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for a mark of figure, and frames to itself the perception of a convex figure and an uniform colour ; when the idea we receive from thence is only a plane variously coloured, as is evident in painting. To which purpose I shall here insert a problem of that very ingenious and studious promoter of real knowledge, the learned and worthy Mr. Molineaux, which he was pleased to send me in a letter some months since; and it is this : Suppose a man born blind, and now adult, and taught by his touch to distinguish between a cube and a sphere of the same metal, and nighly of the same bigness, so as to tell, when he felt one and the other, which is the cube, which the sphere. Suppose then the cube and sphere placed on a table, and the blind man be made to see : quære," whether by his sight, before he touched “them, he could now distinguish and tell, which is “ the globe, which the cube ?” to which the acute and judicious proposer answers: Not. For though he has obtained the experience of, how a globe, how a cube affects his touch ; yet he has not yet obtained the experience, that what affects his touch so or so, must affect his sight so or so: or that a protuberant angle in the cube, that pressed his hand unequally, shall appear to his eye as it does in the cube. I agree with this thinking gentleman, whom I am proud to call my friend, in his answer to this his problem; and am of opinion, that the blind man at first sight, would not be able with certainty to say which was the globe, which the cube, whilst he only saw them : though he could unerringly name them by his touch, and certainly distinguish them by the difference of their figures felt. This I have set down, and leave with my reader, as an occasion for him to consider how much he may be beholden to experience, improvement, and acquired notions, where he thinks he had not the least use of, or help from them : and the rather, because this observing gentleman further adds, that having upon the occasion of my book, proposed this to divers very ingenious men, he hardly ever met with one, that at first gave the answer to it which he thinks true, till by hearing his reasons they were convinced.
§. 9. But
$. 9. But this is not, I think, usual in any of our ideas, but those received by sight: because sight, the most comprehensive of all our senses, conveying to our minds the ideas of light and colours, which are peculiar only to that sense; and also the far different ideas of space, figure, and motion, the several varieties whereof change the appearances of its proper object, viz. light and colours; we bring ourselves by use to judge of the one by the other. This, in many cases, by a settled habit, in things whereof we have frequent experience, is performed so constantly and so quick, that we take that for the perception of our sensation, which is an idea formed by our judgment; so that one, viz. that of sensation, serves only to excite the other, and is scarce taken notice of itself: as a man who reads or hears with attention and understanding, takes little notice of the characters, or sounds, but of the ideas that are excited in him by them.
f. 10. Nor need we wonder that this is done with so little notice, if we consider how very quick the actions of the mind are performed: for as itself is thought to take up no space, to have no extension; so its actions seem to require no time, but many of them seem to be crouded into an instant. I speak this in comparison to the actions of the body. Any one may easily observe this in his own thoughts, who will take the pains to reflect on them. low, as it were in an instant, do our minds with one gła ce see all the parts of a demonstration, which may very well be called a long one, if we consider the time it will require to put it into words, and step by step show it another ? Secondly, we shall not be so much surprized, that this is done in us with so little notice, if we consider how the facility which we get of doing things, by a custom of doing, makes them often pass in us without our notice. Habits, especially such as are begun very early, come at last to produce actions in us, which often escape our observation. How frequently do we, in a day, cover our eyes with our eye-lids, without perceiving that we are at all in the dark? Men that by custom have got the use of a by-word, do almost in every sentence pronounce
puts the dif
sounds which, though taken notice of by others, they themselves neither hear nor observe. And therefore it is not so strange, that our mind should often change the idea of its sensation into that of its judgment, and make one serve only to excite the other, without our taking potice of it.
$. 11. This faculty of perception seems Perception
to me to be that, which puts the distinction ference be. betwixt the animal kingdom and the infetween ani.
rior parts of nature. For however vegetamals and in- bies have, many of them, some degrees of ferior beings.
motion, and upon the different application of other bodies to them, do very briskly alter their figures and motions, and so have obtained the name of sensitive plants, from a motion which has some resemblance to that which in animals follows upon sensation : yet, I suppose, it is all bare mechanism ; and no otherwise produced, than the turning of a wild oat-beard, by the insinuation of the particles of moisture; or the shortening of a rope, by the affusion of water. All which is done without any serisation in the subject, or the having or receiving any ideas.
