Imágenes de página

that are made on the brain, and the traces there left after such thinking; but that in the thinking of the soul, which is not perceivell in a seeping man, there the soul thinks apart, and making no use of the orgaus of the kody, leaves no impressions on it, and consequently no meiory of such thoughts. Not to mention again the absurdity of two diftinct persons, which follows from this fuppofition, I answer farther, That whatever ideas the mind can receive and contemplate without the help of the body, it is reasonable to conclude, it can retain without the help of the body too; or else the soul, or · any separate spirit, will have but little advantage by

thinking. If it has no memory of its own thoughts ; if it cannot lay them up for its use, and be able to recal them upon occasion; if it cannot reflect upon what is paft, and make use of its former experiences, reasonings, and contemplations, to what purpose does it think? They who make the soul a thinking thing, at this rate, will not make it a much more noble being than those do whom they condemn for allowing it to be nothing but the subtileft parts of matter. Characters drawn on dult, that the first breath of wind effaces, or imprese fons made on a heap of atoms, or animal spirits, are altogether as useful, and render the subject as noble as the thoughts of a soul that perish in thinking ; that once out of sight, are gone for ever, and leave no memory of themselves behind them. Nature never makes excellent things for mean or no uses; and it is hardly to be conceived, that our infinitely wise Creator (hould make so admirable a faculty as the power of thinking, that faculty which comes nearest the excellency of his own incomprehensible Being, to be so idly and uselessJy employed, at least a fourth part of its time here, as to think constantly, without remembering any of those thoughts, without doing any good to itself or others, or being any way useful to any other part of the creation. If we will examine it, we shall not find, I suppose, the motion of dull and senseless matter any where in the universe made so little use of, and so wholly thrown away.

$16. On this Hypothesis, the Soul muft have Ideas not

derived from Sensation or Reflection, of which there is :

no Appearance. It is true, we have sometimes instances of perception, whilst we are asleep, and retain the memory of those thoughts; but how extravagant and incoherent for the moit part they are, how little conformable to the perfection and order of a rational being, those who are acquainted with dreams need not be told. This I would willingly be satisfied in, whether the soul when it thinks thus apart, and as it were separate from the body, acts less rationally than when conjointly with it or no? If its separate thoughts be less rational, then these : men must say, that the soul owes the perfection of ra. tional thinking to the body; if it does not, it is a won. der that our dreams should be, for the most part, fo. frivolous and irrational, and that the soul should retain none of its more rational soliloquies and meditations. $ 17. If I think when I know it not, nobody else can,

know it. ' Those who so confidently tell us that the foul always ace. tually thinks, I would they would also tell us what those ideas are that are in the soul of a child before, or just at the union with the body, before it hath received any by sensation? The dreams of sleeping, men are, as I take it, all made up of the waking man's ideas, though for the most part oddly put together. It is strange, if the soul has ideas of its own that it derived not from sensation or reflection, (as it must have, if it thought before it received any impression from the body) that it should never, in its private thinking (so private, that the man himself perceives it not) retain any of them, the very moment it wakes out of them, and then make the man glad with new discoveries. Who can find it reasonable, that the soul should, in its retirement, during sleep, have so many hours thoughts, and yet never light on any of those ideas it borrowed not from sensation or reflection; or, at least, preserve the memory of none but such, which being occasioned from

med jet never light fle&tion; o!, at being occa

the body, must needs be less natural to a spirit ? It is strange the soul should never once in a man's whole life recal over any of its pure native thoughts, and those ideas it had, before it borrowed any thing from the body, never bringing into the waking man's view any other ideas but what have a tang of the caík, and manifestly derive their original from that union. If it always thinks, and so had ideas before it was united, or before it received any from the body, it is not to be supposed but that during fleep it recollects its native ideas, and during that retirement from communicating with the body, whilst it thinks by itself, the ideas it is busied about should be, sometimes at least, those more natural and congenial ones, which it had in itself underived from the body, or its own operations about them, which, since the waking man never remembers, we must from this hypothesis conclude, either that the soul remembers something that the man does not, or else that memory belongs only to such ideas as are derived from the body, or the mind's operations about them. $ 18. How knows any one that the Soul always thinks ??

