« AnteriorContinuar »
of any ing.
lis, um $. 23. There is, I fear, this farther weak- The arou. hosuere ness in the foregoing argument, which ment of as10 61107 would persuade us, that therefore those senting on d which maxims are to be thought innate,' which srst hearing,
is upon a false men admit at first hearing, because they as supposition se nature sent to propositions, which they are not of no precenot sufie taught, nor do receive from the force of any
dent teacher hei argument or demonstration, but a bare exassentet' plication or understanding of the terms. Under which, ms, mus there seems to me to lie this fallacy, that men are ded os! supposed not to be taught, nor to learn any thing de eral rule? nowo; when, in truth, they are taught, and do learn A not al. something they were ignorant of before. For first it is observa evident, that they have learned the terms, and their sig. ons dit nification ; neither of which was born with them. But
this is not all the acquired knowledge in the case: the ideas themselves, about which the proposition is, are not born with them, no more than their names, but got afterwards. So that in all propositions that are assented to at first hearing, the terms of the proposition, their standing for such ideas, and the ideas themselves that
they stand for, being neither of them innate ; I would his first fain know what there is remaining in such propositions,
that is innate. For I would gladly have any one name that proposition, whose terms or ideas were either of thein innate. We by degrees get ideas and names, and learn their appropriated connection one with another; and then to propositions, made in such terms, whose signification we have learnt, and wherein the agreement or disagreement we can perceive in our ideas, when put together, is expressed, we at first hearing assent; though to other propositions, in themselves as certain and evident, but which are concerning ideas, not so soon or 80 easily got, we are at the same time no way capable of assenting. For though a child quickly assents to this proposition," that an apple is not fire,” when, by familiar acquaintance, he has got the ideas of those two different things distinctly imprinted on his mind, and has learnt that the names apple and fire stand for them; yet it will be some years after, perhaps, before
s it be
the same child will assent to this proposition, “ that it is impossible for the same thing to be, and not to be:” because that, though, perhaps, the words are as easy to be learnt, yet the signification of them being more large, comprehensive, and abstract, than of the names annexed to those sensible things the child hath to do with, it is longer before he learns their precise meaning, and it requires more time plainly to form in his mind those general ideas they stand for. Till that be done, you will in vain endeavour to make any child assent to a proposition made up of such general terms : but as soon as ever he has got those ideas, and learned their names, le forwardly closes with the one, as well as the other of the forementioned propositions, and with both for the same reason ; viz. because he finds the ideas lie has in his mind to agree or disagree, according as the words standing for them, are affirined or denied one of another in the proposition. But if propositions be brought to him in words, which stand for ideas he has not yet in his mind; to such propositions, however evidently true or false in themselves, he affords neither assent nor dissent, but is ignorant. For words being but empty sounds, any farther than they are signs of our ideas, we cannot but assent to them, as they correspond to those ideas we have, but no farther than that. But the showing by what steps and ways knowledge comes into our minds, and tlie grounds of several degrees of assent, being the business of the following discourse, it may suffice to have only touched on it here, as one reason that made me doubt of those innate principles. Not innate,
6. 04. To conclude this argument of unie because not
versal consent, I agree with these defenders universally of innate principles, that if they are inassented to. nate, they must needs have universal assent. For that a truth should be innate, and yet not assented to, is to me as unintelligible, as for a man to know a truth, and be ignorant of it, at the same time. But then, by these men's own confession, they cannot be innate; since they are not assented to by those who un
derstand not the terms, nor by a great part of those
who do understand them, but have yet never heard nor not to be thought of those propositions; which, I think, is at = as easy least one half of mankind. But were the number far being less, it would be enough to destroy universal assent, and the nethereby show these propositions not to be innate, if hath to children alone were ignorant of them. CCISC AC §. 25. But that I may not be accused to These maxform 13. argue from the thoughts of intants, which is not the
first known. til thar are unknown to us, and to conclude from
any cwhat passes in their understandings before they express eral teruit; I say next, that these two general propositions are nd leart: not the truths that first possess the minds of children, ke, as nor are antecedent to all acquired and adventitious nos, and a tions; which, if they were innate, they must needs be - finds Whether we can determine it or no, it matters not,
there is certainly a time when children begin to thinki, ned oral and their words and actions do assure us that they do
80. When therefore they are capable of thought, of stand knowledge, of assent, can it rationally be supposed,
they can be ignorant of those notions that nature has
imprinted, were there any such? Can it be imagined, For wow with any appearance of reason, that they perceive the vare si impressions from things without, and be at the same
thevoi time ignorant of those characters which nature itself Tither the has taken care to stamp within ? Can it they receive and
assent to adventitious notions, and be ignorant of those which are supposed woven into the very principles of their being, and imprinted there in indelible characters, to be the foundation and guide of all their acquired knowledge, and future reasonings ? This would bes to inake nature take pains to po purpose; or, at least, to write very ill; since its characters could not be read by those eyes, which sa v other things very well; and those are very ill sụpposed the clearest parts of truth, and the foundations of all our knowledge, which are not first known, and without which thc undoubted knowledge of several other things inay be had.
