By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon

We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

´╗┐Title: A Treatise of Human Nature
Author: Hume, David, 1711-1776
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "A Treatise of Human Nature" ***


By David Hume





               ABSTRACTION, ETC.





               AND EFFECT.








               AND MALICE











* * * * *



My design in the present work is sufficiently explained in the
Introduction. The reader must only observe, that all the subjects I have
there planned out to myself, are not treated of in these two volumes.
The subjects of the Understanding and Passions make a compleat chain
of reasoning by themselves; and I was willing to take advantage of this
natural division, in order to try the taste of the public. If I have the
good fortune to meet with success, I shall proceed to the examination
of Morals, Politics, and Criticism; which will compleat this Treatise of
Human Nature. The approbation of the public I consider as the greatest
reward of my labours; but am determined to regard its judgment, whatever
it be, as my best instruction.


Nothing is more usual and more natural for those, who pretend to
discover anything new to the world in philosophy and the sciences, than
to insinuate the praises of their own systems, by decrying all those,
which have been advanced before them. And indeed were they content with
lamenting that ignorance, which we still lie under in the most important
questions, that can come before the tribunal of human reason, there are
few, who have an acquaintance with the sciences, that would not readily
agree with them. It is easy for one of judgment and learning, to
perceive the weak foundation even of those systems, which have obtained
the greatest credit, and have carried their pretensions highest
to accurate and profound reasoning. Principles taken upon trust,
consequences lamely deduced from them, want of coherence in the parts,
and of evidence in the whole, these are every where to be met with in
the systems of the most eminent philosophers, and seem to have drawn
disgrace upon philosophy itself.

Nor is there required such profound knowledge to discover the present
imperfect condition of the sciences, but even the rabble without doors
may, judge from the noise and clamour, which they hear, that all goes
not well within. There is nothing which is not the subject of debate,
and in which men of learning are not of contrary opinions. The most
trivial question escapes not our controversy, and in the most momentous
we are not able to give any certain decision. Disputes are multiplied,
as if every thing was uncertain; and these disputes are managed with the
greatest warmth, as if every thing was certain. Amidst all this bustle
it is not reason, which carries the prize, but eloquence; and no
man needs ever despair of gaining proselytes to the most extravagant
hypothesis, who has art enough to represent it in any favourable
colours. The victory is not gained by the men at arms, who manage the
pike and the sword; but by the trumpeters, drummers, and musicians of
the army.

From hence in my opinion arises that common prejudice against
metaphysical reasonings of all kinds, even amongst those, who profess
themselves scholars, and have a just value for every other part of
literature. By metaphysical reasonings, they do not understand those on
any particular branch of science, but every kind of argument, which is
any way abstruse, and requires some attention to be comprehended. We
have so often lost our labour in such researches, that we commonly
reject them without hesitation, and resolve, if we must for ever be a
prey to errors and delusions, that they shall at least be natural and
entertaining. And indeed nothing but the most determined scepticism,
along with a great degree of indolence, can justify this aversion to
metaphysics. For if truth be at all within the reach of human capacity,
it is certain it must lie very deep and abstruse: and to hope we shall
arrive at it without pains, while the greatest geniuses have failed
with the utmost pains, must certainly be esteemed sufficiently vain
and presumptuous. I pretend to no such advantage in the philosophy I am
going to unfold, and would esteem it a strong presumption against it,
were it so very easy and obvious.

It is evident, that all the sciences have a relation, greater or less,
to human nature: and that however wide any of them may seem to run from
it, they still return back by one passage or another. Even. Mathematics,
Natural Philosophy, and Natural Religion, are in some measure dependent
on the science of MAN; since the lie under the cognizance of men, and
are judged of by their powers and faculties. It is impossible to tell
what changes and improvements we might make in these sciences were we
thoroughly acquainted with the extent and force of human understanding,
and could explain the nature of the ideas we employ, and of the
operations we perform in our reasonings. And these improvements are
the more to be hoped for in natural religion, as it is not content with
instructing us in the nature of superior powers, but carries its views
farther, to their disposition towards us, and our duties towards them;
and consequently we ourselves are not only the beings, that reason, but
also one of the objects, concerning which we reason.

If therefore the sciences of Mathematics, Natural Philosophy, and
Natural Religion, have such a dependence on the knowledge of man, what
may be expected in the other sciences, whose connexion with human nature
is more close and intimate? The sole end of logic is to explain the
principles and operations of our reasoning faculty, and the nature of
our ideas: morals and criticism regard our tastes and sentiments: and
politics consider men as united in society, and dependent on each other.
In these four sciences of Logic, Morals, Criticism, and Politics, is
comprehended almost everything, which it can any way import us to be
acquainted with, or which can tend either to the improvement or ornament
of the human mind.

Here then is the only expedient, from which we can hope for success in
our philosophical researches, to leave the tedious lingering method,
which we have hitherto followed, and instead of taking now and then a
castle or village on the frontier, to march up directly to the capital
or center of these sciences, to human nature itself; which being once
masters of, we may every where else hope for an easy victory. From this
station we may extend our conquests over all those sciences, which more
intimately concern human life, and may afterwards proceed at leisure
to discover more fully those, which are the objects of pore curiosity.
There is no question of importance, whose decision is not comprised in
the science of man; and there is none, which can be decided with any
certainty, before we become acquainted with that science. In pretending,
therefore, to explain the principles of human nature, we in effect
propose a compleat system of the sciences, built on a foundation almost
entirely new, and the only one upon which they can stand with any

And as the science of man is the-only solid foundation for the other
sciences, so the only solid foundation we can give to this science
itself must be laid on experience and observation. It is no astonishing
reflection to consider, that the application of experimental philosophy
to moral subjects should come after that to natural at the distance of
above a whole century; since we find in fact, that there was about the
same interval betwixt the origins of these sciences; and that reckoning
from THALES to SOCRATES, the space of time is nearly equal to that
betwixt, my Lord Bacon and some late philosophers [Mr. Locke, my Lord
Shaftesbury, Dr. Mandeville, Mr. Hutchinson, Dr. Butler, etc.] in
England, who have begun to put the science of man on a new footing, and
have engaged the attention, and excited the curiosity of the public. So
true it is, that however other nations may rival us in poetry, and
excel us in some other agreeable arts, the improvements in reason and
philosophy can only be owing to a land of toleration and of liberty.

Nor ought we to think, that this latter improvement in the science of
man will do less honour to our native country than the former in natural
philosophy, but ought rather to esteem it a greater glory, upon account
of the greater importance of that science, as well as the necessity it
lay under of such a reformation. For to me it seems evident, that the
essence of the mind being equally unknown to us with that of external
bodies, it must be equally impossible to form any notion of its powers
and qualities otherwise than from careful and exact experiments, and the
observation of those particular effects, which result from its different
circumstances and situations. And though we must endeavour to render all
our principles as universal as possible, by tracing up our experiments
to the utmost, and explaining all effects from the simplest and fewest
causes, it is still certain we cannot go beyond experience; and any
hypothesis, that pretends to discover the ultimate original qualities
of human nature, ought at first to be rejected as presumptuous and

I do not think a philosopher, who would apply himself so earnestly to
the explaining the ultimate principles of the soul, would show himself a
great master in that very science of human nature, which he pretends to
explain, or very knowing in what is naturally satisfactory to the mind
of man. For nothing is more certain, than that despair has almost the
same effect upon us with enjoyment, and that we are no sooner acquainted
with the impossibility of satisfying any desire, than the desire itself
vanishes. When we see, that we have arrived at the utmost extent of
human reason, we sit down contented, though we be perfectly satisfied in
the main of our ignorance, and perceive that we can give no reason for
our most general and most refined principles, beside our experience
of their reality; which is the reason of the mere vulgar, and what it
required no study at first to have discovered for the most particular
and most extraordinary phaenomenon. And as this impossibility of making
any farther progress is enough to satisfy the reader, so the writer
may derive a more delicate satisfaction from the free confession of his
ignorance, and from his prudence in avoiding that error, into which so
many have fallen, of imposing their conjectures and hypotheses on the
world for the most certain principles. When this mutual contentment and
satisfaction can be obtained betwixt the master and scholar, I know not
what more we can require of our philosophy.

But if this impossibility of explaining ultimate principles should be
esteemed a defect in the science of man, I will venture to affirm, that
it is a defect common to it with all the sciences, and all the arts, in
which we can employ ourselves, whether they be such as are cultivated
in the schools of the philosophers, or practised in the shops of the
meanest artizans. None of them can go beyond experience, or establish
any principles which are not founded on that authority. Moral philosophy
has, indeed, this peculiar disadvantage, which is not found in natural,
that in collecting its experiments, it cannot make them purposely, with
premeditation, and after such a manner as to satisfy itself concerning
every particular difficulty which may be. When I am at a loss to know
the effects of one body upon another in any situation, I need only put
them in that situation, and observe what results from it. But should
I endeavour to clear up after the same manner any doubt in moral
philosophy, by placing myself in the same case with that which I
consider, it is evident this reflection and premeditation would so
disturb the operation of my natural principles, as must render it
impossible to form any just conclusion from the phenomenon. We must
therefore glean up our experiments in this science from a cautious
observation of human life, and take them as they appear in the common
course of the world, by men's behaviour in company, in affairs, and
in their pleasures. Where experiments of this kind are judiciously
collected and compared, we may hope to establish on them a science which
will not be inferior in certainty, and will be much superior in utility
to any other of human comprehension.




All the perceptions of the human mind resolve themselves into two
distinct kinds, which I shall call IMPRESSIONS and IDEAS. The difference
betwixt these consists in the degrees of force and liveliness, with
which they strike upon the mind, and make their way into our thought
or consciousness. Those perceptions, which enter with most force and
violence, we may name impressions: and under this name I comprehend
all our sensations, passions and emotions, as they make their first
appearance in the soul. By ideas I mean the faint images of these in
thinking and reasoning; such as, for instance, are all the perceptions
excited by the present discourse, excepting only those which arise from
the sight and touch, and excepting the immediate pleasure or uneasiness
it may occasion. I believe it will not be very necessary to employ many
words in explaining this distinction. Every one of himself will readily
perceive the difference betwixt feeling and thinking. The common degrees
of these are easily distinguished; though it is not impossible but in
particular instances they may very nearly approach to each other. Thus
in sleep, in a fever, in madness, or in any very violent emotions of
soul, our ideas may approach to our impressions, As on the other hand
it sometimes happens, that our impressions are so faint and low, that
we cannot distinguish them from our ideas. But notwithstanding this near
resemblance in a few instances, they are in general so very different,
that no-one can make a scruple to rank them under distinct heads, and
assign to each a peculiar name to mark the difference [Footnote 1.].

     [Footnote 1. I here make use of these terms, impression and
     idea, in a sense different from what is usual, and I hope
     this liberty will be allowed me. Perhaps I rather restore
     the word, idea, to its original sense, from which Mr LOCKE
     had perverted it, in making it stand for all our
     perceptions. By the terms of impression I would not be
     understood to express the manner, in which our lively
     perceptions are produced in the soul, but merely the
     perceptions themselves; for which there is no particular
     name either in the English or any other language, that I
     know of.]

There is another division of our perceptions, which it will be
convenient to observe, and which extends itself both to our impressions
and ideas. This division is into SIMPLE and COMPLEX. Simple perceptions
or impressions and ideas are such as admit of no distinction nor
separation. The complex are the contrary to these, and may be
distinguished into parts. Though a particular colour, taste, and smell,
are qualities all united together in this apple, it is easy to perceive
they are not the same, but are at least distinguishable from each other.

Having by these divisions given an order and arrangement to our objects,
we may now apply ourselves to consider with the more accuracy their
qualities and relations. The first circumstance, that strikes my eye, is
the great resemblance betwixt our impressions and ideas in every other
particular, except their degree of force and vivacity. The one seem to
be in a manner the reflexion of the other; so that all the perceptions
of the mind are double, and appear both as impressions and ideas. When
I shut my eyes and think of my chamber, the ideas I form are exact
representations of the impressions I felt; nor is there any circumstance
of the one, which is not to be found in the other. In running over my
other perceptions, I find still the same resemblance and representation.
Ideas and impressions appear always to correspond to each other. This
circumstance seems to me remarkable, and engages my attention for a

Upon a more accurate survey I find I have been carried away too far by
the first appearance, and that I must make use of the distinction of
perceptions into simple and complex, to limit this general decision,
that all our ideas and impressions are resembling. I observe, that many
of our complex ideas never had impressions, that corresponded to them,
and that many of our complex impressions never are exactly copied in
ideas. I can imagine to myself such a city as the New Jerusalem, whose
pavement is gold and walls are rubies, though I never saw any such.
I have seen Paris; but shall I affirm I can form such an idea of that
city, as will perfectly represent all its streets and houses in their
real and just proportions?

I perceive, therefore, that though there is in general a great,
resemblance betwixt our complex impressions and ideas, yet the rule is
not universally true, that they are exact copies of each other. We may
next consider how the case stands with our simple, perceptions. After
the most accurate examination, of which I am capable, I venture to
affirm, that the rule here holds without any exception, and that every
simple idea has a simple impression, which resembles it, and every
simple impression a correspondent idea. That idea of red, which we form
in the dark, and that impression which strikes our eyes in sun-shine,
differ only in degree, not in nature. That the case is the same with
all our simple impressions and ideas, it is impossible to prove by a
particular enumeration of them. Every one may satisfy himself in this
point by running over as many as he pleases. But if any one should deny
this universal resemblance, I know no way of convincing him, but by
desiring him to shew a simple impression, that has not a correspondent
idea, or a simple idea, that has not a correspondent impression. If he
does not answer this challenge, as it is certain he cannot, we may from
his silence and our own observation establish our conclusion.

Thus we find, that all simple ideas and impressions resemble each other;
and as the complex are formed from them, we may affirm in general,
that these two species of perception are exactly correspondent. Having
discovered this relation, which requires no farther examination, I am
curious to find some other of their qualities. Let us consider how they
stand with regard to their existence, and which of the impressions and
ideas are causes, and which effects.

The full examination of this question is the subject of the present
treatise; and therefore we shall here content ourselves with
establishing one general proposition, THAT ALL OUR SIMPLE IDEAS IN

In seeking for phenomena to prove this proposition, I find only those
of two kinds; but in each kind the phenomena are obvious, numerous, and
conclusive. I first make myself certain, by a new, review, of what I
have already asserted, that every simple impression is attended with
a correspondent idea, and every simple idea with a correspondent
impression. From this constant conjunction of resembling perceptions
I immediately conclude, that there is a great connexion betwixt our
correspondent impressions and ideas, and that the existence of the one
has a considerable influence upon that of the other. Such a constant
conjunction, in such an infinite number of instances, can never arise
from chance; but clearly proves a dependence of the impressions on the
ideas, or of the ideas on the impressions. That I may know on which side
this dependence lies, I consider the order of their first appearance;
and find by constant experience, that the simple impressions always take
the precedence of their correspondent ideas, but never appear in the
contrary order. To give a child an idea of scarlet or orange, of sweet
or bitter, I present the objects, or in other words, convey to him these
impressions; but proceed not so absurdly, as to endeavour to produce
the impressions by exciting the ideas. Our ideas upon their appearance
produce not their correspondent impressions, nor do we perceive any
colour, or feel any sensation merely upon thinking of them. On the
other hand we find, that any impression either of the mind or body
is constantly followed by an idea, which resembles it, and is only
different in the degrees of force and liveliness, The constant
conjunction of our resembling perceptions, is a convincing proof,
that the one are the causes of the other; and this priority of the
impressions is an equal proof, that our impressions are the causes of
our ideas, not our ideas of our impressions.

To confirm this I consider Another plain and convincing phaenomenon;
which is, that, where-ever by any accident the faculties, which give
rise to any impressions, are obstructed in their operations, as when one
is born blind or deaf; not only the impressions are lost, but also their
correspondent ideas; so that there never appear in the mind the least
traces of either of them. Nor is this only true, where the organs of
sensation are entirely destroyed, but likewise where they have never
been put in action to produce a particular impression. We cannot form
to ourselves a just idea of the taste of a pine apple, without having
actually tasted it.

There is however one contradictory phaenomenon, which may prove, that it
is not absolutely impossible for ideas to go before their correspondent
impressions. I believe it will readily be allowed that the several
distinct ideas of colours, which enter by the eyes, or those of sounds,
which are conveyed by the hearing, are really different from each other,
though at the same time resembling. Now if this be true of different
colours, it must be no less so of the different shades of the same
colour, that each of them produces a distinct idea, independent of the
rest. For if this should be denied, it is possible, by the continual
gradation of shades, to run a colour insensibly into what is most remote
from it; and if you will not allow any of the means to be different,
you cannot without absurdity deny the extremes to be the same. Suppose
therefore a person to have enjoyed his sight for thirty years, and
to have become perfectly well acquainted with colours of all kinds,
excepting one particular shade of blue, for instance, which it never
has been his fortune to meet with. Let all the different shades of
that colour, except that single one, be placed before him, descending
gradually from the deepest to the lightest; it is plain, that he will
perceive a blank, where that shade is wanting, said will be sensible,
that there is a greater distance in that place betwixt the contiguous
colours, than in any other. Now I ask, whether it is possible for him,
from his own imagination, to supply this deficiency, and raise up to
himself the idea of that particular shade, though it had never been
conveyed to him by his senses? I believe there are few but will be
of opinion that he can; and this may serve as a proof, that the simple
ideas are not always derived from the correspondent impressions; though
the instance is so particular and singular, that it is scarce worth
our observing, and does not merit that for it alone we should alter our
general maxim.

But besides this exception, it may not be amiss to remark on this head,
that the principle of the priority of impressions to ideas must be
understood with another limitation, viz., that as our ideas are images
of our impressions, so we can form secondary ideas, which are images of
the primary; as appears from this very reasoning concerning them.
This is not, properly speaking, an exception to the rule so much as
an explanation of it. Ideas produce the images of themselves in
new ideas; but as the first ideas are supposed to be derived from
impressions, it still remains true, that all our simple ideas proceed
either mediately or immediately, from their correspondent impressions.

This then is the first principle I establish in the science of human
nature; nor ought we to despise it because of the simplicity of its
appearance. For it is remarkable, that the present question concerning
the precedency of our impressions or ideas, is the same with what has
made so much noise in other terms, when it has been disputed whether
there be any INNATE IDEAS, or whether all ideas be derived from
sensation and reflexion. We may observe, that in order to prove the
ideas of extension and colour not to be innate, philosophers do nothing
but shew that they are conveyed by our senses. To prove the ideas
of passion and desire not to be innate, they observe that we have a
preceding experience of these emotions in ourselves. Now if we carefully
examine these arguments, we shall find that they prove nothing but that
ideas are preceded by other more lively perceptions, from which the
are derived, and which they represent. I hope this clear stating of the
question will remove all disputes concerning it, and win render this
principle of more use in our reasonings, than it seems hitherto to have


Since it appears, that our simple impressions are prior to their
correspondent ideas, and that the exceptions are very rare, method seems
to require we should examine our impressions, before we consider our
ideas. Impressions way be divided into two kinds, those Of SENSATION and
those of REFLEXION. The first kind arises in the soul originally, from
unknown causes. The second is derived in a great measure from our ideas,
and that in the following order. An impression first strikes upon the
senses, and makes us perceive heat or cold, thirst or hunger, pleasure
or pain of some kind or other. Of this impression there is a copy taken
by the mind, which remains after the impression ceases; and this we call
an idea. This idea of pleasure or pain, when it returns upon the soul,
produces the new impressions of desire and aversion, hope and fear,
which may properly be called impressions of reflexion, because derived
from it. These again are copied by the memory and imagination, and
become ideas; which perhaps in their turn give rise to other impressions
and ideas. So that the impressions of reflexion are only antecedent
to their correspondent ideas; but posterior to those of sensation, and
derived from them. The examination of our sensations belongs more to
anatomists and natural philosophers than to moral; and therefore shall
not at present be entered upon. And as the impressions of reflexion,
viz. passions, desires, and emotions, which principally deserve our
attention, arise mostly from ideas, it will be necessary to reverse that
method, which at first sight seems most natural; and in order to explain
the nature and principles of the human mind, give a particular account
of ideas, before we proceed to impressions. For this reason I have here
chosen to begin with ideas.


We find by experience, that when any impression has been present with
the mind, it again makes its appearance there as an idea; and this it
may do after two different ways: either when in its new appearance it
retains a considerable degree of its first vivacity, and is somewhat
intermediate betwixt an impression and an idea: or when it entirely
loses that vivacity, and is a perfect idea. The faculty, by which we
repeat our impressions in the first manner, is called the MEMORY, and
the other the IMAGINATION. It is evident at first sight, that the
ideas of the memory are much more lively and strong than those of the
imagination, and that the former faculty paints its objects in more
distinct colours, than any which are employed by the latter. When we
remember any past event, the idea of it flows in upon the mind in a
forcible manner; whereas in the imagination the perception is faint and
languid, and cannot without difficulty be preserved by the mind
steddy and uniform for any considerable time. Here then is a sensible
difference betwixt one species of ideas and another. But of this more
fully hereafter.[Part II, Sect. 5.]

There is another difference betwixt these two kinds of ideas, which is
no less evident, namely that though neither the ideas, of the memory
nor imagination, neither the lively nor faint ideas can make their
appearance in the mind, unless their correspondent impressions have
gone before to prepare the way for them, yet the imagination is not
restrained to the same order and form with the original impressions;
while the memory is in a manner tied down in that respect, without any
power of variation.

It is evident, that the memory preserves the original form, in which
its objects were presented, and that where-ever we depart from it in
recollecting any thing, it proceeds from some defect or imperfection
in that faculty. An historian may, perhaps, for the more convenient
Carrying on of his narration, relate an event before another, to which
it was in fact posterior; but then he takes notice of this disorder, if
he be exact; and by that means replaces the idea in its due position. It
is the same case in our recollection of those places and persons, with
which we were formerly acquainted. The chief exercise of the memory
is not to preserve the simple ideas, but their order and position. In
short, this principle is supported by such a number of common and vulgar
phaenomena, that we may spare ourselves the trouble of insisting on it
any farther.

The same evidence follows us in our second principle, OF THE LIBERTY OF
with in poems and romances put this entirely out of the question. Nature
there is totally confounded, and nothing mentioned but winged horses,
fiery dragons, and monstrous giants. Nor will this liberty of the fancy
appear strange, when we consider, that all our ideas are copyed from
our impressions, and that there are not any two impressions which
are perfectly inseparable. Not to mention, that this is an evident
consequence of the division of ideas into simple and complex. Where-ever
the imagination perceives a difference among ideas, it can easily
produce a separation.


As all simple ideas may be separated by the imagination, and may
be united again in what form it pleases, nothing would be more
unaccountable than the operations of that faculty, were it not guided
by some universal principles, which render it, in some measure, uniform
with itself in all times and places. Were ideas entirely loose and
unconnected, chance alone would join them; and it is impossible the same
simple ideas should fall regularly into complex ones (as they Commonly
do) without some bond of union among them, some associating quality,
by which one idea naturally introduces another. This uniting principle
among ideas is not to be considered as an inseparable connexion; for
that has been already excluded from the imagination: Nor yet are we to
conclude, that without it the mind cannot join two ideas; for nothing
is more free than that faculty: but we are only to regard it as a
gentle force, which commonly prevails, and is the cause why, among other
things, languages so nearly correspond to each other; nature in a manner
pointing out to every one those simple ideas, which are most proper to
be united in a complex one. The qualities, from which this association
arises, and by which the mind is after this manner conveyed from one
idea to another, are three, viz. RESEMBLANCE, CONTIGUITY in time or
place, and CAUSE and EFFECT.

I believe it will not be very necessary to prove, that these qualities
produce an association among ideas, and upon the appearance of one idea
naturally introduce another. It is plain, that in the course of our
thinking, and in the constant revolution of our ideas, our imagination
runs easily from one idea to any other that resembles it, and that this
quality alone is to the fancy a sufficient bond and association. It
is likewise evident that as the senses, in changing their objects,
are necessitated to change them regularly, and take them as they lie
CONTIGUOUS to each other, the imagination must by long custom acquire
the same method of thinking, and run along the parts of space and time
in conceiving its objects. As to the connexion, that is made by the
relation of cause and effect, we shall have occasion afterwards to
examine it to the bottom, and therefore shall not at present insist
upon it. It is sufficient to observe, that there is no relation, which
produces a stronger connexion in the fancy, and makes one idea more
readily recall another, than the relation of cause and effect betwixt
their objects.

That we may understand the full extent of these relations, we must
consider, that two objects are connected together in the imagination,
not only when the one is immediately resembling, contiguous to, or the
cause of the other, but also when there is interposed betwixt them a
third object, which bears to both of them any of these relations. This
may be carried on to a great length; though at the same time we may
observe, that each remove considerably weakens the relation. Cousins in
the fourth degree are connected by causation, if I may be allowed to
use that term; but not so closely as brothers, much less as child and
parent. In general we may observe, that all the relations of blood
depend upon cause and effect, and are esteemed near or remote, according
to the number of connecting causes interposed betwixt the persons.

Of the three relations above-mentioned this of causation is the most
extensive. Two objects may be considered as placed in this relation,
as well when one is the cause of any of the actions or motions of the
other, as when the former is the cause of the existence of the
latter. For as that action or motion is nothing but the object itself,
considered in a certain light, and as the object continues the same
in all its different situations, it is easy to imagine how such
an influence of objects upon one another may connect them in the

We may carry this farther, and remark, not only that two objects are
connected by the relation of cause and effect, when the one produces
a motion or any action in the other, but also when it has a power
of producing it. And this we may observe to be the source of all the
relation, of interest and duty, by which men influence each other in
society, and are placed in the ties of government and subordination. A
master is such-a-one as by his situation, arising either from force or
agreement, has a power of directing in certain particulars the actions
of another, whom we call servant. A judge is one, who in all disputed
cases can fix by his opinion the possession or property of any thing
betwixt any members of the society. When a person is possessed of any
power, there is no more required to convert it into action, but the
exertion of the will; and that in every case is considered as possible,
and in many as probable; especially in the case of authority, where the
obedience of the subject is a pleasure and advantage to the superior.

These are therefore the principles of union or cohesion among our simple
ideas, and in the imagination supply the place of that inseparable
connexion, by which they are united in our memory. Here is a kind
of ATTRACTION, which in the mental world will be found to have as
extraordinary effects as in the natural, and to shew itself in as many
and as various forms. Its effects are every where conspicuous; but as to
its causes, they are mostly unknown, and must be resolved into original
qualities of human nature, which I pretend not to explain. Nothing is
more requisite for a true philosopher, than to restrain the intemperate
desire of searching into causes, and having established any doctrine
upon a sufficient number of experiments, rest contented with that, when
he sees a farther examination would lead him into obscure and uncertain
speculations. In that case his enquiry would be much better employed in
examining the effects than the causes of his principle.

Amongst the effects of this union or association of ideas, there are
none more remarkable, than those complex ideas, which are the common
subjects of our thoughts and reasoning, and generally arise from some
principle of union among our simple ideas. These complex ideas may be
divided into Relations, Modes, and Substances. We shall briefly examine
each of these in order, and shall subjoin some considerations concerning
our general and particular ideas, before we leave the present subject,
which may be considered as the elements of this philosophy.


The word RELATION is commonly used in two senses considerably different
from each other. Either for that quality, by which two ideas are
connected together in the imagination, and the one naturally introduces
the other, after the manner above-explained: or for that particular
circumstance, in which, even upon the arbitrary union of two ideas in
the fancy, we may think proper to compare them. In common language the
former is always the sense, in which we use the word, relation; and it
is only in philosophy, that we extend it to mean any particular subject
of comparison, without a connecting principle. Thus distance will be
allowed by philosophers to be a true relation, because we acquire an
idea of it by the comparing of objects: But in a common way we say, THAT
NOTHING CAN HAVE LESS RELATION: as if distance and relation were

It may perhaps be esteemed an endless task to enumerate all those
qualities, which make objects admit of comparison, and by which the
ideas of philosophical relation are produced. But if we diligently
consider them, we shall find that without difficulty they may be
comprised under seven general heads, which may be considered as the
sources of all philosophical relation.

(1) The first is RESEMBLANCE: And this is a relation, without which
no philosophical relation can exist; since no objects will admit
of comparison, but what have some degree of resemblance. But though
resemblance be necessary to all philosophical relation, it does not
follow, that it always produces a connexion or association of ideas.
When a quality becomes very general, and is common to a great many
individuals, it leads not the mind directly to any one of them; but
by presenting at once too great a choice, does thereby prevent the
imagination from fixing on any single object.

(2) IDENTITY may be esteemed a second species of relation. This relation
I here consider as applied in its strictest sense to constant and
unchangeable objects; without examining the nature and foundation
of personal identity, which shall find its place afterwards. Of all
relations the most universal is that of identity, being common to every
being whose existence has any duration.

(3) After identity the most universal and comprehensive relations are
those of SPACE and TIME, which are the sources of an infinite number of
comparisons, such as distant, contiguous, above, below, before, after,

(4) All those objects, which admit of QUANTITY, or NUMBER, may be
compared in that particular; which is another very fertile source of

(5) When any two objects possess the same QUALITY in common, the
DEGREES, in which they possess it, form a fifth species of relation.
Thus of two objects, which are both heavy, the one may be either of
greater, or less weight than the other. Two colours, that are of the
same kind, may yet be of different shades, and in that respect admit of

(6) The relation of CONTRARIETY may at first sight be regarded as an
SOME DEGREE OF RESEMBLANCE. But let us consider, that no two ideas are
in themselves contrary, except those of existence and non-existence,
which are plainly resembling, as implying both of them an idea of the
object; though the latter excludes the object from all times and places,
in which it is supposed not to exist.

(7) All other objects, such as fire and water, heat and cold, are only
found to be contrary from experience, and from the contrariety of their
causes or effects; which relation of cause and effect is a seventh
philosophical relation, as well as a natural one. The resemblance
implied in this relation, shall be explained afterwards.

It might naturally be expected, that I should join DIFFERENCE to the
other relations. But that I consider rather as a negation of relation,
than as anything real or positive. Difference is of two kinds as opposed
either to identity or resemblance. The first is called a difference of
number; the other of KIND.


I would fain ask those philosophers, who found so much of their
reasonings on the distinction of substance and accident, and imagine we
have clear ideas of each, whether the idea of substance be derived from
the impressions of sensation or of reflection? If it be conveyed to us
by our senses, I ask, which of them; and after what manner? If it be
perceived by the eyes, it must be a colour; if by the ears, a sound; if
by the palate, a taste; and so of the other senses. But I believe none
will assert, that substance is either a colour, or sound, or a taste.
The idea, of substance must therefore be derived from an impression
of reflection, if it really exist. But the impressions of reflection
resolve themselves into our passions and emotions: none of which can
possibly represent a substance. We have therefore no idea of substance,
distinct from that of a collection of particular qualities, nor have we
any other meaning when we either talk or reason concerning it.

The idea of a substance as well as that of a mode, is nothing but a
collection of Simple ideas, that are united by the imagination, and have
a particular name assigned them, by which we are able to recall, either
to ourselves or others, that collection. But the difference betwixt
these ideas consists in this, that the particular qualities, which form
a substance, are commonly referred to an unknown something, in which
they are supposed to inhere; or granting this fiction should not take
place, are at least supposed to be closely and inseparably connected by
the relations of contiguity and causation. The effect of this is, that
whatever new simple quality we discover to have the same connexion with
the rest, we immediately comprehend it among them, even though it did
not enter into the first conception of the substance. Thus our idea of
gold may at first be a yellow colour, weight, malleableness, fusibility;
but upon the discovery of its dissolubility in aqua regia, we join that
to the other qualities, and suppose it to belong to the substance as
much as if its idea had from the beginning made a part of the compound
one. The principal of union being regarded as the chief part of the
complex idea, gives entrance to whatever quality afterwards occurs, and
is equally comprehended by it, as are the others, which first presented

That this cannot take place in modes, is evident from considering their
mature. The simple ideas of which modes are formed, either represent
qualities, which are not united by contiguity and causation, but are
dispersed in different subjects; or if they be all united together, the
uniting principle is not regarded as the foundation of the complex idea.
The idea of a dance is an instance of the first kind of modes; that
of beauty of the second. The reason is obvious, why such complex
ideas cannot receive any new idea, without changing the name, which
distinguishes the mode.


A very material question has been started concerning ABSTRACT or GENERAL
OF THEM. A great philosopher [Dr. Berkeley.] has disputed the received
opinion in this particular, and has asserted, that all general ideas are
nothing but particular ones, annexed to a certain term, which gives
them a more extensive signification, and makes them recall upon occasion
other individuals, which are similar to them. As I look upon this to be
one of the greatest and most valuable discoveries that has been made of
late years in the republic of letters, I shall here endeavour to confirm
it by some arguments, which I hope will put it beyond all doubt and

It is evident, that in forming most of our general ideas, if not all of
them, we abstract from every particular degree of quantity and quality,
and that an object ceases not to be of any particular species on
account of every small alteration in its extension, duration and other
properties. It may therefore be thought, that here is a plain dilemma,
that decides concerning the nature of those abstract ideas, which have
afforded so much speculation to philosophers. The abstract idea of a man
represents men of all sizes and all qualities; which it is concluded it
cannot do, but either by representing at once all possible sizes and all
possible qualities, or by, representing no particular one at all. Now
it having been esteemed absurd to defend the former proposition, as
implying an infinite capacity in the mind, it has been commonly inferred
in favour of the latter: and our abstract ideas have been supposed to
represent no particular degree either of quantity or quality. But that
this inference is erroneous, I shall endeavour to make appear, first,
by proving, that it is utterly impossible to conceive any quantity or
quality, without forming a precise notion of its degrees: And secondly
by showing, that though the capacity of the mind be not infinite, yet
we can at once form a notion of all possible degrees of quantity and
quality, in such a manner at least, as, however imperfect, may serve all
the purposes of reflection and conversation.

To begin with the first proposition, THAT THE MIND CANNOT FORM ANY
DEGREES OF EACH; we may prove this by the three following arguments.
First, We have observed, that whatever objects are different are
distinguishable, and that whatever objects are distinguishable are
separable by the thought and imagination. And we may here add, that
these propositions are equally true in the inverse, and that whatever
objects are separable are also distinguishable, and that whatever
objects are distinguishable, are also different. For how is it possible
we can separate what is not distinguishable, or distinguish what is not
different? In order therefore to know, whether abstraction implies a
separation, we need only consider it in this view, and examine, whether
all the circumstances, which we abstract from in our general ideas, be
such as are distinguishable and different from those, which we retain
as essential parts of them. But it is evident at first sight, that the
precise length of a line is not different nor distinguishable from the
line itself nor the precise degree of any quality from the quality.
These ideas, therefore, admit no more of separation than they do of
distinction and difference. They are consequently conjoined with
each other in the conception; and the general idea of a line,
notwithstanding all our abstractions and refinements, has in its
appearance in the mind a precise degree of quantity and quality; however
it may be made to represent others, which have different degrees of

Secondly, it is contest, that no object can appear to the senses; or in
other words, that no impression can become present to the mind, without
being determined in its degrees both of quantity and quality. The
confusion, in which impressions are sometimes involved, proceeds only
from their faintness and unsteadiness, not from any capacity in the mind
to receive any impression, which in its real existence has no particular
degree nor proportion. That is a contradiction in terms; and even
implies the flattest of all contradictions, viz. that it is possible for
the same thing both to be and not to be.

Now since all ideas are derived from impressions, and are nothing but
copies and representations of them, whatever is true of the one must be
acknowledged concerning the other. Impressions and ideas differ only in
their strength and vivacity. The foregoing conclusion is not founded on
any particular degree of vivacity. It cannot therefore be affected by
any variation in that particular. An idea is a weaker impression; and
as a strong impression must necessarily have a determinate quantity and
quality, the case must be the same with its copy or representative.

Thirdly, it is a principle generally received in philosophy that
everything in nature is individual, and that it is utterly absurd to
suppose a triangle really existent, which has no precise proportion of
sides and angles. If this therefore be absurd in fact and reality, it
must also be absurd in idea; since nothing of which we can form a clear
and distinct idea is absurd and impossible. But to form the idea of an
object, and to form an idea simply, is the same thing; the reference
of the idea to an object being an extraneous denomination, of which in
itself it bears no mark or character. Now as it is impossible to form an
idea of an object, that is possest of quantity and quality, and yet
is possest of no precise degree of either; it follows that there is an
equal impossibility of forming an idea, that is not limited and confined
in both these particulars. Abstract ideas are therefore in themselves
individual, however they may become general in their representation.
The image in the mind is only that of a particular object, though the
application of it in our reasoning be the same, as if it were universal.

This application of ideas beyond their nature proceeds from our
collecting all their possible degrees of quantity and quality in such an
imperfect manner as may serve the purposes of life, which is the second
proposition I proposed to explain. When we have found a resemblance
[Footnote 2.] among several objects, that often occur to us, we apply
the same name to all of them, whatever differences we may observe in the
degrees of their quantity and quality, and whatever other differences
may appear among them. After we have acquired a custom of this kind, the
hearing of that name revives the idea of one of these objects, and makes
the imagination conceive it with all its particular circumstances and
proportions. But as the same word is supposed to have been frequently
applied to other individuals, that are different in many respects from
that idea, which is immediately present to the mind; the word not being
able to revive the idea of all these individuals, but only touches the
soul, if I may be allowed so to speak, and revives that custom, which we
have acquired by surveying them. They are not really and in fact present
to the mind, but only in power; nor do we draw them all out distinctly
in the imagination, but keep ourselves in a readiness to survey any of
them, as we may be prompted by a present design or necessity. The word
raises up an individual idea, along with a certain custom; and that
custom produces any other individual one, for which we may have
occasion. But as the production of all the ideas, to which the name may
be applied, is in most eases impossible, we abridge that work by a more
partial consideration, and find but few inconveniences to arise in our
reasoning from that abridgment.

     [Footnote 2. It is evident, that even different simple ideas
     may have a similarity or resemblance to each other; nor is
     it necessary, that the point or circumstance of resemblance
     shoud be distinct or separable from that in which they
     differ. BLUE and GREEN are different simple ideas, but are
     more resembling than BLUE and SCARLET; tho their perfect
     simplicity excludes all possibility of separation or
     distinction. It is the same case with particular sounds, and
     tastes and smells. These admit of infinite resemblances upon
     the general appearance and comparison, without having any
     common circumstance the same. And of this we may be certain,
     even from the very abstract terms SIMPLE IDEA. They
     comprehend all simple ideas under them. These resemble each
     other in their simplicity. And yet from their very nature,
     which excludes all composition, this circumstance, In which
     they resemble, Is not distinguishable nor separable from the
     rest. It is the same case with all the degrees In any
     quality. They are all resembling and yet the quality, In any
     individual, Is not distinct from the degree.]

For this is one of the most extraordinary circumstances in the present
affair, that after the mind has produced an individual idea, upon which
we reason, the attendant custom, revived by the general or abstract
term, readily suggests any other individual, if by chance we form any
reasoning, that agrees not with it. Thus should we mention the
word triangle, and form the idea of a particular equilateral one to
correspond to it, and should we afterwards assert, that the three
angles of a triangle are equal to each other, the other individuals of a
scalenum and isosceles, which we overlooked at first, immediately crowd
in upon us, and make us perceive the falshood of this proposition,
though it be true with relation to that idea, which we had formed. If
the mind suggests not always these ideas upon occasion, it proceeds
from some imperfection in its faculties; and such a one as is often the
source of false reasoning and sophistry. But this is principally the
case with those ideas which are abstruse and compounded. On other
occasions the custom is more entire, and it is seldom we run into such

Nay so entire is the custom, that the very same idea may be annext to
several different words, and may be employed in different reasonings,
without any danger of mistake. Thus the idea of an equilateral triangle
of an inch perpendicular may serve us in talking of a figure, of a
rectilinear figure, of a regular figure, of a triangle, and of an
equilateral triangle. All these terms, therefore, are in this case
attended with the same idea; but as they are wont to be applied in a
greater or lesser compass, they excite their particular habits, and
thereby keep the mind in a readiness to observe, that no conclusion be
formed contrary to any ideas, which are usually comprized under them.

Before those habits have become entirely perfect, perhaps the mind may
not be content with forming the idea of only one individual, but may run
over several, in order to make itself comprehend its own meaning, and
the compass of that collection, which it intends to express by the
general term. That we may fix the meaning of the word, figure, we may
revolve in our mind the ideas of circles, squares, parallelograms,
triangles of different sizes and proportions, and may not rest on one
image or idea. However this may be, it is certain that we form the idea
of individuals, whenever we use any general term; that we seldom or
never can exhaust these individuals; and that those, which remain,
are only represented by means of that habit, by which we recall them,
whenever any present occasion requires it. This then is the nature of
our abstract ideas and general terms; and it is after this manner we
account for the foregoing paradox, THAT SOME IDEAS ARE PARTICULAR IN
becomes general by being annexed to a general term; that is, to a
term, which from a customary conjunction has a relation to many other
particular ideas, and readily recalls them in the imagination.

The only difficulty, that can remain on this subject, must be with
regard to that custom, which so readily recalls every particular idea,
for which we may have occasion, and is excited by any word or sound, to
which we commonly annex it. The most proper method, in my opinion,
of giving a satisfactory explication of this act of the mind, is
by producing other instances, which are analogous to it, and other
principles, which facilitate its operation. To explain the ultimate
causes of our mental actions is impossible. It is sufficient, if we can
give any satisfactory account of them from experience and analogy.

First then I observe, that when we mention any great number, such as
a thousand, the mind has generally no adequate idea of it, but only a
power of producing such an idea, by its adequate idea of the decimals,
under which the number is comprehended. This imperfection, however,
in our ideas, is never felt in our reasonings; which seems to be an
instance parallel to the present one of universal ideas.

Secondly, we have several instances of habits, which may be revived
by one single word; as when a person, who has by rote any periods of a
discourse, or any number of verses, will be put in remembrance of
the whole, which he is at a loss to recollect, by that single word or
expression, with which they begin.

Thirdly, I believe every one, who examines the situation of his mind in
reasoning will agree with me, that we do not annex distinct and compleat
ideas to every term we make use of, and that in talking of government,
church, negotiation, conquest, we seldom spread out in our minds all the
simple ideas, of which these complex ones are composed. It is however
observable, that notwithstanding this imperfection we may avoid talking
nonsense on these subjects, and may perceive any repugnance among
the ideas, as well as if we had a fall comprehension of them. Thus
if instead of saying, that in war the weaker have always recourse to
negotiation, we should say, that they have always recourse to conquest,
the custom, which we have acquired of attributing certain relations to
ideas, still follows the words, and makes us immediately perceive the
absurdity of that proposition; in the same manner as one particular idea
may serve us in reasoning concerning other ideas, however different from
it in several circumstances.

Fourthly, As the individuals are collected together, said placed under
a general term with a view to that resemblance, which they bear to each
other, this relation must facilitate their entrance in the imagination,
and make them be suggested more readily upon occasion. And indeed if
we consider the common progress of the thought, either in reflection
or conversation, we shall find great reason to be satisfyed in this
particular. Nothing is more admirable, than the readiness, with which
the imagination suggests its ideas, and presents them at the very
instant, in which they become necessary or useful. The fancy runs from
one end of the universe to the other in collecting those ideas, which
belong to any subject. One would think the whole intellectual world of
ideas was at once subjected to our view, and that we did nothing but
pick out such as were most proper for our purpose. There may not,
however, be any present, beside those very ideas, that are thus
collected by a kind of magical faculty in the soul, which, though it be
always most perfect in the greatest geniuses, and is properly what we
call a genius, is however inexplicable by the utmost efforts of human

Perhaps these four reflections may help to remove an difficulties to
the hypothesis I have proposed concerning abstract ideas, so contrary to
that, which has hitherto prevailed in philosophy, But, to tell the truth
I place my chief confidence in what I have already proved concerning
the impossibility of general ideas, according to the common method of
explaining them. We must certainly seek some new system on this head,
and there plainly is none beside what I have proposed. If ideas be
particular in their nature, and at the same time finite in their number,
it is only by custom they can become general in their representation,
and contain an infinite number of other ideas under them.

Before I leave this subject I shall employ the same principles to
explain that distinction of reason, which is so much talked of, and is
so little understood, in the schools. Of this kind is the distinction
betwixt figure and the body figured; motion and the body moved. The
difficulty of explaining this distinction arises from the principle
above explained, that all ideas, which are different, are separable. For
it follows from thence, that if the figure be different from the body,
their ideas must be separable as well as distinguishable: if they be
not different, their ideas can neither be separable nor distinguishable.
What then is meant by a distinction of reason, since it implies neither
a difference nor separation.

To remove this difficulty we must have recourse to the foregoing
explication of abstract ideas. It is certain that the mind would never
have dreamed of distinguishing a figure from the body figured, as being
in reality neither distinguishable, nor different, nor separable; did it
not observe, that even in this simplicity there might be contained many
different resemblances and relations. Thus when a globe of white marble
is presented, we receive only the impression of a white colour disposed
in a certain form, nor are we able to separate and distinguish the
colour from the form. But observing afterwards a globe of black marble
and a cube of white, and comparing them with our former object, we
find two separate resemblances, in what formerly seemed, and really is,
perfectly inseparable. After a little more practice of this kind, we
begin to distinguish the figure from the colour by a distinction of
reason; that is, we consider the figure and colour together, since they
are in effect the same and undistinguishable; but still view them in
different aspects, according to the resemblances, of which they are
susceptible. When we would consider only the figure of the globe of
white marble, we form in reality an idea both of the figure and colour,
but tacitly carry our eye to its resemblance with the globe of black
marble: And in the same manner, when we would consider its colour only,
we turn our view to its resemblance with the cube of white marble. By
this means we accompany our ideas with a kind of reflection, of which
custom renders us, in a great measure, insensible. A person, who desires
us to consider the figure of a globe of white marble without thinking on
its colour, desires an impossibility but his meaning is, that we should
consider the figure and colour together, but still keep in our eye the
resemblance to the globe of black marble, or that to any other globe of
whatever colour or substance.



Whatever has the air of a paradox, and is contrary to the first and
most unprejudiced notions of mankind, is often greedily embraced by
philosophers, as shewing the superiority of their science, which coued
discover opinions so remote from vulgar conception. On the other hand,
anything proposed to us, which causes surprize and admiration, gives
such a satisfaction to the mind, that it indulges itself in those
agreeable emotions, and will never be persuaded that its pleasure is
entirely without foundation. From these dispositions in philosophers and
their disciples arises that mutual complaisance betwixt them; while the
former furnish such plenty of strange and unaccountable opinions, and
the latter so readily believe them. Of this mutual complaisance I
cannot give a more evident instance than in the doctrine of infinite
divisibility, with the examination of which I shall begin this subject
of the ideas of space and time.

It is universally allowed, that the capacity of the mind is limited, and
can never attain a full and adequate conception of infinity: And though
it were not allowed, it would be sufficiently evident from the plainest
observation and experience. It is also obvious, that whatever is capable
of being divided in infinitum, must consist of an infinite number of
parts, and that it is impossible to set any bounds to the number of
parts, without setting bounds at the same time to the division. It
requires scarce any, induction to conclude from hence, that the idea,
which we form of any finite quality, is not infinitely divisible, but
that by proper distinctions and separations we may run up this idea
to inferior ones, which will be perfectly simple and indivisible. In
rejecting the infinite capacity of the mind, we suppose it may arrive at
an end in the division of its ideas; nor are there any possible means of
evading the evidence of this conclusion.

It is therefore certain, that the imagination reaches a minimum, and
may raise up to itself an idea, of which it cannot conceive any
sub-division, and which cannot be diminished without a total
annihilation. When you tell me of the thousandth and ten thousandth
part of a grain of sand, I have a distinct idea of these numbers and of
their different proportions; but the images, which I form in my mind to
represent the things themselves, are nothing different from each other,
nor inferior to that image, by which I represent the grain of sand
itself, which is supposed so vastly to exceed them. What consists of
parts is distinguishable into them, and what is distinguishable is
separable. But whatever we may imagine of the thing, the idea of a grain
of sand is not distinguishable, nor separable into twenty, much less
into a thousand, ten thousand, or an infinite number of different ideas.

It is the same case with the impressions of the senses as with the ideas
of the imagination. Put a spot of ink upon paper, fix your eye upon that
spot, and retire to such a distance, that, at last you lose sight of it;
it is plain, that the moment before it vanished the image or impression
was perfectly indivisible. It is not for want of rays of light striking
on our eyes, that the minute parts of distant bodies convey not any
sensible impression; but because they are removed beyond that distance,
at which their impressions were reduced to a minimum, and were incapable
of any farther diminution. A microscope or telescope, which renders them
visible, produces not any new rays of light, but only spreads those,
which always flowed from them; and by that means both gives parts to
impressions, which to the naked eye appear simple and uncompounded, and
advances to a minimum, what was formerly imperceptible.

We may hence discover the error of the common opinion, that the capacity
of the mind is limited on both sides, and that it is impossible for
the imagination to form an adequate idea, of what goes beyond a certain
degree of minuteness as well as of greatness. Nothing can be more
minute, than some ideas, which we form in the fancy; and images, which
appear to the senses; since there are ideas and images perfectly simple
and indivisible. The only defect of our senses is, that they give
us disproportioned images of things, and represent as minute and
uncompounded what is really great and composed of a vast number of
parts. This mistake we are not sensible of: but taking the impressions
of those minute objects, which appear to the senses, to be equal or
nearly equal to the objects, and finding by reason, that there are other
objects vastly more minute, we too hastily conclude, that these are
inferior to any idea of our imagination or impression of our senses.
This however is certain, that we can form ideas, which shall be no
greater than the smallest atom of the animal spirits of an insect a
thousand times less than a mite: And we ought rather to conclude, that
the difficulty lies in enlarging our conceptions so much as to form a
just notion of a mite, or even of an insect a thousand times less than a
mite. For in order to form a just notion of these animals, we must have
a distinct idea representing every part of them, which, according to the
system of infinite divisibility, is utterly impossible, and, recording
to that of indivisible parts or atoms, is extremely difficult, by reason
of the vast number and multiplicity of these parts.


Wherever ideas are adequate representations of objects, the relations,
contradictions and agreements of the ideas are all applicable to the
objects; and this we may in general observe to be the foundation of all
human knowledge. But our ideas are adequate representations of the
most minute parts of extension; and through whatever divisions and
subdivisions we may suppose these parts to be arrived at, they can never
become inferior to some ideas, which we form. The plain consequence is,
that whatever appears impossible and contradictory upon the comparison
of these ideas, must be really impossible and contradictory, without any
farther excuse or evasion.

Every thing capable of being infinitely divided contains an infinite
number of parts; otherwise the division would be stopt short by the
indivisible parts, which we should immediately arrive at. If therefore
any finite extension be infinitely divisible, it can be no contradiction
to suppose, that a finite extension contains an infinite number of
parts: And vice versa, if it be a contradiction to suppose, that
a finite extension contains an infinite number of parts, no finite
extension can be infinitely divisible. But that this latter supposition
is absurd, I easily convince myself by the consideration of my clear
ideas. I first take the least idea I can form of a part of extension,
and being certain that there is nothing more minute than this idea, I
conclude, that whatever I discover by its means must be a real quality
of extension. I then repeat this idea once, twice, thrice, &c., and find
the compound idea of extension, arising from its repetition, always
to augment, and become double, triple, quadruple, &c., till at last it
swells up to a considerable bulk, greater or smaller, in proportion as I
repeat more or less the same idea. When I stop in the addition of parts,
the idea of extension ceases to augment; and were I to carry on the
addition in infinitum, I clearly perceive, that the idea of extension
must also become infinite. Upon the whole, I conclude, that the idea of
all infinite number of parts is individually the same idea with that of
an infinite extension; that no finite extension is capable of containing
an infinite number of parts; and consequently that no finite extension
is infinitely divisible [Footnote 3.].

     [Footnote 3. It has been objected to me, that infinite
     divisibility supposes only an infinite number of
     PROPORTIONAL not of ALIQIOT parts, and that an infinite
     number of proportional parts does not form an infinite
     extension. But this distinction is entirely frivolous.
     Whether these parts be calld ALIQUOT or PROPORTIONAL, they
     cannot be inferior to those minute parts we conceive; and
     therefore cannot form a less extension by their

I may subjoin another argument proposed by a noted author [Mons.
MALEZIEU], which seems to me very strong and beautiful. It is evident,
that existence in itself belongs only to unity, and is never applicable
to number, but on account of the unites, of which the number is
composed. Twenty men may be said to exist; but it is only because one,
two, three, four, &c. are existent, and if you deny the existence of
the latter, that of the former falls of course. It is therefore utterly
absurd to suppose any number to exist, and yet deny the existence of
unites; and as extension is always a number, according to the common
sentiment of metaphysicians, and never resolves itself into any unite or
indivisible quantity, it follows, that extension can never at all exist.
It is in vain to reply, that any determinate quantity of extension is an
unite; but such-a-one as admits of an infinite number of fractions, and
is inexhaustible in its sub-divisions. For by the same rule these twenty
men may be considered as a unit. The whole globe of the earth, nay
the whole universe, may be considered as a unit. That term of unity
is merely a fictitious denomination, which the mind may apply to any
quantity of objects it collects together; nor can such an unity any more
exist alone than number can, as being in reality a true number. But the
unity, which can exist alone, and whose existence is necessary to that
of all number, is of another kind, and must be perfectly indivisible,
and incapable of being resolved into any lesser unity.

All this reasoning takes place with regard to time; along with an
additional argument, which it may be proper to take notice of. It is a
property inseparable from time, and which in a manner constitutes its
essence, that each of its parts succeeds another, and that none of them,
however contiguous, can ever be co-existent. For the same reason, that
the year 1737 cannot concur with the present year 1738 every moment must
be distinct from, and posterior or antecedent to another. It is certain
then, that time, as it exists, must be composed of indivisible moments.
For if in time we could never arrive at an end of division, and if
each moment, as it succeeds another, were not perfectly single and
indivisible, there would be an infinite number of co-existent moments,
or parts of time; which I believe will be allowed to be an arrant

The infinite divisibility of space implies that of time, as is evident
from the nature of motion. If the latter, therefore, be impossible, the
former must be equally so.

