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ledge but one God, this doctrine, and the care taken in those nations, to teach men to have true notions of a God, prevailed so far, as to make men to have the same, and the true ideas of him. How many, even amongst us, will be found, upon inquiry, to fancy bim in the shape of a man sitting in heaven, and to have many other absurd and unfit conceptions of him? Christians, as well as Turks, have had whole sects owning and contending earnestly for it, and that the deity was corporeal, and of human shape and though we find few among us who profess themselves Anthropomorphites, (though some I have met with that own it) yet, I believe, he that will make it his business, may find, amongst the ignorant and uninstructed christians, many of that opinion. Talk but with country people, almost of any age, or young people of almost any condition; and you shall find, though the name of God be frequently in their mouths, yet the notions they apply this name to are so odd, low, and pitiful, that nobody can imagine they were taught by a rational man, much less that they were characters written by the finger of God himself. Nor do I see how it derogates more from the goodness of God, that he has given us minds unfurnished with these ideas of him self, than that he hath sent us into the world with bodies unclothed, and that there is no art or skill born with us: for, being fitted with faculties to attain these, it is want of industry and consideration in us, and not of bounty in him, if we have them not. It is as certain that there is a God as that the opposite angles, made by the intersection of two straight lines, are equal. There was never any rational creature that set himself sincerely to examine the truth of these propositions, that could fail to assent to them; though yet it be past doubt that there are many men, who having not applied their thoughts that way, are ignorant both of the one and the other. If any one think fit to call this (which is the utmost of its extent) universal consent, such an one, I easily allow; but such an universal consent as this proves not the idea of God, any more than it does the idea of such angels, innate.
§. 17. If the idea of God be not innate, no other can be supposed innate.
Since then, though the knowledge of a God be the most natural discovery of human reason, yet the idea of
him is not innate, as, I think, is evident from what has been said; I imagine there will scarce be any other idea found, that can pretend to it: since if God had set any impression, any character on the understanding of men, it is most reasonable to expect it should have been some clear and uniform idea of himself, as far as our weak capacities were capable to receive so incomprehensible and infinite an object. But our minds being, at first, void of that idea, which we are most concerned to have, it is a strong presumption against all other innate characters. I must own, as far as I can observe, I can find none, and would be glad to be informed by any other.
§. 18. Idea of substance not innate.
I confess, there is another idea which would be of general use for mankind to have, as it is of general talk, as if they had it; and that is the idea of substance, which we neither have, nor can have, by sensation or reflection. If nature took care to provide us any ideas, we might well expect they should be such as by our own faculties we cannot procure to ourselves: but we see, on the contrary, that since by those ways, whereby our ideas are brought into our minds, this is not, we have no such clear idea at all, and therefore signify nothing by the word substance, but only an uncertain supposition of we know not what, i. e. of something whereof we have no particular distinct positive) idea, which we take to be the substratum, or support of those ideas we know.
§. 19. No propositions can be innate, since no ideas are in
Whatever then we talk of innate, either speculative or practical principles, it may, with as much probability, be said, that a man hath 100%. sterling in his pocket, and yet denied, that he hath either penny, shilling, crown, or other coin, out of which the sum is to be made up, as to think that certain propositions are innate, when the ideas about which they are can by no means be supposed to be so. The general reception and assent that is given doth not at all prove that the ideas expressed in them are innate : for in many cases, however the ideas came there, the assent to words expressing the agreement or disagreement of such ideas will necessarily follow. Every one, that hath a true idea of God, and worship, will assent to this pro
position, "that God is to be worshipped," when expressed in a language he understands: and every rational nian, that hath not thought on it to-day, may be ready to assent to this proposition to-morrow; and yet millions of men may be well supposed to want one or both those ideas to-day. For if we will allow savages and most country people to have ideas of God and worship, (which conversation with them will not make one forward to believe) yet I think few children can be supposed to have those ideas, which therefore they must begin to have some time or other: and then they will also begin to assent to that proposition, and make very little question of it ever after. But such an assent upon hearing no more proves the ideas to be innate, than it does that one born blind (with cataracts, which will be couched to-morrow) had the innate ideas of the sun, or light, or saffron, or yellow; because, when his sight is cleared, he will certainly assent to this proposition, "that the sun is lucid, or that saffron is yellow :" and therefore, if such an assent upon hearing cannot prove the ideas innate, it can much less the propositions made up of those ideas. If they have any innate ideas, I would be glad to be told what, and how many they are.
