Page:Reason in Common Sense (1920).djvu/120

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ventional theology and a psychology that refused to pass, except grudgingly and unintelligently, beyond the sensuous stratum, Berkeley had nothing to add by way of philosophy. An insignificant repetition of the truism that ideas are all “in the mind” constituted his total wisdom. To be was to be perceived. That was the great maxim by virtue of which we were asked, if not to refrain from conceiving nature at all, which was perhaps impossible at so late a stage in human development, at least to refrain from regarding our necessary thoughts on nature as true or rational. Intelligence was but a false method of imagination by which God trained us in action and thought; for it was apparently impossible to endow us with a true method that would serve that end. And what shall we think of the critical acumen or practical wisdom of a philosopher who dreamed of some other criterion of truth than necessary implication in thought and action?

In the melodramatic fashion so common in what is called philosophy we may delight ourselves with such flashes of lightning as this: esse est percipi. The truth of this paradox lies in the fact that through perception alone can we get at being—a modest and familiar notion which makes, as Plato’s “Theaetetus” shows, not a bad point of departure for a serious theory of knowledge. The sophistical intent of it, however, is to deny our right to make a distinction which in fact we do make and which the speaker him-