his conception of the self an empir- 
ical setting. In the " Principles" he says that "we comprehend 
our own existence by inward feeling or reflection, and that of other 
spirits by reason." 2 Likewise, in the third dialogue between 
Hylas and Philonous: "I do nevertheless know that I who am a 
spirit or thinking substance, exist as certainly as I know my ideas 
exist. Further, I know what I mean by the terms I and myself, 
and I know this i?nmediately or intuitively, though I do not perceive 
it as I perceive a triangle, a color, or a sound." By such state- 
ments Berkeley not only laid himself open to the charge of having 
attempted to ground his metaphysic upon a psychological theory 
of the self — a view which a consistent application of his own empir- 
ical principles would destroy; for, as Hume afterward showed, the 
permanence of the I, as given in perception, is not a real perma- 
nence — but he apparently sought to reinstate, notwithstanding his 

Locke's Essay, Book IV, ch. ix-3. 
2 "Principles," § 89. 

_ 5 1 — 

Nominalism, a 'substance' theory fully as unacceptable as that 
of Locke. 

Early in the Principles this category of substance appears; yet it 
occurs rather as a foil to the Cartesian substance than as a principle 
of explanation to which the author attached any positive significance 
— a category nearest at hand to envisage the active principle which, 
by the extension of its activity, was to supplant passive matter. We 
have no mediaeval discussion of faculties, no question is raised as 
to the relation of a soul substance to a divine spirit substance, nor 
are we told anything about the attributes of this substance. On the 
contrary — in speaking of the perception of the qualities of bodies — 
he says that these qualities are in the mind only as they are per- 
ceived by it — that is, not by way of mode or attribute, but only by 
way of 'idea.' Following the passage just quoted, Berkeley pro- 
ceeds to draw the conclusion that the soul does not possess 'quali- 
ties.' Subject, mode, and attribute, of the philosophers are discarded 
as unintelligible terms; and this he illustrates in the case of a 
material object. 1 

The paralogism involved in the attempt to explain the self by 
means of the materialistic category of substance certainly appeared 
to Berkeley. In the first place they would, of necessity, occur to 
him in the distinction which he set up between spirits and ideas. 
The latter, as merely passive existences, have nothing in common 
with spirit but the general name Being. This distinction is intro- 
duced among the reflections of the Commonplace Book: "Things 
are two fold," he tells us — "active or inactive." The existence of 
active things is to act, of inactive to be 'perceived.' There being 
nothing in common between these two heterogeneous kinds of exis- 
tences, the former, the active relational principle, mind or spirit, can- 
not be adequately expressed in terms of passive ideas. Accordingly, 
in spite of a seemingly bold assertion that 'we assuredly have an 
idea of substance,' we read its qualification in the statements which 
follow: "The substance of body we know. The substance of Spirit 
we do not know — it not being knowable, it being a purus actus." 
Now by the 'substance of body,' Berkeley, as we have seen, 
means nothing else than the sensible object, involving indeed 
thought-relations if we read him aright, but never abstract sub- 
stance. Likewise any knowledge of spirit as substance is here 

In the Principles and in the earlier dialogues, the category of 
substance occurs in connection with his various other characteri- 
zations of mind or spirit. In the third of these dialogues, 2 after 
speaking of the 'I as a spirit' or 'thinking substance,' he goes on 

1 " Principles," §49. 

z " Philonous" 3d dialogue, §5. 


— 52 — 

to say: "The Mind, Spirit or Soul, is that indivisible, unextended 
thing which thinks, acts, and perceives. I say indivisable, because 
unextended; and unextended because extended, figured, moveable 
things are ideas;" and that which perceives ideas, which thinks and 
wills, is plainly itself no idea, nor like an idea .... I do not 
therefore say my soul is an idea, or like an idea." These state- 
ments do not seem to be a return to scholastic discussions as to 
the possible existence of a spirit substance, stripped of all the rela- 
tions by which substance or matter is perceptively known to us. 
They appear rather to indicate the predominant thought in Berke- 
ley's mind, that neither the sense qualities nor substance which 
exists only in presence of these qualities can be adduced in sup- 
port of a kind of existence which is, in itself, unknowable. Only 
a negative signification is assigned to substance; ' and Berkeley, 
whenever he is driven to an explanation of the self or the objective 
Spirit which for him takes the place of matter, has recourse to the 
'active, thinking principle,' a knowledge of which is had by means 
of the notion. 

After denying the possibility of our having an idea either of 
the self or of God, he proceeds to give a reason for his insistence 
that we have, if not an idea, at least some knowledge, of Spirit. 
In reply to Hylas' objection that even if abstract matter be disal- 
lowed, there may yet be "some third nature distinct from Matter 
and Spirit" — "for what reason is there why you should call it 
Spirit"? — Berkeley in effect says that there can be no via mediabe- 
tween matter and spirit, no unica substantia' 2 for as "I have a mind 
to have some notion of meaning in what I say . . . when I speak 
of an active being, I am obliged to mean spirit." Activity can be 
ascribed only to that which has ideas and possesses the power of 
' combining and relating ' those ideas, or to that which creates ideas. 

If L may be allowed to quote farther, at considerable length, 
from the dialogue we have been considering, the following may be 
taken as illustrative of the position at which Berkeley has thus far 
arrived with regard to a knowledge of the self and God. Though 
we have no idea of spirit, yet "taking the word idea in a large 
sense, my soul may be said to furnish me with an «idea [notion], 
that is, an image or likeness of God— though indeed extremely in- 
adequate. For all the notion I have of God is obtained by reflect- 
ing on my own soul, heightening its powers, and removing its im- 
perfection." 3 in this we seem to obtain some hint of Berkeley's 

1 Lewis, in his History of Philosophy (Berkeley) holds to the extreme of 
this substance-interpretation ol Berkeley. He tells us that his '-idealism is at 
bottom the much decried system of Spinoza, who taught that there was but one 
essence in the universe, and that one Substance." 

