§ 8. Thus much I thought necessary to say concerning the occasion of this enquiry into human understanding. But, before I proceed on to what I have thought on this subject, I must here in the entrance beg pardon of my reader for the frequent use of the word “idea,” which he will find in the following treatise. It being that term, which, I think, serves best to stand for whatsoever is the object of the understanding when a man thinks; I have used it to express whatever is meant by phantasm, notion, species, or whatever it is which the mind can be employed about in thinking; and I could not avoid frequently using it.
§ 10. This faculty of laying up and retaining the ideas that are brought into the mind, several other animals seem to have to a great degree, as well as man. For to pass by other instances, birds learning of tunes, and the endeavours one may observe in them to hit the notes right, put it past doubt with me, that they have perception and retain ideas in their memories, and use them for patterns. For it seems to me impossible, that they should endeavour to conform their voices to notes (as it is plain they do) of which they had no ideas. For though I should grant sound may mechanically cause a certain motion of the animal spirits, in the brains of those birds, whilst the tune is actually playing; and that motion may be continued on to the muscles of the wings, and so the bird mechanically be driven away by certain noises, because this may tend to the bird’s preservation: yet that can never be supposed a reason, why it should cause mechanically, either whilst the tune is playing, much less after it has ceased, such a motion of the organs in the bird’s voice as should conform it to the notes of a foreign sound; which imitation can be of no use to the bird’s preservation. But which is more, it cannot with any appearance of reason be supposed (much less proved) that birds, without sense and memory, can approach their notes nearer and nearer by degrees to a tune played yesterday; which if they have no idea of in their memory, is no-where, nor can be a pattern for them to imitate, or which any repeated essays can bring them nearer to. Since there is no reason why the sound of a pipe should leave traces in their brains, which not at first, but by their after-endeavours, should produce the like sounds; and why the sounds they make themselves, should not make traces which they should follow, as well as those of the pipe, is impossible to conceive.
Animal experimentation appears to be inhumane and cruel....
§ 6. Whatsoever doth or can exist, or be considered as one thing, is positive; and so not only simple ideas and substances, but modes also, are positive beings: though the parts of which they consist are very often relative one to another; but the whole together considered as one thing, producing in us the complex idea of one thing, which idea is in our minds, as one picture, though an aggregate of divers parts, and under one name, it is a positive or absolute thing, or idea. Thus a triangle, though the parts thereof compared one to another be relative, yet the idea of the whole is a positive absolute idea. The same may be said of a family, a tune, &c. for there can be no relation, but betwixt two things considered as two things. There must always be in relation two ideas, or things, either in themselves really separate, or considered as distinct, and then a ground or occasion for their comparison.
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are wildly described to be , that take part of a , and part of a , &c. No child is at all edified by the definition. I confess this part of Speech is most difficult to be known in the English Tongue; yet it may be done thus, All words ending in , or , which have no sign at all, and may be resolved into , are , as
An Essay on Nissim Ezekiel’s Background, Casually | …
§ 14. The difference there is amongst men in their practical principles, is so evident, that I think, I need say no more to evince, that it will be impossible to find any innate moral rules by this mark of general assent: and it is enough to make one suspect, that the supposition of such innate principles is but an opinion taken up at pleasure; since those who talk so confidently of them, are so sparing to tell us which they are. This might with justice be expected from those men who lay stress upon this opinion: and it gives occasion to distrust either their knowledge or charity, who, declaring that God has imprinted on the minds of men the foundations of knowledge, and the rules of living, are yet so little favourable to the information of their neighbours, or the quiet of mankind, as not to point out to them which they are, in the variety men are distracted with. But, in truth, were there any such innate principles, there would be no need to teach them. Did men find such innate propositions stamped on their minds, they would easily be able to distinguish them from other truths, that they afterwards learned, and deduced from them; and there would be nothing more easy, than to know what, and how many they were. There could be no more doubt about their number, than there is about the number of our fingers; and it is like then, every system would be ready to give them us by tale. But since nobody, that I know, has ventured yet to give a catalogue of them, they cannot blame those who doubt of these innate principles; since even they who require men to believe that there are such innate propositions, do not tell us what they are. It is easy to foresee, that if different men of different sects should go about to give us a list of those innate practical principles, they would set down only such as suited their distinct hypotheses, and were fit to support the doctrines of their particular schools or churches: a plain evidence, that there are no such innate truths. Nay, a great part of men are so far from finding any such innate moral principles in themselves, that by denying freedom to mankind, and thereby making men no other than bare machines, they take away not only innate, but all moral rules whatsoever, and leave not a possibility to believe any such, to those who cannot conceive, how any thing can be capable of a law, that is not a free agent: and upon that ground, they must necessarily reject all principles of virtue, who cannot put morality and mechanism together; which are not very easy to be reconciled, or made consistent.