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conjoined with the other. After he has observed several instances of this nature, he then pronounces them to be connected. What alteration has happened to give rise to this new idea of connexion? Nothing but that he now feels these events to be connected in his iimagination, and can readily foretel the existence of one from the appearance of the other. When we say, therefore, that one object is connected with another, we mean only, that they have acquired a connexion in our thought, and give rise to this inference, by which they become proofs of each other's existence: A conclusion, which is soinewhat extraordinary; but which seems founded on sufficient evidence. Nor will its evidence be weakened by any general diffidence of the understanding, or sceptical sufpicion concerning every conclusion, which is new and extraordinary. No conclusions can be more agreeable to scepticism than such as make discoveries concerning the weakness and narrow limits of human reason and capacity.
And what stronger instance can be produced of the surprising ignorance and weakness of the understanding, than the present? For surely, if there be any relation among objects, which it imports us to know perfectly, it is cause and effect. On this are founded all our reasonings concerning matter of fact or existence. By means of it alone we attain any assurance concerning objects, which are removed from the present testimony of our memory and senses. The only immediate utility of all sciences, is to teach us, how to control and regulate future events by their causes. Our thoughts and enquiries are, 'therefore, every moment, employed about this relation : Yet so imperfect are the ideas which we form concerning it, that it is impossible to give any just definition of cause, except what is drawn from , something extraneous and foreign to it. Similar Vol. I. . - G..
objects are always conjoined with similar. Of this we have experience. Suitably to this experience, therefore, we may define a cause to be an obje£t, followed by another, and where all the objets, similar to the first, are followed by objets similar to the second. Or in other words, where, if the first objeEt had not been, the second never had existed. The appearance of a cause always conveys the mind, by a curtomary tranfition, to the idea of the effect. Of this also we have experience. We may, therefore, suitably to this experience, forin another definition of cause; and call it, an objećt followed by another, and whose appearance always' conveys the thought to that other. But though both these definitions be drawn froin circumstances foreign to the cause, we cannot remedy this inconvenience, or attain any more perfect definition, which may point out that circumstance in the cause, which gives it a connexion with its effect. We have no idea of this connexion; nor even any distinct notion what it is we desire to know, when we endeavour at a conception of it. We say, for instance, that the vibration of this string is the cause of this particular sound, But what do we mean by that affirmation? We either mean, that this vibration is followed by this found, and that all similar vibrations have been followed by fimilar Sounds : Or, that this vibration is followed by this found, and that upon the appearance of one, the mind anticipates the fenses, and forms; immediately an idea of the other. We may consider the relation of cause and effect in either of these two lights; but beyond these, we have no idea of it*.
To recapitulate, therefore, the reasonings of this section: Every idea is copied from some preceding impression or sentiment; and where we cannot find any impression, we inay be certain that there is no idea. In all single instances of
the * See NOTE [E].
the operation of bodies or minds, there is no- . thing that produces any impression, nor consequently can suggest any idea, of power or necessary connexion. But when many uniform instances appear, and the same object is always followed by the same event; we then begin to entertain the notion of cause and connexion. We then feel a new sentiment or impression, to wit, a customary connexion in the thought or imagination between one object and its usual attendant; and this sentiment is the original of that idea which we seek for. For as this idea arises from a number of similar instances, and not from any single instance; it must arise from that circumstance, in which the number of instances differ from every individual instance. But this customary connexion or transition of the imagination is the only circumstance, in which they differ. In every other particular they are alike. The first instance which we saw of motion, communicated by the shock of two billiard-balls (to return to this obvious illustration) is exactly limilar to any instance that may, at present, occur to us; except only, that we could not, at first, infer one event from the other; which we are enabled to do at present, after so long a course of uniform experience. I know not, whether the reader will readily apprehend this reasoning. I am afraid, that, should I inultiply words about it, or throw it into a greater variety of lights, it would only become more obscure and intricate. In all abstract reasonings, there is one point of view, which, if we can happily hit, we shall go farther towards illustrating the subject, than by all the eloquence and copious expression in the world. This point of view we should endeavour to reach, and reserve the flowers of rhetoric' for subjects which are more adapted to them.
SECTION | VIII.
Of LIBERTY and Necessity.
: PART 1
It might reasonably be expected, in questions, which have been canvassed and disputed with great eagerness, since the first origin of science and philosophy, that the meaning of all the terms, at least, should have been agreed upon ainong the disputants; and our enquiries, in the course of two thousand years, been able to pass from words to the true and real subject of the controversy. For how easy may it seem to give exact definitions of the terms employed in reasoning, and make these definitions, not the-mere found of words, the object of future scrutiny and examinacion ? But if we consider the matter more narrowly, we shall be apt to draw a quite opposite conclusion. From this circumstance alone, that a controversy has been long kept on foot, and remains still undecided, we may presume, that there is some ambiguity in the expression, and that the disputants affix different ideas to the terms employed in the controverfy. For as the faculties of the mind are supposed to be naturally alike in every individual ; otherwise nothing could be more fruitless than to reason or dispute together ; it were impor