2 cf. Fraser; Berkeley, Blackwood Philos. Classics, p. 201. 

3 Third dialogue between Hylas and Philonous. Wales — Vol. 

— 53 — 

later doctrine of Personality, God appearing to be for him the 
completion of the finite self. He further describes this sort of 
knowledge in the following terms: "I have, therefore, though not 
an inactive idea, yet in myself some sort of an active thinking 
image of the Deity. And though I perceive Him not by sense, 
yet I have a notion of him, or know him by reflection and reason- 
ing. " l 

To this statement of Philonous, Hylas, the materialist, objects. 
"You say," he remarks, '"'your own soul supplies you with some sort 
of an idea or image of God. But, at the same time, you acknowl- 
edge you have, properly speaking, no idea of your own soul. . . . 
To act consistently, you must either admit Matter or reject Spirit." 
"Philonous thus replies, "I say, in the first place, that I do not 
deny the existence of material substance, merely because I have 
no notion of it, but because the notion of it is inconsistent; or, in 
other words, because it is repugnant that there should be a notion 
of it. Many things, for ought I know, may exist, whereof neither 
I nor any other man hath or can have any idea or notion whatso- 
ever. But then those things must be possible, that is, nothing in- 
consistent must be included in their definition. I say, secondly, 
that although we believe things to exist which we do not perceive, 
yet we may not believe that any particular thing exists, without 
some reason for such belief; but I have no reason for believing the 
existence of matter. I have no immediate intuition thereof: neither 
can I immediately from my sensations, ideas, notions, actions, or 
passions, infer an unthinking, unperceiving, inactive Substance — 
either by probable deduction or necessary consequence. 'Whereas 
the being of my Self, that is, my own soul, mind, or thinking prin- 
ciple, I evidently know by reflection It is granted we have 

neither an immediate evidence nor a demonstrative knowledge of 
the existence of other finite spirits; but it will not thence follow 
that such spirits are on a foot with material substances: if to sup- 
pose the one be inconsistent, and it be not inconsistent to suppose 
the other; if the one can be inferred by no argument, and there is 
a probability for the other. ... I say, lastly, that I have a notion 
of Spirit, though I have not, strictly speaking, an idea of it. I do 
not perceive it as an idea, or by means of an idea, but know it by 
reflection. " 

In the above we have not only Berkeley's second and positive 
disproof of abstract matter — the first and negative disproof being 
grounded on the fact that its existence is not supported by the evi- 
dence of immediate perception — but, what is here to our purpose, 
his reasons for substituting spirit for abstract matter. 

We may put the case briefly thus: We can have no idea of 

1 "Third Dialogue between Hylas and Philonous." 

— 54 — 

spirit, but only a notion or conception of it. We have neither an 
idea of abstract matter nor can we conceive its existence. The 
notion of matter is self-contradictory because, being conceived as 
passive, we may demand that the notion of it shall be realized in 
the form of passive existence, or ideas, and this demand it cannot 
fulfill — or if it does, it at once becomes idea, and then Berkeley 
asks: why reduplicate existence and attempt to think matter other- 
wise than as it is revealed to us in the percipient consciousness ? 
The notion of matter is thus inadequate to its objective existence. 
If it be replied that matter is active, produces, brings about effects, 
Berkeley would say that the notion of activity is indentical with 
the notion of spirit; for as soon as you attempt to conceive it as 
matter, you make it passive, i. e., idea, and thus destroy activity. 
If then you attempt to conceive matter in itself, as an absolute ex- 
istence apart from spirit, you must admit that it must stand on its 
own merit, i. e., as passivity, and thus, again, it is idea. 

The notion of spirit, however, though ' inadequate ' in so far 
as we attempt to characterize it by conceptions borrowed from 
passive ideas, is not inconsistent; for the conception of spirit does 
not demand that it shall be, in its absolute nature, expressed in 
terms of ideas, but that these shall only signify or represent spirit- 
ual activity, which is by hypothesis different from ideas. Thus we 
must, from the very notion of matter, demand a complete knowl- 
edge of what it is, and it is thus inadequate to the form of repre- 
sentation which its conception requires; while, on the other hand, 
the notion of spirit is less inadequate inasmuch as it only requires 
a medium for the expression of itself, viz, notions or representa- 
tions. We may accordingly be forced to content ourselves with a 
relative knowledge of mind or spirit, a ' probability,' as Berkeley 
expresses it, but of matter we can have no knowledge, except as a 
mind-dependent existence. 

The passages which I have transcribed from Berkeley's dia- 
logue do not seem to me to indicate a sole reliance upon the em- 
pirical self in support of his idealistic hypothesis. In the self or 
' thinking principle ' which ' I evidently know by reflection ' there 
is implied the thought of an activity of relation of which we are 
made aware not only by its empirical manifestations but, also by 
the universals of reason or 'notions.' Berkeley, as we have before 
said, does not think of instituting a Kantian inquiry into the prin- 
ciples which must be presupposed in the constitution of experience 
in order to render it possible. Before Kant's question could arise 
there was needed Hume's misinterpretation of Berkeley's 'spirit 
substance ' and the subsequent disintegration of the self into ab- 
stract sensations. By Kant the self was to be rediscovered, 
although the foreign ' Somewhat ' against which Berkeley so vigor- 
ously contended reappeared in the guise of a ding-an-sich, thus oc- 

— 55 — 

casioning the transformation of the self from an ontological into 
an epistemological unity. Berkeley, on the other hand, who by 
his less critical and easier method, had seized upon Locke's com- 
bining activity of mind, by extending the scope of its activity 
from the small sphere to which the latter had confined it, viz., ideas 
of reflection, gradually transforms it into the self, which, by par- 
ticipation in the Infinite Self, or God, is constitutive of the rela- 
tions that are througout implied in all phenomenal objects. 

