of the same, I will not deny. However, in physical philosophy we ought to deduce the causes and solutions of phenomena from mechanical principles. The thing is explained physically, not by assigning the really acting and immaterial cause, but by demonstrating its connexion with mechanical principles. Of that kind is that, that action and reaction are always contrary and equal, from which, as from a primary principle and source, are deduced the rules concerning the communication of motion, which have been ascertained and demonstrated by moderns to the great benefit of science.

70. Let it suffice us to hint that that principle can be declared in another way. For if the true nature of things, rather than abstract mathematics, be regarded, it will seem to be more properly said, that in attraction or percussion, the passive rather than the active quality of bodies is equal. For instance, a stone tied by a rope to a horse is as much drawn towards the horse as the horse towards the stone. A moved body also dashed against another at rest suffers the same change with the quiescent body, and as to the real effect the striking body is also struck, the struck body striking. But the change in each instance, as well in the body of the horse as in the stone, in the body in motion and at rest, is a merely passive state. But it does not appear that there is a force, a virtue, or material action, really and properly causing such effects. A body in motion is dashed against one at rest; but we use an active mode of expression, saying, that the one impels the other, and not improperly in mechanics, where the mathematical rather than the actual causes of things are considered.

71. In physics, sensation and experience, which only reach apparent effects, are admitted; in mechanics, the abstract notions of mathematicians are admitted. In primary philosophy, or metaphysics, we treat of immaterial things, causes, truth, and the existence of things. The writer on physics contemplates the series or succession of the objects of sense, by what laws they are connected, and in what order; observing what precedes as a cause, what follows as an effect. And in this way we say that a moved body is the cause of motion in another, or impresses motion on it; also that it draws or impels. In which sense secondary corporeal causes

ought to be understood, no account being taken of the actual place of the forces, or active powers, or of the real cause in which they are. Moreover, beyond body, figure, motion, the primary axioms of mechanical science can be styled cause, or mechanical principles, being regarded as the causes of what follow them.

72. The truly active causes can be extracted only by meditation and reasoning from the shades in which they are involved, and thus at all become known. But it is the province of primary philosophy, or of metaphysics, to treat of them. Wherefore if its own province were assigned to each science, its limits marked out, its principles and objects accurately distinguished, we could treat of what belongs to each with greater facility and perspicuity.





[BERKELEY returned from abroad to find the country paralysed by the terrors of the South Sea disaster. To him it seemed that degeneration of morals and intellect was the root of this disaster, as of others rapidly ripening; and we find him devoting with peculiar eagerness the next many years to ideas of social reform. A note of solemn warning is struck in this Essay, and the way of hope is shown. With occasional descents, it is a splendid composition, containing several passages that sound curiously oratorical. It was published in 1721, and republished in the "Miscellany" of 1752.]



Towards preventing the RUIN of


Avaritia fidem, probitatem, cæterafque artes bonas fubvertit: pro his fuperbiam, crudelitatem, deos negligere, omnia venalia habere, edocuit.


Ii qui per largitionem magiftratus adepti funt, dederunt operam ut ita poteftatem gererent, ut illam lacunam rei familiaris explerent.


Omnes aut de honoribus fuis, aut de præmiis pecuniæ, aut de perfequendis inimicis agebant.


First Printed in London, A. D. MDCCXXI.

« VorigeDoorgaan »