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if they were innate, they must needs be. Whether we can determine it or no, it matters not, there is certainly a time when children begin to think, and their words and actions do assure us that they do so. When therefore they are capable of thought, of knowledge, of assent, can it rationally be supposed, they can be ignorant of those notions that nature has imprinted, were there any such? Can it be imagined, with any appearance of reason, that they perceive the impressions from things without, and be at the same time ignorant of those characters which nature itself has taken care to stamp within? Can they receive and assent to adventitious notions, and be ignorant of those which are supposed woven into the very principles of their being, and imprinted there in indelible characters, to be the foundation and guide of all their acquired knowledge, and future reasonings? This would be, to make nature take pains to no purpose; or, at least, to write very ill; since its characters could not be read by those eyes, which saw other things very well; and those are very ill supposed the clearest parts of truth, and the foundations of all our knowledge, which are not first known, and without which the undoubted knowledge of several other things may be had. The child certainly knows, that the nurse that feeds it, is neither the cat it plays with, nor the blackmoor it is afraid of; that the wormseed or mustard it refuses, is not the apple or sugar it cries for; this it is certainly and undoubtedly assured of; but will any one say, it is by virtue of this principle," that it is impossible for the same thing to be, and not to be," that it so firmly assents to these, and other parts of its knowledge? Or that the child has any notion or apprehension of that proposition at an age, wherein yet, it is plain, it knows a great many other truths? He that will say, children join these general abstract speculations with their sucking bottles and their rattles, may, perhaps, with justice, be thought to have more passion and zeal for his opinion, but less sincerity and truth, than one of that age,

§. 26. And so not innate.

Though therefore there be several general propositions, that meet with constant and ready assent, as soon as proposed to men grown up, who have attained the use of more general and abstract ideas, and names standing for them; yet they not being to be found in those of tender

years, who nevertheless know other things, they cannot pretend to universal assent of intelligent persons, and so by no means can be supposed innate: it being impossible, that any truth which is innate (if there were any such) should be unknown, at least to any one who knows any thing else: since, if there are innate truths, they must be innate thoughts; there being nothing a truth in the mind, that it has never thought on. Whereby it is evident, if there be any innate truths in the mind, they must necessarily be the first of any thought on: the first that appear there.

§. 27. Not innate, because they appear least, where what is innate shows itself clearest.

That the general maxims we are discoursing of, are not known to children, idiots, and a great part of mankind, we have already sufficiently proved; whereby it is evident, they have not an universal assent, nor are general impressions. But there is this farther argument in it against their being innate, that these characters, if they were native and original impressions, should appear fairest and clearest in those persons in whom yet we find no footsteps of them: and it is, in my opinion, a strong presumption, that they are not innate, since they are least known to those, in whom, if they were innate, they must needs exert themselves with most force and vigour. For children, idiots, savages, and illiterate people, being of all others the least corrupted by custom, or borrowed opinions; learning and education having not cast their native thoughts into new moulds, nor, by superinducing foreign and studied doctrines, confounded those fair characters nature had written there; one might reasonably imagine, that in their minds these innate notions should lie open fairly to every one's view, as it is certain the thoughts of children do. It might very well be expected, that these principles should be perfectly known to naturals, which being stamped immediately on the soul (as these men suppose) can have no dependance on the constitutions or organs of the body, the only confessed difference between them and others. One would think, according to these men's principles, that all these native beams of light (were there any such) should in those who have no reserves, no arts of concealment, shine out in their full lustre, and leave us in no more doubt of their being there, than we

are of their love of pleasure, and abhorrence of pain. But alas, amongst children, idiots, savages, and the grossly illiterate, what general maxims are to be found? what universal principles of knowledge? Their notions are few and narrow, borrowed only from those objects they have had most to do with, and which have made upon their senses the frequentest and strongest impressions. A child knows his nurse and his cradle, and by degrees the play-things of a little more advanced age: and a young savage has, perhaps, his head filled with love and hunting, according to the fashion of his tribe. But he that from a child untaught, or a wild inhabitant of the woods, will expect these abstract maxims and reputed principles of science, will, I fear, find himself mistaken. Such kind of general propositions are seldom mentioned in the huts of Indians, much less are they to be found in the thoughts of children, or any impressions of them on the minds of naturals. They are the language and business of the schools. and academies of learned nations, accustomed to that sort of conversation or learning, where disputes are frequent these maxims being suited to artificial argumentation, and useful for conviction; but not much conducing to the discovery of truth, or advancement of knowledge. But of their small use for the improvement of knowledge, I shall have occasion to speak more at large, 7. 4. c. 7.