" At the first thought it seems altogether incongruous and un- 
seemly to connect Kant or his speculation with Berkeley and his 
philosophy and yet the two are more nearly con- 
nected than at first sight would seem to be possible, not merely by 
their historic connection through Hume under the law of action 
and reaction, but by the problem with which both grappled so 
earnestly, although their solutions vary so widely. We find them 
in certain particulars nearer than we should at first have suspected. 
The matter which Berkeley so passionately rejects while he retains 
the sensations which are all we know, is, as he conceives it, not 
greatly unlike the Ding-an-sich which Kant so pertinaciously 
ignores, while he accepts the phenomena, which somehow he holds 
to be its representation. The time and space which Kant acknowl- 
edges as the forms and only as the forms of our direct knowledge 
affirmed or presumed — of sense experiences by an a priori neces- 
sity, are accepted by Berkeley as a priori relations, because neces- 
sarily involved in the continued activity of God. Kant's catego- 
ries of our generalized thinking are matched by Berkeley's original 
notions of relations between ideas which are discerned and 
affirmed directly by the mind. The ideas, however, which Kant 
beheld as shivering ghosts through the midst of his timid scepti- 
cism, and which he was forced to recognize as real by a faith which 
he could only say was a make-believe — of God, the soul, and the 
cosmos, — these were to Berkeley the pillars and foundation of his 
philosophic faith. While Kant finds in conscience the command 
to believe in God, because God is needed as a chief of police for 
the moral universe, Berkeley finds in God the personal foundation 
and enforcer of duty, because duty is the voice of reason and 
goodness, which are but other names for the thoughts and actings 
of God." 

We have endeavored to show that the self of Berkeley is but 
poorly understood if one fastens upon the category of substance 
as indicative of his deeper thought or last word about the matter. 
His unwillingness to apply the category of ' substance,' and his 
recognition that • being' is an inadequate concept by which to ex- 
press the self, appear in a few passages in his Commonplace Book. 
There he says, with regard to the objective source of ideas of 
sense: "there is a being which wills these perceptions in us," to 

— 56 — 

which he adds: " It should be said, nothing but a Will — a being 
which wills being unintelligible." 1 Likewise he seems to disallow 
the hypostalization of Will or Understanding, either as modes of 
a substance, or as faculties in abstraction from the self of which 
they are different forms of manifestation: "I must not say that 
will or understanding is all one, but that they are both abstract 
ideas, i. e. , none at all — they not being even ratione different from 
the spirit, qua faculties, or active." 2 Again: Thought itself, or 
thinking, is no idea. "'Tis an act, i. e., volition, as contradistin- 
guished to effects — the Will." 3 Further in his account of the per- 
ception of objects, Berkeley says, in a passage already noted in 
another connection: "when I speak of objects as existing in the 
mind, or imprinted on the senses, I would not be understood in 
the gross literal sense — as when bodies are said to exist in a place, 
or a seal to make an impression on wax. My meaning is only that 
the minds comprehends or perceives them." 4 

On the whole it does not seem that he has much thought of 
pressing the analogy of material substance upon his ' active prin- 
ciple.' Although ideas, in so far as they are regarded apart from 
the relating mind, are passive, and although as coming from a 
source foreign to the finite mind, the latter is receptive with regard 
to them; yet ideas in themselves, having no connexion or identity 
with one another, have a meaning for the finite mind only in so far 
as the latter possesses the relating activity which is necessary for 
the interpretation of these significant signs into a rational lan- 
guage. Thus the mind is not a mere tabula rasa, a substance-vehi- 
cle for conveying into the empirical consciousness a world of 
ready made perceptions; on the contrary, in so far as empirical 
perception is present, there is implied the work of rational activ- 
ity, without which experience would be impossible. The finite 
mind can interpret the language of the Author of Nature only so 
far as it possesses the capability of interpretation, i. e., as it shares 
the rational activity which is at the heart of experience. 

With respect to the identity of the finite mind or self, Berke- 
ley is eminently unsuccessful, at least in his early philosophy. 
The question thus appears to him in the "Commonplace Book": 
"Wherein consists the identity of persons? Not in actual con- 
sciousness, for then I'm not the same person I was this day twelve- 
months but while I think of what I did then. Not in potential, 
for then all persons may be the same for aught I know." 5 Here 

1 "Life Letters and Unpublished Writings of Berkeley," p. 430. 
2 Fraser; ''Commonplace Book" in "Life, letters, etc.," p. 466. 

3 Ibid, p. 460.' 

4 " Third Dialogue between Hylas and Philonious." 

5 Fraser; "Commonplace Book," in "Life, letters, etc.," p. 481. 

— 57 — 

he seems to rely solely upon memory as the bond of connection 
between past and present states of consciousness; and its inade- 
quacy as an explanation of any other than empirical identity he 
could have seen if he had but applied the principles of associa- 
tional psychology which he himself set afoot. 

In the third dialogue between Hylas and Philonous he seems 
to foresee Hume's subsequent procedure with regard to the self. 
Hylas says in reply to the long speech of Philonous which we have 
quoted: " Notwithstanding all you have said . . . . and in conse- 
quence of your own principles, it should follow that you are only 
a system of floating ideas, without any substance to support them. 
Words are not to be used without a meaning in spiritual substance 
more than in material substance; the one is to be exploded as well 
as the other," 1 for "the murder of matter is the suicide of the mind." 
This objection, suggestive of his Commonplace Book, in which 
Berkeley says that " the very existence of idea constitutes the 
Soul " 2 which is a mere 'congeries of perceptions,' is answered as 
follows: "I know or am conscious of my own being, and that I 
myself am not my ideas, but somewhat else, a thinking, active 
principle which perceives, knows, wills and operates about ideas. 
I know that I, one and the same self, perceive both colors and 
sonnds: that a color cannot perceive a sound, nor a sound a color: 
that I am therefore one individual principle, distinct from color 
and sound; and for the same reason, from all other sensible things 
and inert ideas. But, I am not in like manner conscious of the 
existence or essence of Matter." 3 Now from this statement that 
the self is an individual principle, distinct from ideas, and the pre- 
ceding assertion that 'Mind is a congeries of perceptions,' it 
seems that Blakeley contemplated a distinction between an empiri- 
cal and a rational self, although the distinction is far from being 
explicitly pointed out. 

