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[23]

23. If we consider, then, the contrast between real things, which
is the description Berkeley gives of sensations, and mere ideas or
images we find that, apart from the distinction in terms of control or
the lack of it on the part of the person who knows them, no definite
distinction can be made. Unless we have first distinguished sensations
and images, that is, unless we know definitely which is which, we cannot
say that sensations are more orderly and coherent than images because
these are not characters of the individual sensations themselves but
of the relations between them. This brings us back to Berkeley's differentiation
in terms of strength and liveliness. His argument then
must be that our strong and lively ideas are more coherently arranged
than our weak and faint ideas. But here again he is faced with the
difficulty or predication because, according to his view, if we have any
notion of an object which we can call strong or lively this object
ought to be a single and separate idea not to be confused with, or
predicated of, any other idea. Thus again we should be unable to say
which were the ideas which were more coherently arranged than the
others.

It is to be noticed also that Berkeley, in spite of his criticism
of the theory of representation in connection with our knowledge
of matter, himself adopts what is practically a representational
theory. In the first place, images represent sensations. Now Berkeley
will say that this is perfectly possible because they both occur in
our minds and therefore can be directly compared with one another
so that we can determine the extension of their resemblance. But this
would lead to the difficulty of how that comparison is to be made
because it would imply that resemblance or difference between a
sensation and an image, being themselves ideas in our minds, must be
either sensations or images and in either case the comparison would
be difficult if not impossible; and, of course, the statement of resemblance
or difference is a proposition and we have, accordingly, similar
difficulties to those which have appeared before. But allowing
for those criticisms but still considering that the comparison of
ideas might be allowed to Berkeley, we find the further conception of
representation in the comparison between our ideas and the laws of
nature themselves. A certain sequence of images, Berkeley says, will
not be in accordance with the laws of nature and we can determine this
because we have a series of sensations in accordance with those laws.
But the series of sensations in our mind differs from the law itself;
it is a mere representation of that law which exists in its own right
only in the infinite mind. Now it is suggested by Russell, for example,
that Berkeley might meet this difficulty by taking finite minds to
be merely aspects or parts of the infinite mind. But if that were
admitted, then the succession of images which, according to Berkeley,
is not in accordance with the laws of nature, and yet occurs in the
finite mind, will also occur in the infinite mind and therefore would
be in accordance with the laws of nature So that this suggestion, if
it were adopted, would only lead on to new difficulties; but as a matter
of fact Berkeley nowhere suggests in the “Principles” that themselves



  ― 44. ―
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various minds he speaks of are not quite separate from one another.
Since, therefore, the real order of ideas according to God's perceptions
cannot be in our minds, what is in our minds can only be a representation
of the laws of nature, and we shall be quite unable to compare
it with what it is supposed to represent so as to determine whether
it represents it well or badly; and by arguments similar to Berkeley's
against Locke, it will appear that we cannot even determine that
there is any law of nature outside our minds of which what is in
our minds might be representative. And in the third place, we have
the conception of representation in the very relation between spirits
and ideas. According to Berkeley we know the mind only by its effects;
when a certain set of ideas is presented to us we infer the existence
of a mind other than our own, that is, we take that set of ideas as representing
the other mind. But Berkeley nowhere explains how this is
possible; how a mental character, the character of that which is purely
active, can be expressed in a set of passive ideas. And similarly when
he takes the whole system of ideas as representing an infinite mind, he
cannot explain how the character of that mind can be so expressed in
the system of ideas as to enable us to infer its existence from the
existence of those ideas, anymore than Locke could explain how perceived
ideas can represent to our minds unperceivable matter. And, as we have
already seen, according to Berkeley's theory even our knowledge of our
own minds is representational, although he attempts to avoid the difficulties
in this case by assuming that the mere fact that it is our
own mind is enough to show that it must be somehow known, just as in
the case of sensations and images we may take his assumption to be
that the mere fact that the sensations and images are both in our
minds and that they are different from one another is enough to show
that their difference is in our minds and therefore, according to his
view, that we are somehow aware of that difference.

Well, then, we find that, although Berkeley has criticised representationalism,
he himself is forced to adopt a representational
view because, so long as he adheres to the doctrine of essences or
note pure identities, he is bound to treat relations between these essences
as of a representational character, that is, the one cannot really enter
into the other, the most that it can do is to symbolise or represent
it. And secondly, although he has criticised abstraction, his retention
of the essence theory compels him also to support abstractions, the
abstraction of the purely active or again of the purely passive.

Now abstraction was Locke's method of attempting to account
for the proposition and Berkeley shows that Locke is unsuccessful.
But his own theory is no more successful in accounting for the proposition,
and it cannot, in fact, be accounted for so long as the theory
of ideas is retained because that theory commits anyone who holds it
to the doctrine of essences, that is, of things having their being
entirely in themselves and is therefore necessarily opposed to the
proposition which states that things exist in situations or in historical
surroundings and that, although they are not therefore to be
described as relative, although each thing that we can come into relation
with does actually exist, still it exists in relation to other
things, and apart from its being related to other things and also
apart from its having various aspects or activities which are related
to one another, its independent existence could not be conceived.
When we speak of a thing as having independent existence, we really
mean that it has absolute existence, that it does not exist relatively,
as people have supposed, in regard to ideas for instance. But this is



  ― 45. ―
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not in contradiction to dependence in the ordinary sense; that is,
when in ordinary speech we say that the existence of a thing is
dependent on certain conditions being fulfilled, all that we mean is
that unless these conditions are fulfilled the thing will not come
into existence. But nevertheless, granted that the conditions are fulfilled
and that the thing does come into existence, then the existence
of the conditions and the existence of the thing are quite distinct
and existence is used in the same sense in the two cases. (E.g., suppose
a man builds a house, the house would not have existed unless he
had worked at it. Thus dependence, in this sense, does not mean relative
existence; the house is not dependent for its existence on its being
in the man's mind).

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