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thought distinct from the mind itself; cočval with it as an essential part of its intellectual furniture; and altogether independent of any information collected from without. Of this description (according to the Cartesians) are the ideas of God, of earistence, of thought, and many others, which, though clearly apprehended by the understanding, bear no resemblance to any sensation; and which, of consequence, they concluded must have been implanted in the mind at the moment of its first formation. It is against the hypothesis of innate ideas, thus interpreted, and which, in the present times, scareely seems to have ever merited a serious refutation, that Locke directs the greater part of his reasonings in the beginning of his Essay. In England, for many years past, this doctrine has sunk into complete oblivion, excepting as a monument of the follies of the learned; but we have the authority of De Gerando to assure us, that it was taught in the schools of France till towards the very conclusion of the last century." Perhaps this circumstance may help to account for the disposition
* “L'idée de Dieu, celle de l'existence, celle de lapensée, disent“ils, ne ressemblent à aucune sensation. Cependant elles sont “clairement dans l'esprit: il saut donc qu’elles viennent d'une “autre source que des sens, et par conséquent, qu’elles soient “placées immediatement dams notre ame. Ces opinions ont été, “presque jusqu'à la fin du dernier siècle, enseignées dans les écoles “ de France.”—De la Génération des Connoissances Humaines, p. 62, (A Berlin, 1802.)
This fact affords an additional confirmation of a remark formerly quoted from D'Alembert. See p. 168 of this volume.
which so many French philosophers have shewn, in later times, to reject, indiscriminately, every principle which they conceived to have the most remote connection with that absurd hypothesis. 2. The opinion of Locke, in the sense in which it was understood, not only by himself, but by Berkeley and Hume, and, indeed (with a very few exceptions), by all the most eminent philosophers of England, from the publication of the Essay on the Human Understanding, till that of Reid’s Inquiry into the Mind. This opinion leads (as has been already observed), by a short and demonstrative process of reasoning, to Berkeley’s conclusion with respect to the ideal evistence of the material world, and to the universal scepticism of Hume. 3. The opinion of Locke, as interpreted by Diderot ;-in which sense it leads obviously to an extravagance diametrically opposite to that of Berkeley, the scheme of materialism.—Nor does it lead merely to materialism, as that scheme has been explained by some of its more cautious advocates. It involves, as a necessary consequence (according to the avowal of Diderot himself), the total rejection, from the book of human knowledge, of every word which does not present a motion copied, like a picture or image, from some archetype among the objects of extermal perception. 4. The opinion, or rather the statement, of Locke, modified and limited by such a comment as I have attempted in the 4th section of the first chapter of the Philosophy of the Human Mind. The substance of that comment, I must beg leave once more to remind my readers, amounts to the following general proposition: All our simple notions, or, in other words, all the primary elements of our knowledge, are either presented to the mind immediately by the powers of consciousness and of perception, * or they are gradually unfolded in the exercise of the various faculties which characterize the human understanding. According to this view of the subject, the sum total of our knowledge may undoubtedly be said to originate in sensation, inasmuch as it is by impressions from without that consciousness is first awakened, and the different faculties of the understanding put in action; but that this enunciation of the fact is, from its conciseness and vagueness, liable to the grossest misconstruction, appears sufficiently from the interpretation given to it by Locke’s French commentators, and more particularly by Diderot, in the passage quoted from his works in a former part of this Essay. It must appear obvious to every person who has read, with due attention, M. De Gerando's memoir, that it is precisely in the qualified sense which I have attached to Locke's words, that he all along defends them so zealously; and yet I am strongly inclined to consider Locke's words, when thus interpreted, as far more widely removed from the opinion of Diderot, than from the antiquated theory of innate ideas. Perhaps I might even venture to say, that were the ambiguous and obnoxious epithet innate
laid aside, and all the absurdities discarded, which are connected, either with the Platonic, with the Scholastic, or with the Cartesian hypothesis, concerning the nature of ideas, this last theory would agree, in substance, with the conclusion which I have been attempting to establish by an induction of facts. For my own part, at least, I must acknowledge that, in the passages formerly quoted from Cudworth, Leibnitz, and Harris, " there are only a few peculiarities of hypothetical phraseology to which I am able to oppose any valid objection. The statements contained in them exhibit the whole truth, blended with a portion of fiction; whereas, that to which they stand opposed not only falls short of the truth, but is contradicted by many of the most obvious and incontrovertible phenomena of the understanding. On this, as many other occasions, I have had much pleasure in recalling to recollection an observation of Leibnitz. “Truth is more generally dif“fused in the world than is commonly imagined ; “but it is too often disguised, and even corrupted, “by an alloy of error, which conceals it from notice, “ or impairs its utility. By detecting it wherever it “is to be found, among the rubbish which our pre“decessors have left behind them, we have not only “ the advantage resulting from the enlargement of “our knowledge, but the satisfaction of substituting, “ instead of a succession of apparently discordant “systems, a permanent and etermal philosophy (per“ennem quandam philosophiam), -varying widely “ in its forms from age to age, yet never failing to “exhibit a portion of truth, as its immutable basis.” The mistakes into which modern philosophers have fallen, on the important question now under our review, may, I think, be traced to a rash extension, or rather to a total misapplication, of Bacon's maxim, that all our knowledge is derived from eagerience. It is with this maxim that Locke prefaces his theory concerning sensation and reflection, and it is from that preface that M. De Gerando borrows the motto of his own speculations upon the origin Qfour ideas. “Let us suppose,” says Locke, “the mind to be, “as we say, white paper, void of all characters, “without any ideas; how comes it to be furnished? “Whence comes it by that vast store which the busy “and boundless fancy of man has painted on it, “ with an almost endless variety? Whence has it “all the materials of reason and knowledge 2 To “this I answer, in a word, from ea perience. In “that all our knowledge is founded, and from that “it ultimately derives itself.” "
* See pp. 99, 100, 101. M
* It is a circumstance somewhat curious in Locke's Essay, that in no part of it are the works of Bacon quoted, or even his name mentioned. In taking notice of this, I do not mean to insinuate, that he has been indebted to Bacon for ideas which he was unwilling to acknowledge. On the contrary, I think that the value of his Essay would have been still greater than it is, if he had been better acquainted with Bacon's writings. The chief sources of Locke's philosophy, where he does not give scope to his own powerful and original genius, are to be found in Gassendi
and liobbes. o