Alexander Campbell Fraser, Berkeley.

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It is needless to dwell on other points in Prof. Fraser’s exposition. Nobody could write on Berkeley with such fullness of knowledge, or could well have used his knowledge to better purpose within the narrow limit assigned.

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Review on Berkeley.

 

Though Prof. Fraser can truly describe this volume as “an attempt to present for the first time Berkeley’s philosophic thought in its organic unity,” he does not now for the first time put forward the conception upon which it proceeds. This is that Berkeley, in his first as in his last works, was concerned always to establish a general philosophical conclusion as to the relation of finite minds to the Infinite Mind, and is misrepresented when special importance is attached to the particular psychological doctrines by which he began to indicate the philosophical position. Prof. Fraser suggested his view in the plainest possible manner before when, in his handy Selections, he placed the full text of the Principles of Human Knowledge before a reprint of the earlier Theory of Vision from which several points of psychological interest were omitted; and, further, when, in a second edition, he made way for a fuller exposition of Berkeley’s philosophical standing, by withdrawing just those of his original extracts from the Vindication of the Theory that are of real psychological importance, as giving precision to the looser argument of the Theory. Nor, on these earlier occasions, did he merely suggest his view of the subordinate account that should be made of the psychological part of Berkeley’s writings. He expressed himself as strongly in this sense before as he now does anywhere in the present volume.

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It is needless to dwell on other points in Prof. Fraser’s exposition. Nobody could write on Berkeley with such fulness of knowledge or could well have used his knowledge to better purpose within the narrow limit assigned. Chapter ii., dealing with “Locke on Ideas and their Causes,” for the understanding of Berkeley’s start, may just be mentioned as particularly effective. Not less so, in another kind, is the concluding chapter, which draws out the issues of Berkeley’s thought in the light of later philosophy. The new biographical matter upon which Prof. Fraser has been able to draw — about eighty letters from Berkeley to Sir John Percival, afterwards Earl of Egmont, running from 1709 to 1730 — tells something of the reception awarded to the new doctrine on its first appearance. It also forever disposes of the legend of Malebranche’s death. Berkeley, writing from Paris in Nov., 1713, speaks of being about to see Father Malebranche, but he is now proved to have been in England when the aged Oratorian, some two years later, died.

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