See also:English philosopher, was
See also:born at the rectory of
See also:Steeple Langford,
See also:Wiltshire; on the 12th of
See also:October 1680 . He entered at Pembroke
See also:Oxford, in
See also:July 1697, but in October 1698 he and his
See also:William became members of Balliol . His
See also:father having died in 1697, it was arranged that the
See also:family living of Langford Magna should be given to Arthur as soon as he was old enough . He was presented to the
See also:benefice in 1704, and held it till his
See also:death . His sermons show no traces of his bold theological speculations, and he seems to have been faithful in the
See also:discharge of his
See also:duty . He was often in pecuniary difficulties, from which at last he was obliged to
See also:free himself by selling the reversion of Langford rectory to Corpus Christi College, Oxford . His philosophical opinions
See also:grew out of a diligent study of
See also:Descartes and
See also:Malebranche .
See also:Norris of Bemerton also strongly influenced him by his
See also:Essay on the Ideal
See also:World (1701-1704) . It is remarkable that Collier makes no reference to
See also:Locke, and shows no sign of having any knowledge of his
See also:works . As early as 1703 he seems to have become convinced of the non-existence of an
See also:external world . In 1712 he wrote two essays, which are still in
See also:manuscript, one on substance and accident, and the other called Clavis Philosophica . His chief
See also:work appeared in 1713, under the title Clavis Universalis, or a New Inquiry after Truth, being a Demonstration of the Non-Existence or Impossibility of an External World (printed privately,
See also:Edinburgh, 1836, and reprinted in Metaphysical Tracts, 1837, edited by Sam .
Parr) . It was favourably mentioned by
See also:Stewart and others, was frequently referred to by the Leibnitzians, and was translated into German by von Eschenbach in 1756 .
See also:Berkeley's Principles of Knowledge and Theory of Vision preceded it by three and four years respectively, but there is no evidence that they were known to Collier before the publication of his
See also:book . His views are grounded on two presuppositions:—first, the utter aversion of
See also:common sense to any theory of representative perception; second, the opinion which Collier held in common with Berkeley, and Hume afterwards, that the difference between
See also:imagination and sense perception is only one of degree . The former is the basis of the negative
See also:part of his
See also:argument; the latter supplies him with all the
See also:positive account he has to give, and that is meagre enough . The Clavis consists of two parts . After explaining that he will use the
See also:term " external world " in the sense of absolute, self-existent,
See also:independent natter, he attempts in the first part to prove that thevisible world is not,external, by showing—first, that the seeming externality of a visible
See also:object is no
See also:proof of real externality, and second, that a visible object, as such, is not external . The image of a centaur seems as much external to the mind as any object of sense; and since the difference between imagination and perception is only one of degree,
See also:God could so
See also:act upon the mind of a
See also:person imagining a centaur, that he would perceive it as vividly as any • object can be seen . Similar illustrations are used to prove the second proposition, that a visible object, as such, is not external . The first part ends with a reply to objections based on the universal consent of men, on the assurance given by
See also:touch of the extra existence of the visible world, and on the truth and goodness of God (Descartes), which would be impugned if our senses deceived us . Collier argues naively that if universal consent means the consent of those who have considered the subject, it may be claimed for his view . He thinks with Berkeley that
See also:objects of sight are quite distinct from those of touch, and that the one therefore cannot give any assurance of the other; and he asks the Cartesians to consider how far God's truth and goodness are called in question by their denial of the externality of the secondary qualities .
The second part of the book is taken up with.a number of metaphysical arguments to prove the impossibility of an external world . The
See also:pivot of this part is the logical principle of contradiction . From the hypothesis of an external world a series of contradictions are deduced, such as that the world is both finite and infinite, is movable and immovable, &c.; and finally, Aristotle and various other philosophers are quoted, to show that the external
See also:matter they dealt with, as mere potentiality, is just nothing at all . Among other uses and consequences of his
See also:treatise, Collier thinks it furnishes an easy refutation of the Romish
See also:doctrine of
See also:transubstantiation . If there is no external world, the distinction between substance and accidents vanishes, and these become the
See also:sole essence of material objects, so that there is no
See also:room for any
See also:change whilst they remain as before .
See also:Sir William
See also:Hamilton thinks that the logically necessary advance from the old theory of representative perception to
See also:idealism was stayed by anxiety to save this miracle of the
See also:church; and he gives Collier
See also:credit for being the first to make the
See also:discovery . His Clavis Universalis is interesting on account of the resemblance between its views and those of Berkeley . Both were moved by their dissatisfaction with the theory of representative perception . Both have the feeling that it is inconsistent with the common sense of mankind, which will insist that the very object perceived is the sole reality . They equally affirm that the so-called representative image is the sole reality, and discard as unthinkable the unperceiving material cause of the philosophers . Of objects of sense, they say, their esse is percipi . But Collier never got beyond a bald assertion of the fact, while Berkeley addressed himself to an explanation of it .
The thought of a distinction between
See also:direct and indirect perception never dawned upon Collier . To the question how all matter exists in dependence on percipient mind his only reply is, " Just how my reader pleases, provided it be somehow." As cause of our sensations and ground of our belief in externality, he substituted for an unintelligible material substance an equally unintelligible operation of divine power . His book exhibits no traces of a scientific development . The most that can be said about him is that he was an intelligent student of Descartes and Malebranche, and had the ability to apply the results of his
See also:reading to the facts of his experience . In philosophy he is a curiosity, and nothing more . His biographer attributes the
See also:comparative failure of the Clavis to its inferiority in point of
See also:style, but the crudeness of his thought had quite as much to do with his failure to gain a
See also:hearing . Hamilton (Discussions, p . 197) allows greater sagacity to Collier than to Berkeley, on the ground that he did not vainly attempt to enlist men's natural belief against the hypothetical
See also:realism of the philosophers . But Collier did so as far as his
See also:light enabled him . He appealed to the popular conviction that the proper object of sense is the sole reality, although he despaired of getting men to give up their belief in its externality, and asserted that nothing but
See also:prejudice prevented them from doing so; and there is little doubt that, if it had ever occurred to him, as it did to Berkeley, to explain the
See also:genesis of the notion of externality, he would have been more hopeful of commending his theory to the popular mind . In
See also:theology Collier was an adherent of the High Church party, though his views were by no means orthodox . In the Jacobite Mist's Journal he attacked
See also:Hoadly's defence of sincere errors .
His views on the problems of Arianism, and his attempt to reconcile it with orthodox theology, are contained in A Specimen of True Philosophy (1730, reprinted in Metaphysical Tracts, 1837) and Logology, or a Treatise on the
See also:Logos in Seven Sermons on John i . I, 2, 3, j4 (1732, analysed in Metaph . Tracts) . These may be compared with Berkeley's Siris . See Robt .
See also:Memoirs of the
See also:Life and Writings of Arthur Collier (1837); Tennemann,
See also:History of Philosophy; Hamilton, Discussions; A . C .
See also:Fraser, edition of Berkeley's Works; G . Lyon, " tin Idealiste anglais au XVIII. siecle," in Rev. philos . (1880), x . 375 .
SIR GEORGE POMEROY COLLEY (1835-1881)
JEREMY COLLIER (1650-1726)
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