From Essential Selections in Early Modern Philosophy, by James Fieser


Copyright 2015, updated 3/1/2015





No idea of Distance or Size from Sight

1. My design is to show the manner wherein we perceive by sight the distance, magnitude, and situation of objects. Also to consider the difference there is between the ideas of sight and touch, and whether there be any idea common to both senses. . . .

            41. From what has been premised it is a manifest consequence that a man born blind, being made to see, would, at first, have no idea of distance by sight; the sun and stars, the remotest objects as well as the nearer, would all seem to be in his eye, or rather in his mind. The objects intromitted by sight would seem to him (as in truth they are) no other than a new set of thoughts or sensations, each whereof is as near to him as the perceptions of pain or pleasure, or the most inward passions of his soul. For our judging objects provided by sight to be at any distance, or without the mind, is entirely the effect of experience, which one in those circumstances could not yet have attained to. . . .

            79. From what has been said we may safely deduce this consequence; to wit, that a man born blind and made to see would, at first opening of his eyes, make a very different judgment of the magnitude of objects intromitted by them from what others do. He would not consider the ideas of sight with reference to, or as having any connection with, the ideas of touch: his view of them being entirely terminated within themselves, he can no otherwise judge them great or small than as they contain a greater or lesser number of visible points. . . .


Ideas of Visible Figure and Extension Differ by Sight and Touch

132. A farther confirmation of our tenet may be drawn from the solution of Mr. Molyneux's problem, published by Mr. Locke in his Essay: which I shall set down as it there lies, together with Mr. Locke's opinion of it:—


Suppose a man born blind, and now adult, and taught by his touch to distinguish between a cube and a sphere of the same metal, and nighly of the same bigness, so as to tell when he felt one and the other, which is the cube, and which the sphere. Suppose then the cube and sphere placed on a table, and the blind man made to see: Quaere ["querry"], "Whether by his sight, before he touched them, he could now distinguish, and tell, which is the globe, which the cube?" To which the acute and judicious proposer [i.e., Molyneux] answers: Not. For though he has obtained the experience of how a globe, how a cube, affects his touch, yet he has not yet attained the experience that what affects his touch so or so must affect his sight so or so: or that a protuberant angle in the cube that pressed his hand unequally shall appear to his eye as it does in the cube. I [i.e., Locke] agree with this thinking gentleman, whom I am proud to call my friend, in his answer to this his problem; and am of opinion that the blind man at first sight would not be able with certainty to say which was the globe, which the cube, whilst he only saw them."


            133. Now, if a square surface perceived by touch be of the same sort with a square surface perceived by sight, it is certain the blind man here mentioned might know a square surface as soon as he saw it: it is no more but introducing into his mind by a new inlet an idea he has been already well acquainted with. Since, therefore, he is supposed to have known by his touch that a cube is a body terminated by square surfaces, and that a sphere is not terminated by square surfaces: upon the supposition that a visible and tangible square differ only in numero [i.e., in number] it follows that he might know, by the unerring mark of the square surfaces, which was the cube, and which not, while he only saw them. We must therefore allow either that visible extension and figures are specifically distinct from tangible extension and figures, or else that the solution of this problem given by those two thoughtful and ingenious men is wrong.

            134. Much more might be laid together in proof of the proposition I have advanced: but what has been said is, if I mistake not, sufficient to convince anyone that shall yield a reasonable attention: and as for those that will not be at the pains of a little thought, no multiplication of words will ever suffice to make them understand the truth, or rightly conceive my meaning.

            135. I cannot let go the above-mentioned problem without some reflection on it. It has been made evident that a man blind from his birth would not, at first sight, denominate anything he saw, by the names he had been used to appropriate to ideas of touch. Cube, sphere, table are words he has known applied to things perceivable by touch, but to things perfectly intangible he never knew them applied. Those words, in their wonted application, always marked out to his mind bodies or solid things which were perceived by the resistance they gave. But there is no solidity, no resistance or protrusion, perceived by sight. In short, the ideas of sight are all new perceptions, to which there be no names annexed in his mind; he cannot therefore understand what is said to him concerning them. And, to ask of the two bodies he saw placed on the table, which was the sphere, which the cube, were to him a question downright bantering and unintelligible; nothing he sees being able to suggest to his thoughts the idea of body, distance, or, in general, of anything he had already known.


OVERVIEW OF BERKELEY'S VIEW (from Principles of Human Knowledge, 1710)


Objects of the Mind: Sensation and Reflection, Simple and Complex, Self as Perceiver

1. It is evident to anyone who takes a survey of the objects of human knowledge, that they are either ideas actually imprinted on the senses; or else such as are perceived by attending to the passions and operations of the mind; or lastly, ideas formed by help of memory and imagination—either compounding, dividing, or barely representing those originally perceived in the aforesaid ways. By sight I have the ideas of light and colors, with their several degrees and variations. By touch I perceive hard and soft, heat and cold, motion and resistance; and of all these more and less either as to quantity or degree. Smelling furnishes me with odors; the palate with tastes; and hearing conveys sounds to the mind in all their variety of tone and composition. And as several of these are observed to accompany each other, they come to be marked by one name, and so to be reputed as one thing. Thus, for example, a certain color, taste, smell, figure and consistence having been observed to go together, are accounted one distinct thing, signified by the name apple; other collections of ideas constitute a stone, a tree, a book, and the like sensible things; which as they are pleasing or disagreeable excite the passions of love, hatred, joy, grief, and so forth.

            2. But, besides all that endless variety of ideas or objects of knowledge, there is likewise something which knows or perceives them; and exercises divers operations, as willing, imagining, remembering, about them. This perceiving, active being is what I call mind, spirit, soul, or myself. By which words I do not denote any one of my ideas, but a thing entirely distinct from them, wherein they exist, or, which is the same thing, whereby they are perceived; for the existence of an idea consists in being perceived.


Idealism: To Be is to Be Perceived

3. That neither our thoughts, nor passions, nor ideas formed by the imagination, exist without the mind is what everybody will allow. And to me it seems no less evident that the various sensations, or ideas imprinted on the Sense, however blended or combined together (that is, whatever objects they compose), cannot exist otherwise than in a mind perceiving them. I think an intuitive knowledge may be obtained of this, by any one that shall attend to what is meant by the term exist when applied to sensible things. The table I write on I say exists; that is, I see and feel it: and if I were out of my study I should say it existed; meaning thereby that if I was in my study I might perceive it, or that some other spirit actually does perceive it. There was an odor, that is, it was smelt; there was a sound, that is, it was heard; a color or figure, and it was perceived by sight or touch. This is all that I can understand by these and the like expressions. For as to what is said of the absolute existence of unthinking things, without any relation to their being perceived, that is to me perfectly unintelligible. Their esse is percipi; nor is it possible they should have any existence out of the minds or thinking things which perceive them.

            4. It is indeed an opinion strangely prevailing amongst men, that houses, mountains, rivers, and in a word all sensible objects, have an existence, natural or real, distinct from their being perceived by the understanding. But, with how great an assurance and acquiescence soever this Principle may be entertained in the world, yet whoever shall find in his heart to call it in question may, if I mistake not, perceive it to involve a manifest contradiction. For, what are the forementioned objects but the things we perceive by sense? And what do we perceive besides our own ideas or sensations? And is it not plainly repugnant that any one of these, or any combination of them, should exist unperceived?


Material Existence cannot be Abstracted from Perceptions

5. If we thoroughly examine this tenet it will, perhaps, be found at bottom to depend on the doctrine of abstract ideas. For can there be a nicer strain of abstraction than to distinguish the existence of sensible objects from their being perceived, so as to conceive them existing unperceived? Light and colors, heat and cold, extension and figures—in a word the things we see and feel—what are they but so many sensations, notions, ideas, or impressions on the sense? And is it possible to separate, even in thought, any of these from perception? For my part, I might as easily divide a thing from itself. I may, indeed, divide in my thoughts, or conceive apart from each other, those things which perhaps I never perceived by sense so divided. Thus, I imagine the trunk of a human body without the limbs, or conceive the smell of a rose without thinking on the rose itself. So far, I will not deny, I can abstract; if that may properly be called abstraction which extends only to the conceiving separately such objects as it is possible may really exist or be actually perceived asunder. But my conceiving or imagining power does not extend beyond the possibility of real existence or perception. Hence, as it is impossible for me to see or feel anything without an actual sensation of that thing, so is it impossible for me to conceive in my thoughts any sensible thing or object distinct from the sensation or perception of it. In truth, the object and the sensation are the same thing, and cannot therefore be abstracted from each other.

            6. Some truths there are so near and obvious to the mind that a man need only open his eyes to see them. Such I take this important one to be, viz. that all the choir of heaven and furniture of the earth, in a word all those bodies which compose the mighty frame of the world, have not any subsistence without a mind; that their being is to be perceived or known; that consequently so long as they are not actually perceived by me, or do not exist in my mind, or that of any other created spirit, they must either have no existence at all, or else subsist in the mind of some eternal spirit: it being perfectly unintelligible, and involving all the absurdity of abstraction, to attribute to any single part of them an existence independent of a spirit. To be convinced of which, the reader need only reflect, and try to separate in his own thoughts the being of a sensible thing from its being perceived.


Perceptual Ideas not based on Unthinking Substances

7. From what has been said it is evident there is not any other substance than spirit, or that which perceives. But, for the fuller proof of this point, let it be considered the sensible qualities are color, figure, motion, smell, taste, and such like, that is, the ideas perceived by sense. Now, for an idea to exist in an unperceiving thing is a manifest contradiction; for to have an idea is all one as to perceive: that therefore wherein color, figure, and the like qualities exist must perceive them. Hence it is clear there can be no unthinking substance or substratum of those ideas.

