Page images
PDF
EPUB

thinking. These two are the fountains of knowledge, whence all the ideas we have, or, can naturally have, do spring. . . . . . .

III. The objects of. Sensation one source of Ideas.

First, our senses conversant about particular sensible objects, convey into the mind sereral distinct perceptions of things, according to those various ways, wherein those objects affect them: and thus we come by those ideas we have of yellow, white, heat, cold, soft, hard, bitter, sweet, and all those which we call sensible qualities. This great source of most of the ideas we have, depending wholly upon our senses, and derived by them to the understanding, we call Sensation.

IV. The operations of our Minds, the other source of them

Secondly, the other fountain from which experience furnisheth the understanding with ideas, is the perception of the operations of our mind within us, as it is employed about the ideas it has got, which operations, when the soul comes to reflect on and consider, furnish the understanding with another set of ideas, which could not be had from things without; and such are perception, thinking, doubting, believing, reasoning, knowing, willing, and all the different actings of our minds ; which we being conscious of, and observing in ourselves, do from these receive into our understandings as distinct ideas, as we do from bodies affecting our senses.

This source.of ideas every man has wholly in himself: and though it be not sense, as having nothing to do with external objects, yet it is very similar to it, and might properly enough be called internal sensen

22 ALL OUR IDEAS FROM SENSATION OR RFFLECTION.

But as we call the other sensation, so we call this, reflection, the ideas it affords being such only as the mind gets by reflecting on its own operations within itself.

These two, viz. external material things, as the objects of sensation ; and the operations of our own minds within as the objects of reflection; are the only originals whence all our ideas take their beginings.

The term operations here, is used in a large sense, as comprehending not barely the actions of the mind about its ideas, but some sort of passions arising sometimes from them, such as is the satisfaction or uneasiness arising from any thought.

V. All our Ideas from the one or the other of these.

The understanding seems not to have the least glimmering of any ideas, which it doth not receive from one of these two sources. External objects furnish the mind with the ideas of sensible qualities, which are all those different perceptions they produce in us, and the mind furnishes the understanding with ideas of its own operations.

These, when we have taken a full survey of them and their several modes, combinations and relations, we shall find to contain all our whole stock of ideas; and that we have nothing in our minds which did not come in-one of these two ways. Let any one examine his own thoughts, and thoroughly search into his own understanding; and then let him say whether all the original ideas he has there, are any other than of the objects of his senses, or of the operations of his mind, considered as objects of his reflection ; and how great a mass of knowledge soever he imagines to be lodged there, he will, upon taking a strict view, see that he has not any idea in his mind, but one

of these two have imprinted : though perhaps with infinite variety compounded and enlarged by the understanding, as we shall see hereafter.

But let not this important observation be forgotten by any one; that the ideas the mind possesses will be fewer or more numerous, simple or more diversified, clear or confused, according to the number of the objects or subjects presented to it, and the extent of its reflections and examinations.

VI. In the Reception of simple ideas, the understanding

is for the most part Passive.

In the reception of simple ideas, the understanding is for the most part passive; and whether or not it will have these beginnings, and, as it were, materials of knowledge are not in its own power.

For the objects of our senses do, many of them, obtrude themselves into the notice of our minds whether we will or not : and the operations of our minds will not let us be without, at least, some obscure notions of them.

No man can be wholly ignorant of what he does when he thinks. These simple ideas, when offered to the mind, the understanding can no more refuse to have, nor alter, when they are imprinted, nor blot them out, and make new ones itself, thạn a mirror can refuse, alter, or obliterate the images which the objects set before it do therein produce. As the bodies that surround us diversely affect our organs, the mind is forced to receive the impressions, and cannot avoid the perception of those ideas that are annexed to them.

CHAPTER IV.

OF SIMPLE IDEAS.

1. Simple Ideas what.

THE first class of our ideas are those which are distinguished by the name of simple perception; because they exist in the mind under one uniform appearance without variety or composition. For though external objects do at the same time suggest to the understanding - many different ideas, all united together, and making as it were one whole ; yet the impressions themselves are evidently distinct, and are conceived by the mind, each under a form peculiar 'to itself. ..'

Thus the ideas of colour, extension, and motion may be suggested to the mind, at one and the same time, from the same body; yet these three perceptions are as distinct in themselves, as if they all had been suggested by different objects, or were exhibited to our notice at different times. We are therefore carefully to distinguish between our simple and primitive conceptions, and those different combinations of them which are often suggested to the mind by single objects acting upon it. The first constitute our original notices of things, and are not distinguishable into different ideas, but are conceived by the senses simple and unmixed. They are also the materials, out of which all the others, how complex and complicated soever, are formed ; and therefore ought deservedly to be looked on as the foundation and ground work of our knowledge.

II. Simple Ideas of Sensation.

Now if we take a survey of these ideas, and their several divisions and classes, we shall find them all suggested to us, either by our senses, or the attention of the mind to what passes within itself. Thus our notices of the different qualities of bodies, are all of the kind we call simple ideas, and may be reduced to five general heads, according to the several organs which are affected by them. Colours, &c. and sounds, are conveyed in by the eyes and ears; tastes and smells, by the nose and palate ; and heat, cold, solidity, &c. by the touch. Beside these, there are others which make impressions on several of our senses, as extension, figure, rest and motion, &c. the ideas of which are suggested to our minds, both by seeing and feeling.

III. Simple Ideas of Reflection.

If we turn our view upon what passes within ourselves, we shall find another set of simple ideas arising from our consciousness of the acts and operations of our own minds. Perception or thinking, and volition or willing, are what every man experiences in himself, and cannot avoid being sensible of. I shall only observe farther, that besides all the above mentioned perceptions, there are others that come into our minds, by all the ways of sensation and reflection ; such are the ideas of pleasure and pain, power, existence, unity, succession, &c. which are derived to our understandings both by the action of objects without us, and the consciousness of what we feel within. It is true some of these ideas, as of extension and duration, cannot be conceived altogether without parts, nevertheless, they are justly ranked among our simple ideas; because their

« PreviousContinue »