Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

BOOK I.

OF THE UNDERSTANDING.

PART I.

OF IDEAS, THEIR ORIGIN, COMPOSITION, CON

NEXION, AND ABSTRACTION.

SECTION I.

OF THE ORIGIN OF OUR IDEAS.

I.

Of the

[ocr errors]

.

All the perceptions of the human mind resolve them- SECT.
selves into two distinct kinds, which I shall call im-
pressions and ideas. The difference betwixt these con-
sists in the degrees of force and liveliness, with which origin of our
they strike upon the mind, and make their way into
our thought or consciousness.

Those perceptions which enter with most force and violence, we may name impressions ; and, under this name, I comprehend all our sensations, passions, and emotions, as they make their first appearance in the soul. By ideas, I mean the faint images of these in thinking and reasoning; such as, for instance, are all the perceptions excited by the present discourse, excepting only those which arise from the sight and touch, and excepting the immediate pleasure or uneasiness it may occasion. I believe it will not be very necessary to employ many words in explaining this distinction. Every one of himself will readily perceive the difference betwixt feeling and thinking. The common degrees of these are easily distinguished; though it is not impossible but, in particular instances, they may very nearly approach to each other. Thus, in sleep, in a fever, in madness, or in any very violent emotions of soul, our ideas

may approach to our impressions : as, on the other hand, it

I.

their

&c.

PART. sometimes happens, that our impressions are so faint

and low, that we cannot distinguish them from our of ideas, ideas. But, notwithstanding this near resemblance in origin,

a few instances, they are in general so very different, composition,

that no one can make a scruple to rank them under distinct heads, and assign to each a peculiar name to mark the difference. *

There is another division of our perceptions, which it will be convenient to observe, and which extends itself both to our impressions and ideas. This division is into simple and complex. Simple perceptions, or impressions and ideas, are such as admit of no distinction nor separation. The complex are the contrary to these, and may be distinguished into parts. Though a particular colour, taste and smell, are qualities all united together in this apple, 'tis easy to perceive they are not the same, but are at least distinguishable from each other.

Having, by these divisions, given an order and arrangement to our objects, we may now apply ourselves to consider, with the more accuracy, their qualities and relations. The first circumstance that strikes my eye, is the great resemblance betwixt our impressions and ideas in every other particular, except their degree of force and vivacity. The one seem to be, in a manner, the reflection of the other so that all the perceptions of the mind are double, and appear

• I here make use of these terms, impression and idea, in a sense different from what is usual, and I hope this liberty will be allowed me. Perhaps I rather restore the word idea to its original sense, from which Mr Locke had perverted it, in making it stand for all our perceptions. By the term of impression, I would not be understood to express the manner in which our lively perceptions are produced in the soul, but merely the perceptions themselves ; for which there is no particular name, cither in the English or any other language that I know of.

SECT.

I.

Of the

ideas.

both as impressions and ideas. When I shut my eyes, and think of my chamber, the ideas I form are exact representations of the impressions I felt; nor is there

origin of our any circumstance of the one, which is not to be found in the other. In running over my other perceptions, I find still the same resemblance and representation. Ideas and impressions appear always to correspond to each other. This circumstance seems to me remarkable, and engages my attention for a moment.

Upon a more accurate survey I find I have been carried away too far by the first appearance, and that I must make use of the distinction of perceptions into simple and complex, to limit this general decision, that all our ideas and impressions are resembling. I observe that many of our complex ideas never had impressions that corresponded to them, and that many of our complex impressions never are exactly copied in ideas. I can imagine to myself such a city as the New Jerusalem, whose pavement is gold, and walls are rubies, though I never saw any such. I have seen Paris; but shall I affirm I can form such an idea of that city, as will perfectly represent all its streets and houses in their real and just proportions ?

I perceive, therefore, that though there is, in general, a great resemblance betwixt our complex impressions and ideas, yet the rule is not universally true, that they are exact copies of each other. We next consider, how the case stands with our simple | perceptions. After the most accurate examination of which I am capable, I venture to affirm, that the rule here holds without any exception, and that every simple idea has a simple impression, which resembles it, and every simple impression a correspondent idea. That idea of red, which we form in the dark, and that

We may

[blocks in formation]
« ZurückWeiter »