I doubt not but, it will readily be allowed by the most obstinate
defender of the doctrine of infinite divisibility, that these arguments
are difficulties, and that it is impossible to give any answer to them
which will be perfectly clear and satisfactory. But here we may
observe, that nothing can be more absurd, than this custom of calling a
difficulty what pretends to be a demonstration, and endeavouring by that
means to elude its force and evidence. It is not in demonstrations as
in probabilities, that difficulties can take place, and one argument
counter-ballance another, and diminish its authority. A demonstration,
if just, admits of no opposite difficulty; and if not just, it is a
mere sophism, and consequently can never be a difficulty. It is either
irresistible, or has no manner of force. To talk therefore of objections
and replies, and ballancing of arguments in such a question as this, is
to confess, either that human reason is nothing but a play of words, or
that the person himself, who talks so, has not a Capacity equal to such
subjects. Demonstrations may be difficult to be comprehended, because of
abstractedness of the subject; but can never have such difficulties as
will weaken their authority, when once they are comprehended.

It is true, mathematicians are wont to say, that there are here equally
strong arguments on the other side of the question, and that the
doctrine of indivisible points is also liable to unanswerable
objections. Before I examine these arguments and objections in detail,
I will here take them in a body, and endeavour by a short and decisive
reason to prove at once, that it is utterly impossible they can have any
just foundation.

It is an established maxim in metaphysics, That whatever the mind
clearly conceives, includes the idea of possible existence, or in other
words, that nothing we imagine is absolutely impossible. We can form the
idea of a golden mountain, and from thence conclude that such a mountain
may actually exist. We can form no idea of a mountain without a valley,
and therefore regard it as impossible.

Now it is certain we have an idea of extension; for otherwise why do we
talk and reason concerning it? It is likewise certain that this idea,
as conceived by the imagination, though divisible into parts or inferior
ideas, is not infinitely divisible, nor consists of an infinite number
of parts: For that exceeds the comprehension of our limited capacities.
Here then is an idea of extension, which consists of parts or inferior
ideas, that are perfectly, indivisible: consequently this idea implies
no contradiction: consequently it is possible for extension really to
exist conformable to it: and consequently all the arguments employed
against the possibility of mathematical points are mere scholastick
quibbles, and unworthy of our attention.

These consequences we may carry one step farther, and conclude that all
the pretended demonstrations for the infinite divisibility of extension
are equally sophistical; since it is certain these demonstrations cannot
be just without proving the impossibility of mathematical points; which
it is an evident absurdity to pretend to.


No discovery coued have been made more happily for deciding all
controversies concerning ideas, than that abovementioned, that
impressions always take the precedency of them, and that every idea,
with which the imagination is furnished, first makes its appearance in a
correspondent impression. These latter perceptions are all so clear and
evident, that they admit of no controversy; though many of our ideas are
so obscure, that it is almost impossible even for the mind, which forms
them, to tell exactly their nature and composition. Let us apply this
principle, in order to discover farther the nature of our ideas of space
and time.

Upon opening my eyes, and turning them to the surrounding objects,
I perceive many visible bodies; and upon shutting them again, and
considering the distance betwixt these bodies, I acquire the idea of
extension. As every idea is derived from some impression, which
is exactly similar to it, the impressions similar to this idea of
extension, must either be some sensations derived from the sight, or
some internal impressions arising from these sensations.

Our internal impressions are our passions, emotions, desires and
aversions; none of which, I believe, will ever be asserted to be the
model, from which the idea of space is derived. There remains therefore
nothing but the senses, which can convey to us this original impression.
Now what impression do oar senses here convey to us? This is the
principal question, and decides without appeal concerning the nature of
the idea.

The table before me is alone sufficient by its view to give me the idea
of extension. This idea, then, is borrowed from, and represents some
impression, which this moment appears to the senses. But my senses
convey to me only the impressions of coloured points, disposed in a
certain manner. If the eye is sensible of any thing farther, I desire
it may be pointed out to me. But if it be impossible to shew any thing
farther, we may conclude with certainty, that the idea of extension is
nothing but a copy of these coloured points, and of the manner of their

Suppose that in the extended object, or composition of coloured points,
from which we first received the idea of extension, the points were of
a purple colour; it follows, that in every repetition of that idea we
would not only place the points in the same order with respect to each
other, but also bestow on them that precise colour, with which alone we
are acquainted. But afterwards having experience of the other colours of
violet, green, red, white, black, and of all the different compositions
of these, and finding a resemblance in the disposition of coloured
points, of which they are composed, we omit the peculiarities of
colour, as far as possible, and found an abstract idea merely on that
disposition of points, or manner of appearance, in which they agree. Nay
even when the resemblance is carryed beyond the objects of one sense,
and the impressions of touch are found to be Similar to those of sight
in the disposition of their parts; this does not hinder the abstract
idea from representing both, upon account of their resemblance. All
abstract ideas are really nothing but particular ones, considered in
a certain light; but being annexed to general terms, they are able to
represent a vast variety, and to comprehend objects, which, as they are
alike in some particulars, are in others vastly wide of each other.

The idea of time, being derived from the succession of our perceptions
of every kind, ideas as well as impressions, and impressions of
reflection as well as of sensations will afford us an instance of an
abstract idea, which comprehends a still greater variety than that of
space, and yet is represented in the fancy by some particular individual
idea of a determinate quantity and quality.

As it is from the disposition of visible and tangible objects we receive
the idea of space, so from the succession of ideas and impressions we
form the idea of time, nor is it possible for time alone ever to make
its appearance, or be taken notice of by the mind. A man in a sound
sleep, or strongly occupyed with one thought, is insensible of time;
and according as his perceptions succeed each other with greater or
less rapidity, the same duration appears longer or shorter to his
imagination. It has been remarked by a great philosopher, that our
perceptions have certain bounds in this particular, which are fixed by
the original nature and constitution of the mind, and beyond which no
influence of external objects on the senses is ever able to hasten or
retard our thought. If you wheel about a burning coal with rapidity, it
will present to the senses an image of a circle of fire; nor will there
seem to be any interval of time betwixt its revolutions; meerly because
it is impossible for our perceptions to succeed each other with the same
rapidity, that motion may be communicated to external objects. Wherever
we have no successive perceptions, we have no notion of time, even
though there be a real succession in the objects. From these phenomena,
as well as from many others, we may conclude, that time cannot make
its appearance to the mind, either alone, or attended with a steady
unchangeable object, but is always discovered some PERCEIVABLE
succession of changeable objects.

To confirm this we may add the following argument, which to me seems
perfectly decisive and convincing. It is evident, that time or duration
consists of different parts: For otherwise we coued not conceive a
longer or shorter duration. It is also evident, that these parts are not
co-existent: For that quality of the co-existence of parts belongs to
extension, and is what distinguishes it from duration. Now as time is
composed of parts, that are not coexistent: an unchangeable object,
since it produces none but coexistent impressions, produces none that
can give us the idea of time; and consequently that idea must be
derived from a succession of changeable objects, and time in its first
appearance can never be severed from such a succession.

Having therefore found, that time in its first appearance to the mind
is always conjoined with a succession of changeable objects, and that
otherwise it can never fall under our notice, we must now examine
whether it can be conceived without our conceiving any succession
of objects, and whether it can alone form a distinct idea in the

In order to know whether any objects, which are joined in impression,
be inseparable in idea, we need only consider, if they be different
from each other; in which case, it is plain they may be conceived apart.
Every thing, that is different is distinguishable: and everything,
that is distinguishable, may be separated, according to the maxims
above-explained. If on the contrary they be not different, they are
not distinguishable: and if they be not distinguishable, they cannot be
separated. But this is precisely the case with respect to time, compared
with our successive perceptions. The idea of time is not derived from a
particular impression mixed up with others, and plainly distinguishable
from them; but arises altogether from the manner, in which impressions
appear to the mind, without making one of the number. Five notes played
on a flute give us the impression and idea of time; though time be not
a sixth impression, which presents itself to the hearing or any other of
the senses. Nor is it a sixth impression, which the mind by reflection
finds in itself. These five sounds making their appearance in this
particular manner, excite no emotion in the mind, nor produce an
affection of any kind, which being observed by it can give rise to a new
idea. For that is necessary to produce a new idea of reflection, nor can
the mind, by revolving over a thousand times all its ideas of sensation,
ever extract from them any new original idea, unless nature has so
framed its faculties, that it feels some new original impression arise
from such a contemplation. But here it only takes notice of the manner,
in which the different sounds make their appearance; and that it may
afterwards consider without considering these particular sounds, but
may conjoin it with any other objects. The ideas of some objects it
certainly must have, nor is it possible for it without these ideas ever
to arrive at any conception of time; which since it, appears not as any
primary distinct impression, can plainly be nothing but different
ideas, or impressions, or objects disposed in a certain manner, that is,
succeeding each other.

I know there are some who pretend, that the idea of duration
is applicable in a proper sense to objects, which are perfectly
unchangeable; and this I take to be the common opinion of philosophers
as well as of the vulgar. But to be convinced of its falsehood we need
but reflect on the foregoing conclusion, that the idea of duration is
always derived from a succession of changeable objects, and can never
be conveyed to the mind by any thing stedfast and unchangeable. For it
inevitably follows from thence, that since the idea of duration cannot
be derived from such an object, it can never-in any propriety or
exactness be applied to it, nor can any thing unchangeable be ever said
to have duration. Ideas always represent the Objects or impressions,
from which they are derived, and can never without a fiction represent
or be applied to any other. By what fiction we apply the idea of time,
even to what is unchangeable, and suppose, as is common, that duration
is a measure of rest as well as of motion, we shall consider [Sect 5.]

There is another very decisive argument, which establishes the present
doctrine concerning our ideas of space and time, and is founded only on
that simple principle, that our ideas of them are compounded of parts,
which are indivisible. This argument may be worth the examining.

Every idea, that is distinguishable, being also separable, let us take
one of those simple indivisible ideas, of which the compound one of
extension is formed, and separating it from all others, and considering
it apart, let us form a judgment of its nature and qualities.

It is plain it is not the idea of extension. For the idea of extension
consists of parts; and this idea, according to t-he supposition, is
perfectly simple and indivisible. Is it therefore nothing? That is
absolutely impossible. For as the compound idea of extension, which is
real, is composed of such ideas; were these so many non-entities, there
would be a real existence composed of non-entities; which is absurd.
Here therefore I must ask, What is our idea of a simple and indivisible
point? No wonder if my answer appear somewhat new, since the question
itself has scarce ever yet been thought of. We are wont to dispute
concerning the nature of mathematical points, but seldom concerning the
nature of their ideas.

The idea of space is conveyed to the mind by two senses, the sight
and touch; nor does anything ever appear extended, that is not either
visible or tangible. That compound impression, which represents
extension, consists of several lesser impressions, that are indivisible
to the eye or feeling, and may be called impressions of atoms or
corpuscles endowed with colour and solidity. But this is not all. It is
not only requisite, that these atoms should be coloured or tangible,
in order to discover themselves to our senses; it is also necessary
we should preserve the idea of their colour or tangibility in order to
comprehend them by our imagination. There is nothing but the idea of
their colour or tangibility, which can render them conceivable by the
mind. Upon the removal of the ideas of these sensible qualities, they
are utterly annihilated to the thought or imagination.

Now such as the parts are, such is the whole. If a point be not
considered as coloured or tangible, it can convey to us no idea; and
consequently the idea of extension, which is composed of the ideas of
these points, can never possibly exist. But if the idea of extension
really can exist, as we are conscious it does, its parts must also
exist; and in order to that, must be considered as coloured or tangible.
We have therefore no idea of space or extension, but when we regard it
as an object either of our sight or feeling.

The same reasoning will prove, that the indivisible moments of time must
be filled with some real object or existence, whose succession forms the
duration, and makes it be conceivable by the mind.


Our system concerning space and time consists of two parts, which
are intimately connected together. The first depends on this chain of
reasoning. The capacity of the mind is not infinite; consequently no
idea of extension or duration consists of an infinite number of parts
or inferior ideas, but of a finite number, and these simple and
indivisible: It is therefore possible for space and time to exist
conformable to this idea: And if it be possible, it is certain they
actually do exist conformable to it; since their infinite divisibility
is utterly impossible and contradictory.

The other part of our system is a consequence of this. The parts, into
which the ideas of space and time resolve themselves, become at last
indivisible; and these indivisible parts, being nothing in themselves,
are inconceivable when not filled with something real and existent. The
ideas of space and time are therefore no separate or distinct ideas, but
merely those of the manner or order, in which objects exist: Or in
other words, it is impossible to conceive either a vacuum and extension
without matter, or a time, when there was no succession or change in any
real existence. The intimate connexion betwixt these parts of our system
is the reason why we shall examine together the objections, which have
been urged against both of them, beginning with those against the finite
divisibility of extension.

I. The first of these objections, which I shall take notice of, is more
proper to prove this connexion and dependence of the one part upon the
other, than to destroy either of them. It has often been maintained in
the schools, that extension must be divisible, in infinitum, because
the system of mathematical points is absurd; and that system is absurd,
because a mathematical point is a non-entity, and consequently can never
by its conjunction with others form a real existence. This would
be perfectly decisive, were there no medium betwixt the infinite
divisibility of matter, and the non-entity of mathematical points. But
there is evidently a medium, viz. the bestowing a colour or solidity on
these points; and the absurdity of both the extremes is a demonstration
of the truth and reality of this medium. The system of physical points,
which is another medium, is too absurd to need a refutation. A real
extension, such as a physical point is supposed to be, can never exist
without parts, different from each other; and wherever objects are
different, they are distinguishable and separable by the imagination.

II. The second objection is derived from the necessity there would be of
PENETRATION, if extension consisted of mathematical points. A simple and
indivisible atom, that touches another, must necessarily penetrate it;
for it is impossible it can touch it by its external parts, from the
very supposition of its perfect simplicity, which excludes all parts. It
must therefore touch it intimately, and in its whole essence, SECUNDUM
SE, TOTA, ET TOTALITER; which is the very definition of penetration.
But penetration is impossible: Mathematical points are of consequence
equally impossible.

I answer this objection by substituting a juster idea of penetration.
Suppose two bodies containing no void within their circumference, to
approach each other, and to unite in such a manner that the body, which
results from their union, is no more extended than either of them; it
is this we must mean when we talk of penetration. But it is evident this
penetration is nothing but the annihilation of one of these bodies, and
the preservation of the other, without our being able to distinguish
particularly which is preserved and which annihilated. Before the
approach we have the idea of two bodies. After it we have the idea
only of one. It is impossible for the mind to preserve any notion of
difference betwixt two bodies of the same nature existing in the same
place at the same time.

Taking then penetration in this sense, for the annihilation of one body
upon its approach to another, I ask any one, if he sees a necessity,
that a coloured or tangible point should be annihilated upon the
approach of another coloured or tangible point? On the contrary, does
he not evidently perceive, that from the union of these points there
results an object, which is compounded and divisible, and may be
distinguished into two parts, of which each preserves its existence
distinct and separate, notwithstanding its contiguity to the other? Let
him aid his fancy by conceiving these points to be of different colours,
the better to prevent their coalition and confusion. A blue and a red
point may surely lie contiguous without any penetration or annihilation.
For if they cannot, what possibly can become of them? Whether shall the
red or the blue be annihilated? Or if these colours unite into one, what
new colour will they produce by their union?

What chiefly gives rise to these objections, and at the same time
renders it so difficult to give a satisfactory answer to them, is the
natural infirmity and unsteadiness both of our imagination and senses,
when employed on such minute objects. Put a spot of ink upon paper, and
retire to such a distance, that the spot becomes altogether invisible;
you will find, that upon your return and nearer approach the spot
first becomes visible by short intervals; and afterwards becomes always
visible; and afterwards acquires only a new force in its colouring
without augmenting its bulk; and afterwards, when it has encreased to
such a degree as to be really extended, it is still difficult for
the imagination to break it into its component parts, because of the
uneasiness it finds in the conception of such a minute object as a
single point. This infirmity affects most of our reasonings on the
present subject, and makes it almost impossible to answer in an
intelligible manner, and in proper expressions, many questions which may
arise concerning it.

III. There have been many objections drawn from the mathematics against
the indivisibility of the parts of extension: though at first sight that
science seems rather favourable to the present doctrine; and if it
be contrary in its DEMONSTRATIONS, it is perfectly conformable in its
definitions. My present business then must be to defend the definitions,
and refute the demonstrations.

A surface is DEFINed to be length and breadth without depth: A line
to be length without breadth or depth: A point to be what has neither
length, breadth nor depth. It is evident that all this is perfectly
unintelligible upon any other supposition than that of the composition
of extension by indivisible points or atoms. How else coued any thing
exist without length, without breadth, or without depth?

Two different answers, I find, have been made to this argument; neither
of which is in my opinion satisfactory. The first is, that the objects
of geometry, those surfaces, lines and points, whose proportions and
positions it examines, are mere ideas in the mind; I and not only never
did, but never can exist in nature. They never did exist; for no one
will pretend to draw a line or make a surface entirely conformable to
the definition: They never can exist; for we may produce demonstrations
from these very ideas to prove, that they are impossible.

But can anything be imagined more absurd and contradictory than this
reasoning? Whatever can be conceived by a clear and distinct idea
necessarily implies the possibility of existence; and he who pretends
to prove the impossibility of its existence by any argument derived from
the clear idea, in reality asserts, that we have no clear idea of
it, because we have a clear idea. It is in vain to search for a
contradiction in any thing that is distinctly conceived by the mind. Did
it imply any contradiction, it is impossible it coued ever be conceived.

There is therefore no medium betwixt allowing at least the possibility
of indivisible points, and denying their idea; and it is on this latter
principle, that the second answer to the foregoing argument is founded.
It has been pretended [L'Art de penser.], that though it be impossible
to conceive a length without any breadth, yet by an abstraction without
a separation, we can consider the one without regarding the other; in
the same manner as we may think of the length of the way betwixt two
towns, and overlook its breadth. The length is inseparable from the
breadth both in nature and in our minds; but this excludes not a partial
consideration, and a distinction of reason, after the manner above

In refuting this answer I shall not insist on the argument, which I have
already sufficiently explained, that if it be impossible for the mind
to arrive at a minimum in its ideas, its capacity must be infinite, in
order to comprehend the infinite number of parts, of which its idea of
any extension would be composed. I shall here endeavour to find some new
absurdities in this reasoning.

A surface terminates a solid; a line terminates a surface; a point
terminates a line; but I assert, that if the ideas of a point, line or
surface were not indivisible, it is impossible we should ever conceive
these terminations: For let these ideas be supposed infinitely
divisible; and then let the fancy endeavour to fix itself on the idea of
the last surface, line or point; it immediately finds this idea to break
into parts; and upon its seizing the last of these parts, it loses its
hold by a new division, and so on in infinitum, without any possibility
of its arriving at a concluding idea. The number of fractions bring
it no nearer the last division, than the first idea it formed. Every
particle eludes the grasp by a new fraction; like quicksilver, when we
endeavour to seize it. But as in fact there must be something, which
terminates the idea of every finite quantity; and as this terminating
idea cannot itself consist of parts or inferior ideas; otherwise it
would be the last of its parts, which finished the idea, and so on; this
is a clear proof, that the ideas of surfaces, lines and points admit
not of any division; those of surfaces in depth; of lines in breadth and
depth; and of points in any dimension.

The school were so sensible of the force of this argument, that some of
them maintained, that nature has mixed among those particles of matter,
which are divisible in infinitum, a number of mathematical points, in
order to give a termination to bodies; and others eluded the force of
this reasoning by a heap of unintelligible cavils and distinctions. Both
these adversaries equally yield the victory. A man who hides himself,
confesses as evidently the superiority of his enemy, as another, who
fairly delivers his arms.

Thus it appears, that the definitions of mathematics destroy the
pretended demonstrations; and that if we have the idea of indivisible
points, lines and surfaces conformable to the definition, their
existence is certainly possible: but if we have no such idea, it is
impossible we can ever conceive the termination of any figure; without
which conception there can be no geometrical demonstration.

But I go farther, and maintain, that none of these demonstrations
can have sufficient weight to establish such a principle, as this of
infinite divisibility; and that because with regard to such minute
objects, they are not properly demonstrations, being built on ideas,
which are not exact, and maxims, which are not precisely true. When
geometry decides anything concerning the proportions of quantity, we
ought not to look for the utmost precision and exactness. None of its
proofs extend so far. It takes the dimensions and proportions of
figures justly; but roughly, and with some liberty. Its errors are never
considerable; nor would it err at all, did it not aspire to such an
absolute perfection.

I first ask mathematicians, what they mean when they say one line or
surface is EQUAL to, or GREATER or LESS than another? Let any of them
give an answer, to whatever sect he belongs, and whether he maintains
the composition of extension by indivisible points, or by quantities
divisible in infinitum. This question will embarrass both of them.

There are few or no mathematicians, who defend the hypothesis of
indivisible points; and yet these have the readiest and justest answer
to the present question. They need only reply, that lines or surfaces
are equal, when the numbers of points in each are equal; and that as
the proportion of the numbers varies, the proportion of the lines and
surfaces is also varyed. But though this answer be just, as well as
obvious; yet I may affirm, that this standard of equality is entirely
useless, and that it never is from such a comparison we determine
objects to be equal or unequal with respect to each other. For as the
points, which enter into the composition of any line or surface, whether
perceived by the sight or touch, are so minute and so confounded with
each other, that it is utterly impossible for the mind to compute their
number, such a computation will Never afford us a standard by which we
may judge of proportions. No one will ever be able to determine by an
exact numeration, that an inch has fewer points than a foot, or a foot
fewer than an ell or any greater measure: for which reason we seldom or
never consider this as the standard of equality or inequality.

As to those, who imagine, that extension is divisible in infinitum, it
is impossible they can make use of this answer, or fix the equality of
any line or surface by a numeration of its component parts. For since,
according to their hypothesis, the least as well as greatest figures
contain an infinite number of parts; and since infinite numbers,
properly speaking, can neither be equal nor unequal with respect to each
other; the equality or inequality of any portions of space can never
depend on any proportion in the number of their parts. It is true, it
may be said, that the inequality of an ell and a yard consists in the
different numbers of the feet, of which they are composed; and that of
a foot and a yard in the number of the inches. But as that quantity we
call an inch in the one is supposed equal to what we call an inch in
the other, and as it is impossible for the mind to find this equality by
proceeding in infinitum with these references to inferior quantities: it
is evident, that at last we must fix some standard of equality different
from an enumeration of the parts.

There are some [See Dr. Barrow's mathematical lectures.], who pretend,
that equality is best defined by congruity, and that any two figures
are equal, when upon the placing of one upon the other, all their parts
correspond to and touch each other. In order to judge of this definition
let us consider, that since equality is a relation, it is not, strictly
speaking, a property in the figures themselves, but arises merely from
the comparison, which the mind makes betwixt them. If it consists,
therefore, in this imaginary application and mutual contact of parts, we
must at least have a distinct notion of these parts, and must conceive
their contact. Now it is plain, that in this conception we would run up
these parts to the greatest minuteness, which can possibly be conceived;
since the contact of large parts would never render the figures equal.
But the minutest parts we can conceive are mathematical points; and
consequently this standard of equality is the same with that derived
from the equality of the number of points; which we have already
determined to be a just but an useless standard. We must therefore look
to some other quarter for a solution of the present difficulty.

There are many philosophers, who refuse to assign any standard of
equality, but assert, that it is sufficient to present two objects, that
are equal, in order to give us a just notion of this proportion. All
definitions, say they, are fruitless, without the perception of such
objects; and where we perceive such objects, we no longer stand in need
of any definition. To this reasoning, I entirely agree; and assert, that
the only useful notion of equality, or inequality, is derived from the
whole united appearance and the comparison of particular objects.

It is evident, that the eye, or rather the mind is often able at one
view to determine the proportions of bodies, and pronounce them equal
to, or greater or less than each other, without examining or comparing
the number of their minute parts. Such judgments are not only common,
but in many cases certain and infallible. When the measure of a yard and
that of a foot are presented, the mind can no more question, that the
first is longer than the second, than it can doubt of those principles,
which are the most clear and self-evident.

There are therefore three proportions, which the mind distinguishes
in the general appearance of its objects, and calls by the names of
greater, less and equal. But though its decisions concerning these
proportions be sometimes infallible, they are not always so; nor are our
judgments of this kind more exempt from doubt and error than those on
any other subject. We frequently correct our first opinion by a review
and reflection; and pronounce those objects to be equal, which at first
we esteemed unequal; and regard an object as less, though before it
appeared greater than another. Nor is this the only correction, which
these judgments of our senses undergo; but we often discover our error
by a juxtaposition of the objects; or where that is impracticable, by
the use of some common and invariable measure, which being successively
applied to each, informs us of their different proportions. And even
this correction is susceptible of a new correction, and of different
degrees of exactness, according to the nature of the instrument,
by which we measure the bodies, and the care which we employ in the

When therefore the mind is accustomed to these judgments and their
corrections, and finds that the same proportion which makes two figures
have in the eye that appearance, which we call equality, makes them also
correspond to each other, and to any common measure, with which they
are compared, we form a mixed notion of equality derived both from the
looser and stricter methods of comparison. But we are not content with
this. For as sound reason convinces us that there are bodies vastly more
minute than those, which appear to the senses; and as a false reason
would perswade us, that there are bodies infinitely more minute; we
clearly perceive, that we are not possessed of any instrument or art of
measuring, which can secure us from ill error and uncertainty. We are
sensible, that the addition or removal of one of these minute parts,
is not discernible either in the appearance or measuring; and as we
imagine, that two figures, which were equal before, cannot be equal
after this removal or addition, we therefore suppose some imaginary
standard of equality, by which the appearances and measuring are exactly
corrected, and the figures reduced entirely to that proportion. This
standard is plainly imaginary. For as the very idea of equality is that
of such a particular appearance corrected by juxtaposition or a common
measure. The notion of any correction beyond what we have instruments
and art to make, is a mere fiction of the mind, and useless as well
as incomprehensible. But though this standard be only imaginary, the
fiction however is very natural; nor is anything more usual, than for
the mind to proceed after this manner with any action, even after the
reason has ceased, which first determined it to begin. This appears very
conspicuously with regard to time; where though it is evident we have no
exact method of determining the proportions of parts, not even so exact
as in extension, yet the various corrections of our measures, and their
different degrees of exactness, have given as an obscure and implicit
notion of a perfect and entire equality. The case is the same in many
other subjects. A musician finding his ear becoming every day more
delicate, and correcting himself by reflection and attention, proceeds
with the same act of the mind, even when the subject fails him, and
entertains a notion of a compleat TIERCE or OCTAVE, without being able
to tell whence he derives his standard. A painter forms the same fiction
with regard to colours. A mechanic with regard to motion. To the one
light and shade; to the other swift and slow are imagined to be capable
of an exact comparison and equality beyond the judgments of the senses.

We may apply the same reasoning to CURVE and RIGHT lines. Nothing is
more apparent to the senses, than the distinction betwixt a curve and a
right line; nor are there any ideas we more easily form than the ideas
of these objects. But however easily we may form these ideas, it is
impossible to produce any definition of them, which will fix the precise
boundaries betwixt them. When we draw lines upon paper, or any continued
surface, there is a certain order, by which the lines run along from one
point to another, that they may produce the entire impression of a
curve or right line; but this order is perfectly unknown, and nothing
is observed but the united appearance. Thus even upon the system of
indivisible points, we can only form a distant notion of some unknown
standard to these objects. Upon that of infinite divisibility we cannot
go even this length; but are reduced meerly to the general appearance,
as the rule by which we determine lines to be either curve or right
ones. But though we can give no perfect definition of these lines, nor
produce any very exact method of distinguishing the one from the other;
yet this hinders us not from correcting the first appearance by a more
accurate consideration, and by a comparison with some rule, of whose
rectitude from repeated trials we have a greater assurance. And it is
from these corrections, and by carrying on the same action of the mind,
even when its reason fails us, that we form the loose idea of a perfect
standard to these figures, without being able to explain or comprehend

It is true, mathematicians pretend they give an exact definition of a
right line, when they say, it is the shortest way betwixt two points.
But in the first place I observe, that this is more properly the
discovery of one of the properties of a right line, than a just
deflation of it. For I ask any one, if upon mention of a right line he
thinks not immediately on such a particular appearance, and if it is not
by accident only that he considers this property? A right line can be
comprehended alone; but this definition is unintelligible without a
comparison with other lines, which we conceive to be more extended. In
common life it is established as a maxim, that the straightest way is
always the shortest; which would be as absurd as to say, the shortest
way is always the shortest, if our idea of a right line was not
different from that of the shortest way betwixt two points.

Secondly, I repeat what I have already established, that we have no
precise idea of equality and inequality, shorter and longer, more than
of a right line or a curve; and consequently that the one can never
afford us a perfect standard for the other. An exact idea can never be
built on such as are loose and undetermined.

The idea of a plain surface is as little susceptible of a precise
standard as that of a right line; nor have we any other means of
distinguishing such a surface, than its general appearance. It is in
vain, that mathematicians represent a plain surface as produced by the
flowing of a right line. It will immediately be objected, that our idea
of a surface is as independent of this method of forming a surface, as
our idea of an ellipse is of that of a cone; that the idea of a right
line is no more precise than that of a plain surface; that a right line
may flow irregularly, and by that means form a figure quite different
from a plane; and that therefore we must suppose it to flow along two
right lines, parallel to each other, and on the same plane; which is a
description, that explains a thing by itself, and returns in a circle.

It appears, then, that the ideas which are most essential to geometry,
viz. those of equality and inequality, of a right line and a plain
surface, are far from being exact and determinate, according to our
common method of conceiving them. Not only we are incapable of telling,
if the case be in any degree doubtful, when such particular figures are
equal; when such a line is a right one, and such a surface a plain one;
but we can form no idea of that proportion, or of these figures, which
is firm and invariable. Our appeal is still to the weak and fallible
judgment, which we make from the appearance of the objects, and correct
by a compass or common measure; and if we join the supposition of
any farther correction, it is of such-a-one as is either useless or
imaginary. In vain should we have recourse to the common topic, and
employ the supposition of a deity, whose omnipotence may enable him to
form a perfect geometrical figure, and describe a right line without any
curve or inflexion. As the ultimate standard of these figures is derived
from nothing but the senses and imagination, it is absurd to talk of
any perfection beyond what these faculties can judge of; since the true
perfection of any thing consists in its conformity to its standard.

Now since these ideas are so loose and uncertain, I would fain ask any
mathematician what infallible assurance he has, not only of the more
intricate, and obscure propositions of his science, but of the most
vulgar and obvious principles? How can he prove to me, for instance,
that two right lines cannot have one common segment? Or that it is
impossible to draw more than one right line betwixt any two points?
should he tell me, that these opinions are obviously absurd, and
repugnant to our clear ideas; I would answer, that I do not deny, where
two right lines incline upon each other with a sensible angle, but it is
absurd to imagine them to have a common segment. But supposing these two
lines to approach at the rate of an inch in twenty leagues, I perceive
no absurdity in asserting, that upon their contact they become one. For,
I beseech you, by what rule or standard do you judge, when you assert,
that the line, in which I have supposed them to concur, cannot make
the same right line with those two, that form so small an angle betwixt
them? You must surely have some idea of a right line, to which this line
does not agree. Do you therefore mean that it takes not the points in
the same order and by the same rule, as is peculiar and essential to a
right line? If so, I must inform you, that besides that in judging after
this manner you allow, that extension is composed of indivisible points
(which, perhaps, is more than you intend) besides this, I say, I must
inform you, that neither is this the standard from which we form the
idea of a right line; nor, if it were, is there any such firmness in our
senses or imagination, as to determine when such an order is violated or
preserved. The original standard of a right line is in reality nothing
but a certain general appearance; and it is evident right lines may be
made to concur with each other, and yet correspond to this standard,
though corrected by all the means either practicable or imaginable.

To whatever side mathematicians turn, this dilemma still meets them.
If they judge of equality, or any other proportion, by the accurate and
exact standard, viz. the enumeration of the minute indivisible parts,
they both employ a standard, which is useless in practice, and actually
establish the indivisibility of extension, which they endeavour to
explode. Or if they employ, as is usual, the inaccurate standard,
derived from a comparison of objects, upon their general appearance,
corrected by measuring and juxtaposition; their first principles,
though certain and infallible, are too coarse to afford any such subtile
inferences as they commonly draw from them. The first principles are
founded on the imagination and senses: The conclusion, therefore, can
never go beyond, much less contradict these faculties.

This may open our eyes a little, and let us see, that no geometrical
demonstration for the infinite divisibility of extension can have so
much force as what we naturally attribute to every argument, which is
supported by such magnificent pretensions. At the same time we may learn
the reason, why geometry falls of evidence in this single point, while
all its other reasonings command our fullest assent and approbation.
And indeed it seems more requisite to give the reason of this exception,
than to shew, that we really must make such an exception, and regard
all the mathematical arguments for infinite divisibility as utterly
sophistical. For it is evident, that as no idea of quantity is
infinitely divisible, there cannot be imagined a more glaring absurdity,
than to endeavour to prove, that quantity itself admits of such a
division; and to prove this by means of ideas, which are directly
opposite in that particular. And as this absurdity is very glaring in
itself, so there is no argument founded on it which is not attended
with a new absurdity, and involves not an evident contradiction.

I might give as instances those arguments for infinite divisibility,
which are derived from the point of contact. I know there is no
mathematician, who will not refuse to be judged by the diagrams he
describes upon paper, these being loose draughts, as he will tell us,
and serving only to convey with greater facility certain ideas, which
are the true foundation of all our reasoning. This I am satisfyed with,
and am willing to rest the controversy merely upon these ideas. I desire
therefore our mathematician to form, as accurately as possible,
the ideas of a circle and a right line; and I then ask, if upon the
conception of their contact he can conceive them as touching in a
mathematical point, or if he must necessarily imagine them to concur
for some space. Whichever side he chuses, he runs himself into equal
difficulties. If he affirms, that in tracing these figures in his
imagination, he can imagine them to touch only in a point, he allows
the possibility of that idea, and consequently of the thing. If he says,
that in his conception of the contact of those lines he must make
them concur, he thereby acknowledges the fallacy of geometrical
demonstrations, when carryed beyond a certain degree of minuteness;
since it is certain he has such demonstrations against the concurrence
of a circle and a right line; that is, in other words, he can prove an
idea, viz. that of concurrence, to be INCOMPATIBLE with two other
ideas, those of a circle and right line; though at the same time he
acknowledges these ideas to be inseparable.


If the second part of my system be true, that the idea of space
or extension is nothing but the idea of visible or tangible points
distributed in a certain order; it follows, that we can form no idea
of a vacuum, or space, where there is nothing visible or tangible. This
gives rise to three objections, which I shall examine together, because
the answer I shall give to one is a consequence of that which I shall
make use of for the others.

First, It may be said, that men have disputed for many ages concerning
a vacuum and a plenum, without being able to bring the affair to a
final decision; and philosophers, even at this day, think themselves
at liberty to take part on either side, as their fancy leads them. But
whatever foundation there may be for a controversy concerning the things
themselves, it may be pretended, that the very dispute is decisive
concerning the idea, and that it is impossible men coued so long reason
about a vacuum, and either refute or defend it, without having a notion
of what they refuted or defended.

Secondly, If this argument should be contested, the reality or at least
the possibility of the idea of a vacuum may be proved by the following
reasoning. Every idea is possible, which is a necessary and infallible
consequence of such as are possible. Now though we allow the world to be
at present a plenum, we may easily conceive it to be deprived of motion;
and this idea will certainly be allowed possible. It must also be
allowed possible, to conceive the annihilation of any part of matter by
the omnipotence of the deity, while the other parts remain at rest. For
as every idea, that is distinguishable, is separable by the imagination;
and as every idea, that is separable by the imagination, may be
conceived to be separately existent; it is evident, that the existence
of one particle of matter, no more implies the existence of another,
than a square figure in one body implies a square figure in every one.
This being granted, I now demand what results from the concurrence of
these two possible ideas of rest and annihilation, and what must we
conceive to follow upon the annihilation of all the air and subtile
matter in the chamber, supposing the walls to remain the same, without
any motion or alteration? There are some metaphysicians, who answer,
that since matter and extension are the same, the annihilation of one
necessarily implies that of the other; and there being now no distance
betwixt the walls of the chamber, they touch each other; in the same
manner as my hand touches the paper, which is immediately before me.
But though this answer be very common, I defy these metaphysicians to
conceive the matter according to their hypothesis, or imagine the floor
and roof, with all the opposite sides of the chamber, to touch each
other, while they continue in rest, and preserve the same position. For
how can the two walls, that run from south to north, touch each other,
while they touch the opposite ends of two walls, that run from east
to west? And how can the floor and roof ever meet, while they are
separated by the four walls, that lie in a contrary position? If you
change their position, you suppose a motion. If you conceive any thing
betwixt them, you suppose a new creation. But keeping strictly to the
two ideas of rest and annihilation, it is evident, that the idea, which
results from them, is not that of a contact of parts, but something
else; which is concluded to be the idea of a vacuum.

The third objection carries the matter still farther, and not only
asserts, that the idea of a vacuum is real and possible, but also
necessary and unavoidable. This assertion is founded on the motion we
observe in bodies, which, it is maintained, would be impossible and
inconceivable without a vacuum, into which one body must move in order
to make way for another.. I shall not enlarge upon this objection,
because it principally belongs to natural philosophy, which lies without
our present sphere.

In order to answer these objections, we must take the matter pretty
deep, and consider the nature and origin of several ideas, lest we
dispute without understanding perfectly the subject of the controversy.
It is evident the idea of darkness is no positive idea, but merely the
negation of light, or more properly speaking, of coloured and visible
objects. A man, who enjoys his sight, receives no other perception from
turning his eyes on every side, when entirely deprived of light, than
what is common to him with one born blind; and it is certain such-a-one
has no idea either of light or darkness. The consequence of this is,
that it is not from the mere removal of visible objects we receive
the impression of extension without matter; and that the idea of utter
darkness can never be the same with that of vacuum.

Suppose again a man to be supported in the air, and to be softly
conveyed along by some invisible power; it is evident he is sensible of
nothing, and never receives the idea of extension, nor indeed any idea,
from this invariable motion. Even supposing he moves his limbs to
and fro, this cannot convey to him that idea. He feels in that case a
certain sensation or impression, the parts of which are successive to
each other, and may give him the idea of time: But certainly are not
disposed in such a manner, as is necessary to convey the idea of space
or the idea of space or extension.

Since then it appears, that darkness and motion, with the utter removal
of every thing visible and tangible, can never give us the idea of
extension without matter, or of a vacuum; the next question is, whether
they can convey this idea, when mixed with something visible and

It is commonly allowed by philosophers, that all bodies, which discover
themselves to the eye, appear as if painted on a plain surface, and that
their different degrees of remoteness from ourselves are discovered
more by reason than by the senses. When I hold up my hand before me, and
spread my fingers, they are separated as perfectly by the blue colour
of the firmament, as they coued be by any visible object, which I coued
place betwixt them. In order, therefore, to know whether the sight can
convey the impression and idea of a vacuum, we must suppose, that amidst
an entire darkness, there are luminous bodies presented to us, whose
light discovers only these bodies themselves, without giving us any
impression of the surrounding objects.

We must form a parallel supposition concerning the objects of our
feeling. It is not proper to suppose a perfect removal of all tangible
objects: we must allow something to be perceived by the feeling; and
after an interval and motion of the hand or other organ of sensation,
another object of the touch to be met with; and upon leaving that,
another; and so on, as often as we please. The question is, whether
these intervals do not afford us the idea of extension without body?

To begin with the first case; it is evident, that when only two luminous
bodies appear to the eye, we can perceive, whether they be conjoined or
separate: whether they be separated by a great or small distance; and if
this distance varies, we can perceive its increase or diminution, with
the motion of the bodies. But as the distance is not in this case any
thing coloured or visible, it may be thought that there is here a vacuum
or pure extension, not only intelligible to the mind, but obvious to the
very senses.

This is our natural and most familiar way of thinking; but which we
shall learn to correct by a little reflection. We may observe, that
when two bodies present themselves, where there was formerly an entire
darkness, the only change, that is discoverable, is in the appearance
of these two objects, and that all the rest continues to be as before, a
perfect negation of light, and of every coloured or visible object. This
is not only true of what may be said to be remote from these bodies, but
also of the very distance; which is interposed betwixt them; that being
nothing but darkness, or the negation of light; without parts, without
composition, invariable and indivisible. Now since this distance causes
no perception different from what a blind man receives from his eyes, or
what is conveyed to us in the darkest night, it must partake of the
same properties: And as blindness and darkness afford us no ideas of
extension, it is impossible that the dark and undistinguishable distance
betwixt two bodies can ever produce that idea.

The sole difference betwixt an absolute darkness and the appearance of
two or more visible luminous objects consists, as I said, in the objects
themselves, and in the manner they affect our senses. The angles, which
the rays of light flowing from them, form with each other; the motion
that is required in the eye, in its passage from one to the other; and
the different parts of the organs, which are affected by them; these
produce the only perceptions, from which we can judge of the distance.
But as these perceptions are each of them simple and indivisible, they
can never give us the idea of extension.

We may illustrate this by considering the sense of feeling, and the
imaginary distance or interval interposed betwixt tangible or solid
objects. I suppose two cases, viz. that of a man supported in the air,
and moving his limbs to and fro, without meeting any thing tangible; and
that of a man, who feeling something tangible, leaves it, and after a
motion, of which he is sensible, perceives another tangible object; and
I then ask, wherein consists the difference betwixt these two cases?
No one will make any scruple to affirm, that it consists meerly in the
perceiving those objects, and that the sensation, which arises from the
motion, is in both cases the same: And as that sensation is not capable
of conveying to us an idea of extension, when unaccompanyed with some
other perception, it can no more give us that idea, when mixed with
the impressions of tangible objects; since that mixture produces no
alteration upon it.

But though motion and darkness, either alone, or attended with tangible
and visible objects, convey no idea of a vacuum or extension without
matter, yet they are the causes why we falsly imagine we can form such
an idea. For there is a close relation betwixt that motion and darkness,
and a real extension, or composition of visible and tangible objects.

First, We may observe, that two visible objects appearing in the midst
of utter darkness, affect the senses in the same manner, and form the
same angle by the rays, which flow from them, and meet in the eye, as if
the distance betwixt them were find with visible objects, that give us
a true idea of extension. The sensation of motion is likewise the same,
when there is nothing tangible interposed betwixt two bodies, as when
we feel a compounded body, whose different parts are placed beyond each

Secondly, We find by experience, that two bodies, which are so placed
as to affect the senses in the same manner with two others, that have a
certain extent of visible objects interposed betwixt them, are
capable of receiving the same extent, without any sensible impulse or
penetration, and without any change on that angle, under which they
appear to the senses. In like manner, where there is one object, which
we cannot feel after another without an interval, and the perceiving
of that sensation we call motion in our hand or organ of sensation;
experience shews us, that it is possible the same object may be felt
with the same sensation of motion, along with the interposed impression
of solid and tangible objects, attending the sensation. That is, in
other words, an invisible and intangible distance may be converted into
a visible and tangible one, without any change on the distant objects.

Thirdly, We may observe, as another relation betwixt these two kinds
of distance, that they have nearly the same effects on every natural
phaenomenon. For as all qualities, such as heat, cold, light,
attraction, &c. diminish in proportion to the distance; there is but
little difference observed, whether this distance be marled out by
compounded and sensible objects, or be known only by the manner, in
which the distant objects affect the senses.

Here then are three relations betwixt that distance, which conveys the
idea of extension, and that other, which is not filled with any coloured
or solid object. The distant objects affect the senses in the same
manner, whether separated by the one distance or the other; the second
species of distance is found capable of receiving the first; and they
both equally diminish the force of every quality.

These relations betwixt the two kinds of distance will afford us an easy
reason, why the one has so often been taken for the other, and why we
imagine we have an idea of extension without the idea of any object
either of the sight or feeling. For we may establish it as a general
maxim in this science of human nature, that wherever there is a close
relation betwixt two ideas, the mind is very apt to mistake them, and
in all its discourses and reasonings to use the one for the other. This
phaenomenon occurs on so many occasions, and is of such consequence,
that I cannot forbear stopping a moment to examine its causes. I shall
only premise, that we must distinguish exactly betwixt the phaenomenon
itself, and the causes, which I shall assign for it; and must not
imagine from any uncertainty in the latter, that the former is also
uncertain. The phaenomenon may be real, though my explication be
chimerical. The falshood of the one is no consequence of that of the
other; though at the same time we may observe, that it is very natural
for us to draw such a consequence; which is an evident instance of that
very principle, which I endeavour to explain.

When I received the relations of resemblance, contiguity and causation,
as principles of union among ideas, without examining into their causes,
it was more in prosecution of my first maxim, that we must in the end
rest contented with experience, than for want of something specious and
plausible, which I might have displayed on that subject. It would have
been easy to have made an imaginary dissection of the brain, and have
shewn, why upon our conception of any idea, the animal spirits run
into all the contiguous traces, and rouze up the other ideas, that are
related to it. But though I have neglected any advantage, which I might
have drawn from this topic in explaining the relations of ideas, I am
afraid I must here have recourse to it, in order to account for the
mistakes that arise from these relations. I shall therefore observe,
that as the mind is endowed with a power of exciting any idea it
pleases; whenever it dispatches the spirits into that region of the
brain, in which the idea is placed; these spirits always excite the
idea, when they run precisely into the proper traces, and rummage that
cell, which belongs to the idea. But as their motion is seldom direct,
and naturally turns a little to the one side or the other; for this
reason the animal spirits, falling into the contiguous traces, present
other related ideas in lieu of that, which the mind desired at first to
survey. This change we are not always sensible of; but continuing
still the same train of thought, make use of the related idea, which is
presented to us, and employ it in our reasoning, as if it were the same
with what we demanded. This is the cause of many mistakes and sophisms
in philosophy; as will naturally be imagined, and as it would be easy to
show, if there was occasion.

Of the three relations above-mentioned that of resemblance is the most
fertile source of error; and indeed there are few mistakes in reasoning,
which do not borrow largely from that origin. Resembling ideas are not
only related together, but the actions of the mind, which we employ
in considering them, are so little different, that we are not able to
distinguish them. This last circumstance is of great consequence, and we
may in general observe, that wherever the actions of the mind in forming
any two ideas are the same or resembling, we are very apt to confound
these ideas, and take the one for the other. Of this we shall see many
instances in the progress of this treatise. But though resemblance be
the relation, which most readily produces a mistake in ideas, yet
the others of causation and contiguity may also concur in the same
influence. We might produce the figures of poets and orators, as
sufficient proofs of this, were it as usual, as it is reasonable, in
metaphysical subjects to draw our arguments from that quarter. But lest
metaphysicians should esteem this below their dignity, I shall borrow
a proof from an observation, which may be made on most of their own
discourses, viz. that it is usual for men to use words for ideas, and
to talk instead of thinking in their reasonings. We use words for ideas,
because they are commonly so closely connected that the mind easily
mistakes them. And this likewise is the reason, why we substitute
the idea of a distance, which is not considered either as visible or
tangible, in the room of extension, which is nothing but a composition
of visible or tangible points disposed in a certain order. In
causing this mistake there concur both the relations of causation and
resemblance. As the first species of distance is found to be convertible
into the second, it is in this respect a kind of cause; and the
similarity of their manner of affecting the senses, and diminishing
every quality, forms the relation of resemblance.

After this chain of reasoning and explication of my principles, I am now
prepared to answer all the objections that have been offered, whether
derived from metaphysics or mechanics. The frequent disputes concerning
a vacuum, or extension without matter prove not the reality of the idea,
upon which the dispute turns; there being nothing more common, than to
see men deceive themselves in this particular; especially when by means
of any close relation, there is another idea presented, which may be the
occasion of their mistake.

We may make almost the same answer to the second objection, derived from
the conjunction of the ideas of rest and annihilation. When every thing
is annihilated in the chamber, and the walls continue immoveable, the
chamber must be conceived much in the same manner as at present, when
the air that fills it, is not an object of the senses. This annihilation
leaves to the eye, that fictitious distance, which is discovered by the
different parts of the organ, that are affected, and by the degrees of
light and shade;--and to the feeling, that which consists in a sensation
of motion in the hand, or other member of the body. In vain should we.
search any farther. On whichever side we turn this subject, we shall
find that these are the only impressions such an object can produce
after the supposed annihilation; and it has already been remarked, that
impressions can give rise to no ideas, but to such as resemble them.

Since a body interposed betwixt two others may be supposed to be
annihilated, without producing any change upon such as lie on each
hand of it, it is easily conceived, how it may be created anew, and yet
produce as little alteration. Now the motion of a body has much the same
effect as its creation. The distant bodies are no more affected in the
one case, than in the other. This suffices to satisfy the imagination,
and proves there is no repugnance in such a motion. Afterwards
experience comes in play to persuade us that two bodies, situated in the
manner above-described, have really such a capacity of receiving body
betwixt them, and that there is no obstacle to the conversion of the
invisible and intangible distance into one that is visible and tangible.
However natural that conversion may seem, we cannot be sure it is
practicable, before we have had experience of it.

Thus I seem to have answered the three objections above-mentioned;
though at the same time I am sensible, that few will be satisfyed
with these answers, but will immediately propose new objections and
difficulties. It will probably be said, that my reasoning makes nothing
to the matter in hands and that I explain only the manner in which
objects affect the senses, without endeavouring to account for their
real nature and operations. Though there be nothing visible or tangible
interposed betwixt two bodies, yet we find BY EXPERIENCE, that the
bodies may be placed in the same manner, with regard to the eye, and
require the same motion of the hand in passing from one to the other,
as if divided by something visible and tangible. This invisible and
intangible distance is also found by experience to contain a capacity of
receiving body, or of becoming visible and tangible. Here is the whole
of my system; and in no part of it have I endeavoured to explain the
cause, which separates bodies after this manner, and gives them a
capacity of receiving others betwixt them, without any impulse or

I answer this objection, by pleading guilty, and by confessing that my
intention never was to penetrate into the nature of bodies, or explain
the secret causes of their operations. For besides that this belongs not
to my present purpose, I am afraid, that such an enterprise is beyond
the reach of human understanding, and that we can never pretend to
know body otherwise than by those external properties, which discover
themselves to the senses. As to those who attempt any thing farther, I
cannot approve of their ambition, till I see, in some one instance at
least, that they have met with success. But at present I content myself
with knowing perfectly the manner in which objects affect my senses, and
their connections with each other, as far as experience informs me of
them. This suffices for the conduct of life; and this also suffices for
my philosophy, which pretends only to explain the nature and causes of
our perceptions, or impressions and ideas [Footnote 4.].

     [Footnote 4. As long as we confine our speculations to the
     appearances of objects to our senses, without entering into
     disquisitions concerning their real nature and operations,
     we are safe from all difficulties, and can never be
     embarrassed by any question. Thus, if it be asked, if the
     invisible and intangible distance, interposed betwixt two
     objects, be something or nothing: It is easy to answer, that
     it is SOMETHING, VIZ. a property of the objects, which
     affect the SENSES after such a particular manner. If it be
     asked whether two objects, having such a distance betwixt
     them, touch or not: it may be answered, that this depends
     upon the definition of the word, TOUCH. If objects be said
     to touch, when there is nothing SENSIBLE interposed betwixt
     them, these objects touch: it objects be said to touch, when
     their IMAGES strike contiguous parts of the eye, and when
     the hand FEELS both objects successively, without any
     interposed motion, these objects do not touch. The
     appearances of objects to our senses are all consistent; and
     no difficulties can ever arise, but from the obscurity of
     the terms we make use of.

     If we carry our enquiry beyond the appearances of objects to
     the senses, I am afraid, that most of our conclusions will
     be full of scepticism and uncertainty. Thus if it be asked,
     whether or not the invisible and intangible distance be
     always full of body, or of something that by an improvement
     of our organs might become visible or tangible, I must
     acknowledge, that I find no very decisive arguments on
     either side; though I am inclined to the contrary opinion,
     as being more suitable to vulgar and popular notions. If THE
     NEWTONIAN philosophy be rightly understood, it will be found
     to mean no more. A vacuum is asserted: That is, bodies are
     said to be placed after such a manner, is to receive bodies
     betwixt them, without impulsion or penetration. The real
     nature of this position of bodies is unknown. We are only
     acquainted with its effects on the senses, and its power of
     receiving body. Nothing is more suitable to that philosophy,
     than a modest scepticism to a certain degree, and a fair
     confession of ignorance in subjects, that exceed all human

I shall conclude this subject of extension with a paradox, which will
easily be explained from the foregoing reasoning. This paradox is, that
if you are pleased to give to the in-visible and intangible distance,
or in other words, to the capacity of becoming a visible and tangible
distance, the name of a vacuum, extension and matter are the same, and
yet there is a vacuum. If you will not give it that name, motion
is possible in a plenum, without any impulse in infinitum, without
returning in a circle, and without penetration. But however we may
express ourselves, we must always confess, that we have no idea of any
real extension without filling it with sensible objects, and conceiving
its parts as visible or tangible.

As to the doctrine, that time is nothing but the manner, in which
some real objects exist; we may observe, that it is liable to the same
objections as the similar doctrine with regard to extension. If it be a
sufficient proof, that we have the idea of a vacuum, because we dispute
and reason concerning it; we must for the same reason have the idea
of time without any changeable existence; since there is no subject of
dispute more frequent and common. But that we really have no such idea,
is certain. For whence should it be derived? Does it arise from an
impression of sensation or of reflection? Point it out distinctly to us,
that we may know its nature and qualities. But if you cannot point
out any such impression, you may be certain you are mistaken, when you
imagine you have any such idea.

But though it be impossible to shew the impression, from which the idea
of time without a changeable existence is derived; yet we can easily
point out those appearances, which make us fancy we have that idea. For
we may observe, that there is a continual succession of perceptions in
our mind; so that the idea of time being for ever present with us; when
we consider a stedfast object at five-a-clock, and regard the same at
six; we are apt to apply to it that idea in the same manner as if every
moment were distinguished by a different position, or an alteration
of the object. The first and second appearances of the object, being
compared with the succession of our perceptions, seem equally removed as
if the object had really changed. To which we may add, what experience
shews us, that the object was susceptible of such a number of changes
betwixt these appearances; as also that the unchangeable or rather
fictitious duration has the same effect upon every quality, by
encreasing or diminishing it, as that succession, which is obvious to
the senses. From these three relations we are apt to confound our ideas,
and imagine we can form the idea of a time and duration, without any
change or succession.


