"We are chained to a body, that is to say, our perceptions are connected with corporeal motions."

— Berkeley, George (1685-1753)

Place of Publication
Printed by G. James, for Henry Clements
1713, 1734
"We are chained to a body, that is to say, our perceptions are connected with corporeal motions."
Metaphor in Context
PHILONOUS. That God knows or understands all things, and that He knows among other things what pain is, even every sort of painful sensation, and what it is for His creatures to suffer pain, I make no question. But that God, though He knows and sometimes causes painful sensations in us, can Himself suffer pain, I positively deny. We who are limited and dependent spirits, are liable to impressions of sense, the effects of an external agent, which being produced against our wills, are sometimes painful and uneasy. But God, whom no external being can affect, who perceives nothing by sense as we do, whose will is absolute and independent, causing all things, and liable to be thwarted or resisted by nothing; it is evident, such a being as this can suffer nothing, nor be affected with any painful sensation, or indeed any sensation at all. We are chained to a body, that is to say, our perceptions are connected with corporeal motions. By the Law of our Nature we are affected upon every alteration in the nervous parts of our sensible body: which sensible body rightly considered, is nothing but a complexion of such qualities or ideas, as have no existence distinct from being perceived by a mind: so that this connexion of sensations with corporeal motions, means no more than a correspondence in the order of Nature between two sets of ideas, or things immediately perceivable. But God is a pure spirit, disengaged from all such sympathy or natural ties. No corporeal motions are attended with the sensations of pain or pleasure in his mind. To know every thing knowable is certainly a perfection; but to endure, or suffer, or feel any thing by sense, is an imperfection. The former, I say, agrees to God, but not the latter. God knows or hath ideas; but His ideas are not convey'd to Him by sense, as ours are. Your not distinguishing where there is so manifest a difference, makes you fancy you see an absurdity where there is none.
(Vol ii, p. 241)
Past Masters
5 entries in ESTC (1713, 1725, 1734, 1776, 1777).

See Three Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous: The Design of Which Is Plainly to Demonstrate the Reality and Perfection of Human Knowledge, the Incorporeal Nature of the Soul, and the Immediate Providence of a Deity: In Opposition to Sceptics and Atheists. Also to Open a Method for Rendering the Sciences More Easy, Useful, and Compendious. (London: Printed by G. James, for Henry Clements, at the Half-Moon, in S. Paul’s Church-Yard, 1713). <Link to ESTC><Link to ECCO-TCP>

Working with the Past Masters electronic version of The Works of George Berkeley, ed. T. E. Jessop and A. A. Luce, vol. II (Desirée Park: Thomas Nelson, 1979).
Date of Entry
Date of Review

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