            8. But, say you, though the ideas themselves do not exist without the mind, yet there may be things like them, whereof they are copies or resemblances; which things exist without the mind, in an unthinking substance. I answer, an idea can be like nothing but an idea; a color or figure can be like nothing but another color or figure. If we look but never so little into our thoughts, we shall find it impossible for us to conceive a likeness except only between our ideas. Again, I ask whether those supposed originals, or external things, of which our ideas are the pictures or representations, be themselves perceivable or no? If they are, then they are ideas, and we have gained our point: but if you say they are not, I appeal to any one whether it be sense to assert a color is like something which is invisible; hard or soft, like something which is intangible; and so of the rest.


Primary Qualities Depend on a Spectator’s Perception just as Secondary Qualities Do

 9. Some there are who make a distinction between primary and secondary qualities. By the former they mean extension, figure, motion, rest, solidity or impenetrability, and number; by the latter they denote all other sensible qualities, as colors, sounds, tastes, and so forth. The ideas we have of these they acknowledge not to be the resemblances of anything existing without the mind, or unperceived, but they will have our ideas of the primary qualities to be patterns or images of things which exist without the mind, in an unthinking substance which they call matter. By matter, therefore, we are to understand an inert, senseless substance, in which extension, figure, and motion do actually subsist. But it is evident from what we have already shown, that extension, figure, and motion are only ideas existing in the mind, and that an idea can be like nothing but another idea, and that consequently neither they nor their archetypes can exist in an unperceiving substance. Hence, it is plain that that the very notion of what is called matter or corporeal substance, involves a contradiction in it.

             10. They who assert that figure, motion, and the rest of the primary or original qualities do exist without the mind in unthinking substances, do at the same time acknowledge that colors, sounds, heat cold, and suchlike secondary qualities, do not which they tell us are sensations existing in the mind alone, that depend on and are occasioned by the different size, texture, and motion of the minute particles of matter. This they take for an undoubted truth, which they can demonstrate beyond all exception. Now, if it be certain that those original qualities are inseparably united with the other sensible qualities, and not, even in thought, capable of being abstracted from them, it plainly follows that they exist only in the mind. But I desire any one to reflect and try whether he can, by any abstraction of thought, conceive the extension and motion of a body without all other sensible qualities. For my own part, I see evidently that it is not in my power to frame an idea of a body extended and moving, but I must withal give it some color or other sensible quality which is acknowledged to exist only in the mind. In short, extension, figure, and motion, abstracted from all other qualities, are inconceivable. Where therefore the other sensible qualities are, there must these be also, to wit, in the mind and nowhere else.


Primary Qualities of Extension, Motion, and Number depend on Mind

11. Again, great and small, swift and slow, are allowed to exist nowhere without the mind; being entirely relative, and changing as the frame or position of the organs of sense varies. The extension therefore which exists without the mind is neither great nor small, the motion neither swift nor slow; that is, they are nothing at all. But, say you, they are extension in general, and motion in general. Thus we see how much the tenet of extended moveable substances existing without the mind depends on that strange doctrine of abstract ideas. And here I cannot but remark how nearly the vague and indeterminate description of matter, or corporeal substance, which the modern philosophers are run into by their own principles, resembles that antiquated and so much ridiculed notion of materia prima ["prime matter"], to be met with in Aristotle and his followers. Without extension solidity cannot be conceived: since therefore it has been shown that extension exists not in an unthinking substance, the same must also be true of solidity.

            12. That number is entirely the creature of the mind, even though the other qualities be allowed to exist without, will be evident to whoever considers that the same thing bears a different denomination of number as the mind views it with different respects. Thus, the same extension is one, or three, or thirty-six, according as the mind considers it with reference to a yard, a foot, or an inch. Number is so visibly relative, and dependent on men's understanding, that it is strange to think how any one should give it an absolute existence without the mind. We say one book, one page, one line, etc.; all these are equally units, though some contain several of the others. And in each instance, it is plain, the unit relates to some particular combination of ideas arbitrarily put together by the mind.

            13. Unity I know some will have to be a simple or uncompounded idea, accompanying all other ideas into the mind. That I have any such idea answering the word unity I do not find; and if I had, methinks I could not miss finding it; on the contrary, it should be the most familiar to my understanding, since it is said to accompany all other ideas, and to be perceived by all the ways of sensation and reflection. To say no more, it is an abstract idea.

            14. I shall farther add, that, after the same manner as modern philosophers prove certain sensible [secondary] qualities to have no existence in matter, or without the mind, the same thing may be likewise proved of all other sensible qualities whatsoever. Thus, for instance, it is said that heat and cold are affections only of the mind, and not at all patterns of real beings, existing in the corporeal substances which excite them; for that the same body which appears cold to one hand seems warm to another. Now, why may we not as well argue that figure and extension are not patterns or resemblances of qualities existing in matter; because to the same eye at different stations, or eyes of a different texture at the same station, they appear various, and cannot therefore be the images of anything settled and determinate without the mind? Again, it is proved that sweetness is not really in the sapid thing; because the thing remaining unaltered the sweetness is changed into bitter, as in case of a fever or otherwise vitiated palate. Is it not as reasonable to say that motion is not without the mind; since if the succession of ideas in the mind become swifter, the motion, it is acknowledged, shall appear slower, without any alteration in any external object?

             15. In short, let anyone consider those arguments which are thought manifestly to prove that colors and tastes exist only in the mind, and he shall find they may with equal force be brought to prove the same thing of extension, figure, and motion. Though it must be confessed this method of arguing does not so much prove that there is no extension or color in an outward object, as that we do not know by sense which is the true extension or color of the object. But the arguments foregoing plainly show it to be impossible that any color or extension at all, or other sensible quality whatsoever, should exist in an unthinking subject without the mind, or in truth that there should be any such thing as an outward object.


"Substratum," "Supporting Extension," "Substance" are Meaningless Terms

16. But let us examine a little the received opinion. It is said extension is a mode or accident of matter, and that matter is the substratum that supports it. Now I desire that you would explain to me what is meant by matter's supporting extension. Say you, I have no idea of matter; and therefore cannot explain it. I answer, though you have no positive, yet, if you have any meaning at all, you must at least have a relative idea of matter; though you know not what it is, yet you must be supposed to know what relation it bears to accidents, and what is meant by its supporting them. It is evident support cannot here be taken in its usual or literal sense, as when we say that pillars support a building. In what sense therefore must it be taken? For my part, I am not able to discover any sense at all that can be applicable to it.

            17. If we inquire into what the most accurate philosophers declare themselves to mean by material substance, we shall find them acknowledge they have no other meaning annexed to those sounds but the idea of being in general, together with the relative notion of its supporting accidents. The general idea of being appears to me the most abstract and incomprehensible of all other; and as for its supporting accidents, this, as we have just now observed, cannot be understood in the common sense of those words: it must therefore be taken in some other sense, but what that is they do not explain. So that when I consider the two parts or branches which make the signification of the words material substance, I am convinced there is no distinct meaning annexed to them. But why should we trouble ourselves any farther, in discussing this material substratum or support of figure and motion and other sensible qualities? Does it not suppose they have an existence without the mind? And is not this a direct repugnancy, and altogether inconceivable?


Argument from Inaccessibility: No Knowledge of Matter from Sense or Reason

            18. But, though it were possible that solid, figured, moveable substances may exist without the mind, corresponding to the ideas we have of bodies, yet how is it possible for us to know this? Either we must know it by sense or by reason. As for our senses, by them we have the knowledge only of our sensations, ideas, or those things that are immediately perceived by sense, call them what you will: but they do not inform us that things exist without the mind, or unperceived, like to those which are perceived. This the materialists themselves acknowledge. It remains therefore that if we have any knowledge at all of external things, it must be by reason inferring their existence from what is immediately perceived by sense. But (I do not see) what reason can induce us to believe the existence of bodies without the mind, from what we perceive, since the very patrons of matter themselves do not pretend there is any necessary connection between them and our ideas? I say it is granted on all hands (and what happens in dreams, frenzies, and the like, puts it beyond dispute) that it is possible we might be affected with all the ideas we have now, though no bodies existed without resembling them. Hence it is evident the supposition of external bodies is not necessary for the producing our ideas; since it is granted they are produced sometimes, and might possibly be produced always, in the same order we see them in at present, without their concurrence.


Argument from Simplicity: Creation of Material Things serves no Purpose

 19. But, though we might possibly have all our sensations without them, yet perhaps it may be thought easier to conceive and explain the manner of their production, by supposing external bodies in their likeness rather than otherwise; and so it might be at least probable there are such things as bodies that excite their ideas in our minds. But neither can this be said. For, though we give the materialists their external bodies, they by their own confession are never the nearer knowing how our ideas are produced; since they own themselves unable to comprehend in what manner body can act upon spirit, or how it is possible it should imprint any idea in the mind. Hence it is evident the production of ideas or sensations in our minds can be no reason why we should suppose matter or corporeal substances, since that is acknowledged to remain equally inexplicable with or without this supposition. If therefore it were possible for bodies to exist without the mind, yet to hold they do so, must needs be a very precarious opinion; since it is to suppose, without any reason at all, that God has created innumerable beings that are entirely useless, and serve to no manner of purpose.