It may not be amiss, before we leave this subject, to explain the ideas
of existence and of external existence; which have their difficulties,
as well as the ideas of space and time. By this means we shall be the
better prepared for the examination of knowledge and probability, when
we understand perfectly all those particular ideas, which may enter into
our reasoning.

There is no impression nor idea of any kind, of which we have any
consciousness or memory, that is not conceived as existent; and it
is evident, that from this consciousness the most perfect idea and
assurance of being is derived. From hence we may form a dilemma, the
most clear and conclusive that can be imagined, viz. that since we never
remember any idea or impression without attributing existence to it,
the idea of existence must either be derived from a distinct impression,
conjoined with every perception or object of our thought, or must be the
very same with the idea of the perception or object.

As this dilemma is an evident consequence of the principle, that every
idea arises from a similar impression, so our decision betwixt the
propositions of the dilemma is no more doubtful. So far from there being
any distinct impression, attending every impression and every idea,
that I do not think there are any two distinct impressions, which are
inseparably conjoined. Though certain sensations may at one time be
united, we quickly find they admit of a separation, and may be presented
apart. And thus, though every impression and idea we remember be
considered as existent, the idea of existence is not derived from any
particular impression.

The idea of existence, then, is the very same with the idea of what we
conceive to be existent. To reflect on any thing simply, and to reflect
on it as existent, are nothing different from each other. That idea,
when conjoined with the idea of any object, makes no addition to it.
Whatever we conceive, we conceive to be existent. Any idea we please
to form is the idea of a being; and the idea of a being is any idea we
please to form.

Whoever opposes this, must necessarily point out that distinct
impression, from which the idea of entity is derived, and must prove,
that this impression is inseparable from every perception we believe to
be existent. This we may without hesitation conclude to be impossible.

Our foregoing reasoning [Part I. Sect. 7.] concerning the distinction of
ideas without any real difference will not here serve us in any stead.
That kind of distinction is founded on the different resemblances, which
the same simple idea may have to several different ideas. But no object
can be presented resembling some object with respect to its existence,
and different from others in the same particular; since every object,
that is presented, must necessarily be existent.

A like reasoning will account for the idea of external existence. We may
observe, that it is universally allowed by philosophers, and is besides
pretty obvious of itself, that nothing is ever really present with the
mind but its perceptions or impressions and ideas, and that external
objects become known to us only by those perceptions they occasion. To
hate, to love, to think, to feel, to see; all this is nothing but to

Now since nothing is ever present to the mind but perceptions, and since
all ideas are derived from something antecedently present to the mind;
it follows, that it is impossible for us so much as to conceive or form
an idea of any thing specifically different from ideas and impressions.
Let us fix our attention out of ourselves as much as possible: Let us
chase our imagination to the heavens, or to the utmost limits of the
universe; we never really advance a step beyond ourselves, nor can
conceive any kind of existence, but those perceptions, which
have appeared in that narrow compass. This is the universe of the
imagination, nor have we any idea but what is there produced.

The farthest we can go towards a conception of external objects, when
supposed SPECIFICALLY different from our perceptions, is to form a
relative idea of them, without pretending to comprehend the related
objects. Generally speaking we do not suppose them specifically
different; but only attribute to them different relations, connections
and durations. But of this more fully hereafter.[Part IV, Sect. 2.]



There are seven [Part I. Sect. 5.] different kinds of philosophical
and CAUSATION. These relations may be divided into two classes; into
such as depend entirely on the ideas, which we compare together, and
such as may be changed without any change in the ideas. It is from the
idea of a triangle, that we discover the relation of equality, which its
three angles bear to two right ones; and this relation is invariable,
as long as our idea remains the same. On the contrary, the relations of
contiguity and distance betwixt two objects may be changed merely by an
alteration of their place, without any change on the objects themselves
or on their ideas; and the place depends on a hundred different
accidents, which cannot be foreseen by the mind. It is the same case
with identity and causation. Two objects, though perfectly resembling
each other, and even appearing in the same place at different times, may
be numerically different: And as the power, by which one object produces
another, is never discoverable merely from their idea, it is evident
cause and effect are relations, of which we receive information from
experience, and not from any abstract reasoning or reflection. There is
no single phaenomenon, even the most simple, which can be accounted for
from the qualities of the objects, as they appear to us; or which we
coued foresee without the help of our memory and experience.

It appears, therefore, that of these seven philosophical relations,
there remain only four, which depending solely upon ideas, can be
the objects of knowledge and certainty. These four are RESEMBLANCE,
Three of these relations are discoverable at first sight, and fall more
properly under the province of intuition than demonstration. When any
objects resemble each other, the resemblance will at first strike the
eye, or rather the mind; and seldom requires a second examination. The
case is the same with contrariety, and with the degrees of any quality.
No one can once doubt but existence and non-existence destroy each
other, and are perfectly incompatible and contrary. And though it be
impossible to judge exactly of the degrees of any quality, such as
colour, taste, heat, cold, when the difference betwixt them is very
small: yet it is easy to decide, that any of them is superior or
inferior to another, when their difference is considerable. And this
decision we always pronounce at first sight, without any enquiry or

We might proceed, after the same manner, in fixing the proportions
of quantity or number, and might at one view observe a superiority
or inferiority betwixt any numbers, or figures; especially where the
difference is very great and remarkable. As to equality or any exact
proportion, we can only guess at it from a single consideration; except
in very short numbers, or very limited portions of extension; which are
comprehended in an instant, and where we perceive an impossibility of
falling into any considerable error. In all other cases we must settle
the proportions with some liberty, or proceed in a more artificial

I have already observed, that geometry, or the art, by which we fix
the proportions of figures; though it much excels both in universality
and exactness, the loose judgments of the senses and imagination; yet
never attains a perfect precision and exactness. It's first principles
are still drawn from the general appearance of the objects; and that
appearance can never afford us any security, when we examine, the
prodigious minuteness of which nature is susceptible. Our ideas seem
to give a perfect assurance, that no two right lines can have a common
segment; but if we consider these ideas, we shall find, that they always
suppose a sensible inclination of the two lines, and that where the
angle they form is extremely small, we have no standard of a I @ right
line so precise as to assure us of the truth of this proposition. It is
the same case with most of the primary decisions of the mathematics.

There remain, therefore, algebra and arithmetic as the only sciences, in
which we can carry on a chain of reasoning to any degree of intricacy,
and yet preserve a perfect exactness and certainty. We are possest of a
precise standard, by which we can judge of the equality and proportion
of numbers; and according as they correspond or not to that standard,
we determine their relations, without any possibility of error. When two
numbers are so combined, as that the one has always an unite answering
to every unite of the other, we pronounce them equal; and it is for want
of such a standard of equality in extension, that geometry can scarce be
esteemed a perfect and infallible science.

But here it may not be amiss to obviate a difficulty, which may arise
from my asserting, that though geometry falls short of that perfect
precision and certainty, which are peculiar to arithmetic and algebra,
yet it excels the imperfect judgments of our senses and imagination. The
reason why I impute any defect to geometry, is, because its original and
fundamental principles are derived merely from appearances; and it may
perhaps be imagined, that this defect must always attend it, and keep it
from ever reaching a greater exactness in the comparison of objects or
ideas, than what our eye or imagination alone is able to attain. I own
that this defect so far attends it, as to keep it from ever aspiring to
a full certainty: But since these fundamental principles depend on
the easiest and least deceitful appearances, they bestow on their
consequences a degree of exactness, of which these consequences are
singly incapable. It is impossible for the eye to determine the angles
of a chiliagon to be equal to 1996 right angles, or make any conjecture,
that approaches this proportion; but when it determines, that right
lines cannot concur; that we cannot draw more than one right line
between two given points; it's mistakes can never be of any consequence.
And this is the nature and use of geometry, to run us up to such
appearances, as, by reason of their simplicity, cannot lead us into any
considerable error.

I shall here take occasion to propose a second observation concerning
our demonstrative reasonings, which is suggested by the same subject of
the mathematics. It is usual with mathematicians, to pretend, that
those ideas, which are their objects, are of so refined and spiritual a
nature, that they fall not under the conception of the fancy, but must
be comprehended by a pure and intellectual view, of which the superior
faculties of the soul are alone capable. The same notion runs through
most parts of philosophy, and is principally made use of to explain oar
abstract ideas, and to shew how we can form an idea of a triangle,
for instance, which shall neither be an isoceles nor scalenum, nor be
confined to any particular length and proportion of sides. It is easy to
see, why philosophers are so fond of this notion of some spiritual
and refined perceptions; since by that means they cover many of their
absurdities, and may refuse to submit to the decisions of clear ideas,
by appealing to such as are obscure and uncertain. But to destroy this
artifice, we need but reflect on that principle so oft insisted on, that
all our ideas are copyed from our impressions. For from thence we may
immediately conclude, that since all impressions are clear and precise,
the ideas, which are copyed from them, must be of the same nature, and
can never, but from our fault, contain any thing so dark and intricate.
An idea is by its very nature weaker and fainter than an impression;
but being in every other respect the same, cannot imply any very great
mystery. If its weakness render it obscure, it is our business to
remedy that defect, as much as possible, by keeping the idea steady and
precise; and till we have done so, it is in vain to pretend to reasoning
and philosophy.


This is all I think necessary to observe concerning those four
relations, which are the foundation of science; but as to the other
three, which depend not upon the idea, and may be absent or present
even while that remains the same, it will be proper to explain them more
particularly. These three relations are identity, the situations in time
and place, and causation.

All kinds of reasoning consist in nothing but a comparison, and a
discovery of those relations, either constant or inconstant, which two
or more objects bear to each other. This comparison we may make, either
when both the objects are present to the senses, or when neither of them
is present, or when only one. When both the objects are present to the
senses along with the relation, we call this perception rather than
reasoning; nor is there in this case any exercise of the thought, or
any action, properly speaking, but a mere passive admission of the
impressions through the organs of sensation. According to this way of
thinking, we ought not to receive as reasoning any of the observations
we may make concerning identity, and the relations of time and place;
since in none of them the mind can go beyond what is immediately present
to the senses, either to discover the real existence or the relations
of objects. It is only causation, which produces such a connexion, as
to give us assurance from the existence or action of one object, that it
was followed or preceded by any other existence or action; nor can the
other two relations be ever made use of in reasoning, except so far
as they either affect or are affected by it. There is nothing in any
objects to perswade us, that they are either always remote or always
contiguous; and when from experience and observation we discover, that
their relation in this particular is invariable, we, always conclude
there is some secret cause, which separates or unites them. The same
reasoning extends to identity. We readily suppose an object may continue
individually the same, though several times absent from and present
to the senses; and ascribe to it an identity, notwithstanding the
interruption of the perception, whenever we conclude, that if we had
kept our eye or hand constantly upon it, it would have conveyed an
invariable and uninterrupted perception. But this conclusion beyond the
impressions of our senses can be founded only on the connexion of cause
and effect; nor can we otherwise have any security, that the object is
not changed upon us, however much the new object may resemble that which
was formerly present to the senses. Whenever we discover such a perfect
resemblance, we consider, whether it be common in that species of
objects; whether possibly or probably any cause coued operate in
producing the change and resemblance; and according as we determine
concerning these causes and effects, we form our judgment concerning the
identity of the object.

Here then it appears, that of those three relations, which depend not
upon the mere ideas, the only one, that can be traced beyond our senses
and informs us of existences and objects, which we do not see or feel,
is causation. This relation, therefore, we shall endeavour to explain
fully before we leave the subject of the understanding.

To begin regularly, we must consider the idea of causation, and see from
what origin it is derived. It is impossible to reason justly, without
understanding perfectly the idea concerning which we reason; and it is
impossible perfectly to understand any idea, without tracing it up to
its origin, and examining that primary impression, from which it arises.
The examination of the impression bestows a clearness on the idea;
and the examination of the idea bestows a like clearness on all our

Let us therefore cast our eye on any two objects, which we call
cause and effect, and turn them on all sides, in order to find that
impression, which produces an idea, of such prodigious consequence.
At first sight I perceive, that I must not search for it in any of
the particular qualities of the objects; since which-ever of these
qualities I pitch on, I find some object, that is not possessed of it,
and yet falls under the denomination of cause or effect. And indeed
there is nothing existent, either externally or internally, which is
not to be considered either as a cause or an effect; though it is plain
there is no one quality, which universally belongs to all beings, and
gives them a title to that denomination.

The idea, then, of causation must be derived from some relation among
objects; and that relation we must now endeavour to discover. I find
in the first place, that whatever objects are considered as causes
or effects, are contiguous; and that nothing can operate in a time or
place, which is ever so little removed from those of its existence.
Though distant objects may sometimes seem productive of each other, they
are commonly found upon examination to be linked by a chain of causes,
which are contiguous among themselves, and to the distant objects; and
when in any particular instance we cannot discover this connexion, we
still presume it to exist. We may therefore consider the relation of
CONTIGUITY as essential to that of causation; at least may suppose it
such, according to the general opinion, till we can find a more [Part
IV. Sect. 5.] proper occasion to clear up this matter, by examining what
objects are or are not susceptible of juxtaposition and conjunction.

The second relation I shall observe as essential to causes and effects,
is not so universally acknowledged, but is liable to some controversy.
It is that of PRIORITY Of time in the cause before the effect. Some
pretend that it is not absolutely necessary a cause should precede its
effect; but that any object or action, in the very first moment of its
existence, may exert its productive quality, and give rise to another
object or action, perfectly co-temporary with itself. But beside that
experience in most instances seems to contradict this opinion, we may
establish the relation of priority by a kind of inference or reasoning.
It is an established maxim both in natural and moral philosophy, that
an object, which exists for any time in its full perfection without
producing another, is not its sole cause; but is assisted by some other
principle, which pushes it from its state of inactivity, and makes it
exert that energy, of which it was secretly possest. Now if any cause
may be perfectly co-temporary with its effect, it is certain, according
to this maxim, that they must all of them be so; since any one of them,
which retards its operation for a single moment, exerts not itself
at that very individual time, in which it might have operated; and
therefore is no proper cause. The consequence of this would be no less
than the destruction of that succession of causes, which we observe in
the world; and indeed, the utter annihilation of time. For if one cause
were co-temporary with its effect, and this effect with its effect, and
so on, it is plain there would be no such thing as succession, and all
objects must be co-existent.

If this argument appear satisfactory, it is well. If not, I beg the
reader to allow me the same liberty, which I have used in the preceding
case, of supposing it such. For he shall find, that the affair is of no
great importance.

Having thus discovered or supposed the two relations of contiguity and
succession to be essential to causes and effects, I find I am stopt
short, and can proceed no farther in considering any single instance
of cause and effect. Motion in one body is regarded upon impulse as the
cause of motion in another. When we consider these objects with utmost
attention, we find only that the one body approaches the other; and that
the motion of it precedes that of the other, but without any, sensible
interval. It is in vain to rack ourselves with farther thought and
reflection upon this subject. We can go no farther in considering this
particular instance.

Should any one leave this instance, and pretend to define a cause, by
saying it is something productive of another, it is evident he would say
nothing. For what does he mean by production? Can he give any definition
of it, that will not be the same with that of causation? If he can; I
desire it may be produced. If he cannot; he here runs in a circle, and
gives a synonimous term instead of a definition.

Shall we then rest contented with these two relations of contiguity and
succession, as affording a complete idea of causation? By, no means. An
object may be contiguous and prior to another, without being considered
as its cause. There is a NECESSARY CONNEXION to be taken into
consideration; and that relation is of much greater importance, than any
of the other two above-mentioned.

Here again I turn the object on all sides, in order to discover
the nature of this necessary connexion, and find the impression, or
impressions, from which its idea may be derived. When I cast my eye on
the known Qualities of objects, I immediately discover that the relation
of cause and effect depends not in the least on them. When I consider
their relations, I can find none but those of contiguity and succession;
which I have already regarded as imperfect and unsatisfactory. Shall the
despair of success make me assert, that I am here possest of an idea,
which is not preceded by any similar impression? This would be too
strong a proof of levity and inconstancy; since the contrary principle
has been already so firmly established, as to admit of no farther doubt;
at least, till we have more fully examined the present difficulty.

We must, therefore, proceed like those, who being in search of any
thing, that lies concealed from them, and not finding it in the place
they expected, beat about all the neighbouring fields, without any
certain view or design, in hopes their good fortune will at last guide
them to what they search for. It is necessary for us to leave the
direct survey of this question concerning the nature of that necessary
connexion, which enters into our idea of cause and effect; and endeavour
to find some other questions, the examination of which will perhaps
afford a hint, that may serve to clear up the present difficulty. Of
these questions there occur two, which I shall proceed to examine, viz.

First, For what reason we pronounce it necessary, that every thing whose
existence has a beginning, should also have a cause.

Secondly, Why we conclude, that such particular causes must necessarily
have such particular effects; and what is the nature of that inference
we draw from the one to the other, and of the belief we repose in it?

I shall only observe before I proceed any farther, that though the ideas
of cause and effect be derived from the impressions of reflection as
well as from those of sensation, yet for brevity's sake, I commonly
mention only the latter as the origin of these ideas; though I desire
that whatever I say of them may also extend to the former. Passions are
connected with their objects and with one another; no less than external
bodies are connected together. The same relation, then, of cause and
effect, which belongs to one, must be common to all of them.


To begin with the first question concerning the necessity of a cause:
It is a general maxim in philosophy, that whatever begins to exist, must
have a cause of existence. This is commonly taken for granted in all
reasonings, without any proof given or demanded. It is supposed to be
founded on intuition, and to be one of those maxims, which though they
may be denyed with the lips, it is impossible for men in their hearts
really to doubt of. But if we examine this maxim by the idea of
knowledge above-explained, we shall discover in it no mark of any such
intuitive certainty; but on the contrary shall find, that it is of a
nature quite foreign to that species of conviction.

All certainty arises from the comparison of ideas, and from the
discovery of such relations as are unalterable, so long as the ideas
continue the same. These relations are RESEMBLANCE, PROPORTIONS IN
which are implyed in this proposition, Whatever has a beginning has
also a cause of existence. That proposition therefore is not intuitively
certain. At least any one, who would assert it to be intuitively
certain, must deny these to be the only infallible relations, and must
find some other relation of that kind to be implyed in it; which it will
then be time enough to examine.

But here is an argument, which proves at once, that the foregoing
proposition is neither intuitively nor demonstrably certain. We can
never demonstrate the necessity of a cause to every new existence, or
new modification of existence, without shewing at the same time the
impossibility there is, that any thing can ever begin to exist without
some productive principle; and where the latter proposition cannot be
proved, we must despair of ever being able to prove the former. Now that
the latter proposition is utterly incapable of a demonstrative proof,
we may satisfy ourselves by considering that as all distinct ideas are
separable from each other, and as the ideas of cause and effect are
evidently distinct, it will be easy for us to conceive any object to be
non-existent this moment, and existent the next, without conjoining to
it the distinct idea of a cause or productive principle. The separation,
therefore, of the idea of a cause from that of a beginning of existence,
is plainly possible for the imagination; and consequently the actual
separation of these objects is so far possible, that it implies no
contradiction nor absurdity; and is therefore incapable of being refuted
by any reasoning from mere ideas; without which it is impossible to
demonstrate the necessity of a cause.

Accordingly we shall find upon examination, that every demonstration,
which has been produced for the necessity of a cause, is fallacious and
sophistical. All the points of time and place, say some philosophers
[Mr. Hobbes.], in which we can suppose any object to begin to exist, are
in themselves equal; and unless there be some cause, which is peculiar
to one time and to one place, and which by that means determines and
fixes the existence, it must remain in eternal suspence; and the object
can never begin to be, for want of something to fix its beginning. But I
ask; Is there any more difficulty in supposing the time and place to be
fixed without a cause, than to suppose the existence to be determined in
that manner? The first question that occurs on this subject is always,
whether the object shall exist or not: The next, when and where it shall
begin to exist. If the removal of a cause be intuitively absurd in the
one case, it must be so in the other: And if that absurdity be not clear
without a proof in the one case, it will equally require one in the
other. The absurdity, then, of the one supposition can never be a proof
of that of the other; since they are both upon the same footing, and
must stand or fall by the same reasoning.

The second argument [Dr. Clarke and others.], which I find used on this
head, labours under an equal difficulty. Every thing, it is said, must
have a cause; for if any thing wanted a cause, it would produce
ITSELF; that is, exist before it existed; which is impossible. But this
reasoning is plainly unconclusive; because it supposes, that in our
denial of a cause we still grant what we expressly deny, viz. that there
must be a cause; which therefore is taken to be the object itself; and
that, no doubt, is an evident contradiction. But to say that any thing
is produced, or to express myself more properly, comes into existence,
without a cause, is not to affirm, that it is itself its own cause; but
on the contrary in excluding all external causes, excludes a fortiori
the thing itself, which is created. An object, that exists absolutely
without any cause, certainly is not its own cause; and when you assert,
that the one follows from the other, you suppose the very point in
questions and take it for granted, that it is utterly impossible any
thing can ever begin to exist without a cause, but that, upon the
exclusion of one productive principle, we must still have recourse to

It is exactly the same case with the third argument [Mr. Locke.], which
has been employed to demonstrate the necessity of a cause. Whatever is
produced without any cause, is produced by nothing; or in other words,
has nothing for its cause. But nothing can never be a cause, no more
than it can be something, or equal to two right angles. By the same
intuition, that we perceive nothing not to be equal to two right angles,
or not to be something, we perceive, that it can never be a cause; and
consequently must perceive, that every object has a real cause of its

I believe it will not be necessary to employ many words in shewing the
weakness of this argument, after what I have said of the foregoing. They
are all of them founded on the same fallacy, and are derived from the
same turn of thought. It is sufficient only to observe, that when
we exclude all causes we really do exclude them, and neither suppose
nothing nor the object itself to be the causes of the existence;
and consequently can draw no argument from the absurdity of these
suppositions to prove the absurdity of that exclusion. If every thing
must have a cause, it follows, that upon the exclusion of other causes
we must accept of the object itself or of nothing as causes. But it is
the very point in question, whether every thing must have a cause or
not; and therefore, according to all just reasoning, it ought never to
be taken for granted.

They are still more frivolous, who say, that every effect must have a
cause, because it is implyed in the very idea of effect. Every effect
necessarily pre-supposes a cause; effect being a relative term, of which
cause is the correlative. But this does not prove, that every being must
be preceded by a cause; no more than it follows, because every husband
must have a wife, that therefore every man must be marryed. The true
state of the question is, whether every object, which begins to exist,
must owe its existence to a cause: and this I assert neither to be
intuitively nor demonstratively certain, and hope to have proved it
sufficiently by the foregoing arguments.

Since it is not from knowledge or any scientific reasoning, that we
derive the opinion of the necessity of a cause to every new production,
that opinion must necessarily arise from observation and experience. The
next question, then, should naturally be, how experience gives rise to
such a principle? But as I find it will be more convenient to sink this
question in the following, Why we conclude, that such particular
causes must necessarily have such particular erects, and why we form
an inference from one to another? we shall make that the subject of our
future enquiry. It will, perhaps, be found in the end, that the same
answer will serve for both questions.


Though the mind in its reasonings from causes or effects carries its
view beyond those objects, which it sees or remembers, it must never
lose sight of them entirely, nor reason merely upon its own ideas,
without some mixture of impressions, or at least of ideas of the memory,
which are equivalent to impressions. When we infer effects from causes,
we must establish the existence of these causes; which we have only
two ways of doing, either by an immediate perception of our memory or
senses, or by an inference from other causes; which causes again we must
ascertain in the same manner, either by a present impression, or by an
inference from their causes, and so on, till we arrive at some object,
which we see or remember. It is impossible for us to carry on our
inferences IN INFINITUM; and the only thing, that can stop them, is an
impression of the memory or senses, beyond which there is no room for
doubt or enquiry.

To give an instance of this, we may chuse any point of history, and
consider for what reason we either believe or reject it. Thus we believe
that Caesar was killed in the senate-house on the ides of March; and
that because this fact is established on the unanimous testimony of
historians, who agree to assign this precise time and place to that
event. Here are certain characters and letters present either to our
memory or senses; which characters we likewise remember to have been
used as the signs of certain ideas; and these ideas were either in the
minds of such as were immediately present at that action, and received
the ideas directly from its existence; or they were derived from the
testimony of others, and that again from another testimony, by a
visible gradation, it will we arrive at those who were eyewitnesses and
spectators of the event. It is obvious all this chain of argument or
connexion of causes and effects, is at first founded on those characters
or letters, which are seen or remembered, and that without the authority
either of the memory or senses our whole reasoning would be chimerical
and without foundation. Every link of the chain would in that case hang
upon another; but there would not be any thing fixed to one end of it,
capable of sustaining the whole; and consequently there would be no
belief nor evidence. And this actually is the case with all hypothetical
arguments, or reasonings upon a supposition; there being in them,
neither any present impression, nor belief of a real existence.

I need not observe, that it is no just objection to the present
doctrine, that we can reason upon our past conclusions or principles,
without having recourse to those impressions, from which they first
arose. For even supposing these impressions should be entirely effaced
from the memory, the conviction they produced may still remain; and it
is equally true, that all reasonings concerning causes and effects are
originally derived from some impression; in the same manner, as the
assurance of a demonstration proceeds always from a comparison of ideas,
though it may continue after the comparison is forgot.


In this kind of reasoning, then, from causation, we employ materials,
which are of a mixed and heterogeneous nature, and which, however
connected, are yet essentially different from each other. All our
arguments concerning causes and effects consist both of an impression of
the memory or, senses, and of the idea of that existence, which produces
the object of the impression, or is produced by it. Here therefore
we have three things to explain, viz. First, The original impression.
Secondly, The transition to the idea of the connected cause or effect.
Thirdly, The nature and qualities of that idea.

As to those impressions, which arise from the senses, their ultimate
cause is, in my opinion, perfectly inexplicable by human reason, and it
will always be impossible to decide with certainty, whether they arise
immediately from the object, or are produced by the creative power of
the mind, or are derived from the author of our being. Nor is such a
question any way material to our present purpose. We may draw inferences
from the coherence of our perceptions, whether they be true or false;
whether they represent nature justly, or be mere illusions of the

When we search for the characteristic, which distinguishes the memory
from the imagination, we must immediately perceive, that it cannot lie
in the simple ideas it presents to us; since both these faculties borrow
their simple ideas from the impressions, and can never go beyond these
original perceptions. These faculties are as little distinguished from
each other by the arrangement of their complex ideas. For though it be
a peculiar property of the memory to preserve the original order and
position of its ideas, while the imagination transposes and changes
them, as it pleases; yet this difference is not sufficient to
distinguish them in their operation, or make us know the one from the
other; it being impossible to recal the past impressions, in order to
compare them with our present ideas, and see whether their arrangement
be exactly similar. Since therefore the memory, is known, neither by
the order of its complex ideas, nor the nature of its simple ones; it
follows, that the difference betwixt it and the imagination lies in its
superior force and vivacity. A man may indulge his fancy in feigning
any past scene of adventures; nor would there be any possibility of
distinguishing this from a remembrance of a like kind, were not the
ideas of the imagination fainter and more obscure.

It frequently happens, that when two men have been engaged in any scene
of action, the one shall remember it much better than the other,
and shall have all the difficulty in the world to make his companion
recollect it. He runs over several circumstances in vain; mentions the
time, the place, the company, what was said, what was done on all sides;
till at last he hits on some lucky circumstance, that revives the whole,
and gives his friend a perfect memory of every thing. Here the person
that forgets receives at first all the ideas from the discourse of
the other, with the same circumstances of time and place; though he
considers them as mere fictions of the imagination. But as soon as the
circumstance is mentioned, that touches the memory, the very same ideas
now appear in a new light, and have, in a manner, a different feeling
from what they had before. Without any other alteration, beside that
of the feeling, they become immediately ideas of the memory, and are
assented to.

Since, therefore, the imagination can represent all the same objects
that the memory can offer to us, and since those faculties are only
distinguished by the different feeling of the ideas they present, it
may be proper to consider what is the nature of that feeling. And here
I believe every one will readily agree with me, that the ideas of the
memory are more strong and lively than those of the fancy.

A painter, who intended to represent a passion or emotion of any kind,
would endeavour to get a sight of a person actuated by a like emotion,
in order to enliven his ideas, and give them a force and vivacity
superior to what is found in those, which are mere fictions of the
imagination. The more recent this memory is, the clearer is the idea;
and when after a long interval he would return to the contemplation of
his object, he always finds its idea to be much decayed, if not wholly
obliterated. We are frequently in doubt concerning the ideas of the
memory, as they become very weak and feeble; and are at a loss to
determine whether any image proceeds from the fancy or the memory,
when it is not drawn in such lively colours as distinguish that latter
faculty. I think, I remember such an event, says one; but am not sure.
A long tract of time has almost worn it out of my memory, and leaves me
uncertain whether or not it be the pure offspring of my fancy.

And as an idea of the memory, by losing its force and vivacity,
may degenerate to such a degree, as to be taken for an idea of the
imagination; so on the other hand an idea of the imagination may acquire
such a force and vivacity, as to pass for an idea of the memory, and
counterfeit its effects on the belief and judgment. This is noted in
the case of liars; who by the frequent repetition of their lies, come at
last to believe and remember them, as realities; custom and habit having
in this case, as in many others, the same influence on the mind as
nature, and infixing the idea with equal force and vigour.

Thus it appears, that the belief or assent, which always attends the
memory and senses, is nothing but the vivacity of those perceptions they
present; and that this alone distinguishes them from the imagination. To
believe is in this case to feel an immediate impression of the senses,
or a repetition of that impression in the memory. It is merely the force
and liveliness of the perception, which constitutes the first act of the
judgment, and lays the foundation of that reasoning, which we build upon
it, when we trace the relation of cause and effect.


It is easy to observe, that in tracing this relation, the inference we
draw from cause to effect, is not derived merely from a survey of these
particular objects, and from such a penetration into their essences
as may discover the dependance of the one upon the other. There is no
object, which implies the existence of any other if we consider these
objects in themselves, and never look beyond the ideas which we form of
them. Such an inference would amount to knowledge, and would imply
the absolute contradiction and impossibility of conceiving any thing
different. But as all distinct ideas are separable, it is evident
there can be no impossibility of that kind. When we pass from a present
impression to the idea of any object, we might possibly have separated
the idea from the impression, and have substituted any other idea in its

It is therefore by EXPERIENCE only, that we can infer the existence of
one object from that of another. The nature of experience is this. We
remember to have had frequent instances of the existence of one species
of objects; and also remember, that the individuals of another species
of objects have always attended them, and have existed in a regular
order of contiguity and succession with regard to them. Thus we
remember, to have seen that species of object we call flame, and to have
felt that species of sensation we call heat. We likewise call to mind
their constant conjunction in all past instances. Without any farther
ceremony, we call the one cause and the other effect, and infer the
existence of the one from that of the other. In all those instances,
from which we learn the conjunction of particular causes and effects,
both the causes and effects have been perceived by the senses, and are
remembered But in all cases, wherein we reason concerning them, there
is only one perceived or remembered, and the other is supplyed in
conformity to our past experience.

Thus in advancing we have insensibly discovered a new relation betwixt
cause and effect, when we least expected it, and were entirely employed
upon another subject. This relation is their CONSTANT CONJUNCTION.
Contiguity and succession are not sufficient to make us pronounce any
two objects to be cause and effect, unless we perceive, that these
two relations are preserved in several instances. We may now see the
advantage of quitting the direct survey of this relation, in order
to discover the nature of that necessary connexion, which makes so
essential a part of it. There are hopes, that by this means we may
at last arrive at our proposed end; though to tell the truth, this
new-discovered relation of a constant conjunction seems to advance us
but very little in our way. For it implies no more than this, that like
objects have always been placed in like relations of contiguity and
succession; and it seems evident, at least at first sight, that by this
means we can never discover any new idea, and can only multiply, but not
enlarge the objects of our mind. It may be thought, that what we learn
not from one object, we can never learn from a hundred, which are all
of the same kind, and are perfectly resembling in every circumstance. As
our senses shew us in one instance two bodies, or motions, or qualities
in certain relations of success and contiguity; so our memory presents
us only with a multitude of instances, wherein we always find like
bodies, motions, or qualities in like relations. From the mere
repetition of any past impression, even to infinity, there never will
arise any new original idea, such as that of a necessary connexion; and
the number of impressions has in this case no more effect than if we
confined ourselves to one only. But though this reasoning seems just and
obvious; yet as it would be folly to despair too soon, we shall continue
the thread of our discourse; and having found, that after the discovery
of the constant conjunction of any objects, we always draw an inference
from one object to another, we shall now examine the nature of that
inference, and of the transition from the impression to the idea.
Perhaps it will appear in the end, that the necessary connexion depends
on the inference, instead of the inference's depending on the necessary

Since it appears, that the transition from an impression present to
the memory or senses to the idea of an object, which we call cause or
effect, is founded on past experience, and on our remembrance of their
constant conjunction, the next question is, Whether experience produces
the idea by means of the understanding or imagination; whether we are
determined by reason to make the transition, or by a certain association
and relation of perceptions. If reason determined us, it would proceed
upon that principle, that instances, of which we have had no experience,
must resemble those, of which we have had experience, and that the
course of nature continues always uniformly the same. In order therefore
to clear up this matter, let us consider all the arguments, upon which
such a proposition may be supposed to be founded; and as these must be
derived either from knowledge or probability, let us cast our eye on
each of these degrees of evidence, and see whether they afford any just
conclusion of this nature.

Our foregoing method of reasoning will easily convince us, that there
can be no demonstrative arguments to prove, that those instances, of
which we have, had no experience, resemble those, of which we have had
experience. We can at least conceive a change in the course of nature;
which sufficiently proves, that such a change is not absolutely
impossible. To form a clear idea of any thing, is an undeniable
argument for its possibility, and is alone a refutation of any pretended
demonstration against it.

Probability, as it discovers not the relations of ideas, considered as
such, but only those of objects, must in some respects be founded on the
impressions of our memory and senses, and in some respects on our ideas.
Were there no mixture of any impression in our probable reasonings, the
conclusion would be entirely chimerical: And were there no mixture
of ideas, the action of the mind, in observing the relation, would,
properly speaking, be sensation, not reasoning. It is therefore
necessary, that in all probable reasonings there be something present
to the mind, either seen or remembered; and that from this we infer
something connected with it, which is not seen nor remembered.

The only connexion or relation of objects, which can lead us beyond the
immediate impressions of our memory and senses, is that of cause and
effect; and that because it is the only one, on which we can found a
just inference from one object to another. The idea of cause and effect
is derived from experience, which informs us, that such particular
objects, in all past instances, have been constantly conjoined with
each other: And as an object similar to one of these is supposed to
be immediately present in its impression, we thence presume on the
existence of one similar to its usual attendant. According to this
account of things, which is, I think, in every point unquestionable,
probability is founded on the presumption of a resemblance betwixt those
objects, of which we have had experience, and those, of which we have
had none; and therefore it is impossible this presumption can arise from
probability. The same principle cannot be both the cause and effect
of another; and this is, perhaps, the only proposition concerning that
relation, which is either intuitively or demonstratively certain.

Should any one think to elude this argument; and without determining
whether our reasoning on this subject be derived from demonstration or
probability, pretend that all conclusions from causes and effects are
built on solid reasoning: I can only desire, that this reasoning may be
produced, in order to be exposed to our examination. It may, perhaps,
be said, that after experience of the constant conjunction of certain
objects, we reason in the following manner. Such an object is always
found to produce another. It is impossible it coued have this effect,
if it was not endowed with a power of production. The power necessarily
implies the effect; and therefore there is a just foundation for drawing
a conclusion from the existence of one object to that of its usual
attendant. The past production implies a power: The power implies a new
production: And the new production is what we infer from the power and
the past production.

It were easy for me to shew the weakness of this reasoning, were I
willing to make use of those observations, I have already made, that
the idea of production is the same with that of causation, and that no
existence certainly and demonstratively implies a power in any other
object; or were it proper to anticipate what I shall have occasion to
remark afterwards concerning the idea we form of power and efficacy. But
as such a method of proceeding may seem either to weaken my system,
by resting one part of it on another, or to breed a confusion in my
reasoning, I shall endeavour to maintain my present assertion without
any such assistance.

It shall therefore be allowed for a moment, that the production of one
object by another in any one instance implies a power; and that this
power is connected with its effect. But it having been already proved,
that the power lies not in the sensible qualities of the cause; and
there being nothing but the sensible qualities present to us; I ask, why
in other instances you presume that the same power still exists, merely
upon the appearance of these qualities? Your appeal to past experience
decides nothing in the present case; and at the utmost can only prove,
that that very object, which produced any other, was at that very
instant endowed with such a power; but can never prove, that the
same power must continue in the same object or collection of sensible
qualities; much less, that a like power is always conjoined with like
sensible qualities, should it be said, that we have experience, that the
same power continues united with the same object, and that like objects
are endowed with like powers, I would renew my question, why from this
experience we form any conclusion beyond those past instances, of which
we have had experience. If you answer this question in, the same manner
as the preceding, your answer gives still occasion to a new question
of the same kind, even in infinitum; which clearly proves, that the
foregoing reasoning had no just foundation.

Thus not only our reason fails us in the discovery of the ultimate
connexion of causes and effects, but even after experience has informed
us of their constant conjunction, it is impossible for us to satisfy
ourselves by our reason, why we should extend that experience beyond
those particular instances, which have fallen under our observation. We
suppose, but are never able to prove, that there must be a resemblance
betwixt those objects, of which we have had experience, and those which
lie beyond the reach of our discovery.

We have already taken notice of certain relations, which make us pass
from one object to another, even though there be no reason to determine
us to that transition; and this we may establish for a general rule,
that wherever the mind constantly and uniformly makes a transition
without any reason, it is influenced by these relations. Now this is
exactly the present case. Reason can never shew us the connexion of one
object with another, though aided by experience, and the observation
of their constant conjunction in all past instances. When the mind,
therefore, passes from the idea or impression of one object to the idea
or belief of another, it is not determined by reason, but by certain
principles, which associate together the ideas of these objects, and
unite them in the imagination. Had ideas no more union in the fancy
than objects seem to have to the understanding, we coued never draw any
inference from causes to effects, nor repose belief in any matter of
fact. The inference, therefore, depends solely on the union of ideas.

The principles of union among ideas, I have reduced to three general
ones, and have asserted, that the idea or impression of any object
naturally introduces the idea of any other object, that is resembling,
contiguous to, or connected with it. These principles I allow to be
neither the infallible nor the sole causes of an union among ideas.
They are not the infallible causes. For one may fix his attention during
Sometime on any one object without looking farther. They are not the
sole causes. For the thought has evidently a very irregular motion in
running along its objects, and may leap from the heavens to the earth,
from one end of the creation to the other, without any certain method
or order. But though I allow this weakness in these three relations, and
this irregularity in the imagination; yet I assert that the only general
principles, which associate ideas, are resemblance, contiguity and

There is indeed a principle of union among ideas, which at first sight
may be esteemed different from any of these, but will be found at
the bottom to depend on the same origin. When every individual of any
species of objects is found by experience to be constantly united with
an individual of another species, the appearance of any new individual
of either species naturally conveys the thought to its usual attendant.
Thus because such a particular idea is commonly annexed to such a
particular word, nothing is required but the hearing of that word to
produce the correspondent idea; and it will scarce be possible for the
mind, by its utmost efforts, to prevent that transition. In this case it
is not absolutely necessary, that upon hearing such a particular sound
we should reflect on any past experience, and consider what idea
has been usually connected with the sound. The imagination of itself
supplies the place of this reflection, and is so accustomed to pass from
the word to the idea, that it interposes not a moment's delay betwixt
the hearing of the one, and the conception of the other.

But though I acknowledge this to be a true principle of association
among ideas, I assert it to be the very same with that betwixt the ideas
of cause and effects and to be an essential part in all our reasonings
from that relation. We have no other notion of cause and effect, but
that of certain objects, which have been always conjoined together,
and which in all past instances have been found inseparable. We cannot
penetrate into the reason of the conjunction. We only observe the thing
itself, and always find that from the constant conjunction the objects
acquire an union in the imagination. When the impression of one becomes
present to us, we immediately form an idea of its usual attendant; and
consequently we may establish this as one part of the definition of an
opinion or belief, that it is an idea related to or associated with a
present impression.

Thus though causation be a philosophical relation, as implying
contiguity, succession, and constant conjunction, yet it is only so far
as it is a natural relation, and produces an union among our ideas, that
we are able to reason upon it, or draw any inference from it.


The idea of an object is an essential part of the belief of it, but not
the whole. We conceive many things, which we do not believe. In order
then to discover more fully the nature of belief, or the qualities of
those ideas we assent to, let us weigh the following considerations.

It is evident, that all reasonings from causes or effects terminate
in conclusions, concerning matter of fact; that is, concerning the
existence of objects or of their qualities. It is also evident, that the
idea, of existence is nothing different from the idea of any object, and
that when after the simple conception of any thing we would conceive
it as existent, we in reality make no addition to or alteration on our
first idea. Thus when we affirm, that God is existent, we simply
form the idea of such a being, as he is represented to us; nor is the
existence, which we attribute to him, conceived by a particular idea,
which we join to the idea of his other qualities, and can again separate
and distinguish from them. But I go farther; and not content with
asserting, that the conception of the existence of any object is no
addition to the simple conception of it, I likewise maintain, that the
belief of the existence joins no new ideas to those which compose
the idea of the object. When I think of God, when I think of him as
existent, and when I believe him to be existent, my idea of him
neither encreases nor diminishes. But as it is certain there is a great
difference betwixt the simple conception of the existence of an object,
and the belief of it, and as this difference lies not in the parts or
composition of the idea, which we conceive; it follows, that it must lie
in the manner, in which we conceive it.

Suppose a person present with me, who advances propositions, to which I
do not assent, that Caesar dyed in his bed, that silver is more
fusible, than lead, or mercury heavier than gold; it is evident, that
notwithstanding my incredulity, I clearly understand his meaning, and
form all the same ideas, which he forms. My imagination is endowed with
the same powers as his; nor is it possible for him to conceive any idea,
which I cannot conceive; nor conjoin any, which I cannot conjoin. I
therefore ask, Wherein consists the difference betwixt believing
and disbelieving any proposition? The answer is easy with regard to
propositions, that are proved by intuition or demonstration. In that
case, the person, who assents, not only conceives the ideas according to
the proposition, but is necessarily determined to conceive them in that
particular manner, either immediately or by the interposition of other
ideas. Whatever is absurd is unintelligible; nor is it possible for the
imagination to conceive any thing contrary to a demonstration. But as in
reasonings from causation, and concerning matters of fact, this absolute
necessity cannot take place, and the imagination is free to conceive
both sides of the question, I still ask, Wherein consists the deference
betwixt incredulity and belief? since in both cases the conception of
the idea is equally possible and requisite.

It will not be a satisfactory answer to say, that a person, who does not
assent to a proposition you advance; after having conceived the object
in the same manner with you; immediately conceives it in a different
manner, and has different ideas of it. This answer is unsatisfactory;
not because it contains any falshood, but because it discovers not all
the truth. It is contest, that in all cases, wherein we dissent from any
person, we conceive both sides of the question; but as we can believe
only one, it evidently follows, that the belief must make some
difference betwixt that conception to which we assent, and that from
which we dissent. We may mingle, and unite, and separate, and confound,
and vary our ideas in a hundred different ways; but until there appears
some principle, which fixes one of these different situations, we
have in reality no opinion: And this principle, as it plainly makes
no addition to our precedent ideas, can only change the manner of our
conceiving them.

All the perceptions of the mind are of two kinds, viz. impressions and
ideas, which differ from each other only in their different degrees
of force and vivacity. Our ideas are copyed from our impressions, and
represent them in all their parts. When you would any way vary the idea
of a particular object, you can only encrease or diminish its force and
vivacity. If you make any other change on it, it represents a different
object or impression. The case is the same as in colours. A particular
shade of any colour may acquire a new degree of liveliness or brightness
without any other variation. But when you produce any other variation,
it is no longer the same shade or colour. So that as belief does nothing
but vary the manner, in which we conceive any object, it can only bestow
on our ideas an additional force and vivacity. An opinion, therefore,
or belief may be most accurately defined, a lively idea related to or
associated with a present impression.

We may here take occasion to observe a very remarkable error, which
being frequently inculcated in the schools, has become a kind of
establishd maxim, and is universally received by all logicians. This
error consists in the vulgar division of the acts of the understanding,
into CONCEPTION, JUDGMENT and REASONING, and in the definitions we give
of them. Conception is defind to be the simple survey of one or more
ideas: Judgment to be the separating or uniting of different ideas:
Reasoning to be the separating or uniting of different ideas by the
interposition of others, which show the relation they bear to each
other. But these distinctions and definitions are faulty in very
considerable articles. For FIRST, it is far from being true, that in
every judgment, which we form, we unite two different ideas; since in
that proposition, GOD IS, or indeed any other, which regards existence,
the idea of existence is no distinct idea, which we unite with that
of the object, and which is capable of forming a compound idea by the
union. SECONDLY, As we can thus form a proposition, which contains only
one idea, so we may exert our reason without employing more than two
ideas, and without having recourse to a third to serve as a medium
betwixt them. We infer a cause immediately from its effect; and this
inference is not only a true species of reasoning, but the strongest of
all others, and more convincing than when we interpose another idea to
connect the two extremes. What we may in general affirm concerning these
three acts of the understanding is, that taking them in a proper
light, they all resolve themselves into the first, and are nothing but
particular ways of conceiving our objects. Whether we consider a single
object, or several; whether we dwell on these objects, or run from them
to others; and in whatever form or order we survey them, the act of
the mind exceeds not a simple conception; and the only remarkable
difference, which occurs on this occasion, is, when we join belief to
the conception, and are persuaded of the truth of what we conceive.
This act of the mind has never yet been explaind by any philosopher; and
therefore I am at liberty to propose my hypothesis concerning it; which
is, that it is only a strong and steady conception of any idea, and such
as approaches in some measure to an immediate impression. [Footnote 5.]

     [Footnote 5. Here are the heads of those arguments, which
     lead us to this conclusion. When we infer the existence of
     an object from that of others, some object must always be
     present either to the memory or senses, in order to be the
     foundation of our reasoning; since the mind cannot run up
     with its inferences IN INFINITUM. Reason can never satisfy
     us that the existence of any one object does ever imply that
     of another; so that when we pass from the impression of one
     to the idea or belief of another, we are not determined by
     reason, but by custom or a principle of association. But
     belief is somewhat more than a simple idea. It is a
     particular manner of forming an idea: And as the same idea
     can only be varyed by a variation of its degrees of force
     and vivacity; it follows upon the whole, that belief is a
     lively idea produced by a relation to a present impression,
     according to the foregoing definition.]

This operation of the mind, which forms the belief of any matter of
fact, seems hitherto to have been one of the greatest mysteries of
philosophy; though no one has so much as suspected, that there was
any difficulty in explaining it. For my part I must own, that I find
a considerable difficulty in the case; and that even when I think I
understand the subject perfectly, I am at a loss for terms to express
my meaning. I conclude, by an induction which seems to me very evident,
that an opinion or belief is nothing but an idea, that is different
from a fiction, not in the nature or the order of its parts, but in the
manner of its being conceived. But when I would explain this manner, I
scarce find any word that fully answers the case, but am obliged to have
recourse to every one's feeling, in order to give him a perfect notion
of this operation of the mind. An idea assented to FEELS different
from a fictitious idea, that the fancy alone presents to us: And this
different feeling I endeavour to explain by calling it a superior force,
or vivacity, or solidity, or FIRMNESS, or steadiness. This variety of
terms, which may seem so unphilosophical, is intended only to express
that act of the mind, which renders realities more present to us than
fictions, causes them to weigh more in the thought, and gives them a
superior influence on the passions and imagination. Provided we
agree about the thing, it is needless to dispute about the terms. The
imagination has the command over all its ideas, and can join, and mix,
and vary them in all the ways possible. It may conceive objects with
all the circumstances of place and time. It may set them, in a manner,
before our eyes in their true colours, just as they might have existed.
But as it is impossible, that that faculty can ever, of itself, reach
belief, it is evident, that belief consists not in the nature and
order of our ideas, but in the manner of their conception, and in
their feeling to the mind. T confess, that it is impossible to explain
perfectly this feeling or manner of conception. We may make use of
words, that express something near it. But its true and proper name
is belief, which is a term that every one sufficiently understands in
common life. And in philosophy we can go no farther, than assert, that
it is something felt by the mind, which distinguishes the ideas of the
judgment from the fictions of the imagination. It gives them more force
and influence; makes them appear of greater importance; infixes them in
the mind; and renders them the governing principles of all our actions.

This definition will also be found to be entirely conformable to every
one's feeling and experience. Nothing is more evident, than that those
ideas, to which we assent, are more strong, firm and vivid, than the
loose reveries of a castle-builder. If one person sits down to read a
book as a romance, and another as a true history, they plainly receive
the same ideas, and in the same order; nor does the incredulity of the
one, and the belief of the other hinder them from putting the very
same sense upon their author. His words produce the same ideas in both;
though his testimony has not the same influence on them. The latter has
a more lively conception of all the incidents. He enters deeper into
the concerns of the persons: represents to himself their actions, and
characters, and friendships, and enmities: He even goes so far as to
form a notion of their features, and air, and person. While the former,
who gives no credit to the testimony of the author, has a more faint and
languid conception of all these particulars; and except on account
of the style and ingenuity of the composition, can receive little
entertainment from it.


Having thus explained the nature of belief, and shewn that it consists
in a lively idea related to a present impression; let us now proceed
to examine from what principles it is derived, and what bestows the
vivacity on the idea.

I would willingly establish it as a general maxim in the science of
human nature, that when any impression becomes present to us, it
not only transports the mind to such ideas as are related to it, but
likewise communicates to them a share of its force and vivacity. All
the operations of the mind depend in a great measure on its disposition,
when it performs them; and according as the spirits are more or less
elevated, and the attention more or less fixed, the action will always
have more or less vigour and vivacity. When therefore any object is
presented, which elevates and enlivens the thought, every action, to
which the mind applies itself, will be more strong and vivid, as Tong
as that disposition continues, Now it is evident the continuance of the
disposition depends entirely on the objects, about which the mind is
employed; and that any new object naturally gives a new direction to the
spirits, and changes the disposition; as on the contrary, when the mind
fixes constantly on the same object, or passes easily and insensibly
along related objects, the disposition has a much longer duration.
Hence it happens, that when the mind is once inlivened by a present
impression, it proceeds to form a more lively idea of the related
objects, by a natural transition of the disposition from the one to the
other. The change of the objects is so easy, that the mind is scarce
sensible of it, but applies itself to the conception of the related idea
with all the force and vivacity it acquired from the present impression.

If in considering the nature of relation, and that facility of
transition, which is essential to it, we can satisfy ourselves
concerning the reality of this phaenomenon, it is well: But I must
confess I place my chief confidence in experience to prove so material
a principle. We may, therefore, observe, as the first experiment to our
present purpose, that upon the appearance of the picture of an absent
friend, our idea of him is evidently inlivened by the resemblance, and
that every passion, which that idea occasions, whether of joy or sorrow,
acquires new force and vigour. In producing this effect there concur
both a relation and a present impression. Where the picture bears him no
resemblance, or at least was not intended for him, it never so much
as conveys our thought to him: And where it is absent, as well as the
person; though the mind may pass from the thought of the one to that of
the other; it feels its idea to be rather weekend than inlivened by that
transition. We take a pleasure in viewing the picture of a friend, when
it is set before us; but when it is removed, rather choose to consider
him directly, than by reflexion in an image, which is equally distinct
and obscure.

The ceremonies of the Roman Catholic religion may be considered
as experiments of the same nature. The devotees of that strange
superstition usually plead in excuse of the mummeries, with which they
are upbraided, that they feel the good effect of those external motions,
and postures, and actions, in enlivening their devotion, and quickening
their fervour, which otherwise would decay away, if directed entirely to
distant and immaterial objects. We shadow out the objects of our faith,
say they, in sensible types and images, and render them more present to
us by the immediate presence of these types, than it is possible for
us to do, merely by an intellectual view and contemplation. Sensible
objects have always a greater influence on the fancy than any other;
and this influence they readily convey to those ideas, to which they
are related, and which they Resemble. I shall only infer from these
practices, and this reasoning, that the effect of resemblance in
inlivening the idea is very common; and as in every case a resemblance
and a present impression must concur, we are abundantly supplyed with
experiments to prove the reality of the foregoing principle.

We may add force to these experiments by others of a different kind, in
considering the effects of contiguity, as well as of resemblance. It is
certain, that distance diminishes the force of every idea, and that upon
our approach to any object; though it does not discover itself to our
senses; it operates upon the mind with an influence that imitates an
immediate impression. The thinking on any object readily transports the
mind to what is contiguous; but it is only the actual presence of an
object, that transports it with a superior vivacity. When I am a few
miles from home, whatever relates to it touches me more nearly than
when I am two hundred leagues distant; though even at that distance the
reflecting on any thing in the neighbourhood of my friends and family
naturally produces an idea of them. But as in this latter case, both
the objects of the mind are ideas; notwithstanding there is an easy
transition betwixt them; that transition alone is not able to give
a superior vivacity to any of the ideas, for want of some immediate
impression. [Footnote 6.]

     Finibus, lib. 5.

     {"Should I, he said, "attribute to instinct or to some kind
     of illusion the fact that when we see those places in which
     we are told notable men spent much of their time, we are
     more powerfully affected than when we hear of the exploits
     of the men themselves or read something written? This is
     just what is happening to me now; for I am reminded of Plato
     who, we are told, was the first to make a practice of
     holding discussions here. Those gardens of his near by do
     not merely put me in mind of him; they seem to set the man
     himself before my very eyes. Speusippus was here; so was
     Xenocrates; so was his pupil, Polemo, and that very seat
     which we may view was his.

     "Then again, when I looked at our Senate-house (I mean the
     old building of Hostilius, not this new one; when it was
     enlarged, it diminished in my estimation), I used to think
     of Scipio, Cato, Laelius and in particular of my own

     "Such is the power of places to evoke associations; so it is
     with good reason that they are used as a basis for memory

No one can doubt but causation has the same influence as the other two
relations; of resemblance and contiguity. Superstitious people are fond
of the relicks of saints and holy men, for the same reason that they
seek after types and images, in order to enliven their devotion, and
give them a more intimate and strong conception of those exemplary
lives, which they desire to imitate. Now it is evident, one of the best
relicks a devotee coued procure, would be the handywork of a saint; and
if his cloaths and furniture are ever to be considered in this light, it
is because they were once at his disposal, and were moved and affected
by him; in which respect they are to be considered as imperfect effects,
and as connected with him by a shorter chain of consequences than any
of those, from which we learn the reality of his existence. This
phaenomenon clearly proves, that a present impression with a relation
of causation may, inliven any idea, and consequently produce belief or
assent, according to the precedent definition of it.

