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[13]

13. Well considering, then, the detailed discussion in paragraphs 6-33,
what Berkeley has said is that what is perceived cannot be unperceived
and from that identity he proposes to derive conclusions as to the general
character of the objects of our konwledge and the limits within
which science is to be worked out. What is perceived not only cannot
be unperceived but, according to Berkeley, can give us no information
whatever as to what is unperceived.

Now although we not accept this view, we may accept Berkeley's
argument to this extent that it shows that the account given by Locke
of the knowledge of what is unperceived that we can derive from what
we do perceive, is incorrect. Berkeley, of course, falls into inconsistencies
in admitting that what is perceived by us can give us information
about what is not perceived by us; for although he contends in such
cases that what is not perceived by us must be perceived by some other
mind, he cannot give any reason for considering that what we are capable
of perceiving must be perceived without its being at the same time
perceived by us, i.e., we have the identity that what is perceived cannot
be unperceived; but we can have an exactly similar identity and one
which has just as much logical force, namely, What is perceived by us,
cannot by unperceived by us. So that if Berkeley is correct in drawing
from the former statement the conclusion that whatever is perceived
at any time is quite incapable of existing unperceived, then we should
be equally justified in concluding from the second statement that What
is perceived by us is quite incapable of being unperceived by us.

Now, in his theory of the laws of nature or in the way in which
one idea signifies another, Berkeley contends that, as a result of the
connection of any two ideas in our previous experience, we can, from the
subsequent appearance of one of them, infer the existence of the other



  ― 24. ―
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even although we have not perceived it; for example, he considers that the
ideas we have when we see a fire are our sign of the idea of heat and
we learn this law from the fact that, in our past experience, we have
found these ideas to be conjoined. Accordingly, when, on a subsequent
occasion, we see a fire we can conclude that it is hot even although we
have not yet felt its heat. In that way what we have perceived in the
past does, according to Berkeley's own admission, give us information
about something which we have not yet perceived in the present but which
we recognise as capable of being perceived—recognising, for example, that
we should feel the heat of the fire if we went close enough.

Now if the identity cannot be maintained in this instance neither
can it be maintained in the more general instance so that we are entitled
to say “Fire is hot” even if no one perceives it at all. But this
very criticism of Berkeley involves the rejection of certain other
criticisms which have sometimes been brought against his argument. It
is sometimes said that Berkeley may be right as far as perceiving is
concerned but that by certain other mental processes, for example,
conceiving, we can be aware of some independent existence.

Now this really neglects the fundamental character of Berkeley's
argument and it exhibits the same inconsistency as we have found in the
argument of Berkeley himself, i.e., admitting the argument from identity
in the case of perception it does not admit it in the case of conception
or some other mode of apprehension. But that is a quite untenable position
because, in exactly the same way as we say that what is perceived
cannot be unperceived, we can say that what is apprehended, no matter what
the mode of apprehension may be, cannot be unapprehended and therefore,
if Berkeley's argument were capable of showing that what we perceived
cannot be independent of us, it could be demonstrated in exactly the same
way that nothing that we know can be independent of us. And while this
involves a criticism of Berkeley's theory of the Laws of Nature and of
the existence of other spirits, it involves an equally damaging criticism
of the attempt, by means of conception, or understanding, to evade the
consequences of Berkeley's theory of perception without challenging that
theory itself.

What Berkeley proceeds to show, then, is that there are fundamental
inconsistencies in the position of Locke. First of all he points out
that, granted the relative existence of the objects of knowledge in
accordance with his argument, we must grant the absolute existence of
that which knows, of that, namely, to which the former is relative. If
ideas are not perceived by one particular mind, he says, they must either
be perceived by another mind whether finite or infinite or else not
exist at all. Now this argument, of course, involves difficulties in its
attempt to contrast absolute existence with relative existence because
if he admits that ideas are related to the mind, Berkeley is at the same
time admitting that the mind is related to ideas or, putting it otherwise,
we may say that if being perceived implies relative existence,
then perceiving must equally imply relative existence so that the conclusion
would seem to be that there is no such thing as absolute existence.
That is one of the fundamental difficulties of any doctrine of
different kinds of existence or of different orders of reality, namely,
that it is impossible to show, not only how they are connected with one
another, but even how they are to be distinguished. If that connection
or that distinction belongs to one or the other of the contrasted orders
of reality, then it fails to connect the two; for example, if the relation



  ― 25. ―
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between mind and its objects is said to belong to the higher order of
reality to which mind belongs and to which objects do not belong, then
it would appear that this relation does not affect the objects at all.
On the other hand, if the connection or the distinction does not belong
to either of the contrasted orders it must have some neutral sort of
reality; a reality more fundamental than either of the two contrasted
realities; in other words it implies a common order to which both mind
and objects belong so that they would both have to be said to exist
in the same sense even if the one had certain peculiar qualities which did
not belong to the other just as within the realm of objects we differentiate
between the organic and the inorganic holding that living beings
have qualities not possessed by physical things in general and yet consider
that they are both objects and are both real in precisely the same
sense.

He concludes that there can be no other substance but spirit, i.e,
there can be nothing else that exists in a substantial way but mind
and that the various things that we perceive which we class together
as the ideas of sense are, from the very fact of their being ideas,
dependent upon something else for their existence and they can have no
substantial existence of their own. Now that is simply a repetition
of the notion of being perceived as constituting the essential character
of whatever is perceived--a notion which, as we have already seen,
is not one which we should naturally formulate in considering perceived
things and which, more particularly, would make it impossible to distinguish
between one idea and another.

But having repeated in this way his fundamental contention, Berkeley
goes on to criticise the theory of representative knowledge put forward
by Locke and Descartes. The suggestion that he considers is that,
although ideas exist only in the mind, there may be outside the mind
things like those ideas of which the ideas, in fact, are copies. To
which Berkeley answers that an idea can be like nothing but an idea.

Now if we take this in the sense that something which is known
cannot be like something which is not known, then it is quite impossible
to accept Berkeley's contention; it could be accepted only if, as he has
suggested, being known were the very nature or character of the thing wh
which is known. But the argument itself implies that we are saying of
some particular thing, for example, a colour, that it is known and if
that statement is to have any significance, then the character or nature
which we attribute to the thing, namely, that of colour, must be something
distinct from being known. And therefore we could quite significantly
consider the notion of a colour which was not known even it if should
turn out, as a matter of fact, that all the colours which actually exist
are known; that is, there is no contradicition in supposing that a colour
might exist unknown--its nature is to be that particular colour and its
being known is something additional, something which we might say happens
to it in the course of its history. But while that objection might be
taken to Berkeley's own argument it does not seriously affect his
criticisms of Locke's theory of the originals of which ideas are the
copies.

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