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PART
III.

and

surance.

But, secondly, 'tis equally obvious in this species of

reasoning, that if the transference of the past to the Of future were founded merely on a conclusion of the unknowledge

derstanding, it could never occasion any belief or asprobability.

When we transfer contrary experiments to the future, we can only repeat these contrary experiments with their particular proportions; which could not produce assurance in any single event upon which we reason, unless the fancy melted together all those images that concur, and extracted from them one single idea or image, which is intense and lively in proportion to the number of experiments from which it is derived, and their superiority above their antagonists. Our past experience presents no determinate object; and as our belief, however faint, fixes itself on a determinate object, 'tis evident that the belief arises not merely from the transference of past to future, but from some operation of the fancy conjoined with it. This may lead us to conceive the manner in which that faculty enters into all our reasonings.

I shall conclude this subject with two reflections which may deserve our attention. The first may be explained after this manner: When the mind forms a reasoning concerning any matter of fact, which is only probable, it casts its eye backward upon past experience, and, transferring it to the future, is presented with so many contrary views of its object, of which those that are of the same kind uniting together and running into one act of the mind, serve to fortify and enliven it. But suppose that this multitude of views or glimpses of an object proceeds not from experience, but from a voluntary act of the imagination; this effect does not follow, or, at least, follows not in the same degree. For though custom and education pro

XII.

Of the

of causes.

duce belief by such a repetition as is not derived from SECT. experience, yet this requires a long tract of time, along with a very frequent and undesigned repetition. In ge

probability neral we may pronounce, that a person, who would voluntarily repeat any idea in his mind, though supported by one past experience, would be no more inclined to believe the existence of its object, than if he had contented himself with one survey of it. Beside the effect of design, each act of the mind, being separate and independent, has a separate influence, and joins not its force with that of its fellows. Not being united by any common object producing them, they have no relation to each other; and consequently make no transition or union of forces. This phenomenon we shall understand better afterwards.

My second reflection is founded on those large probabilities which the mind can judge of, and the minute differences it can observe betwixt them. When the ehances or experiments on one side amount to ten thousand, and on the other to ten thousand and one, the judgment gives the preference to the latter upon account of that superiority; though 'tis plainly impossible for the mind to run over every particular view, and distinguish the superior vivacity of the image arising from the superior number, where the difference is so inconsiderable. We have a parallel instance in the affections. 'Tis evident, according to the principles above mentioned, that when an object produces any passion in us, which varies according to the different quantity of the object; I say, 'tis evident, that the passion, properly speaking, is not a simple emotion, but a compounded one, of a great number of weaker

passions, derived from a view of each part of the object; for otherwise 'twere impossible the passion should in

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PART cfcase by the increase of these parts. Thus, a man

who desires a thousand pounds has, in reality, a thouOf sand or more desires which, uniting together, seem to knowledge

make only one passion ; though the composition eviprobability

dently betrays itself upon every alteration of the object, by the preference he gives to the larger numberg if superior only by an unit. Yet nothing can be more certain, than that so small a difference would not be discernible in the passions, nor could render them distinguishable from each other. The difference, therefore, of our conduct in preferring the greater number depends not upon our passions, but upon custom and general rules. We have found in a multitude of instances that the augmenting the numbers of any sum augments the passion, where the numbers are precise and the difference sensible. The mind can perceive, from its immediate feeling, that three guineas produce a greater passion than two; and this it transfers to larger numbers, because of the resemblance; and by a general rule assigns to a thousand guineas a stronger passion than to nine hundred and ninety-nine. These general rules we shall explain presently.

But beside these two species of probability, which are derived from an imperfect experience and from contrary causes, there is a third arising from analogy, which differs from them in some material circumstances. According to the hypothesis above explained, all kinds of reasoning from causes or effects are founded on two particulars, viz. the constant conjunction of any two objects in all past experience, and the resemblance of a present object to any one of them. The effect of these two particulars is, that the present object invigorates and enlivens the imagination; and the resemblance, along with the constant union,

XII.

eauses.

conveys this force and vivacity to the related idea ; SECT. which we are therefore said to believe or assent to. If you weaken either the union or resemblance, you Of the weaken the principle of transition, and of consequence

probability

of that belief which arises from it. The vivacity of the first impression cannot be fully conveyed to the related idea, either where the conjunction of their objects is not constant, or where the present impression does not perfectly resemble any of those whose union we are accustomed to observe. In those probabilities of chance and causes above explained, 'tis the constancy of the union which is diminished; and in the probability derived from analogy, 'tis the resemblance only which is affected. Without some degree of resemblance, as well as union, 'tis impossible there can be any reasoning. But as this resemblance admits of many different degrees, the reasoning becomes proportionably more or less firm and certain. An experiment loses of its force, when transferred to instances which are not exactly resembling; though 'tis evident it may still retain as much as may be the foundation of probability, as long as there is any resemblance remaining

SECTION XIII.

OF UNPHILOSOPHICAL PROBABILITY.

All these kinds of probability are received by philosophers, and allowed to be reasonable foundations of belief and opinion. But there are others that are de

Of

and

senses.

PART rived from the same principles, though they have not In.

had the good fortune to obtain the same sanction.

The first probability of this kind may be accounted for knowledge

thus. The diminution of the union and of the resemprobability. blance, as above explained, diminishes the facility of

the transition, and by that means weakens the evidence; and we may farther observe, that the same diminution of the evidence will follow from a diminution of the impression, and from the shading of those colours under which it appears to the memory or

The argument which we found on any matter of fact we remember is more or less convincing, according as the fact is recent or remote; and though the difference in these degrees of evidence be not received by philosophy as solid and legitimate; because in that case an argument must have a different force to-day from what it shall have a month hence; yet, notwithstanding the opposition of philosophy, 'tis certain this circumstance has a considerable influence on the understanding, and secretly changes the authority of the same argument, according to the different times in which it is proposed to us.

A greater force and vivacity in the impression naturally conveys a greater to the related idea; and 'tis on the degrees of force and vivacity that the belief depends, according to the foregoing system.

There is a second difference which we may frequently observe in our degrees of belief and assurance, and which never fails to take place, though disclaimed by philosophers. An experiment that is recent and fresh in the memory, affects us more than one that is in some measure obliterated; and has a superior influence on the judgment as well as on the passions. A lively impression produces more assurance than a faint

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