But why need we seek for other arguments to prove, that a present
impression with a relation or transition of the fancy may inliven any
idea, when this very instance of our reasonings from cause and effect
will alone suffice to that purpose? It is certain we must have an idea
of every matter of fact, which we believe. It is certain, that this idea
arises only from a relation to a present impression. It is certain, that
the belief super-adds nothing to the idea, but only changes our manner
of conceiving it, and renders it more strong and lively. The present
conclusion concerning the influence of relation is the immediate
consequence of all these steps; and every step appears to me sure end
infallible. There enters nothing into this operation of the mind but a
present impression, a lively idea, and a relation or association in the
fancy betwixt the impression and idea; so that there can be no suspicion
of mistake.

In order to put this whole affair in a fuller light, let us consider
it as a question in natural philosophy, which we must determine by
experience and observation. I suppose there is an object presented, from
which I draw a certain conclusion, and form to myself ideas, which I
am said to believe or assent to. Here it is evident, that however that
object, which is present to my senses, and that other, whose existence
I infer by reasoning, may be thought to influence each other by their
particular powers or qualities; yet as the phenomenon of belief, which
we at present examine, is merely internal, these powers and qualities,
being entirely unknown, can have no hand in producing it. It is the
present impression, which is to be considered as the true and real
cause of the idea, and of the belief which attends it. We must therefore
endeavour to discover by experiments the particular qualities, by which
it is enabled to produce so extraordinary an effect.

First then I observe, that the present impression has not this effect
by its own proper power and efficacy, and when considered alone, as
a single perception, limited to the present moment. I find, that
an impression, from which, on its first appearance, I can draw no
conclusion, may afterwards become the foundation of belief, when I have
had experience of its usual consequences. We must in every case have
observed the same impression in past instances, and have found it to be
constantly conjoined with some other impression. This is confirmed by
such a multitude of experiments, that it admits not of the smallest

From a second observation I conclude, that the belief, which attends the
present impression, and is produced by a number of past impressions and
conjunctions; that this belief, I say, arises immediately, without any
new operation of the reason or imagination. Of this I can be certain,
because I never am conscious of any such operation, and find nothing
in the subject, on which it can be founded. Now as we call every thing
CUSTOM, which proceeds from a past repetition, without any new reasoning
or conclusion, we-may establish it as a certain truth, that all the
belief, which follows upon any present impression, is derived solely
from that origin. When we are accustomed to see two impressions
conjoined together, the appearance or idea of the one immediately
carries us to the idea of the other.

Being fully satisfyed on this head, I make a third set of experiments,
in order to know, whether any thing be requisite, beside the customary
transition, towards the production of this phaenomenon of belief. I
therefore change the first impression into an idea; and observe, that
though the customary transition to the correlative idea still remains,
yet there is in reality no belief nor perswasion. A present impression,
then, is absolutely requisite to this whole operation; and when after
this I compare an impression with an idea, and find that their only
difference consists in their different degrees of force and vivacity,
I conclude upon the whole, that belief is a more vivid and intense
conception of an idea, proceeding from its relation to a present

Thus all probable reasoning is nothing but a species of sensation. It is
not solely in poetry and music, we must follow our taste and sentiment,
but likewise in philosophy. When I am convinced of any principle, it
is only an idea, which strikes more strongly upon me. When I give the
preference to one set of arguments above another, I do nothing but
decide from my feeling concerning the superiority of their influence.
Objects have no discoverable connexion together; nor is it from any
other principle but custom operating upon the imagination, that we
can draw any inference from the appearance of one to the existence of

It will here be worth our observation, that the past experience, on
which all our judgments concerning cause and effect depend, may operate
on our mind in such an insensible manner as never to be taken notice of,
and may even in some measure be unknown to us. A person, who stops
short in his journey upon meeting a river in his way, foresees the
consequences of his proceeding forward; and his knowledge of these
consequences is conveyed to him by past experience, which informs him of
such certain conjunctions of causes and effects. But can we think,
that on this occasion he reflects on any past experience, and calls
to remembrance instances, that he has seen or heard of, in order to
discover the effects of water on animal bodies? No surely; this is not
the method, in which he proceeds in his reasoning. The idea of sinking
is so closely connected with that of water, and the idea of suffocating
with that of sinking, that the mind makes the transition without the
assistance of the memory. The custom operates before we have time for
reflection. The objects seem so inseparable, that we interpose not
a moment's delay in passing from the one to the other. But as this
transition proceeds from experience, and not from any primary connexion
betwixt the ideas, we must necessarily acknowledge, that experience
may produce a belief and a judgment of causes and effects by a secret
operation, and without being once thought of. This removes all pretext,
if there yet remains any, for asserting that the mind is convinced
by reasoning of that principle, that instances of which we have no
experience, must necessarily resemble those, of which we have. For we
here find, that the understanding or imagination can draw inferences
from past experience, without reflecting on it; much more without
forming any principle concerning it, or reasoning upon that principle.

In general we may observe, that in all the most established and uniform
conjunctions of causes and effects, such as those of gravity, impulse,
solidity, &c. the mind never carries its view expressly to consider any
past experience: Though in other associations of objects, which are more
rare and unusual, it may assist the custom and transition of ideas by
this reflection. Nay we find in some cases, that the reflection produces
the belief without the custom; or more properly speaking, that the
reflection produces the custom in an oblique and artificial manner. I
explain myself. It is certain, that not only in philosophy, but even in
common life, we may attain the knowledge of a particular cause merely by
one experiment, provided it be made with judgment, and after a careful
removal of all foreign and superfluous circumstances. Now as after one
experiment of this kind, the mind, upon the appearance either of the
cause or the effect, can draw an inference concerning the existence
of its correlative; and as a habit can never be acquired merely by one
instance; it may be thought, that belief cannot in this case be esteemed
the effect of custom. But this difficulty will vanish, if we consider,
that though we are here supposed to have had only one experiment of
a particular effect, yet we have many millions to convince us of this
principle; that like objects placed in like circumstances, will always
produce like effects; and as this principle has established itself by a
sufficient custom, it bestows an evidence and firmness on any opinion,
to which it can be applied. The connexion of the ideas is not habitual
after one experiment: but this connexion is comprehended under another
principle, that is habitual; which brings us back to our hypothesis. In
all cases we transfer our experience to instances, of which we have no
experience, either expressly or tacitly, either directly or indirectly.

I must not conclude this subject without observing, that it is very
difficult to talk of the operations of the mind with perfect propriety
and exactness; because common language has seldom made any very nice
distinctions among them, but has generally called by the same term
all such as nearly resemble each other. And as this is a source
almost inevitable of obscurity and confusion in the author; so it may
frequently give rise to doubts and objections in the reader, which
otherwise he would never have dreamed of. Thus my general position, that
an opinion or belief is nothing but a strong and lively idea derived
from a present impression related to it, maybe liable to the following
objection, by reason of a little ambiguity in those words strong and
lively. It may be said, that not only an impression may give rise to
reasoning, but that an idea may also have the same influence; especially
upon my principle, that all our ideas are derived from correspondent
impressions. For suppose I form at present an idea, of which I have
forgot the correspondent impression, I am able to conclude from this
idea, that such an impression did once exist; and as this conclusion is
attended with belief, it may be asked, from whence are the qualities of
force and vivacity derived, which constitute this belief? And to this I
answer very readily, from the present idea. For as this idea is not here
considered, as the representation of any absent object, but as a real
perception in the mind, of which we are intimately conscious, it must
be able to bestow on whatever is related to it the same quality, call
it firmness, or solidity, or force, or vivacity, with which the mind
reflects upon it, and is assured of its present existence. The idea here
supplies the place of an impression, and is entirely the same, so far as
regards our present purpose.

Upon the same principles we need not be surprized to hear of the
remembrance of an idea: that is, of the idea of an idea, and of its
force and vivacity superior to the loose conceptions of the imagination.
In thinking of our past thoughts we not only delineate out the objects,
of which we were thinking, but also conceive the action of the mind in
the meditation, that certain JE-NE-SCAI-QUOI, of which it is impossible
to give any definition or description, but which every one sufficiently
understands. When the memory offers an idea of this, and represents it
as past, it is easily conceived how that idea may have more vigour and
firmness, than when we think of a past thought, of which we have no

After this any one will understand how we may form the idea of an
impression and of an idea, and how we way believe the existence of an
impression and of an idea.


However convincing the foregoing arguments may appear, we must not rest
contented with them, but must turn the subject on every side, in order
to find some new points of view, from which we may illustrate and
confirm such extraordinary, and such fundamental principles. A
scrupulous hesitation to receive any new hypothesis is so laudable a
disposition in philosophers, and so necessary to the examination of
truth, that it deserves to be complyed with, and requires that every
argument be produced, which may tend to their satisfaction, and every
objection removed, which may stop them in their reasoning.

I have often observed, that, beside cause and effect, the two relations
of resemblance and contiguity, are to be considered as associating
principles of thought, and as capable of conveying the imagination from
one idea to another. I have also observed, that when of two objects
connected to-ether by any of these relations, one is immediately
present to the memory or senses, not only the mind is conveyed to
its co-relative by means of the associating principle; but likewise
conceives it with an additional force and vigour, by the united
operation of that principle, and of the present impression. All this
I have observed, in order to confirm by analogy, my explication of
our judgments concerning cause and effect. But this very argument may,
perhaps, be turned against me, and instead of a confirmation of my
hypothesis, may become an objection to it. For it may be said, that if
all the parts of that hypothesis be true, viz. that these three species
of relation are derived from the same principles; that their effects
in informing and enlivening our ideas are the same; and that belief is
nothing but a more forcible and vivid conception of an idea; it should
follow, that that action of the mind may not only be derived from the
relation of cause and effect, but also from those of contiguity and
resemblance. But as we find by experience, that belief arises only from
causation, and that we can draw no inference from one object to another,
except they be connected by this relation, we may conclude, that there
is some error in that reasoning, which leads us into such difficulties.

This is the objection; let us now consider its solution. It is evident,
that whatever is present to the memory, striking upon the mind with
a vivacity, which resembles an immediate impression, must become of
considerable moment in all the operations of the mind, and must easily
distinguish itself above the mere fictions of the imagination. Of
these impressions or ideas of the memory we form a kind of system,
comprehending whatever we remember to have been present, either to our
internal perception or senses; and every particular of that system,
joined to the present impressions, we are pleased to call a reality.
But the mind stops not here. For finding, that with this system of
perceptions, there is another connected by custom, or if you will, by
the relation of cause or effect, it proceeds to the consideration
of their ideas; and as it feels that it is in a manner necessarily
determined to view these particular ideas, and that the custom or
relation, by which it is determined, admits not of the least change, it
forms them into a new system, which it likewise dignifies with the title
of realities. The first of these systems is the object of the memory and
senses; the second of the judgment.

It is this latter principle, which peoples the world, and brings us
acquainted with such existences, as by their removal in time and place,
lie beyond the reach of the senses and memory. By means of it I paint
the universe in my imagination, and fix my attention on any part of it
I please. I form an idea of ROME, which I neither see nor remember; but
which is connected with such impressions as I remember to have received
from the conversation and books of travellers and historians. This idea
of Rome I place in a certain situation on the idea of an object, which I
call the globe. I join to it the conception of a particular government,
and religion, and manners. I look backward and consider its first
foundation; its several revolutions, successes, and misfortunes. All
this, and everything else, which I believe, are nothing but ideas;
though by their force and settled order, arising from custom and the
relation of cause and effect, they distinguish themselves from the other
ideas, which are merely the offspring of the imagination.

As to the influence of contiguity and resemblance, we may observe, that
if the contiguous and resembling object be comprehended in this system
of realities, there is no doubt but these two relations will assist that
of cause and effect, and infix the related idea with more force in the
imagination. This I shall enlarge upon presently. Mean while I shall
carry my observation a step farther, and assert, that even where the
related object is but feigned, the relation will serve to enliven the
idea, and encrease its influence. A poet, no doubt, will be the better
able to form a strong description of the Elysian fields, that he prompts
his imagination by the view of a beautiful meadow or garden; as at
another time he may by his fancy place himself in the midst of these
fabulous regions, that by the feigned contiguity he may enliven his

But though I cannot altogether exclude the relations of resemblance and
contiguity from operating on the fancy in this manner, it is observable
that, when single, their influence is very feeble and uncertain. As the
relation of cause and effect is requisite to persuade us of any real
existence, so is this persuasion requisite to give force to these other
relations. For where upon the appearance of an impression we not
only feign another object, but likewise arbitrarily, and of our mere
good-will and pleasure give it a particular relation to the impression,
this can have but a small effect upon the mind; nor is there any reason,
why, upon the return of the same impression, we should be determined to
place the same object in the same relation to it. There is no manner of
necessity for the mind to feign any resembling and contiguous objects;
and if it feigns such, there is as little necessity for it always to
confine itself to the same, without any difference or variation. And
indeed such a fiction is founded on so little reason, that nothing but
pure caprice can determine the mind to form it; and that principle being
fluctuating and uncertain, it is impossible it can ever operate with
any considerable degree of force and constancy. The mind forsees and
anticipates the change; and even from the very first instant feels the
looseness of its actions, and the weak hold it has of its objects. And
as this imperfection is very sensible in every single instance, it still
encreases by experience and observation, when we compare the several
instances we may remember, and form a general rule against the reposing
any assurance in those momentary glimpses of light, which arise in the
imagination from a feigned resemblance and contiguity.

The relation of cause and effect has all the opposite advantages. The
objects it presents are fixt and unalterable. The impressions of the
memory never change in any considerable degree; and each impression
draws along with it a precise idea, which takes its place in the
imagination as something solid and real, certain and invariable. The
thought is always determined to pass from the impression to the idea,
and from that particular impression to that particular idea, without any
choice or hesitation.

But not content with removing this objection, I shall endeavour
to extract from it a proof of the present doctrine. Contiguity and
resemblance have an effect much inferior to causation; but still have
some effect, and augment the conviction of any opinion, and the vivacity
of any conception. If this can be proved in several new instances,
beside what we have already observed, it will be allowed no
inconsiderable argument, that belief is nothing but a lively idea
related to a present impression.

To begin with contiguity; it has been remarked among the Mahometans as
well as Christians, that those pilgrims, who have seen MECCA or the HOLY
LAND, are ever after more faithful and zealous believers, than those
who have not had that advantage. A man, whose memory presents him with a
lively image of the Red-Sea, and the Desert, and Jerusalem, and Galilee,
can never doubt of any miraculous events, which are related either by
Moses or the Evangelists. The lively idea of the places passes by an
easy transition to the facts, which are supposed to have been related to
them by contiguity, and encreases the belief by encreasing the vivacity
of the conception. The remembrance of these fields and rivers has
the same influence on the vulgar as a new argument; and from the same

We may form a like observation concerning resemblance. We have remarked,
that the conclusion, which we draw from a present object to its absent
cause or effect, is never founded on any qualities, which we observe
in that object, considered in itself, or, in other words, that it is
impossible to determine, otherwise than by experience, what will result
from any phenomenon, or what has preceded it. But though this be so
evident in itself, that it seemed not to require any, proof; yet some
philosophers have imagined that there is an apparent cause for the
communication of motion, and that a reasonable man might immediately
infer the motion of one body from the impulse of another, without having
recourse to any past observation. That this opinion is false will admit
of an easy proof. For if such an inference may be drawn merely from
the ideas of body, of motion, and of impulse, it must amount to a
demonstration, and must imply the absolute impossibility of any contrary
supposition. Every effect, then, beside the communication of motion,
implies a formal contradiction; and it is impossible not only that it
can exist, but also that it can be conceived. But we may soon satisfy
ourselves of the contrary, by forming a clear and consistent idea of
one body's moving upon another, and of its rest immediately upon the
contact, or of its returning back in the same line in which it came; or
of its annihilation; or circular or elliptical motion: and in short, of
an infinite number of other changes, which we may suppose it to undergo.
These suppositions are all consistent and natural; and the reason, Why
we imagine the communication of motion to be more consistent and natural
not only than those suppositions, but also than any other natural
effect, is founded on the relation of resemblance betwixt the cause and
effect, which is here united to experience, and binds the objects in the
closest and most intimate manner to each other, so as to make us imagine
them to be absolutely inseparable. Resemblance, then, has the same or a
parallel influence with experience; and as the only immediate effect
of experience is to associate our ideas together, it follows, that all
belief arises from the association of ideas, according to my hypothesis.

It is universally allowed by the writers on optics, that the eye at all
times sees an equal number of physical points, and that a man on the top
of a mountain has no larger an image presented to his senses, than
when he is cooped up in the narrowest court or chamber. It is only by
experience that he infers the greatness of the object from some peculiar
qualities of the image; and this inference of the judgment he confounds
with sensation, as is common on other occasions. Now it is evident,
that the inference of the judgment is here much more lively than what
is usual in our common reasonings, and that a man has a more vivid
conception of the vast extent of the ocean from the image he receives by
the eye, when he stands on the top of the high promontory, than merely
from hearing the roaring of the waters. He feels a more sensible
pleasure from its magnificence; which is a proof of a more lively idea:
And he confounds his judgment with sensation, which is another proof of
it. But as the inference is equally certain and immediate in both cases,
this superior vivacity of our conception in one case can proceed from
nothing but this, that in drawing an inference from the sight, beside
the customary conjunction, there is also a resemblance betwixt the image
and the object we infer; which strengthens the relation, and conveys the
vivacity of the impression to the related idea with an easier and more
natural movement.

No weakness of human nature is more universal and conspicuous than what
we commonly call CREDULITY, or a too easy faith in the testimony of
others; and this weakness is also very naturally accounted for from the
influence of resemblance. When we receive any matter of fact upon human
testimony, our faith arises from the very same origin as our inferences
from causes to effects, and from effects to causes; nor is there
anything but our experience of the governing principles of human nature,
which can give us any assurance of the veracity of men. But though
experience be the true standard of this, as well as of all other
judgments, we seldom regulate ourselves entirely by it; but have a
remarkable propensity to believe whatever is reported, even concerning
apparitions, enchantments, and prodigies, however contrary to daily
experience and observation. The words or discourses of others have an
intimate connexion with certain ideas in their mind; and these ideas
have also a connexion with the facts or objects, which they represent.
This latter connexion is generally much over-rated, and commands our
assent beyond what experience will justify; which can proceed from
nothing beside the resemblance betwixt the ideas and the facts. Other
effects only point out their causes in an oblique manner; but the
testimony of men does it directly, and is to be considered as an image
as well as an effect. No wonder, therefore, we are so rash in drawing
our inferences from it, and are less guided by experience in our
judgments concerning it, than in those upon any other subject.

As resemblance, when conjoined with causation, fortifies our reasonings;
so the want of it in any very great degree is able almost entirely to
destroy them. Of this there is a remarkable instance in the universal
carelessness and stupidity of men with regard to a future state, where
they show as obstinate an incredulity, as they do a blind credulity on
other occasions. There is not indeed a more ample matter of wonder
to the studious, and of regret to the pious man, than to observe
the negligence of the bulk of mankind concerning their approaching
condition; and it is with reason, that many eminent theologians have not
scrupled to affirm, that though the vulgar have no formal principles
of infidelity, yet they are really infidels in their hearts, and have
nothing like what we can call a belief of the eternal duration of their
souls. For let us consider on the one hand what divines have displayed
with such eloquence concerning the importance of eternity; and at the
same time reflect, that though in matters of rhetoric we ought to lay
our account with some exaggeration, we must in this case allow, that the
strongest figures are infinitely inferior to the subject: And after this
let us view on the other hand, the prodigious security of men in this
particular: I ask, if these people really believe what is inculcated on
them, and what they pretend to affirm; and the answer is obviously in
the negative. As belief is an act of the mind arising from custom, it
is not strange the want of resemblance should overthrow what custom has
established, and diminish the force of the idea, as much as that latter
principle encreases it. A future state is so far removed from our
comprehension, and we have so obscure an idea of the manner, in which we
shall exist after the dissolution of the body, that all the reasons we
can invent, however strong in themselves, and however much assisted
by education, are never able with slow imaginations to surmount this
difficulty, or bestow a sufficient authority and force on the idea. I
rather choose to ascribe this incredulity to the faint idea we form
of our future condition, derived from its want of resemblance to the
present life, than to that derived from its remoteness. For I observe,
that men are everywhere concerned about what may happen after their
death, provided it regard this world; and that there are few to whom
their name, their family, their friends, and their country are in any
period of time entirely indifferent.

And indeed the want of resemblance in this case so entirely destroys
belief, that except those few, who upon cool reflection on the
importance of the subject, have taken care by repeated meditation to
imprint in their minds the arguments for a future state, there scarce
are any, who believe the immortality of the soul with a true and
established judgment; such as is derived from the testimony of
travellers and historians. This appears very conspicuously wherever
men have occasion to compare the pleasures and pains, the rewards and
punishments of this life with those of a future; even though the case
does not concern themselves, and there is no violent passion to disturb
their judgment. The Roman Clatholicks are certainly the most zealous of
any sect in the Christian world; and yet you'll find few among the
more sensible people of that communion who do not blame the
Gunpowder-treason, and the massacre of St. Bartholomew, as cruel and
barbarous, though projected or executed against those very people, whom
without any scruple they condemn to eternal and infinite punishments.
All we can say in excuse for this inconsistency is, that they really do
not believe what they affirm concerning a future state; nor is there any
better proof of it than the very inconsistency.

We may add to this a remark; that in matters of religion men take a
pleasure in being terrifyed, and that no preachers are so popular, as
those who excite the most dismal and gloomy passions. In the common
affairs of life, where we feel and are penetrated with the solidity of
the subject, nothing can be more disagreeable than fear and terror; and
it is only in dramatic performances and in religious discourses, that
they ever give pleasure. In these latter cases the imagination reposes
itself indolently on the idea; and the passion, being softened by the
want of belief in the subject, has no more than the agreeable effect of
enlivening the mind, and fixing the attention.

The present hypothesis will receive additional confirmation, if we
examine the effects of other kinds of custom, as well as of other
relations. To understand this we must consider, that custom, to which
I attribute all belief and reasoning, may operate upon the mind in
invigorating an idea after two several ways. For supposing that in all
past experience we have found two objects to have been always conjoined
together, it is evident, that upon the appearance of one of these
objects in an impression, we must from custom make an easy transition to
the idea of that object, which usually attends it; and by means of the
present impression and easy transition must conceive that idea in a
stronger and more lively manner, than we do any loose floating image of
the fancy. But let us next suppose, that a mere idea alone, without any
of this curious and almost artificial preparation, should frequently
make its appearance in the mind, this idea must by degrees acquire a
facility and force; and both by its firm hold and easy introduction
distinguish itself from any new and unusual idea. This is the only
particular, in which these two kinds of custom agree; and if it appear,
that their effects on the judgment, are similar and proportionable, we
may certainly conclude, that the foregoing explication of that faculty
is satisfactory. But can we doubt of this agreement in their influence
on the judgment, when we consider the nature and effects Of EDUCATION?

All those opinions and notions of things, to which we have been
accustomed from our infancy, take such deep root, that it is impossible
for us, by all the powers of reason and experience, to eradicate them;
and this habit not only approaches in its influence, but even on
many occasions prevails over that which a-rises from the constant and
inseparable union of causes and effects. Here we most not be contented
with saying, that the vividness of the idea produces the belief: We must
maintain that they are individually the same. The frequent repetition
of any idea infixes it in the imagination; but coued never possibly
of itself produce belief, if that act of the mind was, by the original
constitution of our natures, annexed only to a reasoning and comparison
of ideas. Custom may lead us into some false comparison of ideas. This
is the utmost effect we can conceive of it. But it is certain it coued
never supply the place of that comparison, nor produce any act of the
mind, which naturally belonged to that principle.

A person, that has lost a leg or an arm by amputation, endeavours for a
long time afterwards to serve himself with them. After the death of any
one, it is a common remark of the whole family, but especially of the
servants, that they can scarce believe him to be dead, but still
imagine him to be in his chamber or in any other place, where they
were accustomed to find him. I have often heard in conversation, after
talking of a person, that is any way celebrated, that one, who has
no acquaintance with him, will say, I have never seen such-a-one, but
almost fancy I have; so often have I heard talk of him. All these are
parallel instances.

If we consider this argument from EDUCATION in a proper light, it will
appear very convincing; and the more so, that it is founded on one
of the most common phaenomena, that is any where to be met with. I am
persuaded, that upon examination we shall find more than one half of
those opinions, that prevail among mankind, to be owing to education,
and that the principles, which are thus implicitely embraced,
overballance those, which are owing either to abstract reasoning or
experience. As liars, by the frequent repetition of their lies, come at
last to remember them; so the judgment, or rather the imagination, by
the like means, may have ideas so strongly imprinted on it, and conceive
them in so full a light, that they may operate upon the mind in the same
manner with those, which the senses, memory or reason present to us. But
as education is an artificial and not a natural cause, and as its maxims
are frequently contrary to reason, and even to themselves in different
times and places, it is never upon that account recognized by
philosophers; though in reality it be built almost on the same
foundation of custom and repetition as our reasonings from causes and

     [Footnote 7. In general we may observe, that as our assent
     to all probable reasonings is founded on the vivacity of
     ideas, It resembles many of those whimsies and prejudices,
     which are rejected under the opprobrious character of being
     the offspring of the imagination. By this expression it
     appears that the word, imagination, is commonly usd in two
     different senses; and tho nothing be more contrary to true
     philosophy, than this inaccuracy, yet in the following
     reasonings I have often been obligd to fall into it. When I
     oppose the Imagination to the memory, I mean the faculty, by
     which we form our fainter ideas. When I oppose it to reason,
     I mean the same faculty, excluding only our demonstrative
     and probable reasonings. When I oppose it to neither, it is
     indifferent whether it be taken in the larger or more
     limited sense, or at least the context will sufficiently
     explain the meaning.]


But though education be disclaimed by philosophy, as a fallacious ground
of assent to any opinion, it prevails nevertheless in the world, and
is the cause why all systems are apt to be rejected at first as new
and unusual. This perhaps will be the fate of what I have here advanced
concerning belief, and though the proofs I have produced appear to
me perfectly conclusive, I expect not to make many proselytes to
my opinion. Men will scarce ever be persuaded, that effects of
such consequence can flow from principles, which are seemingly so
inconsiderable, and that the far greatest part of our reasonings with
all our actions and passions, can be derived from nothing but custom and
habit. To obviate this objection, I shall here anticipate a little what
would more properly fall under our consideration afterwards, when we
come to treat of the passions and the sense of beauty.

There is implanted in the human mind a perception of pain and pleasure,
as the chief spring and moving principle of all its actions. But pain
and pleasure have two ways of making their appearance in the mind; of
which the one has effects very different from the other. They may either
appear in impression to the actual feeling, or only in idea, as at
present when I mention them. It is evident the influence of these upon
our actions is far from being equal. Impressions always actuate the
soul, and that in the highest degree; but it is not every idea which
has the same effect. Nature has proceeded with caution in this came, and
seems to have carefully avoided the inconveniences of two extremes.
Did impressions alone influence the will, we should every moment of our
lives be subject to the greatest calamities; because, though we foresaw
their approach, we should not be provided by nature with any principle
of action, which might impel us to avoid them. On the other hand,
did every idea influence our actions, our condition would not be much
mended. For such is the unsteadiness and activity of thought, that
the images of every thing, especially of goods and evils, are always
wandering in the mind; and were it moved by every idle conception of
this kind, it would never enjoy a moment's peace and tranquillity.

Nature has, therefore, chosen a medium, and has neither bestowed on
every idea of good and evil the power of actuating the will, nor yet has
entirely excluded them from this influence. Though an idle fiction has
no efficacy, yet we find by experience, that the ideas of those objects,
which we believe either are or will be existent, produce in a lesser
degree the same effect with those impressions, which are immediately
present to the senses and perception. The effect, then, of belief is to
raise up a simple idea to an equality with our impressions, and bestow
on it a like influence on the passions. This effect it can only have by
making an idea approach an impression in force and vivacity. For as the
different degrees of force make all the original difference betwixt an
impression and an idea, they must of consequence be the source of all
the differences in the effects of these perceptions, and their removal,
in whole or in part, the cause of every new resemblance they acquire.
Wherever we can make an idea approach the impressions in force and
vivacity, it will likewise imitate them in its influence on the mind;
and vice versa, where it imitates them in that influence, as in the
present case, this must proceed from its approaching them in force and
vivacity. Belief, therefore, since it causes an idea to imitate
the effects of the impressions, must make it resemble them in these
qualities, and is nothing but A MORE VIVID AND INTENSE CONCEPTION OF
ANY IDEA. This, then, may both serve as an additional argument for
the present system, and may give us a notion after what manner our
reasonings from causation are able to operate on the will and passions.

As belief is almost absolutely requisite to the exciting our passions,
so the passions in their turn are very favourable to belief; and not
only such facts as convey agreeable emotions, but very often such as
give pain, do upon that account become more readily the objects of faith
and opinion. A coward, whose fears are easily awakened, readily assents
to every account of danger he meets with; as a person of a sorrowful and
melancholy disposition is very credulous of every thing, that nourishes
his prevailing passion. When any affecting object is presented, it
gives the alarm, and excites immediately a degree of its proper passion;
especially in persons who are naturally inclined to that passion. This
emotion passes by an easy transition to the imagination; and diffusing
itself over our idea of the affecting object, makes us form that
idea with greater force and vivacity, and consequently assent to it,
according to the precedent system. Admiration and surprize have the same
effect as the other passions; and accordingly we may observe, that
among the vulgar, quacks and projectors meet with a more easy faith upon
account of their magnificent pretensions, than if they kept themselves
within the bounds of moderation. The first astonishment, which naturally
attends their miraculous relations, spreads itself over the whole soul,
and so vivifies and enlivens the idea, that it resembles the inferences
we draw from experience. This is a mystery, with which we may be already
a little acquainted, and which we shall have farther occasion to be let
into in the progress of this treatise.

After this account of the influence of belief on the passions, we shall
find less difficulty in explaining its effects on the imagination,
however extraordinary they may appear. It is certain we cannot take
pleasure in any discourse, where our judgment gives no assent to those
images which are presented to our fancy. The conversation of those who
have acquired a habit of lying, though in affairs of no moment, never
gives any satisfaction; and that because those ideas they present to us,
not being attended with belief, make no impression upon the mind. Poets
themselves, though liars by profession, always endeavour to give an air
of truth to their fictions; and where that is totally neglected, their
performances, however ingenious, will never be able to afford much
pleasure. In short, we may observe, that even when ideas have no manner
of influence on the will and passions, truth and reality are still
requisite, in order to make them entertaining to the imagination.

But if we compare together all the phenomena that occur on this head,
we shall find, that truth, however necessary it may seem in all works
of genius, has no other effect than to procure an easy reception for the
ideas, and to make the mind acquiesce in them with satisfaction, or at
least without reluctance. But as this is an effect, which may easily be
supposed to flow from that solidity and force, which, according to
my system, attend those ideas that are established by reasonings from
causation; it follows, that all the influence of belief upon the fancy
may be explained from that system. Accordingly we may observe, that
wherever that influence arises from any other principles beside truth or
reality, they supply its place, and give an equal entertainment to
the imagination. Poets have formed what they call a poetical system of
things, which though it be believed neither by themselves nor readers,
is commonly esteemed a sufficient foundation for any fiction. We have
been so much accustomed to the names of MARS, JUPITER, VENUS, that
in the same manner as education infixes any opinion, the constant
repetition of these ideas makes them enter into the mind with facility,
and prevail upon the fancy, without influencing the judgment. In like
manner tragedians always borrow their fable, or at least the names of
their principal actors, from some known passage in history; and that not
in order to deceive the spectators; for they will frankly confess, that
truth is not in any circumstance inviolably observed: but in order
to procure a more easy reception into the imagination for those
extraordinary events, which they represent. But this is a precaution,
which is not required of comic poets, whose personages and incidents,
being of a more familiar kind, enter easily into the conception, and are
received without any such formality, even though at first night they be
known to be fictitious, and the pure offspring of the fancy.

This mixture of truth and falshood in the fables of tragic poets not
only serves our present purpose, by shewing, that the imagination can be
satisfyed without any absolute belief or assurance; but may in another
view be regarded as a very strong confirmation of this system. It is
evident, that poets make use of this artifice of borrowing the names
of their persons, and the chief events of their poems, from history, in
order to procure a more easy reception for the whole, and cause it
to make a deeper impression on the fancy and affections. The several
incidents of the piece acquire a kind of relation by being united into
one poem or representation; and if any of these incidents be an object
of belief, it bestows a force and vivacity on the others, which are
related to it. The vividness of the first conception diffuses itself
along the relations, and is conveyed, as by so many pipes or canals,
to every idea that has any communication with the primary one. This,
indeed, can never amount to a perfect assurance; and that because
the union among the ideas is, in a manner, accidental: But still it
approaches so near, in its influence, as may convince us, that they
are derived from the same origin. Belief must please the imagination
by means of the force and vivacity which attends it; since every idea,
which has force and vivacity, is found to be agreeable to that faculty.

To confirm this we may observe, that the assistance is mutual betwixt
the judgment and fancy, as well as betwixt the judgment and passion;
and that belief not only gives vigour to the imagination, but that a
vigorous and strong imagination is of all talents the most proper to
procure belief and authority. It is difficult for us to withhold our
assent from what is painted out to us in all the colours of eloquence;
and the vivacity produced by the fancy is in many cases greater than
that which arises from custom and experience. We are hurried away by the
lively imagination of our author or companion; and even he himself is
often a victim to his own fire and genius.

Nor will it be amiss to remark, that as a lively imagination very often
degenerates into madness or folly, and bears it a great resemblance in
its operations; so they influence the judgment after the same manner,
and produce belief from the very same principles. When the imagination,
from any extraordinary ferment of the blood and spirits, acquires such a
vivacity as disorders all its powers and faculties, there is no means
of distinguishing betwixt truth and falshood; but every loose fiction or
idea, having the same influence as the impressions of the memory, or
the conclusions of the judgment, is received on the same footing, and
operates with equal force on the passions. A present impression and a
customary transition are now no longer necessary to enliven our ideas.
Every chimera of the brain is as vivid and intense as any of those
inferences, which we formerly dignifyed with the name of conclusions
concerning matters of fact, and sometimes as the present impressions of
the senses.

We may observe the same effect of poetry in a lesser degree; and this is
common both to poetry and madness, that the vivacity they bestow on the
ideas is not derived from the particular situations or connexions of the
objects of these ideas, but from the present temper and disposition
of the person. But how great soever the pitch may be, to which this
vivacity rises, it is evident, that in poetry it never has the same
feeling with that which arises in the mind, when we reason, though even
upon the lowest species of probability. The mind can easily distinguish
betwixt the one and the other; and whatever emotion the poetical
enthusiasm may give to the spirits, it is still the mere phantom of
belief or persuasion. The case is the same with the idea, as with the
passion it occasions. There is no passion of the human mind but what may
arise from poetry; though at the same time the feelings of the passions
are very different when excited by poetical fictions, from what they are
when they are from belief and reality. A passion, which is disagreeable
in real life, may afford the highest entertainment in a tragedy, or epic
poem. In the latter case, it lies not with that weight upon us: It
feels less firm and solid: And has no other than the agreeable effect of
exciting the spirits, and rouzing the attention. The difference in the
passions is a clear proof of a like difference in those ideas, from
which the passions are derived. Where the vivacity arises from a
customary conjunction with a present impression; though the imagination
may not, in appearance, be so much moved; yet there is always something
more forcible and real in its actions, than in the fervors of poetry and
eloquence. The force of our mental actions in this case, no more than in
any other, is not to be measured by the apparent agitation of the mind.
A poetical description may have a more sensible effect on the
fancy, than an historical narration. It may collect more of those
circumstances, that form a compleat image or picture. It may seem to
set the object before us in more lively colours. But still the ideas it
presents are different to the feeling from those, which arise from the
memory and the judgment. There is something weak and imperfect amidst
all that seeming vehemence of thought and sentiment, which attends the
fictions of poetry.

We shall afterwards have occasion to remark both the resemblance and
differences betwixt a poetical enthusiasm, and a serious conviction. In
the mean time I cannot forbear observing, that the great difference
in their feeling proceeds in some measure from reflection and GENERAL
RULES. We observe, that the vigour of conception, which fictions receive
from poetry and eloquence, is a circumstance merely accidental, of which
every idea is equally susceptible; and that such fictions are connected
with nothing that is real. This observation makes us only lend
ourselves, so to speak, to the fiction: But causes the idea to feel very
different from the eternal established persuasions founded on memory and
custom. They are somewhat of the same kind: But the one is much inferior
to the other, both in its causes and effects.

A like reflection on general rules keeps us from augmenting our belief
upon every encrease of the force and vivacity of our ideas. Where an
opinion admits of no doubt, or opposite probability, we attribute to it
a full conviction: though the want of resemblance, or contiguity, may
render its force inferior to that of other opinions. It is thus the
understanding corrects the appearances of the senses, and makes us
imagine, that an object at twenty foot distance seems even to the eye as
large as one of the same dimensions at ten.

We may observe the same effect of poetry in a lesser degree; only with
this difference, that the least reflection dissipates the illusions
of poetry, and Places the objects in their proper light. It is however
certain, that in the warmth of a poetical enthusiasm, a poet has a
counterfeit belief, and even a kind of vision of his objects: And
if there be any shadow of argument to support this belief, nothing
contributes more to his full conviction than a blaze of poetical figures
and images, which have their effect upon the poet himself, as well as
upon his readers.


But in order to bestow on this system its full force and evidence, we
must carry our eye from it a moment to consider its consequences, and
explain from the same principles some other species of reasoning, which
are derived from the same origin.

Those philosophers, who have divided human reason into knowledge and
probability, and have defined the first to be that evidence, which
arises from the comparison of ideas, are obliged to comprehend all our
arguments from causes or effects under the general term of probability.
But though every one be free to use his terms in what sense he pleases;
and accordingly in the precedent part of this discourse, I have followed
this method of expression; it is however certain, that in common
discourse we readily affirm, that many arguments from causation exceed
probability, and may be received as a superior kind of evidence. One
would appear ridiculous, who would say, that it is only probable the
sun will rise to-morrow, or that all men must dye; though it is plain we
have no further assurance of these facts, than what experience affords
us. For this reason, it would perhaps be more convenient, in order at
once to preserve the common signification of words, and mark the several
degrees of evidence, to distinguish human reason into three kinds, viz.
I mean the assurance arising from the comparison of ideas. By proofs,
those arguments, which are derived from the relation of cause and
effect, and which are entirely free from doubt and uncertainty. By
probability, that evidence, which is still attended with uncertainty. It
is this last species of reasoning, I proceed to examine.

Probability or reasoning from conjecture may be divided into two kinds,
viz. that which is founded on chance, and that which arises from causes.
We shall consider each of these in order.

The idea of cause and effect is derived from experience, which
presenting us with certain objects constantly conjoined with each other,
produces such a habit of surveying them in that relation, that we cannot
without a sensible violence survey them iii any other. On the other
hand, as chance is nothing real in itself, and, properly speaking, is
merely the negation of a cause, its influence on the mind is contrary to
that of causation; and it is essential to it, to leave the imagination
perfectly indifferent, either to consider the existence or non-existence
of that object, which is regarded as contingent. A cause traces the
way to our thought, and in a manner forces us to survey such certain
objects, in such certain relations. Chance can only destroy this
determination of the thought, and leave the mind in its native situation
of indifference; in which, upon the absence of a cause, it is instantly

Since therefore an entire indifference is essential to chance, no one
chance can possibly be superior to another, otherwise than as it is
composed of a superior number of equal chances. For if we affirm that
one chance can, after any other manner, be superior to another, we must
at the same time affirm, that there is something, which gives it the
superiority, and determines the event rather to that side than the
other: That is, in other words, we must allow of a cause, and destroy
the supposition of chance; which we had before established. A
perfect and total indifference is essential to chance, and one total
indifference can never in itself be either superior or inferior to
another. This truth is not peculiar to my system, but is acknowledged by
every one, that forms calculations concerning chances.

And here it is remarkable, that though chance and causation be directly
contrary, yet it is impossible for us to conceive this combination of
chances, which is requisite to render one hazard superior to another,
without supposing a mixture of causes among the chances, and a
conjunction of necessity in some particulars, with a total indifference
in others. Where nothing limits the chances, every notion, that the most
extravagant fancy can form, is upon a footing of equality; nor can there
be any circumstance to give one the advantage above another. Thus unless
we allow, that there are some causes to make the dice fall, and preserve
their form in their fall, and lie upon some one of their sides, we can
form no calculation concerning the laws of hazard. But supposing these
causes to operate, and supposing likewise all the rest to be indifferent
and to be determined by chance, it is easy to arrive at a notion of a
superior combination of chances. A dye that has four sides marked with
a certain number of spots, and only two with another, affords us an
obvious and easy instance of this superiority. The mind is here limited
by the causes to such a precise number and quality of the events; and at
the same time is undetermined in its choice of any particular event.

Proceeding then in that reasoning, wherein we have advanced three steps;
that chance is merely the negation of a cause, and produces a total
indifference in the mind; that one negation of a cause and one total
indifference can never be superior or inferior to another; and that
there must always be a mixture of causes among the chances, in order to
be the foundation of any reasoning: We are next to consider what effect
a superior combination of chances can have upon the mind, and after what
manner it influences our judgment and opinion. Here we may repeat all
the same arguments we employed in examining that belief, which arises
from causes; and may prove, after the same manner, that a superior
number of chances produces our assent neither by demonstration nor
probability. It is indeed evident that we can never by the comparison
of mere ideas make any discovery, which can be of consequence in this
affairs and that it is impossible to prove with certainty, that any
event must fall on that side where there is a superior number of
chances. To, suppose in this case any certainty, were to overthrow what
we have established concerning the opposition of chances, and their
perfect equality and indifference.

Should it be said, that though in an opposition of chances it is
impossible to determine with certainty, on which side the event will
fall, yet we can pronounce with certainty, that it is more likely and
probable, it will be on that side where there is a superior number of
chances, than where there is an inferior: should this be said, I would
ask, what is here meant by likelihood and probability? The likelihood
and probability of chances is a superior number of equal chances; and
consequently when we say it is likely the event win fall on the side,
which is superior, rather than on the inferior, we do no more than
affirm, that where there is a superior number of chances there is
actually a superior, and where there is an inferior there is an
inferior; which are identical propositions, and of no consequence. The
question is, by what means a superior number of equal chances operates
upon the mind, and produces belief or assent; since it appears, that
it is neither by arguments derived from demonstration, nor from

In order to clear up this difficulty, we shall suppose a person to take
a dye, formed after such a manner as that four of its sides are marked
with one figure, or one number of spots, and two with another; and to
put this dye into the box with an intention of throwing it: It is plain,
he must conclude the one figure to be more probable than the other, and
give the preference to that which is inscribed on the greatest number
of sides. He in a manner believes, that this will lie uppermost; though
still with hesitation and doubt, in proportion to the number of chances,
which are contrary: And according as these contrary chances diminish,
and the superiority encreases on the other side, his belief acquires new
degrees of stability and assurance. This belief arises from an operation
of the mind upon the simple and limited object before us; and therefore
its nature will be the more easily discovered and explained. We have
nothing but one single dye to contemplate, in order to comprehend one of
the most curious operations of the understanding.

This dye, formed as above, contains three circumstances worthy of our
attention. First, Certain causes, such as gravity, solidity, a cubical
figure, &c. which determine it to fall, to preserve its form in its
fall, and to turn up one of its sides. Secondly, A certain number
of sides, which are supposed indifferent. Thirdly, A certain figure
inscribed on each side. These three particulars form the whole nature of
the dye, so far as relates to our present purpose; and consequently are
the only circumstances regarded by the mind in its forming a judgment
concerning the result of such a throw. Let us, therefore, consider
gradually and carefully what must be the influence of these
circumstances on the thought and imagination.

First, We have already observed, that the mind is determined by custom
to pass from any cause to its effect, and that upon the appearance
of the one, it is almost impossible for it not to form an idea of the
other. Their constant conjunction in past instances has produced such
a habit in the mind, that it always conjoins them in its thought, and
infers the existence of the one from that of its usual attendant. When
it considers the dye as no longer supported by the box, it can not
without violence regard it as suspended in the air; but naturally places
it on the table, and views it as turning up one of its sides. This
is the effect of the intermingled causes, which are requisite to our
forming any calculation concerning chances.

Secondly, It is supposed, that though the dye be necessarily determined
to fall, and turn up one of its sides, yet there is nothing to fix the
particular side, but that this is determined entirely by chance. The
very nature and essence of chance is a negation of causes, and the
leaving the mind in a perfect indifference among those events, which
are supposed contingent. When therefore the thought is determined by the
causes to consider the dye as falling and turning up one of its sides,
the chances present all these sides as equal, and make us consider every
one of them, one after another, as alike probable and possible. The
imagination passes from the cause, viz. the throwing of the dye, to the
effect, viz. the turning up one of the six sides; and feels a kind of
impossibility both of stopping short in the way, and of forming any
other idea. But as all these six sides are incompatible, and the dye
cannot turn up above one at once, this principle directs us not to
consider all of them at once as lying uppermost; which we look upon
as impossible: Neither does it direct us with its entire force to any
particular side; for in that case this side would be considered as
certain and inevitable; but it directs us to the whole six sides after
such a manner as to divide its force equally among them. We conclude in
general, that some one of them must result from the throw: We run all
of them over in our minds: The determination of the thought is common to
all; but no more of its force falls to the share of any one, than what
is suitable to its proportion with the rest. It is after this manner the
original impulse, and consequently the vivacity of thought, arising from
the causes, is divided and split in pieces by the intermingled chances.

We have already seen the influence of the two first qualities of the
dye, viz. the causes, and the number and indifference of the sides, and
have learned how they give an impulse to the thought, and divide that
impulse into as many parts as there are unites in the number of sides.
We must now consider the effects of the third particular, viz. the
figures inscribed on each side. It is evident that where several
sides have the same figure inscribe on them, they must concur in their
influence on the mind, and must unite upon one image or idea of a figure
all those divided impulses, that were dispersed over the several sides,
upon which that figure is inscribed. Were the question only what side
will be turned up, these are all perfectly equal, and no one coued ever
have any advantage above another. But as the question is concerning the
figure, and as the same figure is presented by more than one side: it is
evident, that the impulses belonging to all these sides must re-unite
in that one figure, and become stronger and more forcible by the union.
Four sides are supposed in the present case to have the same figure
inscribed on them, and two to have another figure. The impulses of
the former are, therefore, superior to those of the latter. But as the
events are contrary, and it is impossible both these figures can be
turned up; the impulses likewise become contrary, and the inferior
destroys the superior, as far as its strength goes. The vivacity of the
idea is always proportionable to the degrees of the impulse or tendency
to the transition; and belief is the same with the vivacity of the idea,
according to the precedent doctrine.


What I have said concerning the probability of chances can serve to
no other purpose, than to assist us in explaining the probability of
causes; since it is commonly allowed by philosophers, that what the
vulgar call chance is nothing but a secret and concealed cause. That
species of probability, therefore, is what we must chiefly examine.

The probabilities of causes are of several kinds; but are all derived
from the same origin, viz. THE ASSOCIATION OF IDEAS TO A PRESENT
IMPRESSION. As the habit, which produces the association, arises from
the frequent conjunction of objects, it must arrive at its perfection by
degrees, and must acquire new force from each instance, that falls under
our observation. The first instance has little or no force: The second
makes some addition to it: The third becomes still more sensible; and it
is by these slow steps, that our judgment arrives at a full assurance.
But before it attains this pitch of perfection, it passes through
several inferior degrees, and in all of them is only to be esteemed a
presumption or probability. The gradation, therefore, from probabilities
to proofs is in many cases insensible; and the difference betwixt these
kinds of evidence is more easily perceived in the remote degrees, than
in the near and contiguous.

It is worthy of remark on this occasion, that though the species of
probability here explained be the first in order, and naturally takes
place before any entire proof can exist, yet no one, who is arrived at
the age of maturity, can any longer be acquainted with it. It is true,
nothing is more common than for people of the most advanced knowledge
to have attained only an imperfect experience of many particular events;
which naturally produces only an imperfect habit and transition: But
then we must consider, that the mind, having formed another observation
concerning the connexion of causes and effects, gives new force to
its reasoning from that observation; and by means of it can build an
argument on one single experiment, when duly prepared and examined. What
we have found once to follow from any object, we conclude will for ever
follow from it; and if this maxim be not always built upon as certain,
it is not for want of a sufficient number of experiments, but because
we frequently meet with instances to the contrary; which leads us to
the second species of probability, where there is a contrariety in our
experience and observation.

It would be very happy for men in the conduct of their lives and
actions, were the same objects always conjoined together, and, we had
nothing to fear but the mistakes of our own judgment, without having any
reason to apprehend the uncertainty of nature. But as it is frequently
found, that one observation is contrary to another, and that causes and
effects follow not in the same order, of which we have I had experience,
we are obliged to vary our reasoning on, account of this uncertainty,
and take into consideration the contrariety of events. The first
question, that occurs on this head, is concerning the nature and causes
of the contrariety.

The vulgar, who take things according to their first appearance,
attribute the uncertainty of events to such an uncertainty in the
causes, as makes them often fail of their usual influence, though
they meet with no obstacle nor impediment in their operation. But
philosophers observing, that almost in every part of nature there is
contained a vast variety of springs and principles, which are hid,
by reason of their minuteness or remoteness, find that it is at least
possible the contrariety of events may not proceed from any contingency
in the cause, but from the secret operation of contrary causes. This
possibility is converted into certainty by farther observation, when
they remark, that upon an exact scrutiny, a contrariety of effects
always betrays a contrariety of causes, and proceeds from their mutual
hindrance and opposition. A peasant can give no better reason for the
stopping of any clock or watch than to say, that commonly it does not
go right: But an artizan easily perceives, that the same force in the
spring or pendulum has always the same influence on the wheels; but
fails of its usual effect, perhaps by reason of a grain of dust, which
puts a stop to the whole movement. From the observation of several
parallel instances, philosophers form a maxim, that the connexion
betwixt all causes and effects is equally necessary, and that its
seeming uncertainty in some instances proceeds from the secret
opposition of contrary causes.

But however philosophers and the vulgar may differ in their explication
of the contrariety of events, their inferences from it are always of the
same kind, and founded on the same principles. A contrariety of events
in the past may give us a kind of hesitating belief for the future after
two several ways. First, By producing an imperfect habit and transition
from the present impression to the related idea. When the conjunction of
any two objects is frequent, without being entirely constant, the mind
is determined to pass from one object to the other; but not with
so entire a habit, as when the union is uninterrupted, and all the
instances we have ever met with are uniform and of a piece-.. We find
from common experience, in our actions as well as reasonings, that
a constant perseverance in any course of life produces a strong
inclination and tendency to continue for the future; though there
are habits of inferior degrees of force, proportioned to the inferior
degrees of steadiness and uniformity in our conduct.

There is no doubt but this principle sometimes takes place, and
produces those inferences we draw from contrary phaenomena: though I
am perswaded, that upon examination we shall not find it to be the
principle, that most commonly influences the mind in this species of
reasoning. When we follow only the habitual determination of the mind,
we make the transition without any reflection, and interpose not a
moment's delay betwixt the view of one object and the belief of that,
which is often found to attend it. As the custom depends not upon any
deliberation, it operates immediately, without allowing any time for
reflection. But this method of proceeding we have but few instances
of in our probable reasonings; and even fewer than in those, which are
derived from the uninterrupted conjunction of objects. In the former
species of reasoning we commonly take knowingly into consideration
the contrariety of past events; we compare the different sides of the
contrariety, and carefully weigh the experiments, which we have on each
side: Whence we may conclude, that our reasonings of this kind arise
not directly from the habit, but in an oblique manner; which we must now
endeavour to explain.

It is evident, that when an object is attended with contrary effects, we
judge of them only by our past experience, and always consider those
as possible, which we have observed to follow from it. And as past
experience regulates our judgment concerning the possibility of these
effects, so it does that concerning their probability; and that effect,
which has been the most common, we always esteem the most likely. Here
then are two things to be considered, viz. the reasons which determine
us to make the past a standard for the future, and the manner how we
extract a single judgment from a contrariety of past events.

First we may observe, that the supposition, that the future resembles
the past, is not founded on arguments of any kind, but is derived
entirely from habit, by which we are determined to expect for the future
the same train of objects, to which we have been accustomed. This habit
or determination to transfer the past to the future is full and perfect;
and consequently the first impulse of the imagination in this species of
reasoning is endowed with the same qualities.

But, secondly, when in considering past experiments we find them of a
contrary nature, this determination, though full and perfect in itself,
presents us with no steady object, but offers us a number of disagreeing
images in a certain order and proportion. The first impulse, therefore,
is here broke into pieces, and diffuses itself over all those images, of
which each partakes an equal share of that force and vivacity, that is
derived from the impulse. Any of these past events may again happen;
and we judge, that when they do happen, they will be mixed in the same
proportion as in the past.

If our intention, therefore, be to consider the proportions of contrary
events in a great number of instances, the images presented by our past
experience must remain in their FIRST FORM, and preserve their first
proportions. Suppose, for instance, I have found by long observation,
that of twenty ships, which go to sea, only nineteen return. Suppose
I see at present twenty ships that leave the port: I transfer my past
experience to the future, and represent to myself nineteen of these
ships as returning in safety, and one as perishing. Concerning this
there can be no difficulty. But as we frequently run over those several
ideas of past events, in order to form a judgment concerning one single
event, which appears uncertain; this consideration must change the FIRST
FORM of our ideas, and draw together the divided images presented
by experience; since it is to it we refer the determination of that
particular event, upon which we reason. Many of these images are
supposed to concur, and a superior number to concur on one side. These
agreeing images unite together, and render the idea more strong and
lively, not only than a mere fiction of the imagination, but also than
any idea, which is supported by a lesser number of experiments. Each new
experiment is as a new stroke of the pencil, which bestows an additional
vivacity on the colours without either multiplying or enlarging the
figure. This operation of the mind has been so fully explained in
treating of the probability of chance, that I need not here endeavour to
render it more intelligible. Every past experiment may be considered as
a kind of chance; I it being uncertain to us, whether the object will
exist conformable to one experiment or another. And for this reason
every thing that has been said on the one subject is applicable to both.