In the Commonplace book he regards the person as immortal, 
while he denies immortality to the soul, by which he evidently 
means the self in its individual or empirical aspect. Berkeley's 
theory of personality is a later development of his philosophy, in 
the progress of which he has come to place increasing reliance 
upon the notion, rather than upon mere intuition. But if, in his 
early theory, he fails to distinguish clearly between the empirical 
self as a mere congeries of perceptions, and the rational activity 
which renders possible an interpretation of the sign language of 
Nature, in the later philosophy of Siris there is a tendency to lose 
the identity of the self in Universal Mind. He now verges upon 

1 "Third dialogue between Hylas and Philonous." 

2 Fraser; "Commonplace Book," "Life, letters, etc.," p. 43S. 

3 "Third dialogue between Hilas and Philonous." 

— 58 — 

mysticism, and draws largely from Neo-Platonic sources for his 
conceptions. Jamblichus, he says, furnishes a doctrine that "there 
is a principle of the soul higher than nature, whereby we may be 
raised to a union with the gods, and exempt ourselves from fate." 1 
"According to the Platonic philosophy, ens and unnm are the 
same. And consequently our minds participate so far of existence 
as they do of unity. But it should seem that personality is the 
indivisible center of the soul or mind, which is a monad so far 
forth as she is a person. Therefore Person is really that which 
exists, inasmuch as it participates in the Divine unity:" 2 Again, he 
says: " Upon mature reflection, the person or mind, of all created 
being, seemeth alone indivisible and to partake most of unity. But 
sensible things are rather considered as one than truly so, they 
being in a perpetual flux or succession ever differing and various. 
Nevertheless, all things together must be considered as one uni- 
verse, one by the connexion and order of its parts, which is the 
work of mind, whose unit is, by Platonics, supposed a participa- 
tion of the first to iv. " 3 "Aristotle himself, in his third book 
of the Soul, saith it is the mind that maketh each thing to be one. 
. . . How this is done Themistius is more particular, observing 
that as being conferreth essence, the mind, by virtue of her sim- 
plicity, conferreth simplicity upon compound beings. And, indeed, 
it seemeth that the mind, so far forth as person, is individual. 
Therein resembling the divine one by participation, and imparting 
to other things what itself participates from above. This is agree- 
able to. the doctrine of the ancients; however the contrary opinion 
of supposing number to be an original primary quality in things, 
independent of the mind, may obtain among the moderns." 4 

Here Berkeley in his theory of personality relies upon the 
concept of unity not only to exhibit the necessary dependence of 
the finite upon the infinite mind, but also to differentiate the former 
from the latter. "Number," he now says, in entire agreement 
with his earlier philosophy, " is no object of sense :" " it is an act 
of the mind. The same thing in a different conception is one or 
many." 5 Unity he still regards as a creature of the mind, and 
not something existing in things independent of the mind; yet it 
is no longer as formerly an abstract idea, but a notion. And the 
notions, as we have seen, are in Siris identified with the archetpyes 
or ideas of Reason, immanent in the phenomena of sense. The 
latter, as Berkeley insists, are not to be regarded in one aspect 

1 " Siris," § 272. 

2 Ibid, § 346. 

3 Ibid, § 350. 

*Idid, § 356 and 357. 
5 Ibid, § 288. 

— 59-- 

alone, for the phenomenon is not merely the complex of sensations 
which has been marked by one name, and so reputed as a Thing. 
The Thing is, in another aspect, as the presenied object of con- 
sciousness, an irreducible fact; it must finally be referred to its 
causal source and receive its ultimate explanation in objective 
Universal Mind. The identity of the thing is not a mere ficti- 
tious identity, for the unity which the mind introduces into sensa- 
tions has its counterpart in an objective unity whose source is 
Universal Mind. As the finite mind, in its explanation of phe- 
nomena, procedes from synthesis to higher synthesis, by the redis- 
covery in Time of the archetypal ideas or notions, it becomes 
aware of the 'Divine unity ' in which it participates. 

But while person is really that which exists, inasmuch as it 
participates in the Divine Unity, difference is not lost; for it is 
also true that "the mind so far forth as person is individual." 
Personality is for Berkeley the most adequate category for the 
complete explanation of experience, since the self not only ex- 
presses the highest synthesis but, true to the empirical aspect of 
things, it also expresses difference, as self distinguished from self. 
My experiences, he seems to say, must be referred to a higher 
source than myself, and there is a cosmical order independent of 
me; yet, in a very real sense also, these experiences are mine, and 
I am not the mere theatre for the play of passing phenomena, 
since in my abdity to discern the unphenomenal character whirh 
attaches to my experiences, in the significance which the arche- 
typal ideas have for me, my empirical self becomes, like my other 
phenomenal experiences, the symbol of a higher personality. 