            20. In short, if there were external bodies, it is impossible we should ever come to know it; and if there were not, we might have the very same reasons to think there were that we have now. Suppose—what no one can deny possible—an intelligence, without the help of external bodies, to be affected with the same train of sensations or ideas that you are, imprinted in the same order and with like vividness in his mind. [i.e., imagine a human mind existing in the immaterial world of the idealist]. I ask whether that intelligence has not all the reason to believe the existence of corporeal substances, represented by his ideas, and exciting them in his mind, that you can possibly have for believing the same thing? Of this there can be no question. Which one consideration were enough to make any reasonable person suspect the strength of whatever arguments he may think himself to have, for the existence of bodies without the mind.

            21. Were it necessary to add any farther proof against the existence of matter, after what has been said, I could instance several of those errors and difficulties (not to mention impieties) which have sprung from that tenet. It has occasioned numberless controversies and disputes in philosophy, and not a few of far greater moment in religion. But I shall not enter into the detail of them in this place, as well because I think arguments a posteriori are unnecessary for confirming what has been, if I mistake not, sufficiently demonstrated a priori, as because I shall hereafter find occasion to speak somewhat of them.


Simple Proof: Impossibility of Conceiving of a Thing without Someone Mentally Perceiving it

22. I am afraid I have given cause to think I am needlessly prolix in handling this subject. For, to what purpose is it to dilate on that which may be demonstrated with the utmost evidence in a line or two, to any one that is capable of the least reflection? It is but looking into your own thoughts, and so trying whether you can conceive it possible for a sound, or figure, or motion, or color to exist without the mind or unperceived. This easy trial may perhaps make you see that what you contend for is a downright contradiction. Insomuch that I am content to put the whole upon this issue:—If you can but conceive it possible for one extended moveable substance, or in general for any one idea, or anything like an idea, to exist otherwise than in a mind perceiving it, I shall readily give up the cause. And, as for all that compages of external bodies you contend for, I shall grant you its existence, though you cannot either give me any reason why you believe it exists, or assign any use to it when it is supposed to exist. I say, the bare possibility of your opinions being true shall pass for an argument that it is so.

            23. But, say you, surely there is nothing easier than for me to imagine trees, for instance, in a park, or books existing in a closet, and nobody by to perceive them. I answer, you may so, there is no difficulty in it. But what is all this, I beseech you, more than framing in your mind certain ideas which you call books and trees, and at the same time omitting to frame the idea of any one that may perceive them? But do not you yourself perceive or think of them all the while? This therefore is nothing to the purpose: it only shows you have the power of imagining, or forming ideas in your mind; but it does not show that you can conceive it possible the objects of your thought may exist without the mind. To make out this, it is necessary that you conceive them existing unconceived or unthought of; which is a manifest repugnancy. When we do our utmost to conceive the existence of external bodies, we are all the while only contemplating our own ideas. But the mind, taking no notice of itself, is deluded to think it can and does conceive bodies existing unthought of, or without the mind, though at the same time they are apprehended by, or exist in, itself. A little attention will discover to any one the truth and evidence of what is here said, and make it unnecessary to insist on any other proofs against the existence of material substance.


Problem of Evil: Suffering results from General Natural Laws, Increasing Beauty, Good of the Larger System

151. It will, I doubt not, be objected that the slow and gradual methods observed in the production of natural things do not seem to have for their cause the immediate hand of an almighty agent. Besides, monsters, untimely births, fruits blasted in the blossom, rains falling in desert places, miseries incident to human life, and the like, are so many arguments that the whole frame of nature is not immediately actuated and superintended by a spirit of infinite wisdom and goodness. But the answer to this objection is in a good measure plain from sect. 62; it being visible that the aforesaid methods of nature are absolutely necessary, in order to working by the most simple and general rules, and after a steady and consistent manner; which argues both the wisdom and goodness of God. Such is the artificial contrivance of this mighty machine of nature that, whilst its motions and various phenomena strike on our senses, the hand which actuates the whole is itself unperceivable to men of flesh and blood. "Verily" (says the prophet) "thou art a God that hidest thyself" (Isaiah, 45:15). But, though the lord conceal himself from the eyes of the sensual and lazy, who will not be at the least expense of thought, yet to an unbiased and attentive mind nothing can be more plainly legible than the intimate presence of an all-wise spirit, who fashions, regulates and sustains the whole system of beings. It is clear, from what we have elsewhere observed, that the operating according to general and stated laws is so necessary for our guidance in the affairs of life, and letting us into the secret of nature, that without it all reach and compass of thought, all human sagacity and design, could serve to no manner of purpose; it were even impossible there should be any such faculties or powers in the mind. See sect. 31. Which one consideration abundantly outbalances whatever particular inconveniences may thence arise.

            152. We should further consider that the very blemishes and defects of nature are not without their use, in that they make an agreeable sort of variety, and augment the beauty of the rest of the creation, as shades in a picture serve to set off the brighter and more enlightened parts. We would likewise do well to examine whether our taxing the waste of seeds and embryos, and accidental destruction of plants and animals, before they come to full maturity, as an imprudence in the author of nature, be not the effect of prejudice contracted by our familiarity with impotent and saving mortals. In man indeed a thrifty management of those things which he cannot procure without much pains and industry may be esteemed wisdom. But, we must not imagine that the inexplicably fine machine of an animal or vegetable costs the great creator any more pains or trouble in its production than a pebble does; nothing being more evident than that an omnipotent spirit can indifferently produce everything by a mere fiat or act of His will. Hence, it is plain that the splendid profusion of natural things should not be interpreted weakness or prodigality in the agent who produces them, but rather be looked on as an argument of the riches of his power.

            153. As for the mixture of pain or uneasiness which is in the world, pursuant to the general laws of nature, and the actions of finite, imperfect spirits, this, in the state we are in at present, is indispensably necessary to our well-being. But our prospects are too narrow. We take, for instance, the idea of some one particular pain into our thoughts, and account it evil; whereas, if we enlarge our view, so as to comprehend the various ends, connections, and dependencies of things, on what occasions and in what proportions we are affected with pain and pleasure, the nature of human freedom, and the design with which we are put into the world; we shall be forced to acknowledge that those particular things which, considered in themselves, appear to be evil, have the nature of good, when considered as linked with the whole system of beings.


MORE ON IDEALISM (from Three Dialogues, 1713)


Against Primary Qualities of Extension in Sensible Things

Philonous. But what if the same arguments which are brought against Secondary Qualities will hold good against these also?

            Hylas. Why then I shall be obliged to think, they too exist only in the mind.

            Phil. Is it your opinion the very figure and extension which you perceive by sense exist in the outward object or material substance?

            Hyl. It is.

            Phil. Have all other animals as good grounds to think the same of the figure and extension which they see and feel?

            Hyl. Without doubt, if they have any thought at all.

            Phil. Answer me, Hylas. Think you the senses were bestowed upon all animals for their preservation and well-being in life? or were they given to men alone for this end?

            Hyl. I make no question but they have the same use in all other animals.

            Phil. If so, is it not necessary they should be enabled by them to perceive their own limbs, and those bodies which are capable of harming them?

            Hyl. Certainly.

            Phil. A mite therefore must be supposed to see his own foot, and things equal or even less than it, as bodies of some considerable dimension; though at the same time they appear to you scarce discernible, or at best as so many visible points?

            Hyl. I cannot deny it.

            Phil. And to creatures less than the mite they will seem yet larger?

            Hyl. They will.

            Phil. Insomuch that what you can hardly discern will to another extremely minute animal appear as some huge mountain?

            Hyl. All this I grant.

            Phil. Can one and the same thing be at the same time in itself of different dimensions?

            Hyl. That were absurd to imagine.

            Phil. But, from what you have laid down it follows that both the extension by you perceived, and that perceived by the mite itself, as likewise all those perceived by lesser animals, are each of them the true extension of the mite’s foot; that is to say, by your own principles you are led into an absurdity.

            Hyl. There seems to be some difficulty in the point.

            Phil. Again, have you not acknowledged that no real inherent property of any object can be changed without some change in the thing itself?

            Hyl. I have.

            Phil. But, as we approach to or recede from an object, the visible extension varies, being at one distance ten or a hundred times greater than another. Does it not therefore follow from hence likewise that it is not really inherent in the object?

            Hyl. I own I am at a loss what to think.

            Phil. Your judgment will soon be determined, if you will venture to think as freely concerning this quality as you have done concerning the rest. Was it not admitted as a good argument, that neither heat nor cold was in the water, because it seemed warm to one hand and cold to the other?

            Hyl. It was.

            Phil. Is it not the very same reasoning to conclude, there is no extension or figure in an object, because to one eye it shall seem little, smooth, and round, when at the same time it appears to the other, great, uneven, and regular?

            Hyl. The very same. But does this latter fact ever happen?

            Phil. You may at any time make the experiment, by looking with one eye bare, and with the other through a microscope.


Idealism Not the same as Seeing All Things through God; Material world Serves no Purpose

Hylas. It cannot be denied there is something highly serviceable to religion in what you advance. But do you not think it looks very like a notion entertained by some eminent moderns, of seeing all things in God?

            Philonous. I would gladly know that opinion: pray explain it to me.

            Hyl. They conceive that the soul, being immaterial, is incapable of being united with material things, so as to perceive them in themselves; but that she perceives them by her union with the substance of God, which, being spiritual, is therefore purely intelligible, or capable of being the immediate object of a spirit’s thought. Besides the divine essence contains in it perfections correspondent to each created being; and which are, for that reason, proper to exhibit or represent them to the mind.