Thus upon the whole, contrary experiments produce an imperfect belief,
either by weakening the habit, or by dividing and afterwards joining in
different parts, that perfect habit, which makes us conclude in general,
that instances, of which we have no experience, must necessarily
resemble those of which we have.

To justify still farther this account of the second species of
probability, where we reason with knowledge and reflection from
a contrariety of past experiments, I shall propose the following
considerations, without fearing to give offence by that air of subtilty,
which attends them. Just reasoning ought still, perhaps, to retain
its force, however subtile; in the same manner as matter preserves its
solidity in the air, and fire, and animal spirits, as well as in the
grosser and more sensible forms.

First, We may observe, that there is no probability so great as not to
allow of a contrary possibility; because otherwise it would cease to be
a probability, and would become a certainty. That probability of causes,
which is most extensive, and which we at present examine, depends on a
contrariety of experiments: and it is evident An experiment in the past
proves at least a possibility for the future.

Secondly, The component parts of this possibility and probability are of
the same nature, and differ in number only, but not in kind. It has been
observed, that all single chances are entirely equal, and that the
only circumstance, which can give any event, that is contingent, a
superiority over another is a superior number of chances. In like
manner, as the uncertainty of causes is discovery by experience, which
presents us with a view of contrary events, it is plain, that when we
transfer the past to the future, the known to the unknown, every past
experiment has the same weight, and that it is only a superior number
of them, which can throw the ballance on any side. The possibility,
therefore, which enters into every reasoning of this kind, is composed
of parts, which are of the same nature both among themselves, and with
those, that compose the opposite probability.

Thirdly, We may establish it as a certain maxim, that in all moral as
well as natural phaenomena, wherever any cause consists of a number
of parts, and the effect encreases or diminishes, according to the
variation of that number, the effects properly speaking, is a compounded
one, and arises from the union of the several effects, that proceed from
each part of the cause. Thus, because the gravity of a body encreases or
diminishes by the encrease or diminution of its parts, we conclude that
each part contains this quality and contributes to the gravity of the
whole. The absence or presence of a part of the cause is attended with
that of a proportionable part of the effect. This connexion or constant
conjunction sufficiently proves the one part to be the cause of the
other. As the belief which we have of any event, encreases or diminishes
according to the number of chances or past experiments, it is to be
considered as a compounded effect, of which each part arises from a
proportionable number of chances or experiments.

Let us now join these three observations, and see what conclusion we can
draw from them. To every probability there is an opposite possibility.
This possibility is composed of parts, that are entirely of the same
nature with those of the probability; and consequently have the same
influence on the mind and understanding. The belief, which attends the
probability, is a compounded effect, and is formed by the concurrence
of the several effects, which proceed from each part of the probability.
Since therefore each part of the probability contributes to the
production of the belief, each part of the possibility must have the
same influence on the opposite side; the nature of these parts being
entirely the same. The contrary belief, attending the possibility,
implies a view of a certain object, as well as the probability does
an opposite view. In this particular both these degrees of belief are
alike. The only manner then, in which the superior number of similar
component parts in the one can exert its influence, and prevail above
the inferior in the other, is by producing a stronger and more lively
view of its object. Each part presents a particular view; and all these
views uniting together produce one general view, which is fuller and
more distinct by the greater number of causes or principles, from which
it is derived.

The component parts of the probability and possibility, being alike
in their nature, must produce like effects; and the likeness of their
effects consists in this, that each of them presents a view of a
particular object. But though these parts be alike in their nature, they
are very different in their quantity and number; and this difference
must appear in the effect as well as the similarity. Now as the view
they present is in both cases full and entire, and comprehends the
object in all its parts, it is impossible that in this particular there
can be any difference; nor is there any thing but a superior vivacity
in the probability, arising from the concurrence of a superior number of
views, which can distinguish these effects.

Here is almost the same argument in a different light. All our
reasonings concerning the probability of causes are founded on the
transferring of past to future. The transferring of any past experiment
to the future is sufficient to give us a view of the object; whether
that experiment be single or combined with others of the same kind;
whether it be entire, or opposed by others of a contrary kind. Suppose,
then, it acquires both these qualities of combination and opposition, it
loses not upon that account its former power of presenting a view of the
object, but only concurs with and opposes other experiments, that have
a like influence. A question, therefore, may arise concerning the manner
both of the concurrence and opposition. As to the concurrence, there is
only the choice left betwixt these two hypotheses. First, That the view
of the object, occasioned by the transference of each past experiment,
preserves itself entire, and only multiplies the number of views. Or,
SECONDLY, That it runs into the other similar and correspondent views,
and gives them a superior degree of force and vivacity. But that the
first hypothesis is erroneous, is evident from experience, which
informs us, that the belief, attending any reasoning, consists in
one conclusion, not in a multitude of similar ones, which would only
distract the mind, and in many cases would be too numerous to be
comprehended distinctly by any finite capacity. It remains, therefore,
as the only reasonable opinion, that these similar views run into each
other, and unite their forces; so as to produce a stronger and clearer
view, than what arises from any one alone. This is the manner, in which
past experiments concur, when they are transfered to any future event.
As to the manner of their opposition, it is evident, that as the
contrary views are incompatible with each other, and it is impossible
the object can at once exist conformable to both of them, their
influence becomes mutually destructive, and the mind is determined to
the superior only with that force, which remains, after subtracting the

I am sensible how abstruse all this reasoning must appear to the
generality of readers, who not being accustomed to such profound
reflections on the intellectual faculties of the mind, will be apt to
reject as chimerical whatever strikes not in with the common received
notions, and with the easiest and most obvious principles of philosophy.
And no doubt there are some pains required to enter into these
arguments; though perhaps very little are necessary to perceive the
imperfection of every vulgar hypothesis on this subject, and the little
light, which philosophy can yet afford us in such sublime and such
curious speculations. Let men be once fully perswaded of these two
once fully convinced of these two principles, and this will throw them
so loose from all common systems, that they will make no difficulty of
receiving any, which may appear the most extraordinary. These principles
we have found to be sufficiently convincing, even with regard to our
most certain reasonings from causation: But I shall venture to affirm,
that with regard to these conjectural or probable reasonings they still
acquire a new degree of evidence.

First, It is obvious, that in reasonings of this kind, it is not the
object presented to us, which, considered in itself, affords us any
reason to draw a conclusion concerning any other object or event. For
as this latter object is supposed uncertain, and as the uncertainty is
derived from a concealed contrariety of causes in the former, were any
of the causes placed in the known qualities of that object, they would
no longer be concealed, nor would our conclusion be uncertain.

But, secondly, it is equally obvious in this species of reasoning, that
if the transference of the past to the future were founded merely on a
conclusion of the understanding, it coued never occasion any belief or
assurance. When we transfer contrary experiments to the future, we
can only repeat these contrary experiments with their particular
proportions; which coued not produce assurance in any single event, upon
which we reason, unless the fancy melted together all those images
that concur, and extracted from them one single idea or image, which is
intense and lively in proportion to the number of experiments from which
it is derived, and their superiority above their antagonists. Our past
experience presents no determinate object; and as our belief, however
faint, fixes itself on a determinate object, it is evident that the
belief arises not merely from the transference of past to future, but
from some operation of the fancy conjoined with it. This may lead us
to conceive the manner, in which that faculty enters into all our

I shall conclude this subject with two reflections, which may deserve
our attention. The FIRST may be explained after this manner. When the
mind forms a reasoning concerning any matter of fact, which is
only probable, it casts its eye backward upon past experience, and
transferring it to the future, is presented with so many contrary
views of its object, of which those that are of the same kind uniting
together, and running into one act of the mind, serve to fortify and
inliven it. But suppose that this multitude of views or glimpses of an
object proceeds not from experience, but from a voluntary act of the
imagination; this effect does not follow, or at least, follows not in
the same degree. For though custom and education produce belief by such
a repetition, as is not derived from experience, yet this requires
a long tract of time, along with a very frequent and undesigned
repetition. In general we may pronounce, that a person who would
voluntarily repeat any idea in his mind, though supported by one past
experience, would be no more inclined to believe the existence of its
object, than if he had contented himself with one survey of it.
Beside the effect of design; each act of the mind, being separate and
independent, has a separate influence, and joins not its force with that
of its fellows. Not being united by any common object, producing them,
they have no relation to each other; and consequently make no transition
or union of forces. This phaenomenon we shall understand better

My second reflection is founded on those large probabilities, which the
mind can judge of, and the minute differences it can observe betwixt
them. When the chances or experiments on one side amount to ten
thousand, and on the other to ten thousand and one, the judgment gives
the preference to the latter, upon account of that superiority; though
it is plainly impossible for the mind to run over every particular view,
and distinguish the superior vivacity of the image arising from the
superior number, where the difference is so inconsiderable. We have a
parallel instance in the affections. It is evident, according to the
principles above-mentioned, that when an object produces any passion in
us, which varies according to the different quantity of the object; I
say, it is evident, that the passion, properly speaking, is not a simple
emotion, but a compounded one, of a great number of weaker passions,
derived from a view of each part of the object. For otherwise it were
impossible the passion should encrease by the encrease of these parts.
Thus a man, who desires a thousand pound, has in reality a thousand
or more desires which uniting together, seem to make only one passion;
though the composition evidently betrays itself upon every alteration of
the object, by the preference he gives to the larger number, if superior
only by an unite. Yet nothing can be more certain, than that so small
a difference would not be discernible in the passions, nor coued render
them distinguishable from each other. The difference, therefore, of our
conduct in preferring the greater number depends not upon our passions,
but upon custom, and general rules. We have found in a multitude of
instances, that the augmenting the numbers of any sum augments the
passion, where the numbers are precise and the difference sensible. The
mind can perceive from its immediate feeling, that three guineas produce
a greater passion than two; and this it transfers to larger numbers,
because of the resemblance; and by a general rule assigns to a thousand
guineas, a stronger passion than to nine hundred and ninety nine. These
general rules we shall explain presently.

But beside these two species of probability, which a-re derived from an
imperfect experience and from contrary causes, there is a third arising
from ANALOGY, which differs from them in some material circumstances.
According to the hypothesis above explained all kinds of reasoning from
causes or effects are founded on two particulars, viz., the constant
conjunction of any two objects in all past experience, and the
resemblance of a present object to any one of them. The effect of these
two particulars is, that the present object invigorates and inlivens the
imagination; and the resemblance, along with the constant union, conveys
this force and vivacity to the related idea; which we are therefore said
to believe, or assent to. If you weaken either the union or resemblance,
you weaken the principle of transition, and of consequence that belief,
which arises from it. The vivacity of the first impression cannot be
fully conveyed to the related idea, either where the conjunction of
their objects is not constant, or where the present impression does
not perfectly resemble any of those, whose union we are accustomed to
observe. In those probabilities of chance and causes above-explained,
it is the constancy of the union, which is diminished; and in the
probability derived from analogy, it is the resemblance only, which is
affected. Without some degree of resemblance, as well as union, it is
impossible there can be any reasoning: but as this resemblance admits
of many different degrees, the reasoning becomes proportionably more
or less firm and certain. An experiment loses of its force, when
transferred to instances, which are not exactly resembling; though it
is evident it may still retain as much as may be the foundation of
probability, as long as there is any resemblance remaining.


All these kinds of probability are received by philosophers, and allowed
to be reasonable foundations of belief and opinion. But there are
others, that are derived from the same principles, though they have not
had the good fortune to obtain the same sanction. The first probability
of this kind may be accounted for thus. The diminution of the union, and
of the resemblance, as above explained, diminishes the facility of the
transition, and by that means weakens the evidence; and we may farther
observe, that the same diminution of the evidence will follow from a
diminution of the impression, and from the shading of those colours,
under which it appears to the memory or senses. The argument, which
we found on any matter of fact we remember, is more or less convincing
according as the fact is recent or remote; and though the difference
in these degrees of evidence be not received by philosophy as solid and
legitimate; because in that case an argument must have a different force
to day, from what it shall have a month hence; yet notwithstanding
the opposition of philosophy, it is certain, this circumstance has a
considerable influence on the understanding, and secretly changes the
authority of the same argument, according to the different times,
in which it is proposed to us. A greater force and vivacity in the
impression naturally conveys a greater to the related idea; and it is on
the degrees of force and vivacity, that the belief depends, according to
the foregoing system.

There is a second difference, which we may frequently observe in our
degrees of belief and assurance, and which never fails to take place,
though disclaimed by philosophers. An experiment, that is recent and
fresh in the memory, affects us more than one that is in some measure
obliterated; and has a superior influence on the judgment, as well as on
the passions. A lively impression produces more assurance than a faint
one; because it has more original force to communicate to the related
idea, which thereby acquires a greater force and vivacity. A recent
observation has a like effect; because the custom and transition is
there more entire, and preserves better the original force in the
communication. Thus a drunkard, who has seen his companion die of a
debauch, is struck with that instance for some time, and dreads a like
accident for himself: But as the memory of it decays away by degrees,
his former security returns, and the danger seems less certain and real.

I add, as a third instance of this kind, that though our reasonings from
proofs and from probabilities be considerably different from each other,
yet the former species of reasoning often degenerates insensibly into
the latter, by nothing but the multitude of connected arguments. It is
certain, that when an inference is drawn immediately from an object,
without any intermediate cause or effect, the conviction is much
stronger, and the persuasion more lively, than when the imagination is
carryed through a long chain of connected arguments, however infallible
the connexion of each link may be esteemed. It is from the original
impression, that the vivacity of all the ideas is derived, by means
of the customary transition of the imagination; and it is evident this
vivacity must gradually decay in proportion to the distance, and must
lose somewhat in each transition. Sometimes this distance has a greater
influence than even contrary experiments would have; and a man may
receive a more lively conviction from a probable reasoning, which is
close and immediate, than from a long chain of consequences, though just
and conclusive in each part. Nay it is seldom such reasonings produce
any conviction; and one must have a very strong and firm imagination
to preserve the evidence to the end, where it passes through so many,

But here it may not be amiss to remark a very curious phaenomenon, which
the present subject suggests to us. It is evident there is no point
of ancient history, of which we can have any assurance, but by passing
through many millions of causes and effects, and through a chain of
arguments of almost an immeasurable length. Before the knowledge of the
fact coued come to the first historian, it must be conveyed through many
mouths; and after it is committed to writing, each new copy is a new
object, of which the connexion with the foregoing is known only by
experience and observation. Perhaps, therefore, it may be concluded from
the precedent reasoning, that the evidence of all ancient history must
now be lost; or at least, will be lost in time, as the chain of causes
encreases, and runs on to a greater length. But as it seems contrary to
common sense to think, that if the republic of letters, and the art of
printing continue on the same footing as at present, our posterity, even
after a thousand ages, can ever doubt if there has been such a man as
JULIUS CAESAR; this may be considered as an objection to the present
system. If belief consisted only in a certain vivacity, conveyed from an
original impression, it would decay by the length of the transition, and
must at last be utterly extinguished: And vice versa, if belief on some
occasions be not capable of such an extinction; it must be something
different from that vivacity.

Before I answer this objection I shall observe, that from this topic
there has been borrowed a very celebrated argument against the Christian
Religion; but with this difference, that the connexion betwixt each link
of the chain in human testimony has been there supposed not to go beyond
probability, and to be liable to a degree of doubt and uncertainty.
And indeed it must be confest, that in this manner of considering
the subject, (which however is not a true one) there is no history or
tradition, but what must in the end lose all its force and evidence.
Every new probability diminishes the original conviction; and however
great that conviction may be supposed, it is impossible it can subsist
under such re-iterated diminutions. This is true in general; though
we shall find [Part IV. Sect. 1.] afterwards, that there is one very
memorable exception, which is of vast consequence in the present subject
of the understanding.

Mean while to give a solution of the preceding objection upon the
supposition, that historical evidence amounts at first to an entire
proof; let us consider, that though the links are innumerable, that
connect any original fact with the present impression, which is the
foundation of belief; yet they are all of the same kind, and depend on
the fidelity of Printers and Copyists. One edition passes into another,
and that into a third, and so on, till we come to that volume we peruse
at present. There is no variation in the steps. After we know one we
know all of them; and after we have made one, we can have no scruple as
to the rest. This circumstance alone preserves the evidence of history,
and will perpetuate the memory of the present age to the latest
posterity. If all the long chain of causes and effects, which connect
any past event with any volume of history, were composed of parts
different from each other, and which it were necessary for the mind
distinctly to conceive, it is impossible we should preserve to the
end any belief or evidence. But as most of these proofs are perfectly
resembling, the mind runs easily along them, jumps from one part to
another with facility, and forms but a confused and general notion of
each link. By this means a long chain of argument, has as little effect
in diminishing the original vivacity, as a much shorter would have, if
composed of parts, which were different from each other, and of which
each required a distinct consideration.

A fourth unphilosophical species of probability is that derived from
general rules, which we rashly form to ourselves, and which are the
source of what we properly call PREJUDICE. An IRISHMAN cannot have
wit, and a Frenchman cannot have solidity; for which reason, though the
conversation of the former in any instance be visibly very agreeable,
and of the latter very judicious, we have entertained such a prejudice
against them, that they must be dunces or fops in spite of sense and
reason. Human nature is very subject to errors of this kind; and perhaps
this nation as much as any other.

Should it be demanded why men form general rules, and allow them to
influence their judgment, even contrary to present observation and
experience, I should reply, that in my opinion it proceeds from those
very principles, on which all judgments concerning causes and effects
depend. Our judgments concerning cause and effect are derived from
habit and experience; and when we have been accustomed to see one object
united to another, our imagination passes from the first to the second,
by a natural transition, which precedes reflection, and which cannot be
prevented by it. Now it is the nature of custom not only to operate with
its full force, when objects are presented, that are exactly the same
with those to which we have been accustomed; but also to operate in an
inferior degree, when we discover such as are similar; and though the
habit loses somewhat of its force by every difference, yet it is seldom
entirely destroyed, where any considerable circumstances remain the
same. A man, who has contracted a custom of eating fruit by the use of
pears or peaches, will satisfy himself with melons, where he cannot find
his favourite fruit; as one, who has become a drunkard by the use of
red wines, will be carried almost with the same violence to white, if
presented to him. From this principle I have accounted for that species
of probability, derived from analogy, where we transfer our experience
in past instances to objects which are resembling, but are not exactly
the same with those concerning which we have had experience. In
proportion as the resemblance decays, the probability diminishes;
but still has some force as long as there remain any traces of the

This observation we may carry farther; and may remark, that though
custom be the foundation of all our judgments, yet sometimes it has an
effect on the imagination in opposition to the judgment, and produces
a contrariety in our sentiments concerning the same object. I explain
myself. In almost all kinds of causes there is a complication of
circumstances, of which some are essential, and others superfluous; some
are absolutely requisite to the production of the effect, and others
are only conjoined by accident. Now we may observe, that when these
superfluous circumstances are numerous, and remarkable, and frequently
conjoined with the essential, they have such an influence on the
imagination, that even in the absence of the latter they carry us on to
t-he conception of the usual effect, and give to that conception a force
and vivacity, which make it superior to the mere fictions of the fancy.
We may correct this propensity by a reflection on the nature of those
circumstances: but it is still certain, that custom takes the start, and
gives a biass to the imagination.

To illustrate this by a familiar instance, let us consider the case of
a man, who, being hung out from a high tower in a cage of iron cannot
forbear trembling, when he surveys the precipice below him, though he
knows himself to be perfectly secure from falling, by his experience of
the solidity of the iron, which supports him; and though the ideas of
fall and descent, and harm and death, be derived solely from custom and
experience. The same custom goes beyond the instances, from which it is
derived, and to which it perfectly corresponds; and influences his
ideas of such objects as are in some respect resembling, but fall not
precisely under the same rule. The circumstances of depth and descent
strike so strongly upon him, that their influence can-not be destroyed
by the contrary circumstances of support and solidity, which ought to
give him a perfect security. His imagination runs away with its object,
and excites a passion proportioned to it. That passion returns back
upon the imagination and inlivens the idea; which lively idea has a
new influence on the passion, and in its turn augments its force and
violence; and both his fancy and affections, thus mutually supporting
each other, cause the whole to have a very great influence upon him.

But why need we seek for other instances, while the present subject
of philosophical probabilities offers us so obvious an one, in the
opposition betwixt the judgment and imagination arising from these
effects of custom? According to my system, all reasonings are nothing
but the effects of custom; and custom has no influence, but by
inlivening the imagination, and giving us a strong conception of
any object. It may, therefore, be concluded, that our judgment and
imagination can never be contrary, and that custom cannot operate on
the latter faculty after such a manner, as to render it opposite to the
former. This difficulty we can remove after no other manner, than by
supposing the influence of general rules. We shall afterwards take
[Sect. 15.] notice of some general rules, by which we ought to regulate
our judgment concerning causes and effects; and these rules are formed
on the nature of our understanding, and on our experience of its
operations in the judgments we form concerning objects. By them we learn
to distinguish the accidental circumstances from the efficacious causes;
and when we find that an effect can be produced without the concurrence
of any particular circumstance, we conclude that that circumstance makes
not a part of the efficacious cause, however frequently conjoined with
it. But as this frequent conjunction necessity makes it have some effect
on the imagination, in spite of the opposite conclusion from general
rules, the opposition of these two principles produces a contrariety
in our thoughts, and causes us to ascribe the one inference to our
judgment, and the other to our imagination. The general rule is
attributed to our judgment; as being more extensive and constant. The
exception to the imagination, as being more capricious and uncertain.

Thus our general rules are in a manner set in opposition to each other.
When an object appears, that resembles any cause in very considerable
circumstances, the imagination naturally carries us to a lively
conception of the usual effect, Though the object be different in the
most material and most efficacious circumstances from that cause. Here
is the first influence of general rules. But when we take a review of
this act of the mind, and compare it with the more general and authentic
operations of the understanding, we find it to be of an irregular
nature, and destructive of all the most established principles of
reasonings; which is the cause of our rejecting it. This is a second
influence of general rules, and implies the condemnation of the former.
Sometimes the one, sometimes the other prevails, according to the
disposition and character of the person. The vulgar are commonly guided
by the first, and wise men by the second. Mean while the sceptics may
here have the pleasure of observing a new and signal contradiction in
our reason, and of seeing all philosophy ready to be subverted by a
principle of human nature, and again saved by a new direction of
the very same principle. The following of general rules is a very
unphilosophical species of probability; and yet it is only by
following them that we can correct this, and all other unphilosophical

Since we have instances, where general rules operate on the imagination
even contrary to the judgment, we need not be surprized to see their
effects encrease, when conjoined with that latter faculty, and to
observe that they bestow on the ideas they present to us a force
superior to what attends any other. Every one knows, there is an
indirect manner of insinuating praise or blame, which is much less
shocking than the open flattery or censure of any person. However he may
communicate his sentiments by such secret insinuations, and make them
known with equal certainty as by the open discovery of them, it is
certain that their influence is not equally strong and powerful. One who
lashes me with concealed strokes of satire, moves not my indignation to
such a degree, as if he flatly told me I was a fool and coxcomb; though
I equally understand his meaning, as if he did. This difference is to be
attributed to the influence of general rules.

Whether a person openly, abuses me, or slyly intimates his contempt, in
neither case do I immediately perceive his sentiment or opinion; and it
is only by signs, that is, by its effects, I become sensible of it. The
only difference, then, betwixt these two cases consists in this, that
in the open discovery of his sentiments he makes use of signs, which are
general and universal; and in the secret intimation employs such as are
more singular and uncommon. The effect of this circumstance is, that the
imagination, in running from the present impression to the absent idea,
makes the transition with greater facility, and consequently conceives
the object with greater force, where the connexion is common and
universal, than where it is more rare and particular. Accordingly we
may observe, that the open declaration of our sentiments is called the
taking off the mask, as the secret intimation of our opinions is said
to be the veiling of them. The difference betwixt an idea produced by
a general connexion, and that arising from a particular one is here
compared to the difference betwixt an impression and an idea. This
difference in the imagination has a suitable effect on the passions; and
this effect is augmented by another circumstance. A secret intimation
of anger or contempt shews that we still have some consideration for
the person, and avoid the directly abusing him. This makes a concealed
satire less disagreeable; but still this depends on the same principle.
For if an idea were not more feeble, when only intimated, it would never
be esteemed a mark of greater respect to proceed in this method than in
the other.

Sometimes scurrility is less displeasing than delicate satire, because
it revenges us in a manner for the injury at the very time it is
committed, by affording us a just reason to blame and contemn the
person, who injures us. But this phaenomenon likewise depends upon the
same principle. For why do we blame all gross and injurious language,
unless it be, because we esteem it contrary to good breeding and
humanity? And why is it contrary, unless it be more shocking than any
delicate satire? The rules of good breeding condemn whatever is openly
disobliging, and gives a sensible pain and confusion to those, with
whom we converse. After this is once established, abusive language is
universally blamed, and gives less pain upon account of its coarseness
and incivility, which render the person despicable, that employs it. It
becomes less disagreeable, merely because originally it is more so; and
it is more disagreeable, because it affords an inference by general and
common rules, that are palpable and undeniable.

To this explication of the different influence of open and concealed
flattery or satire, I shall add the consideration of another phenomenon,
which is analogous to it. There are many particulars in the point of
honour both of men and women, whose violations, when open and avowed,
the world never excuses, but which it is more apt to overlook, when the
appearances are saved, and the transgression is secret and concealed.
Even those, who know with equal certainty, that the fault is committed,
pardon it more easily, when the proofs seem in some measure oblique and
equivocal, than when they are direct and undeniable. The same idea is
presented in both cases, and, properly speaking, is equally assented
to by the judgment; and yet its influence is different, because of the
different manner, in which it is presented.

Now if we compare these two cases, of the open and concealed violations
of the laws of honour, we shall find, that the difference betwixt them
consists in this, that in the first ease the sign, from which we infer
the blameable action, is single, and suffices alone to be the foundation
of our reasoning and judgment; whereas in the latter the signs are
numerous, and decide little or nothing when alone and unaccompanyed with
many minute circumstances, which are almost imperceptible. But it is
certainly true, that any reasoning is always the more convincing, the
more single and united it is to the eye, and the less exercise it gives
to the imagination to collect all its parts, and run from them to the
correlative idea, which forms the conclusion. The labour of the thought
disturbs the regular progress of the sentiments, as we shall observe
presently.[Part IV. Sect. 1.] The idea strikes not on us with ouch
vivacity; and consequently has no such influence on the passion and

From the same principles we may account for those observations of the
CARDINAL DE RETZ, that there are many things, in which the world wishes
to be deceived; and that it more easily excuses a person in acting than
in talking contrary to the decorum of his profession and character. A
fault in words is commonly more open and distinct than one in actions,
which admit of many palliating excuses, and decide not so clearly
concerning the intention and views of the actor.

Thus it appears upon the whole, that every kind of opinion or judgment,
which amounts not to knowledge, is derived entirely from the force and
vivacity of the perception, and that these qualities constitute in the
mind, what we call the BELIEF Of the existence of any object. This force
and this vivacity are most conspicuous in the memory; and therefore our
confidence in the veracity of that faculty is the greatest imaginable,
and equals in many respects the assurance of a demonstration. The next
degree of these qualities is that derived from the relation of cause and
effect; and this too is very great, especially when the conjunction is
found by experience to be perfectly constant, and when the object,
which is present to us, exactly resembles those, of which we have had
experience. But below this degree of evidence there are many others,
which have an influence on the passions and imagination, proportioned to
that degree of force and vivacity, which they communicate to the ideas.
It is by habit we make the transition from cause to effect; and it is
from some present impression we borrow that vivacity, which we diffuse
over the correlative idea. But when we have not observed a sufficient
number of instances, to produce a strong habit; or when these instances
are contrary to each other; or when the resemblance is not exact; or
the present impression is faint and obscure; or the experience in some
measure obliterated from the memory; or the connexion dependent on a
long chain of objects; or the inference derived from general rules, and
yet not conformable to them: In all these cases the evidence diminishes
by the diminution of the force and intenseness of the idea. This
therefore is the nature of the judgment and probability.

What principally gives authority to this system is, beside the undoubted
arguments, upon which each part is founded, the agreement of these
parts, and the necessity of one to explain another. The belief, which
attends our memory, is of the same nature with that, which is derived
from our judgments: Nor is there any difference betwixt that judgment,
which is derived from a constant and uniform connexion of causes and
effects, and that which depends upon an interrupted and uncertain. It is
indeed evident, that in all determinations, where the mind decides from
contrary experiments, it is first divided within itself, and has an
inclination to either side in proportion to the number of experiments
we have seen and remember. This contest is at last determined to the
advantage of that side, where we observe a superior number of these
experiments; but still with a diminution of force in the evidence
correspondent to the number of the opposite experiments. Each
possibility, of which the probability is composed, operates separately
upon the imagination; and it is the larger collection of possibilities,
which at last prevails, and that with a force proportionable to its
superiority. All these phenomena lead directly to the precedent system;
nor will it ever be possible upon any other principles to give a
satisfactory and consistent explication of them. Without considering
these judgments as the effects of custom on the imagination, we shall
lose ourselves in perpetual contradiction and absurdity.


Having thus explained the manner, in which we reason beyond our
immediate impressions, and conclude that such particular causes must
have such particular effects; we must now return upon our footsteps to
examine that question, which [Sect. 2.] first occured to us, and which
we dropt in our way, viz. What is our idea of necessity, when we say
that two objects are necessarily connected together. Upon this head I
repeat what I have often had occasion to observe, that as we have
no idea, that is not derived from an impression, we must find some
impression, that gives rise to this idea of necessity, if we assert we
have really such an idea. In order to this I consider, in what objects
necessity is commonly supposed to lie; and finding that it is always
ascribed to causes and effects, I turn my eye to two objects supposed to
be placed in that relation; and examine them in all the situations,
of which they are susceptible. I immediately perceive, that they are
contiguous in time and place, and that the object we call cause precedes
the other we call effect. In no one instance can I go any farther,
nor is it possible for me to discover any third relation betwixt these
objects. I therefore enlarge my view to comprehend several instances;
where I find like objects always existing in like relations of
contiguity and succession. At first sight this seems to serve but little
to my purpose. The reflection on several instances only repeats the
same objects; and therefore can never give rise to a new idea. But upon
farther enquiry I find, that the repetition is not in every particular
the same, but produces a new impression, and by that means the idea,
which I at present examine. For after a frequent repetition, I find,
that upon the appearance of one of the objects, the mind is determined
by custom to consider its usual attendant, and to consider it in a
stronger light upon account of its relation to the first object. It is
this impression, then, or determination, which affords me the idea of

I doubt not but these consequences will at first sight be received
without difficulty, as being evident deductions from principles, which
we have already established, and which we have often employed in our
reasonings. This evidence both in the first principles, and in the
deductions, may seduce us unwarily into the conclusion, and make us
imagine it contains nothing extraordinary, nor worthy of our curiosity.
But though such an inadvertence may facilitate the reception of this
reasoning, it will make it be the more easily forgot; for which reason
I think it proper to give warning, that I have just now examined one of
the most sublime questions in philosophy, viz. that concerning the power
and efficacy of causes; where all the sciences seem so much interested.
Such a warning will naturally rouze up the attention of the reader, and
make him desire a more full account of my doctrine, as well as of the
arguments, on which it is founded. This request is so reasonable, that
I cannot refuse complying with it; especially as I am hopeful that these
principles, the more they are examined, will acquire the more force and

There is no question, which on account of its importance, as well as
difficulty, has caused more disputes both among antient and modern
philosophers, than this concerning the efficacy of causes, or that
quality which makes them be followed by their effects. But before they
entered upon these disputes, methinks it would not have been improper to
have examined what idea we have of that efficacy, which is the subject
of the controversy. This is what I find principally wanting in their
reasonings, and what I shall here endeavour to supply.

I begin with observing that the terms of EFFICACY, AGENCY, POWER, FORCE,
synonymous; and therefore it is an absurdity to employ any of them in
defining the rest. By this observation we reject at once all the vulgar
definitions, which philosophers have given of power and efficacy; and
instead of searching for the idea in these definitions, must look for
it in the impressions, from which it is originally derived. If it be a
compound idea, it must arise from compound impressions. If simple, from
simple impressions.

I believe the most general and most popular explication of this
matter, is to say [See Mr. Locke, chapter of power.], that finding from
experience, that there are several new productions in matter, such
as the motions and variations of body, and concluding that there must
somewhere be a power capable of producing them, we arrive at last by
this reasoning at the idea of power and efficacy. But to be convinced
that this explication is more popular than philosophical, we need but
reflect on two very obvious principles. First, That reason alone can
never give rise to any original idea, and secondly, that reason, as
distinguished from experience, can never make us conclude, that a cause
or productive quality is absolutely requisite to every beginning of
existence. Both these considerations have been sufficiently explained:
and therefore shall not at present be any farther insisted on.

I shall only infer from them, that since reason can never give rise to
the idea of efficacy, that idea must be derived from experience, and
from some particular instances of this efficacy, which make their
passage into the mind by the common channels of sensation or reflection.
Ideas always represent their objects or impressions; and vice versa,
there are some objects necessary to give rise to every idea. If we
pretend, therefore, to have any just idea of this efficacy, we must
produce some instance, wherein the efficacy is plainly discoverable to
the mind, and its operations obvious to our consciousness or sensation.
By the refusal of this, we acknowledge, that the idea is impossible and
imaginary, since the principle of innate ideas, which alone can save
us from this dilemma, has been already refuted, and is now almost
universally rejected in the learned world. Our present business,
then, must be to find some natural production, where the operation and
efficacy of a cause can be clearly conceived and comprehended by the
mind, without any danger of obscurity or mistake.

In this research we meet with very little encouragement from that
prodigious diversity, which is found in the opinions of those
philosophers, who have pretended to explain the secret force and energy
of causes. [See Father Malbranche, Book vi. Part 2, chap. 3. And the
illustrations upon it.] There are some, who maintain, that bodies
operate by their substantial form; others, by their accidents or
qualities; several, by their matter and form; some, by their form and
accidents; others, by certain virtues and faculties distinct from all
this. All these sentiments again are mixed and varyed in a thousand
different ways; and form a strong presumption, that none of them have
any solidity or evidence, and that the supposition of an efficacy in any
of the known qualities of matter is entirely without foundation.
This presumption must encrease upon us, when we consider, that these
principles of substantial forms, and accidents, and faculties, are not
in reality any of the known properties of bodies, but are perfectly
unintelligible and inexplicable. For it is evident philosophers would
never have had recourse to such obscure and uncertain principles, had
they met with any satisfaction in such as are clear and intelligible;
especially in such an affair as this, which must be an object of the
simplest understanding, if not of the senses. Upon the whole, we
may conclude, that it is impossible in any one instance to shew the
principle, in which the force and agency of a cause is placed; and that
the most refined and most vulgar understandings are equally at a loss
in this particular. If any one think proper to refute this assertion,
he need not put himself to the trouble of inventing any long reasonings:
but may at once shew us an instance of a cause, where we discover the
power or operating principle. This defiance we are obliged frequently
to make use of, as being almost the only means of proving a negative in

The small success, which has been met with in all the attempts to fix
this power, has at last obliged philosophers to conclude, that the
ultimate force and efficacy of nature is perfectly unknown to us,
and that it is in vain we search for it in all the known qualities of
matter. In this opinion they are almost unanimous; and it is only in the
inference they draw from it, that they discover any difference in their
sentiments. For some of them, as the CARTESIANS in particular, having
established it as a principle, that we are perfectly acquainted with the
essence of matter, have very naturally inferred, that it is endowed with
no efficacy, and that it is impossible for it of itself to communicate
motion, or produce any of those effects, which we ascribe to it. As the
essence of matter consists in extension, and as extension implies not
actual motion, but only mobility; they conclude, that the energy, which
produces the motion, cannot lie in the extension.

This conclusion leads them into another, which they regard as perfectly
unavoidable. Matter, say they, is in itself entirely unactive, and
deprived of any power, by which it may produce, or continue, or
communicate motion: But since these effects are evident to our senses,
and since the power, that produces them, must be placed somewhere, it
must lie in the DEITY, or that divine being, who contains in his nature
all excellency and perfection. It is the deity, therefore, who is the
prime mover of the universe, and who not only first created matter, and
gave it it's original impulse, but likewise by a continued exertion of
omnipotence, supports its existence, and successively bestows on it
all those motions, and configurations, and qualities, with which it is

This opinion is certainly very curious, and well worth our attention;
but it will appear superfluous to examine it in this place, if we
reflect a moment on our present purpose in taking notice of it. We
have established it as a principle, that as all ideas are derived from
impressions, or some precedent perceptions, it is impossible we can have
any idea of power and efficacy, unless some instances can be produced,
wherein this power is perceived to exert itself. Now, as these instances
can never be discovered in body, the Cartesians, proceeding upon their
principle of innate ideas, have had recourse to a supreme spirit or
deity, whom they consider as the only active being in the universe, and
as the immediate cause of every alteration in matter. But the principle
of innate ideas being allowed to be false, it follows, that the
supposition of a deity can serve us in no stead, in accounting for that
idea of agency, which we search for in vain in all the objects, which
are presented to our senses, or which we are internally conscious of in
our own minds. For if every idea be derived from an impression, the idea
of a deity proceeds from the same origin; and if no impression, either
of sensation or reflection, implies any force or efficacy, it is equally
impossible to discover or even imagine any such active principle in the
deity. Since these philosophers, therefore, have concluded, that
matter cannot be endowed with any efficacious principle, because it
is impossible to discover in it such a principle; the same course of
reasoning should determine them to exclude it from the supreme being. Or
if they esteem that opinion absurd and impious, as it really is, I shall
tell them how they may avoid it; and that is, by concluding from the
very first, that they have no adequate idea of power or efficacy in
any object; since neither in body nor spirit, neither in superior nor
inferior natures, are they able to discover one single instance of it.

The same conclusion is unavoidable upon the hypothesis of those, who
maintain the efficacy of second causes, and attribute a derivative, but
a real power and energy to matter. For as they confess, that this energy
lies not in any of the known qualities of matter, the difficulty still
remains concerning the origin of its idea. If we have really an idea
of power, we may attribute power to an unknown quality: But as it is
impossible, that that idea can be derived from such a quality, and as
there is nothing in known qualities, which can produce it; it follows
that we deceive ourselves, when we imagine we are possest of any idea
of this kind, after the manner we commonly understand it. All ideas are
derived from, and represent impressions. We never have any impression,
that contains any power or efficacy. We never therefore have any idea of

Some have asserted, that we feel an energy, or power, in our own mind;
and that having in this manner acquired the idea of power, we transfer
that quality to matter, where we are not able immediately to discover
it. The motions of our body, and the thoughts and sentiments of our
mind, (say they) obey the will; nor do we seek any farther to acquire
a just notion of force or power. But to convince us how fallacious this
reasoning is, we need only consider, that the will being here considered
as a cause, has no more a discoverable connexion with its effects, than
any material cause has with its proper effect. So far from perceiving
the connexion betwixt an act of volition, and a motion of the body;
it is allowed that no effect is more inexplicable from the powers and
essence of thought and matter. Nor is the empire of the will over
our mind more intelligible. The effect is there distinguishable
and separable from the cause, and coued not be foreseen without the
experience of their constant conjunction. We have command over our mind
to a certain degree, but beyond that, lose all empire over it: And it is
evidently impossible to fix any precise bounds to our authority, where
we consult not experience. In short, the actions of the mind are, in
this respect, the same with those of matter. We perceive only their
constant conjunction; nor can we ever reason beyond it. No internal
impression has an apparent energy, more than external objects have.
Since, therefore, matter is confessed by philosophers to operate by
an unknown force, we should in vain hope to attain an idea of force by
consulting our own minds. [Footnote 8.]

     [Footnote 8. The same imperfection attends our ideas of the
     Deity; but this can have no effect either on religion or
     morals. The order of the universe proves an omnipotent mind;
     that is, a mind whose wili is CONSTANTLY ATTENDED with the
     obedience of every creature and being. Nothing more is
     requisite to give a foundation to all the articles of
     religion, nor is It necessary we shoud form a distinct idea
     of the force and energy of the supreme Being.]

It has been established as a certain principle, that general or abstract
ideas are nothing but individual ones taken in a certain light, and
that, in reflecting on any object, it is as impossible to exclude from
our thought all particular degrees of quantity and quality as from the
real nature of things. If we be possest, therefore, of any idea of power
in general, we must also be able to conceive some particular species
of it; and as power cannot subsist alone, but is always regarded as an
attribute of some being or existence, we must be able to place this
power in some particular being, and conceive that being as endowed with
a real force and energy, by which such a particular effect necessarily
results from its operation. We must distinctly and particularly conceive
the connexion betwixt the cause and effect, and be able to pronounce,
from a simple view of the one, that it must be followed or preceded by
the other. This is the true manner of conceiving a particular power in
a particular body: and a general idea being impossible without an
individual; where the latter is impossible, it is certain the former
can never exist. Now nothing is more evident, than that the human mind
cannot form such an idea of two objects, as to conceive any connexion
betwixt them, or comprehend distinctly that power or efficacy, by which
they are united. Such a connexion would amount to a demonstration, and
would imply the absolute impossibility for the one object not to follow,
or to be conceived not to follow upon the other: Which kind of connexion
has already been rejected in all cases. If any one is of a contrary
opinion, and thinks he has attained a notion of power in any particular
object, I desire he may point out to me that object. But till I meet
with such-a-one, which I despair of, I cannot forbear concluding, that
since we can never distinctly conceive how any particular power can
possibly reside in any particular object, we deceive ourselves in
imagining we can form any such general idea.

Thus upon the whole we may infer, that when we talk of any being,
whether of a superior or inferior nature, as endowed with a power
or force, proportioned to any effect; when we speak of a necessary
connexion betwixt objects, and suppose, that this connexion depends upon
an efficacy or energy, with which any of these objects are endowed; in
all these expressions, so applied, we have really no distinct meaning,
and make use only of common words, without any clear and determinate
ideas. But as it is more probable, that these expressions do here lose
their true meaning by being wrong applied, than that they never have
any meaning; it will be proper to bestow another consideration on this
subject, to see if possibly we can discover the nature and origin of
those ideas, we annex to them.

Suppose two objects to be presented to us, of which the one is the
cause and the other the effect; it is plain, that from the simple
consideration of one, or both these objects we never shall perceive the
tie by which they are united, or be able certainly to pronounce, that
there is a connexion betwixt them. It is not, therefore, from any one
instance, that we arrive at the idea of cause and effect, of a necessary
connexion of power, of force, of energy, and of efficacy. Did we never
see any but particular conjunctions of objects, entirely different from
each other, we should never be able to form any such ideas.

But again; suppose we observe several instances, in which the same
objects are always conjoined together, we immediately conceive a
connexion betwixt them, and begin to draw an inference from one
to another. This multiplicity of resembling instances, therefore,
constitutes the very essence of power or connexion, and is the source
from which the idea of it arises. In order, then, to understand the idea
of power, we must consider that multiplicity; nor do I ask more to give
a solution of that difficulty, which has so long perplexed us. For thus
I reason. The repetition of perfectly similar instances can never alone
give rise to an original idea, different from what is to be found in any
particular instance, as has been observed, and as evidently follows from
our fundamental principle, that all ideas are copyed from impressions.
Since therefore the idea of power is a new original idea, not to be
found in any one instance, and which yet arises from the repetition of
several instances, it follows, that the repetition alone has not that
effect, but must either discover or produce something new, which is the
source of that idea. Did the repetition neither discover nor produce
anything new, our ideas might be multiplyed by it, but would not
be enlarged above what they are upon the observation of one single
instance. Every enlargement, therefore, (such as the idea of power or
connexion) which arises from the multiplicity of similar instances,
is copyed from some effects of the multiplicity, and will be perfectly
understood by understanding these effects. Wherever we find anything new
to be discovered or produced by the repetition, there we must place the
power, and must never look for it in any other object.

But it is evident, in the first place, that the repetition of like
objects in like relations of succession and contiguity discovers nothing
new in any one of them: since we can draw no inference from it, nor make
it a subject either of our demonstrative or probable reasonings;[Sect.
6.] as has been already proved. Nay suppose we coued draw an inference,
it would be of no consequence in the present case; since no kind of
reasoning can give rise to a new idea, such as this of power is; but
wherever we reason, we must antecedently be possest of clear ideas,
which may be the objects of our reasoning. The conception always
precedes the understanding; and where the one is obscure, the other is
uncertain; where the one fails, the other must fail also.

Secondly, It is certain that this repetition of similar objects in
similar situations produces nothing new either in these objects, or
in any external body. For it will readily be allowed, that the several
instances we have of the conjunction of resembling causes and effects
are in themselves entirely independent, and that the communication
of motion, which I see result at present from the shock of two
billiard-balls, is totally distinct from that which I saw result from
such an impulse a twelve-month ago. These impulses have no influence
on each other. They are entirely divided by time and place; and the one
might have existed and communicated motion, though the other never had
been in being.

There is, then, nothing new either discovered or produced in any objects
by their constant conjunction, and by the uninterrupted resemblance
of their relations of succession and contiguity. But it is from this
resemblance, that the ideas of necessity, of power, and of efficacy, are
derived. These ideas, therefore, represent not anything, that does or
can belong to the objects, which are constantly conjoined. This is
an argument, which, in every view we can examine it, will be found
perfectly unanswerable. Similar instances are still the first source
of our idea of power or necessity; at the same time that they have no
influence by their similarity either on each other, or on any external
object. We must, therefore, turn ourselves to some other quarter to seek
the origin of that idea.

Though the several resembling instances, which give rise to the idea of
power, have no influence on each other, and can never produce any new
quality in the object, which can be the model of that idea, yet the
observation of this resemblance produces a new impression in the mind,
which is its real model. For after we have observed the resemblance in
a sufficient number of instances, we immediately feel a determination of
the mind to pass from one object to its usual attendant, and to conceive
it in a stronger light upon account of that relation. This determination
is the only effect of the resemblance; and therefore must be the same
with power or efficacy, whose idea is derived from the resemblance. The
several instances of resembling conjunctions lead us into the notion of
power and necessity. These instances are in themselves totally distinct
from each other, and have no union but in the mind, which observes
them, and collects their ideas. Necessity, then, is the effect of this
observation, and is nothing but an internal impression of the mind,
or a determination to carry our thoughts from one object to another.
Without considering it in this view, we can never arrive at the most
distant notion of it, or be able to attribute it either to external or
internal objects, to spirit or body, to causes or effects.

The necessary connexion betwixt causes and effects is the foundation of
our inference from one to the other. The foundation of our inference is
the transition arising from the accustomed union. These are, therefore,
the same.

The idea of necessity arises from some impression. There is no
impression conveyed by our senses, which can give rise to that idea. It
must, therefore, be derived from some internal impression, or impression
of reflection. There is no internal impression, which has any relation
to the present business, but that propensity, which custom produces, to
pass from an object to the idea of its usual attendant. This therefore
is the essence of necessity. Upon the whole, necessity is something,
that exists in the mind, not in objects; nor is it possible for us ever
to form the most distant idea of it, considered as a quality in bodies.
Either we have no idea of necessity, or necessity is nothing but that
determination of the thought to pass from causes to effects, and from
effects to causes, according to their experienced union.

Thus as the necessity, which makes two times two equal to four, or three
angles of a triangle equal to two right ones, lies only in the act of
the understanding, by which we consider and compare these ideas; in like
manner the necessity or power, which unites causes and effects, lies
in the determination of the mind to pass from the one to the other. The
efficacy or energy of causes is neither placed in the causes themselves,
nor in the deity, nor in the concurrence of these two principles; but
belongs entirely to the soul, which considers the union of two or more
objects in all past instances. It is here that the real power of causes
is placed along with their connexion and necessity.

I am sensible, that of all the paradoxes, which I, have had, or shall
hereafter have occasion to advance in the course of this treatise, the
present one is the most violent, and that it is merely by dint of solid
proof and reasoning I can ever hope it will have admission, and overcome
the inveterate prejudices of mankind. Before we are reconciled to this
doctrine, how often must we repeat to ourselves, that the simple view of
any two objects or actions, however related, can never give us any idea,
of power, or of a connexion betwixt them: that this idea arises from
the repetition of their union: that the repetition neither discovers nor
causes any thing in the objects, but has an influence only on the mind,
by that customary transition it produces: that this customary transition
is, therefore, the same with the power and necessity; which are
consequently qualities of perceptions, not of objects, and are
internally felt by the soul, and not perceivd externally in bodies?
There is commonly an astonishment attending every thing extraordinary;
and this astonishment changes immediately into the highest degree
of esteem or contempt, according as we approve or disapprove of the
subject. I am much afraid, that though the foregoing reasoning appears
to me the shortest and most decisive imaginable; yet with the generality
of readers the biass of the mind will prevail, and give them a prejudice
against the present doctrine.

This contrary biass is easily accounted for. It is a common observation,
that the mind has a great propensity to spread itself on external
objects, and to conjoin with them any internal impressions, which they
occasion, and which always make their appearance at the same time that
these objects discover themselves to the senses. Thus as certain sounds
and smells are always found to attend certain visible objects, we
naturally imagine a conjunction, even in place, betwixt the objects and
qualities, though the qualities be of such a nature as to admit of no
such conjunction, and really exist no where. But of this more fully
hereafter [Part IV, Sect. 5.]. Mean while it is sufficient to observe,
that the same propensity is the reason, why we suppose necessity and
power to lie in the objects we consider, not in our mind that considers
them; notwithstanding it is not possible for us to form the most distant
idea of that quality, when it is not taken for the determination of the
mind, to pass from the idea of an object to that of its usual attendant.

But though this be the only reasonable account we can give of necessity,
the contrary notion if; so riveted in the mind from the principles
above-mentioned, that I doubt not but my sentiments will be treated by
many as extravagant and ridiculous. What! the efficacy of causes lie
in the determination of the mind! As if causes did not operate entirely
independent of the mind, and would not continue their operation,
even though there was no mind existent to contemplate them, or reason
concerning them. Thought may well depend on causes for its operation,
but not causes on thought. This is to reverse the order of nature, and
make that secondary, which is really primary, To every operation there
is a power proportioned; and this power must be placed on the body, that
operates. If we remove the power from one cause, we must ascribe it to
another: But to remove it from all causes, and bestow it on a being,
that is no ways related to the cause or effect, but by perceiving them,
is a gross absurdity, and contrary to the most certain principles of
human reason.

I can only reply to all these arguments, that the case is here much the
same, as if a blind man should pretend to find a great many absurdities
in the supposition, that the colour of scarlet is not the same with the
sound of a trumpet, nor light the same with solidity. If we have really
no idea of a power or efficacy in any object, or of any real connexion
betwixt causes and effects, it will be to little purpose to prove, that
an efficacy is necessary in all operations. We do not understand our own
meaning in talking so, but ignorantly confound ideas, which are entirely
distinct from each other. I am, indeed, ready to allow, that there may
be several qualities both in material and immaterial objects, with which
we are utterly unacquainted; and if we please to call these POWER or
EFFICACY, it will be of little consequence to the world. But when,
instead of meaning these unknown qualities, we make the terms of power
and efficacy signify something, of which we have a clear idea, and which
is incompatible with those objects, to which we apply it, obscurity
and error begin then to take place, and we are led astray by a false
philosophy. This is the case, when we transfer the determination of the
thought to external objects, and suppose any real intelligible connexion
betwixt them; that being a quality, which can only belong to the mind
that considers them.

As to what may be said, that the operations of nature are independent
of our thought and reasoning, I allow it; and accordingly have observed,
that objects bear to each other the relations of contiguity and
succession: that like objects may be observed in several instances to
have like relations; and that all this is independent of, and antecedent
to the operations of the understanding. But if we go any farther, and
ascribe a power or necessary connexion to these objects; this is what
we can never observe in them, but must draw the idea of it from what we
feel internally in contemplating them. And this I carry so far, that I
am ready to convert my present reasoning into an instance of it, by a
subtility, which it will not be difficult to comprehend.

When any object is presented to us, it immediately conveys to the mind
a lively idea of that object, which is usually found to attend it; and
this determination of the mind forms the necessary connexion of these
objects. But when we change the point of view, from the objects to the
perceptions; in that case the impression is to be considered as the
cause, and the lively idea as the effect; and their necessary connexion
is that new determination, which we feel to pass from the idea of the
one to that of the other. The uniting principle among our internal
perceptions is as unintelligible as that among external objects, and
is not known to us any other way than by experience. Now the nature
and effects of experience have been already sufficiently examined and
explained. It never gives us any insight into the internal structure or
operating principle of objects, but only accustoms the mind to pass from
one to another.

It is now time to collect all the different parts of this reasoning,
and by joining them together form an exact definition of the relation of
cause and effect, which makes the subject of the present enquiry. This
order would not have been excusable, of first examining our inference
from the relation before we had explained the relation itself, had it
been possible to proceed in a different method. But as the nature of the
relation depends so much on that of the inference, we have been obliged
to advance in this seemingly preposterous manner, and make use of terms
before we were able exactly to define them, or fix their meaning. We
shall now correct this fault by giving a precise definition of cause and

There may two definitions be given of this relation, which are only
different, by their presenting a different view of the same object,
and making us consider it either as a philosophical or as a natural
relation; either as a comparison of two ideas, or as an association
betwixt them. We may define a CAUSE to be An object precedent and
contiguous to another, and where all the objects resembling the former
are placed in like relations of precedency and contiguity to those
objects that resemble the latter. I If this definition be esteemed
defective, because drawn from objects foreign to the cause, we may
substitute this other definition in its place, viz. A CAUSE is an object
precedent and contiguous to another, and so united with it, that the
idea, of the one determines the mind to form the idea of the other, and
the impression of the one to form a more lively idea of the other. 2
should this definition also be rejected for the same reason, I know no
other remedy, than that the persons, who express this delicacy, should
substitute a juster definition in its place. But for my part I must own
my incapacity for such an undertaking. When I examine with the utmost
accuracy those objects, which are commonly denominated causes and
effects, I find, in considering a single instance, that the one object
is precedent and contiguous to the other; and in inlarging my view
to consider several instances, I find only, that like objects are
constantly placed in like relations of succession and contiguity. Again,
when I consider the influence of this constant conjunction, I perceive,
that such a relation can never be an object of reasoning, and can never
operate upon the mind, but by means of custom, which determines the
imagination to make a transition from the idea of one object to that
of its usual attendant, and from the impression of one to a more lively
idea of the other. However extraordinary these sentiments may appear,
I think it fruitless to trouble myself with any farther enquiry or
reasoning upon the subject, but shall repose myself on them as on
established maxims.

