The name of God not universal or obscure in meaning. Principles supposed innate because we do not remember when we began to hold them. is most acceptable to him; which, if virtue be taken, as most commonly it is, for those actions which, according to the different opinions of several countries, are accounted laudable, will be a proposition so far from being certain, that it will not be true. 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, which is worse, this argument of universal consent, which is made use of to prove innate principles, seems to me a demonstration that there are none such: because there are none to which all mankind give an universal assent. 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. Justice and truth are the common ties of society; and therefore even outlaws and robbers, who break with all the world besides, must keep faith and rules of equity amongst themselves; or else they cannot hold together. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your account. A remarkable passage to this purpose, out of the voyage of Baumgarten, which is a book not every day to be met with, I shall set down at large, in the language it is published in. Thus, having given the marks of the innate principles or common notions, and asserted their being imprinted on the minds of men by the hand of God, he proceeds to set them down, and they are these: 1. principles in the mind Chapter i: Introduction 1. 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 therefore this cannot be but a very uncertain rule of human practice, and serve but very little to the conduct of our lives, and is therefore very unfit to be assigned as an innate practical principle. that the whole is bigger than a part. I grant the objection good where men, though they transgress, yet disown not the law; where fear of shame, censure, or punishment carries the mark of some awe it has upon them. 8. 73.) 16. And probably it will hardly go down with anybody at first hearing. By this it may be tried whether there be any innate ideas in the mind before impression from sensation or reflection. 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. Christians as well as Turks have had whole sects owning and contending earnestly for it, – that the Deity was corporeal, and of human shape: and though we find few now amongst 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. But this only, by the by, to show how much our knowledge depends upon the right use of those powers nature hath bestowed upon us, and how little upon such innate principles as are in vain supposed to be in all mankind for their direction; which all men could not but know if they were there, or else they would be there to no purpose. prope Belbes in AEgypto) vidimus sanctum unum Saracenicum inter arenarum cumulos, ita ut ex utero matris prodiit nudum sedentem. In the sciences, every one has so much as he really knows and comprehends. I easily grant that there are great numbers of opinions which, by men of different countries, educations, and tempers, are received and embraced as first and unquestionable principles; many whereof, both for their absurdity as well as oppositions to one another, it is impossible should be true. 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.


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