Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

those powers nature hath bestowed upon us, and how little upon such innate principles, as are in vain supposed to be in all mankind for their direction; which all men could not but know, if they were there, or else they would be there to no purpose: and which since all men do not know, nor can distinguish from other adventitious truths, we may well conclude there are no such. Men must

§. 23. What censure doubting thus of think and innate principles may deserve from men, know for who will be apt to call it, pulling up the themselves. old foundations of knowledge and certainty

, I cannot tell; I persuade myself at least, that the way 1 have pursued, being conformable to truth, lays those foundations surer. This I am certain, I have not made it my business either to quit or follow any authority in the ensuing discourse: truth has been my only aim, and wherever that has appeared to lead, my thoughts have impartially followed, without minding whether the footsteps of any other lay that way or no. Not that I want a due respect to other men's opinions; but, after all, the greatest reverence is due to truth: and I hope it will not be thought arrogance to say, that perhaps we shall make greater progress in the discovery of rational and contemplative knowledge, if we sought it in the fountain, in the consideration of things themselves, and made use rather of our own thoughts than other men's to find it: for I think we may as rationally hope to see with other men's eyes, as to know by other men's understandings. So much as we ourselves consider and comprehend of truth and reason, so much we possess of real and true knowledge. The floating of other men's opinions in our brains makes us not one jot the more knowing, though they happen to be true. What in them was science, is in us but opiniatrety; whilst we give up our assent only to reverend names, and do not, as they did, employ our own reason to understand those truths which gave them reputation. Aristotle was certainly a knowing man, but nobody ever thought him so because he blindly embraced, or confidently vented, the opinions of another. And if the taking up another's principles, without examining them, made not him a philosopher, I suppose it will hardly make any body else so. In the sciences, every one has so much as he really knows and comprehends : What he believes only, and takes upon trust, are but shreds; which however well in the whole piece, make no considerable addition to his stock who gathers them. Such borrowed wealth, like fairy-money, though it were gold in the hand from which he received it, will be but leaves and dust when it comes to use.

[graphic]

$. 24. When men have found some Whence the general propositions, that could not be opinion of doubted of as soon as understood, it was, I innate prinknow, a short and easy way to conclude ciples. them innate. This being once received, it eased the lazy from the pains of search, and stopped the inquiry of the doubtful concerning all that was once styled innate. And it was of no small advantage to those who affected to be masters and teachers, to make this the principle of principles, “ that principles must not be questioned:” for having once established this tenet, that there are innate principles, it put their followers upon a necessity of receiving some doctrines as such ; which was to take them off from the use of their own reason and judgment, and put them on believing and taking them upon trust, without farther examination: in which posture of blind credulity, they might be more easily governed by, and made useful to, some sort of men, who had the skill and office to principle and guide them. Nor is it a small power it gives one man over another, to have the authority to be the dictator of principles, and teacher of unquestionable truths : and to make a man swallow that for an innate principle, which may serve to his purpose who teacheth them: whereas had they examined the ways whereby men came to the knowledge of many universal truths, they would have found them to result in the minds of men from the being of things themselves, when duly considered; and that they were discovered by the application of those faculties, that were fitted by nature to receive and judge of them, when duly employed about thein,

ģ. 15. 9. 25. To show how the understanding Conclusion.

