Berkeley’s negative, defetishizing program was at best a Prolegomenon to the Querist’s conception of money. Philosophically, the major prob¬lem Berkeley faced in his confrontation with the cynically content Irish cottiers (and the libertine graziers) on returning to Ireland as a bishop was the excitation (and taming) of their spirits, respectively. Could some form of money excite the cynically content Irish into industry and tame the besotted Anglo-Irish graziers into frugality? As we have seen, these were vital questions for Berkeley and his Church, but his early philosophy was not able answer them.


Eighteenth Century Visual Idea Body Politic Bank Note Paper Money 
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    Berkeley rejected the Cartesian identification of unknowns with line segments. As Boyer in Boyer (1989: 377) points out, though Descartes’ notation in La geometrie looks modern, “There was nevertheless, an important difference in view, for where we think of the parameters and unknowns as numbers, Descartes thought of them as line segments”.Google Scholar
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    Samuel Johnson (1978) has the following selected entries for these items: “Counter.” A false piece of money used as a means of reckoning; money in contempt; “ticket.” A token of any right or debt, upon the delivery of which admission is granted, or a claim acknowledged; “token.” A sign, a mark; “mark.” A token by which anything is known; a proof; an evidence.Google Scholar
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    One way to place the views rejected by the Querist is by identifying them with the two stages Foucault notes in his story of “Western episteme” from the sixteenth to the nineteenth century. “Intrinsic value” is the analysis of money appropriate to the period of the late Renaissance, what Foucault called the period of “similitude,” while for the “classical” period (seventeenth and eighteenth centuries) “money is that which permits wealth to be represented,” cf. Foucault (1970: chapter 6). There are now numerous commentaries on Foucault’s thought, but Amariglio (1988) is a useful not only for economists.Google Scholar
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    De Sade wrote in Les prosperites du vice, “I love gold so much that I have often masturbated before the immense pile of sovereigns, and all the while with the notion that I can do anything with the wealth I have before my eyes.” Cited by Goux (1990: 205).Google Scholar
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    Berkeley began and ended The Querist with a paean to Power and Action, for example, “I 7. Whether the real End and Aim of Men be not Power?” and “III 308. Whether the Sum of the Faculties put into Act, or in other Words, the united Action of a whole people doth not constitute the Momentum of a State?” As I pointed out in the last section, Berkeley’s concept of the relation between power and action changed dramatically when he realized that ideas can not only signify spirits, but that they can be analogous to spirits as well and hence open up a way of understanding social relations.Google Scholar
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    Money was in use in Ireland long before the Norse invasions, but the first documented minted money was struck in Dublin by the Norse king, Sihtic III, around the year 1000 A.C.E. The Anglo-Norman invasion of Ireland was followed by the establishment of a number of mints in the thirteenth century. These mints were often run by Italian merchants who were also engaged in a variety of banking activities usually involving papal taxes and revenues. An interesting discussion of these merchants and their place in the development of the Irish monetary system see 0’Sullivan(1962).Google Scholar
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    See George Berkeley, “The Plan or Sketch of a National Bank,” in Johnston (1970: 205–7). He wrote the Plan because, though “it should seem no difficult Matter to convert Queries into Propositions,” the Querist was repeatedly asked for an Abstract of his thoughts. The real problem for Berkeley is not Thought but Sense of the Public Weal, “It should seem the Difficulty doth not consists so much in the contriving or executing of a National Bank, as in bringing Men to a right Sense of the Publick Weal, and of the Tendancy of such Bank to promote the same.”Google Scholar
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    The early Berkeley, in one of his Guardian essays (no. 49), drew a similar distinction between Natural and Fantastical Pleasures: “It is evident that a desire terminated in money is fantastical; so is the desire for outward distinctions, which bring no delight of sense, nor recommend us as useful to mankind; and the desire of things merely because they are new or foreign,” Luce and Jessop (1953vii).Google Scholar
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    Cheyne (1991: ii) claimed that “these nervous Disorders being computed to make almost one third of the Complaints of the People of condition in England.”Google Scholar
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    The relation of hypochondria to hysteria and other “nervous diseases” was the source of a huge medical literature in the eighteenth century and, perhaps, an even larger late twentieth century commentary. The classic twentieth century text is, of course, Foucault (1973: 136–58). An interesting review of the history of psychiatry literature up until the early 1980s is Rousseau (1983: 61–121). Roy Porter’s introduction to Cheyne (1991: ix-li) is a useful, recent contribution to the history of hypochondria.Google Scholar
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    Aristotle (1962: Book I, chapter 9): “So, while it seems that there must be a limit to every form of wealth, in practice we find that the opposite occurs: all those who are amassing wealth in the form of coin go on increasing their pile without limit.”Google Scholar
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    Joseph Johnston’s series of pieces include “A Synopsis of Berkeley’s Monetary Philosophy,” Hermathena, No. 55, 1940, “Locke, Berkeley and Hume as Monetary Theorists,” Hermathena, No. 56 and “Bishop Berkeley and Kindred Monetary Thinkers,” Hermathena, No. 59, 1940. These were reprinted in Johnston (1970) as Chapters VII, VIII, and IX respectively. nother important commentator was Ellen Douglass Leyburn. She wrote a Ph.D. thesis on The Querist for the English Department at Yale University in 1937. I believe that it is the only complete book-length work on The Querist with the exception of Johnston’s and mine. She published a precis of her thesis as Leyburn (1937). I find no evidence that she published anything more about Berkeley’s thought. Leyburn’s thesis is a fine work of stylistic analysis that attempts a psycho-political explanation of a very important question: why did the 1750 edition of The Querist have 299 fewer queries than the 1735–1737 pamphlets?Google Scholar
