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III.

Of

and

PART be considered as experiments of the same nature. The

devotees of that strange superstition usually plead in

excuse of the mummeries with which they are upknowledge

braided, that they feel the good effect of those exterprobability.

nal motions, and postures, and actions, in enlivening their devotion, and quickening their fervour, which otherwise would decay away, if directed entirely to distant and immaterial objects. We shadow out the objects of our faith, say they, in sensible types and images, and render them more present to us by the immediate presence of these types, than 'tis possible for us to do, merely by an intellectual view and contemplation. Sensible objects have always a greater influence on the fancy than any other; and this influence they readily convey to those ideas to which they are related, and which they resemble. I shall only infer from these practices, and this reasoning, that the effect of resemblance in enlivening the idea is very common; and as in every case a resemblance and a present impression must concur, we are abundantly supplied with experiments to prove the reality of the foregoing principle.

We may add force to these experiments by others of a different kind, in considering the effects of contiguity, as well as of resemblance. 'Tis certain that distance diminishes the force of every idea; and that, upon our approach to any object, though it does not discover itself to our senses, it operates upon the mind with an influence that imitates an immediate impression. The thinking on any object readily transports the mind to what is contiguous; but 'tis only the actual presence of an object, that transports it with a superior vivacity. When I am a few miles from home, whatever relates to it touches me more nearly than

OF the causes

of

when I am two hundred leagues distant; though even SECT.

VIII. at that distance the reflecting on any thing in the neighbourhood of my friends and family naturally produces an idea of them. But as in this latter

case,
both

belief. the objects of the mind are ideas; notwithstanding there is an easy transition betwixt them; that transition alone is not able to give a superior vivacity to any of the ideas, for want of some immediate impression. *

No one can doubt but causation has the same influence as the other two relations of resemblance and contiguity. Superstitious people are fond of the relicks of saints and holy men, for the same reason that they seek after types and images, in order to enliven their devotion, and give them a more intimate and strong conception of those exemplary lives, which they desire to imitate. Now, 'tis evident one of the best relicks a devotee could procure would be the handy-work of a saint; and if his clothes and furniture are ever to be considered in this light, 'tis because they were once at his disposal, and were moved and affected by him; in which respect they are to be considered as imperfect

• Naturane nobis, inquit, datum dicam, an errore quodam, ut, cum ea loca videamus, in quibus memoria dignos viros acceperimus multum esse versatos, magis moveamur, quam siquando eorum ipsorum aut facta audiamus, aut scriptum aliquod legamus? velut ego nunc moveor. Ve. nit enim mihi Platonis in mentem: quem accipimus primum hîc disputare solitum: cujus etiam illi hortuli propinqui non memoriam solům mihi afferunt, sed ipsum videntur in conspectu meo hic ponere. Hic Speusippus, hic Xenocrates, hic ejus auditor Polemo; cujus ipsa illa sessio fuit, quam videamus. Equidem etiam curiam nostram, hostiliam dico, non hanc novam, quæ mihi minor esse videtur postquam est major, solebam intuens Scipionem, Catonem, Lælium, nostrum vero in primis avum cogitare. Tanta vis admonitionis inest in locis; ut non sino causa ex his memoriæ ducta sit diciplina. --Cicero de Finibus, lib. 5,

PART

III.

and

a

effects, and as connected with him by a shorter chain

of consequences than any of those, from which we Of learn the reality of his existence. This phenomenon knowledge

clearly proves, that a present impression with a relaprobability. tion of causation may enliven any idea, and conse

quently produee belief or assent, according to the precedent definition of it.

But why need we seek for other arguments to prove, that a present impression with a relation or transition of the fancy may enliven any idea, when this very instance of our reasonings from cause and effect will lone suffice to that purpose? 'Tis certain we must have an idea of every matter of fact which we believe. 'Tis certain that this idea arises only from a relation to a present impression. 'Tis certain that the belief superadds nothing to the idea, but only changes our manner of conceiving it, and renders it more strong and lively. The present conclusion concerning the influence of relation is the immediate consequence of all these steps; and every step appears to me sure and infallible. There enters nothing into this operation of the mind but a present impression, a lively idea, and a relation or association in the fancy betwixt the impression and idea; so that there can be no suspicion of mistake.

In order to put this whole affair in a fuller light, let us consider it as a question in natural philosophy, which we must determine by experience and observation. I suppose there is an object presented, from which I draw a certain conclusion, and form to myself ideas, which I am said to believe or assent to. Here 'tis evident, that however that object, which is present to my senses, and that other, whose existence I infer by reasoning, may be thought to influence each other by their

VIII.

Of the causes

of belief.

particular powers or qualities; yet as the phenomenon SECT. of belief, which we at present examine, is merely internal, these powers and qualities being entirely unknown, can have no hand in producing it. 'Tis the present impression which is to be considered as the true and real cause of the idea, and of the belief which attends it. We must therefore endeavour to discover, by experiments, the particular qualities by which ’tis enabled to produce so extraordinary an effect.

First then I observe, that the present impression has not this effect by its own proper power and efficacy, and, when considered alone as a single perception, limited to the present moment.

I find that an impression, from which, on its first appearance, I can draw no conclusion, may afterwards become the foundation of belief, when I have had experience of its usual consequences. We must in every case have observed the same impression in past instances, and have found it to be constantly conjoined with some other impression. This is confirmed by such a multitude of experiments, that it admits not of the smallest doubt.

From a second observation I conclude, that the belief which attends the present impression, and is produced by a number of past impressions and conjunctions; that this belief, I say, arises immediately, without any new operation of the reason or imagination. Of this I can be certain, because I never am conscious of any such operation, and find nothing in the subject on which it can be founded. Now, as we call every thing custom which proceeds from a past repetition, without any new reasoning or conclusion, we may establish it as a certain truth, that all the belief, which follows upon any present impression, is derived solely from that origin. When we are accustomed to see

III.

Of

PART two impressions conjoined together, the appearance or

idea of the one immediately carries us to the idea of

the other. knowledge

and Being fully satisfied on this head, I make a third probability. set of experiments, in order to know whether any

thing be requisite, beside the customary transition, to-
wards the production of this phenomenon of belief.
I therefore change the first impression into an idea ;
and observe, that though the customary transition to
the correlative idea still remains, yet there is in reali-
ty no belief nor persuasion. A present impression,
then, is absolutely requisite to this whole operation ;
and when after this I compare an impression with an
idea, and find that their only difference consists in
their different degrees of force and vivacity, I con-
clude upon the whole, that belief is a more vivid and
intense conception of an idea, proceeding from its re-
lation to a present impression.
Thus, all probable reasoning is nothing but a species
of sensation. 'Tis not solely in poetry and music we
must follow our taste and sentiment, but likewise in
philosophy. When I am convinced of any principle,
'tis only an idea which strikes more strongly upon me.
When I give the preference to one set of arguments
above another, I do nothing but decide from my feel-
ing concerning the superiority of their influence. Ob-
jects have no discoverable connexion together; nor is
it from any other principle but custom operating upon
the imagination, that we can draw any inference from
the appearance of one to the existence of another.

"Twill here be worth our observation, that the past experience, on which all our judgments concerning cause and effect depend, may operate on our mind in such an insensible manner as never to be taken notice

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