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ship, indeed, in particular, I can hope for something better; for your lordship thinks the general design of it so good, that that, I flatter myself, would prevail on your lordship to preserve it from the fire.
But as to the way, your lordship thinks, I should have taken to pre. vent the having it thought my invention, when it was common to me with others, it unluckily so fell out, in the subject of my Essay of Human Un. derstanding, that I could not look into the thoughts of other men to in. form myself. For my design being, as well as I could, to copy nature, and to give an account of the operations of the mind in thinking; I could look into no-body's understanding but my own, to see how it wrought ; nor have a prospect into other men's minds, to view their thoughts there ; and observe what steps and motions they took, and by what gradations they proceeded in their acquainting themselves with truth, and their advance in knowledge: what we find of their thoughts in books, is but the result of this, and not the progress and working of their minds, in coming to the opinions or conclusions they set down and published.
All therefore, that I can say of my book, is, that it is a copy of my own mind, in its several ways of operation. And all that I can say for the publishing of it is, that I think the intellectual faculties are made, and operate alike in most men; and that some, that I shewed it to before I published it, liked it so well, that I was confirmed in that opinion. And therefore, if it should happen, that it should not be so, but that some men should have ways of thinking, reasoning, or arriving at certainty, different from others, and above those that I find my mind to use and acquiesce in, I do not see of what use my book can be to them. I can only make it my humble request, in my own name, and in the name of those that are of my size, who find their minds work, reason, and know in the same low way that mine does, that those men of a more happy genius would shew us the way of their nobler flights; and parti. calarly would discover to us their shorter or surer way to certainty, than by ideas, and the observing their agreement or disagreement.
Your lordship adds, But now, it seems, nothing is intelligible but wha: 1 wüt suits with the new way of ideas. My lord, The new way of ideas, and the old way of speaking intelligibly* was always and ever will be the same : and if I may take the liberty to declare my sense of it, herein it consists: 1. That a man use no words, but such as he makes the signs of certain determined objects of his mind in thinking, which he can make known to another. 2. Next, that he use the same word steadily for the sign of the same immediate object of his mind in thinking. 3. That he join those words together in propositions, according to the grammatical rules of that language he speaks in. 4. That he unite those sentences in a coherent discourse. Thus, and thus only, I humbly conceive, an one may preserve himself from the confines and suspicion of jargon, whether he pleases to call those immediate objects of his mind, which mich his words do, or should stand for, ideas or no.
+ Mr. Locke's Third Letter to the Bishop of Worcester.
Book "; for a fter myx
zken to me
it to me Human la I mento
No Innate Principles in the Mind.
o see how
thoughts 1 working
ley ser da
a copy c
ties are met
ed it to best
sriving at e d my min' can be lo tez
work, rect - men of a 5 his; and pr certaints, 17
$. . IT is an established opinion amongst The way
. I some men, that there are in the un- shewn how o view db derstanding certain innate principles, some äny know?
we come by took, and primary notions, xolai évvoral, characters, ledge, suffici. es with us
as it were, stamped upon the mind of man, ent to prove it
falseness of this supposition, if I should only shew (as : I cans
I hope I shall in the following parts of this discourse)
how men, barely by the use of their natural faculties, that opit may attain to all the knowledge they have, without the e so, bere help of any innate impressions; and may arrive at cer
tainty, without any such original notions or principles.
For I imagine any one will easily grant, that it would Je, and ba be impertinent to suppose, the ideas of colours innate
in a creature, to whom God hath given sight, and a power to receive them by the eyes, from external objects : and no less unreasonable would it be to attribute several truths to the impressions of nature, and innate characters, when we may observe in ourselves faculties, fit to attain as casy and certain knowledge of them, as
if they were originally imprinted on the mind. site But because a man is not permitted without censure The C29 3 to follow his own thoughts in the search of truth, when steadily they lead him ever so little out of the common road ; . 3. I shall sét down the reasons, that made me doubt of
the truth of that opinion, as an excuse for my mistake,
if I be in one ; which I leave to be considered by those, ion of who, with me, dispose theinselves to embrace truth, his mind, " wherever they find it.
§. 2. There is nothing more commonly General as. taken for granted, than that there are cer- sent the great tain principles, both speculative and prac. argument, .
