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us; men !
I presume it will be easily granted me, that there are such ideas in men's minds; every one is conscious of them in himself, and men's words and actions will satisfy him that they are in others.
Our first enquiry then shall be, how they come into the mind.
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endeavoured to defend, is because they have been applied to such pur. poses. And I might (your lordship says) have enjoyed the satsfaction of my ideas long enough before you had taken notice of them, unless your lordship had found them employed in doing mischief. Which, at last, as I humbly conceive, amounts to thus much, and no more, viz. That your lordship fears ideas, i.e. the term ideas, may, some time or other, prove of very dangerous consequence to what your lordship has endeavoured to defend, because they have been made use of in arguing against it. For I am sure your lordship does not mean, that you appre. hend the things, signified by ideas, may be of dangerous consequence to the article of faith your lordship endeavours to defend, because they have been made use of against it : For (besides that your lordship mentions terms) that would be to expect that those who oppose that article, should oppose it without any thoughts; for the things signified by ideas, are nothing but the immediate objects of our minds in thinking : so that unless any one can oppose the article your lordship defends, without thinking on something, he must use the things signified by ideas ; for he that thinks, must have some immediate object of his mind in thinking, i, e. must have ideas.
But whether it be the name, or the thing ; ideas in sound, or ideas in signification ; that your lordship apprehends may be of dangerous consequence 19 that article of faith, which your lordship endeavours to defend; it seems to me, I will not say a new way of reasoning (for that belongs to me), but were it not your lordship’s, I should think it a very extraordinary way of rensning, to write against a book, wherein your lordship acknowledges they are not used to bad purposes, nor employed to do mischief; only because you find that ideas are, by those who oppose your lordship, employed to do mischief; and so apprehend, they may be of dangerous consequence to the article your lordship has engaged in the defence of. For whether itoas as terms, or ideas as the immediate objects of the mind signified by those terms, may be, in your lordship's apprehension, of dangerous consequence to that article ; I do not see how your lordship’s writing against the notion of ideas, as stated in my book, will at all hinder your opposers, from employing them in doing mischief, as before.
However, be that as it will, so it is, that your lordship apprehends these new terims, these ideas, with which the world hath, of late, been so strangely amused, (rhough at last they come to be only common notions of things, as your lordship owns) may be of dangerous consequence to that article.
My lord, if any, in answer to your lordship's sermons, and in other pamphlets, wherein your lordship complains they have talked so much of ideas, have been troublesome to your lordship with that term; it is not strange that your lordship should be tired with that sound : but how
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natural scever it be to our weak constitutions, to be offended with any sound, wherewith an importunate din hath been made about our ears; yet, my lord, I know your lordship has a better opinion of the articles of our faith, than to think any of them can be overturned, or so much as shaken, with a breath formed into any sound, or term whatsoever.
Names are but the arbitrary marks of conceptions; and so they be sufficiently appropriated to them in their use, I know no other difference any of them have in particular, but as they are of easy or difficult pro. nunciation, and of a more or less pleasant sound; and what particular antipathies there may be in men to some of them, upon that account, is not easy to be foreseen. This I am sure, no ter:n whatsoever in itself bears, one more than another, any opposition to truth of any kind; they are only propositions that do or can oppose the truth of any article or doc. trine; and thus no term is privileged for being set in opposition to truth.
There is no word to be found, which may not be brought into a proposition, wherein the most sacred and most evident truths may be op. posed : but that is not a fault in the term, but him that uses it. And therefore I cannot easily persuade niyself (whatever your lordship hath said in the heat of your concern) that you have bestowed so much pains upon my book, because the word idea is so much used there. For though upon niy saying, in my chapter about the existence of God, " That I scarce used the word idea in that whole chapter,' your lordship wishes, that I had done so quite throngh my book : yet I must rather look upon that as a compliment to me, wherein your lordship wished, that my book had been all through suited to vulgar readers, not used to that and the like 1.rms, than that your lordship has such an apprehension of the word idea ; or that there is any such harm in the use of it, instead of the word notion (with which your lordship seems to take it to agree in signification), that your lord: hip would think it worth your while to spend any part of your valuable time and thoughts about my book, for having the word idea so often in it; for this would be to make your lordship to write only against an impropriety of specch. I own to your lordship, it is a great conde. scension in your lordship to have done it, if that word have such a share in what your lordship has writ against my book, as some expressions would persuade one ; and I would, for the satisfaction of your lordship, Change the term of idra for a better, if your lordship, or any one, could help me to it; for, that notion will not so well stand for every inmediate object of the mind in thinking, as idea does, I have (as I guess) somewhere given a reason in my book, by showing that the term notion is more pecu. liarly appropriated to a certain sort of those objects, which I call mixed modes; and I think, it would not sound altogether so well, to say, the notion of red, and the notion of a horse ; as the idea of red, and the idea of a borse. But if any one thinks it will, I conterd not; for I have no fond. ness for, nor an antipathy to, any particular articulate sounds : nor do I think there is any spell or fascination in any of them.
