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is not the sun makes me certain it is day, without my eyes; nor it is not my sight makes me certain it is day, without the sun; but the one employed about the other. Nor is it one idea by itself, that in this, or any case, makes us certain; but certainty consists in the perceived agreement or disagreement of all the ideas that serve to show the agreement or disagreement of distinct ideas, as they stand in the proposition, whose truth or falsehood we would be certain of. The using of intermediate ideas to show this is called argumentation, and the ideas so used in train, an argument; so that, in my poor opinion, to say, that the argument makes us certain, is no more than saying, the ideas made use of make us certain.
The idea of thinking in ourselves, which we receive by reflection, we may, by intermediate ideas, perceive to have a necessary agreement and connexion with the idea of the existence of an eternal, thinking Being. This, whether your lordship will call placing of certainty in the idea, or placing the certainty in reason, whether your lordship will say, it is not the idea that gives us the certainty, but the argument,-is indifferent to me; I shall not be so unmannerly as to prescribe to your lordship what way you should speak, in this or any other matter. But this your lordship will give me leave to say, that let it be called how your lordship pleases, there is no contradiction in it to what I have said concerning certainty, or the way how we came by it, or the ground on which I place it. Your lordship further urges my words out of the fifth section of the same chapter.
But "we find in ourselves perception and knowlege. It is very true. But how doth this is a God? Is it from the clear and distinct idea of it? No, but from this argument, that either there must have been a knowing being from eternity, or an unknowing, for something must have been from eternity: but if an unknowing being, then it was impossible there ever should have been any knowledge, it being as impossible that a thing without knowledge should produce it, as that a triangle should make itself three
angles bigger than two right ones.” Allowing the argument to be good, " yet it is not taken from the idea, but from the principles of true reason; as, that no man can doubt his own perception; that every thing must have a cause; that this cause must have either a knowledge or not; if it have, the point is gained: if it hath not, nothing can produce nothing; and consequently a not knowing being cannot produce a knowing.”
Your lordship here contends, that my argument is not taken from the idea, but from true principles of reason. I do not say it is taken from any one idea, but from all the ideas concerned in it. But your lordship, if you herein oppose any thing I have said, must, I humbly conceive, say, not from ideas, but from true principles of reason ; several whereof your lordship has here set down. And whence, I beseech your lordship, comes the certainty of any of those propositions, which your lordship calls true principles of reason, but from the perceivable agreement or disagreement of the ideas contained in them? Just as it is expressed in those propositions, v. g. “a man cannot doubt of his own perception," is a true principle of reason, or a true proposition, or a certain proposition : but to the certainty of it we arrive, only by perceiving the necessary agreement of the two ideas of perception and self-consciousness.
Again, “every thing must have a cause :" though I find it so set down for one by your lordship, yet, I humbly conceive, is not a true principle of reason, nor a true proposition ; but the contrary. The certainty whereof we attain by the contemplation of our ideas, and by perceiving that the idea of eternity, and the idea of the existence of something, do agree; and the idea of existence from eternity, and of having a cause, do not agree, or are inconsistent within the same thing. But every thing that has a beginning must have a cause,” is a true principle of reason, or a proposition certainly true; which we come to know by the same way, i. e. by contemplating our ideas, and perceiving that the idea of beginning to be, is necessarily
connected with the idea of some operation; and the idea of operation, with the idea of something operating, which we call a cause; and so the beginning to be, is perceived to agree with the idea of a cause, as is expressed in the proposition: and thus it comes to be a certain proposition; and so may be called a principle of reason, as every true proposition is to him that perceives the certainty of it.
This, my lord, is my way of ideas, and of coming to a certainty by them; which, when your lordship has again considered, I am apt to think your lordship will no more condemn, than I do except against your lordship's way of arguments or principles of reason. Nor will it, I suppose, any longer offend your lordship, under the notion of a new way of reasoning ; since I flatter myself, both these ways will be found to be equally old, one as the other, though perhaps formerly they have not been so distinctly taken notice of, and the name of ideas is of later date in our English language.