proceeds herein, is the design of the fol ļowing discourse ; which I shall proceed 10, when į have first premised, that hitherto, to clear my way to those foundations, which I conceive are the only true ones whereon to establish those notions we can have of our own knowledge, it hath been necessary for me to give an account of the reasons I had to doubt of innate principles. And since the arguments which are against them do some of them rise from common received opipions, I have been forced to take several things for granted, which is hardly avoidable to any one, whose task is to show the falsehood or improbability of any tenet; it happening in controversial discourses, as it does in assaulting of towns, where if the ground be but firm whereon the batteries arc erected, there is no farther inquiry of whom it is borrowed, nor whom it belongs to, so it affords but a fit rise for the present purpose. But in the future part of this discourse, designing to raise an edifice uniform and consistent with itself as far as my own experience and observation will assist me, I hope to erect it on such a basis, that I shall not necd to shore it up with props and buttresses, leaning on borrowed or begged foundations; or at least, if mine prove a castle in the air, I will endeavour it shall be all of a piece, and hang together. Wherein I warn the reader not to expect undeniable cogent demonstrarions, unless I may be allowed the privilege, not seldom assumed by others, to take my principles for granted : and then, I doubt not, but I can demonstrate too. All that I shall say for the principles I proceed on is, that I can only appeal to men's own unprejudiced experience and observation, whether they be true or no; and this is enough for a man who protesses no more, than to lay down candidly and freely his own conjectures, concerning a subject lying somewhat in the dark, without any other design than an unbiassed inquiry after truth.

[ocr errors]

BOOK BOOK II.

[graphic]

CHAP. I.

Of Ideas in general, and their Original.

1. 1.

VERY man being conscious to him- Idea is the

self that he thinks, and that which object of his mind is applied about, whilst thinking, thinking. being the ideas that are there, it is past doubt, that men have in their minds several ideas, such as are those expressed by the words, Whiteness, Hardness, Sweetness, Thinking, Motion, Man, Elephant, Army, Drunkenness, and others. It is in the first place then to be inquired, how he comés by them. I know it is a received doctrine, that men have native ideas, and original characters, stamped upon their minds, in their very first being. This opinion I have, at large, examined already; and, I suppose, what I have said, in the foregoing book, will be much more easily admitted, when I have shown, whence the understanding may get all the ideas it has, and by what ways and degrees they may come into the mind; for which I shall appeal to every one's own observation and experience.

$. 2. Let us then suppose the mind to · All ideas be, as we say, white paper, void of all cha- come from racters, without any ideas; how comes it sensation or to be furnished ? Whence comes it by that reflection. vast store which the busy and boundless fancy of man has painted on it, with an almost endless variety ? Whence has it all the materials of reason and knowledge ? To this I answer, in one word, from experience; in all that our knowledge is founded, and from that it ultimately derives itself. Our observation employed either about external sensible objects, or about the internal operations of our minds, perceived and reflected on by ourselves, is that which supplies our understandings with all the materials of thinking.

These

The opera

These two are the fountains of knowledge, from whence all the ideas we have, or can naturally have, do spring. The objects

9. 3. First, Our senses, conversant about of sensation particular sensible objects, do convey into one source of the mind several distinct perceptions of ideas.

things, according to those various ways wherein those objects do affect them: and thus we come by those ideas we have, of Yellow, White, Ileat, Cold, Soft, Hard, Bitter, Sweet, and all those which we call sensible qualities; which when I say the senses convey into the mind, I mean, they from external objects convey into the mind what produces there those perceptions. This great source of most of the ideas we have, depending wholly upon our senses, and derived by them to the understanding, I call SENSATION.

§. 4. Secondly, The other fountain, from tions of our

which experience furnisheth the understandminds the ing with ideas, is the perception of the other source

operations of our own mind within us, as it of them.

is employed about the ideas it has got; which operations when the soul comes to reflect on and consider, do furnish the understanding with another set of ideas, which could not be had from things without; and such are Perception, Thinking, Doubting, Believing, Reasoning, knowing, Willing, and all the different actings of our own minds; which we being conscious of and observing in ourselves, do from these receive into our understandings as distinct ideas, as we do from bodies affecting our senses. This source of ideas every man has wholly in himself; and though it be not sense, as having nothing to do with external objects, yet it is very like it, and might properly enough be called internal sense. But as I call the other sensation, so I call this REFLECTION, the ideas it affords being such only as the mind gets by reflecting on its own operations within itself. By reflection then, in the following part of this discourse, I would be understood to mean that notice which the mind takes of its own operations, and the manner of them; by reason whereof there come to be ideas of these operations in the understanding. These two, I say, viz. external

material

« PředchozíPokračovat »