18. Well the assumption which Berkeley makes is that, because we
should consider the mind to be the active partner in the realtion of
knowing, we should therefore consider it to be, in its own character
and in all its manifestations, essentially active; and similarly that
because, in the same relation, the object is the passive partner (because
it is spoken of as that which is known as contrasted with that which
knows) therefore the object can never be anything else but passive;
and the suggestion that what we know could have an effect upon our mi
minds must be rejected because that would mean that the passive
influences active. But, as his argument proceeds, Berkeley has to
admit that the same thing can be both active and passive, i.e., can act
on other things and itself can be acted upon by other things---the
finite mind, according to his doctrine, while it produces some of its
own ideas, does not produce all of them but has some ideas forced upon

Now, since according to his theory, only minds can act, that which
forces those ideas on our finite minds must be another mind. But when
we have once admitted that our minds both act and are acted upon we
can no longer argue that, because ideas or the things we know are in a
certain respect _assive, they cannot also be active so that it might
possibly be these objects themselves which influenced our minds. And
again Berkeley admits that minds may play a passive part just as ideas
do in being known. But he says that they cannot be known in the same
way as ideas are known---there must be come peculiar way of knowing
active things or agencies and that way Berkeley describes as the way
of notions. We cannot have an idea of a mind but we can have a notiona
notion sufficient to enable us to understand the term “mind” when
we hear it employed. But this special pleading does not alter the
fact that if we have a notion of a mind, then, in relation to us and as

  ― 35. ―
view facsimile

far as this particular notion is concerned, the mind is passive; so that
here again we have to assume that, if we are capable of knowing active
things at all, they must also be passive and so once again it would
appear that the mere fact that thing is known is not a sufficient
reason for saying that it cannot act. And, of course, when the attempt
is made to distinguish ways of knowing in relation to the different
essences which have to known, then the problem arises of explaining how
the relation between these different things can possibly be known.
For example, according to Berkeley we know “A mind produces an idea”; and
here Berkeley in the end suggests that, we have a notion of that relation;
that “produces” is a notion. But we cannot have either a notion or
an idea of the whole proposition, that is, we can never know it at all.

Assuming, however, that he has proved that objects are perfectly
passive and cannot affect either us or one another, Berkeley goes on to
raise the question of the cause of ideas. He has said that ideas have
manifestly no power in them whereby one could produce another; and in
this respect he is at one with Hume. But Hume goes further and denies
that we can have any idea of power at all; and, moreover, the importance
of Hume's position lies in this that he shows quite clearly that there
can be no question of the cause of any particular idea unless this
relation of causing lies within the realm of ideas however limited or
however extended that realm may be; that is, unless we can have, as a
definite object of experience, something causing an idea---and we have
that only if both the something and the relation of causing belong to
the realm of ideas---, then the question in regard to any particular
idea which we happen to choose---what was its cause--would be an absolutely
meaningless one.

There are, however, difficulties in Hume's theory of causality as
well as in Berkeley's mainly because he does speak about the objects
of knowledge as ideas instead of as independent things; but in his
thorough going rejection of the conception of power or agency, i.e., of
some abstract activity which makes things what they are and which is
on a different level from these things, in that rejection, Hume lays the
foundation for a true theory of causality.

Now Berkeley, on the other hand, while expressing inability to find
agency in ideas and therefore inability to comprehend how something
extended and having shape and motion could have effects upon us, professes,
at the same time, to find agency in mind; i.e., he still identifies
causality with this notion of abstract power or agency; and because
objects do not exhibit it he says they are unable to cause or have
effects; whereas Hume points out that not even in mind are we able to
discover this mysterious power because if we say that any mental activity
has a particular effect, then we are saying that the mental
activity is one thing and the effect is another and by no amount of
juggling with the notion of power can it be shown that the effect was
already contained in the cause---if it had been, it would have been nothing
new; nothing would have been produced and therefore there would
have been no causal action in the case. In fact the notion of power
or agency is simply the result of a confused endeavour to hold at one
and the same time that the effect is something new and that it was
contained implicitly in the form of a power to produce it.

But, as Hume demonstrates---when we come to examine an actual
causal relation we find, on the one hand, the cause and on the other, the
the effect but we find nothing which, as it were, passes out from one
to the other so that the notion of power adds nothing to our experience

  ― 36. ―
view facsimile

of the effect following upon the cause; it is merely a statement of
that fact in obscure terms calculated to suggest, apart from the evidence
of experience, that between cause and effect there is a certain