If your lordship says, as I think you mean, viz. that my argument to prove a God is not taken from ideas, your lordship will pardon me, if I think otherwise. For I beseech your lordship, are not ideas, whose agreement or disagreement, as they are expressed in propositions, is perceived, immediately or by intuition, the principles of true reason ? And does not the certainty we have of the truth of these propositions consist in the perception of such agreement or disagreement ? And does not the agreement or disagreement depend upon the ideas themselves ? nay, so entirely depend upon the ideas themselves, that it is impossible for the mind, or reason, or argument, or any thing to alter it? All that reason or the mind does, in reasoning or arguing, is to find out and observe that agreement or disagreement: and all that argument does is, by an intervening idea, to show it, where an immediate putting the ideas together will not do it.
As for example, in the present case: the proposition, of whose truth I would be certain, is this: “a knowing being has eternally existed.” Here the ideas
joined, are eternal existence, with a knowing being. But does my mind perceive any immediate connexion or repugnancy in these ideas ? No. The proposition then at first view affords me no certainty; or, as our English idiom phrases it, it is not certain, or I am not certain of it. But though I am not, yet I would be certain whether it be true or no. What then must I do? Find arguments to prove that it is true, or the contrary. And what is that, but to cast about and find out intermediate ideas, which may show me the necessary connexion or inconsistency of the ideas in the proposition ? Either of which, when by these intervening ideas I am brought to perceive, I am then certain that the proposition is true, or I am certain that it is false. As, in the present case, I perceive in myself thought and perception; the idea of actual perception has an evident connexion with an actual being that doth perceive and think : the idea of an actual thinking being hath a perceivable connexion with the eternal existence of some knowing being, by the intervention of the negation of all being, or the idea of nothing, which has a necessary connexion with no power, no operation, no causality, no effect, i. e. with nothing. So that the idea of once actually nothing, has a visible connexion with nothing to eternity, for the future; and hence the idea of an actual being is
perceived to have a necessary connexion with some actual being from eternity. And by the like way of ideas, may be perceived the actual existence of a knowing being, to have a connexion with the existence of an actual knowing being from eternity; and the idea of an eternal, actual, knowing being, with the idea of immateriality, by the intervention of the idea of matter, and of its actual division, divisibility, and want of perception, &c. which are the ideas, or, as your lordship is pleased to call them, arguments, I make use of in this proof, which I need not here go over again; and which is partly contained in these following words, which your lordship thus quotes out of the 10th section of the same chapter.
Again, if we suppose nothing to be first, matter
can never begin to be; if bare matter without motion to be eternal, motion can never begin to be; if matter and motion be supposed eternal, thought can never begin to be: for if matter could produce thought, then thought must be in the power of matter; and if it be in matter as such, it must be the inseparable property of all matter; which is contrary to the sense and experience of mankind. If only some parts of matter have a power of thinking, how comes so great a difference in the properties of the same matter? What disposition of matter is required to thinking ? And from whence comes it? Of which no account can be given in reason.” To which your lordship subjoins :
This is the substance of the argument used, to prove an infinite spiritual Being, which I am far from weakening the force of: but that which I design, is to show, that the certainty of it is not placed upon any clear and distinct ideas, but upon the force of reason distinct from it; which was the thing I intended to prove."
Your lordship says, that the certainty of it (I suppose your lordship means the certainty produced by my proof of a Deity) is not placed upon clear and distinct ideas. It is placed, among others, upon the ideas of thinking, existence, and matter, which I think are all clear and distinct ideas; so that there are some clear and distinct ideas in it: and one can hardly say there are not any clear and distinct ideas in it, because there is one obscure and confused one in it, viz. that of substance; which yet hinders not the certainty of the proof.
The words which your lordship subjoins to the former, viz. “ But upon the force of reason distinct from it," seem to me to say, as far as I can understand them, that the certainty of my argument for a Deity is placed not on clear and distinct ideas, but upon the force of reason.
This, among other places before set down, makes me wish your lordship had told us, what you understand by reason; for, in my acceptation of the word reason, I do not see but the same proof may be placed upon