            Phil. I do not understand how our ideas, which are things altogether passive and inert, can be the essence, or any part (or like any part) of the essence or substance of God, who is an impassive, indivisible, pure, active being. Many more difficulties and objections there are which occur at first view against this hypothesis; but I shall only add that it is liable to all the absurdities of the common hypothesis, in making a created world exist otherwise than in the mind of a spirit. Besides all which it has this peculiar to itself; that it makes that material world serve to no purpose. And, if it pass for a good argument against other hypotheses in the sciences, that they suppose nature, or the divine wisdom, to make something in vain, or do that by tedious roundabout methods which might have been performed in a much more easy and compendious way, what shall we think of that hypothesis which supposes the whole world made in vain?

            Hyl. But what say you? Are not you too of opinion that we see all things in God? If I mistake not, what you advance comes near it.

            Phil. Few men think; yet all have opinions. Hence men’s opinions are superficial and confused. It is nothing strange that tenets which in themselves are ever so different, should nevertheless be confounded with each other, by those who do not consider them attentively. I shall not therefore be surprised if some men imagine that I run into the enthusiasm of Malebranche; though in truth I am very remote from it. He builds on the most abstract general ideas, which I entirely disclaim. He asserts an absolute external world, which I deny. He maintains that we are deceived by our senses, and, know not the real natures or the true forms and figures of extended beings; of all which I hold the direct contrary. So that upon the whole there are no principles more fundamentally opposite than his and mine. It must be owned that I entirely agree with what the holy scripture says, “That in God we live and move and have our being.” But that we see things in his essence, after the manner above set forth, I am far from believing. Take here in brief my meaning: – It is evident that the things I perceive are my own ideas, and that no idea can exist unless it be in a mind: nor is it less plain that these ideas or things by me perceived, either themselves or their archetypes, exist independently of my mind, since I know myself not to be their author, it being out of my power to determine at pleasure what particular ideas I shall be affected with upon opening my eyes or ears: they must therefore exist in some other mind, whose will it is they should be exhibited to me. The things, I say, immediately perceived are ideas or sensations, call them which you will. But how can any idea or sensation exist in, or be produced by, anything but a mind or spirit? This indeed is inconceivable. And to assert that which is inconceivable is to talk nonsense: is it not?

            Hyl. Without doubt.


Matter lacks Sensible Qualities and God needs no Instrument to Cause Perception

Hylas. I give up the point entirely. But, though Matter may not be a cause, yet what hinders its being an instrument, subservient to the supreme Agent in the production of our ideas?

            Philonous. An instrument say you; pray what may be the figure, springs, wheels, and motions, of that instrument?

            Hyl. Those I pretend to determine nothing of, both the substance and its qualities being entirely unknown to me.

            Phil. What? You are then of opinion it is made up of unknown parts, that it has unknown motions, and an unknown shape?

            Hyl. I do not believe that it has any figure or motion at all, being already convinced, that no sensible qualities can exist in an unperceiving substance. . . .

            Phil. What mean you by the general nature or notion of instrument?

            Hyl. That which is common to all particular instruments composes the general notion.

            Phil. Is it not common to all instruments, that they are applied to the doing those things only which cannot be performed by the mere act of our wills? Thus, for instance, I never use an instrument to move my finger, because it is done by a volition. But I should use one if I were to remove part of a rock, or tear up a tree by the roots. Are you of the same mind? Or, can you show any example where an instrument is made use of in producing an effect immediately depending on the will of the agent?

            Hyl. I own I cannot.

            Phil. How therefore can you suppose that an all-perfect spirit, on whose will all things have an absolute and immediate dependence, should need an instrument in his operations, or, not needing it, make use of it? Thus it seems to me that you are obliged to own the use of a lifeless inactive instrument to be incompatible with the infinite perfection of God; that is, by your own confession, to give up the point.

            Hyl. It does not readily occur what I can answer you.

            Phil. But, methinks you should be ready to own the truth, when it has been fairly proved to you. We indeed, who are beings of finite powers, are forced to make use of instruments. And the use of an instrument shows the agent to be limited by rules of another’s prescription, and that he cannot obtain his end but in such a way, and by such conditions. Whence it seems a clear consequence, that the supreme unlimited agent uses no tool or instrument at all. The will of an omnipotent spirit is no sooner exerted than executed, without the application of means; which, if they are employed by inferior agents, it is not upon account of any real efficacy that is in them, or necessary aptitude to produce any effect, but merely in compliance with the laws of nature, or those conditions prescribed to them by the first cause, who is himself above all limitation or prescription whatsoever.


Matter is not an Occasion for God to Give us Perceptions since God needs no Crutch

Hylas. I will no longer maintain that Matter is an instrument. However, I would not be understood to give up its existence neither; since, notwithstanding what has been said, it may still be an occasion.

            Philonous. How many shapes is your matter to take? Or, how often must it be proved not to exist, before you are content to part with it? But, to say no more of this (though by all the laws of disputation I may justly blame you for so frequently changing the signification of the principal term) – I would fain know what you mean by affirming that matter is an occasion, having already denied it to be a cause. And, when you have shown in what sense you understand occasion, pray, in the next place, be pleased to show me what reason induces you to believe there is such an occasion of our ideas?

            Hyl. As to the first point: by occasion I mean an inactive unthinking being, at the presence whereof God excites ideas in our minds.

            Phil. And what may be the nature of that inactive unthinking being?

            Hyl. I know nothing of its nature.

            Phil. Proceed then to the second point, and assign some reason why we should allow an existence to this inactive, unthinking, unknown thing.

            Hyl. When we see ideas produced in our minds, after an orderly and constant manner, it is natural to think they have some fixed and regular occasions, at the presence of which they are excited.

            Phil. You acknowledge then God alone to be the cause of our ideas, and that He causes them at the presence of those occasions.

            Hyl. That is my opinion.

            Phil. Those things which you say are present to God, without doubt he perceives.

            Hyl. Certainly; otherwise they could not be to him an occasion of acting.

            Phil. Not to insist now on your making sense of this hypothesis, or answering all the puzzling questions and difficulties it is liable to: I only ask whether the order and regularity observable in the series of our ideas, or the course of nature, be not sufficiently accounted for by the wisdom and power of God; and whether it does not derogate from those attributes, to suppose he is influenced, directed, or put in mind, when and what he is to act, by an unthinking substance? And, lastly, whether, in case I granted all you contend for, it would make anything to your purpose; it not being easy to conceive how the external or absolute existence of an unthinking substance, distinct from its being perceived, can be inferred from my allowing that there are certain things perceived by the mind of God, which are to Him the occasion of producing ideas in us?

            Hyl. I am perfectly at a loss what to think, this notion of occasion seeming now altogether as groundless as the rest.

            Phil. Do you not at length perceive that in all these different acceptations of Matter, you have been only supposing you know not what, for no manner of reason, and to no kind of use?


Unperceived things do not Disappear since God Sustains Ideas of all Things

Hylas. Supposing you were annihilated, cannot you conceive it possible that things perceivable by sense may still exist?

            Philonous. I can; but then it must be in another mind. When I deny sensible things an existence out of the mind, I do not mean my mind in particular, but all minds. Now, it is plain they have an existence exterior to my mind; since I find them by experience to be independent of it. There is therefore some other mind wherein they exist, during the intervals between the times of my perceiving them: as likewise they did before my birth, and would do after my supposed annihilation. And, as the same is true with regard to all other finite created spirits, it necessarily follows there is an omnipresent eternal mind, which knows and comprehends all things, and exhibits them to our view in such a manner, and according to such rules, as he himself has ordained, and are by us termed the laws of nature.


Arguments against Matter do Not Apply to Spirit: Concept of Matter is Inconsistent, Concept of Spirit is not

Hylas. You say your own soul supplies you with some sort of an idea or image of God. But, at the same time, you acknowledge you have, properly speaking, no idea of your own soul. You even affirm that spirits are a sort of beings altogether different from ideas. Consequently that no idea can be like a spirit. We have therefore no idea of any spirit. You admit nevertheless that there is spiritual substance, although you have no idea of it; while you deny there can be such a thing as material substance, because you have no notion or idea of it. Is this fair dealing? To act consistently, you must either admit matter or reject spirit. What say you to this?

            Philonous. I say, in the first place, that I do not deny the existence of material substance, merely because I have no notion of it, but because the notion of it is inconsistent; or, in other words, because it is repugnant that there should be a notion of it. Many things, for aught I know, may exist, whereof neither I nor any other man has or can have any idea or notion whatsoever. But then those things must be possible, that is, nothing inconsistent must be included in their definition. I say, secondly, that, although we believe things to exist which we do not perceive, yet we may not believe that any particular thing exists, without some reason for such belief: but I have no reason for believing the existence of matter. I have no immediate intuition thereof: neither can I immediately from my sensations, ideas, notions, actions, or passions, infer an unthinking, unperceiving, inactive substance – either by probable deduction, or necessary consequence. Whereas the being of myself, that is, my own soul, mind, or thinking principle, I evidently know by reflection.

            You will forgive me if I repeat the same things in answer to the same objections. In the very notion or definition of material substance, there is included a manifest repugnance and inconsistency. But this cannot be said of the notion of Spirit. That ideas should exist in what does not perceive, or be produced by what does not act, is repugnant. But, it is no repugnancy to say that a perceiving thing should be the subject of ideas, or an active thing the cause of them.

            It is granted we have neither an immediate evidence nor a demonstrative knowledge of the existence of other finite spirits; but it will not thence follow that such spirits are on a foot with material substances: if to suppose the one be inconsistent, and it be not inconsistent to suppose the other; if the one can be inferred by no argument, and there is a probability for the other; if we see signs and effects indicating distinct finite agents like ourselves, and see no sign or symptom whatever that leads to a rational belief of Matter. I say, lastly, that I have a notion of Spirit, though I have not, strictly speaking, an idea of it. I do not perceive it as an idea, or by means of an idea, but know it by reflection.