The child certainly knows, that the nurse that feeds it, mot is neither the cat it plays with, nor the blackmoor it is
of sele? · following hed out
Mtofu dcleuk! ľale in salase tasotme i know
? Whou derota
afraid of; that the wormseed or mustard it refuses, is not the apple or sugar it cries for ; this it is certainly and undoubtedly assured of: but will any one say, it is by virtue of this principle, “ that it is impossible for the same thing to be, and not to be," that it so firmly assents to these, and other parts of its knowledge ? Or that the child has any notion or apprehen. sion of that proposition at an age, wherein yet, it is plain, it know's a great many other truths ? He that will sày, children join these general abstract speculations with their sucking bottles and their rattles, may, perhaps, with justice, be thought to have more passion and zeal for his opinion, but less sincerity and truth, than one of that age.
. 26. Though therefore there be several And so not
general prropositions, that meet with coninnate.
stant and ready assent, as soon as proposed to men grown up, who have attained the use of more general and abstract, ideas, and names standing for them; yet they not being to be found in those of tender years, who nevertheless know other things, they cannot pretend to universal assent of intelligent persons, and so by no means can be supposed innate: it being impossible, that any truth which is innate (if there were any such) should be unknown, at least to any one wlio knows any thing else: since, if there are innate truths, they must be innate thoughts ; there being nothing a truth in the mind, that it has never thought on. Whereby it is evident, if there be any innate truths in the mind, they must necessarily be the first of any thought on; the first that appear there.
9. 27. That the general maxims, we are tinnate, discoursing of, are not known to children, because they appear least,
idiots, and a great part of mankind, we where what have already sufficiently proved; whereby is innate it is evident, they have not an universal shows itself
assent, nor are general impressions. But clearest.
there is this farther argument in it against their being innate, that these characters, if they were native and original impressions, should appear fairest
assion X Tuth, this
and clearest in those persons in whom yet we find no refuse:
footsteps of them: and it is, in my opinion, a strong - certai
presumption, that they are not innate, since they are ne sar.
least known to those, in whom, if they were innate, they must needs exert themselves with most force and vigour. For children, idiots, savages, and illiterate people, being of all others the least corrupted by custoin, or borroweal. opinions ; learning and education having not cast their native thoughts into new moulds,
nor, by superinducing foreign and studied doctrines, -cculatio
confounded those fair characters nature had written there; one might reasonably imagine, that in their minds these innate notions should lie open fairly to everyone's view, as it is certain the thoughts of children do. It might very well be expected, that these principles should be perfectly known to naturals, which being stamped immediately on the soul (as these men suppose) can have no dependance on the constitutions or organs of the body, the only confessed difference between thein and others. One would think, accord,
ing to these men's principles, that all these native jinys i
beams of light (were there any such) should in those igent who have no reserves, no arts of concealment, shine innate out in their full lustre, and leave us in no more doubt innate
of their being there, than we are of their love of pleasure, and abhorrence of pain. But alas, amongst children, idiots, savages, and the grossly illiterate, what general maxims are to be found? what universal principles of knowledge? Their notions are few and narrow, borrowed only from those objects they have had most to do with, and which have made upon their senses the frequentest and strongest impressions. A
child knows his nurse and his cradle, and by degrees i the play-things of a little more advanced age; and a
young savage has, perhaps, bis head filled with love and hunting, according to the fashion of his tribe. But
he that from a child untaught, or a wild inhabitant of 2115.!)
the woods, will expect these abstract maxims and reit agli puted principles of science, will, I fear, find himself they "mistaken. Such kind of general propositions are sel
it least th.cre of