Fur if it be not a self-evident Proposition, it reeds

Proof. I would be glad also to learn from these men, who lo confidently pronounce, that the human soul, or, which is all one, that a man always thinks, how they come to know it, nay, how they came to know that they themsilves think, when they themselves do not perceive it? This, I am afraid, is to be sure without proofs, and to know without perceiving ; it is, I suspect, a confused notion, taken up to serve an hypothesis, and none of those clear truths that either their own evidence forces us to admit, or common experience makes it impudence to deny ; for the most that can be frid of it is, that it is pollible the soul may always think, but not always retain it in memory; and, I say, it is as posible that the soul may not always think, and much more probable that it thould sometimes not think, than that it thould often think, and that a long while together, and

nan thin Can the that I remembus that pici

not be conscious to itself the next moment after that it had thought. $ 19. That a Man should be busy in thinking, and yet not

retain it the next moment, very improbable. To suppose the foul to think, and the man not to perceive it, is, as has been said, to make two persons in one man; and if one considers well these mens way of speaking, one should be led into a suspicion that they must do so ; for they who tell us that the soul always thinks, do never, that I remember, say that a man always thinks. Can the soul think, and not the man? or a man think, and not be conscious of it? This, perhaps, would be suspected of jargon in others. If they say, the man thinks always, but is not always conscious of ii, they may as well say, his body is extended without having parts; for it is altogether as intelligible to say, that a body is extended without parts, as that any thing ihinks without being conscious of it, or perceiving that it does so. They who talk thus, may with as much reafon, if it be necessary to their hypothesis, say, that a man is always hungry, but that he does not always. feel it; whereas hunger confifts in that very sensation, as thinking consists in being conscious that one thinks. If they say, that a man is always conscious to himself of thinking, I alk, how they know it ? Consciousness is the perception of what pafles in a man's own mind. Can another man perceive that I am conscious of any thing, when I perceive it not myself? No man's know ledge here can go beyond his experience. Wake a man out of a sound sleep, and ask hiin, What he was that moment thinking on? If he himself be conscious of nothing he then thought on, he must be a notable dia viner of thoughts, that can assure him that he was thinking ; may he not with more reason assure him he was not asleep? This is something beyond philofophy, and it cannot be less than revelation ihat discovers to another thoughts in my mind, when I can find none there myself; and they must needs have a penetrating fight, who can certainly see that I think, when I cannot perceive it myself, and when I declare that I do not, and yet can see that dogs or elephants do not think, when they give all the demonstration of it imaginable, except only telling us that they do so. This some may suspect to be a step beyond the Rosecrucians, it seeming easier to make one's self invisible to others, than to make another's thoughts visible to me, which are not visible to himself. But it is but defining the soul to be a substance that always thinks, and the business is done. If such definition be of any authority, I know not what it can serve for, but to make many men suspect that they have no souls at all, since they find a good part of their lives pass away without thinking ; for no definitions, that I know, no suppositions of any sect, are of force enough to destroy constant experience ; and perhaps it is the affectation of knowing beyond what we perceive, that makes so much useless dispute and noise in the world. 20. No Ideas but from Sensation òr Reflection, evi

dent, if we observe Children. I see no reason therefore to believe, that the foul thinks before the senses have furnished it with ideas to think on; and as those are increased and retained, so it comes, by exercise, to improve its faculty of thinking, in the several parts of it; as well as afterwards, by compounding those ideas, and reflecting on its own operations, it increases its stock, as well as facility, in remembering, imagining, reafoning, and other modes of thinking.

$ 21. He that will suffer himself to be informed by observation and experience, and not make his own hypothesis the rule of nature, will find few signs of a foul accuftomed to much thinking in a new-born child, and much fewer of any reasoning at all; and yet it is hard to imagine, that the rational soul should think so much, and not reason at all. And he that will consider, that infants, newly come into the world, spend the greatest part of their time in sleep, and are seldom awake, but when either hunger calls for the teat, or some pain (the most importunate of all sensations), or some other violent impression upon the body, forces the mind to per.

« AnteriorContinuar »