Self as an Individual Principle Distinct from Perceptions, not a Series of mere Disconnected Perceptions

Hylas. Notwithstanding all you have said, to me it seems that, according to your own way of thinking, and in consequence of your own principles, it should follow that you are only a system of floating ideas, without any substance to support them. Words are not to be used without a meaning. And, as there is no more meaning in spiritual substance than in material substance, the one is to be exploded as well as the other.

            Philous. How often must I repeat, that I know or am conscious of my own being; and that I myself am not my ideas, but somewhat else, a thinking, active principle that perceives, knows, wills, and operates about ideas. I know that I, one and the same self, perceive both colors and sounds: that a color cannot perceive a sound, nor a sound a color: that I am therefore one individual principle, distinct from color and sound; and, for the same reason, from aft other sensible things and inert ideas. But, I am not in like manner conscious either of the existence or essence of matter. On the contrary, I know that nothing inconsistent can exist, and that the existence of matter implies an inconsistency. Farther, I know what I mean when I affirm that there is a spiritual substance or support of ideas, that is, that a spirit knows and perceives ideas. But, I do not know what is meant when it is said that an unperceiving substance has inherent in it and supports either ideas or the archetypes of ideas. There is therefore upon the whole no parity of case between spirit and matter.


Idealism and Common Sense: Things Exist because we can See Them

Hylas. I own myself satisfied in this point. But, do you in earnest think the real existence of sensible things consists in their being actually perceived? If so; how comes it that all mankind distinguish between them? Ask the first man you meet, and he shall tell you, to be perceived is one thing, and to exist is another.

            Philous. I am content, Hylas, to appeal to the common sense of the world for the truth of my notion. Ask the gardener why he thinks yonder cherry-tree exists in the garden, and he shall tell you, because he sees and feels it; in a word, because he perceives it by his senses. Ask him why he thinks an orange-tree not to be there, and he shall tell you, because he does not perceive it. What he perceives by sense, that he terms a real, being, and says it is or exists; but, that which is not perceivable, the same, he says, has no being.

            Hyl. Yes, Philonous, I grant the existence of a sensible thing consists in being perceivable, but not in being actually perceived.

            Phil. And what is perceivable but an idea? And can an idea exist without being actually perceived? These are points long since agreed between us.

            Hyl. But, be your opinion never so true, yet surely you will not deny it is shocking, and contrary to the common sense of men. Ask the fellow whether yonder tree has an existence out of his mind: what answer think you he would make?

            Phil. The same that I should myself, to wit, that it does exist out of his mind. But then to a Christian it cannot surely be shocking to say, the real tree, existing without his mind, is truly known and comprehended by (that is exists in) the infinite mind of God. Probably he may not at first glance be aware of the direct and immediate proof there is of this; inasmuch as the very being of a tree, or any other sensible thing, implies a mind wherein it is. But the point itself he cannot deny. The question between the materialists and me is not, whether things have a real existence out of the mind of this or that person, but whether they have an absolute existence, distinct from being perceived by God, and exterior to all minds. This indeed some heathens and philosophers have affirmed, but whoever entertains notions of the Deity suitable to the Holy Scriptures will be of another opinion.


God and Evil: God Does not Mediate, Lacks Evil Motive, Not the Only Agent

Hylas. You are not aware, Philonous, that in making God the immediate author of all the motions in nature, you make him the author of murder, sacrilege, adultery, and the like heinous sins.

            Philous. In answer to that, I observe, first, that the imputation of guilt is the same, whether a person commits an action with or without an instrument. In case therefore you suppose God to act by the mediation of an instrument or occasion, called matter, you as truly make him the author of sin as I, who think him the immediate agent in all those operations vulgarly ascribed to nature. I farther observe that sin or moral turpitude does not consist in the outward physical action or motion, but in the internal deviation of the will from the laws of reason and religion. This is plain, in that the killing an enemy in a battle, or putting a criminal legally to death, is not thought sinful; though the outward act be the very same with that in the case of murder. Since, therefore, sin does not consist in the physical action, the making God an immediate cause of all such actions is not making him the author of sin. Lastly, I have nowhere said that God is the only agent who produces all the motions in bodies. It is true I have denied there are any other agents besides spirits; but this is very consistent with allowing to thinking rational beings, in the production of motions, the use of limited powers, ultimately indeed derived from God, but immediately under the direction of their own wills, which is sufficient to entitle them to all the guilt of their actions.


Consensus against Idealism

Hylas. But the denying matter, Philonous, or corporeal substance; there is the point. You can never persuade me that this is not repugnant to the universal sense of mankind. Were our dispute to be determined by most voices, I am confident you would give up the point, without gathering the votes.

            Philous. I wish both our opinions were fairly stated and submitted to the judgment of men who had plain common sense, without the prejudices of a learned education. Let me be represented as one who trusts his senses, who thinks he knows the things he sees and feels, and entertains no doubts of their existence; and you fairly set forth with all your doubts, your paradoxes, and your skepticism about you, and I shall willingly acquiesce in the determination of any indifferent person. That there is no substance wherein ideas can exist beside spirit is to me evident. And that the objects immediately perceived are ideas, is on all hands agreed. And that sensible qualities are objects immediately perceived no one can deny. It is therefore evident there can be no substratum of those qualities but spirit; in which they exist, not by way of mode or property, but as a thing perceived in that which perceives it. I deny therefore that there is any unthinking-substratum of the objects of sense, and in that acceptation that there is any material substance. But if by material substance is meant only sensible body, that which is seen and felt (and the unphilosophical part of the world, I dare say, mean no more) – then I am more certain of matter’s existence than you or any other philosopher pretend to be. If there be anything which makes the generality of mankind averse from the notions I espouse, it is a misapprehension that I deny the reality of sensible things. But, as it is you who are guilty of that, and not I, it follows that in truth their aversion is against your notions and not mine. I do therefore assert that I am as certain as of my own being, that there are bodies or corporeal substances (meaning the things I perceive by my senses); and that, granting this, the bulk of mankind will take no thought about, nor think themselves at all concerned in the fate of those unknown natures, and philosophical quiddities, which some men are so fond of.


HOW TO REFUTE AN ATHEIST (from Alciphron, or The Minute Philosopher,1732, 1)


Freethinkers Good: Oppose Superstition, Prejudice, Conspiracy of Priests and Magistrates

            2. Alciphron. Thought is that which we are told distinguished man from beast; and freedom of thought makes as great a difference between man and man. It is to the noble assertors of this privilege and perfection of humankind, the free-thinkers I mean, who have sprung up and multiplied of late years, that we are indebted for all those important discoveries, that ocean of light, which has broke in and made its way, in spite of slavery and superstition. . . .  You must know, said he, that the mind of man may be fitly compared to a piece of land. What stubbing, ploughing, digging, and harrowing are to the one, that thinking, reflecting, examining are to the other. Each has its proper culture; and, as land that is suffered to lie waste and wild for a long tract of time will be overspread with brush-wood, brambles, thorns, and such vegetables which have neither use nor beauty. Even so there will not fail to sprout up in a neglected uncultivated mind a great number of prejudices and absurd opinions, which owe their origin partly to the soil itself, the passions and imperfections of the mind of man, and partly to those seeds which chance to be scattered in it by every wind of doctrine, which the cunning of statesmen, the singularity of pedants, the superstition of fools, or the imposture of priests shall raise. Represent to yourself the mind of man, or human nature in general, that for so many ages had lain obnoxious to the frauds of designing and the follies of weak men; how it must be overrun with prejudices and errors, what firm and deep roots they must have taken, and consequently how difficult a task it must be to extirpate them! And yet this work, no less difficult than glorious, is the employment of the modern freethinkers. Alciphron having said this made a pause, and looked round on the company. . . . 

            3. Euphranor. The clergy, no doubt, are on all occasions ready to forward and applaud your worthy endeavors.

            Upon hearing this Lysicles could hardly refrain from laughing. And Alciphron with an air of pity told Euphranor that he perceived he was unacquainted with the real character of those men. For, said he, you must know that of all men living they are our greatest enemies. If it were possible, they would extinguish the very light of nature, turn the world into a dungeon, and keep mankind forever in chains and darkness.

            Euphranor. I never imagined anything like this of our Protestant clergy, particularly those of the established church, whom, if I may be allowed to judge by what I have seen of them and their writings, I should have thought lovers of learning and useful knowledge.

            Alciphron. Take my word for it, priests of all religions are the same: wherever there are priests there will be priestcraft; and wherever there is priestcraft there will be a persecuting spirit, which they never fail to exert to the utmost of their power against all those who have the courage to think for themselves, and will not submit to be hoodwinked and manacled by their reverend leaders. Those great masters of pedantry and jargon have coined several systems, which are all equally true, and of equal importance to the world. The contending sects are each alike fond of their own, and alike prone to discharge their fury upon all who dissent from them. Cruelty and ambition being the darling vices of priests and churchmen all the world over, they endeavor in all countries to get an ascendant over the rest of mankind. And the magistrate, having a joint interest with the priest in subduing, amusing, and scaring the people, too often lends a hand to the hierarchy, who never think their authority and possessions secure, so long as those who differ from them in opinion are allowed to partake even in the common rights belonging to their birth or species. To represent the matter in a true light, figure to yourselves a monster or specter made up of superstition and enthusiasm, the joint issue of statecraft and priestcraft, rattling chains in one hand, and with the other brandishing a flaming sword over the land, and menacing destruction to all who shall dare to follow the dictates of reason and common sense. Do but consider this, and then say if there was not danger as well as difficulty in our undertaking. Yet, such is the generous ardor that truth inspires, our free-thinkers are neither overcome by the one nor daunted by the other. In spite of both we have already made so many proselytes among the better sort, and their numbers increase so fast, that we hope we shall be able to carry all before us, beat down the bulwarks of all tyranny, secular or ecclesiastical, break the fetters and chains of our countrymen, and restore the original inherent rights, liberties, and prerogatives of mankind. . . . 