But there is another reason why Berkeley, in his final account 
of the relation of the self to God, rejects a complete identifica- 
tion of the self with God. We have seen that in his early philos- 
ophy, Berkeley's conception of God seems unmistakably to be of 
the deistic cast. The arbitrariness of the divime nature language 
is chiefly put forward; God is seemingly regarded as an extraneous 
power. working effects in us. But the interpretability of this lan- 
guage rests for us upon the presupposition of a necessary unity of 
the finite with the Absolute Mind or Reason. "Siris" is the explica- 
tion of this, and the universals of Reason which formerly received 
such brief recognition are the means whereby we arrive at the 
knowledge of an objective order of things, which as the deeper 
meaning, is the completion as well as the ground of Berkeley's ear- 
lier idealism. With his increasing gnosticism, his growing confi- 
dence in the universals of Reason, Berkeley is apparently more 
tolerant of views which in strictness cannot be called theistic. 
"Whether the wT^c be abstracted from the sensible world, and con- 
sidered by itself as distinct from and presiding over the created 
system; or whether the whole Universe, including mind, together 

— 60 — 

with the mundane body, is conceived to be God, and the creatures 
to be partial manifestations of the Divine essence — there is no 
Atheism in either case, whatever misconception there may be; so 
long as Mind or Intellect is understood to preside over, govern 
and conduct the whole frame of things." 1 

As we have elsewhere seen, the immanence of the divine Rea- 
son in the world of sense is the view which is now favored by 
Berkeley; but it is not maintained to the exclusion of the theistic 
view which dominated his early idealism: and in this he avoids 
the pantheism towards which he seems tending and the complete 
resolution of the self into an Absolute Reason. 3 It is true that 
his theistic utterances are no longer dogmatic assertions as for- 
merly. The limitation of that finite knowledge which would grasp 
the infinite is now more clearly recognized. The theistic concep- 
tion of God comes as the deeper insight into the ever present cre- 
ative Reason which informs and maintains the world. It comes as 
a conviction that as man in his rational activity is made aware of 
a higher rational self which is the completion of the finite and the 
presupposition of our knowledge of a world, so may this higher 
self be more completely known by conceiving it in analogy with 
the total nature of man. As in Berkeley's idealism, and more 
expressly in the later form which it takes in " Siris," Reason is not 
to be absolutely divorced from sense, so neither is Will a faculty 
distinct from Reason. Not Reason alone, but Reason and Will, 
as different expressions of man's spiritual activity, constitute his 
inner self. 

In the third dialogue between Hylas and Philonous we have 
already seen Berkeley's statement that God is to be known only by 
reflecting upon the self, "by heightening its powers and removing 
its imperfections." In "Alciphron, the Minute Philosopher," the 
question of the legitimacy of this process comes up. The inade- 
quacy of finite categories is recognized, while predication by 
means of them is nevertheless defended by reverting to the schol- 
astic argument that they are applied "by way of eminence and 
not by way of defect." 4 

The theistic view, which he thus but poorly maintains as 
against pantheism, is perhaps furnished with a more rational basis 
if one reads it in connection with his later utterances with respect 
to the notion, and the function which we found must be- assigned 

1 ' -Siris, ' ' § 326. 

-'Cf. " Siris, ' §276, 287. 

3 '"La large tolerance de Berkeley n'excommunie pas le pantheism, bien 
qu'elle affiime que le funds de l'etre, en Dieu comme en nous, est ('indivisible 
unite de la personne." L. Carrau: "La philosophie religieuse en Angleterre; " 
Paiis, iSSS, p, 27. 

4 "Divine Visual Language," § 19. 

— 61 — 

to it in the constitution of experience. Viewed in this light, man's 
knowledge of God is but the farther extension of his knowledge 
of the phenomenal order. In the phenomenal world of Berkeley 
we are not cut off from a world of noumenal existence, for in the 
sense-material which is subjected to the unifying work of finite 
conceptions there is nothing foreign to Reason. In the generali- 
zations of science, by means of which is made possible for us an 
orderly and connected world of experience, nay even in perception 
itself, we are already transcending the merely phenomenal. Finally, 
in the highest completed synthesis, the Divine Reason, we have 
merely the last step which gives meaning to the whole. Man shares 
in the Universal Reason, and it is only by his participation in this 
Reason that he is enabled to take cognizance of this Unity, which 
is the truest explanation of himself and of the world in which he 
lives. But in man Reason and Will are equally fundamental, alike 
universal expressions of his experience of himself, and together 
they constitute his personality. In his conception of God Berke- 
ley refuses to be be content with mere Reason as the final explana- 
tion of things. Reason, as so conceived, is scarcely differentiated 
from Fate, while the Reason it is Berkeley's purpose to discover is 
a purposeful activity, directed toward the Supreme Good; it is, as 
he tells us, Will which is "conducted and applied by intellect." 
The Divine arbitrariness is still retained; God is Divine Will di- 
rected by Divine Reason. Although in that Reason the finite is 
now seen to participate, the key to the knowledge of God is not 
only the rational, but the moral implication contained in man's 
knowledge of himself. 

1 Siris, § 254. 


The relations which obtain either by way of agreement or 
contrast between the earlier and later phases of Berkeley's ideal- 
ism, and which have been exhibited somewhat in detail with respect 
to the three objects of human knowledge, — ideas, relations, and 
that third class of existences, denominated by Berkeley, spirits, 
may now be briefly summarized. 

With respect to ideas we distinguished between three classes: 
(i) the sensation; (2) the phenomenal object, which is in one 
aspect a mere complex of sensations, and which in another aspect 
remains an objective datum of consciousness, ultimately explained 
only by reference to the objective mind of God; (3) the archetype 
or Idea of Reason. The early philosophy of Berkeley exhibits 
his insistance upon the subjective character of phenomena, while 
in the later philosophy of " Siris," their objective character is 
brought to light by means of the immanent universals, ideas, whose 
existence had in the "Principles" a tacit recognition in the ad- 
mission that there are universal notions. 

