Ethical Acts and Free Will

  • Paul J. Olscamp
Part of the Archives Internationales D’histoire Des Idées / International Archives of the History of Ideas book series (ARCH, volume 33)


The lost second part of the Principles of Human Knowledge was also to provide Berkeley’s complete theory of mind, so we do not know a great deal about it. However, he did say enough in the works we do have for us to gather the general outlines of his position. In these works, with the exception of a few remarks in the Philosophical Commentaries, Berkeley talks about mind only in connection with its relation to body. Mind is the opposite of body. Bodies are extended, inactive or passive, and dependent upon mind and its activities for their existence. Mind is independent of the changes in nature, though not of God, it is active, it is not extended, and because it is not extended and not subject to natural law, it is immortal. When we know our minds, we apprehend them directly, and as they are in themselves. We can form no image of mind, because mind is not picturable. We know only our own minds directly, and all others indirectly, by analogy. Since all ideas are passive, and possible objects of sense, we have no ideas of minds. In the second edition of the Principles, the term “notion”, which was first used in section 140 of the original manuscript, is used to characterize our conceptual awareness of minds.1 The term is also used in the third edition of Alciphron, seventh dialogue, section five. Furthermore, Berkeley’s theory went through several stages, as the Philosophical Commentaries show, and his final position is most likely that given in entry 788.


Free Agent Philosophical Commentary Infinite Regress Eternal Life Conceptual Awareness 
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© Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, Netherlands 1969

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  • Paul J. Olscamp

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