            9. Atheism therefore, that bugbear of women and fools, is the very top and perfection of free-thinking. It is the grand arcanum to which a true genius naturally rises, by a certain climax or gradation of thought, and without which he can never possess his soul in absolute liberty and repose. . . .


Freethinkers Bad: Undermine Morality, Civil Order, Belief in Immortality

            10. Euphranor. If you please then, to avoid confusion, let us call your sect by the same name that Tully (who understood the force of language) bestowed upon them.

            Alciphron. With all my heart. Pray what may that name be?

            Euphranor. Why, he calls them minute philosophers.

            Crito. Right, said Crito, the modern free-thinkers are the very same with those Cicero called minute philosophers; which name admirably suits them, they being a sort of sect which diminish all the most valuable things, the thoughts, views, and hopes of men. All the knowledge, notions, and theories of the mind they reduce to sense. Human nature they contract and degrade to the narrow low standard of animal life, and assign us only a small pittance of time instead of immortality. . . .

Euphranor. O Alciphron! These minute philosophers (since that is their true name) are a sort of pirates who plunder all that come in their way. I consider myself as a man left stripped and desolate on a bleak beach. . . .

            13. Crito. The profound thinkers of this way have taken a direct contrary course to all the great philosophers of former ages, who made it their endeavor to raise and refine human-kind, and remove it as far as possible from the brute; to moderate and subdue men's appetites; to remind them of the dignity of their nature; to awaken and improve their superior faculties, and direct them to the noblest objects; to possess men's minds with a high sense of the divinity, of the supreme good, and the immortality of the soul. They took great pains to strengthen the obligations to virtue; and upon all those subjects have wrought out noble theories, and treated with singular force of reason. But it seems our minute philosophers act the reverse of all other wise and thinking men; it being their end and aim to erase the principles of all that is great and good from the mind of man, to unhinge all order of civil life, to undermine the foundations of morality, and, instead of improving and ennobling our natures, to bring us down to the maxims and way of thinking of the most uneducated and barbarous nations, and even to degrade human-kind to a level with brute beasts. And all the while they would pass upon the world for men of deep knowledge. But, in effect, what is all this negative knowledge better than downright savage ignorance? That there is no providence, no spirit, no future state, no moral duty: truly a fine system for an honest man to own, or an ingenious man to value himself upon!


Religion not Natural since not Universal (Alciphron's View)

            Alciprhon: Alciphron, who heard this discourse with some uneasiness, very gravely replied: disputes are not to be decided by the weight of authority, but by the force of reason. You may pass, indeed, general reflections on our notions, and call them brutal and barbarous if you please: but it is such brutality and such barbarism as few could have attained to if men of the greatest genius had not broken the ice, there being nothing more difficult than to get the better of education, and conquer old prejudices. To remove and cast off a heap of rubbish that has been gathering upon the soul from our very infancy requires great courage and great strength of faculties. Our philosophers, therefore, do well deserve the name of esprits forts [i.e., freethinker], men of strong heads, free-thinkers, and such like appellations, betokening great force and liberty of mind. It is very possible the heroic labors of these men may be represented (for what is not capable of misrepresentation?) as a piratical plundering, and stripping the mind of its wealth and ornaments, when it is in truth divesting it only of its prejudices, and reducing it to its untainted original state of nature. Oh nature! The genuine beauty of pure nature!

            Euphranor. You seem very much taken with the beauty of nature. Be pleased to tell me, Alciphron, what those things are which you esteem natural, or by what mark I may know them.

            14. Alciphron. For a thing to be natural, for instance, to the mind of man, it must appear originally therein; it must be universally in all men; it must be invariably the same in all nations and ages. These limitations of original, universal, and invariable exclude all those notions found in the human mind which are the effect of custom and education. The case is the same with respect to all other species of beings. A cat, for example, has a natural inclination to pursue a mouse, because it agrees with the forementioned marks. But, if a cat be taught to play tricks, you will not say those tricks are natural. For the same reason, if upon a plum-tree peaches and apricots are engrafted, nobody will say they are the natural growth of the plum-tree.


Religion Natural since Rational (Euphranor's View)

            Euphranor. But to return to man. It seems you allow those things alone to be natural to him which show themselves upon his first entrance into the world; to wit, the senses, and such passions and appetites as are discovered upon the first application of their respective objects.

            Alciphron. That is my opinion. . . .

            Euphranor. Whatever, therefore, is agreeable to reason is agreeable to the nature of man.

            Alciphron. It is.

            Euphranor. Will it not follow from hence that truth and virtue are natural to man?

            Alciphron. Whatever is reasonable I admit to be natural.

            Euphranor. And, as those fruits which grow from the most generous and mature stock, in the choicest soil, and with the best culture, are most esteemed; even so ought we not to think those sublime truths, which are the fruits of mature thought, and have been rationally deduced by  men of the best and most improved understandings, to be the choicest productions of the rational nature of man? And, if so, being in fact reasonable, natural, and true, they ought not to be esteemed unnatural whims, errors of education, and groundless prejudices, because they are raised and forwarded by manuring and cultivating our tender minds, because they take early root, and sprout forth betimes by the care and diligence of our instructors?

            Alciphron. Agreed, provided still they may be rationally deduced. But to take this for granted of what men vulgarly call the truths of morality and religion, would be begging the question.

            Euphranor. You are in the right: I do not, therefore, take for granted that they are rationally deduced. I only suppose that, if they are, they must be allowed natural to man; or, in other words, agreeable to, and growing from, the most excellent and peculiar part of human nature.

            Alciphron. I have nothing to object to this.

            Euphranor. What shall we think then of your former assertions— that nothing is natural to man but what may be found in all men, in all nations and ages of the world; that, to obtain a genuine view of human nature, we must extirpate all the effects of education and instruction, and regard only the senses, appetites, and passions, which are to be found originally in all mankind; that, therefore, the notion of a God can have no foundation in nature, as not being originally in the mind, nor the same in all men? Be pleased to reconcile these things with your late concessions, which the force of truth seems to have extorted from you.


Whether Variety of Views of God imply their Falsehood

            15. Alciphron. Tell me, Euphranor, whether truth be not one and the same, uniform, invariable thing: and, if so, whether the many different and inconsistent notions which men entertain of God and duty be not a plain proof there is no truth in them?

            Euphranor. That truth is constant and uniform I freely own, and that consequently opinions repugnant to each other cannot all be true: but I think it will not hence follow they are all alike false. If, among various opinions about the same thing, one be grounded on clear and evident reasons, that is to be thought true, and others only so far as they consist with it. Reason is the same, and rightly applied will lead to the same conclusions, in all times and places. Socrates, two thousand years ago, seems to have reasoned himself into the same notion of a God which is entertained by the philosophers of our days, if you will allow that name to any who are not of your sect. And the remark of Confucius, that a man should guard in his youth against lust, in manhood against faction, and in old age against covetousness, is as current morality in Europe as in China.

            Alciphron. But still it would be a satisfaction if all men thought the same way; difference of opinions implying uncertainty.

            Euphranor. Tell me, Alciphron, what you take to be the cause of a lunar eclipse?

            Alciphron. The shadow of the earth interposing between the sun and moon.

            Euphranor. Are you sure of this?

            Alciphron. Undoubtedly.

            Euphranor. Are all mankind agreed in this truth?

            Alciphron. By no means. Ignorant and barbarous people assign different ridiculous causes of this appearance.

            Euphranor. It seems, then, there are different opinions about the nature of an eclipse?

            Alciphron. There are.

            Euphranor. And nevertheless one of these opinions is true.

            Alciphron. It is.

            Euphranor. Diversity, therefore, of opinions about a thing, does not hinder that the thing may be, and one of the opinions concerning it may be true?

            Alciphron. I acknowledge it.

            Euphranor. It should seem, therefore, that your argument against the belief of a God, from the variety of opinions about his nature, is not conclusive. Nor do I see how you can conclude against the truth of any moral or religious tenet, from the various opinions of men upon the same subject. Might not a man as well argue, that no historical account of a matter of fact can be true, when different relations are given of it? Or, may we not as well infer that, because the several sects of philosophy maintain different opinions, none of them can be in the right; not even the minute philosophers themselves?


TAR WATER: IT'S A MIRACLE! (from Siris, 1744)


Its Benefits to the Body and How to Make It

For Introduction to the following piece, I assure the reader that nothing could, in my present situation, have induced me to be at the pains of writing it, but a firm belief that it would prove a valuable present to the public. What entertainment soever the reasoning or notional part may afford the mind, I will venture to say, the other part seems so surely calculated to do good to the body that both must be gainers. For, if the lute be not well tuned, the musician fails of his harmony. And, in our present state, the operations of the mind so far depend on the right tone or good condition of its instrument, that anything which greatly contributes to preserve or recover the health of the body is well worth the attention of the mind. These considerations have moved me to communicate to the public the salutary virtues of tar-water; to which I thought myself indispensably obliged by the duty every man owes to mankind. And, as effects are linked with their causes, my thoughts on this low but useful theme led to farther inquiries, and those on to others; remote perhaps and speculative, but I hope not altogether useless or unentertaining.

