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will as certainly find assent at first hearing and understanding the terms, as this general one, “it is impossible for the same thing to be, and not to be;" or that which is the foundation of it, and is the easier understood of the two, “the same is not different:" by which account they will have legions of innate propositions of this one sort, without mentioning any other. But since no proposition can be innate, unless the ideas about which it is, be innate ; this will be, to suppose all our ideas of colours, sommds, tastes, figure, &c. innate ; than which there cannot be any thing more opposite to reason and experience. Universal and ready assent upon hearing and understanding the terms is (I grant) a mark of self-evidence : but self-evidence, depending not on innate impressions, but on something else (as we shall shew hercatter) belongs to several propositions, which nobody was yet so extravagant as to pretend to be innate.
§. 19. Nor let it be said, That those more Cuch less ge- particular self-evident propositions, which sitions known are assented to at first hearing, as, that before these one and two are equal to three; that green universal
is not red; &c.; are received as the consemaxims.
quences of those more umiversal propositions, which are looked on as innate principles; since any one, who will but take the pains to observe what passes in the understanding, will certainly find, that these, and the like less general propositions, are certainly known, and firinly assented to, by those who are utterly ignorant of those more general maxims; and $0, being carlier in the mind than those (as they are called) first principles, cannot owe to them the assent wherewith they are received at first hearing. One and one
9. 00. If it be said, that “ these proequal to txo, positions. viz. two and two are equal to &c. not gene- four; red is not blue ; &c.; are not general nor
ral maxims, nor of any great use :" I anful, answered
swer, that makes nothing to the argument of universal assent, upon hearing and understanding. For, if that be the certain mark of innate, whatever
proposition can be found, that receives general assent as soon as heard and understood, that must be admitted for an innate proposition, as well as this maxim, “ that it is impossible for the same thing to be, and not to be;" they being upon this ground equal. And as to the difference of being more general, that makes this maxiin more reinote from being innate ; those general and abstract ideas being more strangers to our first apprehensions, than those of more particular self-evident propositions; and therefore it is longer before they are admitted and assented to by the growing understanding. And as to the usefulness of these magnified maxims, that perhaps will not be found so great as is generally conceived, when it comes in its due place to be more fully considered.
$. 21. But we have not yet done with These maxassenting to propositions at first hearing ims not being and understanding their terms; it is fit times till we first take notice, that this, instcad of proposed, being a mark that they are innate, is a proves them
not innate. proof of the contrary : since it supposes, that several, who understand and know other things, are ignorant of these principles, till they are proposed to them; and that one may be unacquainted with these truths, till he hears them from others. For if they were innate, what need they be proposed in order to gaining assent, when, by being in the understanding, by a natural and original inpression, (if there were any such) they could not but be known before? Or doth the proposing them, print them clearer in the mind than nature did ? If so, then the consequence will be, that a man knows them better, after he has been thus taught them, than he did before. Whence it will follow, that these principles may be made more evident to us by others teaching, than nature has made them by impression ; which will ill agree with the opinion of innate principles, and give but little authority to them ; but, on the contrary, makes them unfit to be the foundations of all our other knowledge, as they are pretended to be. This cannot be denied, that men grow first
acquainted with many of these self-evident truths, upon
$. 29. If it be said, “the understanding
they are in the understanding before they understand- are known") it will be hard to conceive ing them, or what is meant by a principle imprinted on else signikes the understanding implicitly; unless it be nothing.
this, that the mind is capable of understanding and assenting firinly to such propositions. And thus all mathematical demonstrations, as well as first principles, must be received as native impressions on the mind : which I fear they will scarce allow them to be, who find it harder to demonstrate a proposition, than assent to it when demonstrated. And few mathematicians will be forward to believe, that all the diagrams they have drawn, were but copies of those innate characters which nature had engraven upon their minds.
upon a false
$. 23. There is, I fear, this farther weak- The arguness in the foregoing argument, which
which ment of aswould persuade us, that therefore those senting on
first hearing, maxims are to be thought innate, which
is men admit at first hearing, because they as- supposition sent to propositions, which they are not of no precetaught, nor do receive froin the force of
ing argument or demonstration, but a bare explication or understanding of the terms. Under which, there seems to me to lie this fallacy, that men are supposed not to be taught, nor to learn any thing de novo; when, in truth, they are taught, and do learn something they were ignorant of before. For first it is evident, that they have learned the terms, and their signification; neither of which was born with them. But this is not all the acquired knowledge in the case : the ideas themselves, about which the proposition is, are not born with them, no more than their names, but got afterwards. So that in all propositions that are assented to at first hearing, the terms of the proposition, their standing for such ideas, and the ideas themselves that they stand for, being neither of them innate ; I would fain know what there is remaining in such propositions, that is innate. l'or I would gladly have any one name that proposition, whose terms or ideas were either of them innate. We by degrees get ideas and names, and learn their appropriated connection one with another and then to propositions, made in such terms, whose signification we have learnt, and wherein the agreement or disagreement we can perceive in our ideas, when put together, is expressed, we at first hearing assent; though to other propositions, in themselves as certain and evident, but which are concerning ideas, not so soon or so easily got, we are at the same time no way capable of assenting. For though a child quickly assents to this proposition, “that an apple is not fire,” when, by familiar acquaintance, he has got the ideas of those two different things distinctly imprinted on his mind, and has learnt that the names apple and fire stand for them; yet it will be some years after, perhaps, before
the same child will assent to this proposition,
" that it is impossible for the same thing to be, and not to be :" because that, though, perhaps, the words are as easy to be learnt, yet the signification of them being more large, comprehensive, and abstract, than of the names annexed to those sensible things the child hath to da with, it is longer before he learns their precise meaning, and it requires more time plainly to form in his mind those general ideas they stand for. Till that be done, you will in vain endeavour to make any child assent to a proposition made up of such general terms : but as soon as ever lie has got those ideas, and learned their names, bie forwardly closes with the one, as well as the other of the forementioned propositions, and with both for the same reason ; viz. because he finds the ideas he has in his mind to agree or disagree, according as the words standing for them, are affirined or denied one of another in the proposition. But if propositions be brought to himn in words, which stand for ideas he has not yet in his mind; to such propositions, however evidently true or false in themselves, be affords neither assent nor dissent, but is ignorant. For words being but empty sounds, any farther than they are sigus of our idcas, we cannot but assent to them, as they correspond to those ideas we have, but no farther than that. But the showing by what steps and ways know, ledge comes into our ininds, and the grounds of several degrees of assent, being the business of the following discourse, it may suffice to have only touched on it here, as one reason that made me doubt of those innate principles.
6. 04. To conclude this argument of uniNot innate, because not
versal consent, I agree with these defenders universally of innate principles, that if they are inassented co.
nate, they must needs have universal assent. For that a truth should be innate, and yet not assented to, is to me as unintelligible, as for a man to know a truth, and be ignorant of it, at the same time. But then, by these men's own confession, they cannot be innate; since they are not assented to by those who un