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fall within the comprehension of every human creature ; and the finer and more philosophical distinctions are no less real and certain, thoʻ more difficult to be comprehended. Some instances, especially late ones, of success in these enquiries, may give us a jufter notion of the certainty and solidity of this branch of learning. sind shall we esteem it worthy the labor of a philosopher to give us a true system of the planets, and adjust the position and order of those remote bodies ; while we affect to overlook those, who, with so much success, delineate the parts of the mind in which we are so intimately concerned ?
But may we not hope, that philosophy, if cultivated with care, and encouraged by the attention of the public, may carry its researches still farther, and discover, at least in some degree, the secret springs and principles, by which the human mind is actuated in its operations ? Astronomers had long contented themfelves with proving, from the phænomena, the true motions, order, and magnitude of the heavenly bodies : Till a philosopher, at laft, arose, who seems from the happiest reasoning, to have also determined the laws and forces, by which the revolutions of the planets are governed and directed. The like has been performed with regard to other parts of nature. And there is no reason to despair of equal success in our enquiries concerning the mental powers and oeconomy, if prosecuted with equal capacity and caution. 'Tis probable, that one operation and principle of the mind depends on another; which, again, may be resolved into one more general and universal : And how far these researches may possibly be carried, it will be difficult for us, before, or even after, a careful trial, exactly to determine. This is certain, that attempts of this kind are every day made even by those who philosophize the most negligently; and nothing can be more requisite than to enter upon the enterprize with thorow care and attention ; that, if it lie within the compass of human understanding, it may at last be happily atchieved ; if not, it may, however, be rejected with some confidence and security. This last conclusion, surely, is not desireable, nor ought it to be embraced too rashly. For how much must we diminish from the beauty and value of this species of philosophy, upon such a supposition ? Moralists have hitherto been accustomed, when they considered the vast multitude and diversity of actions that excite our approbation or disiike, to search for some common principle, on which this vari. ety of sentiments might depend. . And tho' they have sometimes carried the matter too far, by their paffion for some one general principle; it must, however, be confessed, that they are excusable, in expecting to find fome general principles, into which all the vices and virtues were justly to be resolved. The like has been the endeavor of critics, logicians, and even politicians : Nor have their attempts been wholly unsuccessful ; tho' perhaps longer time, greater accuracy, and more ardent application may bring these sciences still nearer their perfection. To throw up at once all pretensions of this kind may justly be deemed more rash, precipitate, and dogmatical, than even the boldest and most affirmative philosophy, which has ever attempted to impofe its crude dictates and principles on mankind.
What thoʻthese reafonings concerning human nature feem abstract, and of difficult comprehension? This affords no presumption of their falfhood. On the contrary, it seems impossible, that what has hitherto escaped fo many wife and profound philosophers can be very obvious and easy. And whatever pains these researches may cost us, we may think ourselves sufficiently rewarded, not only in point of profit but of pleasure, if, by that means, we can make any addition to our stock of knowlege, in subjects of such unspeakable importance.
But as, after all, the abstractedness of these speculations is no recommendation, but rather a disadvantage to them, and as this difficulty may perhaps be surmounted by care and art, and the avoiding all unnecessary detail, we have, in the following enquiry, attempted to throw some light upon subjects, from which uncertainty has hitherto deterred the wise, and obscurity the ignorant. Happy, if we can unite the boundaries of the different species of philosophy, by reconciling profound enquiry with clearness, and truth with novelty! And Itill more happy, if, reasoning in this easy manner, we can undermine the foundations of an abstruse philosophy, which seems to have served hitherto only as a shelter to superstition, and a cover to absurdity and error!
S E C Τ Ι Ο Ν ΙΙ. :
VERY one will readily allow, that there is a considerable difference between
the perceptions of the mind, when a man feels the pain of excessive heat, or the pleasure of moderate warmth, and when he afterwards recalls to his memory.this sensation, or anticipates it by his imagination. These faculties. may mimic or copy the perceptions of the senses ; but they never can reach entirely the force and vivacity of the original sentiment. The 'utmost we say of them, even when they operate with greatest vigor, is, that they represent their object in fo lively a manner, that we could almost say we feel or see it : But except the mind: be disordered by disease or madness, they never can arrive at such a pitch of vivacity, as to render these perceptions altogether undistinguishable. All the colors of poetry, however splendid, can never paint natural objects in such a man. ner, as to make the description be taken for a real landskip. The most lively thought is still inferior to the dullest sensation. . , We may, observe a like distinction to run thro' all the other perceptions of the mind. A man, in a fit of anger, is actuated in a very different manner from one who only thinks of that emotion. If you tell me, that any person is in love, I easily understand your meaning, and form a just conception of his situation; but never can mistake that conception for the real disorders and agitations of the passion. When we reflect on our past sentiments and affections, our thought is a faithful mirror, and copies its objects truly; but the colors which it employs are faint and dull, in comparison of those in which our original perceptions were clothed. It requires no nice discernment nor metaphysical head to mark the distinction between them. , · Here therefore we may divide all the perceptions of the mind into two classes or species, which are distinguished by their different degrees of force and vivacity.
