Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

There is, however, one contradictory phenomenon, which may prove, that it is not absolutely impossible for ideas to arise, independent of their correspondent impressions. I believe it will readily be allowed, that the several distinct ideas of colour, which enter by the eye, or those of sound, which are conveyed by the ear, are really different from each other, though, at the same time, resembling. Now, if this be true of different colours, it must be no less so of the different shades of the same colour; and each shade produces a distinct idea, independent of the rest. For if this should be denied, it is possible, by the continual gradation of shades, to run a colour insensibly into what is most remote from it; and if you will not allow any of the means to be different, you cannot, without absurdity, deny the extremes to be the same. Suppose, therefore, a person to have enjoyed his sight for thirty years, and to have become perfectly acquainted with colours 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 colour, except that single one, be placed before him, descending gra dually from the deepest to the lightest, it is plain, that he will perceive a blank where that shade is wanting, and will be sensible that there is a greater distance in that place between the contiguous colours than in any other. Now I ask, whether it be possible for him, from his own imagination, to supply this deficiency, and raise up to himself the idea of that particular shade, though 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 serve as a proof, that the simple ideas are not always, in every instance, derived from the correspondent impressions, though this instance is so singular, that it is scarce

ly worth our observing, and does not merit, that for it alone we should alter our general maxim.

Here, therefore, is a proposition, which not only seems in itself 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 disgrace upon them. All ideas, especially abstract ones, are naturally faint and obscure. The mind has but a slender hold of them. They are apt to be confounded with other resembling ideas; and when we have often employed any term, though without a distinct meaning, we are apt to imagine it has a determinate idea annexed to it. On the contrary, all impressions, that is, all sensations either outward or inward, are strong and vivid. 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 inquire, from what impression 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.

• See NOTE (A.)

SECTION III.

OF THE ASSOCIATION OF IDEAS.

It is evident, that there is a principle of connection between the different thoughts or ideas of the mind, and that, in their appearance to the memory or imagination, 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 the regular tract or chain of ideas, is immediately remarked and rejected. And even in our wildest and most wandering 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 connection upheld among the different ideas which succeeded each other. Were the loosest and freest 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 dis

course might still inform you, that there had secretly re· volved in his mind a succession of thought, which had gra

dually led him from the subject of conversation. Among different languages, even where we cannot suspect the least connection or communication, it is found, that the words expressive of ideas the most compounded, do yet nearly correspond to each other ; a certain proof that the simple ideas comprehended in the compound ones were bound together by some universal principle, which had an equal influence on all mankind.

Though it be too obvious to escape observation, that different ideas are connected together, I do not find that any philosopher has attempted to enumerate or class all the principles of association, a subject, however, that seems worthy of curiosity. To me there appear to be only three principles of connection among ideas, namely, Resemblance, Contiguity in time or place, and Cause or Effect.

That these principles serve to connect ideas will not, I believe, be much doubted. A picture naturally leads our thoughts to the original a. The mention of one apartment in a building naturally introduces an inquiry or dis'course concerning the others b; and if we think of a wound, we can scarcely forbear reflecting on the pain which follows it. But that this enumeration is complete, and that there are no other principles of association except these, may be difficult to prove to the satisfaction of the reader, or even to a man's own satisfaction. All we can do, in such cases, is to run over several instances, and examine carefully the principle which binds the different thoughts to each other, never stopping till we render the principle as general as possible. The more instances we examine, and the more care we employ, the more assurance shall we acquire, that the enumeration which we form from the whole is complete and entire.

• Resemblance.

Contiguity.

Cause and Effect. For instance, Contrast or Contrariety, is also a connection among ideas, but it may perhaps be considered as a mixture of Causation and ResemVlance. Where two objects are contrary, the one destroys the other ; that is, the cause of its annihilation, and the idea of the annihilation of an object, implies the idea of its former existence.

[graphic]

S

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

lubusait ait.: 1.9 .1.ri, 70..
SCEPTICAL DOUBTS CONCERNING THE OPERATIONS OF THE

hus 11 UNDERSTANDING.
an siside.? :72 ;
la fortugali .

tine'ls ... ...
van huile! ..PART I.

Automu: or.

ALL the objects of human reason or inquiry may natural. Hy be divided into two kinds, to wit, Relations of Ideas, and

Matters of Fact. Of the first kind are the sciences of Geometry, Algebra, and Arithmetic; and in short every affirmation which is either intuitively or demonstratively certain. That the square of the hypothenuse is equal to the square of the two sides, is a proposition which expresses a relation between these figures. That three times five is e qual to the half of thirty, expresses a relation between these numbers. Propositions of this kind are discoverable by the mere operation of thought, without dependence on what is any where existent in the universe. Though there never were a circle or triangle in nature, the truths demonstrated by Euclid would for ever retain their certainty and evidence.

Matters of fact, which are the second objects of human Teason, are not ascertained in the same manner; nor is our

« ZurückWeiter »