§. 28. Recapitulation.

I know not how absurd this may seem to the masters of demonstration: and probably it will hardly down with any body at first hearing. I must therefore beg a little truce with prejudice, and the forbearance of censure, till I have been heard out in the sequel of this discourse, being very willing to submit to better judgments. And since I impartially search after truth, I shall not be sorry to be Convinced that I have been too fond of my own notions; which I confess we are all apt to be, when application and study have warmed our heads with them.

Upon the whole matter, I cannot see any ground to think these two speculative maxims innate, since they are not universally assented to; and the assent they so generally find, is no other than what several propositions, not allowed to be innate, equally partake in with them; and since the assent that is given them, is produced another

way, and comes not from natural inscription, as I doubt not but to make appear in the following discourse. And if these first principles of knowledge and science are found not to be innate, no other speculative maxims can (I suppose) with better right pretend to be so.

CHAP. III.

NO INNATE PRACTICAL PRINCIPLES.

j. 1. No moral principles so clear, and so generally receiv ed, as the forementioned speculative maxims.

IF

F those speculative maxims, whereof we discoursed in the foregoing chapter, have not an actual universal assent from all mankind, as we there proved, it is much more visible concerning practical principles, that they come short of an universal reception: and I think it will be hard to instance any one moral rule, which can pretend to so general and ready an assent as, "what is, is;" or to be so manifest a truth, as this, "that it is impossi"ble for the same thing to be and not to be." Whereby it is evident, that they are farther removed from a title to be innate; and the doubt of their being native impressions on the mind, is stronger against those moral principles than the other. Not that it brings their truth at all in question: they are equally true though not equally evident. Those speculative maxims carry their own evidence with them; but moral principles require reasoning and discourse, and some exercise of the mind, to discover the certainty of their truth. They lie not open as natural characters engraven on the mind; which if any such were, they must needs be visible by themselves, and by their own light be certain and known to every body. But this is no derogation to their truth and certainty, no more than it is to the truth or certainty of the three angles of a triangle being equal to two right ones; because it is not so evident, as "the "whole is bigger than a part;" nor so apt to be assented to at first hearing. It may suffice, that these moral rules are capable of demonstration; and therefore it is our own fault, if we come not to a certain knowledge of them.

But the ignorance wherein many men are of them, an i the slowness of assent wherewith others receive them, are manifest proofs that they are not innate, and such as offer themselves to their view without searching.

§. 2. Faith and justice not owned as principles by all men.

Whether there be any such moral principles, wherein all men do agree, I appeal to any, who have been but moderately conversant in the history of mankind, and looked abroad beyond the smoke of their own chimnies. Where is that practical truth, that is universally received without doubt or question, as it must be, if innate? Justice and keeping of contracts, is that which most men seem to agree in. This is a principle, which is thought to extend itself to the dens of thieves, and the confederacies of the greatest villains; and they who have gone farthest towards the putting off of humanity itself, keep faith and rules of justice one with another. I grant that outlaws themselves do this one amongst another; but it is without receiving these as the innate laws of nature. They practise them as rules of convenience within their own communities: but it is impossible to conceive, that he embraces justice as a practical principle, who acts fairly with his fellow highwayman, and at the same time plunders or kills the next honest man he meets with. Justice and truth are the common ties of society: and therefore, even out-laws and robbers, who break with all the world besides, must keep faith and rules of equity amongst themselves, or else they cannot hold together. But will any one say, that those that live by fraud or rapine, have innate principles of truth and justice which they allow and assent to?

§. 3. Objection. Though men deny them in their practice, yet they admit them in their thoughts, answered.

Perhaps it will be urged, that the tacit assent of their minds agrees to what their practice contradicts. I answer, first, I have always thought the actions of men the best interpreters of their thoughts. But since it is certain, that most men's practices, and some men's professions, have either questioned or denied these principles, it is impossible to establish an universal consent, (though we should look for it only amongst grown men) without which it is impossible to conclude them innate. Secondly, it is

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