It will only be proper, before we leave this subject, to draw some
corrollaries from it, by which we may remove several prejudices and
popular errors, that have very much prevailed in philosophy. First, We
may learn from the foregoing, doctrine, that all causes are of the
same kind, and that in particular there is no foundation for that
distinction, which we sometimes make betwixt efficient causes and causes
sine qua non; or betwixt efficient causes, and formal, and material, and
exemplary, and final causes. For as our idea of efficiency is derived
from the constant conjunction of two objects, wherever this is observed,
the cause is efficient; and where it is not, there can never be a cause
of any kind. For the same reason we must reject the distinction betwixt
cause and occasion, when supposed to signify any thing essentially
different from each other. If constant conjunction be implyed in what we
call occasion, it is a real cause. If not, it is no relation at all, and
cannot give rise to any argument or reasoning.

Secondly, The same course of reasoning will make us conclude, that there
is but one kind of necessity, as there is but one kind of cause, and
that the common distinction betwixt moral and physical necessity
is without any foundation in nature. This clearly appears from the
precedent explication of necessity. It is the constant conjunction of
objects, along with the determination of the mind, which constitutes
a physical necessity: And the removal of these is the same thing with
chance. As objects must either be conjoined or not, and as the mind must
either be determined or not to pass from one object to another, it
is impossible to admit of any medium betwixt chance and an absolute
necessity. In weakening this conjunction and determination you do not
change the nature of the necessity; since even in the operation of
bodies, these have different degrees of constancy and force, without
producing a different species of that relation.

The distinction, which we often make betwixt POWER and the EXERCISE of
it, is equally without foundation.

Thirdly, We may now be able fully to overcome all that repugnance, which
it is so natural for us to entertain against the foregoing reasoning,
by which we endeavoured to prove, that the necessity of a cause to
every beginning of existence is not founded on any arguments either
demonstrative or intuitive. Such an opinion will not appear strange
after the foregoing definitions. If we define a cause to be an
object precedent and contiguous to another, and where all the objects
resembling the farmer are placed in a like relation of priority and
contiguity to those objects, that resemble the latter; we may easily
conceive, that there is no absolute nor metaphysical necessity, that
every beginning of existence should be attended with such an object. If
less difficulty of assenting to this opinion. Such an influence on the
mind is in itself perfectly extraordinary and incomprehensible; nor can
we be certain of its reality, but from experience and observation.

I shall add as a fourth corrollary that we can never have reason to
believe that any object exists, of which we cannot form an idea. For as
all our reasonings concerning existence are derived from causation,
and as all our reasonings concerning causation are derived from
the experienced conjunction of objects, not from any reasoning or
reflection, the same experience must give us a notion of these objects,
and must remove all mystery from our conclusions. This is so evident,
that it would scarce have merited our attention, were it not to obviate
certain objections of this kind, which might arise against the following
reasonings concerning matter and substance. I need not observe, that
a full knowledge of the object is not requisite, but only of those
qualities of it, which we believe to exist.


According to the precedent doctrine, there are no objects which by the
mere survey, without consulting experience, we can determine to be the
causes of any other; and no objects, which we can certainly determine in
the same manner not to be the causes. Any thing may produce any thing.
Creation, annihilation, motion, reason, volition; all these may arise
from one another, or from any other object we can imagine. Nor will this
appear strange, if we compare two principles explained above, THAT THE
BUT EXISTENCE AND NON-EXISTENCE. Where objects are not contrary,
nothing hinders them from having that constant conjunction, on which the
relation of cause and effect totally depends.

Since therefore it is possible for all objects to become causes or
effects to each other, it may be proper to fix some general rules, by
which we may know when they really are so.

(1) The cause and effect must be contiguous in space and time.

(2) The cause must be prior to the effect.

(3) There must be a constant union betwixt the cause and effect. It is
chiefly this quality, that constitutes the relation.

(4) The same cause always produces the same effect, and the same effect
never arises but from the same cause. This principle we derive from
experience, and is the source of most of our philosophical reasonings.
For when by any clear experiment we have discovered the causes or
effects of any phaenomenon, we immediately extend our observation to
every phenomenon of the same kind, without waiting for that constant
repetition, from which the first idea of this relation is derived.

(5) There is another principle, which hangs upon this, viz. that where
several different objects produce the same effect, it must be by means
of some quality, which we discover to be common amongst them. For as
like effects imply like causes, we must always ascribe the causation to
the circumstance, wherein we discover the resemblance.

(6) The following principle is founded on the same reason. The
difference in the effects of two resembling objects must proceed from
that particular, in which they differ. For as like causes always
produce like effects, when in any instance we find our expectation to be
disappointed, we must conclude that this irregularity proceeds from some
difference in the causes.

(7) When any object encreases or diminishes with the encrease or
diminution of its cause, it is to be regarded as a compounded effect,
derived from the union of the several different effects, which arise
from the several different parts of the cause. The absence or presence
of one part of the cause is here supposed to be always attended with
the absence or presence of a proportionable part of the effect. This
constant conjunction sufficiently proves, that the one part is the cause
of the other. We must, however, beware not to draw such a conclusion
from a few experiments. A certain degree of heat gives pleasure; if you
diminish that heat, the pleasure diminishes; but it does not follow,
that if you augment it beyond a certain degree, the pleasure will
likewise augment; for we find that it degenerates into pain.

(8) The eighth and last rule I shall take notice of is, that an object,
which exists for any time in its full perfection without any effect, is
not the sole cause of that effect, but requires to be assisted by some
other principle, which may forward its influence and operation. For as
like effects necessarily follow from like causes, and in a contiguous
time and place, their separation for a moment shews, that these causes
are not compleat ones.

Here is all the LOGIC I think proper to employ in my reasoning; and
perhaps even this was not very necessary, but might have been supplyd by
the natural principles of our understanding. Our scholastic head-pieces
and logicians shew no such superiority above the mere vulgar in their
reason and ability, as to give us any inclination to imitate them in
delivering a long system of rules and precepts to direct our judgment,
in philosophy. All the rules of this nature are very easy in their
invention, but extremely difficult in their application; and even
experimental philosophy, which seems the most natural and simple of any,
requires the utmost stretch of human judgment. There is no phaenomenon
in nature, but what is compounded and modifyd by so many different
circumstances, that in order to arrive at the decisive point, we
must carefully separate whatever is superfluous, and enquire by new
experiments, if every particular circumstance of the first experiment
was essential to it. These new experiments are liable to a discussion
of the same kind; so that the utmost constancy is requird to make us
persevere in our enquiry, and the utmost sagacity to choose the right
way among so many that present themselves. If this be the case even
in natural philosophy, how much more in moral, where there is a much
greater complication of circumstances, and where those views and
sentiments, which are essential to any action of the mind, are so
implicit and obscure, that they often escape our strictest attention,
and are not only unaccountable in their causes, but even unknown in
their existence? I am much afraid lest the small success I meet with
in my enquiries will make this observation bear the air of an apology
rather than of boasting.

If any thing can give me security in this particular, it will be the
enlarging of the sphere of my experiments as much as possible; for which
reason it may be proper in this place to examine the reasoning faculty
of brutes, as well as that of human creatures.


Next to the ridicule of denying an evident truth, is that of taking much
pains to defend it; and no truth appears to me more evident, than that
beasts are endowd with thought and reason as well as men. The arguments
are in this case so obvious, that they never escape the most stupid and

We are conscious, that we ourselves, in adapting means to ends, are
guided by reason and design, and that it is not ignorantly nor casually
we perform those actions, which tend to self-preservation, to the
obtaining pleasure, and avoiding pain. When therefore we see other
creatures, in millions of instances, perform like actions, and direct
them to the ends, all our principles of reason and probability carry us
with an invincible force to believe the existence of a like cause. It is
needless in my opinion to illustrate this argument by the enumeration
of particulars. The smallest attention will supply us with more than are
requisite. The resemblance betwixt the actions of animals and those
of men is so entire in this respect, that the very first action of
the first animal we shall please to pitch on, will afford us an
incontestable argument for the present doctrine.

This doctrine is as useful as it is obvious, and furnishes us with a
kind of touchstone, by which we may try every system in this species
of philosophy. It is from the resemblance of the external actions of
animals to those we ourselves perform, that we judge their internal
likewise to resemble ours; and the same principle of reasoning, carryd
one step farther, will make us conclude that since our internal actions
resemble each other, the causes, from which they are derivd, must also
be resembling. When any hypothesis, therefore, is advancd to explain a
mental operation, which is common to men and beasts, we must apply the
same hypothesis to both; and as every true hypothesis will abide this
trial, so I may venture to affirm, that no false one will ever be able
to endure it. The common defect of those systems, which philosophers
have employd to account for the actions of the mind, is, that they
suppose such a subtility and refinement of thought, as not only exceeds
the capacity of mere animals, but even of children and the common people
in our own species; who are notwithstanding susceptible of the same
emotions and affections as persons of the most accomplishd genius and
understanding. Such a subtility is a dear proof of the falshood, as the
contrary simplicity of the truth, of any system.

Let us therefore put our present system concerning the nature of the
understanding to this decisive trial, and see whether it will equally
account for the reasonings of beasts as for these of the human species.

Here we must make a distinction betwixt those actions of animals, which
are of a vulgar nature, and seem to be on a level with their common
capacities, and those more extraordinary instances of sagacity, which
they sometimes discover for their own preservation, and the propagation
of their species. A dog, that avoids fire and precipices, that shuns
strangers, and caresses his master, affords us an instance of the first
kind. A bird, that chooses with such care and nicety the place and
materials of her nest, and sits upon her eggs for a due time, and in
suitable season, with all the precaution that a chymist is capable of in
the most delicate projection, furnishes us with a lively instance of the

As to the former actions, I assert they proceed from a reasoning, that
is not in itself different, nor founded on different principles, from
that which appears in human nature. It is necessary in the first place,
that there be some impression immediately present to their memory or
senses, in order to be the foundation of their judgment. From the
tone of voice the dog infers his masters anger, and foresees his own
punishment. From a certain sensation affecting his smell, he judges his
game not to be far distant from him.

Secondly, The inference he draws from the present impression is built on
experience, and on his observation of the conjunction of objects in past
instances. As you vary this experience, he varies his reasoning. Make
a beating follow upon one sign or motion for some time, and afterwards
upon another; and he will successively draw different conclusions,
according to his most recent experience.

Now let any philosopher make a trial, and endeavour to explain that
act of the mind, which we call BELIEF, and give an account of the
principles, from which it is derivd, independent of the influence of
custom on the imagination, and let his hypothesis be equally applicable
to beasts as to the human species; and after he has done this, I promise
to embrace his opinion. But at the same time I demand as an equitable
condition, that if my system be the only one, which can answer to all
these terms, it may be receivd as entirely satisfactory and convincing.
And that it is the only one, is evident almost without any reasoning.
Beasts certainly never perceive any real connexion among objects. It is
therefore by experience they infer one from another. They can never by
any arguments form a general conclusion, that those objects, of which
they have had no experience, resemble those of which they have. It is
therefore by means of custom alone, that experience operates upon them.
All this was sufficiently evident with respect to man. But with respect
to beasts there cannot be the least suspicion of mistake; which must be
ownd to be a strong confirmation, or rather an invincible proof of my

Nothing shews more the force of habit in reconciling us to any
phaenomenoun, than this, that men are not astonished at the operations
of their own reason, at the same time, that they admire the instinct
of animals, and find a difficulty in explaining it, merely because it
cannot be reducd tothe very same principles. To consider the matter
aright, reason is nothing but a wonderful and unintelligible instinct in
our souls, which carries us along a certain train of ideas, and endows
them with particular qualities, according to their particular situations
and relations. This instinct, it is true, arises from past observation
and experience; but can any one give the ultimate reason, why past
experience and observation produces such an effect, any more than why
nature alone shoud produce it? Nature may certainly produce whatever
can arise from habit: Nay, habit is nothing but one of the principles of
nature, and derives all its force from that origin.



In all demonstrative sciences the rules are certain and infallible; but
when we apply them, our fallible said uncertain faculties are very apt
to depart from them, and fall into error. We must, therefore, in every
reasoning form a new judgment, as a check or controul on our first
judgment or belief; and must enlarge our view to comprehend a kind of
history of all the instances, wherein our understanding has deceived us,
compared with those, wherein its testimony was just and true. Our reason
must be considered as a kind of cause, of which truth is the natural
effect; but such-a-one as by the irruption of other causes, and by the
inconstancy of our mental powers, may frequently be prevented. By this
means all knowledge degenerates into probability; and this probability
is greater or less, according to our experience of the veracity or
deceitfulness of our understanding, and according to the simplicity or
intricacy of the question.

There is no Algebraist nor Mathematician so expert in his science, as to
place entire confidence in any truth immediately upon his discovery of
it, or regard it as any thing, but a were probability. Every time he
runs over his proofs, his confidence encreases; but still more by the
approbation of his friends; and is raised to its utmost perfection by
the universal assent and applauses of the learned world. Now it is
evident, that this gradual encrease of assurance is nothing but the
addition of new probabilities, and is derived from the constant union of
causes and effects, according to past experience and observation.

In accompts of any length or importance, Merchants seldom trust to
the infallible certainty of numbers for their security; but by the
artificial structure of the accompts, produce a probability beyond what
is derived from the skill and experience of the accomptant. For that
is plainly of itself some degree of probability; though uncertain and
variable, according to the degrees of his experience and length of
the accompt. Now as none will maintain, that our assurance in a long
numeration exceeds probability, I may safely affirm, that there scarce
is any proposition concerning numbers, of which we can have a fuller
security. For it is easily possible, by gradually diminishing the
numbers, to reduce the longest series of addition to the most simple
question, which can be formed, to an addition of two single numbers; and
upon this supposition we shall find it impracticable to shew the precise
limits of knowledge and of probability, or discover that particular
number, at which the one ends and the other begins. But knowledge and
probability are of such contrary and disagreeing natures, that they
cannot well run insensibly into each other, and that because they will
not divide, but must be either entirely present, or entirely absent.
Besides, if any single addition were certain, every one would be so, and
consequently the whole or total sum; unless the whole can be different
from all its parts. I had almost said, that this was certain; but I
reflect that it must reduce itself, as well as every other reasoning,
and from knowledge degenerate into probability.

Since therefore all knowledge resolves itself into probability, and
becomes at last of the same nature with that evidence, which we employ
in common life, we must now examine this latter species of reasoning,
and see on what foundation it stands.

In every judgment, which we can form concerning probability, as well
as concerning knowledge, we ought always to correct the first judgment,
derived from the nature of the object, by another judgment, derived from
the nature of the understanding. It is certain a man of solid sense and
long experience ought to have, and usually has, a greater assurance
in his opinions, than one that is foolish and ignorant, and that our
sentiments have different degrees of authority, even with ourselves, in
proportion to the degrees of our reason and experience. In the man of
the best sense and longest experience, this authority is never entire;
since even such-a-one must be conscious of many errors in the past, and
must still dread the like for the future. Here then arises a new species
of probability to correct and regulate the first, and fix its just
standard and proportion. As demonstration is subject to the controul of
probability, so is probability liable to a new correction by a reflex
act of the mind, wherein the nature of our understanding, and our
reasoning from the first probability become our objects.

Having thus found in every probability, beside the original uncertainty
inherent in the subject, a new uncertainty derived from the weakness of
that faculty, which judges, and having adjusted these two together,
we are obliged by our reason to add a new doubt derived from the
possibility of error in the estimation we make of the truth and fidelity
of our faculties. This is a doubt, which immediately occurs to us, and
of which, if we would closely pursue our reason, we cannot avoid giving
a decision. But this decision, though it should be favourable to our
preceding judgment, being founded only on probability, must weaken still
further our first evidence, and must itself be weakened by a fourth
doubt of the same kind, and so on in infinitum: till at last there
remain nothing of the original probability, however great we may
suppose it to have been, and however small the diminution by every new
uncertainty. No finite object can subsist under a decrease repeated IN
INFINITUM; and even the vastest quantity, which can enter into human
imagination, must in this manner be reduced to nothing. Let our first
belief be never so strong, it must infallibly perish by passing through
so many new examinations, of which each diminishes somewhat of its force
and vigour. When I reflect on the natural fallibility of my judgment,
I have less confidence in my opinions, than when I only consider the
objects concerning which I reason; and when I proceed still farther,
to turn the scrutiny against every successive estimation I make of my
faculties, all the rules of logic require a continual diminution, and at
last a total extinction of belief and evidence.

Should it here be asked me, whether I sincerely assent to this argument,
which I seem to take such pains to inculcate, and whether I be really
one of those sceptics, who hold that all is uncertain, and that our
judgment is not in any thing possest of any measures of truth and
falshood; I should reply, that this question is entirely superfluous,
and that neither I, nor any other person was ever sincerely and
constantly of that opinion. Nature, by an absolute and uncontroulable
necessity has determined us to judge as well as to breathe and feel; nor
can we any more forbear viewing certain objects in a stronger and
fuller light, upon account of their customary connexion with a present
impression, than we can hinder ourselves from thinking as long, as
we are awake, or seeing the surrounding bodies, when we turn our eyes
towards them in broad sunshine. Whoever has taken the pains to refute
the cavils of this total scepticism, has really disputed without an
antagonist, and endeavoured by arguments to establish a faculty, which
nature has antecedently implanted in the mind, and rendered unavoidable.

My intention then in displaying so carefully the arguments of that
fantastic sect, is only to make the reader sensible of the truth of my
hypothesis, that all our reasonings concerning causes and effects are
derived from nothing but custom; and that belief is more properly an act
of the sensitive, than of the cogitative part of our natures. I
have here proved, that the very same principles, which make us form
a decision upon any subject, and correct that decision by the
consideration of our genius and capacity, and of the situation of our
mind, when we examined that subject; I say, I have proved, that these
same principles, when carryed farther, and applied to every new reflex
judgment, must, by continually diminishing the original evidence, at
last reduce it to nothing, and utterly subvert all belief and opinion.
If belief, therefore, were a simple act of the thought, without any
peculiar manner of conception, or the addition of a force and vivacity,
it must infallibly destroy itself, and in every case terminate in a
total suspense of judgment. But as experience will sufficiently convince
any one, who thinks it worth while to try, that though he can find no
error in the foregoing arguments, yet he still continues to believe, and
think, and reason as usual, he may safely conclude, that his reasoning
and belief is some sensation or peculiar manner of conception, which it
is impossible for mere ideas and reflections to destroy.

But here, perhaps, it may be demanded, how it happens, even upon my
hypothesis, that these arguments above-explained produce not a total
suspense of judgment, and after what manner the mind ever retains a
degree of assurance in any subject? For as these new probabilities,
which by their repetition perpetually diminish the original evidence,
are founded on the very same principles, whether of thought or
sensation, as the primary judgment, it may seem unavoidable, that in
either case they must equally subvert it, and by the opposition,
either of contrary thoughts or sensations, reduce the mind to a total
uncertainty. I suppose, there is some question proposed to me, and
that after revolving over the impressions of my memory and senses,
and carrying my thoughts from them to such objects, as are commonly
conjoined with them, I feel a stronger and more forcible conception on
the one side, than on the other. This strong conception forms my first
decision. I suppose, that afterwards I examine my judgment itself,
and observing from experience, that it is sometimes just and sometimes
erroneous, I consider it as regulated by contrary principles or causes,
of which some lead to truth, and some to error; and in ballancing these
contrary causes, I diminish by a new probability the assurance of my
first decision. This new probability is liable to the same diminution as
the foregoing, and so on, IN INFINITUM. It is therefore demanded, how
it happens, that even after all we retain a degree of belief, which is
sufficient for our purpose, either in philosophy or common life.

I answer, that after the first and second decision; as the action of
the mind becomes forced and unnatural, and the ideas faint and obscure;
though the principles of judgment, and the ballancing of opposite
causes be the same as at the very beginning; yet their influence on the
imagination, and the vigour they add to, or diminish from the thought,
is by no means equal. Where the mind reaches not its objects with
easiness and facility, the same principles have not the same effect as
in a more natural conception of the ideas; nor does the imagination feel
a sensation, which holds any proportion with that which arises from
its common judgments and opinions. The attention is on the stretch: The
posture of the mind is uneasy; and the spirits being diverted from their
natural course, are not governed in their movements by the same laws, at
least not to the same degree, as when they flow in their usual channel.

If we desire similar instances, it will not be very difficult to find
them. The present subject of metaphysics will supply us abundantly. The
same argument, which would have been esteemed convincing in a reasoning
concerning history or politics, has little or no influence in these
abstruser subjects, even though it be perfectly comprehended; and that
because there is required a study and an effort of thought, in order
to its being comprehended: And this effort of thought disturbs the
operation of our sentiments, on which the belief depends. The case is
the same in other subjects. The straining of the imagination always
hinders the regular flowing of the passions and sentiments. A tragic
poet, that would represent his heroes as very ingenious and witty in
their misfortunes, would never touch the passions. As the emotions of
the soul prevent any subtile reasoning and reflection, so these latter
actions of the mind are equally prejudicial to the former. The mind, as
well as the body, seems to be endowed with a certain precise degree of
force and activity, which it never employs in one action, but at the
expense of all the rest. This is more evidently true, where the actions
are of quite different natures; since in that case the force of the mind
is not only diverted, but even the disposition changed, so as to render
us incapable of a sudden transition from one action to the other, and
still more of performing both at once. No wonder, then, the conviction,
which arises from a subtile reasoning, diminishes in proportion to the
efforts, which the imagination makes to enter into the reasoning, and
to conceive it in all its parts. Belief, being a lively conception, can
never be entire, where it is not founded on something natural and easy.

This I take to be the true state of the question, and cannot approve of
that expeditious way, which some take with the sceptics, to reject
at once all their arguments without enquiry or examination. If the
sceptical reasonings be strong, say they, it is a proof, that reason may
have some force and authority: if weak, they can never be sufficient to
invalidate all the conclusions of our understanding. This argument is
not just; because the sceptical reasonings, were it possible for them
to exist, and were they not destroyed by their subtility, would
be successively both strong and weak, according to the successive
dispositions of the mind. Reason first appears in possession of the
throne, prescribing laws, and imposing maxims, with an absolute sway and
authority. Her enemy, therefore, is obliged to take shelter under
her protection, and by making use of rational arguments to prove the
fallaciousness and imbecility of reason, produces, in a manner, a
patent under her band and seal. This patent has at first an authority,
proportioned to the present and immediate authority of reason, from
which it is derived. But as it is supposed to be contradictory to
reason, it gradually diminishes the force of that governing power
and its own at the same time; till at last they both vanish away into
nothing, by a regulax and just diminution. The sceptical and dogmatical
reasons are of the same kind, though contrary in their operation and
tendency; so that where the latter is strong, it has an enemy of equal
force in the former to encounter; and as their forces were at first
equal, they still continue so, as long as either of them subsists; nor
does one of them lose any force in the contest, without taking as much
from its antagonist. It is happy, therefore, that nature breaks the
force of all sceptical arguments in time, and keeps them from having any
considerable influence on the understanding. Were we to trust entirely
to their self-destruction, that can never take place, until they have
first subverted all conviction, and have totally destroyed human reason.


Thus the sceptic still continues to reason and believe, even though be
asserts, that he cannot defend his reason by reason; and by the same
rule he must assent to the principle concerning the existence of body,
though he cannot pretend by any arguments of philosophy to maintain its
veracity. Nature has not left this to his choice, and has doubtless,
esteemed it an affair of too great importance to be trusted to our
uncertain reasonings and speculations. We may well ask, What causes
induce us to believe in the existence of body? but it is in vain to ask,
Whether there be body or not? That is a point, which we must take for
granted in all our reasonings.

The subject, then, of our present enquiry is concerning the causes which
induce us to believe in the existence of body: And my reasonings on this
head I shall begin with a distinction, which at first sight may
seem superfluous, but which will contribute very much to the perfect
understanding of what follows. We ought to examine apart those two
questions, which are commonly confounded together, viz. Why we attribute
a continued existence to objects, even when they are not present to the
senses; and why we suppose them to have an existence DISTINCT from the
mind and perception. Under this last head I comprehend their
situation as well as relations, their external position as well as
the independence of their existence and operation. These two questions
concerning the continued and distinct existence of body are intimately
connected together. For if the objects of our senses continue to
exist, even when they are not perceived, their existence is of course
independent of and distinct from the perception: and vice versa, if
their existence be independent of the perception and distinct from it,
they must continue to exist, even though they be not perceived. But
though the decision of the one question decides the other; yet that we
may the more easily discover the principles of human nature, from whence
the decision arises, we shall carry along with us this distinction, and
shall consider, whether it be the senses, reason, or the imagination,
that produces the opinion of a continued or of a distinct existence.
These are the only questions, that are intelligible on the present
subject. For as to the notion of external existence, when taken for
something specially different from our perceptions [Part. II. Sect. 6.],
we have already shewn its absurdity.

To begin with the SENSES, it is evident these faculties are incapable of
giving rise to the notion of the continued existence of their objects,
after they no longer appear to the senses. For that is a contradiction
in terms, and suppose that the senses continue to operate, even after
they have ceased all manner of operation. These faculties, therefore, if
they have any influence in the present case, must produce the opinion
of a distinct, not of a continued existence; and in order to that, must
present their impressions either as images and representations, or as
these very distinct and external existences.

That our senses offer not their impressions as the images of something
distinct, or independent, and external, is evident; because they convey
to us nothing but a single perception, and never give us the least
intimation of any thing beyond. A single perception can never produce
the idea of a double existence, but by some inference either of the
reason or imagination. When the mind looks farther than what immediately
appears to it, its conclusions can never be put to the account of the
senses; and it certainly looks farther, when from a single perception it
infers a double existence, and supposes the relations of resemblance and
causation betwixt them.

If our senses, therefore, suggest any idea of distinct existences,
they must convey the impressions as those very existences, by a kind of
fallacy and illusion. Upon this bead we may observe, that all sensations
are felt by the mind, such as they really are, and that when we
doubt, whether they present themselves as distinct objects, or as
mere impressions, the difficulty is not concerning their nature, but
concerning their relations and situation. Now if the senses presented
our impressions as external to, and independent of ourselves, both the
objects and ourselves must be obvious to our senses, otherwise they
coued not be compared by these faculties. The difficulty, then, is how
fax we are ourselves the objects of our senses.

It is certain there is no question in philosophy more abstruse than
that concerning identity, and the nature of the uniting principle, which
constitutes a person. So far from being able by our senses merely to
determine this question, we must have recourse to the most profound
metaphysics to give a satisfactory answer to it; and in common life
it is evident these ideas of self and person are never very fixed nor
determinate. It is absurd, therefore, to imagine the senses can ever
distinguish betwixt ourselves and external objects.

Add to this, that every impression, external and internal, passions,
affections, sensations, pains and pleasures, are originally on the same
footing; and that whatever other differences we may observe among them,
they appear, all of them, in their true colours, as impressions or
perceptions. And indeed, if we consider the matter aright, it is scarce
possible it should be otherwise, nor is it conceivable that our senses
should be more capable of deceiving us in the situation and relations,
than in the nature of our impressions. For since all actions and
sensations of the mind are known to us by consciousness, they must
necessarily appear in every particular what they are, and be what they
appear. Every thing that enters the mind, being in reality a perception,
it is impossible any thing should to feeling appear different. This were
to suppose, that even where we are most intimately conscious, we might
be mistaken.

But not to lose time in examining, whether it is possible for our senses
to deceive us, and represent our perceptions as distinct from ourselves,
that is as external to and independent of us; let us consider whether
they really do so, and whether this error proceeds from an immediate
sensation, or from some other causes.

To begin with the question concerning EXTERNAL existence, it may perhaps
be said, that setting aside the metaphysical question of the identity
of a thinking substance, our own body evidently belongs to us; and as
several impressions appear exterior to the body, we suppose them also
exterior to ourselves. The paper, on which I write at present, is beyond
my hand. The table is beyond the paper. The walls of the chamber beyond
the table. And in casting my eye towards the window, I perceive a great
extent of fields and buildings beyond my chamber. From all this it may
be infered, that no other faculty is required, beside the senses, to
convince us of the external existence of body. But to prevent this
inference, we need only weigh the three following considerations. First,
That, properly speaking, it is not our body we perceive, when we regard
our limbs and members, but certain impressions, which enter by the
senses; so that the ascribing a real and corporeal existence to these
impressions, or to their objects, is an act of the mind as difficult
to explain, as that which we examine at present. Secondly, Sounds, and
tastes, and smelts, though commonly regarded by the mind as continued
independent qualities, appear not to have any existence in extension,
and consequently cannot appear to the senses as situated externally
to the body. The reason, why we ascribe a place to them, shall be:
considered afterwards. Thirdly, Even our sight informs us not of
distance or outness (so to speak) immediately and without a certain
reasoning and experience, as is acknowledged by the most rational

As to the independency of our perceptions on ourselves, this can never
be an object of the senses; but any opinion we form concerning it, must
be derived from experience and observation: And we shall see afterwards,
that our conclusions from experience are far from being favourable to
the doctrine of the independency of our perceptions. Mean while we may
observe that when we talk of real distinct existences, we have commonly
more in our eye their independency than external situation in place,
and think an object has a sufficient reality, when its Being is
uninterrupted, and independent of the incessant revolutions, which we
are conscious of in ourselves.

Thus to resume what I have said concerning the senses; they give us no
notion of continued existence, because they cannot operate beyond the
extent, in which they really operate. They as little produce the opinion
of a distinct existence, because they neither can offer it to the mind
as represented, nor as original. To offer it as represented, they must
present both an object and an image. To make it appear as original, they
must convey a falshood; and this falshood must lie in the relations and
situation: In order to which they must be able to compare the object
with ourselves; and even in that case they do not, nor is it possible
they should, deceive us. We may, therefore, conclude with certainty,
that the opinion of a continued and of a distinct existence never arises
from the senses.

To confirm this we may observe, that there are three different kinds of
impressions conveyed by the senses. The first are those of the figure,
bulk, motion and solidity of bodies. The second those of colours,
tastes, smells, sounds, heat and cold. The third are the pains and
pleasures, that arise from the application of objects to our bodies, as
by the cutting of our flesh with steel, and such like. Both philosophers
and the vulgar suppose the first of these to have a distinct continued
existence. The vulgar only regard the second as on the same footing.
Both philosophers and the vulgar, again, esteem the third to be merely
perceptions and consequently interrupted and dependent beings.

Now it is evident, that, whatever may be our philosophical opinion,
colours, Sounds, heat and cold, as far as appears to the senses, exist
after the same manner with motion and solidity, and that the difference
we make betwixt them in this respect, arises not from the mere
perception. So strong the prejudice for the distinct continued existence
Of the former qualities, that when the contrary opinion is advanced by
modern philosophers, people imagine they can almost refute it from
their feeling and experience, and that their very senses contradict this
philosophy. It is also evident, that colours, sounds, &c. are originally
on the same footing with the pain that arises from steel, and pleasure
that proceeds from a fire; and that the difference betwixt them is
founded neither on perception nor reason, but on the imagination. For
as they are confest to be, both of them, nothing but perceptions arising
from the particular configurations and motions of the parts of body,
wherein possibly can their difference consist? Upon the whole, then, we
may conclude, that as far as the senses are judges, all perceptions are
the same in the manner of their existence.

We may also observe in this instance of sounds and colours, that we
can attribute a distinct continued existence to objects without ever
consulting REASON, or weighing our opinions by any philosophical
principles. And indeed, whatever convincing arguments philosophers may
fancy they can produce to establish the belief of objects independent of
the mind, it is obvious these arguments are known but to very few, and
that it is not by them, that children, peasants, and the greatest part
of mankind are induced to attribute objects to some impressions, and
deny them to others. Accordingly we find, that all the conclusions,
which the vulgar form on this head, are directly contrary to those,
which are confirmed by philosophy. For philosophy informs us, that every
thing, which appears to the mind, is nothing but a perception, and is
interrupted, and dependent on the mind: whereas the vulgar confound
perceptions and objects, and attribute a distinct continued existence
to the very things they feel or see. This sentiment, then, as it is
entirely unreasonable, must proceed from some other faculty than
the understanding. To which we may add, that as long as we take our
perceptions and objects to be the same, we can never infer the existence
of the one from that of the other, nor form any argument from the
relation of cause and effect; which is the only one that earl assure us
of matter of fact. Even after we distinguish our perceptions from
our objects, it will appear presently, that we are still incapable of
reasoning from the existence of one to that of the other: So that upon
the whole our reason neither does, nor is it possible it ever should,
upon any supposition, give us an assurance of the continued and
distinct existence of body. That opinion must be entirely owing to the
IMAGINATION: which must now be the subject of our enquiry.

Since all impressions are internal and perishing existences, and appear
as such, the notion of their distinct and continued existence must arise
from a concurrence of some of their qualities with the qualities of the
imagination, and since this notion does not extend to all of them, it
must arise from certain qualities peculiar to some impressions. It will
therefore be easy for us to discover these qualities by a comparison
of the impressions, to which we attribute a distinct and continued
existence, with those, which we regard as internal and perishing.

We may observe, then, that it is neither upon account of the
involuntariness of certain impressions, as is commonly supposed, nor of
their superior force and violence, that we attribute to them a reality,
and continued existence, which we refuse to others, that are voluntary
or feeble. For it is evident our pains and pleasures, our passions and
affections, which we never suppose to have any existence beyond our
perception, operate with greater violence, and are equally involuntary,
as the impressions of figure and extension, colour and sound, which we
suppose to be permanent beings. The heat of a fire, when moderate, is
supposed to exist in the fire; but the pain, which it causes upon a near
approach, is not taken to have any being, except in the perception.

These vulgar opinions, then, being rejected, we must search for some
other hypothesis, by which we may discover those peculiar qualities
in our impressions, which makes us attribute to them a distinct and
continued existence.

After a little examination, we shall find, that all those objects, to
which we attribute a continued existence, have a peculiar constancy,
which distinguishes them from the impressions, whose existence depends
upon our perception. Those mountains, and houses, and trees, which lie
at present under my eye, have always appeared to me in the same order;
and when I lose sight of them by shutting my eyes or turning my head, I
soon after find them return upon me without the least alteration. My bed
and table, my books and papers, present themselves in the same uniform
manner, and change not upon account of any interruption in my seeing
or perceivilng them. This is the case with all the impressions, whose
objects are supposed to have an external existence; and is the case
with no other impressions, whether gentle or violent, voluntary or

This constancy, however, is not so perfect as not to admit of very
considerable exceptions. Bodies often change their position and
qualities, and after a little absence or interruption may become hardly
knowable. But here it is observable, that even in these changes they
preserve a coherence, and have a regular dependence on each other; which
is the foundation of a kind of reasoning from causation, and produces
the opinion of their continued existence. When I return to my chamber
after an hour's absence, I find not my fire in the same situation, in
which I left it: But then I am accustomed in other instances to see a
like alteration produced in a like time, whether I am present or absent,
near or remote. This coherence, therefore, in their changes is one of
the characteristics of external objects, as well as their constancy.

Having found that the opinion of the continued existence of body depends
on the COHERENCE, and CONSTANCY of certain impressions, I now proceed to
examine after what manner these qualities give rise to so extraordinary
an opinion. To begin with the coherence; we may observe, that though
those internal impressions, which we regard as fleeting and perishing,
have also a certain coherence or regularity in their appearances, yet
it is of somewhat a different nature, from that which we discover in
bodies. Our passions are found by experience to have a mutual connexion
with and dependence on each other; but on no occasion is it necessary
to suppose, that they have existed and operated, when they were not
perceived, in order to preserve the same dependence and connexion, of
which we have had experience. The case is not the same with relation
to external objects. Those require a continued existence, or otherwise
lose, in a great measure, the regularity of their operation. I am here
seated in my chamber with my face to the fire; and all the objects, that
strike my senses, are contained in a few yards around me. My memory,
indeed, informs me of the existence of many objects; but then this
information extends not beyond their past existence, nor do either my
senses or memory give any testimony to the continuance of their being.
When therefore I am thus seated, and revolve over these thoughts, I hear
on a sudden a noise as of a door turning upon its hinges; and a little
after see a porter, who advances towards me. This gives occasion to many
new reflections and reasonings. First, I never have observed, that
this noise coued proceed from any thing but the motion of a door; and
therefore conclude, that the present phaenomenon is a contradiction to
all past experience, unless the door, which I remember on the other side
the chamber, be still in being. Again, I have always found, that a human
body was possest of a quality, which I call gravity, and which hinders
it from mounting in the air, as this porter must have done to arrive
at my chamber, unless the stairs I remember be not annihilated by my
absence. But this is not all. I receive a letter, which upon, opening
it I perceive by the hand-writing and subscription to have come from a
friend, who says he is two hundred leagues distant. It is evident I can
never account for this phenomenon, conformable to my experience in other
instances, without spreading out in my mind the whole sea and continent
between us, and supposing the effects and continued existence of posts
and ferries, according to my Memory and observation. To consider
these phaenomena of the porter and letter in a certain light, they are
contradictions to common experience, and may be regarded as objections
to those maxims, which we form concerning the connexions of causes and
effects. I am accustomed to hear such a sound, and see such an object in
motion at the same time. I have not received in this particular instance
both these perceptions. These observations are contrary, unless I
suppose that the door still remains, and that it was opened without
my perceiving it: And this supposition, which was at first entirely
arbitrary and hypothetical, acquires a force and evidence by its being
the only one, upon which I can reconcile these contradictions. There
is scarce a moment of my life, wherein there is not a similar instance
presented to me, and I have not occasion to suppose the continued
existence of objects, in order to connect their past and present
appearances, and give them such an union with each other, as I have
found by experience to be suitable to their particular natures and
circumstances. Here then I am naturally led to regard the world, as
something real and durable, and as preserving its existence, even when
it is no longer present to my perception.

But though this conclusion from the coherence of appearances may seem to
be of the same nature with our reasonings concerning causes and effects;
as being derived from custom, and regulated by past experience; we
shall find upon examination, that they are at the bottom considerably
different from each other, and that this inference arises from the
understanding, and from custom in an indirect and oblique manner. For
it will readily be allowed, that since nothing is ever really present to
the mind, besides its own perceptions, it is not only impossible,
that any habit should ever be acquired otherwise than by the regular
succession of these perceptions, but also that any habit should ever
exceed that degree of regularity. Any degree, therefore, of regularity
in our perceptions, can never be a foundation for us to infer a greater
degree of regularity in some objects, which are not perceived; since
this supposes a contradiction, viz. a habit acquired by what was never
present to the mind. But it is evident, that whenever we infer the
continued existence of the objects of sense from their coherence, and
the frequency of their union, it is in order to bestow on the objects
a greater regularity than what is observed in our mere perceptions. We
remark a connexion betwixt two kinds of objects in their past appearance
to the senses, but are not able to observe this connexion to be
perfectly constant, since the turning about of our head or the shutting
of our eyes is able to break it. What then do we suppose in this
case, but that these objects still continue their usual connexion,
notwithstanding their apparent interruption, and that the irregular
appearances are joined by something, of which we are insensible? But as
all reasoning concerning matters of fact arises only from custom, and
custom can only be the effect of repeated perceptions, the extending of
custom and reasoning beyond the perceptions can never be the direct and
natural effect of the constant repetition and connexion, but must arise
from the co-operation of some other principles.

I have already observed [Part II, Sect. 4.], in examining the foundation
of mathematics, that the imagination, when set into any train of
thinking, is apt to continue, even when its object fails it, and like a
galley put in motion by the oars, carries on its course without any new
impulse. This I have assigned for the reason, why, after considering
several loose standards of equality, and correcting them by each other,
we proceed to imagine so correct and exact a standard of that relation,
as is not liable to the least error or variation. The same principle
makes us easily entertain this opinion of the continued existence
of body. Objects have a certain coherence even as they appear to our
senses; but this coherence is much greater and more uniform, if we
suppose the object.% to have a continued existence; and as the mind is
once in the train of observing an uniformity among objects, it naturally
continues, till it renders the uniformity as compleat as possible.
The simple supposition of their continued existence suffices for this
purpose, and gives us a notion of a much greater regularity among
objects, than what they have when we look no farther than our senses.

But whatever force we may ascribe to this principle, I am afraid it
is too weak to support alone so vast an edifice, as is that of the
continued existence of all external bodies; and that we must join the
constancy of their appearance to the coherence, in order to give a
satisfactory account of that opinion. As the explication of this will
lead me into a considerable compass of very profound reasoning; I
think it proper, in order to avoid confusion, to give a short sketch or
abridgment of my system, and afterwards draw out all its parts in their
full compass. This inference from the constancy of our perceptions, like
the precedent from their coherence, gives rise to the opinion of the
continued existence of body, which is prior to that of its distinct
existence, and produces that latter principle.

When we have been accustomed to observe a constancy in certain
impressions, and have found, that the perception of the sun or ocean,
for instance, returns upon us after an absence or annihilation with like
parts and in a like order, as at its first appearance, we are not apt
to regard these interrupted perceptions as different, (which they really
are) but on the contrary consider them as individually the same,
upon account of their resemblance. But as this interruption of their
existence is contrary to their perfect identity, and makes us regard
the first impression as annihilated, and the second as newly created,
we find ourselves somewhat at a loss, and are involved in a kind of
contradiction. In order to free ourselves from this difficulty, we
disguise, as much as possible, the interruption, or rather remove it
entirely, by supposing that these interrupted perceptions are connected
by a real existence, of which we are insensible. This supposition, or
idea of continued existence, acquires a force and vivacity from the
memory of these broken impressions, and from that propensity, which
they give us, to suppose them the same; and according to the precedent
reasoning, the very essence of belief consists in the force and vivacity
of the conception.

In order to justify this system, there are four things requisite. First,
To explain the PRINCIPIUM INDIVIDUATIONIS, or principle of identity.
Secondly, Give a reason, why the resemblance of our broken and
interrupted perceptions induces us to attribute an identity to them.
Thirdly, Account for that propensity, which this illusion gives, to
unite these broken appearances by a continued existence. Fourthly and
lastly, Explain that force and vivacity of conception, which arises from
the propensity.

First, As to the principle of individuation; we may observe, that the
view of any one object is not sufficient to convey the idea of identity.
For in that proposition, an object is the same with itself, if the idea
expressed by the word, object, were no ways distinguished from
that meant by itself; we really should mean nothing, nor would the
proposition contain a predicate and a subject, which however are implyed
in this affirmation. One single object conveys the idea of unity, not
that of identity.

On the other hand, a multiplicity of objects can never convey this idea,
however resembling they may be supposed. The mind always pronounces the
one not to be the other, and considers them as forming two, three,
or any determinate number of objects, whose existences are entirely
distinct and independent.

Since then both number and unity are incompatible with the relation of
identity, it must lie in something that is neither of them. But to tell
the truth, at first sight this seems utterly impossible. Betwixt unity
and number there can be no medium; no more than betwixt existence and
nonexistence. After one object is supposed to exist, we must either
suppose another also to exist; in which case we have the idea of number:
Or we must suppose it not to exist; in which case the first object
remains at unity.

To remove this difficulty, let us have recourse to the idea of time or
duration. I have already observd [Part II, Sect. 5.], that time, in a
strict sense, implies succession, and that when we apply its idea to
any unchangeable object, it is only by a fiction of the imagination, by
which the unchangeable object is supposd to participate of the
changes of the co-existent objects, and in particular of that of our
perceptions. This fiction of the imagination almost universally takes
place; and it is by means of it, that a single object, placd before us,
and surveyd for any time without our discovering in it any interruption
or variation, is able to give us a notion of identity. For when we
consider any two points of this time, we may place them in different
lights: We may either survey them at the very same instant; in which
case they give us the idea of number, both by themselves and by the
object; which must be multiplyd, in order to be conceivd at once, as
existent in these two different points of time: Or on the other hand,
we may trace the succession of time by a like succession of ideas,
and conceiving first one moment, along with the object then existent,
imagine afterwards a change in the time without any VARIATION or
INTERRUPTION in the object; in which case it gives us the idea of unity.
Here then is an idea, which is a medium betwixt unity and number; or
more properly speaking, is either of them, according to the view, in
which we take it: And this idea we call that of identity. We cannot, in
any propriety of speech, say, that an object is the same with itself,
unless we mean, that the object existent at one time is the same with
itself existent at another. By this means we make a difference, betwixt
the idea meant by the word, OBJECT, and that meant by ITSELF, without
going the length of number, and at the same time without restraining
ourselves to a strict and absolute unity.

Thus the principle of individuation is nothing but the INVARIABLENESS
and UNINTERRUPTEDNESS of any object, thro a supposd variation of
time, by which the mind can trace it in the different periods of its
existence, without any break of the view, and without being obligd to
form the idea of multiplicity or number.

I now proceed to explain the SECOND part of my system, and shew why
the constancy of our perceptions makes us ascribe to them a perfect
numerical identity, tho there be very long intervals betwixt their
appearance, and they have only one of the essential qualities of
identity, VIZ, INVARIABLENESS. That I may avoid all ambiguity and
confusion on this head, I shall observe, that I here account for the
opinions and belief of the vulgar with regard to the existence of body;
and therefore must entirely conform myself to their manner of thinking
and of expressing themselves. Now we have already observd, that however
philosophers may distinguish betwixt the objects and perceptions of the
senses; which they suppose co-existent and resembling; yet this is a
distinction, which is not comprehended by the generality of mankind, who
as they perceive only one being, can never assent to the opinion of a
double existence and representation. Those very sensations, which enter
by the eye or ear, are with them the true objects, nor can they
readily conceive that this pen or paper, which is immediately perceivd,
represents another, which is different from, but resembling it. In
order, therefore, to accommodate myself to their notions, I shall at
first suppose; that there is only a single existence, which I shall call
indifferently OBJECT or PERCEPTION, according as it shall seem best to
suit my purpose, understanding by both of them what any common man means
by a hat, or shoe, or stone, or any other impression, conveyd to him
by his senses. I shall be sure to give warning, when I return to a more
philosophical way of speaking and thinking.

To enter, therefore, upon the question concerning the source of the
error and deception with regard to identity, when we attribute it to our
resembling perceptions, notwithstanding their interruption; I must here
recal an observation, which I have already provd and explaind [Part II.
Sect. 5.]. Nothing is more apt to make us mistake one idea for another,
than any relation betwixt them, which associates them together in the
imagination, and makes it pass with facility from one to the other.
Of all relations, that of resemblance is in this respect the most
efficacious; and that because it not only causes an association of
ideas, but also of dispositions, and makes us conceive the one idea by
an act or operation of the mind, similar to that by which we conceive
the other. This circumstance I have observd to be of great moment; and
we may establish it for a general rule, that whatever ideas place the
mind in the same disposition or in similar ones, are very apt to be
confounded. The mind readily passes from one to the other, and perceives
not the change without a strict attention, of which, generally speaking,
it is wholly incapable.

In order to apply this general maxim, we must first examine the
disposition of the mind in viewing any object which preserves a perfect
identity, and then find some other object, that is confounded with it,
by causing a similar disposition. When we fix our thought on any object,
and suppose it to continue the same for some time; it is evident we
suppose the change to lie only in the time, and never exert ourselves to
produce any new image or idea of the object. The faculties of the mind
repose themselves in a manner, and take no more exercise, than what is
necessary to continue that idea, of which we were formerly possest, and
which subsists without variation or interruption. The passage from one
moment to another is scarce felt, and distinguishes not itself by a
different perception or idea, which may require a different direction of
the spirits, in order to its conception.

Now what other objects, beside identical ones, are capable of placing
the mind in the same disposition, when it considers them, and of causing
the same uninterrupted passage of the imagination from one idea to
another? This question is of the last importance. For if we can find any
such objects, we may certainly conclude, from the foregoing principle,
that they are very naturally confounded with identical ones, and are
taken for them in most of our reasonings. But though this question be
very important, it is not very difficult nor doubtful. For I immediately
reply, that a succession of related objects places the mind in this
disposition, and is considered with the same smooth and uninterrupted
progress of the imagination, as attends the view of the same invariable
object. The very nature and essence of relation is to connect our ideas
with each other, and upon the appearance of one, to facilitate the
transition to its correlative. The passage betwixt related ideas is,
therefore, so smooth and easy, that it produces little alteration on
the mind, and seems like the continuation of the same action; and as the
continuation of the same action is an effect of the continued view of
the same object, it is for this reason we attribute sameness to every
succession of related objects. The thought slides along the succession
with equal facility, as if it considered only one object; and therefore
confounds the succession with the identity.

We shall afterwards see many instances of this tendency of relation to
make us ascribe an identity to different objects; but shall here confine
ourselves to the present subject. We find by experience, that there is
such a constancy in almost all the impressions of the senses, that their
interruption produces no alteration on them, and hinders them not from
returning the same in appearance and in situation as at their first
existence. I survey the furniture of my chamber; I shut my eyes, and
afterwards open them; and find the new perceptions to resemble perfectly
those, which formerly struck my senses. This resemblance is observed in
a thousand instances, and naturally connects together our ideas of these
interrupted perceptions by the strongest relation, and conveys the
mind with an easy transition from one to another. An easy transition
or passage of the imagination, along the ideas of these different and
interrupted perceptions, is almost the same disposition of mind with
that in which we consider one constant and uninterrupted perception. It
is therefore very natural for us to mistake the one for the other.

     [Footnote 9  This reasoning, it must be confest, is somewhat
     abstruse, and difficult to be comprehended; but it is
     remarkable, that this very difficulty may be converted into
     a proof of the reasoning. We may observe, that there are two
     relations, and both of them resemblances, which contribute
     to our mistaking the succession of our interrupted
     perceptions for an identical object. The first is, the
     resemblance of the perceptions: The second is the
     resemblance, which the act of the mind in surveying a
     succession of resembling objects bears to that in surveying
     an identical object. Now these resemblances we are apt to
     confound with each other; and it is natural we shoud,
     according to this very reasoning. But let us keep them
     distinct, and we shall find no difficulty in conceiving the
     precedent argument.]

The persons, who entertain this opinion concerning the identity of
our resembling perceptions, are in general an the unthinking and
unphilosophical part of mankind, (that is, all of us, at one time or
other) and consequently such as suppose their perceptions to be their
only objects, and never think of a double existence internal and
external, representing and represented. The very image, which is present
to the senses, is with us the real body; and it is to these interrupted
images we ascribe a perfect identity. But as the interruption of the
appearance seems contrary to the identity, and naturally leads us to
regard these resembling perceptions as different from each other, we
here find ourselves at a loss how to reconcile such opposite opinions.
The smooth passage of the imagination along the ideas of the resembling
perceptions makes us ascribe to them a perfect identity. The interrupted
manner of their appearance makes us consider them as so many resembling,
but still distinct beings, which appear after certain intervals. The
perplexity arising from this contradiction produces a propension to
unite these broken appearances by the fiction of a continued existence,
which is the third part of that hypothesis I proposed to explain.

Nothing is more certain from experience, than that any contradiction
either to the sentiments or passions gives a sensible uneasiness,
whether it proceeds from without or from within; from the opposition
of external objects, or from the combat of internal principles. On the
contrary, whatever strikes in with the natural propensities, and either
externally forwards their satisfaction, or internally concurs with their
movements, is sure to give a sensible pleasure. Now there being here an
opposition betwixt the notion of the identity of resembling perceptions,
and the interruption of their appearance, the mind must be uneasy in
that situation, and will naturally seek relief from the uneasiness.
Since the uneasiness arises from the opposition of two contrary
principles, it must look for relief by sacrificing the one to the
other. But as the smooth passage of our thought along our resembling
perceptions makes us ascribe to them an identity, we can never without
reluctance yield up that opinion. We must, therefore, turn to the other
side, and suppose that our perceptions are no longer interrupted, but
preserve a continued as well as an invariable existence, and are by that
means entirely the same. But here the interruptions in the appearance
of these perceptions are so long and frequent, that it is impossible to
overlook them; and as the appearance of a perception in the mind and
its existence seem at first sight entirely the same, it may be doubted,
whether we can ever assent to so palpable a contradiction, and suppose a
perception to exist without being present to the mind. In order to clear
up this matter, and learn how the interruption in the appearance of a
perception implies not necessarily an interruption in its existence,
it will be proper to touch upon some principles, which we shall have
occasion to explain more fully afterwards. [Sect. 6.]

We may begin with observing, that the difficulty in the present case
is not concerning the matter of fact, or whether the mind forms such a
conclusion concerning the continued existence of its perceptions,
but only concerning the manner in which the conclusion is formed, and
principles from which it is derived. It is certain, that almost all
mankind, and even philosophers themselves, for the greatest part of
their lives, take their perceptions to be their only objects, and
suppose, that the very being, which is intimately present to the mind,
is the real body or material existence. It is also certain, that this
very perception or object is supposed to have a continued uninterrupted
being, and neither to be annihilated by our absence, nor to be brought
into existence by our presence. When we are absent from it, we say it
still exists, but that we do not feel, we do not see it. When we are
present, we say we feel, or see it. Here then may arise two questions;
First, How we can satisfy ourselves in supposing a perception to be
absent from the mind without being annihilated. Secondly, After what
manner we conceive an object to become present to the mind, without some
new creation of a perception or image; and what we mean by this seeing,
and feeling, and perceiving.

As to the first question; we may observe, that what we call a mind,
is nothing but a heap or collection of different perceptions, united
together by certain relations, and supposed, though falsely, to be
endowed with a perfect simplicity and identity. Now as every perception
is distinguishable from another, and may be considered as separately
existent; it evidently follows, that there is no absurdity in separating
any particular perception from the mind; that is, in breaking off all
its relations, with that connected mass of perceptions, which constitute
a thinking being.

