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[14]

14. Well, then, Berkeley begins by criticising the representative theory
of knowledge in the particular form of the theory of copying, i.e., the
theory that, while our ideas of the things we directly perceive, have no
existence outside the mind, there do exist outside the mind certain things
of which these ideas are copies, things which may be called the



  ― 26. ―
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originals or sources of our ideas.

Now it is important to notice, in this connection, that we do not
find in Locke's theory in particular this conception of an exact resemblance
between the ideas and their sources. But, while on this account
Berkeley has also to meet the view that ideas have sources which are not
like the ideas themselves and yet which are not thinking beings, he is
quite at liberty to criticise separately the particular view that ideas
are exact copies of things. And in point of fact, the criticism of the
two theories is substantially identical; that is to say, whether we say
that the sources are alike or unlike the the ideas, we can have no justification
for saying so unless we are in a position to make a comparison
between the two; unless, that is, we can have before our minds at the same
time both the ideas and their sources or originals so as to be able to
observe points of resemblance and points of difference. But according
to the definition of idea, in the theory of Locke at least, to be before
the mind is to be an idea and therefore the things we are comparing
are both ideas and there is no question of any independent source other
than ideas; or, as Berkeley puts it, if we perceive those so-called external
things then they are ideas; if we do not perceive them, we can make
no comparison between them and the objects of our perception.

Now having argued in that general way, Berkeley goes on to present
a number of more special considerations directed against the details of
Locke's position and in regard to this part of his argument it is to be
noted that even if it has certain weaknesses and inconsistencies with
Berkeley's main position, still the main or general argument is unaffected
and we may assume it possible for Berkeley to work out a consistent
theory even if he has not actually done so.

note

Again, as he himself points out, some of his arguments merely indicate
inconsistencies on the part of Locke and do not show precisely
what Locke's fundamental errors are. For that purpose Berkeley
continues to adhere to the original argument which we have considered-the
argument, namely, based upon identity, based, that is, upon the view that
there are certain things whose very nature it is to be ideas. He
proceeds then to take up the distinction made by Locke between the
primary and secondary qualities of bodies. “By the former,” Berkeley says,
“is meant extension, figure, motion and rest, solidity or impenetrability
and number; by the latter is denoted any another kind of sensible qualities
such as colours, sounds, tastes and so forth.” 'The ideas we have of the
latter are considered not to be resemblances of anything existing
unperceived but there is considered to be, in the case of any of the
former qualities something outside of our minds corresponding to the
ideas we have of them.'

Now in this passage Locke's position is stated not quite accurately.
Locke does not say that colours and sounds are secondary qualities; he
says they are ideas, not qualities at all---a quality being a power in
a body to produce some idea in our minds. Now those ideas of colour
and the like are, according to Locke's theory, produced in the mind by
powers or qualities of the body or of matter which have no resemblance
whatever to the ideas produced. On the other hand ideas such as figure
and extension are produced in the mind by powers or qualities of the
body which have a similar character; in other words, bodies really have
shape and size but they do not really have colour and sound. The latter
class of ideas are produced in our minds, Locke says, by means of the
primary qualities of bodies, namely, shape, size, motion and so on. So that



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what Locke is really saying is that bodies having the qualities
of shape, size, motion and solidity are able to produce in our minds
ideas which are like these qualities though they need not resemble
them exactly and also ideas which are not like these qualities
and which, in fact, have nothing corresponding to them in the bodies
themselves except the power to produce them in us.

Now this type of theory is open to the objection already put forward
by Berkeley that if we perceive ideas and not bodies we are not in
a position to say either that the bodies have qualities similar to our
ideas or that they have no qualities similar to certain of our ideas.

Now in the actual argument whereby Locke attempts to show that ce
certain ideas must have something cooresponding to them, in a general
way at least, outside of the mind and that certain others need not or cannot
have any such corresponding qualities, in that argument, while professing
to be working with ideas, i.e., drawing inferences from what is
actually in the mind, Locke actually speaks as if we were directly aware
of bodies and of our manipulations of them. His argument here is substantially
tha same as that of Descartes' in the “Meditations”, i.e., the
essential qualities of bodies, those, namely, which really belong to the
bodies, are considered to be those which the bodies retain through any
possible operations which may be performed upon them; and the main operations
considered--the one considered particularly by Locke---is that
of division. We are to take a certain body and go through successive
processes of division in an endeavour to find what its real constitution
is.

Now naturally the only characteristics of the bodies which are
found to remain constant throughout a series of such operations,
prolonged as far as we like, are those qualities which are implied in
the very notion of division, i.e., we could not divide a thing unless it
had size and shape. And the operation of division implies the contrasted
characteristics of motion and rest and similarly that which can be
divided must have solidity and in order to think of division we must
also be able to think of a number of different parts. These, then, are
the primary qualities, namely, those relevant to the process of division.
But Locke has said nothing to show that that process is the essential
method of discovering the real nature of a thing and he has implicitly
admitted that we are dealing directly with things of a certain size and
shape and having the other characteristics which he calls primary.
And this involves the further admission that what we take to be coloured
and to give out a sound, to have a certain taste and temperature, are
part of those very bodies which we are dividing; so that, according to
this argument, it turns out that colour and the other ideas of secondary
qualities, as Locke takes them to be, are not perceived as ideas but
as qualities of external things.

Well, then, Berkeley goes on to say that, on this view of Locke, matter
is external body, inert and unthinknig, in which extension, figure
and motion actually subsist. But, he says, we have already seen extension,
figure and motion to be ideas in the mind and therefore they
cannot exist any where but in the mind; that is really the same argument
again that if we are to be capable of knowing the extension,
figure and motion of external things, then, according to the doctrine of
ideas, those objects are not external but internal. Therefore Berkeley
says the very notion of matter, or an unthinking substance in which
subsist what the materialists call qualities but what we know to be
only ideas, that that notion is an absurdity because by definition ideas



  ― 28. ―
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exist in the mind and nowhere else; and therefore Locke, unless he is
prepared to drop his whole theory of ideas, is not in a position to
demonstrate the existence of matter or bodies existing outside the mind.

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