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Of the Association of Ideas.


§. 1. THERE is scarce any one that

Something does not observe something that unreasonable seems odd to him, and is in itself really ex- in most men travagant in the opinions, reasonings, and actions of other men. The least flaw of this kind, if at all different from his own, every one is quick-sighted enough to espy in another, and will by the authority of reason forwardly condemn, though he be guilty of much greater unreasonableness in his own tenets and conduct, which he never perceives, and will very hardly, if at all, be convinced of. §. 2. This proceeds not wliolly from

Not wholly self-love, though that has often a great

a great from selfhand in it. Men of fair minds, and not love. given up to the over-weening of self-flattery, are frequently guilty of it; and in many cases one with amazement hears the arguings, and is astonished at the obstinacy of a worthy man, who yields not to the evidence of reason, though laid before him as clear as day-light. 9. 3. This sort of unreasonableness is

Not from uşually imputed to education and preju- education. dice, and for the most part truly enough, though that reaches not the bottom of the disease, nor shows distinctly enough whence it rises, or wherein it lies.. Education is often rightly assigned for the cause, and prejudice is a good general name for the thing itself: but yet, I think, he ought to look a little farther, who would trace this sort of madness to the root it springs from, and so explain it, as to show whence this flaw has its original in very sober and rational minds, and wherein it consists.

-4. 4. I shall be pardoned' for calling it by so harsh a name as madness, when it is

A degree of

madness. considered, that opposition to reason de



serves that name, and is really madness; and there is scarce a man so free from it, but that if he should always, on all occasions, argue or do as in some cases he constantly does, would not be thought fitter for Bedlam than civil conversation. I do not here mean when he is under the power of an unruly passion, but in the steady calm course of his life. That which will yet more apologize for this harsh name, and ungrateful imputation on the greatest part of mankind, is, that inquiring a little by the bye into the nature of madness, b. ii. c. xi. 5. 13. I found it to spring from the very same root, and to depend on the very same cause we are here speaking of. This consideration of the thing itself, at a time when I thought not the least on the subject which I am now treating of, suggested it to me. And if this be a weakness to which all men are so liable; if this be a taint which so universally infects mankind; the greater care should be taken to lay it open under its due name, thereby to excite the greater care in its prevention and cure. From a

$. 5. Some of our ideas have a natural wrong con- correspondence and connexion one with nexion of

another: it is the office and excellency of ideas,

our reason to trace these, and hold them together in that union and correspondence which is founded in their peculiar beings. Besides this, there is another connexion of ideas wholly owing to chance or custom: ideas, that in themselves are not all of kin, come to be so united in some men's minds, that it is very hard to separate them; they always keep in company, and the one no sooner at any time comes into the understanding, but its associate appears with it; and if they are more than two, which are thus united, the whole rang, always inseparable, show themselves together. This con

5. 6. This strong combination of ideas, nexion how not allied by nature, the inind makes in made.

itself either voluntarily or by chance; and hence it comes in different men to be very different, according to their different inclinations, education, in terests, &c. Custoin settles habits of thinking in the understanding, as well as of determining in the will, and of motions in the body; all which seems to be but trains of motion in the aniinal spirits, which once set a-going, continue in the same steps they have been used to : which, by often treading, are worn into a smooth path, and the motion in it becomes easy, and as it were natural. As far as we can comprehend thinking, thus ideas seem to be produced in our minds; or if they are not, this may serve to explain their following one another in an habitual train, when once they are put into their track, as well as it does to explain such motions of the body. A musician used to any tune will find, that let it but once begin in his head, the ideas of the several notes of it will follow one another orderly in his understanding, without any care or attention, as regularly as his fingers move orderly over the kcys of the organ to play out the tune he has begun, though his unattentive thoughts be elsewhere a wandering. Whether the natural cause of these ideas, as well as of that regular dancing of his fingers, be the motion of his animal spirits, I will not determine, how probable soever, by this instance, it appears to be so: but this may help us a little to conceive of intellectual habits, and of the tying together of ideas. §. 7. That there are such associations of


