Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

space is expanded, and body extended. But in this every one has liberty : I propose it. only for the more clear and distinct way of speaking.

: . 28. The knowing precisely what our Men differ

wide stand for

words stand for, would, I imagine, in little in clear simple ideas. this as well as a great many other cases,

quickly end the dispute. For I am apt to think that men, when they come to examine them, find their simple idcas all generally to agree, though in discourse with one another they perhaps confound one another with different names. I jinagine that men who abstract their thoughts, and do well examine the ideas of their own minds, cannot much differ in thinking; however they may perplex themselves with words, according to the way of speaking of the several schools or sects they have been bred up in : though amongst unthinking men, who examine not scrupu, lously and carefully their own ideas, and strip them not from the marks men use for thein, but confound them with words, there must be endless dispute, wrangling and jargon ; especially if they be learned bookish men, devoted to some sect, and accustomed to the language of it, and have learned to talk after others. But if it should happen, that any two thinking inen should really have different ideas, I do vot see how they could discourse or argue one with another. Here I must not be inistaken, to think that every floating imagination in men's brains, is presently of that sort of ideas I speak of. It is not easy for the mind to put off those confused notions and prejudices it has imbibed from custom, inadvertency, and coinmon conversation: It requires pains and assiduity to examine its ideas, till it resolves thein iuto those clear and distinct simple ones, out of which they are compounded; and to set which, ainongst its simple ones, have or have not i necessary connexion and dependence one upon another, Till a man doth this in the primary and original notion of things, he builds upon toating and uncertain prin. ciples, and will often find himselt at a loss.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors]

CHA P. XIV.

Of Duration, and its simple llodes. $. 1. THERE is another sort of dis- Duration is

1 tance or length, the idea where. Heeting ex. of we get not from the permanent parts of tension. space, but from the fleeting and perpetually perishing parts of succession. This we call duration, the simple modes whereof are any different lengthy of it, whereof we have distinct ideas, as hours, days, years, &c. time and eternity.

. 2. The answer of a great man, 'to one Its idea from who asked what tiine was, “ Si non rogas riflection on “ intelligo,"" (which amounts to this ; the the train of more I set myself to think of it, the less I our ideas. . understand it) might perhaps persuade one, that time, which reveals all other things, is itself not to be discovered. Duration, time, and eternity, are not without reason thought to have something very abstruse in their nature. · But however remote these may secın from our comprehension, yet if we trace them right to their originals, I doubt not but one of those sources of all our knowledge, viz. sensation and reflection, will be able to furnish us with these ideas, as clear and distinct as many other which are thought much less obscure ; and we shall find, that the idea of eternity itself is derived from the same common original with the rest of our ideas.

$. 3. To understand time and eternity aright, we ought with attention to consider what idea it is we have of duration, and how we came by it. It is evident to any one, who will but observe what passes in his own mind, that there is a train of ideas which constantly succeed one another in his understanding, as long as he is awake. Reflection on these appearances of several ideas, one after another, in our minds, is that which furnishes us with the idea of succession; and the distance between any parts of that succession, or between the

Ma

appearappearance of any two ideas in our minds, is that we call duration. For whilst we are thinking, or whilst we receive successively several ideas in our minds, we know that we do exist; and so we call the existence, or the continuation of the existence of ourselves, or any thing else, commensurate to the succession of any ideas in our minds, the duration of ourselves, or any such other thing coexistent with our thinking.

9. 4. That we have our notion of succession and duration from this original, viz. from reflection on the train of ideas which we tind to appear one after anothier in our own minds, scems plain to me, in that we have no perception of duration, but by considering the train of ideas that take their turns in our understandings. When that succession of ideas ceases, our perception of duration ceases with it; which every one clearly experiments in himself, whilst he siceps soundly, whether an hour or a day, a month or a year: of which duration of things, while he sleeps or thinks not, he has no perception at all, but it is quite lost to him ; and the moment wherein he leaves off to think, till the moment he begins to think again, seems to him to have no distance. And so I doubt not it would be to à waking man, if it were possible for him to keep only one idea in his mind, without variation and the succession of others. And we see, that one who fixes his thoughts very intently on one thing, so as to take but little notice of the succession of ideas that pass in his mind, whilst he is taken up with that earnest contemplation, lets slip out of his account a good part of that duration, and thinks that time shorter than it is. But if sleep commonly unites the distant parts of duration, it is because during that time we have no suce ression of ideas in our minds. For if a man), during his sleep, dreams, and variety of ideas make themselves perceptible in his mind one after another ; be hath then, during such dreaming, a sense of duration, and of the length of it. By which it is to me very clear, that men derive their ideas of duration from their reflections on the train of the ideas they observe to succeed one another in their own understandings;