The less forcible and lively are commonly denominated THOUGHTS or Ideas. The other species want a name in our language, and in most others ; I suppose, Рp
because ain and diftsmule the body able than to come and join in
because it was not requisite for any, but philosophical purposes, to rank them un. der a general term or appellation. Let us, therefore, use a little freedom, and call them IMPRESSIONS ; employing that word in a sense somewhat different from the usual. By thę term impression, then, I mean all our more lively perceptions, when we hear, or fee, or feel, or love, or hate, or desire, or wilt. And imprefGions are distinguished from ideas, which are the less lively perceptions of which we are conscious, when we reflect on any of those sensations or movements above mentioned.
NOTHING, at first view, may seem more unbounded than the thought of man, which not only escapes all human power and authority, but is not even restrained within the limits of nature and reality. To form monsters, and join incongruous shapes and appearances, cofts no more trouble than to conceive the most natural and familiar objects. And while the body is confined to one planet, along which it creeps with pain and difficulty ; the thought can in an instant transport us into the most diftant regions of the universe; or even beyond the universe, into the unbounded chaos, whe,e nature is supposed to lie in total confusion. What never was seen, nor heard of, may yet be conceived ; nor is any thing beyond the power of thought, except what implies an absolute, contradiction.
But tho' thought seems to poffess this unbounded liberty, we shall find, upon a nearer examination, that it is really confined within very narrow limits, and that all this creative power of the mind amounts to no more than the compounding, transposing, augmenting, or diminishing the materials. afforded us by the senses and experience. When we think of a golden mountain, we only join two confiftent. ideas, gold, and mountain, with which we were formerly acquainted. A virtuous horse. we can conceive; because, from our own feeling, we can conceive virtue, and this we may unite to the figure and shape of a horse, which is an animal familiar to us. In short, all the materials of thinking are derived either from our outward or inward sentiment: The mixture and composition of these belongs alone to the mind and will. Or, to express, myself in philosophical language, all our ideas or more feeble perceptions are copies of our impressions or more lively ones.
To prove this, the two following arguments will, I hope, be sufficient. First, When we analyse our thoughts or ideas, however compounded or sublime, we always find, that they resolve themfelves into such fimple ideas as were copied from a precedent feeling or sentiment. Even those ideas, which, at firft view, seem the most wide of this origin, are found, upon a narrower scrutiny, to be derived from it. The idea of God, as meaning an infinițely intelligent, wise, and good Being, arifes from reflecting on the operations of our own mind, and augmenting, without limit, those qualities of goodness and wisdom. We may prosecute this. enquiry to what length we please; where we shall always find, that cyery idea we examine is copied from a similar impression. Those who would asfert, that this position is not absolutely universal and without exception, have only one, and that an easy method of refuring it; by producing that idea, which, in their opinion, is not derived from this source. It will then be incumbent on us, if we would, maintain our doctrine, to produce the impression or lively perception, which corresponds to it.
SECONDLY. If it happen, from a defect of the orgàn, that à 'man is not fürceptible of any fpecies of sensation, we always find, that he is as little susceptible of the correspondent ideas. A blind man can form no notion of colors ; à deaf man of sounds. Restore either of them that fense, in which he is deficient ; by opening this new inlet for his fensations, you also open an inlet for the ideas, and he finds no difficulty of conceiving thefe objects. The cafe is the fame, if the object, proper for exciting any fenfation, has never been applied to the organ. A LAPLANDER or NEGROE has no notion of the relish of wine. And tho' there are few or no instances of a like deficiency in the mind, where a perfon has never felt or is wholly incapable of a sentiment or passion, that belor.gs to his fpecies ; yet we find the same observation to take place in a less degree. A man of mild manners can form no notion of inveterate revenge or cruelty ; nor can a felfish heart easily conceive the heights of friendship and generosity. 'Tis readily allowed, that other beings may poffefs many senses, of which we can have no conception ; because the ideas of them have never been introduced to us in the only manner by which an idea can have access to the mind, viz. by the actual feeling and sensation.
