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not all the acquired knowledge in the case: the ideas themselves, about which the proposition is, are not born with them, no more than their names, but got afterwards. So that in all propositions that are assented to at first hearing, the terms of the proposition, their standing for such ideas, and the ideas themselves that they stand for, being neither of them innate; I would fain know what there is remaining in such propositions, that is innate. For I would gladly have any one name that proposition, whose terms or ideas were either of them innate. We by degrees get ideas and names, and learn their appropriated connection one with another; and then to propositions, made in such terms, whose signification we have learnt, and wherein the agreement or disagreement we can perceive in our ideas, when put to gether, is expressed, we at first hearing assent; though to other propositions, in themselves as certain and evident, but which are concerning ideas, not so soon or so easily got, we are at the same time no way capable of assenting. For though a child quickly assents to this proposition, that an apple is not fire,” when, by familiar acquaintance, he has got the ideas of those two different things distinctly imprinted on his mind, and has learnt that the names apple and fire stand for them; yet it will be some years after, perhaps, before the same child will assent to this proposition, “ that it is impossible for the same thing to be, and not to be:" because that, though, perhaps, the words are as easy to be learnt, yet the signification of them being more large, comprehensive, and abstract, than of the names annexed to those sensible things the child hath to do with, it is longer before he learns their precise meaning, and it requires more time plainly to form in his mind those general ideas they stand for. Till that be done, you will in vain endeavour to make any child assent to a proposition made up of such general terms: but as soon as ever he has got those ideas, and learned their
names, he forwardly closes with the one, as well as the other of the forementioned propositions, and with both for the same reason ; viz. because he finds the ideas he has in his mind to agree or disagree, according as the words standing for them, are affirmed or denied one of another in the proposition. But if propositions be brought to him in words, which stand for ideas he has not yet in his mind; to such propositions, however evidently true or false in themselves, he affords neither assent nor dissent, but is ignorant. For words being but empty sounds, any farther than they are signs of our ideas, we cannot but assent to them, as they correspond to those ideas we have, but no farther than that. But the showing by what steps and ways knowledge comes into our minds, and the grounds of several degrees of assent, being the business of the following discourse, it may suffice to have only touched on it here, as one reason that made me doubt of those innate principles. $24. Not Innate, because not universally assented to.
To conclude this argument of universal consent, I agree with these defenders of innate principles, that if they are innate, they must needs have universal assent. For that a truth should be innate, and yet not assented to, is to me as unintelligible, as for a man to know a truth, and be ignorant of it, at the same time. But then, by these men's own confese sion, they cannot be innate; since they are not assented to by those who understand not the terms, nor by a great part of those who do understand them, but have yet never heard nor thought of those propositions; which, I think, is at least one half of mankind. But were the number far less, it would be enough to destroy universal assent, and thereby show these propositions not to be innáte, if children alone were ignorant of them.
$ 25. These maxims not the first known. But that I may not be accused to argue from the thoughts of infants, which are unknown to us, and to conclude from what passes in their understandings before they express it ; I say next, that these two general propositions are not the truths that first possess the minds of children, nor are antecedent to all acquired and adventitious notions; which, if they were innate, they must needs be. Whether we can determine it or no, it matters not, there is certainly a time when children begin to think, and their words and actions do assure us that they do so. When therefore they are capable of thought, of knowledge, of assent, can it rationally be supposed they can be ignorant of those notions that nature has imprinted, were there any such ? Can it be imagined, with
of any appearance reason, that they perceive the impressions from things without, and be at the same time ignorant of those characters which nature itself has taken care to stamp within ? Can they receive
nd assent to adventitious notions, and be ignorant of those which are supposed woven into the very principles of their being, and imprinted there in indelible characters, to be the foundation and guide of all their acquired knowledge, and future reasonings ? This would be to make nature take pains to no purpose; or, at least, to write very ill ; since its characters could not be read by those eyes, which saw other things very well; and those are very ill supposed the clearest parts of truth, and the foundations of all our knowledge, which are not first known, and without which the undoubted knowledge of several other things may be had. The child certainly knows that the nurse that feeds it, is neither the cat it plays with, nor the blackmoor it is afraid of; that the wormseed or mustard it refuses, is not the apple or sugar it cries for; this it is certainly and undoubtedly assured of: but will any one say, it is by virtue of this principle, “ that it is impossible for the same thing to be, and not to be," that it so firmly assents.to these, and other parts of its knowledge? Or that the child has any notion or apprehension of that propo
sition at an age, wherein yet, it is plain, it knows a great many other truths ? He that will say, children join these general abstract speculations with their sucking bottles and their rattles, may, perhaps, with justice, be thought to have more passion and zeal for his opinion, but less sincerity and truth, than one of
$ 26. And so not innate. Though therefore there be several general propositions, that meet with constant and ready assent, as soon as proposed to men grown up, who have attained the use of more general and abstract ideas, and names standing for them ; yet they not being to be found in those of tender years, who nevertheless know other things, they cannot pretend to universal assent of intelligent persons, and so by no means can be supposed innate: it being impossible, that any truth which is innate (if there were any such) should be unknown, at least to any one who knows any thing else : since, if there are innate truths, they must be innate thoughts; there being nothing a truth in the mind, that it has never thought on. Whereby it is evident, if there be any innate truths in the mind, they must necessarily be the first of any thought on; the first that appeared there.
. $ 27. Not innate, because they appear least, where what
is innate shows itself clearest. That the general maxims, we are discoursing of, are not known to children, idiots, and a great part of mankind, we have already sufficiently proved ; whereby it is evident, they have not an universal assent, nor are general impressions. But there is this farther argument in it against their being innate, that these characters, if they were native and original impressions, should appear fairest and clearest in those persons in whom yet we find no footsteps of them: and it is, in my opinion, a strong presumption, that they are not innate, since they are least known to those, in whom, if they were innate, they must needs exert themselves with most force and vi. gour. For children, idiots, savages, and illiterate people, being of all others the least corrupted by custom, or borrowed opinions ; learning and education having not cast their native thoughts into new moulds, nor, by superinducing foreign and studied doctrines, confounded those fair characters naturę had written there; one might reasonably imagine, that in their minds these innate notions should lie open fairly to every one's view, as it is certain the thoughts of children do. It might very well be expected, that these principles should be perfectly known to naturals, which being stamped immediate ly on the soul (as these men suppose) can have no dependance on the constitutions or organs of the body, the only confessed difference between them and others. One would think, according to these men's principles, that all these native beams of light (were there any such) should in those who have no reserves, no arts of concealment, shine out in their full lustre, and leave us in no more doubt of their being there, than we are of their love of pleasure, and abhorrence of pain. But alas, amongst children, idiots, savages, and the grossly illiterate, what general maxims are to be found ? what universal prin. ciples of knowledge ? Their notions are few and nara row, borrowed only from those objects they have had most to do with, and which have made
their senses the frequentest and strongest impressions. A child knows his nurse and his cradle, and by degrees the play-things of a little more advanced age: and a young savage has, perhaps, his head filled with love and hunting, according to the fashion of his tribe. But he that from a child untaught, or a wild inhabitant of the woods, will expect these abstract maxims and reputed principles of science, will, I fear, find himself mistaken. Such kind of general propositions are seldom mentioned in the huts of Indians, much less are they to be found in the thoughts of