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§. 18. In answer to this, I demand "whe- If such an ther ready assent given to a proposition as8entbe.a
•i m a i L mark ot in- upon first hearing, and understanding the natC) tiien terms, be a certain mark of an innate prin- "that one ciple?" If it be not, such a general assent and two are is in vain urged as a proof of them: if it be ^ree1-that said, that it is a mark of innate, they must sweetness is then allow all such propositions to be in- not bitternate, which are generally assented to as soon ness;" and as heard, whereby they will find themselves theTike"1 plentifully stored with innate principles. For must be inupon the same ground, viz. of assent at first nate. hearing and understanding the terms, that men would have those maxims pass for innate, they must also admit several propositions about numbers to be innate: and thus, that one and two are equal to three; that two and two are equal to four; and a multitude of other the like propositions in numbers, that every body assents to at first hearing and understanding the terms, must have a place amongst these innate axioms. Nor is this the prerogative of numbers alone, and propositions made about several of them; but even natural philosophy, and all the other sciences, afford propositions, which are sure to meet with assent as soon as they are understood. That two bodies cannot be in the same place, is a truth, that nobody any more sticks at, than at these maxims, " that it is impossible for the same thing to be, and not to be; that white is not black; that a square is not a circle; that yellowness is not sweetness:" these and a million of such other propositions, as many at least as we have distinct ideas of, every man in his wits, at first hearing, and knowing what the names stand for, must necessarily assent to. If these men will be true to their own rule, and have assent at first hearing and understanding the terms, to be a mark of innate, they must allow, not only as many innate propositions as men have distinct ideas; but as many as men can make propositions wherein different ideas are denied one of another. Since every proposition, wherein one different idea is denied of another, will as certainly find assent at first hearing and understanding the terms, as this general one "it is impossible for the same thing to be, and not to be;" or that which is the foundation of it, and is the easier understood of the two, "the same is not different:" by which account they will have legions of innate propositions of this one sort, without mentioning any other. But since no proposition can be innate, unless the ideas about which it is, be innate; this will be, to suppose all our ideas of colours, sounds, tastes, figure, &c. innate; than which there cannot be any thing more opposite to reason and experience. Universal and ready assent upon hearing and understanding the terms is (I grant) a mark of self-evidence: but self-evidence, depending not on innate impressions, but on something else (as we shall shew hereafter) belongs to several propositions, which nobody was yet so extravagant as to pretend to be innate.
§. 19. Nor let it be said, That those more Such less particular self-evident propositions, which
ecu Gin I nro- 1 i *
positions are assented to at first hearing, as that known be- one and two are equal to three; that green fore these is not red, &c.; are received as the conmaxims sequences of those more universal propositions, which are looked on as innate principles; since any one, who will but take the pains to observe what passes in the understanding, will certainly find, that these, and the like less general propositions, are certainly known, and firmly assented to, by those who are utterly ignorant of those more general maxims; and so, being earlier in the mind than those (as they are called) first principles, cannot owe to them the assent wherewith they are received at first hearing. One and §' ^ ^e sai^' tnat " triese Pro- one equal positions, viz. two and two are equal to to two, &c. four; red is not blue, &c.; are not gene
not general ra] maxiras nor 0f any „reat use:" J an
nor useful, T 1 .1 . ^ Ai
answered, swer, that makes nothing to the argument of universal assent, upon hearing and understanding. For, if that be the certain mark of innate, whatever proposition can be found, that receives general assent as soon as heard and understood, that must be admitted for an innate proposition, as well as this maxim, "that it is impossible for the same thing to be, and not to be;" they being upon this ground equal. And as to the difference of being more general, that makes this maxim more remote from being innate; those general and abstract ideas being more strangers to our first apprehensions, than those of more particular self-evident propositions; and therefore it is longer before they are admitted and assented to by the growing understanding. And as to the usefulness of these magnified maxims, that perhaps will not be found so great as is generally conceived, when it comes in its due place to be more fully considered.