            1. In certain parts of America tar-water is made by putting a quart of cold water to a quart of tar, and stirring them well together in a vessel, which is left standing till the tar sinks to the bottom. A glass of clear water, being poured off for a draught, is replaced by the same quantity of fresh water, the vessel being shaken and left to stand as before. And this is repeated for every glass, so long as the tar continues to impregnate the water sufficiently, which appears by the smell and taste. . . .


Cures all Illnesses: Small Pox, Ulcers, Digestive Disorders, Dropsy

2. The cold infusion of tar has been used in some of our Colonies as a preservative or preparative against the small-pox; which foreign practice induced me to try it in my own neighborhood, when the small-pox raged with great violence. And the trial fully answered my expectation: all those within my knowledge who took the tar-water having either escaped that distemper, or had it very favorably. In one family there was a remarkable instance of seven children, who came all very well through the small-pox, except one young child which could not be brought to drink tar-water as the rest had done. . . .

            4. It seemed probable that a medicine of such efficacy in a distemper attended with so many purulent ulcers might be also useful in other foulnesses of the blood; accordingly, I tried it on several persons infected with cutaneous eruptions and ulcers, who were soon relieved, and soon after cured. Encouraged by these successes, I ventured to advise it in the foulest distempers, wherein it proved

            5. Having tried it in a great variety of cases, I found it succeeded beyond my hopes: in a tedious and painful ulceration of the bowels; in a consumptive cough, and (as appeared by expectorated pus) an ulcer in the lungs; in a pleurisy and peripneumony. And when a person who for some years had been subject to erysipelatous fevers perceived the usual forerunning symptoms to come on, advised her to drink tar-water, which prevented the erysipelas.

            6. I never knew anything so good for the stomach as tar-water: it cures indigestion and gives a good appetite. It is an excellent medicine in an asthma. It imparts a kindly warmth and quick circulation to the juices without heating, and is therefore useful, not only as a pectoral and balsamic, but also as a powerful and safe deobstruent in cachetic and hysteric cases. As it is both healing and diuretic, it is very good for the gravel. I believe it to be of great use in dropsy, having known it cure a very bad anarsaca in a person whose thirst, though very extraordinary, was in a short time removed by the drinking of tar-water. . . .


Cures Mood Disorders Too: The Gloom of Women, the Rich, Scholars

103. This safe and cheap medicine suits all circumstances and all constitutions, operating easily, curing without disturbing, raising the spirits without depressing them, a circumstance that deserves repeated attention: especially in these climates, where strong liquors so fatally and so frequently produce those very distresses they are designed to remedy; and, if I am not misinformed, even among the ladies themselves, who are truly much to be pitied. Their condition of life makes them a prey to imaginary woes, which never fail to grow up in minds unexercised and unemployed. To get rid of these, it is said, there are who betake themselves to distilled spirits. And it is not improbable they are led gradually to the use of those poisons by a certain complaisant pharmacy, too much used in the modern practice, palsy drops, poppy cordial, plague water, and such like, which being in truth nothing but drams disguised, yet, coming from the apothecaries, are considered only as medicines. . . .

            106. I do verily think there is not any other medicine whatsoever so effectual to restore a crazy constitution, and cheer a dreary mind, or so likely to subvert that gloomy empire of the spleen which tyrannizes over the better sort (as they are called) of these free nations; and makes them, in spite of their liberty and property, more wretched slaves than even the subjects of absolute power, who breathe clear air in a sunny climate. While men of low degree often enjoy a tranquility and content that no advantage of birth or fortune can equal. Such, indeed, was the case while the rich alone could afford to be debauched; but when even beggars became debauchees, the case was altered.

            Studious persons also, pent up in narrow holes, breathing bad air, and stooping over their books, are much to be pitied. As they are debarred the free use of air and exercise, this I will venture to recommend as the best succedaneum to both. Though it were to be wished that modern scholars would, like the ancients, meditate and converse more in walks and gardens and open air, which upon the whole would perhaps be no hindrance to their learning, and a great advantage to their health. My own sedentary course of life had long since thrown me into an ill habit, attended with many ailments, particularly a nervous co-lie, which rendered my life a burthen, and the more so, because my pains were exasperated by exercise. But, since the use of tar-water, I find, though not a perfect recovery from my old and rooted illness, yet such a gradual return of health and ease, that I esteem my having taken this medicine the greatest of all temporal blessings, and am convinced that, under Providence, I owe my life to it. . . .


The Science behind the Miracle: Tar Water as a Fiery Spirit Affects the Body

 188. We have seen that in the most remote ages and countries, the vulgar as well as the learned, the institutions of lawgivers as well as the reasonings of philosophers have ever considered the element of fire in a peculiar light, and treated it with more than common regard, as if it were something of a very singular and extraordinary nature. Nor are there wanting authors of principal account among the Moderns who entertain like notions concerning fire, especially among those who are most conversant in that element, and should seem best acquainted with it. . . .

            216. As different kinds of secreted light or fire produce different essences, virtues, or specific properties, so also different degrees of heat produce different effects. Thus, one degree of heat keeps the blood from coagulating, and another degree coagulates the blood. Thus, a more violent fire has been observed to set free and carry off that very light, which a more moderate fire had introduced and fixed in the calcined regulus of antimony. In like manner, one kind or quantity of this aethereal fiery spirit may be congenial and friendly to the spirits of a man, while another may be noxious. . . .

            218. Tar-water, serving as a vehicle to this spirit, is both diuretic and diaphoretic, but seems to work its principal effect by assisting the vis vitae, as an alterative and cordial, enabling nature, by an accession of congenial spirit, to assimilate that which could not be assimilated by her proper force, and so to subdue the fomes morbi. And this should seem in most cases the best and safest course. Great evacuations weaken nature as well as the disease. And it is to be feared that they who use salivations and copious bleedings, may, though they should recover of the distemper, in their whole life be never able to recover of the remedies.




The Hanging Experiment (from Oliver Goldsmith, "Memoirs" 1759)

George Berkeley was the son of a clergyman in Ireland, of a small living, but at the same time remarkable for his learning and piety; he therefore gave his son the best education his circumstances would admit of; and, when fitted for the university, taxed his little fortune, in order to send him to Trinity College, Dublin.

            Here he soon began to be looked upon, as the greatest genius, or the greatest dunce, in the whole university; those who were but slightly acquainted with him, took him for a fool; but those who shared his most intimate friendship, looked upon him as a prodigy of learning and good-nature. Whenever he appeared abroad, which was but seldom, he was surrounded by a crowd of the idle or the facetious, who followed him, not to be improved, but to laugh. Of this he frequently complained, but there was no redress; the more he fretted, he became only the more ridiculous. An action of his, however, soon made him more truly ridiculous than before: curiosity leading him one day to see an execution, he returned home pensive and melancholy, and could not forbear reflecting on what he had seen. He desired to know what were the pains and symptoms a malefactor felt upon such an occasion, and communicated to his chum the cause of his strange curiosity; in short, he resolved to tuck himself up for a trial; at the same time desiring his companion to take him down at a signal agreed upon.

            The companion, whose name was Contarine, was to try the same experiment himself immediately after. Berkeley was accordingly tied up to the ceiling, and the chair taken from under his feet; but soon losing the use of his senses, his companion, it seems, waited a little too long for the signal agreed upon, and our enquirer had like to have been hanged in good earnest; for as soon as he was taken down, he fell, senseless and motionless, upon the floor. After some trouble, however, he was brought to himself; and observing his band, "Bless my heart, Contarine, says he, you have quite rumpled my band." When it came to Contarine's turn to go up, he quickly evaded the proposal; the other's danger had quite abated his curiosity.


The Save-the-Savages Experiment (from Joseph Stock, An Account of the Life of George Berkeley, 1776)

His mind had been employed in conceiving that benevolent project, which alone entitles him to as much honor as all his learned labors have procured him, the Scheme for converting the Savage Americans to Christianity, by a College to be erected in the Summer Islands, otherwise called the isles of Bermuda. He published a proposal for this purpose. . .  [and carried] directly to George I who laid his commands on [Prime Minister] Sir Robert Walpole to introduce and conduct it through the House of Commons. . . . The sum of 10,000£. was accordingly promised by the Minister, and several private subscriptions were immediately raised for promoting "so pious an undertaking," as it is styled in the King's answer to the address [of the Commons]. . . . [Thus encouraged, Berkeley] set sail in the execution of it for Rhode Island about the middle of September following. He carried with him his lady [and] . . . a pretty large sum of money of his own property, and a collection of books for the use of his intended library. . . . But the minister had never heartily embraced the project, and parliamentary influence had by this time interposed, in order to divert the grant into another channel. . . . After having received various excuses, Bishop Gibson. . . . applying to Sir Robert Walpole, then head of the treasury, was favored at length the following very honest answer: "If you put this question to me," says Sir Robert, "as a minister, I must and can assure you that the money shall most undoubtedly be paid as soon as suits with public convenience: but if you ask me as a friend, whether Dean Berkeley should continue in America, expecting the payment of 10,000£. I advise him by all means to return home to Europe, and to give up his present expectations."  The Dean being informed of this conference, by his good friend the Bishop, and thereby fully convinced that the bad policy of one great man had rendered abortive a scheme, whereon he had expended much of his private fortune, and more than seven years of the prime of his life, returned to Europe.