Some antipathiem made by custom in the minds of most

thies an ef. men, I think no-body will question, who fect of it. has well considered himself or others; and to this, perhaps, might be justly attributed most of the sympathies and antipathies observable in men, which work as strongly, and produce as regular effects as if they were natural; and are therefore called so, though they at first had no other original but the accidental connexion of two ideas, which either the strength of the first impression, or future indulgence so united, that they always afterwards kept company together in that man's mind, as if they were but one idea. I say most of the antipathies, I do not say all, for some of them are truly natural, depend upon our original constitution, and are born with us; but a great part of those which are counted natural, would have been known to Le 3


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be from unheeded, though, perhaps, early impressions, or wanton fancies at first, which would have been acknowledged the original of them, if they had been warily observed. A grown person surfeiting with honey, no sooner hears the name of it, but his fancy immediately carries sickness and qualms to his stomach, and he cannot bear the very idea of it; other ideas of dislike, and sickness, and vomiting, presently accompany it, and he is disturbed, but he knows from whence to date this weakness, and can tell how he got this in-disposition. Had this happened to him by an overdose of honey, when a child, all the same effects would have followed, but the cause would have been mistaken, and the antipathy counted natural.

$. 8. I mention this not out of any great necessity there is, in this present argument, to distinguish nicely between natural and acquired antipathies; but I take notice of it for another purpose, viz. that those who have children, or the charge of their education, would think it worth their while diligently to watch, and carefully to prevent the undue connexion of ideas in the minds of young people. This is the time most susceptible of lasting impressions; and though those relating to the health of the body are by discreet people minded and fenced against, yet I am apt to doubt, that those which relate more peculiarly to the mind, and terminate in the understanding or passions, have been much less heeded than the thing deserves : nay, those relating purely to the understanding have, as I suspect

, been by most men wholly overlooked.

$. 9. This wrong connexion in our A great cause

minds of ideas in themselves loose and in

dependent of one another, has such an influence, and is of so great force to set us awry in our actions, as well moral as natural

, passions, reasonings and notions themselves, that perhaps there is not ang one thing that deserves more to be looked after.

9. 10. The ideas of goblins and sprights

have really no more to do with darkness than light; yet let but a foolish maid inculcate these ofte on the mind of a child, and raise them there to.

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gether, possibly he shall never be able to separate them again so long as he lives : but darkness shall ever afterwards bring with it those frightful ideas, and they shall be so joined, that he can no more beas the one than the other.

§. 11. A man receives a sensible injury from another, thinks on the man and that action over and over; and by ruminating on them strongly, or much in his mind, so cements those two ideas together, that he makes them almost one : never thinks on the man, but the pain and displeasure he suffered comes into his mind with it, so that he scarce distinguishes them, but has as much an aversion for the one as the other. Thus hatreds are often begotten from slight and innocent occasions, and quarrels propagated and continued in the world.

9. 12. A man has suffered pain or sickness in any place ; he saw his friend die in such a room; though these have in nature nothing to do one with another, yet when the idea of the place occurs to his mind, it brings (the impression being once made) that of the pain and displeasure with it; he confounds them in his mind, and can as little bear the one as the other. $. 13. When this combination is set

Why time tled, and while it lasts, it is not in the power of reason to help us, and relieve us disorders in from the effects of it. Ideas in our minds,

the mind,

which reason when they are there will operate according cannot. to their natures and circumstances; and here we see the cause why time cures certain affections, which reason, though in the right, and allowed to be so, las not power over, nor is able against them to prevail with those who are apt to hearken to it in

The death of a child, that was the daily delight ot' his mother's eyes, and joy of her soul, rends from her heart the whole comfort of her life, and gives her all the torment imaginable : use the consolations of reason in this case, and you were as good preach case to one on the rack, and hope to allay, by rational discourses, the pain of his joints tearing asunder. Till time has by disuse separated the sense of that enjoyEet

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other cases.

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