Abbildungen der Seite


47. The power to suspend the prosecution of any desire, makes

way for consideration. 48. To be determined by our own judgment is no restraint to 49. The freest agents are so determined. 50. A constant determination to a pursuit of happiness no

abridgment of liberty. 51. The necessity of pursuing true happiness the foundation

of all liberty. 52. The reason of it. 53. Government of our passions the right improvement of

54, 55. How men come to pursue different courses.

56. How men come to choose ill.
57. First, from bodily pains. Secondly, from wrong desires

arising from wrong judgment. 58, 59. Our judgment of present good or evil always right. 60. From a wrong judgment of what makes a necessary part of

their happiness. 61, 62. A more particular account of wrong judgments.

63. In comparing present and future. 64, 65. Causes of this.

66. In considering consequences of actions.
67. Causes of this.
68. Wrong judgment of what is necessary to our happiness.
69. We can change the agreeableness or disagreeableness in

things. 70. Preference of vice to virtue, a manifest wrong judgment. 71-73. Recapitulation.




1. Mixed modes, what.
2. Made by the mind.
3. Sometimes got by the explication of their names.
4. The name ties the parts of the mixed modes into one idea.
5. The cause of making mixed modes.
6. Why words in one language have none answering in another.
7. And languages change.
8. Mixed modes, where they exist.
9. How we get the ideas of mixed modes.
10. Motion, thinking, and power have been most modified.
11. Several words seeming to signify action, signify but the

12. Mixed modes made also of other ideas.

[ocr errors]







1. SINCE it is the understanding, that An inquiry sets man above the rest of sensible beings, into the unand gives him all the advantage and do- derstanding, minion which he has over them; it is pleasant and certainly a subject, even for its nobleness, worth our labour to inquire into. The understanding, like the eye, whilst it makes us see and perceive all other things, takes no notice of itself; and it requires art and pains to set it at a distance, and make it its own object. But, whatever be the difficulties that lie in the way of this inquiry; whatever it be, that keeps us so much in the dark to ourselves ; sure I am, that all the light we can let in upon our own minds, all the acquaintance we can make with our own understandings, will not only be very pleasant, but bring us great advantage in directing our thoughts in the search of other things.

S 2. This, therefore, being my purpose; Design. to inquire into the original, certainty, and extentof human knowledge, together with the grounds and degrees of belief, opinion and assent-I shall not at present meddle with the physical consideration of the mind, or trouble myself to examine, wherein its



essence consists, or by what motions of our spirits, or alterations of our bodies, we come to have any sensation by our organs, or any ideas in our understandings; and whether those ideas do, in their formation, any, or all of them, depend on matter or no. These are speculations, which, however curious and entertaining, I shall decline, as lying out of my way in the design I am now upon. It shall suffice to my present purpose, to consider the discerning faculties of a man, as they are employed about the objects which they have to do with: and I shall imagine I

ave not wholly misemployed myself in the thoughts I shall have on this occasion, if, in this historical, plain method, I can give any account of the ways whereby our understandings come to attain those notions of things we have, and can set down any measures of the certainty of our knowledge, or the grounds of those persuasions, which are to be found amongst men, so various, different, and wholly contradictory; and yet asserted, somewhere or other, with such assurance and confidence, that he that shall take a view of the opinions of mankind, observe their opposition, and at the same time consider the fondness and devotion wherewith they are embraced, the resolution and eagerness wherewith they are maintained—may perhaps have reason to suspect, that either there is no such thing as truth at all, or that mankind hath no sufficient means to attain a certain knowledge of it. Method.

S 3. It is therefore worth while to

search out the bounds between opinion and knowledge; and examine by what measures, in things whereof we have no certain knowledge, we ought to regulate our assent, and moderate our persuasions. In order whereunto, I shall pursue this following method.

First, I shall inquire into the original of those ideas, notions, or whatever else you please to call them, which a man observes, and is conscious to him


self he has in his mind, and the ways whereby the understanding comes to be furnished with them.

Secondly, I shall endeavour to show what knowledge the understanding hath by those ideas; and the certainty, evidence, and extent of it.

Thirdly, I shall make some inquiry into the nature and grounds of faith, or opinion; whereby I mean that assent which we give to any proposition as true, of whose truth yet we have no certain knowledge : and here we shall have occasion to examine the reasons, and degrees of assent. § 4. If, by this inquiry into the nature

Useful to

know the exof the understanding, I can discover the

tent of our powers thereof, how far they reach, to

comprehenwhat things they are in any degree pro- sion. portionate, and where they fail us ; suppose


may be of use to prevail with the busy mind of man, to be more cautious in meddling with things exceeding its comprehension; to stop when it is at the utmost extent of its tether; and to sit down in a quiet ignorance of those things which, upon examination, are found to be beyond the reach of our capacities. We should not then perhaps be so forward, out of an affectation of an universal knowledge, to raise questions, and perplex ourselves and others with disputes about things to which our understandings are not suited, and of which we cannot frame in our minds any clear or distinct perceptions, or whereof (as it has perhaps too often happened) we have not any notions at all. If we can find out how far the understanding can extend its view, how far it has faculties to attain certainty, and in what cases it can only judge and guess, we may learn to content ourselves with what is attainable by us in this state.

S 5. For, though the comprehension of Our capacity our understandings comes exceeding short suited to our of the vast extent of things; yet we shall have cause enough to magnify the bountiful Author of our being, for that proportion and de

state and


« ZurückWeiter »