- of it, hereus
che gram. nose sentent * conceise,
S. 3. The culties, arily and
tical (for they speak of both) universally agreed upon by all mankind : which therefore, they argue, must needs be constant impressions, which the souls of men receive in their first beings, and which they bring into the world with them, as necessarily and really as they do any of their inherent faculties.
§. 3. This argument, drawn from univerUniversal sal consent, has this misfortune in it, that consent if it were true in matter of fact, that there proves no.
were certain truths, wherein all mankind thing innate.
agreed, it would not prove them innate, if there can be any other way shewn, how men may come to that universal agreement, in the things they do consent in; which I presume may be done. ir ithne 8. 4. But, which is worse, this argument is:" and, it of universal consent, which is made use of is impossible to prove innate principles, seems to me a
demonstration that there are none such; be thing to be,
cause there are none to which all mankind be." not uni. give an universal assent. I shall begin with versally as the speculative, and instance in those mag. sented to. nified principles of demonstration; “ what ma soever is, is;" and, “it is impossible for the same thing to be, and not to be;" which, of all others, I think have the most allowed title to innate. These have so settled a reputation of maximns universally redhe ceived, that it will, no doubt, bc thought strange, if any one should seein to question it. But yet I take liberty to say, that these propositions are so far from having an universal assent, that there are great part of mankind to whom they are not so much as known. Not on the $. 5. For, first, it is evident, that all mind natu. children and idiots have not the least appre pe ever rally im.
hension or thought of them; and the want printed, be
of that is enough to destroy that universal potente cause pot known to
assent, which must needs be the necessary for children, concomitant of all innate truths: it seeming idiots, &c. to me near a contradiction, to say, that there are truths imprinted on the soul, which it perceives or uno derstands not : imprinting, if it signify any thing, being nothing else, but the making certain truths to be per
eed ur zue, a
y do con
2 such; t/
ceived. For to inprint any thing on the mind, without
the mind's perceiving it, seems to me hardly intelligible. Is of it!
If therefore children and idiots have souls, have minds, oring i
with those impressions upon them, they must unavoidas thes:
ably perceive them, and necessarily know and assent to
these truths ; which since they do not, it is evident that -m unive
there are no such impressions. For if they are not noin it.
tions naturally imprinted, how can they be innate ? aud that the
if they are notions imprinted, how can they be une
known? To say a notion is imprinted on the mind, and innate,
yet at the same time to say, that the mind is ignorant of
it, and never yet took notice of it, is to make this immay 2011
pression nothing. No proposition can be said to be in the mind, which it never yet knew, which it was never yet conscious of. For if any one may, then, by the
same reason, all propositions that are true, and the mind de use
is capable of ever assenting to, may be said to be in the a to Be
mind, and to be imprinted : since, if any one can be
said to be in the mind, which it never yet knew, it must Il manki
be only, because it is capable of knowing it, and so the begin mo
mind is of all truths it ever shall know. Nay, thus truths may be imprinted on the mind, which it never did, nor ever shall know : for a man may live long, and die at last in ignorance of many truths, which his inind was capable of knowing, and that with certainty. So that if the capacity of knowing, be the natural impression contended for, all the truths a man ever comes to know, will, by this account, be every one of them innate ; and this great point will amount to no more, but only to a very improper way of speaking; which, whilst it pretends to assert the contrary, says nothing different from those, who deny innate principles. For nobody, I think, ever denied that the mind was capable of know
ing several truths. The capacity, they say, is innate, the way the knowledge acquired But then to what end such
contest for certain innate maxims ? If truths can be ima printed on the understanding without being perceived, I can see no difference there can be, between any truths
the mind is capable of knowing, in respect of their resor) original: they must all be innate, or all adventitious : ing, bel in vain shall a man go about to distinguish them. He
Other: te. The
crsally ige, it acl ike liber
that 4 ast app
necessari it seen:
therefore, that talks of innate notions in the understand-
$. 7. Doubtful expressions, that have
§. 8. If they mean, that by the use of covered
reason men may discover these principles; them, that
and that this is sufficient to prove them inwould not nate: their way of arguing will stand thus, prove them
(viz.) that, whatever truths reason can ccrinnate.
tainly discover to us, and make us firmly assent to, those are all naturally imprinted on the mind: 1 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