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frequent impressions on their senses. In ideas thus got, the mind discovers that some agree and others differ, probably as soon as it has any use of memory; as soon as it is able to retain and perceive distinct ideas. But whether it be then, or no, this is certain ; it does so long before it has the use of words, or comes to that, which we commonly call “ the use of reason.” For a child knows as certainly, before it can speak, the difference between the ideas of sweet and bitter, (i. e. that sweet is not bitter) as it knows afterwards (when it comes to speak) that wormwood and sugar-. plums are not the same thing.
$ 16. A child knows not that three and four are equal to seven, till he comes to be able to count seven, and has got the name and idea of equality; and then, upon explaining those words, he presently assents to, or rather perceives the truth of that proposition. But neither does he then readily assent, because it is an innate truth, nor was his assent wanting till then, because he wanted the use of reason; but the truth of it appears to him, as soon as he has settled in his mind the clear and distinct ideas that these names stand for; and then he knows the truth of that proposition, upon the same grounds, and by the same means, that he knew before that a rod and a cherry are not the same thing; and upon the same grounds also, that he may come to know afterwards, " that it is impossible for the same thing to be, and not to be," as shall be more fully shown hereafter. So that the later it is before any one comes to have those general ideas, about which those maxims are; or to know the signification of those general terms that stand for them; or to put together in his mind the ideas they stand for; the later also will it be before he comes to assent to those maxims, whose terms, with the ideas they stand for, being no more innate than those of a cat or a weasel, he must stay till time and observation have acquainted him with them; and then he will be in a capacity to know the truth of these maxims, upon the first oc
casion that shall make him put together those ideas in his mind, and observe whether they agree or disagree, according as is expressed in those propositions. And therefore it is, that a man knows that eighteen and nineteen are equal to thirty-seven, by the same self-evidence that he knows one and two to be equal to three: yet a child knows this not so soon as the other, not for want of the use of reason, but because the ideas the words eighteen, nineteen, and thirty-seven stand for, are not so soon got, as those which are signified by one, two, and three.
$ 17. This evasion therefore of general Assenting as assent, when men come to the use of rea
soon as pro
posed and son, failing as it does, and leaving no dif
understood, ference between those supposed innate, proves them and other truths that are afterwards ac- not innate. quired and learnt, men have endeavoured to secure an universal assent to those they call maxims, by saying, they are generally assented to as soon as proposed, and the terms they are proposed in, understood: seeing all men, even children, as soon as they hear and understand the terms, assent to these propositions, they think it is sufficient to prove them innate. For since men never fail, after they have once understood the words, to acknowledge them for undoubted truths, they would infer, that certainly these propositions were first lodged in the understanding, which, without any teaching, the mind, at the very first proposal, immediately closes with, and assents to, and after that never doubts again.
§ 18. In answer to this, I demand If such an “ whether ready assent given to a propo
a mark of insition upon first hearing, and understand
nate, then ing the terms, be a certain mark of an “ that one innate principle ?" If it be not, such a ge- and two are neral assent is in vain urged as a proof of
three, that them : if it be said, that it is a mark of
sweetness is innate, they must then allow all such pro- not bitterpositions to be innate which are generally ness," and a
thousand the assented to as soon as heard, whereby
be they will find themselves' plentifully innate.
stored with innate principles. For upon the same ground, viz. of assent at first hearing and understanding the terms, that men would have those maxims pass for innate, they must also admit several propositions about numbers to be innate; and thus, that one and two are equal to three; that two and two are equal to four; and a multitude of other the like propositions in numbers, that every body assents to at first hearing and understanding the terms, must have a place amongst these innate axioms. Nor is this the prerogative of numbers alone, and propositions made about several of them; but even natural philosophy, and all the other sciences, afford propositions which are sure to meet with assent as soon as they are understood. That two bodies cannot be in the same place, is a truth that nobody any more sticks at, than at these maxims, that “it is impossible for the same thing to be, and not to be; that white is not black; that a square is not a circle; that yellowness is not sweetness :" these, and a million of other such propositions, (as many at least as we have distinct ideas of) every man in his wits, at first hearing, and knowing what the names stand for, must necessarily assent to. If these men will be true to their own rule, and have assent at first hearing and understanding the terms to be a mark of innate, they must allow, not only as many innate propositions as men have distinct ideas, but as many as men can make propositions, wherein different ideas are denied one of another. Since every proposition, wherein one different idea is denied of another, will as certainly find assent at first hearing and understanding the terms, as this general one, " it is impossible for the same thing to be, and not to be;" or that which is the foundation of it, and is the easier understood of the two, “ the same is not different;' by which account they will have legions of innate propositions of this one sort, without mentioning any other. But since no proposition can be innate, unless the ideas, about which it is, be innate ; this will be, to suppose all our ideas of colours, sounds, taste, figure, &c. innate, than which there cannot be any thing more opposite to reason and experience. Universal and ready assent, upon hearing and understanding the terms, is (I grant) a mark of self-evidence; but self-evidence, depending not on innate impressions, but on something else (as we shall show hereafter), belongs to several propositions, which nobody was yet so extravagant as to pretend to be innate.
S 19. Nor let it be said, that those more Such less particular self-evident propositions, which general pro
positions are assented to at first hearing, as, that one and two are equal to three; that green is fore these not red, &c.; are received as the conse- universal quences of those more universal proposi. maxims. tions, which are looked on as innate principles; since any one, who will but take the pains to observe what passes in the understanding, will certainly find, that these, and the like less general propositions, are certainly known, and firmly assented to, by those who are utterly ignorant of those more general maxims; and so being earlier in the mind than those (as they are called) first principles, cannot owe to them the assent wherewith they are received at first hearing.
$ 20. If it be said, that“ these proposi. tions, viz. two and two are equal to four; equal to red is not blue, &c.; are not general two, &c. maxims, nor of any great use;" I answer, not general that makes nothing to the argument of
of nor useful,
answered. universal assent, upon hearing and understanding; for if that be the certain mark of innateness whatever proposition can be found that receives general assent as soon as heard and understood, that must be admitted for an innate proposition, as well as this maxim, “ that it is impossible for the same thing to be, and not to be ;" they being upon this ground equal. And as to the difference of being more general,
that makes this maxim more remote from being innate; those general and abstract ideas being more strangers to our first apprehensions, than those of more particular self-evident propositions, and therefore it is longer before they are admitted and assented to by the growing understanding. And as to the usefulness of these magnified maxims, that perhaps will not be found so great as is generally conceived, when it comes in its due place to be more fully considered. These
$ 21. But we have not yet done with maxims not assenting to propositions at first hearing
and understanding their terms; it is fit sometimes till proposed. we first take notice, that this, instead of proves them being a mark that they are innate, is a not innate. proof of the contrary; since it supposes that several, who understand and know other things, are ignorant of these principles, till they are proposed to them; and that one may be unacquainted with these truths till he hears them from others. For if they were innate, what need they be proposed in order to gaining assent; when by being in the understanding, by a natural and original impression, (if there were any such) they could not but be known before? Or doth the proposing them print them clearer in the mind than nature did ? If so, then the consequence will be, that a man knows them better after he has been thus taught them than he did before. Whence it will follow, that these principles may be made more evident to us by others' teaching, than nature has made them by impression; which will ill agree with the opinion of innate principles, and give but little authority to them; but,on the contrary,makes them unfit to be the foundations of all our other knowledge, as they are pretended to be. This cannot be denied; that men grow first acquainted with many of these self-evident truths, upon their being proposed: but it is clear, that whosoever does so, finds in himself that he then begins to know a proposition which he knew not before, and which, from thenceforth, he never questions; not be