§. 21. But we have not yet done with These maxassenting to propositions at first hearing ims notbeand understanding their terms; it is fit laS known we first take notice, that this, instead of »ometimcs . iii • • tulpropos- being a mark that they are innate, is a proves proof of the contrary; since it supposes, them not that several, who understand and know other mnate- things, are ignorant of these principles, till they are pro- . posed to them ; and that one may be unacquainted with these truths, till he hears them from others. For if they were innate, what need they be proposed in order to gaining assent, when by being in the understanding, by a natural and original impression, (if there were any such) they could not but be known before? Or doth the proposing them, print them clearer in the mind than nature did? If so, then the consequence will be, that a man knows them better, after he has been thus taught them, than he did before. Whence it will follow, that these principles may be made more evident to us by others teaching, than nature has made them by impression; which will ill agree with the opinion of innate principles, and give but little authority to them; but, on the contrary, makes them unfit to be the foundations of all our other knowledge, as they are pretended to be. This cannot be denied, that men grow first acquainted with many of these self-evident truths, upon their being proposed: but it is clear, that whosoever does so, finds in himself, that he then begins to know a proposition, which he knew not before; and which, from thenceforth, he never questions: not because it was innate, but because the consideration of the nature of the things contained in those words, would not suffer him to think otherwise, how, or whensoever he is brought to reflect on them. And if whatever is assented to at first hearing and understanding the terms, must pass for an innate principle, every well-grounded observation, drawn from particulars into a general rule, must be innate. When yet it is certain, that not all, but only sagacious heads light at first on these observations, and reduce them into general propositions, not innate, but collected from a preceding acquaintance, and reflection on particular instances. These, when observing men have made them, unobserving men, when they are proposed to them, cannot refuse their assent to.
Implicitly §. ^2. If it be said, "the understanding known be- hath an implicit knowledge of these prinforepropos- ciples, but not an explicit, before this first fief'that the nearmo>" (as they must, who will say, "that mind isca- *liey are m understanding before they are pableofun- known") it will be hard to conceive what is derstanding meant by a principle imprinted on the un• CIjjfi0r derstanding implicitly; unless it be this, that thing. n0 the mind is capable of understanding and assenting firmly to such propositions. And thus all mathematical demonstrations, as well as first principles, must be received as native impressions on the mind: which I fear they will scarce allow them to be, who find it harder to demonstrate a proposition, than assent to it when demonstrated. And few mathematicians will be forward to believe, that all the diagrams they have drawn, were but copies of those innate characters which nature had engraven upon their minds.
§. 23. There is, I fear, this farther weak- Theargu
ness in the foregoing argument, which ment of as- would persuade us, that therefore those senting on
maxims are to be thought innate, which ^r8t .*iear
i' t, -l i i lnR,18 upon
men admit at first hearing, because they as- a false gup.
sent to propositions, which they are not position of taught, nor do receive from the force of any noprecedent argument or demonstration, but a bare ex- eac ln°' plication or understanding of the terms. Under which, there seems to me to lie this fallacy, that men are supposed not to be taught, nor to learn any thing de novo; when, in truth, they are taught, and do learn something they were ignorant of before. For first it is evident, that they have learned the terms, and their signification; neither of which was born with them. But this is not all the acquired knowledge in the case: the ideas themselves, about which the proposition is, are not born with them, no more than their names, but got afterwards. So that in all propositions that are assented to at first hearing, the terms of the proposition, their standing for such ideas, and the ideas themselves that they stand for, being neither of them innate; I would fain know what there is remaining in such propositions, that is innate. For I would gladly have any one name that proposition, whose terms or ideas were either of them innate. We by degrees get ideas and names, and learn their appropriated connection one with another; and then to propositions, made in such terms, whose signification we have learnt, and wherein the agreement or disagreement we can perceive in our ideas, when put together, is expressed, we at first hearing assent; though to other propositions, in themselves as certain and evident, but which are concerning ideas, not so soon or so easily got, we are at the same time no way capable of assenting. For though a child quickly assents to this proposition, "that an apple is not fire," when, by familiar acquaintance, he has got the ideas of those two different things distinctly imprinted on his mind, and has learnt that the names apple and fire stand for them; yet it will be some years after, perhaps, before