The Tar Water Experiment (from Oliver Goldsmith, "Memoirs," 1759)

His treatise on tar-water rendered him more popular than any of his preceding productions, at the same time that it was the most whimsical of them all. Here he pretends to prove, a priori, the effects of this, sometimes, valuable medicine; but then he extends them to every, and even opposite disorders. The public were long undeceived before his lordship, who was the inventor, could be so. He had built an hospital at his own expense, near his gate, and to it all the poor were welcome; he attended them himself as physician; dosed them with tar-water, of the virtues of which he was entirely confident. His intention in this particular cannot be sufficiently applauded, though, perhaps, the success might not have answered his expectations.


Questions for Review

1. In New Theory of Vision 132-135¸ why, according to Berkeley, wouldn't a blind man restored to sight recognize a cube and sphere previously known to him by touch?

2. In Principles 3, what does Berkeley mean by the expression "to be is to be perceived" (esse is percipi)?

3. In Principles 5, the materialist might argue that perhaps through abstraction we can conceive of sensible objects existing unperceived. What is Berkeley's response?

4. In Principles 11-15, why do so-called primary qualities of motion, extension, and number actually depend on the mind?

5. In Principles 18, why, according to Berkeley, do we have no knowledge of material objects from either sense or reason?

6. In Principles 19-21, the materialist might argue that external objects make it easier to explain how we get our perceptions. What is Berkeley's response to this?

7. In Principles 22-23, the materialist might say that we can imagine trees existing with no one there to perceive them. What is Berkeley's response to this?

8. In Principles 151-153, Berkeley considers how the accidental destruction of innumerable seeds, plants and animals in the normal course of nature fits into God's plan. What is his explanation?

9. In the discussion of primary qualities in Three Dialogues, what examples does Philonous give to show that an object’s extension is only a matter of the spectator’s perspective?

10. In the discussion of seeing all things through God in Thee Dialogues, for Philonous, what are the key points of difference between his view and that of Malebranche?

11. In the discussion of matter as an instrument in Thee Dialogues, what is involved in the notion of an instrument, and what kind of beings make use of an instrument?

12. In the discussion of whether arguments against matter also apply to spirit in Thee Dialogues, what, according to Philonous, are the two differences between asserting the existence of matter, and asserting the existence of spirit?

13. In the discussion of God and evil in Three Dialogues, what are Philonous's three arguments for why God is not directly responsible for human suffering?

14. In the discussion of the consensus against idealism in Thee Dialogues, what is Philonous's response to the contention that most people affirm the existence of material things?

15. In the section on "freethinkers good" in Alciphron, what is the effect of the conspiracy of priests and magistrates?

16. In the section on "freethinkers bad" in Alciphron, what views did the great philosophers of former ages hold?

17. In the section on religion be universal in Alciphron, What, according to Alciphron, are indicators of something being universal?

18. In the section on religion being rational in Alciphron, what, according to Euphranor, is involved with the notion of something being rational?

19. In the discussion of the variety of views on God in Alciphron, what is Euphranor's position and his argument for it?

20. In the discussion of curing mood disorders in Siris, what are the problems that Berkeley himself had because of his sedentary lifestyle?


Questions for Analysis

1. James Boswell describes a conversation he had with Samuel Johnson about Berkeley's denial of material objects: "After we came out of the church, we stood talking for some time together of Bishop Berkeley’s ingenious sophistry to prove the non-existence of matter, and that everything in the universe is merely ideal. I observed that though we are satisfied his doctrine is not true, it is impossible to refute it. I never shall forget the alacrity with which Johnson answered, striking his foot with mighty force against a large stone, till he rebounded from it, – ‘I refute it thus.’ This was a stout exemplification of the first truths . . . or . . . original principles . . . without admitting which we can no more argue in metaphysics, than we can argue in mathematics without axioms. To me it is not conceivable how Berkeley can be answered by pure reasoning" (Life of Samuel Johnson, 1791). Boswell's point is that the existence of matter cannot be proven through "pure reasoning" but must be assumed as a foundational idea or "first truth", as Johnson implied by kicking the stone. How might Berkeley respond to Boswell's point?

2. Thomas Reid makes the following criticism of Berkeley: "[Berkeley was concerned] to reconcile his system to the plain dictates of nature and common sense, while he expresses no concern to reconcile it to the received doctrines of philosophers. He is fond of taking part with the vulgar against the philosophers, and of vindicating common sense against their innovations. What pity is it that he did not carry this suspicion of the doctrine of philosophers so far as to doubt of that philosophical tenet on which his whole system is built, to wit, that the things immediately perceived by the senses are ideas which exist only in the mind" (Essays on the Intellectual Powers, 1785, 2.6). Develop Reid's criticism and discuss how Berkeley might respond.

3. Thomas Reid argues that Berkeley's idealism leads to solipsism (i.e., the absurd position that I am the only entity that exists). Berkeley writes, "I can find no principle in Berkeley's system which affords me even probable ground to conclude that there are other intelligent beings, like myself, in the relations of father, brother, friend, or fellow-citizen. I am left alone, as the only creature of God in the universe, in that forlorn state of egoism" (Essays on the Intellectual Powers, 1785, 2.6). Develop Reid's criticism and discuss how Berkeley might respond.

4. Immanuel Kant criticizes Berkeley's idealism on the grounds that my own existence depends upon the existence of external objects in space. Kant writes, "I am conscious of my own existence as determined in time. All determination in regard to time presupposes the existence of something permanent in perception. But this permanent something cannot be something in me, for the very reason that my existence in time is itself determined by this permanent something. It follows that the perception of this permanent existence is possible only through a thing without me and not through the mere representation of a thing without me" (Critique of Pure Reason, 1781, Develop Kant's criticism and discuss how Berkeley would respond.

5. John Stuart Mill gives the following criticism of Berkeley’s proof for God’s existence. “[Berkeley’s argument] is briefly as follows: I thought of a thing yesterday; I ceased to think of it; I think of it again to-day. I had, therefore, in my mind yesterday an idea of the object; I have also an idea of it to-day; this idea is evidently not another, but the very same idea. Yet an intervening time elapsed in which I had it not. Where was the idea during this interval? It must have been somewhere; it did not cease to exist; otherwise the idea I had yesterday could not be the same idea; no more than the man I see alive to-day can be the same whom I saw yesterday if the man has died in the mean while. Now an idea can not be conceived to exist anywhere except in a mind; and hence there must exist a Universal Mind, in which all ideas have their permanent residence during the intervals of their conscious presence in our own minds. It is evident that Berkeley here confounded sameness numero [i.e., in number] with sameness specie, that is, with exact resemblance, and assumed the former where there was only the latter; not perceiving that when we say we have the same thought to-day which we had yesterday, we do not mean the same individual thought, but a thought exactly similar: as we say that we have the same illness which we had last year, meaning only the same sort of illness” (System of Logic, 1843, 5.7.1). Explain Mill’s criticism and how Berkeley might respond.

5. George Edward Moore makes the following criticism of Berkeley's idealism: "Idealists admit that some things really exist of which they are not aware. . . they hold for instance that they are sometimes aware of other minds, which continue to exist even when they are not aware of them. They are, therefore, sometimes aware of something which is not an inseparable aspect of their own experience. . . . There is, therefore, no question of how we are to get outside the circle of our own ideas and sensations. Merely to have a sensation is already to be outside that circle. It is to know something which is as truly and really not a part of my experience, as anything which I can ever know" (“The Refutation of Idealism”, 1903). Develop Moore's criticism and discuss how Berkeley would respond.

6. William James argued that Berkeley does not deny the existence of matter but only gives a pragmatic account of it. James writes, "Berkeley's criticism of 'matter' was consequently absolutely pragmatistic. Matter is known as our sensations of color, figure, hardness and the like. They are the cash-value of the term. The difference matter makes to us by truly being is that we then get such sensations; by not being, is that we lack them. These sensations then are its sole meaning. Berkeley doesn't deny matter, then; he simply tells us what it consists of. It is a true name for just so much in the way of sensations" (Pragmatism, 1907, 3). Develop James's interpretation and discuss how Berkeley would respond.

7. Bertrand Russell argues that Berkeley's idealism rests on an equivocation with the word "idea". Russell writes, "Berkeley's view, that obviously the colour must be in the mind, seems to depend for its plausibility upon confusing the thing apprehended with the act of apprehension. Either of these might be called an 'idea'; probably either would have been called an idea by Berkeley. The act is undoubtedly in the mind; hence, when we are thinking of the act, we readily assent to the view that ideas must be in the mind. Then, forgetting that this was only true when ideas were taken as acts of apprehension, we transfer the proposition that 'ideas are in the mind' to ideas in the other sense, i.e. to the things apprehended by our acts of apprehension. Thus, by an unconscious equivocation, we arrive at the conclusion that whatever we can apprehend must be in our minds. This seems to be the true analysis of Berkeley's argument, and the ultimate fallacy upon which it rests" (Problems of Philosophy, 1912, 4). Develop Russell's interpretation and discuss how Berkeley would respond.

8. Bertrand Russell argues that Berkeley and Leibniz are both idealists, but in different ways. He writes, "these philosophers, though they deny matter as opposed to mind, nevertheless, in another sense, admit matter. It will be remembered that we asked two questions; namely, (1) Is there a real table at all? (2) If so, what sort of object can it be? Now both Berkeley and Leibniz admit that there is a real table, but Berkeley says it is certain ideas in the mind of God, and Leibniz says it is a colony of souls. Thus both of them answer our first question in the affirmative, and only diverge from the views of ordinary mortals in their answer to our second question" (Problems of Philosophy, 1912, 4). Drawing on Russell's observation, compare and contrast Leibniz's and Berkeley's respective positions on idealism, and say which (if either) is most reasonable.