Berkeley pp 123-134 | Cite as

Some Cartesians

  • Harry M. Bracken
Part of the Philosophers in Perspective book series


There are a number of objections to the interpretation of Berkeley which I am advancing. The most obvious is that if Berkeley were really a Cartesian or Malebranchian on matters of minds and concepts, why did he not so describe himself ? One answer is that on the Continent, Malebranche was receiving a very bad press. Or perhaps, as Luce suggests, to be a disciple of Malebranche within the Irish Protestant community may have been unwise policy. However, my concern is to put together constituents of Berkeley’s philosophy which are irreconcilable without expanding on underemphasised features of his doctrine. The underemphasised features are rooted in a tradition he knew and to which he had ready access — that of the Cartesians. To emphasise the accounts of notions and archetypes is to emphasise what is in the texts. It is also to emphasise those very features of Berkeley’s philosophy which Luce and Jessop, independently and in concert, argue are essential to our understanding of Berkeley. Only by ignoring these features is it possible to adopt the view that Berkeley is best understood as a British Empiricist.


Innate Idea Material Thing Dual Character British Empiricist Language Metaphor 
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  1. 6.
    Cf. E. A. Sillem, George Berkeley and the Proofs for the Existence of God (London, Longmans, Green, 1957 ).Google Scholar

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© Harry M. Bracken 1974

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  • Harry M. Bracken

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