The same reasoning affords us an answer to the second question. If the
name of perception renders not this separation from a mind absurd and
contradictory, the name of object, standing for the very same thing, can
never render their conjunction impossible. External objects are seen,
and felt, and become present to the mind; that is, they acquire such a
relation to a connected heap of perceptions, as to influence them very
considerably in augmenting their number by present reflections and
passions, and in storing the memory with ideas. The same continued and
uninterrupted Being may, therefore, be sometimes present to the mind,
and sometimes absent from it, without any real or essential change in
the Being itself. An interrupted appearance to the senses implies not
necessarily an interruption in the existence. The supposition of the
continued existence of sensible objects or perceptions involves
no contradiction. We may easily indulge our inclination to that
supposition. When the exact resemblance of our perceptions makes us
ascribe to them an identity, we may remove the seeming interruption by
feigning a continued being, which may fill those intervals, and preserve
a perfect and entire identity to our perceptions.

But as we here not only feign but believe this continued existence, the
question is, from whence arises such a belief; and this question leads
us to the fourth member of this system. It has been proved already, that
belief in general consists in nothing, but the vivacity of an idea; and
that an idea may acquire this vivacity by its relation to some present
impression. Impressions are naturally the most vivid perceptions of
the mind; and this quality is in part conveyed by the relation to every
connected idea. The relation causes a smooth passage from the impression
to the idea, and even gives a propensity to that passage. The mind falls
so easily from the one perception to the other, that it scarce perceives
the change, but retains in the second a considerable share of the
vivacity of the first. It is excited by the lively impression; and this
vivacity is conveyed to the related idea, without any great diminution
in the passage, by reason of the smooth transition and the propensity of
the imagination.

But suppose, that this propensity arises from some other principle,
besides that of relation; it is evident it must still have the same
effect, and convey the vivacity from the impression to the idea. Now
this is exactly the present case. Our memory presents us with a vast
number of instances of perceptions perfectly resembling each other,
that return at different distances of time, and after considerable
interruptions. This resemblance gives us a propension to consider these
interrupted perceptions as the same; and also a propension to connect
them by a continued existence, in order to justify this identity, and
avoid the contradiction, in which the interrupted appearance of these
perceptions seems necessarily to involve us. Here then we have a
propensity to feign the continued existence of all sensible objects; and
as this propensity arises from some lively impressions of the memory, it
bestows a vivacity on that fiction: or in other words, makes us believe
the continued existence of body. If sometimes we ascribe a continued
existence to objects, which are perfectly new to us, and of whose
constancy and coherence we have no experience, it is because the manner,
in which they present themselves to our senses, resembles that of
constant and coherent objects; and this resemblance is a source of
reasoning and analogy, and leads us to attribute the same qualities to
similar objects.

I believe an intelligent reader will find less difficulty to assent to
this system, than to comprehend it fully and distinctly, and will allow,
after a little reflection, that every part carries its own proof
along with it. It is indeed evident, that as the vulgar suppose their
perceptions to be their only objects, and at the same time believe the
continued existence of matter, we must account for the origin of the
belief upon that supposition. Now upon that supposition, it is a false
opinion that any of our objects, or perceptions, are identically the
same after an interruption; and consequently the opinion of their
identity can never arise from reason, but must arise from the
imagination. The imagination is seduced into such an opinion only by
means of the resemblance of certain perceptions; since we find they are
only our resembling perceptions, which we have a propension to suppose
the same. This propension to bestow an identity on our resembling
perceptions, produces the fiction of a continued existence; since that
fiction, as well as the identity, is really false, as is acknowledged
by all philosophers, and has no other effect than to remedy the
interruption of our perceptions, which is the only circumstance that
is contrary to their identity. In the last place this propension causes
belief by means of the present impressions of the memory; since without
the remembrance of former sensations, it is plain we never should have
any belief of the continued existence of body. Thus in examining all
these parts, we find that each of them is supported by the strongest
proofs: and that all of them together form a consistent system, which is
perfectly convincing. A strong propensity or inclination alone, without
any present impression, will sometimes cause a belief or opinion. How
much more when aided by that circumstance?

But though we are led after this manner, by the natural propensity of
the imagination, to ascribe a continued existence to those sensible
objects or perceptions, which we find to resemble each other in their
interrupted appearance; yet a very little reflection and philosophy
is sufficient to make us perceive the fallacy of that opinion. I have
already observed, that there is an intimate connexion betwixt those two
principles, of a continued and of a distinct or independent existence,
and that we no sooner establish the one than the other follows, as a
necessary consequence. It is the opinion of a continued existence, which
first takes place, and without much study or reflection draws the other
along with it, wherever the mind follows its first and most natural
tendency. But when we compare experiments, and reason a little upon
them, we quickly perceive, that the doctrine of the independent
existence of our sensible perceptions is contrary to the plainest
experience. This leads us backward upon our footsteps to perceive our
error in attributing a continued existence to our perceptions, and is
the origin of many very curious opinions, which we shall here endeavour
to account for.

It will first be proper to observe a few of those experiments, which
convince us, that our perceptions are not possest of any independent
existence. When we press one eye with a finger, we immediately perceive
all the objects to become double, and one half of them to be removed
from their common and natural position. But as we do not attribute to
continued existence to both these perceptions, and as they are both
of the same nature, we clearly perceive, that all our perceptions are
dependent on our organs, and the disposition of our nerves and
animal spirits. This opinion is confirmed by the seeming encrease and
diminution of objects, according to their distance; by the apparent
alterations in their figure; by the changes in their colour and other
qualities from our sickness and distempers: and by an infinite number
of other experiments of the same kind; from all which we learn, that
our sensible perceptions are not possest of any distinct or independent

The natural consequence of this reasoning should be, that our
perceptions have no more a continued than an independent existence; and
indeed philosophers have so far run into this opinion, that they change
their system, and distinguish, (as we shall do for the future) betwixt
perceptions and objects, of which the former are supposed to be
interrupted, and perishing, and different at every different return; the
latter to be uninterrupted, and to preserve a continued existence and
identity. But however philosophical this new system may be esteemed, I
assert that it is only a palliative remedy, and that it contains all the
difficulties of the vulgar system, with some others, that are peculiar
to itself. There are no principles either of the understanding or fancy,
which lead us directly to embrace this opinion of the double existence
of perceptions and objects, nor can we arrive at it but by passing
through the common hypothesis of the identity and continuance of
our interrupted perceptions. Were we not first perswaded, that our
perceptions are our only objects, and continue to exist even when they
no longer make their appearance to the senses, we should never be led
to think, that our perceptions and objects are different, and that our
objects alone preserve a continued existence. The latter hypothesis
has no primary recommendation either to reason or the imagination, but
acquires all its influence on the imagination from the former. This
proposition contains two parts, which we shall endeavour to prove as
distinctly and clearly, as such abstruse subjects will permit.

As to the first part of the proposition, that this philosophical
hypothesis has no primary recommendation, either to reason, or the
imagination, we may soon satisfy ourselves with regard to reason by the
following reflections. The only existences, of which we are certain,
are perceptions, which being immediately present to us by consciousness,
command our strongest assent, and are the first foundation of all our
conclusions. The only conclusion we can draw from the existence of
one thing to that of another, is by means of the relation of cause and
effect, which shews, that there is a connexion betwixt them, and that
the existence of one is dependent on that of the other. The idea of this
relation is derived from past experience, by which we find, that two
beings are constantly conjoined together, and are always present at
once to the mind. But as no beings are ever present to the mind but
perceptions; it follows that we may observe a conjunction or a relation
of cause and effect between different perceptions, but can never observe
it between perceptions and objects. It is impossible, therefore, that
from the existence or any of the qualities of the former, we can ever
form any conclusion concerning the existence of the latter, or ever
satisfy our reason in this particular.

It is no less certain, that this philosophical system has no primary
recommendation to the imagination, and that that faculty would never, of
itself, and by its original tendency, have fallen upon such a principle.
I confess it will be somewhat difficult to prove this to the fall
satisfaction of the reader; because it implies a negative, which in many
cases will not admit of any positive proof. If any one would take the
pains to examine this question, and would invent a system, to account
for the direct origin of this opinion from the imagination, we should be
able, by the examination of that system, to pronounce a certain
judgment in the present subject. Let it be taken for granted, that our
perceptions are broken, and interrupted, and however like, are still
different from each other; and let any one upon this supposition shew
why the fancy, directly and immediately, proceeds to the belief of
another existence, resembling these perceptions in their nature, but yet
continued, and uninterrupted, and identical; and after he has done this
to my satisfaction, I promise to renounce my present opinion. Mean while
I cannot forbear concluding, from the very abstractedness and difficulty
of the first supposition, that it is an improper subject for the fancy
to work upon. Whoever would explain the origin of the common opinion
concerning the continued and distinct existence of body, must take the
mind in its common situation, and must proceed upon the supposition,
that our perceptions are our only objects, and continue to exist even
when they are not perceived. Though this opinion be false, it is the
most natural of any, and has alone any primary recommendation to the

As to the second part of the proposition, that the philosophical system
acquires all its influence on the imagination from the vulgar one; we
may observe, that this is a natural and unavoidable consequence of the
foregoing conclusion, that it has no primary recommendation to reason or
the imagination. For as the philosophical system is found by experience
to take hold of many minds, and in particular of all those, who reflect
ever so little on this subject, it must derive all its authority from
the vulgar system; since it has no original authority of its own.
The manner, in which these two systems, though directly contrary, are
connected together, may be explains, as follows.

The imagination naturally runs on in this train of thinking. Our
perceptions are our only objects: Resembling perceptions are the same,
however broken or uninterrupted in their appearance: This appealing
interruption is contrary to the identity: The interruption consequently
extends not beyond the appearance, and the perception or object really
continues to exist, even when absent from us: Our sensible perception
s have, therefore, a continued and uninterrupted existence. But as a
little reflection destroys this conclusion, that our perceptions have a
continued existence, by shewing that they have a dependent one, it would
naturally be expected, that we must altogether reject the opinion,
that there is such a thing in nature as a continued existence, which
is preserved even when it no longer appears to the senses. The case,
however, is otherwise. Philosophers are so far from rejecting the
opinion of a continued existence upon rejecting that of the independence
and continuance of our sensible perceptions, that though all sects
agree in the latter sentiment, the former, which is, in a manner, its
necessary consequence, has been peculiar to a few extravagant sceptics;
who after all maintained that opinion in words only, and were never able
to bring themselves sincerely to believe it.

There is a great difference betwixt such opinions as we form after
a calm and profound reflection, and such as we embrace by a kind of
instinct or natural impulse, on account of their suitableness and
conformity to the mind. If these opinions become contrary, it is not
difficult to foresee which of them will have the advantage. As long as
our attention is bent upon the subject, the philosophical and studyed
principle may prevail; but the moment we relax our thoughts, nature will
display herself, and draw us back to our former opinion. Nay she has
sometimes such an influence, that she can stop our progress, even in the
midst of our most profound reflections, and keep us from running on
with all the consequences of any philosophical opinion. Thus though we
clearly perceive the dependence and interruption of our perceptions, we
stop short in our career, and never upon that account reject the notion
of an independent and continued existence. That opinion has taken such
deep root in the imagination, that it is impossible ever to eradicate
it, nor will any strained metaphysical conviction of the dependence of
our perceptions be sufficient for that purpose.

But though our natural and obvious principles here prevail above our
studied reflections, it is certain there must be sonic struggle and
opposition in the case: at least so long as these rejections retain any
force or vivacity. In order to set ourselves at ease in this particular,
we contrive a new hypothesis, which seems to comprehend both
these principles of reason and imagination. This hypothesis is the
philosophical, one of the double existence of perceptions and objects;
which pleases our reason, in allowing, that our dependent perceptions
are interrupted and different; and at the same time is agreeable to the
imagination, in attributing a continued existence to something else,
which we call objects. This philosophical system, therefore, is the
monstrous offspring of two principles, which are contrary to each
other, which are both at once embraced by the mind, and which are unable
mutually to destroy each other. The imagination tells us, that our
resembling perceptions have a continued and uninterrupted existence, and
are not annihilated by their absence. Reflection tells us, that even our
resembling perceptions are interrupted in their existence, and different
from each other. The contradiction betwixt these opinions we elude by a
new fiction, which is conformable to the hypotheses both of reflection
and fancy, by ascribing these contrary qualities to different
existences; the interruption to perceptions, and the continuance to
objects. Nature is obstinate, and will not quit the field, however
strongly attacked by reason; and at the same time reason is so clear
in the point, that there is no possibility of disguising her. Not being
able to reconcile these two enemies, we endeavour to set ourselves at
ease as much as possible, by successively granting to each whatever
it demands, and by feigning a double existence, where each may find
something, that has all the conditions it desires. Were we fully
convinced, that our resembling perceptions are continued, and identical,
and independent, we should never run into this opinion of a double
existence, since we should find satisfaction in our first supposition,
and would not look beyond. Again, were we fully convinced, that our
perceptions are dependent, and interrupted, and different, we should be
as little inclined to embrace the opinion of a double existence;
since in that case we should clearly perceive the error of our first
supposition of a continued existence, and would never regard it any
farther. It is therefore from the intermediate situation of the mind,
that this opinion arises, and from such an adherence to these two
contrary principles, as makes us seek some pretext to justify our
receiving both; which happily at last is found in the system of a double

Another advantage of this philosophical system is its similarity to the
vulgar one; by which means we can humour our reason for a moment,
when it becomes troublesome and sollicitous; and yet upon its least
negligence or inattention, can easily return to our vulgar and natural
notions. Accordingly we find, that philosophers neglect not this
advantage; but immediately upon leaving their closets, mingle with the
rest of mankind in those exploded opinions, that our perceptions are our
only objects, and continue identically and uninterruptedly the same in
all their interrupted appearances.

There are other particulars of this system, wherein we may remark its
dependence on the fancy, in a very conspicuous manner. Of these, I
shall observe the two following. First, We suppose external objects to
resemble internal perceptions. I have already shewn, that the relation
of cause and effect can never afford us any just conclusion from the
existence or qualities of our perceptions to the existence of external
continued objects: And I shall farther add, that even though they coued
afford such a conclusion, we should never have any reason to infer,
that our objects resemble our perceptions. That opinion, therefore, is
derived from nothing but the quality of the fancy above-explained, . We never can
conceive any thing but perceptions, and therefore must make every thing
resemble them.

Secondly, As we suppose our objects in general to resemble our
perceptions, so we take it for granted, that every particular object
resembles that perception, which it causes. The relation of cause and
effect determines us to join the other of resemblance; and the ideas
of these existences being already united together in the fancy by the
former relation, we naturally add the latter to compleat the union.
We have a strong propensity to compleat every union by joining new
relations to those which we have before observed betwixt any ideas, as
we shall have occasion to observe presently. [Sect. 5.]

Having thus given an account of all the systems both popular and
philosophical, with regard to external existences, I cannot forbear
giving vent to a certain sentiment, which arises upon reviewing those
systems. I begun this subject with premising, that we ought to have an
implicit faith in our senses, and that this would be the conclusion, I
should draw from the whole of my reasoning. But to be ingenuous, I feel
myself at present of a quite contrary sentiment, and am more inclined
to repose no faith at all in my senses, or rather imagination, than
to place in it such an implicit confidence. I cannot conceive how such
trivial qualities of the fancy, conducted by such false suppositions,
can ever lead to any solid and rational system. They are the coherence
and constancy of our perceptions, which produce the opinion of their
continued existence; though these qualities of perceptions have no
perceivable connexion with such an existence. The constancy of our
perceptions has the most considerable effect, and yet is attended with
the greatest difficulties. It is a gross illusion to suppose, that
our resembling perceptions are numerically the same; and it is this
illusion, which leads us into the opinion, that these perceptions are
uninterrupted, and are still existent, even when they are not present
to the senses. This is the case with our popular system. And as to
our philosophical one, it is liable to the same difficulties; and is
over-and-above loaded with this absurdity, that it at once denies and
establishes the vulgar supposition. Philosophers deny our resembling
perceptions to be identically the same, and uninterrupted; and yet have
so great a propensity to believe them such, that they arbitrarily invent
a new set of perceptions, to which they attribute these qualities. I
say, a new set of perceptions: For we may well suppose in general, but
it is impossible for us distinctly to conceive, objects to be in their
nature any thing but exactly the same with perceptions. What then can
we look for from this confusion of groundless and extraordinary opinions
but error and falshood? And how can we justify to ourselves any belief
we repose in them?

This sceptical doubt, both with respect to reason and the senses, is
a malady, which can never be radically cured, but must return upon
us every moment, however we may chace it away, and sometimes may seem
entirely free from it. It is impossible upon any system to defend either
our understanding or senses; and we but expose them farther when we
endeavour to justify them in that manner. As the sceptical doubt arises
naturally from a profound and intense reflection on those subjects,
it always encreases, the farther we carry our reflections, whether in
opposition or conformity to it. Carelessness and in-attention alone can
afford us any remedy. For this reason I rely entirely upon them; and
take it for granted, whatever may be the reader's opinion at this
present moment, that an hour hence he will be persuaded there is both an
external and internal world; and going upon that supposition, I intend
to examine some general systems both ancient and modern, which have
been proposed of both, before I proceed to a more particular enquiry
concerning our impressions. This will not, perhaps, in the end be found
foreign to our present purpose.


Several moralists have recommended it as an excellent method of becoming
acquainted with our own hearts, and knowing our progress in virtue,
to recollect our dreams in a morning, and examine them with the same
rigour, that we would our most serious and most deliberate actions.
Our character is the same throughout, say they, and appears best
where artifice, fear, and policy have no place, and men can neither be
hypocrites with themselves nor others. The generosity, or baseness
of our temper, our meekness or cruelty, our courage or pusilanimity,
influence the fictions of the imagination with the most unbounded
liberty, and discover themselves in the most glaring colours. In like
manner, I am persuaded, there might be several useful discoveries made
from a criticism of the fictions of the antient philosophy, concerning
substances, and substantial form, and accidents, and occult qualities;
which, however unreasonable and capricious, have a very intimate
connexion with the principles of human nature.

It is confest by the most judicious philosophers, that our ideas of
bodies are nothing but collections formed by the mind of the ideas of
the several distinct sensible qualities, of which objects are composed,
and which we find to have a constant union with each other. But however
these qualities may in themselves be entirely distinct, it is certain
we commonly regard the compound, which they form, as ONE thing, and
as continuing the SAME under very considerable alterations. The
acknowledged composition is evidently contrary to this supposed
simplicity, and the variation to the identity. It may, therefore, be
worth while to consider the causes, which make us almost universally
fall into such evident contradictions, as well as the means by which we
endeavour to conceal them.

It is evident, that as the ideas of the several distinct, successive
qualities of objects are united together by a very close relation, the
mind, in looking along the succession, must be carryed from one part
of it to another by an easy transition, and will no more perceive the
change, than if it contemplated the same unchangeable object. This easy
transition is the effect, or rather essence of relation; I and as the
imagination readily takes one idea for another, where their influence
on the mind is similar; hence it proceeds, that any such succession
of related qualities is readily considered as one continued object,
existing without any variation. The smooth and uninterrupted progress of
the thought, being alike in both cases, readily deceives the mind, and
makes us ascribe an identity to the changeable succession of connected

But when we alter our method of considering the succession, and instead
of traceing it gradually through the successive points of time, survey
at once Any two distinct periods of its duration, and compare the
different conditions of the successive qualities; in that case the
variations, which were insensible when they arose gradually, do now
appear of consequence, and seem entirely to destroy the identity. By
this means there arises a kind of contrariety in our method of thinking,
from the different points of view, in which we survey the object, and
from the nearness or remoteness of those instants of time, which we
compare together. When we gradually follow an object in its successive
changes, the smooth progress of the thought makes us ascribe an identity
to the succession; because it is by a similar act of the mind we
consider an unchangeable object. When we compare its situation after
a considerable change the progress of the thought is broke; and
consequently we are presented with the idea of diversity: In order to
reconcile which contradictions the imagination is apt to feign something
unknown and invisible, which it supposes to continue the same under
all these variations; and this unintelligible something it calls a
substance, or original and first matter.

We entertain a like notion with regard to the simplicity of substances,
and from like causes. Suppose an object perfectly simple and indivisible
to be presented, along with another object, whose co-existent parts are
connected together by a strong relation, it is evident the actions of
the mind, in considering these two objects, are not very different. The
imagination conceives the simple object at once, with facility, by a
single effort of thought, without change or variation. The connexion of
parts in the compound object has almost the same effect, and so unites
the object within itself, that the fancy feels not the transition in
passing from one part to another. Hence the colour, taste, figure,
solidity, and other qualities, combined in a peach or melon, are
conceived to form one thing; and that on account of their close
relation, which makes them affect the thought in the same manner, as if
perfectly uncompounded. But the mind rests not here. Whenever it views
the object in another light, it finds that all these qualities are
different, and distinguishable, and separable from each other; which
view of things being destructive of its primary and more natural
notions, obliges the imagination to feign an unknown something, or
original substance and matter, as a principle of union or cohesion among
these qualities, and as what may give the compound object a title to be
called one thing, notwithstanding its diversity and composition.

The peripatetic philosophy asserts the original matter to be perfectly
homogeneous in all bodies, and considers fire, water, earth, and air, as
of the very same substance; on account of their gradual revolutions and
changes into each other. At the same time it assigns to each of these
species of objects a distinct substantial form, which it supposes to be
the source of all those different qualities they possess, and to be a
new foundation of simplicity and identity to each particular species.
All depends on our manner of viewing the objects. When we look along the
insensible changes of bodies, we suppose all of them to be of the same
substance or essence. When we consider their sensible differences, we
attribute to each of them a substantial and essential difference. And
in order to indulge ourselves in both these ways of considering our
objects, we suppose all bodies to have at once a substance and a
substantial form.

The notion of accidents is an unavoidable consequence of this method
of thinking with regard to substances and substantial forms; nor can
we forbear looking upon colours, sounds, tastes, figures, and other
properties of bodies, as existences, which cannot subsist apart, but
require a subject of inhesion to sustain and support them. For having
never discovered any of these sensible qualities, where, for the reasons
above-mentioned, we did not likewise fancy a substance to exist; the
same habit, which makes us infer a connexion betwixt cause and effect,
makes us here infer a dependence of every quality on the unknown
substance. The custom of imagining a dependence has the same effect as
the custom of observing it would have. This conceit, however, is no more
reasonable than any of the foregoing. Every quality being a distinct
thing from another, may be conceived to exist apart, and may exist
apart, not only from every other quality, but from that unintelligible
chimera of a substance.

But these philosophers carry their fictions still farther in their
sentiments concerning occult qualities, and both suppose a substance
supporting, which they do not understand, and an accident supported, of
which they have as imperfect an idea. The whole system, therefore, is
entirely incomprehensible, and yet is derived from principles as natural
as any of these above-explained.

In considering this subject we may observe a gradation of three
opinions, that rise above each other, according as the persons, who form
them, acquire new degrees of reason and knowledge. These opinions are
that of the vulgar, that of a false philosophy, and that of the true;
where we shall find upon enquiry, that the true philosophy approaches
nearer to the sentiments of the vulgar, than to those of a mistaken
knowledge. It is natural for men, in their common and care, less way of
thinking, to imagine they perceive a connexion betwixt such objects
as they have constantly found united together; and because custom has
rendered it difficult to separate the ideas, they are apt to fancy such
a separation to be in itself impossible and absurd. But philosophers,
who abstract from the effects of custom, and compare the ideas of
objects, immediately perceive the falshood of these vulgar sentiments,
and discover that there is no known connexion among objects. Every
different object appears to them entirely distinct and separate; and
they perceive, that it is not from a view of the nature and qualities of
objects we infer one from another, but only when in several instances we
observe them to have been constantly conjoined. But these philosophers,
instead of drawing a just inference from this observation, and
concluding, that we have no idea of power or agency, separate from
the mind, and belonging to causes; I say, instead of drawing this
conclusion, they frequently search for the qualities, in which this
agency consists, and are displeased with every system, which their
reason suggests to them, in order to explain it. They have sufficient
force of genius to free them from the vulgar error, that there is a
natural and perceivable connexion betwixt the several sensible qualities
and actions of matter; but not sufficient to keep them from ever
seeking for this connexion in matter, or causes. Had they fallen upon
the just conclusion, they would have returned back to the situation
of the vulgar, and would have regarded all these disquisitions with
indolence and indifference. At present they seem to be in a very
lamentable condition, and such as the poets have given us but a faint
notion of in their descriptions of the punishment of Sisyphus and
Tantalus. For what can be imagined more tormenting, than to seek with
eagerness, what for ever flies us; and seek for it in a place, where it
is impossible it can ever exist?

But as nature seems to have observed a kind of justice and compensation
in every thing, she has not neglected philosophers more than the rest
of the creation; but has reserved them a consolation amid all their
disappointments and afflictions. This consolation principally consists
in their invention of the words: faculty and occult quality. For
it being usual, after the frequent use of terms, which are really
significant and intelligible, to omit the idea, which we would express
by them, and to preserve only the custom, by which we recal the idea at
pleasure; so it naturally happens, that after the frequent use of terms,
which are wholly insignificant and unintelligible, we fancy them to be
on the same footing with the precedent, and to have a secret meaning,
which we might discover by reflection. The resemblance of their
appearance deceives the mind, as is usual, and makes us imagine a
thorough resemblance and conformity. By this means these philosophers
set themselves at ease, and arrive at last, by an illusion, at the
same indifference, which the people attain by their stupidity, and true
philosophers by their moderate scepticism. They need only say, that
any phenomenon, which puzzles them, arises from a faculty or an occult
quality, and there is an end of all dispute and enquiry upon the matter.

But among all the instances, wherein the Peripatetics have shewn they
were guided by every trivial propensity of the imagination, no one is
more-remarkable than their sympathies, antipathies, and horrors of
a vacuum. There is a very remarkable inclination in human nature, to
bestow on external objects the same emotions, which it observes in
itself; and to find every where those ideas, which are most present to
it. This inclination, it is true, is suppressed by a little reflection,
and only takes place in children, poets, and the antient philosophers.
It appears in children, by their desire of beating the stones, which
hurt them: In poets, by their readiness to personify every thing: And in
the antient philosophers, by these fictions of sympathy and antipathy.
We must pardon children, because of their age; poets, because they
profess to follow implicitly the suggestions of their fancy: But
what excuse shall we find to justify our philosophers in so signal a


But here it may be objected, that the imagination, according to my own
confession, being the ultimate judge of all systems of philosophy, I
am unjust in blaming the antient philosophers for making use of that
faculty, and allowing themselves to be entirely guided by it in their
reasonings. In order to justify myself, I must distinguish in the
imagination betwixt the principles which are permanent, irresistible,
and universal; such as the customary transition from causes to effects,
and from effects to causes: And the principles, which are changeable,
weak, and irregular; such as those I have just now taken notice of. The
former are the foundation of all our thoughts and actions, so that upon
their removal human nature must immediately perish and go to ruin. The
latter are neither unavoidable to mankind, nor necessary, or so much as
useful in the conduct of life; but on the contrary are observed only to
take place in weak minds, and being opposite to the other principles
of custom and reasoning, may easily be subverted by a due contrast and
opposition. For this reason the former are received by philosophy, and
the latter rejected. One who concludes somebody to be near him, when
he hears an articulate voice in the dark, reasons justly and naturally;
though that conclusion be derived from nothing but custom, which infixes
and inlivens the idea of a human creature, on account of his usual
conjunction with the present impression. But one, who is tormented
he knows not why, with the apprehension of spectres in the dark, may,
perhaps, be said to reason, and to reason naturally too: But then it
must be in the same sense, that a malady is said to be natural; as
arising from natural causes, though it be contrary to health, the most
agreeable and most natural situation of man.

The opinions of the antient philosophers, their fictions of substance
and accident, and their reasonings concerning substantial forms and
occult qualities, are like the spectres in the dark, and are derived
from principles, which, however common, are neither universal nor
unavoidable in human nature. The modern philosophy pretends to be
entirely free from this defect, and to arise only from the solid,
permanent, and consistent principles of the imagination. Upon what
grounds this pretension is founded must now be the subject of our

The fundamental principle of that philosophy is the opinion concerning
colours, sounds, tastes, smells, heat and cold; which it asserts to
be nothing but impressions in the mind, derived from the operation of
external objects, and without any resemblance to the qualities of the
objects. Upon examination, I find only one of the reasons commonly
produced for this opinion to be satisfactory, viz. that derived from the
variations of those impressions, even while the external object, to all
appearance, continues the same. These variations depend upon several
circumstances. Upon the different situations of our health: A man in a
malady feels a disagreeable taste in meats, which before pleased him the
most. Upon the different complexions and constitutions of men That seems
bitter to one, which is sweet to another. Upon the difference of their
external situation and position: Colours reflected from the clouds
change according to the distance of the clouds, and according to the
angle they make with the eye and luminous body. Fire also communicates
the sensation of pleasure at one distance, and that of pain at another.
Instances of this kind are very numerous and frequent.

The conclusion drawn from them, is likewise as satisfactory as can
possibly be imagined. It is certain, that when different impressions of
the same sense arise from any object, every one of these impressions has
not a resembling quality existent in the object. For as the same object
cannot, at the same time, be endowed with different qualities of the
same sense, and as the same quality cannot resemble impressions entirely
different; it evidently follows, that many of our impressions have
no external model or archetype. Now from like effects we presume like
causes. Many of the impressions of colour, sound, &c. are confest to be
nothing but internal existences, and to arise from causes, which no ways
resemble them. These impressions are in appearance nothing different
from the other impressions of colour, sound, &c. We conclude, therefore,
that they are, all of them, derived from a like origin.

This principle being once admitted, all the other doctrines of that
philosophy seem to follow by an easy consequence. For upon the removal
of sounds, colours, beat, cold, and other sensible qualities, from the
rank of continued independent existences, we are reduced merely to what
are called primary qualities, as the only real ones, of which we have
any adequate notion. These primary qualities are extension and solidity,
with their different mixtures and modifications; figure, motion,
gravity, and cohesion. The generation, encrease, decay, and corruption
of animals and vegetables, are nothing but changes of figure and motion;
as also the operations of all bodies on each other; of fire, of light,
water, air, earth, and of all the elements and powers of nature. One
figure and motion produces another figure and motion; nor does there
remain in the material universe any other principle, either active or
passive, of which we can form the most distant idea.

I believe many objections might be made to this system But at present
I shall confine myself to one, which is in my opinion very decisive. I
assert, that instead of explaining the operations of external objects by
its means, we utterly annihilate all these objects, and reduce ourselves
to the opinions of the most extravagant scepticism concerning them. If
colours, sounds, tastes, and smells be merely perceptions, nothing we
can conceive is possest of a real, continued, and independent existence;
not even motion, extension and solidity, which are the primary qualities
chiefly insisted on.

To begin with the examination of motion; it is evident this is a quality
altogether inconceivable alone, and without a reference to some other
object. The idea of motion necessarily supposes that of a body moving.
Now what is our idea of the moving body, without which motion is
incomprehensible? It must resolve itself into the idea of extension or
of solidity; and consequently the reality of motion depends upon that of
these other qualities.

This opinion, which is universally acknowledged concerning motion, I
have proved to be true with regard to extension; and have shewn that it
is impossible to conceive extension, but as composed of parts, endowed
with colour or solidity. The idea of extension is a compound idea;
but as it is not compounded of an infinite number of parts or inferior
ideas, it must at last resolve itself into such as are perfectly simple
and indivisible. These simple and indivisible parts, not being ideas of
extension, must be non entities, unless conceived as coloured or solid.
Colour is excluded from any real existence. The reality, therefore, of
our idea of extension depends upon the reality of that of solidity, nor
can the former be just while the latter is chimerical. Let us, then,
lend our attention to the examination of the idea of solidity.

The idea of solidity is that of two objects, which being impelled by the
utmost force, cannot penetrate each other; but still maintain a
separate and distinct existence. Solidity, therefore, is perfectly
incomprehensible alone, and without the conception of some bodies, which
are solid, and maintain this separate and distinct existence. Now what
idea have we of these bodies? The ideas of colours, sounds, and other
secondary qualities are excluded. The idea of motion depends on that
of extension, and the idea of extension on that of solidity. It is
impossible, therefore, that the idea of solidity can depend on either of
them. For that would be to run in a circle, and make one idea depend on
another, while at the same time the latter depends on the former. Our
modern philosophy, therefore, leaves us no just nor satisfactory idea of
solidity; nor consequently of matter.

This argument will appear entirely conclusive to every one that
comprehends it; but because it may seem abstruse and intricate to the
generality of readers, I hope to be excused, if I endeavour to render
it more obvious by some variation of the expression. In order to form
an idea of solidity, we must conceive two bodies pressing on each other
without any penetration; and it is impossible to arrive at this idea,
when we confine ourselves to one object, much more without conceiving
any. Two non-entities cannot exclude each other from their places;
because they never possess any place, nor can be endowed with any
quality. Now I ask, what idea do we form of these bodies or objects,
to which we suppose solidity to belong? To say, that we conceive them
merely as solid, is to run on in infinitum. To affirm, that we paint
them out to ourselves as extended, either resolves all into a false
idea, or returns in a circle. Extension must necessarily be considered
either as coloured, which is a false idea; I or as solid, which
brings us back to the first question. We may make the same observation
concerning mobility and figure; and upon the whole must conclude, that
after the exclusion of colours, sounds, heat and cold from the rank of
external existences, there remains nothing, which can afford us a just
and constituent idea of body.

Add to this, that, properly speaking, solidity or impenetrability is
nothing, but an impossibility of annihilation, as [Part II. Sect. 4.]
has been already observed: For which reason it is the more necessary
for us to form some distinct idea of that object, whose annihilation we
suppose impossible. An impossibility of being annihilated cannot exist,
and can never be conceived to exist, by itself: but necessarily
requires some object or real existence, to which it may belong. Now
the difficulty still remains, how to form an idea of this object
or existence, without having recourse to the secondary and sensible

Nor must we omit on this occasion our accustomed method of examining
ideas by considering those impressions, from which they are derived. The
impressions, which enter by the sight and hearing, the smell and taste,
are affirmed by modern philosophy to be without any resembling objects;
and consequently the idea of solidity, which is supposed to be real, can
never be derived from any of these senses. There remains, therefore,
the feeling as the only sense, that can convey the impression, which is
original to the idea of solidity; and indeed we naturally imagine, that
we feel the solidity of bodies, and need but touch any object in order
to perceive this quality. But this method of thinking is more popular
than philosophical; as will appear from the following reflections.

First, It is easy to observe, that though bodies are felt by means of
their solidity, yet the feeling is a quite different thing from the
solidity; and that they have not the least resemblance to each other.
A man, who has the palsey in one hand, has as perfect an idea of
impenetrability, when he observes that hand to be supported by the
table, as when he feels the same table with the other hand. An object,
that presses upon any of our members, meets with resistance; and that
resistance, by the motion it gives to the nerves and animal spirits,
conveys a certain sensation to the mind; but it does not follow, that
the sensation, motion, and resistance are any ways resembling.

Secondly, The impressions of touch are simple impressions, except when
considered with regard to their extension; which makes nothing to the
present purpose: And from this simplicity I infer, that they neither
represent solidity, nor any real object. For let us put two cases, viz.
that of a man, who presses a stone, or any solid body, with his hand,
and that of two stones, which press each other; it will readily be
allowed, that these two cases are not in every respect alike, but
that in the former there is conjoined with the solidity, a feeling or
sensation, of which there is no appearance in the latter. In order,
therefore, to make these two cases alike, it is necessary to remove some
part of the impression, which the man feels by his hand, or organ of
sensation; and that being impossible in a simple impression, obliges
us to remove the whole, and proves that this whole impression has
no archetype or model in external objects. To which we may add, that
solidity necessarily supposes two bodies, along with contiguity and
impulse; which being a compound object, can never be represented by a
simple impression. Not to mention, that though solidity continues always
invariably the same, the impressions of touch change every moment upon
us; which is a clear proof that the latter are not representations of
the former.

Thus there is a direct and total opposition betwixt our reason and our
senses; or more properly speaking, betwixt those conclusions we form
from cause and effect, and those that persuade us of the continued and
independent existence of body. When we reason from cause and effect, we
conclude, that neither colour, sound, taste, nor smell have a continued
and independent existence. When we exclude these sensible qualities
there remains nothing in the universe, which has such an existence.


Having found such contradictions and difficulties in every system
concerning external objects, and in the idea of matter, which we fancy
so clear and determinate, We shall naturally expect still greater
difficulties and contradictions in every hypothesis concerning our
internal perceptions, and the nature of the mind, which we are apt
to imagine so much more obscure, and uncertain. But in this we should
deceive ourselves. The intellectual world, though involved in infinite
obscurities, is not perplexed with any such contradictions, as those we
have discovered in the natural. What is known concerning it, agrees with
itself; and what is unknown, we must be contented to leave so.

It is true, would we hearken to certain philosophers, they promise to
diminish our ignorance; but I am afraid it is at the hazard of running
us into contradictions, from which the subject is of itself exempted.
These philosophers are the curious reasoners concerning the material or
immaterial substances, in which they suppose our perceptions to inhere.
In order to put a stop to these endless cavils on both sides, I know no
better method, than to ask these philosophers in a few words, What
they mean by substance and inhesion? And after they have answered
this question, it will then be reasonable, and not till then, to enter
seriously into the dispute.

This question we have found impossible to be answered with regard to
matter and body: But besides that in the case of the mind, it labours
under all the same difficulties, it is burthened with some additional
ones, which are peculiar to that subject. As every idea is derived from
a precedent impression, had we any idea of the substance of our minds,
we must also have an impression of it; which is very difficult, if
not impossible, to be conceived. For how can an impression represent a
substance, otherwise than by resembling it? And how can an impression
resemble a substance, since, according to this philosophy, it is not a
substance, and has none of the peculiar qualities or characteristics of
a substance?

But leaving the question of what may or may not be, for that other what
actually is, I desire those philosophers, who pretend that we have an
idea of the substance of our minds, to point out the impression that
produces it, and tell distinctly after what manner that impression
operates, and from what object it is derived. Is it an impression of
sensation or of reflection? Is it pleasant, or painful, or indifferent?
I Does it attend us at all times, or does it only return at intervals?
If at intervals, at what times principally does it return, and by what
causes is it produced?

If instead of answering these questions, any one should evade the
difficulty, by saying, that the definition of a substance is something
which may exist by itself; and that this definition ought to satisfy us:
should this be said, I should observe, that this definition agrees to
every thing, that can possibly be conceived; and never will serve to
distinguish substance from accident, or the soul from its perceptions.
For thus I reason. Whatever is clearly conceived may exist; and whatever
is clearly conceived, after any manner, may exist after the same manner.
This is one principle, which has been already acknowledged. Again, every
thing, which is different, is distinguishable, and every thing which
is distinguishable, is separable by the imagination. This is another
principle. My conclusion from both is, that since all our perceptions
are different from each other, and from every thing else in the
universe, they are also distinct and separable, and may be considered as
separately existent, and may exist separately, and have no need of any
thing else to support their existence. They are, therefore, substances,
as far as this definition explains a substance.

Thus neither by considering the first origin of ideas, nor by means of
a definition are we able to arrive at any satisfactory notion of
substance; which seems to me a sufficient reason for abandoning utterly
that dispute concerning the materiality and immateriality of the soul,
and makes me absolutely condemn even the question itself. We have no
perfect idea of any thing but of a perception. A substance is entirely
different from a perception. We have, therefore, no idea of a substance.
Inhesion in something is supposed to be requisite to support the
existence of our perceptions. Nothing appears requisite to support the
existence of a perception. We have, therefore, no idea of inhesion. What
possibility then of answering that question, Whether perceptions
inhere in a material or immaterial substance, when we do not so much as
understand the meaning of the question?

There is one argument commonly employed for the immateriality of the
soul, which seems to me remarkable. Whatever is extended consists of
parts; and whatever consists of parts is divisible, if not in reality,
at least in the imagination. But it is impossible anything divisible
can be conjoined to a thought or perception, which is a being altogether
inseparable and indivisible. For supposing such a conjunction, would
the indivisible thought exist on the left or on the right hand of this
extended divisible body? On the surface or in the middle? On the back
or fore side of it? If it be conjoined with the extension, it must exist
somewhere within its dimensions. If it exist within its dimensions, it
must either exist in one particular part; and then that particular part
is indivisible, and the perception is conjoined only with it, not with
the extension: Or if the thought exists in every part, it must also be
extended, and separable, and divisible, as well as the body; which is
utterly absurd and contradictory. For can any one conceive a passion of
a yard in length, a foot in breadth, and an inch in thickness? Thought,
therefore, and extension are qualities wholly incompatible, and never
can incorporate together into one subject.

This argument affects not the question concerning the substance of the
soul, but only that concerning its local conjunction with matter; and
therefore it may not be improper to consider in general what objects
are, or are not susceptible of a local conjunction. This is a curious
question, and may lead us to some discoveries of considerable moment.

The first notion of space and extension is derived solely from the
senses of sight and feeling; nor is there any thing, but what is
coloured or tangible, that has parts disposed after such a manner, as to
convey that idea. When we diminish or encrease a relish, it is not after
the same manner that we diminish or encrease any visible object; and
when several sounds strike our hearing at once, custom and reflection
alone make us form an idea of the degrees of the distance and contiguity
of those bodies, from which they are derived. Whatever marks the place
of its existence either must be extended, or must be a mathematical
point, without parts or composition. What is extended must have a
particular figure, as square, round, triangular; none of which will
agree to a desire, or indeed to any impression or idea, except to these
two senses above-mentioned. Neither ought a desire, though indivisible,
to be considered as a mathematical point. For in that case it would be
possible, by the addition of others, to make two, three, four desires,
and these disposed and situated in such a manner, as to have a
determinate length, breadth and thickness; which is evidently absurd.

It will not be surprising after this, if I deliver a maxim, which is
condemned by several metaphysicians, and is esteemed contrary to the
most certain principles of hum reason. This maxim is that an object
may exist, and yet be no where: and I assert, that this is not only
possible, but that the greatest part of beings do and must exist after
this manner. An object may be said to be no where, when its parts are
not so situated with respect to each other, as to form any figure or
quantity; nor the whole with respect to other bodies so as to answer to
our notions of contiguity or distance. Now this is evidently the case
with all our perceptions and objects, except those of the sight and
feeling. A moral reflection cannot be placed on the right or on the left
hand of a passion, nor can a smell or sound be either of a circular or a
square figure. These objects and perceptions, so far from requiring
any particular place, are absolutely incompatible with it, and even
the imagination cannot attribute it to them. And as to the absurdity of
supposing them to be no where, we may consider, that if the passions and
sentiments appear to the perception to have any particular place, the
idea of extension might be derived from them, as well as from the sight
and touch; contrary to what we have already established. If they APPEAR
not to have any particular place, they may possibly exist in the same
manner; since whatever we conceive is possible.

It will not now be necessary to prove, that those perceptions, which are
simple, and exist no where, are incapable of any conjunction in place
with matter or body, which is extended and divisible; since it is
impossible to found a relation but on some common quality. It may
be better worth our while to remark, that this question of the local
conjunction of objects does not only occur in metaphysical disputes
concerning the nature of the soul, but that even in common life we have
every moment occasion to examine it. Thus supposing we consider a fig at
one end of the table, and an olive at the other, it is evident, that in
forming the complex ideas of these substances, one of the most obvious
is that of their different relishes; and it is as evident, that we
incorporate and conjoin these qualities with such as are coloured
and tangible. The bitter taste of the one, and sweet of the other are
supposed to lie in the very visible body, and to be separated from
each other by the whole length of the table. This is so notable and so
natural an illusion, that it may be proper to consider the principles,
from which it is derived.

Though an extended object be incapable of a conjunction in place with
another, that exists without any place or extension, yet are they
susceptible of many other relations. Thus the taste and smell of
any fruit are inseparable from its other qualities of colour and
tangibility; and whichever of them be the cause or effect, it is certain
they are always co-existent. Nor are they only co-existent in general,
but also co-temporary in their appearance in the mind; and it is upon
the application of the extended body to our senses we perceive its
particular taste and smell. These relations, then, of causation, and
contiguity in the time of their appearance, betwixt the extended object
and the quality, which exists without any particular place, must have
such an effect on the mind, that upon the appearance of one it will
immediately turn its thought to the conception of the other. Nor is this
all. We not only turn our thought from one to the other upon account of
their relation, but likewise endeavour to give them a new relation, viz.
that of a CONJUNCTION IN PLACE, that we may render the transition more
easy and natural. For it is a quality, which I shall often have occasion
to remark in human nature, and shall explain more fully in its proper
place, that when objects are united by any relation, we have a strong
propensity to add some new relation to them, in order to compleat the
union. In our arrangement of bodies we never fail to place such as are
resembling, in contiguity to each other, or at least in correspondent
points of view: Why? but because we feel a satisfaction in joining the
relation of contiguity to that of resemblance, or the resemblance of
situation to that of qualities. The effects this propensity have been
[Sect. 2, towards the end.] already observed in that resemblance, which
we so readily suppose betwixt particular impressions and their external
causes. But we shall not find a more evident effect of it, than in the
present instance, where from the relations of causation and contiguity
in time betwixt two objects, we feign likewise that of a conjunction in
place, in order to strengthen the connexion.

But whatever confused notions we may form of an union in place betwixt
an extended body, as a fig, and its particular taste, it is certain
that upon reflection we must observe this union something altogether
unintelligible and contradictory. For should we ask ourselves one
obvious question, viz. if the taste, which we conceive to be contained
in the circumference of the body, is in every part of it or in one only,
we must quickly find ourselves at a loss, and perceive the impossibility
of ever giving a satisfactory answer. We cannot rely, that it is only
in one part: For experience convinces us, that every part has the same
relish. We can as little reply, that it exists in every part: For
then we must suppose it figured and extended; which is absurd and
incomprehensible. Here then we are influenced by two principles directly
contrary to each other, viz. that inclination of our fancy by which we
are determined to incorporate the taste with the extended object, and
our reason, which shows us the impossibility of such an union. Being
divided betwixt these opposite principles, we renounce neither one nor
the other, but involve the subject in such confusion and obscurity, that
we no longer perceive the opposition. We suppose, that the taste exists
within the circumference of the body, but in such a manner, that it
fills the whole without extension, and exists entire in every part
without separation. In short, we use in our most familiar way of
thinking, that scholastic principle, which, when crudely proposed,
appears so shocking, of TOTUM IN TOTO & TOLUM IN QUALIBET PARTE: Which
is much the same, as if we should say, that a thing is in a certain
place, and yet is not there.

All this absurdity proceeds from our endeavouring to bestow a place on
what is utterly incapable of it; and that endeavour again arises from
our inclination to compleat an union, which is founded on causation,
and a contiguity of time, by attributing to the objects a conjunction in
place. But if ever reason be of sufficient force to overcome prejudice,
it is certain, that in the present case it must prevail. For we have
only this choice left, either to suppose that some beings exist without
any place; or that they are figured and extended; or that when they are
incorporated with extended objects, the whole is in the whole, and the
whole in every part. The absurdity of the two last suppositions proves
sufficiently the veracity of the first. Nor is there any fourth
opinion. For as to the supposition of their existence in the manner of
mathematical points, it resolves itself into the second opinion, and
supposes, that several passions may be placed in a circular figure,
and that a certain number of smells, conjoined with a certain number of
sounds, may make a body of twelve cubic inches; which appears ridiculous
upon the bare mentioning of it.

But though in this view of things we cannot refuse to condemn the
materialists, who conjoin all thought with extension; yet a little
reflection will show us equal reason for blaming their antagonists, who
conjoin all thought with a simple and indivisible substance. The most
vulgar philosophy informs us, that no external object can make itself
known to the mind immediately, and without the interposition of an
image or perception. That table, which just now appears to me, is only a
perception, and all its qualities are qualities of a perception. Now the
most obvious of all its qualities is extension. The perception consists
of parts. These parts are so situated, as to afford us the notion
of distance and contiguity; of length, breadth, and thickness. The
termination of these three dimensions is what we call figure. This
figure is moveable, separable, and divisible. Mobility, and separability
are the distinguishing properties of extended objects. And to cut short
all disputes, the very idea of extension is copyed from nothing but an
impression, and consequently must perfectly agree to it. To say the idea
of extension agrees to any thing, is to say it is extended.

The free-thinker may now triumph in his turn; and having found there are
impressions and ideas really extended, may ask his antagonists, how
they can incorporate a simple and indivisible subject with an extended
perception? All the arguments of Theologians may here be retorted upon
them. Is the indivisible subject, or immaterial substance, if you
will, on the left or on the right hand of the perception? Is it in this
particular part, or in that other? Is it in every part without being
extended? Or is it entire in any one part without deserting the rest? It
is impossible to give any answer to these questions, but what will both
be absurd in itself, and will account for the union of our indivisible
perceptions with an extended substance.

This gives me an occasion to take a-new into consideration the question
concerning the substance of the soul; and though I have condemned that
question as utterly unintelligible, yet I cannot forbear proposing some
farther reflections concerning it. I assert, that the doctrine of the
immateriality, simplicity, and indivisibility of a thinking substance
is a true atheism, and will serve to justify all those sentiments, for
which Spinoza is so universally infamous. From this topic, I hope at
least to reap one advantage, that my adversaries will not have any
pretext to render the present doctrine odious by their declamations,
when they see that they can be so easily retorted on them.

The fundamental principle of the atheism of Spinoza is the doctrine
of the simplicity of the universe, and the unity of that substance, in
which he supposes both thought and matter to inhere. There is only one
substance, says he, in the world; and that substance is perfectly simple
and indivisible, and exists every where, without any local presence.
Whatever we discover externally by sensation; whatever we feel
internally by reflection; all these are nothing but modifications of
that one, simple, and necessarily existent being, and are not possest
of any separate or distinct existence. Every passion of the soul; every
configuration of matter, however different and various, inhere in
the same substance, and preserve in themselves their characters of
distinction, without communicating them to that subject, in which
they inhere. The same substratum, if I may so speak, supports the most
different modifications, without any difference in itself; and varies
them, without any variation. Neither time, nor place, nor all the
diversity of nature are able to produce any composition or change in its
perfect simplicity and identity.

I believe this brief exposition of the principles of that famous atheist
will be sufficient for the present purpose, and that without entering
farther into these gloomy and obscure regions, I shall be able to
shew, that this hideous hypothesis is almost the same with that of the
immateriality of the soul, which has become so popular. To make this
evident, let us [Part II, Sect. 6.] remember, that as every idea is
derived from a preceding perception, it is impossible our idea of
a perception, and that of an object or external existence can ever
represent what are specifically different from each other. Whatever
difference we may suppose betwixt them, it is still incomprehensible to
us; and we are obliged either to conceive an external object merely as
a relation without a relative, or to make it the very same with a
perception or impression.

The consequence I shall draw from this may, at first sight, appear a
mere sophism; but upon the least examination will be found solid and
satisfactory. I say then, that since we may suppose, but never can
conceive a specific deference betwixt an object and impression;
any conclusion we form concerning the connexion and repugnance of
impressions, will not be known certainly to be applicable to objects;
but that on the other hand, whatever conclusions of this kind we form
concerning objects, will most certainly be applicable to impressions.
The reason is not difficult. As an object is supposed to be different
from an impression, we cannot be sure, that the circumstance, upon
which we found our reasoning, is common to both, supposing we form the
reasoning upon the impression. It is still possible, that the object may
differ from it in that particular. But when we first form our reasoning
concerning the object, it is beyond doubt, that the same reasoning must
extend to the impression: And that because the quality of the object,
upon which the argument is founded, must at least be conceived by
the mind; and coued not be conceived, unless it were common to an
impression; since we have no idea but what is derived from that origin.
Thus we may establish it as a certain maxim, that we can never, by any
principle, but by an irregular kind [Such as that of Sect. 2, form the
coherence of our perceptions.] of reasoning from experience, discover
a connexion or repugnance betwixt objects, which extends not to
impressions; though the inverse proposition may not be equally true,
that all the discoverable relations of impressions are common to

To apply this to the present case; there are two different systems
of being presented, to which I suppose myself under necessity of
assigning some substance, or ground of inhesion. I observe first the
universe of objects or of body: The sun, moon and stars; the earth,
seas, plants, animals, men, ships, houses, and other productions either
of art or nature. Here Spinoza appears, and tells me, that these are
only modifications; and that the subject, in which they inhere, is
simple, incompounded, and indivisible. After this I consider the other
system of beings, viz. the universe of thought, or my impressions and
ideas. There I observe another sun, moon and stars; an earth, and seas,
covered and inhabited by plants and animals; towns, houses, mountains,
rivers; and in short every thing I can discover or conceive in the
first system. Upon my enquiring concerning these, Theologians present
themselves, and tell me, that these also are modifications, and
modifications of one simple, uncompounded, and indivisible substance.
Immediately upon which I am deafened with the noise of a hundred voices,
that treat the first hypothesis with detestation and scorn, and the
second with applause and veneration. I turn my attention to these
hypotheses to see what may be the reason of so great a partiality; and
find that they have the same fault of being unintelligible, and that
as far as we can understand them, they are so much alike, that it is
impossible to discover any absurdity in one, which is not common to both
of them. We have no idea of any quality in an object, which does not
agree to, and may not represent a quality in an impression; and that
because all our ideas are derived from our impressions. We can
never, therefore, find any repugnance betwixt an extended object as
a modification, and a simple uncompounded essence, as its substance,
unless that repugnance takes place equally betwixt the perception or
impression of that extended object, and the same uncompounded essence.
Every idea of a quality in an object passes through an impression;
and therefore every perceivable relation, whether of connexion or
repugnance, must be common both to objects and impressions.

But though this argument, considered in general, seems evident beyond
all doubt and contradiction, yet to make it more clear and sensible, let
us survey it in detail; and see whether all the absurdities, which have
been found in the system of Spinoza, may not likewise be discovered in
that of Theologians. [See Bayle's dictionary, article of Spinoza.]

First, It has been said against Spinoza, according to the scholastic way
of talking, rather than thinking, that a mode, not being any distinct
or separate existence, must be the very same with its substance,
and consequently the extension of the universe, must be in a manner
identifyed with that, simple, uncompounded essence, in which the
universe is supposed to inhere. But this, it may be pretended, is
utterly impossible and inconceivable unless the indivisible substance
expand itself, so as to correspond to the extension, or the extension
contract itself, so as to answer to the indivisible substance. This
argument seems just, as far as we can understand it; and it is plain
nothing is required, but a change in the terms, to apply the same
argument to our extended perceptions, and the simple essence of the
soul; the ideas of objects and perceptions being in every respect
the same, only attended with the supposition of a difference, that is
unknown and incomprehensible.