without

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

without which observation they can have no notion of duration, whatever may happen in the world.

9. 5. Indeed, a man having, from re- The idea of flecting on the succession and number of duration 'arhis own thoughts, got the notion or idea plicable to of duration, he can apply that notion to things whilst things which exist while he does not think; we as he that has got the idea of extension from bodies by his sight or touch, can apply it to distances, where ng body is seen or felt. And therefore though a man has no perception of the length of duration, which passed whilst he slept or thought not; yet having observed the revolution of days and nights, and found the length of their duration to be in appearance regular and constant, he can, upon the supposition that that revolution has proceeded after the same manner, whilst he was asleep or thought not, as it used to do at other times; he can, I say, imagine and make allowance for the length of duration, whilst he slept. But if Adam and Eve (when they were alone in the world) instead of their ordinary night's sleep, had passed the whole twenty-four hours in one continued sleep, the duration of that twentyfour hours had been irrecoverably lost to them, and been for ever left ont of their account of time.

9. 6. Thus by reflecting on the appear. The idea of ing of various ideas one after another in succession our understandings, we get the notion of not from succession; which, if any one would think motion, we did rather get from our observation of motion by our senses, he will perhaps be of my mind, when he considers that even motion produces in his mind an idea of succession, no otherwise than as it produces there a continued train of distinguishable ideas. For a man looking upon a body really moving, perceives yet no motion at all, unless that motion produces a constant train of suceessire idcas: v. g, a man becalmed at sea, out of sigiit of land, in a fair day, may look on the sun, or sea, or ship, a whole hour together, and perceive no inotion at all in either; though it be cortain that two, and perhaps all of them, have moved during that time a great way. But as soou as he per

ceives

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

3

[ocr errors]

ceives either of them to have changed distance with soine other body, as soon as this motion produccs any new idea in bim, then he perceives that tliere has been motion. “But wherever a man is, with all things at rest about him, without perceiving any motion at all; if during this, hour of quiet lic has been thinking, he will perceive the various ideas, of his own thoughts in his own inind, appearing one after another, and thereby observe and find succession where he could observe no motion.

$. 7. And this, I think, is the reason why motions very slow, though they are constant, are not perceived by us; because in their remove from one sensible part, towards another, their change of distance is so slow, that it causes no new ideas in us, but a good while one after another; and so not causing a constant train of new ideas to follow one another immediately in our minds, we have no perception of motion; which consisting in a constant succession, we cannot perceive that succession without a constant succession of varying ideas arising from it.

S. 8. On the contrary, things that move so swift, as not to affect the senses distinctly with several distinguishable distances of their motion, and so cause not any train of ideas in the mind, are not also perceived to move: For any thing that moves round about in a circle, in less time than our ideas are wont to succeed one another in our minds, is not perceived to move; but seems to be a perfect entire circle of that matter or colour, and not a part of a circle in motion.

n of $. 9. Hence I leave it to others to judge, ideas has a whether it be not probable, that our ideas certain de- do, whilst we are awake, succeed one anogrecofquick. ther in our minds at certain distancos, not

much unlike the images in the inside of a lanthorn, turned round by the heat of a candle. This appearance of theirs in train, though perhaps it may be sometimes faster, and sometimes slower, yet, 1 guess, varics not very much in a waking man: there seem to be certain bounds to the quickness and slow'. ness of the succession of those ideas one to another in

our

ness.

« AnteriorContinuar »