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PART ly a very irregular motion in running along its objects,
and may leap from the heavens to the earth, from one
end of the creation to the other, without any certain knowledge
"and method or order. But though I allow this weakness probability. in these three relations, and this irregularity in the
imagination; yet I assert, that the only general principles which associate ideas, are resemblance, contiguity, and causation.
There is indeed a principle of union among ideas, which at first sight may be esteemed different from any of these, but will be found at the bottom to de. pend on the same origin. When every individual of any species of objects is found by experience to be constantly united with an individual of another species, the appearance of any new individual of either species naturally conveys the thought to its usual attendant. Thus, because such a particular idea is commonly annexed to such a particular word, nothing is required but the hearing of that word to produce the correspondent idea; and 'twill scarce be possible for the mind, by its utmost efforts, to prevent that transition. In this case it is not absolutely necessary, that upon hearing such a particular sound, we should reflect on any past experience, and consider what idea has been usually connected with the sound. The imagination of itself supplies the place of this reflection, and is so accustomed to pass from the word to the idea, that it interposes not a moment's delay betwixt the hearing of the one, and the conception of the other.
But though I acknowledge this to be a true principle of association among ideas, I assert it to be the very same with that betwixt the ideas of cause and effect, and to be an essential part in all our reasonings
Of the inference
from that relation. We have no other notion of cause SECT. and effect, but that of certain objects, which have been always conjoined together, and which in all past instances have been found inseparable. We cannot pe- from the netrate into the reason of the conjunction. We only
impression observe the thing itself, and always find that, from the the idea. constant conjunction, the objects acquire an union in the imagination. When the impression of one becomes present to us, we immediately form an idea of its usual attendant; and consequently we may establish this as one part of the definition of an opinion or belief, that 'tis an idea related to or associated with a present impression.
Thus, though causation be a philosophical relation, as implying contiguity, succession, and constant conjunction, yet 'tis only so far as it is a natural relation, and produces an union among our ideas, that we are able to reason upon it, or draw any inference from it.
OF THE NATURE OF THE IDEA OR BELIEF.
The idea of an object is an essential part of the belief of it, but not the whole. We conceive many things which we do not believe. In order then to discover more fully the nature of belief, or the qualities of those ideas we assent to, let us weigh the following considerations.
'Tis evident, that all reasonings from causes or effects terminate in conclusions concerning matter of
PART fact; that is, concerning the existence of objects or
of their qualities. 'Tis also evident, that the idea of
existence is nothing different from the idea of any obknowledge
and ject, and that when after the simple conception of any probability
thing we would conceive it as existent, we in reality make no addition to or alteration on our first idea. Thus, when we affirm that God is existent, we simply form the idea of such a Being as he is represented to us: nor is the existence, which we attribute to him, conceived by a particular idea, which we join to the idea of his other qualities, and can again separate and distinguish from them. But I go farther; and, not content with asserting, that the conception of the existence of any object is no addition to the simple conception of it, I likewise maintain, that the belief of the existence joins no new ideas to those, which compose the idea of the object. When I think of God, when I think of him as existent, and when I believe him to be existent, my idea of him neither increases nor diminishes. But as ʼtis certain there is a great difference betwixt the simple conception of the existence of an object, and the belief of it, and as this difference lies not in the parts or composition of the idea which we conceive; it follows, that it must lie in the manner in which we conceive it.
Suppose a person present with me, who advances propositions, to which I do not assent, that Cæsar died in his bed, that silver is more fusible than lead, or mercury heavier than gold ; 'tis evident that, notwithstanding my incredulity, I clearly understand his meaning, and form all the same ideas which he forms. My imagination is endowed with the same powers as his; nor is it possible for him to conceive any idea, which I cannot conceive; or conjoin any, which I cannot
Of the nature
of the idea of
conjoin. I therefore ask, wherein consists the differ- SECT. ence betwixt believing and disbelieving any proposition? The answer is easy with regard to propositions, that are proved by intuition or demonstration. In that case, the person who assents not only conceives the ideas according to the proposition, but is necessarily determined to conceive them in that particular manner,
either immediately, or by the interposition of other ideas. Whatever is absurd is unintelligible; nor is it possible for the imagination to conceive any thing contrary to a demonstration. But as, in reasonings from causation, and concerning matters of fact, this absolute necessity cannot take place, and the imagination is free to conceive both sides of the question, I still ask, wherein consists the difference betwixt incredulity and belief? since in both cases the conception of the idea is equally possible and requisite.
'Twill not be a satisfactory answer to say, that a person, who does not assent to a proposition you advance; after having conceived the object in the same manner with you, immediately conceives it in a different manner, and has different ideas of it. This answer is unsatisfactory; not because it contains any falsehood, but because it discovers not all the truth. 'Tis confessed that, in all cases wherein we dissent from any person, we conceive both sides of the question; but as we can believe only one, it evidently follows, that the belief must make some difference betwixt that conception to which we assent, and that from which we dissent. We may mingle, and unite, and separate, and confound, and vary our ideas in a hundred different ways; but 'till there appears some principle, which fixes one of these different situations, we have in reality no opinion: and this principle, as
PART it plainly makes no addition to our precedent ideas,
can only change the manner of our conceiving them.
All the perceptions of the mind are of two kinds, viz. knowledge
impressions and ideas, which differ from each other probability,
only in their different degrees of force and vivacity. Our ideas are copied from our impressions, and represent them in all their parts, When you would any way vary the idea of a particular object, you can only increase or diminish its force and vivacity. If you make any other change on it, it represents a different object or impression. The case is the same as in colours. A particular shade of any colour may acquire a new degree of liveliness or brightness without any other variation. But when you produce any other variation, 'tis no longer the same shade or colour; so that as belief does nothing but vary the manner in which we conceive any object, it can only bestow on our ideas an additional force and vivacity. An opinion therefore or belief may be most accurately defined, a lively idea related to or associated with a present impression.
* We may here take occasion to observe a very remarkable error, which, being frequently inculcated in the schools, has become a kind of established maxim, and is universally received by all logicians. This error consists in the vulgar division of the acts of the understanding into conception, judgment and reasoning, and in the definitions we give of them. Conception is defined to be the simple survey of one or more ideas : judgment to be the separating or uniting of different ideas : reasoning to be the separating or uniting of different ideas by the interposition of others, which show the relation they bear to each other. But these distinctions and definitions are faulty in very considerable articles. For, first, 'tis far from being true, that, in every judgment which we form, we unite two different ideas; since in that proposition, God is, or indeed any other, which regards existence, the idea of existence is no distinct idea, which we unite with that of the object, and which is capable of forming a compound idea by the union. Secondly, as we can