§. 19. Perception, I believe, is in some degree in all sorts of animals; though in some, possibly, the avenues provided by nature for the reception of sensations are so few, and the perception they are received with so obscure and dull, that it comes extremely short of the quickness and variety of sensation which are in other animals; but yet it is suficient for, and wisely adapted to, the state and condition of that sort of animals who are thus made. So that the wisdom and goodness of the Maker plainly appear in all the parts of this stupendous fabric, and all the several degrees and ranks of creatures in it.
§. 13. We may, I think, from the make of an oyster, or cockle, reasonably conclude that it has not so many, nor so quick senses, as a man, or several other animals; nor if it had, would it, in that state and incapacity of transferring itself from one place to another, be bettered by thein. What good would sight and hearing do to a creature, that camot move itself to, or from the
objects objects wherein at a distance it perceives good or evil? And would not quickness of sensation be an inconvenience to an animal that must 'lie still, where chance has once placed it; and there receive the afflux of colder or warmer, clean or foul water, as it happens to come to it?
§. 14. But yet I cannot but think there is some small dull perception, whereby they are distinguished from perfect insensibility. And that this may be so, we have plain instances even in mankind itself. Take one, in whom decrepid old age has blotted out the memory of his past knowledge, and clearly wiped out the ideas his mind was formerly stored with; and has, by destroying his sight, hearing, and smell quite, and his taste to a great degree, stopped up almost all the passages for new ones to enter; or, if there be some of the inlets yet half open, the impressions made are scarce perceived, or not at all retained. How far such an one (notwithstanding all that is boasted of innate principles) is in his knowledge, and intellectual faculties, above the condition of a cockle or an oyster, I leave to be considered. And if a man had passed sixty years in such a state, as it is possible he might, as well as three days; I wonder what difference there would have been, in any intellectual perfections, between him and the lowest degree of animals.
§. 15. Perception then being the first step Perception and degree towards knowledge, and the in- the inlet of let of all the materials of it; the fewer senses
knowledge. any man, as well as any other creature, hath, and the fewer and duller the impressions are that are made by them, and the duller the faculties are that are employed about them ; the more remote are they from that knowledge, which is to be found in some men. But this being in great variety of degrees (as may be perceived amongst men) cannot certainly be discovered in the several species of animals, much less in their particular individuals. It suffices me only to have remarked here, that perception is the first operation of all our intellectual faculties, and the inlet of all knowledge in our minds. And I am apt too to imagine, that it is
perception perception in the lowest degree of it, which puts the boundaries between animals and the inferior ranks of creatures. But this I mention only as my conjecture by the by ; it being indifferent to the matter in hand, which way the learned shall determine of it.
1. HE next faculty of the mind, tion.
whereby it makes a farther progress towards knowledge, is that which I call retention, or the keeping of those simple ideas, which from sensation or reflection it hath received. This is done two ways; first, by keeping the idea, which is brought into it, for some time actually in view; which is called contemplation. Memory.
5:2. The other way of retention, is the
power to revive again in our minds those ideas, which after imprinting have disappeared, or have been as it were laid aside out of sight; and thus we do, when we conceive heat or light, yellow or sweet, the object being removed. This is memory, which is as it were the store-house of our ideas. For the narrow mind of man not being capable of having many ideas under view and consideration at once, it was necessary to have a repository to lay up those ideas, which at another time it might have use of. But our ideas being nothing but actual perceptions in the mind, which cease to be any thing, when there is no perception of them, this laying up of our ideas in the repository of the memory, signifies no more but this, that the mind has a power in many cases to revive perceptions, which it has once had, with this additional perception annexed to them, that it has had them before. And in this sense it is, that our ideas are said to be in our memories, when indeed they are actually no-where, but only there is an