Abbildungen der Seite

never been applied to the organ. A LAPLANDER OF NEGRO has no notion to the relish of wine. And though there are few or no instances of a like deficiency in the mind, where a person has never felt, or is wholly incapable of a sentiment or passion, that belongs to his fpecies; yet we find the same observation to take place in a less degree. A inan of mild manners can form no idea of inveterate revenge or cruelty ; nor can a selfish heart easily conceive the heights of friendship and generosity. It is readily allowed, that other beinigs may possess many sentes 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, to wit, by the actual feeling and fensation.

There is, however, one contradi&ory phænomenon, 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 found, 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 fo 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 poffible, by the continual gradation of shades, to run a colour insensibly into what is moit 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 fight for thirty years, and to have become perfectly acquainted with colours of all kinds, except one particular shade of blue, for inftance, 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, de



fcending gradually from the deepest to the lightest; it is plain, that he will perceive a blank, where that shade is wanting, and will be fenfible, that there is a greater distance in that place between the contiguous colours than in any other. Now I ask, whether it be poffible 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 fenses? I believe there äre 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 fingular; that it is scarcely worth our observing, and does not merit, that for it alone we should alter our general maxim.

Here; therefore, is à propofition, which not only feems, in itself, simple and intelligible ; but, if a proper use were made of it, might render every dispute equally intelligible, and banith all that jargon, which has fo tong taken poffeffion of metaphylical reasonings, and drawn disgrace upon them. All ideas, efpecially abstract ones, are naturally faint and obscure: The mind has but a flender 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 éither 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 fufpicion, that a philosophical term is employed without any meaning ör idea (as is but too frequent), we need but enquire, from what impreffion is that fuppofed idea derived? And if it be impoffible to affign any, this will serve to confitm our fufpicion. VOL. II.


By bringing ideas into so clear a light, we may rea. sonably hope to remove all dispute, which may a. rise, concerning their nature and reality *.


Of the AssociATION of IDEAS.


T is evident, that there is a principle of connec

tion 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 obfervable, 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 inimediately 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 secretly revolved in his mind a succession of thought, which had gradually 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, expres

five * See NOTE (A).

five of ideas, the most compounded, do yet nearly correspond to each other: A certain proof, that the fimple 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 efcape observation, ihat 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*: The mei.tion of one apartment in a building naturally introduces an enquiry or discourse concerning the otherst: And if we think of a wound, we can scarcely forbear reflecting on the pain which follows it f. 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 Ş. 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.

[blocks in formation]

# Resemblance: f Contiguity: | Cause and Effect. ♡ For instance, Contraft or Contrariety is also a connection among Ideas: But it may, perhaps, be considered as a mixture of Causation and Resemblance. Where two objects are contrary, the one destroys the other; that is, the caufe of its annihilation, and the idea of the annibilation of an object, implies the idea of its former existence,




[ocr errors][merged small]


LL the objects of human reason or enquiry may

naturally 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 fides, is a proposition which expresses a relation between these figures. That three times five is equal to the half of thirty, expresses a relation between these numbers. Propofitions of this kind are difcoverable by the mere operation of thought, without dependance 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 reafon, are not ascertained in the same manner; nor is our evidence of their truth, however great, of a like nature with the foregoing. The contrary of every matter of fact is still possible; because it can never imply a contradiction, and is conceived by the mind with the same facility and distinctness, as if ever

« ZurückWeiter »