$. 20. No innate ideas in the memory.
To which let me add: If there be any innate ideas, any ideas in the mind, which the mind does not actually think on, they must be lodged in the memory, and from thence must be brought into view by remembrance: i. e. must be known, when they are remembered, to have been perceptions in the mind before, unless remembrance can be without remembrance. For to remember is to perceive any thing with memory, or with a consciousness, that it was known or perceived before: without this, whatever idea comes into the mind is new, and not remembered; this consciousness of its having been in the mind before being that which distinguishes remembering from all other ways of thinking. Whatever idea was never perceived by the mind, was never in the mind. Whatever idea is in the mind, is either an actual perception; or else, having been an actual perception, is so in the mind, that by the memory it can be made an actual perception again.Whenever there is the actual perception of an idea without memory, the idea appears perfectly new and unknown before to the understanding. Whenever the memory
brings any idea into actual view, it is with a consciousness, that it had been there before, and was not wholly a stranger to the mind. Whether this be not so, I appeal to every one's observation; and then I desire an instance of an idea, pretended to be innate, which (before any impression of it by ways hereafter to be mentioned) any one could revive and remember as an idea he had formerly known; without which consciousness of a former perception there is no remembrance; and whatever idea comes into the mind without that consciousness is not remembered, or comes not out of the memory, nor can be said to be in the mind before that appearance: for what is not either actually in view, or in the memory, is in the mind no way at all, and is all one as if it had never been there. Suppose a child had the use of his eyes, till he knows and distinguishes colours, but then cataracts shut the windows, and he is forty or fifty years perfectly in the dark, and in that time perfectly loses all memory of the ideas of colours he once had. This was the case of a blind man I once talked with, who lost his sight by the small-pox when he was a child, and had no more notion of colours than one born blind. I ask, whether any one can say this man had then any ideas of colours in his mind, any more than one born blind? And I think nobody will say, that either of them had in his mind any idea of colours at all. His cataracts are couched, and then he has the ideas (which he remembers not) of colours, de novo, by his restored sight conveyed to his mind, and that without any consciousness of a former acquaintance: and these now he can revive, and call to mind in the dark. In this case all these ideas of colours, which when out of view can be revived with a consciousness of a former acquaintance, being thus in the memory, are said to be in the mind. The use I make of this, is, that whatever idea, being not actually in view, is in the mind, is there only by being in the memory; and if it be not in the memory, it is not in the mind; and if it be in the memory, it cannot by the memory be brought into actual view, without a perception that it comes out of the memory; which is this, that it had been known before, and is now remembered. If therefore there be any innate ideas, they must be in the memory, or else no-where in the mind; and if they be in the memory, they can be revived without any impression from without; and whenever they are brought into the mind, they are remember
ed, i. e. they bring with them a perception of their not being wholly new to it. This being a constant and distinguishing difference between what is, and what is not in ́ the memory, or in the mind; that what is not in the memory, whenever it appears there, appears perfectly new and unknown before; and what is in the memory, or in the mind, whenever it is suggested by the memory, appears not to be new, but the mind finds it in itself, and knows it was there before. By this it may be tried, whether there be any innate ideas in the mind, before impression from sensation or reflection. I would fain meet with the man, who when he came to the use of reason, or at any other time, remembered any one of them: and to whom, after he was born, they were never new. If any one will say, there are ideas in the mind, that are not in the memory, I desire him to explain himself, and make what he says intelligible.
§. 21. Principles not innate, because of little use or little certainty.
Besides what I have already said, there is another reason, why I doubt, that neither these nor any other principles are innate. I that am fully persuaded, that the infinitely wise God made all things in perfect wisdom, cannot satisfy myself why he should be supposed to print upon the minds of men some universal principles; whereof those that are pretended innate, and concern speculation, are of no great use; and those that concern practice, not selfevident, and neither of them distinguishable from some other truths not allowed to be innate. For to what purpose should characters be graven on the mind by the finger of God, which are not clearer there than those which are afterwards introduced, or cannot be distinguished from them? If any one thiuks there are such innate ideas and propositions, which by their clearness and usefulness are distinguishable from all that is adventitious in the mind, and acquired, it will not be a hard matter for him to tell us which they are; and then every one will be a fit judge whether they be so or no; since, if there be snch innate ideas and impressions, plainly different from all other perceptions and knowledge, every one will find it true in himself. Of the evidence of these supposed innate maxims I have spoken already; of their usefulness I shall have occasion to speak more hereafter.