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as soon as men come to the use of reason, these supposed native inscriptions come to be known and observed by · them; or else, that the use and exercise of men's reason assists them in the discovery of these principles, and certainly makes them known to them. § 8. If they mean, that by the use of If reason
discovered reason men may discover these principles, and that this is sufficient to prove them
would not innate; their way of arguing will stand
them thus : viz. that whatever truths reason can certainly discover to us, and make us firmly assent to, those are all naturally imprinted on the mind; since that universal assent, which is made the mark of them, amounts to no more but this; that by the use of reason we are capable to come to a certain knowledge of, and assent to them; and, by this means, there will be no difference between the maxims of the mathematicians, and theorems they deduce from them; all must be equally allowed innate; they being all discoveries made by the use of reason, and truths that a rational creature may certainly come to know, if he apply his thoughts rightly that way.
$ 9. But how can these men think the use It is false that of reason necessary to discover principles reason disco
vers them. that are supposed innate, when reason (if we may believe them) is nothing else but the faculty of deducing unknown truths from principles, or propositions, that are already known? That certainly can never be thought innate, which we have need of reason to discover; unless, as I have said, we will have all the certain truths that reason ever teaches us, to be innate. We may as well think the use of reason necessary to make our eyes discover visible objects, as that there should be need of reason, or the exercise thereof, to make the understanding see what is originally engraven on it, and cannot be in the understanding before it be perceived by it. So that to make reason discover those truths thus imprinted, is to say, that the use of reason discovers to a man what
he knew before, and if men have those innate impressed truths originally, and before the use of reason, and yet are always ignorant of them, till they come to the use of reason; it is in effect to say, that men know, and know them not, at the same time.
§ 10. It will here perhaps be said, that mathematical demonstrations, and other truths that are not innate, are not assented to as soon as proposed, wherein they are distinguished from these maxims, and other innate truths. I shall have occasion to speak of assent upon the first proposing, more particularly, by and by. I shall here only, and that very readily, allow, that these maxims and mathematical demonstrations are in this different; that the one have need of reason, using of proofs, to make them out, and to gain our assent; but the other, as soon as understood, are without any the least reasoning, embraced and assented to. But I withal beg leave to observe, that it lays open the weakness of this subterfuge, which requires the use of reason for the discovery of these general truths; since it must be confessed, that in their discovery there is no use made of reasoning at all. And I think those who give this answer will not be forward to affirm, that the knowledge of this maxim, “ That it is impossible for the same thing to be, and not to be," is a deduction of our reason; for this would be to destroy that bounty of nature they seem so fond of, whilst they make the knowledge of those principles to depend on the labour of our thoughts. For all reasoning is search, and casting about, and requires pains and application ; and how can it, with any tolerable sense, be supposed, that what was imprinted by nature, as the foundation and guide of our reason, should need the use of reason to discover it ?
§ 11. Those who will take the pains to reflect with a little attention on the operations of the understanding, will find, that this ready assent of the mind to some truths, depends not either on native inscription, or the use of reason ; but on a faculty of the mind
to the use of reason, not
quite distinct from both of them, as we shall see hereafter. Reason, therefore, having nothing to do in procuring our assent to these maxims, if, by saying that men know and assent to them when they come to the use of reason, be meant, that the use of reason assists us in the knowledge of these maxims, it is utterly false; and were it true, would prove them not to be innate. $ 12. If by knowing and assenting to
The coming them, when we come to the use of reason, be meant, that this is the time when
the time we they come to be taken notice of by the mind; and that, as soon as children come
maxims. to the use of reason, they come also to know and assent to these maxims; this also is false and frivolous. First, it is false; because it is evident these maxims are not in the mind so early as the use of reason, and therefore the coming to the use of reason is falsely assigned as the time of their discovery. How many instances of the use of reason may we observe in children, a long time before they have any knowledge of this maxim, “ That it is impossible for the same thing to be, and not to be ?” And a great part of illiterate people, and savages, pass many years, even of their rational age, without ever thinking on this, and the like general propositions. I grant, men come noť to the knowledge of these general and more abstract truths, which are thought innate, till they come to the use of reason; and I add, nor then neither : which is so, because, till after they come to the use of reason, those general abstract ideas are not framed in the mind, about which those general maxims are, which are mistaken for innate principles ; but are indeed discoveries made, and verities introduced and brought into the mind by the same way, and discovered by the same steps, as several other propositions, which nobody was ever so extravagant as to suppose innate. This I hope to make plain in the sequel of this discourse. I allow
are not di.
therefore a necessity that men should come to the use of reason before they get the knowledge of those general truths, but deny that men's coming to the use of reason is the time of their discovery. By this they § 13. In the mean time it is obser
vable, that this saying, That men know stinguished from other
and assent to these maxims when they knowable come to the use of reason, amounts, in truths. reality of fact, to no more but this, That they are never known, nor taken notice of, before the use of reason, but may possibly be assented to, some time after, during a man's life, but when, is uncertain ; and so may all other knowable truths, as well as these; which therefore have no advantage nor distinction from others, by this note of being known when we come to the use of reason, nor are thereby proved to be innate, but quite the contrary. If coming to
$ 14. But, secondly, were it true that the use of the precise time of their being known
and assented to were when men come to the time of their disco
the use of reason, neither would that very,itwould prove them innate. This way of arguing not prove
is as frivolous as the supposition of itself them innate.
is false. For by what kind of logic will it appear, that any notion is originally by nature imprinted in the mind in its first constitution, because it comes first to be observed and assented to, when a faculty of the mind, which has quite a distinct province, begins to exert itself? And therefore, the coming to the use of speech, if it were supposed the time that these maxims are first assented to, (which it may
be with as much truth as the time when men come to the use of reason) would be as good a proof that they were innate, as to say, they are innate, because men assent to them when they come to the use of reason.
I agree then with these men of innate principles, that there is no knowledge of these general and self-evident maxims in the mind, till it comes to the exercise of reason; but I deny that the coming to
the use of reason is the precise time when they are first taken notice of; and if that were the precise time, I deny that it would prove them innate. All that can, with any truth, be meant by this proposition, that men assent to them when they come to the use of reason, is no more but this ; that the making of
general abstract ideas, and the understanding of general names, being a concomitant of the rational faculty, and growing up with it, children commonly get not those general ideas, nor learn the names that stand for them, till, having for a good while exercised their reason about familiar and more particular ideas, they are, by their ordinary discourse and actions with others, acknowledged to be capable of rational conversation. If assenting to these maxims, when men come to the use of reason, can be true in any
other sense, I desire it may be shown, or at least, how in this, or any other sense, it proves them innate. § 15. The senses at first let in particular
The steps by ideas, and furnish the yet empty cabinet; which the and the mind by degrees growing familiar mind attains with some of them, they are lodged in the several
truths. memory, and names got to them: afterwards, the mind, proceeding farther, abstracts them, and by degrees learns the use of general names. In this manner the mind comes to be furnished with ideas and language, the materials about which to exercise its discursive faculty ; and the use of reason becomes daily more visible, as these materials, that give it employment, increase. But though the having of general ideas, and the use of general words and reason, usually grow together, yet, I see not how this any way proves them innate. The knowledge of some truths, I confess, is very early in the mind, but in a way that shows them not to be innate. For, if we will observe, we shall find it still to be about ideas, not innate, but acquired; it being about those first which are imprinted by external things, with which infants have earliest to do, which make the most