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[6]




  ― 10. ―
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6. We have, then, in the arguments of Descartes and Berkeley attempts
to establish two fundamental types of existence; in the first instance,
the existence of the mind or self—an existence which is guaranteed by
itself. Now this notion of a self-sustaining entity is found not only
in Descartes but in all the other predecessors of Hume and even in them
works of Hume; although he argues specifically against it, it sometimes
appears in an implicit form. And it appears quite definitely in Berkeley
as we have seen from the second paragraph of his “Principles”.
And, in the second instance, postulated by both Descartes and Berkeley
is the dependence or relative existence of that of which the mind is
immediately aware; and the things that are supposed to have that type of
existence are described by means of the term “idea”.

Now one of Berkeley's main contentions is that, granted the independent
existence or self-subsistence of the mind, we may brant the dependent
existence of that mind's ideas but we cannot grant the independent
existence of anything which is not a mind, in particular, of those
things which are called bodies and come under the general conception
of matter. According to Berkeley, Descartes and Locke are inconsistent
in saying that there are material bodies of which we can have knowledge
because anything that we know must be classed among our ideas and taken
as relative to us; the logical conclusion from the self-subsistence of
the mind, Berkeley argues, is the relative or dependent existence of all
that the mind is aware of and not merely of some of; the things that the mind is
aware of.

Of course this implies that if the mind is aware of itself it must
be aware of itself in a different way from that in which it is aware
of ideas because if it were not, that would confer relative existence
on the very mind which had been said to exist absolutely and therefore
Berkeley says that there are two ways of knowing corresponding to the
two sorts of things that can be known. On the one hand, there is knowing
by way of ideas, that being the way in which we know the various t
things we call objects, i.e., principally the things we perceive; and on
the other hand, knowing by way of notions, that being the way in which
we are aware of ourselves and by which we can become aware of other
similarly constituted minds.

Now one of the main difficulties that arise in connection with th
that position is that of determining how we know the relation between
those minds and their ideas, for instance, Berkeley speaks of a certain
situation which can be described as the mind having ideas. Now
according to his theory we know the mind by means of a notion and we
know the ideas as ideas, but if we are to make this complete assertion
then we must have some way of knowing the relation described as “having”.
Now this problem is neglected by Berkeley to begin with but at a later
stage in the argument he suggests that relations are also known by way
of notions. And the result is that in being aware of this complex
situation we have a notion of one of the terms and the relation between
the terms but we have no notion, but only an idea, of the other term.
It would appear, therefore, that unless there is some form of knowledge
more fundamental than either knowledge in the form of notions or of
ideas, we can never be aware of the whole situation as of? the mind having
ideas. On the other hand, if there is a more fundamental type of knowledge,
if, that is to say, there is some way of knowing by which we can be
aware of both minds and ideas, then it would seem that the distinction
between notions and ideas must be abandoned since that distinction was



  ― 11. ―
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made only on account of the supposed fact that minds and their ideas
cannot be known in the same way.

It would seem, therefore, that we are faced with insoluble problems
unless we admit, to begin with, that there is one general type of knowing
and also one general type of things which are known. But this cannot
be relative or dependent existence because that implies something absolute
and independent to which the former is relative so that the solution
would seem to be that all the things that we know have an independent
existence; that our knowing them does not confer any subordinate
status upon them but that they can be in certain positions and in certain
conditions and that we can know them as they are. And if we have
any acquaintance with our own minds and with the relations which they
have to things and in virtue of which they are said to know these
things, then that must be knowledge of the same general type as our knowledge
of the things themselves, i.e., we must know our minds as having
objective existence, and if that conclusion is sound it means that we a
have to reject the contention in Berkeley's second paragraph that we
know our minds as something additional to the objects which we perceive
or observe; in other words, it involves the rejection of that position
which Berkeley holds in common with Descartes and which receives such
definite statement in the works of Descartes. Thus, instead of the mind
knowing itself in some way by the mere fact of its existence, all our
knowledge of minds whether of our own or of other peoples', has to be
acquired by those methods of observation which we apply to things in
general. If we are certain of the existence of any self-sustaining
entity, then in order to have any coherent system at all we have to go
on to give an account of other entities which are sustained by the
former, but at the same time we can give no precise account of how the
subordinate entities are related to the ultimate entities.

Now we find these difficulties brought out most clearly in the
philosophy of Spinoza. He maintains that, granted that there is a
self-sustaining Being or Substance, as he calls it, there can only be one
substance and everything else must be subordinated to it because if th
there were were many Substances they would have to be related to one
another but that would mean that, as between any two related substances,
one would require to be dependent on the other, it could not be therefore
self-sustaining, i.e., it would not be Substance in the sense in w
which that term is employed in that philosophy. And although it may be
argued that there cannot even be one Substance of this kind that
argument would not alter the force of Spinoza's theory of the falsity
of many Substances and that criticism which Spinoza applied to Descartes
applies equally to Berkeley because in Berkeley's account of the many
minds which he says exist he is forced to conclude that they are all
dependent on one ultimate mind which he calls God. And thus, in terms
of his theory of dependent and independent existence, these supposed a
substances or minds are really not independent existences at all but
are really ideas in God's mind; and God alone can be really said to
exist, as in Spinoza, Substance alone can be said to exist.

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