The role of Malebranche in understanding Berkeley. Malebranche, a follower of Descartes, very influential in France, is important in understanding Berkeley. Malebranche understands ‘what is it for one thing to cause another’ in terms of necessity; it must be, when A happens, B necessary follows. Why is this? Because the only real cause in universe is God, and God sustains the world by recreating it every instant (see Malebranche 1688, 1.10; 2.4; 3.5; 3.16).
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The role of God in Berkeley philosophy is that of the foundation of existence. Everything that exists, exists because exists in the mind of the Eternal Spirit/God. In Berkeley’s words this is expressed as follows: ‘All the bodies which compose the mighty frame of the world, have not any subsistence without a mind, that their being is to be perceived or known; that consequently so long as they are not actually perceived by me, or do not exist in my mind or that of any other created spirit, they must either have no existence at all, or else subsist in the mind of some Eternal Spirit’ (Berkeley 1710, I.6).