But be the word idea proper or improper, I do not see how it is the better or the worse, because ill min have made use of it, or because it has been made use of to bad purposes; for if that be a reason to condemn, or lay it by, we must lay by the terms, scripture, reason, perception, distinci, clear, &c. Nay, the name of God himself will not escape; for I do not think any one of these, or any other term, can be produced, which hath not been made use of by such men, and to such purposes:
And therefore, if the unitarians in their late pamphlets have talked very much of, and strangely amused the world with ideas; I cannot believe your lordship will think that word one jot the worse, or the more dangerous, because they use it; any more than, før their use of them, you will think reason or scripture terms ill or dangerous. And therefore what your lordship says, that I might have enjoyed the satisfaction of my ideas long enough before your lordship had taken notice of them, unless you had found them em. ployed in doing mischief; will, I presume, when your lordship has considered again of this matter, prevail with your lordship, to let me enjoy still the satisfaction I take in my ideas, i.e. as much satisfaction as I can take in so small a matter, as is the using of a proper term, notwith. standing it should be employed by others in doing mischief. .
For, my lord, if I should leave it wholly out of my book, and substitute the word notion every where in the room of it; and every body else do so too (though your lordship does not, I suppose, suspect, that I have the vanity to think they would follow my example) my book would, it seems, be the more to your lordship's liking : but I do not see how this would one jot abate the mischief your lordship complains of. For the unitarians might as much employ notions, as they do now ideas, to do mischief; unless they are such fools to think they can conjure with this notable word idea ; and that the force of what they say, lies in the sound, and not in the signification of their terms.
This I am sure of, that the truths of the Christian religion can be no more battered by one word than another ; nor can they be beaten down or endangered by any sound whatsoever. And I am apt to flatter myself, that your lordship is satisfied that there is no harm in the word ideas, because you say, you should not have taken any notice of my ideas, if the enemies of our faith had not taken up my new way of ideas, as an effectual battery against the mysteries of the Christian faith. In which place, by new way of ideas, nothing, I think, can be construed to be meant, but my expressing myself by that of ideas; and not by other more common words, and of ancienter standing in the English language.
As to the objection, of the author's way by ideas being a new way, he thus answers ; my new way by ideas, or my way by ideas, which often occurs in your lordship’s letter, is, I confess, a very large and doubtful expression; and may, in the full latitude, comprehend my whole essay; because, treating in it of the understanding, which is nothing but the faculty of thinking, I could not well creat of that faculty of the mind, which consists in thinking, without considering the im. mediate objects of the mind in thinking, which I call ideas: and therefore in treating of the understanding, I guess it will not be thought * strange, that the greatest part of my book has been taken up, in considering what these objects of the mind, in thinking, are; whence they come ; what use the mind makes of them, in its several ways of thinking; and what are the outward marks whereby it signifies them to others, or records them for its own use. And this, in short, is my way by ideas, that which your lordship calls my nezu way by ideas: which, my lord, if it be new, it is but a new history of an old thing. For I think it will not be doubted, that men always performed the actions of thinking, rea. Soring, believing, and knowing, just after the same manner they do now though whether the same account has heretofore been given of the way how they performed these actions, or wherein they consisted, I do not know. Were I as well read as your lordship, I should have been safe
ideas, NEW, for want of looking into aiher men's thoughts, which appear in obeir books.
Your lordship's words, as an acknowledgment of your instructions in the case, and as a warning to others, who will be so bold adventurers as to spin any thing barely out of their own theaghts, I shall set down at large: And they run thus: Wheiber you took this way of ideas from the modern philosopher, mentioned by you, is not at all material; but I intended no reflet. tion upon you in it (for that you mean, by my commending you as a scholar of so great a master); I never meant to take from you the honour of your own in. ventions: and I do believe you when you say, That you wrote from your own thoughts, and the ideas you had there. But many things may seem new to one, who converses only with his own thoughts, which really are not so; as be may find, when he looks into the thoughts of other men, which appear in their books. And therefore, although I have a just esteem for the irrvention of such, who can spin volumes barely out of their own thoughts; yet I am apt to think, they would oblige the world more, if, after they have thought so much themselves, they would examine what thoughts others have had before them, concerning the same things: that so those may not be thought their own inven. tions which are common to themselves and others. If a man should try all the magnetical experiments himself, and publish them as his own thoughts, he might toke himself to be the irrventor of them: but he that examines and compares with them what Gilbert, and others have done before him, will not diminish the praise of his diligence, but may wish he had compared his thoughts with other men's; by which the world would receive greater advantage, although he had lost the honour of being an original.