Turning to the connection of ideas, we found that in the ear- 
lier philosophy the principle of Causality is declared to be inope- 
rative between ideas, as they are here regarded, in their particular 
and subjective aspect. A custom or habit of relating passively 
experienced sensations is apparently sufficient to account for the 
presence of the external phenomenal object. The theory is in the 
first instance differentiated from the subsequent humlan traduction 
of it only in the implicit recognition of the fundamental unity which 
subsists between the finite and the Divine Mind, in the fact that the 
former possesses the capability of rationally interpreting the sensa- 
tion symbols which ultimately depend upon the causal activity of 
Divine Will. Again, in the "Principles of Human Knowledge" and 
in the "Dialogues," Berkeley furnished ample acknowledgment of 
the fact that the phenomenal object, for which he prefers the term 
'idea' rather than thing, has not a merely subjective existence, 
although, he declares it is meaningless if we attempt to conceive it 
out of all relation to percipient consciousness. His sufficient ac- 
knowledgment of this is, however, in this early phase of his ideal- 
ism, unsupported otherwise than by citing the fact that ideas of 
sense are apparently independent of human volition, being pro- 
duced in a regular, orderly and coherent series. 

But, as we approach Berkeley's later realistic position, we find 
him evidently aware that the objectivity of phenomena cannot be 


established in so simple a way. Accordingly, in "Alciphron," the 
objective implications of the phenomenal object are made more 
expressly the subject of study, which results in the discovery that 
any perception is not merely the sum of particular sensations, but 
that, on the contrary, in order to the recognition of any perceived 
object, there is involved the work of unconscious rational infer- 
ence. 1 A few sensations serve as signs by which we are led to expect 
other unperceived sensations, provided certain conditions be ful- 
filled. These present sensations are nothing of themselves, but 
only as they are signs of relations whose permanence and objectivity 
are due to the constitutive universals of Supreme Mind. 2 Imme- 
diate perception is thus seen to imply mediation; and "faith in 
an established, objective order of association between the two kinds 
of sense phenomena (visual and tactual) is the basis of the con- 
structive activity of intellect in all inductive interpretation of sensi- 
ble things." 3 Berkeley's association of ideas is, as Fraser points 
out, 4 not merely subjective but objective, although his position of 
objective association is not reached critically; it is, says Fraser, his 
"religious faith in the constancy of the divine constitution of the 
cosmos." "Objective association originates the notions of sensa- 
tions as significant signs, and belief in the invariableness of the 
relations of which they are significant." Subjective association, on 
the other hand, "helps us to recollect the meaning of each partic- 
ular sensation and connect the signs with their significance in our 
imagination." 5 

In the latest phase of his idealism, represented by " Siris," we 
have seen that the 'judgment of suggestion' ripens into the explicit 
recognition of universals of Reason, or the constitutive notions, 
imminent in sense. The legitimacy of Berkeley's final resort to 
the notion, of which he makes such important use in establishing a 
more consistent foundation for his early idealism, was found in the 
fact that his early nominalism was directed merely against the 
hypostatization of conceptions in abstract separation from mind as 
percipient, while a more concrete universal was admitted by him 
even in his early theory, although its function in the constitution 
of experience was but imperfectly conceived. 

Finally, our consideration of Berkeley's third class of exist- 
ences, viz: Spirits, revealed that, corresponding to Berkeley's 
growing insight into the nature of the phenomenal object, there 

1 Cf . Wenley; "British Thought and Modern Speculation," p. 149 of Scot- 
tish Rev., vol. 19. 

'' Fraser; " Philosophy of Berkeley." 

3 Ibid, p. 395. 

* Fraser; "Philosophy of Berkeley" in "Life, Letters and Unpublished 
Writings," p. 304. 

5 Ibid, p. 404. 


also emerges a theory of the self and God which is more consistent 
with the rationalism that is implicitly the basis of his theory of the 
world. That the world is to be regarded as my individual repre- 
sentation, had never been maintained by Berkeley, as some would 
have us believe. Its ultimate dependence upon Divine, rational 
will had been affirmed at the outset, the guarantee for its indepen- 
dence of me consisting in the very fact of Berkeley's insistence 
that perception and conception should not be thought to exist in 
absolute separation from one another. The particular is indeed 
the conscious datum to which introspective analysis of the pheno- 
menal object conducts us; but the conceptual existence of the 
latter is as much a basal fact of consciousness as the particulars by 
means of which it translates itself into the concrete perceptual ex- 
perience of individual minds. Accordingly the early theory, which 
tells us that particular sensations are merely the signs by which we 
are enabled to interpret the rational language of a supreme Author 
of Nature, becomes, by means of the later development of the 
notion, the obverse of Berkeley's rationalistic philosophy, in which 
we are led to see that the relations which subsist between pheno 
mena, in the organic system of human experience, are not mere 
subjective fictions, but objective relations, discoverable by us, be- 
cause of the essential unity which obtains between the finite and 
the Universal Mind, upon which these relations ultimately depend. 

Yet, as we have seen, in this unity of the self with God, to 
which he finally conducts us in Siris, difference is not merged in 
mere identity. The world is also in a sense the representation of 
the finite self, not because of the mere fact that man is a percipient 
organism, but rather because of that very unity which obtains be- 
tween the finite and the infinite in virtue of which man possesses 
an 'imperishable personality all his own', 1 sharing, as he does, in 
the universal constitutive ideas. Through man, by means of these 
universals, the world is constituted, and is representative alike of 
an eternal or timeless order of things subsisting in the mind of 
God, though also of the subjective interpretation which man puts 
upon his experience. From this subjectivity, man, by voluntary, 
willingness of insight into the eternal order, seeks to free himself, 
and thus reconstitute the world in the likeness of God. Thus the 
early doctrine that nature is in its totality an interpretable system, 
dependent upon a Power that is not ourselves, seems borne out in 
Siris by his theory of the personality or 'spiritual individuality ,2 
of man. 

