"Complex Ideas are the Creatures of the Mind"

— Berkeley, George (1685-1753)

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"Complex Ideas are the Creatures of the Mind"
Metaphor in Context
But for a fuller illustration of this matter, it ought to be considered that number (however some may reckon it amongst the primary qualities) is nothing fixed and settled, really existing in things themselves. It is intirely the creature of the mind, considering, either an idea by it self, or any combination of ideas to which it gives one name, and so makes it pass for an unit. According as the mind variously combines its ideas, the unit varies; and as the unit, so the number, which is only a collection of units, doth also vary. We call a window one, a chimney one, and yet a house in which there are many windows, and many chimneys, hath an equal right to be called one, and many houses go to the making of one city. In these and the like instances, it is evident the unit constantly relates to the particular draughts the mind makes of its ideas, to which it affixes names, and wherein it includes more or less, as best suits its own ends and purposes. Whatever therefore the mind considers as one, that is an unit. Every combination of ideas is considered as one thing by the mind, and in token thereof is marked by one name. Now, this naming and combining together of ideas is perfectly arbitrary, and done by the mind in such sort, as experience shews it to be most convenient: Without which, our ideas had never been collected into such sundry distinct combinations as they now are.
(§109, pp. 214-5)

Past Masters
Past Masters electronic version of The Works of George Berkeley, Eds. T. E. Jessop and A. A. Luce, vol. I (Desirée Park: Thomas Nelson, 1979). <e-text of first edition edited by David R. Wilkins>
Date of Entry

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.