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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.
9. 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. is What is,
$. 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 for the same demonstration that there are none such; bething to be, and not
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? 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 received, 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 froin having an universal assent, that there are great part of mankind to whom they are not so much as known. Not on the 8. 5. For, first, it is evident, that all mind natu- children and idiots have not the least apprerally im
hension or thought of them; and the want printed, be
of that is enough to destroy that universal known to
assent, which must needs be the necessary 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 un. derstands not : imprinting, if it signify any thing, being nothing else, but the making certain truths to be per
ceived. For to imprint any thing on the mind, without the mind's perceiving it, seems to me hardly intelligible. If therefore children and idiots have souls, have minds, with those impressions upon them, they must unavoidably perceive them, and necessarily know and assent to these truths ; which since they do not, it is evident that there are no such impressions. For if they are not notions naturally imprinted, how can they be innate ? and if they are notions imprinted, how can they be unknown? To say a notion is imprinted on the mind, and 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 impression 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 is capable of ever assenting to, may be said to be in the mind, and to be imprinted: since, if any one can be said to be in the mind, which it never yet knew, it must be only, because it is capable of knowing it, and so the 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 knowing several truths. The capacity, they say, is innate, the knowledge acquired. But then to what end such contest for certain innate maxims? If truths can be imprinted 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 original: they must all be innate, or all adventitious : in vain shall a man go about to distinguish them.
therefore, that talks of innate notions in the understanding, cannot (if he intend thereby any distinct sort of truths) mean such truths to be in the understanding, as it never perceived, and is yet wholly ignorant of. For if these words (to be in the understanding) have any propriety, they signify to be understood: so that, to be in the understanding, and not to be understood ; to be in the inind, and never to be perceived ; is all one, as to say, any thing is, and is not, in the mind or understanding. If therefore these two propositions, “whatsoever is, is;" and “it is impossible for the same thing to be, and not to be," are by nature imprinted, children cannot be ignorant of them; infants, and all that have souls, inust necessarily have them in their understandings, know the truth of them, and assent to it. That men
$. 6. To avoid this, it is usually anknow them
swered, That all men know and assent to when they them, when they come to the use of reason, come to the
and this is enough to prove them innate. use of reason,
I answer, answered,
$. 7. Doubtful expressions, that have scarce any signification, go for clear reasons, to those, who being prepossessed, take not the pains to examine, even what they themselves say. For to apply this answer with
tolerable sense to our present purpose, it must signify one of these two things ; either, that, as soon as men come to the use of reason, these supposed native inscriptions come to be known, and observed by
or else, that the use and exercise of men's reason assists them in the discovery of these principles, and certainly makes them known to them.
§. 8. If they mean, that by the use of If reason dis. 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,
(viz.) that, whatever truths reason can ccr. innate.
tainly discover to us, and make us firmly assent to, those are all naturally imprinted on the mind: 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
of, and assent to them; and, by this means, there will be no difference between the maxims of the mathema ticians, and theorems they deduce from them; All must be equally allowed innate; they being all discoveries made by the use of reason, and truths that a rational creature may certainly come to know, if he apply his thoughts rightly that way. $. 9. But how can these men think the use
It is false that of reason necessary, to discover principles
vers them. that are supposed innate, when reason (if we may believe them) is nothing else but the faculty of deducing unknown truths from principles, or propositions, that are already known? That certainly can never be thought innate, which we have need of reason to discover; unless, as I have said, we will have all the certain truths, that reason ever teaches us, to be innate. We may as well think the use of reason necessary to make our eyes discover visible objects, as that there should be need of reason, or the exercise thereof, to make the understanding see what is originally engraven on it, and cannot be in the understanding before it be perceived by it. So that to make reason discover those truths thus imprinted, is to say, that the use of reason discovers to a man what he knew before: and if men have those innate impressed truths originally, and before the use of reason, and yet are always ignorant of them, till they come to the use of reason, it is in effect to say, that men know, and know them not, at the same tiine.
9. 10. It will here perhaps be said, that inathematical demonstrations, and other truths that are not innate, are not afsented to, as soon as proposed, wherein they are distinguished from these maxims, and other innate truths. I shall have occasion to speak of assent, upon the first proposing, more particularly by and by. I shall here only, and that very readily allow, that these maxims and mathematical demonstrations are in this different ; that the one have need of reason, using of proofs, to make them out, and to gain our assent; but the other, as soon as understood, are, without any the least reasoning, embraced and assented to. But I withal beg leave to observe, that it lays open the weakness of Vol. I. C
this subterfuge, which requires the use of reason for the discovery of these general truths : since it must be confessed, that in their discovery there is no use made of reasoning at all. And I think those, who give this answer, will not be forward to affirm, that the knowledge of this maxim, “ That it is impossible for the same thing to be, and not to be,” is a deduction of our rea
For this would be to destroy that bounty of nature they seem so fond of, whilst they make the knowledge of those principles to depend on the labour of our thoughts. For all reasoning is search, and casting about, and requires pains and application. And how can it with any tolerable sense be supposed, that what was imprinted by nature, as the foundation and guide of our reason, should need the use of reason to discover it:
§. 11. Those who will take the pains to reflect with a little attention on the operations of the understanding, will find, that this ready assent of the mind to some truths, depends not, cither on native inscription, or the use of reason; but on a faculty of the mind quite distinct from both of them, as we shall see hereafter. Reason, therefore, having nothing to do in procuring our assent to these maxims, if by saying, that men know and assent to them, when they come to the use of reason, be meant, that the use of reason assists us in the knowledge of these maxims, it is utterly false; and were it true, would prove them not to be innate.
9. 12. If by knowing and assenting to The coming them, when we come to the use of reato the use of
son, be ineant, that this is the time when the time we they come to be taken notice of by the eome to mind; and that, as soon as children come kuow these
to the use of reason, they come also to know maxiins.
and assent to these maxims; this also is false and frivolous. First, It is false: Because it is evident these maxims are not in the mind so early as the use of reason: and therefore the coming to the lise of reason is falsely assigned, as the time of their discovery. How many instances of the use of reason may we observe in children, a long time before they have any knowledge of this maxim, “That it is impossible for the same