There is, however, one contradictory phænomenon, which may prove, that 'tis not absolutely impossible for ideas to go before their correspondent impressions. I believe it will readily be allowed, that the several distinct ideas of colors, which enter by the eyes, or thofe of founds, which are conveyed by the hearing, até really different from each other ; tho', at the fame time, resembling. Now if this bé true of different colors, it must be no less só, of the different shades of the same color; and each shade produces a distinct idea, independent of the rest. For if this should be denied, 'tis poffible, by the continual gradation of shades, to run a color insensibly into what is most remote from it'; and if you will not allow any of the means to be different, you cannot, without abfurdity, deny the extremes to be the fame. Suppose, therefore, a person to have enjoyed his sight for thirty years, and to have become perfectly well acquainted with colors of all kinds, except one particular shade of blue, for instance, which it never has been his fortune to meet with. Let all the different shades of that color, except that single one, be placed before him, descending gradually from the deepest to the lightest; 'tis plain, that he will perceive a blank, where that shade is wanting, and will be fensible, that there is a greater distance in that place betwixt the contiguous colors than in any other. Now I ask, whether 'tis poffible for him, from his own imagination, to supply this deficiency, and raise up to himself the idea of that particular fhade, tho' it had never been conveyed to him by his senses? I believe there are few but will be of opinion that he can; and this may ferve as a proof, that the simple ideas are not always, in every instance, derived from the correspondent impresions; tho' this instance is so singular, that 'tis scarce worth our observing, and does not merit, that for it alone we fhould alter our general maxim.
Herë, therefore, is a propofition, which not only seems, in itfelf, simple and intelligible ; but, if a proper use were made of it, might render every dispute equally intelligible, and banish all that jargon, which has so long taken possession of metaphysical reasonings, and drawn such disgrace upon them. All ideas, espécially abstract ones, are naturally faint and obfcure; the mind has but a slender hold of them: They are apt to be confounded with other resembling ideas: and when Рp2
we have often employed any term, tho' without a distinct meaning, we are apt to imagine that it has a determinate idea, annexed to it. On the contrary, all impressions, that is, all sensations, either outward or inward, are strong and sensible : The limits between them are more exactly determined : Nor is it easy to fall into any error or mistake with regard to them. When we entertain therefore any suspicion, that a philosophical term is employed without any meaning or idea (as is but too frequent) we need but enquire, from what impresion is that supposed idea derived? And if it be impossible to assign any, this will serve to confirm our suspicion. By bringing ideas into so clear a light, we may reasonably hope to remove all dispute, which may arise, concerning their nature and reality a.
S E C T I O N III. : OF THE ASSOCIATION OF IDE A S.
T IS evident, that there is a principle of connexion between the different
I thoughts or ideas of the mind, and that in their appearance to the memory or injagination, they introduce each other with a certain degree of method and regularity. In our more serious thinking or discourse, this is so observable, that any particular thought, which breaks in upon this regular tract or chain of ideas, is immediately remarked and rejected. And even in our wildest and most wan. dering reveries, nay in our very dreams, we shall find, if we reflect, that the imagination ran not altogether at adventures, but that there was still a connexion upheld among the different ideas, which succeeded each other. Were the loosest and freeft conversation to be transcribed, there would immediately, be observed something, which connected it in all its transitions. Or where this is wanting, the person, who broke the thread of discourse, might still inform you, that there had
. a 'Tis probable, that no more was meant by fions, as well as thoughts. Now in this sense, I those, who denied innate ideas, than that all ideas should desire to know, what can be meant by afwere copies of our impressions; tho' it must be ferting, that felf-love, or resentment of injuries, confessed, that the terms which they employed or the passion betwixt the sexes is not innate? were not chosen with such caution, nor so exactly But admitting these terms, imprefions and ideas, defined as to prevent all mistakes about their doc- in the sense above explained, and understanding trine. For what is meant by innate ? If innate by innate what is original or copied from no prebe equivalent to natural, then all the perceptions cedent perception, then may we assert, that all and ideas of the mind must be allowed to be in our impressions are innate, and our ideas not nate or natural, in whatever sense we take the innate. latter word, whether in opposition to what is un To be ingenuous, I must own it to be my opin common, artificial, or miraculous. If by innate nion, that Mr. Locke was betrayed into this be meant, cotemporary to our birth, the dispute question by the schoolmen, who making use of seems to be frivolous; nor is it worth while to undefined terms, draw out their disputes to a te. enquire at what time thinking begins, whether dious length, without ever touching che point in before, at, or after our birth. Again, the word, question. A like ambiguity and circumlocution ; 'ca, seems to be commonly taken in a very loole seem to run thro' all that great philosopher's rea. sense, even by Mr. Locke himself, as ftanding sonings on this subject., for any of our perceptions, our sensacions and pals