It must, however, be kept in mind that the separate strands of 
Berkeley's philosophy were never united in an organic whole. The 

1 Wenley; " British Thought and Modern Speculation; " Scottish Rev., Vol. 
19, p. 154. 

2 Fraser; '' Berkeley," p. 207. 


manifold implications of the new point of view, consequent upon 
his disposal of the fiction of abstract matter, were but imperfectly 
conceived. The work of establishing an idealistic philosophy 
which should take the place of previous materialistic theories was 
only partially sketched, never definitely executed. Furthermore, 
his philosophy was always in a state of transition, and accordingly 
one cannot regard any particular phase of its development as an 
adequate expression of Berkeley's complete thought about reality. 
Empiricism, which is by far the dominant principle of his early 
theorizing, long ago yielded up to more consistent systematizers 
material valuable not alone for psychological method but for gen- 
eral scientific enquiry. On the other hand, the final idealistic 
position which he reached in Siris was presented in too fragmentary 
a form to be of abiding service to subsequent philosophy. 

"Elle n' etait pas fausse, mais incomplete " Ja Siris n' est qu' un 

developpement plein de grandeur de ce que nous ont revele les premieres oeuvres. 
Berkeley est arrive au seuil de la vieillesse, il a lutle jusqu' ici contre ce qu'il emit 
le mal et 1' erreur; nul polemiste via eie plus ardent, plus soupple, plus inlaligable; 
il a poursuivi dans tous ses retrenchments snccessifs la matiere en soi; il a refute 
Collins, Mandeville, Shaftesbury, combattu 1' elendue-substance de Descaites, la 
monade de Leibniz, 1' attraction newtonienne et jusqu' un principe du calcul 
infinitesimal; c' est encore un soldat de la verite qu' il est parti pour les Bermudas. 
Le voila dans sa retraite de Cloyne; sa philosophic, comme sa vie, a cesse d'etre 
militante, il lit et medite, laisse sa pensee poursuivre son ascension de principe en 
principe, jusqu' a 1' Un supreme; peu soucieux des objections et des pteuves, 
s' enchantant, sans trop s' interroger sur 1' authenticite des texies, des echos de la 
sagesse antique, ou il croit surprtndre comme le souffle affaibli d'une inspiration 
sacree. C est ainsi que Platon, parvenu au bout de ses jours et au sommet de son 
genie, laisse a de plus jeunes les procedes de refutation, les amies de la dispute, 
et, ressuscitant les vieilles doctrines pour leur donner un plus beau sen-, expose 
plus qu'il ne demontre dans ses oeuvres magistrales et seveines, le Time, les Lois. 
Une critique exigeante peut les traiterde romans philosophiques, comme la Siiis; 
nous croyons qu' elle aurait tort. Quand une grande intelligence a pense toute sa 
vie ce qu' elle a pense a le fin, en pleine posstssion d' elle-meme, et ce qui doit 
nous interesser le plus, et qui dans la mesure que les productions humaines en sont 
capables, doit contenir le plus de verite." 1 

If, however, Berkeley cannot be regarded as a thorough-going 
empiricist, nor yet as a consistent rationalist, the suggestiveness of 
his theory as a whole should not on that account be minimized. 
His early theory, in which it is claimed that the existence of sen- 
sible objects always involves a reference to percipient conscious- 
ness, " denotes a faithfulness to experience " a that is not without 
its value, when corrected by the subsequent view that mere com- 
plexes of sensations, actually present in the individual mind, do not 
of themselves constitute the substantiality of the object, which is 
also a conceptual unity. 

But Berkeley's close identification of perception and concep- 
tion has, because of the imperfect manner in which he explicates 

1 L. carrau; La philosophic religieuse, pp. iS, 20. 

2 Green; Philosophical Works, Vol. I, Intro. § 173. 


the rationalistic elements of his philosophy, been the occasion of 
not a little misunderstanding with regard to his true attitude toward 
the phenomenal object, which he substitutes for the thing, inde- 
pendent of consciousness. Thus Green, while admitting that 
"Berkeley knew that pure theism (which he wished to establish) 
has no foundation unless it can be shown that there is nothing real 
apart from thought," says that "he failed to distinguish this true 
proposition — 'there is nothing real apart from thought' — from this 
false one, its virtual contradictory — ' there is nothing other than 
feeling;'" and in substituting simply 'idea' for Locke's 'idea of a 
thing,' Berkeley failed, Green further tells us, to take "the truer 
view of thought and its object, as together in essential correlation 
constituting the real," and "merged both thing and idea in the 
indifference of simple feeling." 1 

Of course upon this view that Berkeley has reduced thought 
and its world to simple feeling, objectivity is done away with; and 
bodies and things, suggested by feeling, are not real, since present 
sensations are the only reality. But thus "to isolate the phrase, 
esse is percipi, more particularly if the pcrcipi be held to imply ex- 
clusively the perception of a single individual through the medium 
of his senses only [as Green in the above passages seems to insist] 
is to eviscerate Berkeley. " 2 For "he does not declare 
that we can possess a knowledge only of states of our own conscious- 
ness," 3 since mere feeling present in any individual subjective con- 
sciousness, apart from the objective conditions which render feeling 
interpretable is, on Berkeley's theory, an abstraction no less absurd 
than abstract matter. 4 The esse of things indeed implies pereipi, yet 
not alone this but coneipi or intelligi. Therefore to isolate the 
former phrase is not only to neglect the later realistic development 
of Berkeley's theory, but to substitute an imagined abstraction in 
place of Berkeley's concrete particular. The substantiality of the 
world of external existence, as distinct from the images and fancies 
of the subjective consciousness, is for Berkeley a fact not to be 
doubted. The mere Being 6 and substantiality of things is the least 
that can be said about them, and the true question of idealism is 
not, does matter exist? since the materiality of the world cannot 
be doubted; but rather what do we mean by saying that there is a 
material world, i. e., what is the truth about matter? 

The answer is, that from our thought of the existence of the 

1 Green; Philosophical Work?, Vol. I, Intro. 

' 2 Wenley; British Thought and Modern Speculation, p. 145. 