To alleviate my fault herein, I agree with your lordship, that man thing; may seem NEW, to cite that converses only with his own thoughts, tuhich really are not so; but I must crave leave to suggest to your lordship, that if in the spinning them out of his own thoughts, they seem new to him, he is certainly the inventor of them; and they may as justly be thought his own invention, as any one's; and he is as certainly the inventor of them, as any one who thought on them before him : the distinction of in. vention, or not invention, lying not in thinking first, or not first, but in borrowing, or not borrowing, our thoughts from another : and he to whom, spinding them out of his own thoughts, they seem new, could not certainly borrow them from another. So he truly invented printing in Europe, who without any communication with the Chinese, spun it out of his own thoughts; though it were ever so true, that the Chinese had the use of printing, nay, of printing in the very same way, an:ong them, many ages before him. So that he that spins any thing out of his own thoughts, that seems nerw to him, cannot cease to think it his own invention, should he examine ever so far, what thoughts others have had before him, concerning the same thing, and should find by examining, that they had the same thoughts too.
But what great obligation this would be to the world, or weighty cause of turning over and looking into books, I confess I do not see. The great end to me, in conversing with my own or other men's thoughts, in matters of speculation, is to find truth, without being much concerned whether my own spinning of it out of mine, or their spinning of it out of their own thoughts, helps me to it. And how little I affect the honour of an original, may be seen at that place of my book, where, if any where, that itch of vain-glory was likeliest to have shewn itself, had 1 been so over-run with it, as to need a cure. It is where I speak of cer.
bought sa mi
bieb apperi tainty in these following words, taken notice of by your lordship, in
another place : " I think I have shewn wherein it is that certainty, real nstructions certainty consists, which whatever it was to others, was, I confess, to drentarers: 'me, heretofore, one of those desiderata, which I found great want of.' swn at lar Here, my lord, however ner this seemed to me, and the more so berom the mode cause possibly I had in vain hunted for it in the books of others; yet I
spoke of it as new, only to myself : leaving others in the undisturbed casa sebahet possession of what either by invention, or reading, was theirs before ;
without assuming to myself any other honour, but that of my own igno. rance, till that time, if others before had shewn wherein certainty lay, And yet, my lord, if I had, upon this occasion, been forward to assume
to myself the bmour of an original, I think I had been pretty safe in it; bieb appler
since I should have had your lordship for my guarantee and vindicator in the tantin
that point, who are pleased to call it neru; and, as such, to write against vet I am api
And truly, my lord, in this respect, my book has had very unlucky ad before the
stars, since it hath had the misfortune to displease your lordship, with many things in it, for their novelty ; as new way of reasoning ; new hy. pothesis about reason ; new sort of certainty; new terms; new way of ideas; new method of certainty ; &c. And yet in other places, your lordship
seems to think it worthy in me of your lordship’s reflection, for saying, mat dinaan
but what others have said before ; as where I say, 'In the different make Les ouvidh mi 'of men's tempers, and application of their thoughts, some arguments 3 while prevail more on one, and some on another, for the confirmation of
the same truth. Your lordship asks, What is this different from what all men of understanding have said? Again, I take it, your lordship meant not these words for a commendation of my book, where you say, But if no more be meant by “The simple ideas that come in by sensation, or re.
dection, and their being the foundation of our knowledge, but that our choroby nations of things come in, either from our senses or the exercise of our minds : ente? * us there is nothing extraordinary in the discovery, so your lordship is far nor! ezaugh from opposing that, wherein you think all mankind are agreed.
And again, But what need all this great noise about ideas and certainty, 4** true and real certainty by ideas ; if, after all, it comes only to this, that our wilde ideas only represent to us such things, from whence we bring arguments to
prove the truth of things? ons. But, the world hath been strangely amused with ideas of late; and we hit! bave been told that strange things might be done by the help of ideas; and be set these ideas, at last, come to be only common notions of things, which we
last make use of in our reasoning. And to the like purpose in other places.
Whether, therefore, at last, your lordship will resolve that it is neve bør no; or more faulty by its being new, must be left to your lordship.
This I find by it, that my book cannot avoid being condemned on the ,
one side or the other, nor do I see a possibility to help it. If there be pour readers that like only n.w thoughts; or, on the other side, others that :19 can bear nothing but what can be justified by received authorities in hool print; I must desire them to make themselves amends in that part which cement they like, for the displeasure they receive in the other: but if any should
Po be so exact, as to find fault with both, truly, I know not well what to Sehen say to them. The case is a plain case, the book is all over naught, and
if you there is not a sentence in it, that is not, either for its antiquity or novelty, se fail he be copdemned, and so there is a shart end of it. From your lord.
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