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PART sation? If he can, I desire it may be produced. If
he cannot, he here runs in a circle, and gives a syno
nymous term instead of a definition. knowledge
Shall we then rest contented with these two relations probability
of contiguity and succession, as affording a complete idea of causation ? By no means. An object may be contiguous and prior to another, without being considered as its cause. There is a necessary connexion to be taken into consideration; and that relation is of much greater importance, than any of the other two above mentioned.
Here again I turn the object on all sides, in order to discover the nature of this necessary connexion, and find the impression, or impressions, from which its idea may be derived. When I cast my eye on the known qualities of objects, I immediately discover that the relation of cause and effect depends not in the least on them. When I consider their relations, I can find none but those of contiguity and succession; which I have already regarded as imperfect and unsatisfactory. Shall the despair of success make me assert, that I am here possessed of an idea, which is not preceded by any similar impression ? This would be too strong a proof of levity and inconstancy; since the contrary principle has been already so firmly established, as to admit of no farther doubt; at least, till we have more fully examined the present difficulty.
We must therefore proceed like those who, being in search of any thing that lies concealed from them, and not finding it in the place they expected, beat about all the neighbouring fields, without any certain view or design, in hopes their good fortune will at last guide them to what they search for. 'Tis necessary for us to leave the direct survey of this question con
cerning the nature of that necessary connexion, which enters into our idea of cause and effect; and endeavour to find some other questions, the examination of Of
probability, which will perhaps afford a hint, that may serve to
the idea of clear up the present difficulty. Of these questions cause and there occur two, which I shall proceed to examine,
First, for what reason we pronounce it necessary, that every thing whose existence has a beginning, should also have a cause?
Secondly, why we conclude, that such particular causes must necessarily have such particular effects; and what is the nature of that inference we draw from the one to the other, and of the belief we repose in it?
I shall only observe before I proceed any farther, that though the ideas of cause and effect be derived from the impressions of reflection as well as from those of sensation, yet for brevity's sake, I commonly mention only the latter as the origin of these ideas; though I desire that, whatever I say of them, may also extend to the former. Passions are connected with their objects and with one another; no less than external bodies are connected together. The same relation then of cause and effect, which belongs to one, must be common to all of them.
WHY A CAUSE IS ALWAYS NECESSARY.
To begin with the first question concerning the ne
cessity of a cause: 'Tis a general maxim in philosophy, Of that whatever begins to exist, must have a cause of exisknowledge
and tence. This is commonly taken for granted in all reaprobability.
sonings, without any proof given or demanded. 'Tis supposed to be founded on intuition, and to be one of those maxims which, though they may be denied with the lips, 'tis impossible for men in their hearts really to doubt of. But if we examine this maxim by the idea of knowledge above explained, we shall discover in it no mark of any such intuitive certainty; but on the contrary shall find, that 'tis of a nature quite foreign to that species of conviction.
All certainty arises from the comparison of ideas, and from the discovery of such relations as are unalterable, so long as the ideas continue the same. These relations are resemblance, proportions in quantity and number, degrees of any quality, and contrariety; none of which are implied in this proposition, Whatever has a beginning has also a cause of existence. That proposition therefore is not intuitively certain. At least any one, who would assert it to be intuitively certain, must deny these to be the only infallible relations, and must find some other relation of that kind to be implied in it; which it will then be time enough to examine.
But here is an argument, which proves at once, that
a cause is
the foregoing proposition is neither intuitively nor de- SECT. monstrably certain. We can never demonstrate the necessity of a cause to every new existence, or new Why modification of existence, without showing at the same always time the impossibility there is, that any thing can ever begin to exist without some productive principle; and where the latter proposition cannot be proved, we must despair of ever being able to prove the former. Now that the latter proposition is utterly incapable of a demonstrative proof, we may satisfy ourselves by considering, that as all distinct ideas are separable from each other, and as the ideas of cause and effect are evidently distinct, 'twill be easy for us to conceive any object to be non-existent this moment, and existent the next, without conjoining to it the distinct idea of a cause or productive principle. The separation therefore of the idea of a cause from that of a beginning of existence, is plainly possible for the imagination ; and consequently the actual separation of these objects is so far possible, that it implies no contradiction nor absurdity; and is therefore incapable of being refuted by any reasoning from mere ideas, without which 'tis impossible to demonstrate the necessity of a cause.
Accordingly, we shall find upon examination, that every demonstration, which has been produced for the necessity of a cause, is fallacious and sophistical. All the points of time and place, say some philosophers, in which we can suppose any object to begin to exist, are in themselves equal; and unless there be some cause, which is peculiar to one time and to one place, and which by that means determines and fixes the existence, it must remain in eternal suspense; and the
PART object can never begin to be, for want of something to wa fix its beginning. But I ask, is there any more diffi
culty in supposing the time and place to be fixed withknowledge and
out a cause, than to suppose the existence to be deterprobability. mined in that manner! The first question that occurs
on this subject is always, whether the object shall exist or not: the next, when and where it shall begin to exist. If the removal of a cause be intuitively absurd in the one case, it must be so in the other: and if that absurdity be not clear without a proof in the one case, it will equally require one in the other. The absurdity then of the one supposition can never be a proof of that of the other; since they are both upon the same footing, and must stand or fall by the same reasoning.
The second argument, * which I find used on this head, labours under an equal difficulty. Every things 'tis said, must have a cause; for if any thing wanted a cause, it would produce itself, that is, exist before it existed, which is impossible. But this reasoning is plainly unconclusive; because it supposes that, in our denial of a cause, we still grant what we expressly deny, viz. that there must be a cause; which therefore is taken to be the object itself; and that, no doubt, is an evident contradiction. But to say that any thing is produced, or, to express myself more properly, comes into existence, without a cause, is not to affirm that 'tis itself its own cause; but, on the contrary, in excluding all external causes, excludes a fortiori the thing itself which is created. An object that exists absolutely without any cause, certainly is not its own cause; and when you assert, that the one follows from the
• Dr Clarke and others.