3 Ibid, p. 154. 

4 Fraser; "Philosophy of Berkeley," in Life, Letters, etc., of Berkeley, 

P- 371- 

5 It is not uninteresting at this point to compare Berkeley's idea of being with 
that of Hegel. The former says: "The general idea of Being appeareth to me 
the most abstract and incomprehensible of all other." — cf. Principles of Human 
Knowledge, § 17. 

— 67 — 

material object we cannot abstract that very condition which 
seems necessary to its being, viz., the condition that it shall be an 
object for perceptual consciousness. But this does not mean that 
its existence is entirely comprehended in my perception of the 
object; that it is nothing apart from me; but only that perception 
is a universal and necessary condition of the being of an object. 
The two have, as it were, a kind of organic relation, and cannot 
be separated. What is not for consciousness, for the passive ex- 
perience of perception, no less than what is not constituted by 
thought, is a mere abstraction. 

The view that the Berkelian idea is equivalent to mere feeling 
involves a most ludicrous construction of Berkeley's theory of the 
object not immediately present in perception. Does Berkeley 
mean that, in turning my back upon the object, I thereby anni- 
hilate it? In this respect at least, as Mr. Wenley has said, "he 
was not the fool his critics would have had him." For, in the 
first place, even if the object has an existence only under the con- 
dition, of sense-perception; if that condition be not fulfilled, we 
have yet no right to speak of the object being annihilated, for that 
would mean that we first take the object apart from perceptual 
consciousness, and then conceive its destruction. If the object 
has an existence only in relation to some perceptual consciousness, 
if it gets its meaning only as it is for a percipient subject, then in 
the absence of its being perceived, we cannot say that the object 
is destroyed and again flashed back into existence when the condi- 
tion of sense-perception is fulfilled; object would simply be mean- 
ing/ess apart from sense-perception. 

However, this is to lay exclusive emphasis upon the percipi. 
Upon Berkeley's principles, Fraser says, 1 the thing may be taken 
to exist, when we are absent from it, in percisely the same way 
that the thing present to sense exists, i. e., in the one case as in 
the other, actual sensations signify a conceivable object. The 
immediate object being rationally constituted, Berkeley does not 
mean that, in merely thinking of the object not present in my per- 
ception, I by this means recreate it, but that, in my thought of the 
object, I again recognize the universal conditions which now, as 
at the time when the object was present to my perception, consti- 
tute its independence of me. Does he not mean this in the fol- 
lowing? "The trees are in the park, i. e., whether I will or no. 
Let me but go thither and open my eyes by day, and I shall not 
avoid seeing them." 2 Or again, "bodies do exist whether we 
think of them or no, they being taken in a two-fold sense; ,(i) Col- 
lections of thoughts, (2) Collections of powers to cause these 
thoughts. These latter exist, though perhaps a parti rei it may be 

1 Fraser; " Philosophy of Berkeley in Life Letters and Unpublished Writings," 
p. 382. 

" Commonplace Book, p. 474. 

— 68— 

one simple perfect power" 1 — which, as we afterward learn, is 
Supreme Mind. 

Green, however, in considering the philosophical idealism of 
Berkeley in its bearing upon science, says that "if physical truths 
imply permanent relations Berkeley's theory properly excludes 
them." 2 Quoting section 58 of the Principles, he explains that 
this passage meant for Berkeley that the motion of the earth would 
begin as soon as we were there to see it; while for us it means that 
it is now going on as an established law of nature which may be 
collected from the phenomena. This seems, however, to lay too 
exclusive emphasis upon the accident of sense-perception. What 
Berkeley means appears rather to be that the 'established rules of 
nature' are certain permanent conditions of existence which the 
mind in its conceptual activity is enabled to discover. Our belief 
in these primary conditions is ultimately grounded upon our belief 
in Supreme Rational Will, of which these laws or conditions are 
the expression. Once discovered, I know that the phenomena, 
which may be subsumed under these laws, actually occur in ac- 
cordance with them. The earth moves whether I perceive it or 
not, for in my thought of the motion of the earth, I recognize that 
the accident of my individual perception is not involved in the ob- 
jective conditions underlying my presumption that the earth moves. 

Still the universal condition, under which the mind arrives at 
a knowledge of the laws which subsist between . phenomena, is that 
of sense-perception. Conception is only an abstraction from the 
concrete life of mind or spirit; we have only a relative universal as 
likewise a relative particular; therefore mere relations or abstract 
conditions of existence are not to be hypostatized and taken in 
absolute separation from perceptual consciousness. This is the 
logic of Berkeley's polemic against 'abstract ideas.' Accordingly 
the motion of the earth, as also any phenomenal object not present 
to my perception, must be regarded as being in a certain sense per- 
ceived. Nor does this imply for Berkeley the idea of God as a 
percipient being in a human and anthropomorphic sense, for 
'God,' it is said in "Siris," 'has no sensory.' 3 Perception is finally 
translated into a system of rational relations which are intuited 
rather than perceived. The world is ultimately a rationally con- 
stituted cosmos, whose intelligible relations are at once the crea- 
tion and the object of Supreme Rational Will or Person. What- 
ever difficulties attach to this view, — and they are doubtless many, 
it at least avoids the extreme of the rationalistic view by refusing 
to regard the ultimate unity, to which experience must be sub- 
jected, as a mere system of relations apart from the concrete life of 
conscious personality. 

1 " Commonplace Book" in " Life, Letters," etc., p. 486. 
* Green; Philosophical Works, Vol. I, Introduction. 
3 "Siris; " § 289. 


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— 70 — 

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— 71 — 

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x tish Rev. San. 1S92. 

Note. — For detailed reference to Berkeley's commentators v. 
Krauth's " Principles of Human Knowledge," through which 
much of the above bibliography has been obtained. ( c*^~^ 


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