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I shall conclude this subject of extension with a pa- SECT. radox, which will easily be explained from the foregoing reasoning. This paradox is, that if you are The same pleased to give to the invisible and intangible distance, continued. or in other words, to the capacity of becoming a visible and tangible distance, the name of a vacuum, extension and matter are the same, and yet there is a vacuum.
you will not give it that name, motion is possible in a plenum, without any impulse in infinitum, without returning in a circle, and without penetration. But however we may express ourselves, we must always confess, that we have no idea of any real extension without filling it with sensible objects, and conceiving its parts as visible or tangible.
As to the doctrine, that time is nothing but the manner in which some real objects exist; we may observe, that 'tis liable to the same objections as the similar doc
The appearances of objects to our senses are all consistent; and no difficulties can ever arise, but from the obscurity of the terms we make use of.
If we carry our inquiry beyond the appearances of objects to the senses, I am afraid, that most of our conclusions will be full of scepticism and uncertainty. Thus, if it be asked, whether or not the invisible and intangible distance be always full of body, or of something that by an improvement of our organs right become visible or tangible, I must acknowledge, that I find no very decisive arguments on either side : though I am inclined to the contrary opinion, as being more suitable to vulgar and popular notions. If the Newtonian philosophy be rightly understood, it will be found to mean no more. A vacuum is asserted; that is, bodies are said to be placed after such a manner, as to receive bodies betwixt them, without impulsion or penetration. The real nature of this position of bodies is unknown. We are only acquainted with its effects on the senses, and its power of receiving body. Nothing is more suitable to that philosophy, than a modest scepticism to a certain degree, and a fair confession of ignorance in subjects that exceed all human capacity.
PART trine with regard to extension. If it be a sufficient
proof, that we have the idea of a vacuum, because we dispute and reason concerning it; we must for the same reason have the idea of time without any changeable existence; since there is no subject of dispute more frequent and common. But that we really have no such idea, is certain. For whence should it be derived? Does it arise from an impression of sensation or of reflection ? . Point it out distinctly to us, that we may know its nature and qualities. But if you camot point out any such impression, you may be certain you are mistaken, when you imagine you have any such idea.
But though it be impossible to show the impression, from which the idea of time without a changeable existence is derived, yet we can easily point out those appearances, which make us fancy we have that idea For we may observe, that there is a continual succession of perceptions in our mind; so that the idea of time being for ever present with us, when we consider a stedfast object at five o'clock, and regard the same at six, we are apt to apply to it that idea in the same manner as if every moment were distinguished by a different position, or an alteration of the object. The first and second appearances of the object, being compared with the succession of our perceptions, seem equally removed as if the object had really changed. To which we may add, what experience shows us, that the object was susceptible of such a number of changes betwixt these appearances; as also that the unchangeable or rather fictitious duration has the same effect upon every quality, by increasing or diminishing it, as that succession which is obvious to the senses. From these three relations we are apt to confound our ideas,
and imagine we can form the idea of a time and dura- SECT.
V. tion, without any change or succession.
OF THE IDEA OF EXISTENCE, AND OF EXTERNAL
It may not be amiss, before we leave this subject, to explain the ideas of existence and of external existence ; which have their difficulties, as well as the ideas of space and time. By this means we shall be the better prepared for the examination of knowledge and probability, when we understand perfectly all those particular ideas, which may enter into our reasoning.
(There is no impression nor idea of any kind, of which we have any consciousness or memory, that is (not conceived as existent; and 'tis evident that, from this consciousness, the most perfect idea and assurance of being is derived From hence we may form a dilemma, the most clear and conclusive that can be imagined, viz. that since we never remember any
idea or impression without attributing existence to it, the idea of existence must either be derived from a distinct impression, conjoined with every perception or object of our thought, or must be the very same with the idea of the perception or object..
As this dilemma is an evident consequence of the principle, that every idea arises from a similar impression, so our decision betwixt the propositions of the dilemma is no more doubtful. So far from there being any distinct impression attending every impression and
PART every idea, that I do not think there are any two
distinct impressions which are inseparably conjoinOf
ed. Though certain sensations may at one time be the ideas of space
united, we quickly find they admit of a separation, and time.
and may be presented apart. And thus, though every impression and idea we remember be considered as existent, the idea of existence is not derived from any particular impression.
The idea of existence, then, is the very same with the idea of what we conceive to be existent. Toireflect on any thing simply, and to reflect on it as existent, are nothing different from each other. That idea, when conjoined with the idea of any object, makes no addition to it. Whatever we conceive, we conceive to be existent. Any idea we please to form is the idea of a being; and the idea of a being is any idea we please to form.
Whoever opposes this, must necessarily point out that distinct impression, from which the idea of entity is derived, and must prove, that this impression is inseparable from every perception we believe to be existent. This we may without hesitation conclude to be impossible.
Our foregoing reasoning * concerning the distinction of ideas without any real difference will not here serve us in any stead. That kind of distinction is founded on the different resemblances, which the same simple idea may have to several different ideas. But no object can be presented resembling some object with respect to its existence, and different from others in the same particular; since every object that is presented, must necessarily be existent.
• Part I. Sect. 7.
idea of ex
A like reasoning will account for the idea of external sect. eristence. We may observe, that 'tis universally alTowed by philosophers, and is besides pretty obvious of the of itself, that nothing is ever really present with the istence, mind but its perceptions or impressions and ideas, and ternal existthat external objects become known to us only by those perceptions they occasion. To hate, to love, to think, to feel, to see; all this is nothing but to perceive.
Now, since nothing is ever present to the mind but perceptions, and since all ideas are derived from something antecedently present to the mind; it follows, that 'tis impossible for us so much as to conceive or form an idea of any thing specifically different from ideas and impressions. Let us fix our attention out of ourselves as much as possible; let us chase our imagination to the heavens, or to the utmost limits of the universe; we never really advance a step beyond ourselves, nor can conceive any kind of existence, but those perceptions, which have appeared in that narrow compass. This is the universe of the imagination, nor have we any idea but what is there produced.
The farthest we can go towards a conception of external objects, when supposed specifically different from our perceptions, is to form a relative idea of them, without pretending to comprehend the related objects. Generally speaking, we do not suppose them specifically different; but only attribute to them different relations, connexions, and durations. But of this more fully hereafter.