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General as S 2. There is nothing more commonly sent the taken for granted, than that there are great argu- certain principles, both speculative and ment.

practical (for they speak of both), universally agreed upon by all mankind; which therefore, they argue, must needs be constant impressions, which the souls of men receive in their first beings, and which they bring into the world with them as necessarily and really as they do any of their inherent faculties. Universal S 3. This argument, drawn from uniconsent versal consent, has this misfortune in it; proves no- that if it were true in matter of fact, that

innate. there were certain truths, wherein all mankind agreed, it would not prove them innate, if there can be any other way shown, how men may come to that universal agreement in the things they do consent in; which I presume may be done. . - What is S 4. But, which is worse, this argument is,” and “it of universal consent, which is made use of is impossible to prove innate principles, seems to me a for the same

demonstration that there are none such; thing to be, and not to

because there are none to which all manbe,” not uni- kind give an universal assent. I shall versally as- begin with the speculative, and instance

to in those magnified principles of demonstration; “ whatsoever is, is ;” and,“ it is impossible for the same thing to be, and not to be ;” which, of all others, I think have the most allowed title to innate. These have so settled a reputation of maxims universally received, that it will, no doubt, be thought strange, if any one should seem to question it. But yet I take liberty to say, that these propositions are so far from having an universal assent, that there are great part of mankind to whom they are not so much as known. Not on the S 5. For, first, it is evident, that all mind natu- children and idiots have not the least ap

prehension or thought of them; and the want of that is enough to destroy that

rally im

printed, beuniversal assent, which must needs be

cause not the necessary concomitant of all innate known to truths: it seeming to me near a con- children, tradiction, to say, that there are truths lots, &c. imprinted on the soul, which it perceives or understands not; imprinting, if it signify any thing, being nothing else, but the making certain truths to be perceived. For to imprint any thing on the mind, without the mind's perceiving it, seems to me hardly intelligible. If therefore children and idiots have souls, have minds, with those impressions upon them, they must unavoidably perceive them, and necessarily know and assent to these truths; which, since they do not, it is evident that there are no such impressions : for if they are not notions naturally imprinted, how can they be innate ? and if they are notions imprinted, how can they be unknown? To say a notion is imprinted on the mind, and yet at the same time to say, that the mind is ignorant of it, and never yet took notice of it, is to make this impression nothing. No proposition can be said to be in the mind, which it never yet knew, which it was never yet conscious of: for if any one may, then, by the same reason, all propositions that are true, and the mind is capable of ever assenting to, may be said to be in the mind, and to be imprinted : since, if any one can be said to be in the mind, which it never yet knew, it must be only, because it is capable of knowing it; and so the mind is of all truths it ever shall know. Nay, thus truths may be imprinted on the mind, which it never did, nor ever shall know : for a man may live long, and die at last in ignorance of many truths, which his mind was capable of knowing, and that with certainty. So that if the capacity of knowing be the natural impression contended for, all the truths a man ever comes to know, will, by this account, be every one of them innate: and this great point will General as- S 2. There is nothing more commonly sent the taken for granted, than that there are

certain principles, both speculative anca ment.

practical (for they speak of both), universally agreed upon by all mankind; which there fore, they argue, must needs be constant impressions, which the souls of men receive in their first beings, and which they bring into the world with them a necessarily and really as they do any of their inhe rent faculties. . Universal S 3. T'his argument, drawn from uni consent versal consent, has this misfortune in it proves no- that if it were true in matter of fact, tha: thing innate. there were certain truths, wherein all man kind agreed, it would not prove them innate, if there can be any other way shown, how men may come to that universal agreement in the things they do consent in; which I presume may be done. . - What is S 4. But, which is worse, this argument is,” and “it of universal consent, which is made use of is impossible to prove innate principles, seems to me a for the same demonstration that there are none such ; thing to be, and not to

because there are none to which all manbe," not uni- kind give an universal assent. I shall versally as begin with the speculative, and instance sented to in those magnified principles of demonstration; “ whatsoever is, is ;” and,“ it is impossible for the same thing to be, and not to be ;” which, of all others, I think have the most allowed title to innate. These have so settled a reputation of maxims universally received, that it will, no doubt, be thought strange, if any one should seem to question it. But yet I take liberty to say, that these propositions are so far from having an universal assent, that there are great part of mankind to whom they are not so much as known. Not on the S 5. For, first, it is evident, that all mind natu- children and idiots have not the least ap

prehension or thought of them; and the want of that is enough to destroy that I

rally im

printed, beuniversal assent, which must needs be

cause not the necessary concomitant of all innate known to truths: it seeming to me near a con- children, tradiction, to say, that there are truths 10100 imprinted on the soul, which it perceives or understands not; imprinting, if it signify any thing, being nothing else, but the making certain truths to be perceived. For to imprint any thing on the mind, without the mind's perceiving it, seems to me hardly intelligible. If therefore children and idiots have souls, have minds, with those impressions upon them, they must unavoidably perceive them, and necessarily know and assent to these truths; which, since they do not, it is evident that there are no such impressions : for if they are not notions naturally imprinted, how can they be innate ? and if they are notions imprinted, how can they be unknown ? To say a notion is imprinted on the mind, and yet at the same time to say, that the mind is ignorant of it, and never yet took notice of it, is to make this impression nothing. No proposition can be said to be in the mind, which it never yet knew, which it was never yet conscious of: for if any one may, then, by the same reason, all propositions that are true, and the mind is capable of ever assenting to, may be said to be in the mind, and to be imprinted : since, if any one can be said to be in the mind, which it never yet knew, it must be only, because it is capable of knowing it; and so the mind is of all truths it ever shall know. Nay, thus truths may be imprinted on the mind, which it never did, nor ever shall know : for a man may live long, and die at last in ignorance of many truths, which his mind was capable of knowing, and that with certainty. So that if the capacity of knowing be the natural impression contended for, all the truths a man ever comes to know, will, by this account, be every one of them innate : and this great point will amount to no more, but only to a very improper way of speaking ; which, whilst it pretends to assert the contrary, says nothing different from those who deny innate principles : for nobody, I think, ever denied that the mind was capable of knowing several truths, The capacity, they say, is innate, the knowledge acquired.' But then to what end such contest for certain innate maxims? If truths can be imprinted on the understanding without being perceived, I can see no difference there can be between any truths the mind is capable of knowing, in respect of their original: they must all be innate, or all adventitious : in vain shall a man go about to distinguish them. He, therefore, that talks of innate notions in the understanding, cannot (if he intend thereby any distinct sort of truths) mean such truths to be in the understanding, as it never perceived, and is yet wholly ignorant of: for if these words (to be in the understanding) have any propriety, they signify to be understood : so that, to be in the understanding, and not to be understood to be in the mind, and never to be perceived-is all one, as to say, any thing is, and is not, in the mind or understanding. If therefore these two propositions, “whatsoever is, is,” and “it is impossible for the same thing to be, and not to be,” are by nature imprinted, children cannot be ignorant of them; infants, and all that have souls, must necessarily have them in their understandings, know the truth of them, and assent to it. That men S 6. To avoid this, it is usually answered, know them That all men know and assent to them, when they

when they come to the use of reason, and come to the use of reason, this is enough to prove them innate. I answered. answer,

§. 7. Doubtful expressions, that have scarce any signification, go for clear reasons to those, who being prepossessed, take not the pains to examine even what they themselves say. For to apply this answer with any tolerable sense to our present purpose, it must signify one of these two things : either, that,

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