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    See Keynes (1936). His efforts were aided by the publication of the first 1935 edition of Heckscher’s Mercantilism. Heckscher critically commented on Keynes’s attitude to mercantilism in Hecksher (1955: 340–58).Google Scholar
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    Johnston (1970: 98).Google Scholar
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    Johnston (1970: 99).Google Scholar
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    Hutchison (1953) was republished in Clark (1989).Google Scholar
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    Hutchison (1953: 52).Google Scholar
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    Keynes described himself and his friends in youth as “water-spiders, grace-fully skimming, as light and reasonable as air, the surface of the stream without any contact with the eddies and currents underneath” in Keynes (1972: 450).Google Scholar
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    Ward (1959) is reprinted in Clark (1989: 181–90).Google Scholar
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    Ward (1959: 185, 188).Google Scholar
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    A short bibliography on the new interdisciplinary theory of money would include Rossi-Landi (1983); Derrida (1992); Baudrillard (1981) and Baudrillard (1983); Goux (1990); Hayek (1978) and his classic Hayek (1984).Google Scholar
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    Marx (1973: 162–63): “To compare money with language is not less erroneous. Language does not transform ideas, so that the peculiarity of ideas is dissolved and their social character runs alongside them as a separate entity, like prices alongside commodities. Ideas do not exist separately from language.” Simmel echoes Marx in Simmel (1978: 167): “In short, a number of most important processes follow this pattern of the growing importance of one element leads to greater success, but the complete hegemony of this element, and the total elimination of the contrasting element, would not result in total success; on the contrary, it would deprive the original element of its specific character. The relationship between the intrinsic value of money and its purely functional and symbolic nature may develop in analogous fashion; the latter increasingly replaces the former, but a certain measure of the former has to be retained because the functional and symbolic character of money would lose its basis and significance if this trend was brought to its final conclusion.”Google Scholar
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    The commentary literature on the Berkeley’s “language model of nature” is enormous. For a start, one should read Turbayne (1970), and the very good introduction to the “world as text” theme in Dancy (1987), Chapter 8.Google Scholar
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    Murray (1985: 153).Google Scholar
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    Murray (1985: 154).Google Scholar
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    Berman (1994: 168–69).Google Scholar
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    Berman (1994: 170) claims that Berkeley distinguishes two sources of the Irish failure: (a) “a faulty notion and use of language” and (b) “fashion and appetite.” But are they independent of each other? Can one rectify the language of money without rectifying fashion and appetite?Google Scholar
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    The major texts are An Essay Towards a New Theory of Vision (1709) and The Theory of Vision Vindicated and Explained (1733), the latter is a mature defense of the former. The commentary literature is immense, but two useful contributions are Schwartz (1994) and Atherton (1990).Google Scholar
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    Cataract operations were beginning to be performed in the early eighteenth century and they provided perfect models for Molyneux Man. Cheselden’s surgical experiments on cataracts were widely discussed and one of his most celebrated cases was mentioned by Berkeley in his The Theory of Vision Vindicated and Explained (1733). Needless to say, the older method of the “miraculous cure” found in the New Testament is a rhetorical subtext of Berkeley’s examination of vision.Google Scholar
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    The first chapter of Malcolm (1989) is an excellent introduction to Swift’s theory, art, practice, and experience of madness. Swift had decided to devote his legacy to “to build a house for fools and mad” in 1731. By 1735, he was deeply involved in the project.Google Scholar
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    There is very little written about Berkeley tarantism adventures. Luce’s and Jessop’s useful introduction to “Berkeley’s Journals of Travels in Italy,” which have a remarkable history of their own, can be found in Luce and Jessop (1953vii: 231–41). A charming, but literal commentary on Berkeley’s Journals can be found in Brayton (1946). Brykman (1971), includes a French translation of some of the Journals as well as comments on the phenomenon of tarantism and the biographical and historic context of Berkeley’s observations. Dr. Freind, the author of the History of Physic, and a notorious Tory physician who became the court physician of George II is a remarkable eighteenth-century figure who has not received much attention in the twentieth. There is a short, but detailed biographical account of him in the Dictionary of National Biography.Google Scholar
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    A psychoanalytic interpretation of Berkeley’s life and his theory of money (which gives prominance to Ferenczi’s coprophiliac ontogenesis of the interest in money) is to be found in Wisdom (1953: 163–65). To get a flavor of Wisdom’s interpretational method consider his reading of the Querist’s National Bank proposal on p. 164: “The Central Bank was the great bowel capable of defecating all the money that was needed; there was a new institution with great power to produce great quantities of good faeces”!Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Constantine George Caffentzis
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Southern MaineUSA

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