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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, either 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.
The coming to the use of reason, not the time we
come to know these maxims. If by knowing and assenting to them, when we come to the use of reason, be meant, that this is the time, when they come to be taken notice of by the mind; and that as soon as children come to the use of reason, they come also to know 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 use 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 thing to be, and not to be? And a great part of illiterate people, and savages, pass many years, even of their Fational age, without ever thinking on this, and the
like general propositions. I grant men come not to the knowledge of these general and more abstract truths, which are thought innate, till they come to the use of reason; and I add, nor then neither. Which is so, because till after they come to the use of reason, those general abstract ideas are not framod in the mind, about which those general maxims are, which are mistaken for innate principles, but are indeed discoveries made, and verities introduced, and brought into the mind by the same way, and discovered by the same steps, as several other propositions, which nobody was ever so extravagant as to suppose innate. This I hope to make plain
in the sequel of this discourse, I allow therefore a necessity, that men should come to the use of reason, before they get the knowledge of those general truths ; but deny, that men’s coming to the use of reason is the time of their discovery. § 13. By this, they are not distinguished from other
kenowable truths. In the mean time, it is observable, that this saying, that men know and assent to these maxims, when they come to the use of reason, amounts in reality of fact to no more but this, That they are never known or taken notice of, before the use of reason, possibly be assented to, some time after, during a man's life; but when, is uncertain : and so may all other knowable truths, as well as these ; which therefore have no advantage nor distinction from others, by this note of being known when we come to the use of reason; nor are thereby proved to be innate, but quite the contrary. ? $ 14. If coming to the use of reason were the time of
their discovery, it would not prove them innate. But, secondly, were it true, that the precise time of their being known, and assented to, were, when men come to the use of reason, neither would that prove them innate. This way of arguing is as frivolous, as the supposition of itself is false. For by
what kind of logic will it appear, that any notion is originally by nature imprinted in the mind in its first constitution, because it comes first to be observed and assented to, when a faculty of the mind, which has quite a distinct province, begins to exert itself? And therefore, the coming to the use of speech, if it were supposed the time that these maxims are first assented to (which it may be with as much truth, as the time when men come to the use of reason) would be as good a proof that they were innate, as to say, they are innate, because men assent to them, when they come to the use of reason.
I agree then with these men of innate principles, that there is no knowledge of these general and self-evident maxins in the mind, till it comes to the exercise of reason : but I deny that the coming to the use of reason is the precise time when they are first taken notice of; and if that were the precise time, I deny that it would prove 'them innate. All that can with any truth be meant by this proposition, that men assent to them when they come to the use of reason, is no more but this, that the making of general abstract ideas, and the understanding of general names, being a concomitant of the rational faculty, and growing up with it, children commonly get not those general ideas, nor learn the names that stand for them, till
, having for a good while exercised their reason about familiar and more particular ideas, they are, by their ordinary discourse and actions with others, acknowledged to be capable of rational conversation. If assenting to these maxims, when men come to the use of reason, can be true in any other sense, I desire it may be shewn; or at least, how in this, or any other sense,
them innate. § 15. The steps by which the mind attains several
truths. The senses at first let in particular ideas, and furnish the yet empty cabinet; and the mind by des grees growing familiar with some of them, they are
lodged in the memory, and names got to them. Af. terwards the mind, proceeding farther, abstracts them, and by degrees learns the use of general names. In this manner the mind comes to be furnished with ideas and language, the materials about which to exercise its discursive faculty : and the use of reason becomes daily more visible, as these materials, that give it employment, increase. But though the have ing of general ideas, and the use of general words and reason, usually grow together; yet, I see not, how this any way proves them innate. The knows ledge of some truths, I confess, is very early in the mind; but in a way that shows them not to be innate. For, if we will observe, we shall find it still to be about ideas, not innate, but acquired : It being about those first which are imprinted by external things, with which infants have earliest to do, which make the most frequent impressions on their senses. In ideas thus got, the mind discovers that some agree, and others differ, probably as soon as it has any use of memory; as soon as it is able to retain and perceive distinct ideas. But whether it be then, or no, this is certain, it does so long before it has the use of words, or comes to that, which we commonly call “ the use of reason." For a child knows as certaily, before it can speak, the difference between the ideas of sweet and bitter (i. e. that sweet is not bitter) as it knows afterwards (when it comes to speak) that wormwood and sugar plumbs are not the same thing
A child knows not that three and four are equal to seven, till he comes to be able to count seven, and has got the name and idea of equality: and then, upon explaining those words, he presently assents to, or rather perceives the truth of that proposition. But neither does he then readily assent, because it innate truth, nor was his assent wanting till then, because he wanted the use of reason; but the truth of it appears to him, as soon as he has settled in his mind the clear and distinct ideas, that these names stand for: and then he knows the truth of that proposition, upon the same grounds, and by the same means, that he knew before, that a rod and a cherry are not the same thing; and upon the same grounds also, that he may come to know afterwards, that it is impossible for the same thing to be, and not to be," as shall be more fully shown hereafter. So that the later it is before any one comes to have those general ideas, about which those maxims are; or to know the signification of those general terms that stand for them; or to put together in his mind, the ideas they stand for; the later also will it be, before he comes to assent to those maxims, whose terms, with the ideas they stand for, being no more innate than those of a cat or a weesel, he must stay till time and observation have acquainted him with them; and then he will be in a capacity to know the truth of these maxims, upon the first occasion that shall make him put together those ideas in his mind, and observe whether they agree or disagree, according as is expressed in those propositions. And therefore it is, that a man knows that eighteen and nineteen are equal to thirty-seven, by the same self-evidence, that he knows one and two to be equal to three : Yet a child knows this not so soon as the other; not for want of the use of reason, but because the ideas the words eighteen, nineteen, and thirty-seven stand for, are not so soon got, as those which are signified by one, two, and three. § 17. Assenting as soon as proposed and understood,
proves thern not innate. Tuts evasion therefore of general assent, when men come to the use of reason, failing as it does, and leaving no difference between those supposed innate, and other truths, that are afterwards acquired and learnt, men have endeavoured to secure an universal assent to those they call maxims, by saying, they