Secondly, It has been said, that we have no idea of substance, which is
not applicable to matter; nor any idea of a distinct substance, which is
not applicable to every distinct portion of matter. Matter, therefore,
is not a mode but a substance, and each part of matter is not a distinct
mode, but a distinct substance. I have already proved, that we have no
perfect idea of substance; but that taking it for something, that can
exist by itself, it is evident every perception is a substance,
and every distinct part of a perception a distinct substance: And
consequently the one hypothesis labours under the same difficulties in
this respect with the other.

Thirdly, It has been objected to the system of one simple substance in
the universe, that this substance being the support or substratum of
every thing, must at the very same instant be modifyed into forms,
which are contrary and incompatible. The round and square figures are
incompatible in the same substance at the same time. How then is it
possible, that the same substance can at once be modifyed into
that square table, and into this round one? I ask the same question
concerning the impressions of these tables; and find that the answer is
no more satisfactory in one case than in the other.

It appears, then, that to whatever side we turn, the same difficulties
follow us, and that we cannot advance one step towards the establishing
the simplicity and immateriality o the soul, without preparing the
way for a dangerous and irrecoverable atheism. It is the same case, if
instead o calling thought a modification of the soul, we should give it
the more antient, and yet more modish name of an action. By an action we
mean much the same thing, as what is commonly called an abstract
mode; that is, something, which, properly speaking, is neither
distinguishable, nor separable from its substance, and is only conceived
by a distinction of reason, or an abstraction. But nothing is gained by
this change of the term of modification, for that of action; nor do we
free ourselves from one single difficulty by its means; as will appear
from the two following reflexions.

First, I observe, that the word, action, according to this explication
of it, can never justly be applied to any perception, as derived from
a mind or thinking substance. Our perceptions are all really different,
and separable, and distinguishable from each other, and from everything
else, which we can imagine: and therefore it is impossible to conceive,
how they can be the action or abstract mode of any substance. The
instance of motion, which is commonly made use of to shew after what
manner perception depends, as an action, upon its substance, rather
confounds than instructs us. Motion to all appearance induces no real
nor essential change on the body, but only varies its relation to other
objects. But betwixt a person in the morning walking a garden with
company, agreeable to him; and a person in the afternoon inclosed in a
dungeon, and full of terror, despair, and resentment, there seems to be
a radical difference, and of quite another kind, than what is produced
on a body by the change of its situation. As we conclude from the
distinction and separability of their ideas, that external objects
have a separate existence from each other; so when we make these ideas
themselves our objects, we must draw the same conclusion concerning
them, according to the precedent reasoning. At least it must be confest,
that having idea of the substance of the soul, it is impossible for us
to tell how it can admit of such differences, and even contrarieties of
perception without any fundamental change; and consequently can never
tell in what sense perceptions are actions of that substance. The use,
therefore, of the word, action, unaccompanyed with any meaning, instead
of that of modification, makes no addition to our knowledge, nor is of
any advantage to the doctrine of the immateriality of the soul.

I add in the second place, that if it brings any advantage to that
cause, it must bring an equal to the cause of atheism. For do our
Theologians pretend to make a monopoly of the word, action, and may not
the atheists likewise take possession of it, and affirm that plants,
animals, men, &c. are nothing but particular actions of one simple
universal substance, which exerts itself from a blind and
absolute necessity? This you'll say is utterly absurd. I own it is
unintelligible; but at the same time assert, according to the principles
above-explained, that it is impossible to discover any absurdity in the
supposition, that all the various objects in nature are actions of
one simple substance, which absurdity will not be applicable to a like
supposition concerning impressions and ideas.

From these hypotheses concerning the substance and local conjunction of
our perceptions, we may pass to another, which is more intelligible
than the former, and more important than the latter, viz. concerning the
cause of our perceptions. Matter and motion, it is commonly said in the
schools, however varyed, are still matter and motion, and produce only
a difference in the position and situation of objects. Divide a body as
often as you please, it is still body. Place it in any figure, nothing
ever results but figure, or the relation of parts. Move it in any
manner, you still find motion or a change of relation. It is absurd to
imagine, that motion in a circle, for instance, should be nothing but
merely motion in a circle; while motion in another direction, as in an
ellipse, should also be a passion or moral reflection: That the shocking
of two globular particles should become a sensation of pain, and that
the meeting of two triangular ones should afford a pleasure. Now as
these different shocks, and variations, and mixtures are the only
changes, of which matter is susceptible, and as these never afford us
any idea of thought or perception, it is concluded to be impossible,
that thought can ever be caused by matter.

Few have been able to withstand the seeming evidence of this argument;
and yet nothing in the world is more easy than to refute it. We need
only reflect on what has been proved at large, that we are never
sensible of any connexion betwixt causes and effects, and that it is
only by our experience of their constant conjunction, we can arrive
at any knowledge of this relation. Now as all objects, which are not
contrary, are susceptible of a constant conjunction, and as no real
objects are contrary [Part III. Sect. 15.]; I have inferred from these
principles, that to consider the matter A PRIORI, any thing may produce
any thing, and that we shall never discover a reason, why any object may
or may not be the cause of any other, however great, or however little
the resemblance may be betwixt them. This evidently destroys the
precedent reasoning concerning the cause of thought or perception. For
though there appear no manner of connexion betwixt motion or thought,
the case is the same with all other causes and effects. Place one body
of a pound weight on one end of a lever, and another body of the same
weight on another end; you will never find in these bodies any principle
of motion dependent on their distances from the center, more than of
thought and perception. If you pretend, therefore, to prove a priori,
that such a position of bodies can never cause thought; because turn it
which way you will, it is nothing but a position of bodies; you must by
the same course of reasoning conclude, that it can never produce motion;
since there is no more apparent connexion in the one case than in the
other. But as this latter conclusion is contrary to evident experience,
and as it is possible we may have a like experience in the operations of
the mind, and may perceive a constant conjunction of thought and motion;
you reason too hastily, when from the mere consideration of the ideas,
you conclude that it is impossible motion can ever produce thought, or
a different position of parts give rise to a different passion or
reflection. Nay it is not only possible we may have such an experience,
but it is certain we have it; since every one may perceive, that the
different dispositions of his body change his thoughts and sentiments.
And should it be said, that this depends on the union of soul and
body; I would answer, that we must separate the question concerning the
substance of the mind from that concerning the cause of its thought; and
that confining ourselves to the latter question we find by the comparing
their ideas, that thought and motion are different from each other,
and by experience, that they are constantly united; which being all
the circumstances, that enter into the idea of cause and effect, when
applied to the operations of matter, we may certainly conclude, that
motion may be, and actually is, the cause of thought and perception.

There seems only this dilemma left us in the present case; either to
assert, that nothing can be the cause of another, but where the mind can
perceive the connexion in its idea of the objects: Or to maintain, that
all objects, which we find constantly conjoined, are upon that account
to be regarded as causes and effects. If we choose the first part of the
dilemma, these are the consequences. First, We in reality affirm,
that there is no such thing in the universe as a cause or productive
principle, not even the deity himself; since our idea of that supreme
Being is derived from particular impressions, none of which contain any
efficacy, nor seem to have any connexion with any other existence. As to
what may be said, that the connexion betwixt the idea of an infinitely
powerful being, and that of any effect, which he wills, is necessary and
unavoidable; I answer, that we have no idea of a being endowed with
any power, much less of one endowed with infinite power. But if we will
change expressions, we can only define power by connexion; and then in
saying, that the idea, of an infinitely powerful being is connected with
that of every effect, which he wills, we really do no more than
assert, that a being, whose volition is connected with every effect,
is connected with every effect: which is an identical proposition, and
gives us no insight into the nature of this power or connexion. But,
secondly, supposing, that the deity were the great and efficacious
principle, which supplies the deficiency of all causes, this leads us
into the grossest impieties and absurdities. For upon the same account,
that we have recourse to him in natural operations, and assert that
matter cannot of itself communicate motion, or produce thought, viz.
because there is no apparent connexion betwixt these objects; I say,
upon the very same account, we must acknowledge that the deity is the
author of all our volitions and perceptions; since they have no more
apparent connexion either with one another, or with the supposed but
unknown substance of the soul. This agency of the supreme Being we know
to have been asserted by [As father Malebranche and other Cartesians.]
several philosophers with relation to all the actions of the mind,
except volition, or rather an inconsiderable part of volition; though it
is easy to perceive, that this exception is a mere pretext, to avoid the
dangerous consequences of that doctrine. If nothing be active but
what has an apparent power, thought is in no case any more active than
matter; and if this inactivity must make us have recourse to a deity,
the supreme being is the real cause of all our actions, bad as well as
good, vicious as well as virtuous.

Thus we are necessarily reduced to the other side of the dilemma, viz..
that all objects, which are found to be constantly conjoined, are upon
that account only to be regarded as causes and effects. Now as
all objects, which are not contrary, are susceptible of a constant
conjunction, and as no real objects are contrary: it follows, that for
ought we can determine by the mere ideas, any thing may be the cause
or effect of any thing; which evidently gives the advantage to the
materialists above their antagonists.

To pronounce, then, the final decision upon the whole; the question
concerning the substance of the soul is absolutely unintelligible: All
our perceptions are not susceptible of a local union, either with what
is extended or unextended: there being some of them of the one kind,
and some of the other: And as the constant conjunction of objects
constitutes the very essence of cause and effect, matter and motion may
often be regarded as the causes of thought, as far as we have any notion
of that relation.

It is certainly a kind of indignity to philosophy, whose sovereign
authority ought every where to be acknowledged, to oblige her on every
occasion to make apologies for her conclusions, and justify herself to
every particular art and science, which may be offended at her. This
puts one in mind of a king arrainged for high-treason against his
subjects. There is only one occasion, when philosophy will think it
necessary and even honourable to justify herself, and that is, when
religion may seem to be in the least offended; whose rights are as
dear to her as her own, and are indeed the same. If any one, therefore,
should imagine that the foregoing arguments are any ways dangerous to
religion, I hope the following apology will remove his apprehensions.

There is no foundation for any conclusion a priori, either concerning
the operations or duration of any object, of which it is possible for
the human mind to form a conception. Any object may be imagined to
become entirely inactive, or to be annihilated in a moment; and it is an
evident principle, that whatever we can imagine, is possible. Now this
is no more true of matter, than of spirit; of an extended compounded
substance, than of a simple and unextended. In both cases the
metaphysical arguments for the immortality of the soul are equally
inconclusive: and in both cases the moral arguments and those derived
from the analogy of nature are equally strong and convincing. If my
philosophy, therefore, makes no addition to the arguments for religion,
I have at least the satisfaction to think it takes nothing from them,
but that every thing remains precisely as before.


There are some philosophers who imagine we are every moment intimately
conscious of what we call our SELF; that we feel its existence and its
continuance in existence; and are certain, beyond the evidence of a
demonstration, both o its perfect identity and simplicity. The strongest
sensation, the most violent passion, say they, instead of distracting
us from this view, only fix it the more intensely, and make us consider
their influence on self either by their pain or pleasure. To attempt a
farther proof of this were to weaken its evidence; since no proof can be
derived from any fact, of which we are so intimately conscious; nor is
there any thing, of which we can be certain, if we doubt of this.

Unluckily all these positive assertions are contrary to that very
experience, which is pleaded for them, nor have we any idea of self,
after the manner it is here explained. For from what impression coued
this idea be derived? This question it is impossible to answer without
a manifest contradiction and absurdity; and yet it is a question, which
must necessarily be answered, if we would have the idea of self pass for
clear and intelligible, It must be some one impression, that gives rise
to every real idea. But self or person is not any one impression, but
that to which our several impressions and ideas are supposed to have
a reference. If any impression gives rise to the idea of self, that
impression must continue invariably the same, through the whole course
of our lives; since self is supposed to exist after that manner. But
there is no impression constant and invariable. Pain and pleasure, grief
and joy, passions and sensations succeed each other, and never all
exist at the same time. It cannot, therefore, be from any of these
impressions, or from any other, that the idea of self is derived; and
consequently there is no such idea.

But farther, what must become of all our particular perceptions upon
this hypothesis? All these are different, and distinguishable, and
separable from each other, and may be separately considered, and may
exist separately, and have no Deed of tiny thing to support their
existence. After what manner, therefore, do they belong to self; and how
are they connected with it? For my part, when I enter most intimately
into what I call myself, I always stumble on some particular perception
or other, of heat or cold, light or shade, love or hatred, pain or
pleasure. I never can catch myself at any time without a perception, and
never can observe any thing but the perception. When my perceptions
are removed for any time, as by sound sleep; so long am I insensible of
myself, and may truly be said not to exist. And were all my perceptions
removed by death, and coued I neither think, nor feel, nor see, nor
love, nor hate after the dissolution of my body, I should be entirely
annihilated, nor do I conceive what is farther requisite to make me a
perfect non-entity. If any one, upon serious and unprejudiced reflection
thinks he has a different notion of himself, I must confess I call
reason no longer with him. All I can allow him is, that he may be in
the right as well as I, and that we are essentially different in this
particular. He may, perhaps, perceive something simple and continued,
which he calls himself; though I am certain there is no such principle
in me.

But setting aside some metaphysicians of this kind, I may venture to
affirm of the rest of mankind, that they are nothing but a bundle or
collection of different perceptions, which succeed each other with an
inconceivable rapidity, and are in a perpetual flux and movement. Our
eyes cannot turn in their sockets without varying our perceptions. Our
thought is still more variable than our sight; and all our other senses
and faculties contribute to this change; nor is there any single power
of the soul, which remains unalterably the same, perhaps for one moment.
The mind is a kind of theatre, where several perceptions successively
make their appearance; pass, re-pass, glide away, and mingle in an
infinite variety of postures and situations. There is properly no
simplicity in it at one time, nor identity in different; whatever
natural propension we may have to imagine that simplicity and identity.
The comparison of the theatre must not mislead us. They are the
successive perceptions only, that constitute the mind; nor have we the
most distant notion of the place, where these scenes are represented, or
of the materials, of which it is composed.

What then gives us so great a propension to ascribe an identity to
these successive perceptions, and to suppose ourselves possest of an
invariable and uninterrupted existence through the whole course of our
lives? In order to answer this question, we must distinguish betwixt
personal identity, as it regards our thought or imagination, and as it
regards our passions or the concern we take in ourselves. The first is
our present subject; and to explain it perfectly we must take the matter
pretty deep, and account for that identity, which we attribute to plants
and animals; there being a great analogy betwixt it, and the identity of
a self or person.

We have a distinct idea of an object, that remains invariable and
uninterrupted through a supposed variation of time; and this idea we
call that of identity or sameness. We have also a distinct idea of
several different objects existing in succession, and connected together
by a close relation; and this to an accurate view affords as perfect
a notion of diversity, as if there was no manner of relation among the
objects. But though these two ideas of identity, and a succession of
related objects be in themselves perfectly distinct, and even contrary,
yet it is certain, that in our common way of thinking they are generally
confounded with each other. That action of the imagination, by which we
consider the uninterrupted and invariable object, and that by which we
reflect on the succession of related objects, are almost the same to the
feeling, nor is there much more effort of thought required in the latter
case than in the former. The relation facilitates the transition of the
mind from one object to another, and renders its passage as smooth as if
it contemplated one continued object. This resemblance is the cause
of the confusion and mistake, and makes us substitute the notion of
identity, instead of that of related objects. However at one instant we
may consider the related succession as variable or interrupted, we are
sure the next to ascribe to it a perfect identity, and regard it as
enviable and uninterrupted. Our propensity to this mistake is so great
from the resemblance above-mentioned, that we fall into it before we are
aware; and though we incessantly correct ourselves by reflection, and
return to a more accurate method of thinking, yet we cannot long sustain
our philosophy, or take off this biass from the imagination. Our last
resource is to yield to it, and boldly assert that these different
related objects are in effect the same, however interrupted and
variable. In order to justify to ourselves this absurdity, we often
feign some new and unintelligible principle, that connects the objects
together, and prevents their interruption or variation. Thus we feign
the continued existence of the perceptions of our senses, to remove
the interruption: and run into the notion of a soul, and self, and
substance, to disguise the variation. But we may farther observe, that
where we do not give rise to such a fiction, our propension to confound
identity with relation is so great, that we are apt to imagine [Footnote
10] something unknown and mysterious, connecting the parts, beside their
relation; and this I take to be the case with regard to the identity
we ascribe to plants and vegetables. And even when this does not take
place, we still feel a propensity to confound these ideas, though we
a-re not able fully to satisfy ourselves in that particular, nor
find any thing invariable and uninterrupted to justify our notion of

     [Footnote 10  If the reader is desirous to see how a great
     genius may be influencd by these seemingly trivial
     principles of the imagination, as well as the mere vulgar,
     let him read my Lord SHAFTSBURYS reasonings concerning the
     uniting principle of the universe, and the identity of
     plants and animals. See his MORALISTS: or, PHILOSOPHICAL

Thus the controversy concerning identity is not merely a dispute of
words. For when we attribute identity, in an improper sense, to variable
or interrupted objects, our mistake is not confined to the expression,
but is commonly attended with a fiction, either of something invariable
and uninterrupted, or of something mysterious and inexplicable, or at
least with a propensity to such fictions. What will suffice to prove
this hypothesis to the satisfaction of every fair enquirer, is to shew
from daily experience and observation, that the objects, which are
variable or interrupted, and yet are supposed to continue the same, are
such only as consist of a succession of parts, connected together by
resemblance, contiguity, or causation. For as such a succession answers
evidently to our notion of diversity, it can only be by mistake we
ascribe to it an identity; and as the relation of parts, which leads us
into this mistake, is really nothing but a quality, which produces an
association of ideas, and an easy transition of the imagination from one
to another, it can only be from the resemblance, which this act of the
mind bears to that, by which we contemplate one continued object, that
the error arises. Our chief business, then, must be to prove, that
all objects, to which we ascribe identity, without observing their
invariableness and uninterruptedness, are such as consist of a
succession of related objects.

In order to this, suppose any mass of matter, of which the parts are
contiguous and connected, to be placed before us; it is plain we must
attribute a perfect identity to this mass, provided all the parts
continue uninterruptedly and invariably the same, whatever motion or
change of place we may observe either in the whole or in any of the
parts. But supposing some very small or inconsiderable part to be added
to the mass, or subtracted from it; though this absolutely destroys
the identity of the whole, strictly speaking; yet as we seldom think so
accurately, we scruple not to pronounce a mass of matter the same, where
we find so trivial an alteration. The passage of the thought from the
object before the change to the object after it, is so smooth and easy,
that we scarce perceive the transition, and are apt to imagine, that it
is nothing but a continued survey of the same object.

There is a very remarkable circumstance, that attends this experiment;
which is, that though the change of any considerable part in a mass
of matter destroys the identity of the whole, let we must measure the
greatness of the part, not absolutely, but by its proportion to the
whole. The addition or diminution of a mountain would not be sufficient
to produce a diversity in a planet: though the change of a very few
inches would be able to destroy the identity of some bodies. It will be
impossible to account for this, but by reflecting that objects operate
upon the mind, and break or interrupt the continuity of its actions not
according to their real greatness, but according to their proportion to
each other: And therefore, since this interruption makes an object cease
to appear the same, it must be the uninterrupted progress o the thought,
which constitutes the imperfect identity.

This may be confirmed by another phenomenon. A change in any
considerable part of a body destroys its identity; but it is remarkable,
that where the change is produced gradually and insensibly we are less
apt to ascribe to it the same effect. The reason can plainly be no
other, than that the mind, in following the successive changes of the
body, feels an easy passage from the surveying its condition in one
moment to the viewing of it in another, and at no particular time
perceives any interruption in its actions. From which continued
perception, it ascribes a continued existence and identity to the

But whatever precaution we may use in introducing the changes gradually,
and making them proportionable to the whole, it is certain, that where
the changes are at last observed to become considerable, we make a
scruple of ascribing identity to such different objects. There is,
however, another artifice, by which we may induce the imagination to
advance a step farther; and that is, by producing a reference of the
parts to each other, and a combination to some common end or purpose.
A ship, of which a considerable part has been changed by frequent
reparations, is still considered as the same; nor does the difference
of the materials hinder us from ascribing an identity to it. The
common end, in which the parts conspire, is the same under all their
variations, and affords an easy transition of the imagination from one
situation of the body to another.

But this is still more remarkable, when we add a sympathy of parts
to their common end, and suppose that they bear to each other, the
reciprocal relation of cause and effect in all their actions and
operations. This is the case with all animals and vegetables; where not
only the several parts have a reference to some general purpose, but
also a mutual dependence on, and connexion with each other. The effect
of so strong a relation is, that though every one must allow, that in a
very few years both vegetables and animals endure a total change, yet we
still attribute identity to them, while their form, size, and substance
are entirely altered. An oak, that grows from a small plant to a large
tree, is still the same oak; though there be not one particle of matter,
or figure of its parts the same. An infant becomes a man-, and is
sometimes fat, sometimes lean, without any change in his identity.

We may also consider the two following phaenomena, which are remarkable
in their kind. The first is, that though we commonly be able to
distinguish pretty exactly betwixt numerical and specific identity, yet
it sometimes happens, that we confound them, and in our thinking and
reasoning employ the one for the other. Thus a man, who bears a noise,
that is frequently interrupted and renewed, says, it is still the same
noise; though it is evident the sounds have only a specific identity or
resemblance, and there is nothing numerically the same, but the cause,
which produced them. In like manner it may be said without breach of the
propriety of language, that such a church, which was formerly of brick,
fell to ruin, and that the parish rebuilt the same church of free-stone,
and according to modern architecture. Here neither the form nor
materials are the same, nor is there any thing common to the two
objects, but their relation to the inhabitants of the parish; and yet
this alone is sufficient to make us denominate them the same. But
we must observe, that in these cases the first object is in a manner
annihilated before the second comes into existence; by which means, we
are never presented in any one point of time with the idea of difference
and multiplicity: and for that reason are less scrupulous in calling
them the same.

Secondly, We may remark, that though in a succession of related objects,
it be in a manner requisite, that the change of parts be not sudden nor
entire, in order to preserve the identity, yet where the objects are
in their nature changeable and inconstant, we admit of a more sudden
transition, than would otherwise be consistent with that relation. Thus
as the nature of a river consists in the motion and change of parts;
though in less than four and twenty hours these be totally altered; this
hinders not the river from continuing the same during several ages. What
is natural and essential to any thing is, in a manner, expected; and
what is expected makes less impression, and appears of less moment, than
what is unusual and extraordinary. A considerable change of the former
kind seems really less to the imagination, than the most trivial
alteration of the latter; and by breaking less the continuity of the
thought, has less influence in destroying the identity.

We now proceed to explain the nature of personal identity, which has
become so great a question ill philosophy, especially of late years in
England, where all the abstruser sciences are studyed with a peculiar
ardour and application. And here it is evident, the same method of
reasoning must be continued which has so successfully explained the
identity of plants, and animals, and ships, and houses, and of all
the compounded and changeable productions either of art or nature. The
identity, which we ascribe to the mind of man, is only a fictitious one,
and of a like kind with that which we ascribe to vegetables and animal
bodies. It cannot, therefore, have a different origin, but must proceed
from a like operation of the imagination upon like objects.

But lest this argument should not convince the reader; though in my
opinion perfectly decisive; let him weigh the following reasoning, which
is still closer and more immediate. It is evident, that the identity,
which we attribute to the human mind, however perfect we may imagine it
to be, is not able to run the several different perceptions into one,
and make them lose their characters of distinction and difference, which
are essential to them. It is still true, that every distinct perception,
which enters into the composition of the mind, is a distinct existence,
and is different, and distinguishable, and separable from every other
perception, either contemporary or successive. But, as, notwithstanding
this distinction and separability, we suppose the whole train of
perceptions to be united by identity, a question naturally arises
concerning this relation of identity; whether it be something that
really binds our several perceptions together, or only associates
their ideas in the imagination. That is, in other words, whether in
pronouncing concerning the identity of a person, we observe some real
bond among his perceptions, or only feel one among the ideas we form of
them. This question we might easily decide, if we would recollect what
has been already proud at large, that the understanding never observes
any real connexion among objects, and that even the union of cause
and effect, when strictly examined, resolves itself into a customary
association of ideas. For from thence it evidently follows, that
identity is nothing really belonging to these different perceptions, and
uniting them together; but is merely a quality, which we attribute to
them, because of the union of their ideas in the imagination, when we
reflect upon them. Now the only qualities, which can give ideas an union
in the imagination, are these three relations above-mentioned. There
are the uniting principles in the ideal world, and without them
every distinct object is separable by the mind, and may be separately
considered, and appears not to have any more connexion with any other
object, than if disjoined by the greatest difference and remoteness.
It is, therefore, on some of these three relations of resemblance,
contiguity and causation, that identity depends; and as the very essence
of these relations consists in their producing an easy transition
of ideas; it follows, that our notions of personal identity, proceed
entirely from the smooth and uninterrupted progress of the thought along
a train of connected ideas, according to the principles above-explained.

The only question, therefore, which remains, is, by what relations this
uninterrupted progress of our thought is produced, when we consider
the successive existence of a mind or thinking person. And here it is
evident we must confine ourselves to resemblance and causation, and must
drop contiguity, which has little or no influence in the present case.

To begin with resemblance; suppose we coued see clearly into the
breast of another, and observe that succession of perceptions, which
constitutes his mind or thinking principle, and suppose that he always
preserves the memory of a considerable part of past perceptions; it is
evident that nothing coued more contribute to the bestowing a relation
on this succession amidst all its variations. For what is the memory but
a faculty, by which we raise up the images of past perceptions? And
as an image necessarily resembles its object, must not. The frequent
placing of these resembling perceptions in the chain of thought, convey
the imagination more easily from one link to another, and make the whole
seem like the continuance of one object? In this particular, then, the
memory not only discovers the identity, but also contributes to
its production, by producing the relation of resemblance among the
perceptions. The case is the same whether we consider ourselves or

As to causation; we may observe, that the true idea of the human mind,
is to consider it as a system of different perceptions or different
existences, which are linked together by the relation of cause and
effect, and mutually produce, destroy, influence, and modify each other.
Our impressions give rise to their correspondent ideas; said these ideas
in their turn produce other impressions. One thought chaces another,
and draws after it a third, by which it is expelled in its turn. In this
respect, I cannot compare the soul more properly to any thing than to a
republic or commonwealth, in which the several members are united by the
reciprocal ties of government and subordination, and give rise to other
persons, who propagate the same republic in the incessant changes of
its parts. And as the same individual republic may not only change its
members, but also its laws and constitutions; in like manner the
same person may vary his character and disposition, as well as his
impressions and ideas, without losing his identity. Whatever changes
he endures, his several parts are still connected by the relation of
causation. And in this view our identity with regard to the passions
serves to corroborate that with regard to the imagination, by the making
our distant perceptions influence each other, and by giving us a present
concern for our past or future pains or pleasures.

As a memory alone acquaints us with the continuance and extent of this
succession of perceptions, it is to be considered, upon that account
chiefly, as the source of personal identity. Had we no memory, we never
should have any notion of causation, nor consequently of that chain of
causes and effects, which constitute our self or person. But having once
acquired this notion of causation from the memory, we can extend the
same chain of causes, and consequently the identity of car persons
beyond our memory, and can comprehend times, and circumstances, and
actions, which we have entirely forgot, but suppose in general to have
existed. For how few of our past actions are there, of which we have
any memory? Who can tell me, for instance, what were his thoughts and
actions on the 1st of January 1715, the 11th of March 1719, and the 3rd
of August 1733? Or will he affirm, because he has entirely forgot the
incidents of these days, that the present self is not the same person
with the self of that time; and by that means overturn all the most
established notions of personal identity? In this view, therefore,
memory does not so much produce as discover personal identity, by
shewing us the relation of cause and effect among our different
perceptions. It will be incumbent on those, who affirm that memory
produces entirely our personal identity, to give a reason why we cm thus
extend our identity beyond our memory.

The whole of this doctrine leads us to a conclusion, which is of great
importance in the present affair, viz. that all the nice and subtile
questions concerning personal identity can never possibly be decided,
and are to be regarded rather as gramatical than as philosophical
difficulties. Identity depends on the relations of ideas; and these
relations produce identity, by means of that easy transition they
occasion. But as the relations, and the easiness of the transition may
diminish by insensible degrees, we have no just standard, by which we
can decide any dispute concerning the time, when they acquire or lose a
title to the name of identity. All the disputes concerning the identity
of connected objects are merely verbal, except so fax as the relation of
parts gives rise to some fiction or imaginary principle of union, as we
have already observed.

What I have said concerning the first origin and uncertainty of our
notion of identity, as applied to the human mind, may be extended with
little or no variation to that of simplicity. An object, whose different
co-existent parts are bound together by a close relation, operates upon
the imagination after much the same manner as one perfectly simple and
indivisible and requires not a much greater stretch of thought in order
to its conception. From this similarity of operation we attribute a
simplicity to it, and feign a principle of union as the support of this
simplicity, and the center of all the different parts and qualities of
the object.

Thus we have finished our examination of the several systems of
philosophy, both of the intellectual and natural world; and in our
miscellaneous way of reasoning have been led into several topics;
which will either illustrate and confirm some preceding part of this
discourse, or prepare the way for our following opinions. It is now time
to return to a more close examination of our subject, and to proceed in
the accurate anatomy of human nature, having fully explained the nature
of our judgment and understandings.


But before I launch out into those immense depths of philosophy, which
lie before me, I find myself inclined to stop a moment in my present
station, and to ponder that voyage, which I have undertaken, and which
undoubtedly requires the utmost art and industry to be brought to a
happy conclusion. Methinks I am like a man, who having struck on many
shoals, and having narrowly escaped shipwreck in passing a small frith,
has yet the temerity to put out to sea in the same leaky weather-beaten
vessel, and even carries his ambition so far as to think of compassing
the globe under these disadvantageous circumstances. My memory of past
errors and perplexities, makes me diffident for the future. The wretched
condition, weakness, and disorder of the faculties, I must employ in my
enquiries, encrease my apprehensions. And the impossibility of amending
or correcting these faculties, reduces me almost to despair, and makes
me resolve to perish on the barren rock, on which I am at present,
rather than venture myself upon that boundless ocean, which runs
out into immensity. This sudden view of my danger strikes me with
melancholy; and as it is usual for that passion, above all others, to
indulge itself; I cannot forbear feeding my despair, with all those
desponding reflections, which the present subject furnishes me with in
such abundance.

I am first affrighted and confounded with that forelorn solitude,
in which I am placed in my philosophy, and fancy myself some strange
uncouth monster, who not being able to mingle and unite in society,
has been expelled all human commerce, and left utterly abandoned and
disconsolate. Fain would I run into the crowd for shelter and warmth;
but cannot prevail with myself to mix with such deformity. I call upon
others to join me, in order to make a company apart; but no one will
hearken to me. Every one keeps at a distance, and dreads that storm,
which beats upon me from every side. I have exposed myself to the enmity
of all metaphysicians, logicians, mathematicians, and even theologians;
and can I wonder at the insults I must suffer? I have declared my
disapprobation of their systems; and can I be surprized, if they should
express a hatred of mine and of my person? When I look abroad, I foresee
on every side, dispute, contradiction, anger, calumny and detraction.
When I turn my eye inward, I find nothing but doubt and ignorance.
All the world conspires to oppose and contradict me; though such is my
weakness, that I feel all my opinions loosen and fall of themselves,
when unsupported by the approbation of others. Every step I take is
with hesitation, and every new reflection makes me dread an error and
absurdity in my reasoning.

For with what confidence can I venture upon such bold enterprises, when
beside those numberless infirmities peculiar to myself, I find so many
which are common to human nature? Can I be sure, that in leaving all
established opinions I am following truth; and by what criterion shall
I distinguish her, even if fortune should at last guide me on her
foot-steps? After the most accurate and exact of my reasonings, I can
give no reason why I should assent to it; and feel nothing but a strong
propensity to consider objects strongly in that view, under which they
appear to me. Experience is a principle, which instructs me in
the several conjunctions of objects for the past. Habit is another
principle, which determines me to expect the same for the future; and
both of them conspiring to operate upon the imagination, make me form
certain ideas in a more intense and lively manner, than others, which
are not attended with the same advantages. Without this quality, by
which the mind enlivens some ideas beyond others (which seemingly is so
trivial, and so little founded on reason) we coued never assent to any
argument, nor carry our view beyond those few objects, which are present
to our senses. Nay, even to these objects we coued never attribute any
existence, but what was dependent on the senses; and must comprehend
them entirely in that succession of perceptions, which constitutes our
self or person. Nay farther, even with relation to that succession, we
coued only admit of those perceptions, which are immediately present to
our consciousness, nor coued those lively images, with which the memory
presents us, be ever received as true pictures of past perceptions. The
memory, senses, and understanding are, therefore, all of them founded on
the imagination, or the vivacity of our ideas.

No wonder a principle so inconstant and fallacious should lead us into
errors, when implicitly followed (as it must be) in all its variations.
It is this principle, which makes us reason from causes and effects; and
it is the same principle, which convinces us of the continued existence
of external objects, when absent from the senses. But though these two
operations be equally natural and necessary in the human mind, yet in
some circumstances they are [Sect. 4.] directly contrary, nor is it
possible for us to reason justly and regularly from causes and effects,
and at the same time believe the continued existence of matter. How
then shall we adjust those principles together? Which of them shall we
prefer? Or in case we prefer neither of them, but successively assent
to both, as is usual among philosophers, with what confidence can we
afterwards usurp that glorious title, when we thus knowingly embrace a
manifest contradiction?

This contradiction [Part III. Sect. 14.] would be more excusable, were
it compensated by any degree of solidity and satisfaction in the other
parts of our reasoning. But the case is quite contrary. When we trace up
the human understanding to its first principles, we find it to lead us
into such sentiments, as seem to turn into ridicule all our past pains
and industry, and to discourage us from future enquiries. Nothing is
more curiously enquired after by the mind of man, than the causes of
every phenomenon; nor are we content with knowing the immediate causes,
but push on our enquiries, till we arrive at the original and ultimate
principle. We would not willingly stop before we are acquainted with
that energy in the cause, by which it operates on its effect; that tie,
which connects them together; and that efficacious quality, on which the
tie depends. This is our aim in all our studies and reflections: And
how must we be disappointed, when we learn, that this connexion, tie, or
energy lies merely in ourselves, and is nothing but that determination
of the mind, which is acquired by custom, and causes us to make
a transition from an object to its usual attendant, and from the
impression of one to the lively idea of the other? Such a discovery not
only cuts off all hope of ever attaining satisfaction, but even prevents
our very wishes; since it appears, that when we say we desire to know
the ultimate and operating principle, as something, which resides in
the external object, we either contradict ourselves, or talk without a

This deficiency in our ideas is not, indeed, perceived in common life,
nor are we sensible, that in the most usual conjunctions of cause and
effect we are as ignorant of the ultimate principle, which binds them
together, as in the most unusual and extraordinary. But this proceeds
merely from an illusion of the imagination; and the question is, how far
we ought to yield to these illusions. This question is very difficult,
and reduces us to a very dangerous dilemma, whichever way we answer it.
For if we assent to every trivial suggestion of the fancy; beside that
these suggestions are often contrary to each other; they lead us into
such errors, absurdities, and obscurities, that we must at last become
ashamed of our credulity. Nothing is more dangerous to reason than the
flights of the imagination, and nothing has been the occasion of more
mistakes among philosophers. Men of bright fancies may in this respect
be compared to those angels, whom the scripture represents as covering
their eyes with their wings. This has already appeared in so many
instances, that we may spare ourselves the trouble of enlarging upon it
any farther.

But on the other hand, if the consideration of these instances makes us
take a resolution to reject all the trivial suggestions of the fancy,
and adhere to the understanding, that is, to the general and more
established properties of the imagination; even this resolution, if
steadily executed, would be dangerous, and attended with the most
fatal consequences. For I have already shewn [Sect. 1.], that the
understanding, when it acts alone, and according to its most general
principles, entirely subverts itself, and leaves not the lowest degree
of evidence in any proposition, either in philosophy or common life. We
save ourselves from this total scepticism only by means of that singular
and seemingly trivial property of the fancy, by which we enter with
difficulty into remote views of things, and are not able to accompany
them with so sensible an impression, as we do those, which are more easy
and natural. Shall we, then, establish it for a general maxim, that no
refined or elaborate reasoning is ever to be received? Consider well the
consequences of such a principle. By this means you cut off entirely
all science and philosophy: You proceed upon one singular quality of the
imagination, and by a parity of reason must embrace all of them: And
you expressly contradict yourself; since this maxim must be built on the
preceding reasoning, which will be allowed to be sufficiently refined
and metaphysical. What party, then, shall we choose among these
difficulties? If we embrace this principle, and condemn all refined
reasoning, we run into the most manifest absurdities. If we reject it
in favour of these reasonings, we subvert entirely the human
understanding. We have, therefore, no choice left but betwixt a false
reason and none at all. For my part, know not what ought to be done in
the present case. I can only observe what is commonly done; which is,
that this difficulty is seldom or never thought of; and even where it
has once been present to the mind, is quickly forgot, and leaves but a
small impression behind it. Very refined reflections have little or
no influence upon us; and yet we do not, and cannot establish it for
a rule, that they ought not to have any influence; which implies a
manifest contradiction.

But what have I here said, that reflections very refined and
metaphysical have little or no influence upon us? This opinion I can
scarce forbear retracting, and condemning from my present feeling
and experience. The intense view of these manifold contradictions and
imperfections in human reason has so wrought upon me, and heated my
brain, that I am ready to reject all belief and reasoning, and can look
upon no opinion even as more probable or likely than another. Where
am I, or what? From what causes do I derive my existence, and to what
condition shall I return? Whose favour shall I court, and whose
anger must I dread? What beings surround me? and on whom have, I any
influence, or who have any influence on me? I am confounded with all
these questions, and begin to fancy myself in the most deplorable
condition imaginable, invironed with the deepest darkness, and utterly
deprived of the use of every member and faculty.

Most fortunately it happens, that since reason is incapable of
dispelling these clouds, nature herself suffices to that purpose,
and cures me of this philosophical melancholy and delirium, either by
relaxing this bent of mind, or by some avocation, and lively impression
of my senses, which obliterate all these chimeras. I dine, I play a game
of backgammon, I converse, and am merry with my friends; and when after
three or four hours' amusement, I would return to these speculations,
they appear so cold, and strained, and ridiculous, that I cannot find in
my heart to enter into them any farther.

Here then I find myself absolutely and necessarily determined to live,
and talk, and act like other people in the common affairs of life. But
notwithstanding that my natural propensity, and the course of my animal
spirits and passions reduce me to this indolent belief in the general
maxims of the world, I still feel such remains of my former disposition,
that I am ready to throw all my books and papers into the fire, and
resolve never more to renounce the pleasures of life for the sake of
reasoning and philosophy. For those are my sentiments in that splenetic
humour, which governs me at present. I may, nay I must yield to the
current of nature, in submitting to my senses and understanding; and in
this blind submission I shew most perfectly my sceptical disposition and
principles. But does it follow, that I must strive against the current
of nature, which leads me to indolence and pleasure; that I must seclude
myself, in some measure, from the commerce and society of men, which
is so agreeable; and that I must torture my brains with subtilities and
sophistries, at the very time that I cannot satisfy myself concerning
the reasonableness of so painful an application, nor have any tolerable
prospect of arriving by its means at truth and certainty. Under what
obligation do I lie of making such an abuse of time? And to what end
can it serve either for the service of mankind, or for my own private
interest? No: If I must be a fool, as all those who reason or believe
any thing certainly are, my follies shall at least be natural and
agreeable. Where I strive against my inclination, I shall have a good
reason for my resistance; and will no more be led a wandering into such
dreary solitudes, and rough passages, as I have hitherto met with.

These are the sentiments of my spleen and indolence; and indeed I must
confess, that philosophy has nothing to oppose to them, and expects a
victory more from the returns of a serious good-humoured disposition,
than from the force of reason and conviction. In all the incidents of
life we ought still to preserve our scepticism. If we believe, that fire
warms, or water refreshes, it is only because it costs us too much pains
to think otherwise. Nay if we are philosophers, it ought only to be
upon sceptical principles, and from an inclination, which we feel to the
employing ourselves after that manner. Where reason is lively, and mixes
itself with some propensity, it ought to be assented to. Where it does
not, it never can have any title to operate upon us.

At the time, therefore, that I am tired with amusement and company,
and have indulged a reverie in my chamber, or in a solitary walk by a
river-side, I feel my mind all collected within itself, and am naturally
inclined to carry my view into all those subjects, about which I have
met with so many disputes in the course of my reading and conversation.
I cannot forbear having a curiosity to be acquainted with the principles
of moral good and evil, the nature and foundation of government, and
the cause of those several passions and inclinations, which actuate and
govern me. I am uneasy to think I approve of one object, and disapprove
of another; call one thing beautiful, and another deformed; decide
concerning truth and falshood, reason and folly, without knowing upon
what principles I proceed. I am concerned for the condition of the
learned world, which lies under such t deplorable ignorance in all these
particulars. I feel an ambition to arise in me of contributing to the
instruction of mankind, and of acquiring a name by my inventions
and discoveries. These sentiments spring up naturally in my present
disposition; and should I endeavour to banish them, by attaching myself
to any other business or diversion, I feel I should be a loser in point
of pleasure; and this is the origin of my philosophy.

But even suppose this curiosity and ambition should not transport
me into speculations without the sphere of common life, it would
necessarily happen, that from my very weakness I must be led into such
enquiries. It is certain, that superstition is much more bold in its
systems and hypotheses than philosophy; and while the latter contents
itself with assigning new causes and principles to the phaenomena, which
appear in the visible world, the former opens a world of its own, and
presents us with scenes, and beings, and objects, which are altogether
new. Since therefore it is almost impossible for the mind of man to
rest, like those of beasts, in that narrow circle of objects, which
are the subject of daily conversation and action, we ought only to
deliberate concerning the choice of our guide, and ought to prefer that
which is safest and most agreeable. And in this respect I make bold to
recommend philosophy, and shall not scruple to give it the preference to
superstition of every kind or denomination. For as superstition arises
naturally and easily from the popular opinions of mankind, it seizes
more strongly on the mind, and is often able to disturb us in the
conduct of our lives and actions. Philosophy on the contrary, if just,
can present us only with mild and moderate sentiments; and if false and
extravagant, its opinions are merely the objects of a cold and general
speculation, and seldom go so far as to interrupt the course of our
natural propensities. The CYNICS are an extraordinary instance of
philosophers, who from reasonings purely philosophical ran into as great
extravagancies of conduct as any Monk or Dervise that ever was in the
world. Generally speaking, the errors in religion are dangerous; those
in philosophy only ridiculous.

I am sensible, that these two cases of the strength and weakness of the
mind will not comprehend all mankind, and that there are in England, in
particular, many honest gentlemen, who being always employed in their
domestic affairs, or amusing themselves in common recreations, have
carried their thoughts very little beyond those objects, which are every
day exposed to their senses. And indeed, of such as these I pretend not
to make philosophers, nor do I expect them either to be associates in
these researches or auditors of these discoveries. They do well to keep
themselves in their present situation; and instead of refining them into
philosophers, I wish we coued communicate to our founders of systems,
a share of this gross earthy mixture, as an ingredient, which they
commonly stand much in need of, and which would serve to temper those
fiery particles, of which they are composed. While a warm imagination
is allowed to enter into philosophy, and hypotheses embraced merely for
being specious and agreeable, we can never have any steady principles,
nor any sentiments, which will suit with common practice and experience.
But were these hypotheses once removed, we might hope to establish a
system or set of opinions, which if not true (for that, perhaps, is too
much to be hoped for) might at least be satisfactory to the human mind,
and might stand the test of the most critical examination. Nor should we
despair of attaining this end, because of the many chimerical systems,
which have successively arisen and decayed away among men, would we
consider the shortness of that period, wherein these questions have been
the subjects of enquiry and reasoning. Two thousand years with such long
interruptions, and under such mighty discouragements are a small space
of time to give any tolerable perfection to the sciences; and perhaps we
are still in too early an age of the world to discover any principles,
which will bear the examination of the latest posterity. For my part,
my only hope is, that I may contribute a little to the advancement
of knowledge, by giving in some particulars a different turn to the
speculations of philosophers, and pointing out to them more distinctly
those subjects, where alone they can expect assurance and conviction.
Human Nature is the only science of man; and yet has been hitherto the
most neglected. It will be sufficient for me, if I can bring it a little
more into fashion; and the hope of this serves to compose my temper
from that spleen, and invigorate it from that indolence, which
sometimes prevail upon me. If the reader finds himself in the same easy
disposition, let him follow me in my future speculations. If not, let
him follow his inclination, and wait the returns of application and good
humour. The conduct of a man, who studies philosophy in this careless
manner, is more truly sceptical than that of one, who feeling in himself
an inclination to it, is yet so overwhelmed with doubts and scruples,
as totally to reject it. A true sceptic will be diffident of his
philosophical doubts, as well as of his philosophical conviction; and
will never refuse any innocent satisfaction, which offers itself, upon
account of either of them.

Nor is it only proper we should in general indulge our inclination
in the most elaborate philosophical researches, notwithstanding our
sceptical principles, but also that we should yield to that propensity,
which inclines us to be positive and certain in particular points,
according to the light, in which we survey them in any particular
instant. It is easier to forbear all examination and enquiry, than
to check ourselves in so natural a propensity, and guard against that
assurance, which always arises from an exact and full survey of
an object. On such an occasion we are apt not only to forget our
scepticism, but even our modesty too; and make use of such terms as
these, it is evident, it is certain, it is undeniable; which a due
deference to the public ought, perhaps, to prevent. I may have fallen
into this fault after the example of others; but I here enter a caveat
against any Objections, which may be offered on that head; and declare
that such expressions were extorted from me by the present view of the
object, and imply no dogmatical spirit, nor conceited idea of my own
judgment, which are sentiments that I am sensible can become no body,
and a sceptic still less than any other.




As all the perceptions of the mind may be divided into impressions and
ideas, so the impressions admit of another division into original and
secondary. This division of the impressions is the same with that which
I formerly made use of [Book I. Part I. Sect. 2.] when I distinguished
them into impressions of sensation and reflection. Original impressions
or impressions of sensation are such as without any antecedent
perception arise in the soul, from the constitution of the body, from
the animal spirits, or from the application of objects to the external
organs. Secondary, or reflective impressions are such as proceed from
some of these original ones, either immediately or by the interposition
of its idea. Of the first kind are all the impressions of the senses,
and all bodily pains and pleasures: Of the second are the passions, and
other emotions resembling them.

It is certain, that the mind, in its perceptions, must begin somewhere;
and that since the impressions precede their correspondent ideas, there
must be some impressions, which without any introduction make their
appearance in the soul. As these depend upon natural and physical
causes, the examination of them would lead me too far from my present
subject, into the sciences of anatomy and natural philosophy. For this
reason I shall here confine myself to those other impressions, which
I have called secondary and reflective, as arising either from the
original impressions, or from their ideas. Bodily pains and pleasures
are the source of many passions, both when felt and considered by the
mind; but arise originally in the soul, or in the body, whichever you
please to call it, without any preceding thought or perception. A fit of
the gout produces a long train of passions, as grief, hope, fear; but
is not derived immediately from any affection or idea. The reflective
impressions may be divided into two kinds, viz. the calm and the
VIOLENT. Of the first kind is the sense of beauty and deformity in
action, composition, and external objects. Of the second are the
passions of love and hatred, grief and joy, pride and humility. This
division is far from being exact. The raptures of poetry and music
frequently rise to the greatest height; while those other impressions,
properly called PASSIONS, may decay into so soft an emotion, as to
become, in a manner, imperceptible. But as in general the passions are
more violent than the emotions arising from beauty and deformity,
these impressions have been commonly distinguished from each other. The
subject of the human mind being so copious and various, I shall here
take advantage of this vulgar and spacious division, that I may
proceed with the greater order; and having said ali I thought necessary
concerning our ideas, shall now explain those violent emotions or
passions, their nature, origin, causes, and effects.

When we take a survey of the passions, there occurs a division of them
into DIRECT and INDIRECT. By direct passions I understand such as arise
immediately from good or evil, from pain or pleasure. By indirect such
as proceed from the same principles, but by the conjunction of other
qualities. This distinction I cannot at present justify or explain any
farther. I can only observe in general, that under the indirect passions
I comprehend pride, humility, ambition, vanity, love, hatred, envy,
pity, malice, generosity, with their dependants. And under the direct
passions, desire, aversion, grief, joy, hope, fear, despair and
security. I shall begin with the former.


The passions of PRIDE and HUMILITY being simple and uniform impressions,
it is impossible we can ever, by a multitude of words, give a just
definition of them, or indeed of any of the passions. The utmost we
can pretend to is a description of them, by an enumeration of such
circumstances, as attend them: But as these words, PRIDE and humility,
are of general use, and the impressions they represent the most common
of any, every one, of himself, will be able to form a just idea of them,
without any danger of mistake. For which reason, not to lose time upon
preliminaries, I shall immediately enter upon the examination of these

It is evident, that pride and humility, though directly contrary, have
yet the same OBJECT. This object is self, or that succession of
related ideas and impressions, of which we have an intimate memory and
consciousness. Here the view always fixes when we are actuated by either
of these passions. According as our idea of ourself is more or less
advantageous, we feel either of those opposite affections, and are
elated by pride, or dejected with humility. Whatever other objects may
be comprehended by the mind, they are always considered with a view to
ourselves; otherwise they would never be able either to excite these
passions, or produce the smallest encrease or diminution of them. When
self enters not into the consideration, there is no room either for
pride or humility.

But though that connected succession of perceptions, which we call SELF,
be always the object of these two passions, it is impossible it can
be their CAUSE, or be sufficient alone to excite them. For as these
passions are directly contrary, and have the same object in common; were
their object also their cause; it coued never produce any degree of the
one passion, but at the same time it must excite an equal degree of
the other; which opposition and contrariety must destroy both. It is
impossible a man can at the same time be both proud and humble; and
where he has different reasons for these passions, as frequently
happens, the passions either take place alternately; or if they
encounter, the one annihilates the other, as far as its strength goes,
and the remainder only of that, which is superior, continues to operate
upon the mind. But in the present case neither of the passions coued
ever become superior; because supposing it to be the view only of
ourself, which excited them, that being perfectly indifferent to either,
must produce both in the very same proportion; or in other words, can
produce neither. To excite any passion, and at the same time raise an
equal share of its antagonist, is immediately to undo what was done, and
must leave the mind at last perfectly calm and indifferent.

We must therefore, make a distinction betwixt the cause and the object
of these passions; betwixt that idea, which excites them, and that to
which they direct their view, when excited. Pride and humility, being
once raised, immediately turn our attention to ourself, and regard
that as their ultimate and final object; but there is something farther
requisite in order to raise them: Something, which is peculiar to one of
the passions, and produces not both in the very same degree. The first
idea, that is presented to the mind, is that of the cause or productive
principle. This excites the passion, connected with it; and that
passion, when excited, turns our view to another idea, which is that of
self. Here then is a passion placed betwixt two ideas, of which the one
produces it, and the other is produced by it. The first idea, therefore,
represents the cause, the second the object of the passion.

To begin with the causes of pride and humility; we may observe, that
their most obvious and remarkable property is the vast variety of
subjects, on which they may be placed. Every valuable quality of the
mind, whether of the imagination, judgment, memory or disposition; wit,
good-sense, learning, courage, justice, integrity; all these are the
cause of pride; and their opposites of humility. Nor are these passions
confined to the mind but extend their view to the body likewise. A man
may be proud of his beauty, strength, agility, good mein, address
in dancing, riding, and of his dexterity in any manual business
or manufacture. But this is not all. The passions looking farther,
comprehend whatever objects are in the least allyed or related to us.
Our country, family, children, relations, riches, houses, gardens,
horses, dogs, cloaths; any of these may become a cause either of pride
or of humility.

From the consideration of these causes, it appears necessary we shoud
make a new distinction in the causes of the passion, betwixt that
QUALITY, which operates, and the subject, on which it is placed. A man,
for instance, is vain of a beautiful house, which belongs to him, or
which he has himself built and contrived. Here the object of the passion
is himself, and the cause is the beautiful house: Which cause again is
sub-divided into two parts, viz. the quality, which operates upon the
passion, and the subject in which the quality inheres. The quality is
the beauty, and the subject is the house, considered as his property or
contrivance. Both these parts are essential, nor is the distinction vain
and chimerical. Beauty, considered merely as such, unless placed upon
something related to us, never produces any pride or vanity; and the
strongest relation alone, without beauty, or something else in its
place, has as little influence on that passion. Since, therefore, these
two particulars are easily separated and there is a necessity for their
conjunction, in order to produce the passion, we ought to consider them
as component parts of the cause; and infix in our minds an exact idea of
this distinction.


Being so far advanced as to observe a difference betwixt the object
of the passions and their cause, and to distinguish in the cause the
quality, which operates on the passions, from the subject, in which it
inheres; we now proceed to examine what determines each of them to
be what it is, and assigns such a particular object, and quality, and
subject to these affections. By this means we shall fully understand the
origin of pride and humility.

It is evident in the first place, that these passions are derermined
to have self for their object, not only by a natural but also by an
original property. No one can doubt but this property is natural from
the constancy and steadiness of its operations. It is always self, which
is the object of pride and humility; and whenever the passions look
beyond, it is still with a view to ourselves, nor can any person or
object otherwise have any influence upon us.

That this proceeds from an original quality or primary impulse, will
likewise appear evident, if we consider that it is the distinguishing
characteristic of these passions Unless nature had given some original
qualities to the mind, it coued never have any secondary ones; because
in that case it would have no foundation for action, nor coued ever
begin to exert itself. Now these qualities, which we must consider as
original, are such as are most inseparable from the soul, and can be
resolved into no other: And such is the quality, which determines
the object of pride and humility. We may, perhaps, make it a greater
question, whether the causes, that produce the passion, be as natural as
the object, to which it is directed, and whether all that vast variety
proceeds from caprice or from the constitution of the mind. This doubt
we shall soon remove, if we cast our eye upon human nature, and consider
that in all nations and ages, the same objects still give rise to pride
and humility; and that upon the view even of a stranger, we can know
pretty nearly, what will either encrease or diminish his passions of
this kind. If there be any variation in this particular, it proceeds
from nothing but a difference in the tempers and complexions of men; and
is besides very inconsiderable. Can we imagine it possible, that while
human nature remains the same, men will ever become entirely indifferent
to their power, riches, beauty or personal merit, and that their pride
and vanity will not be affected by these advantages?

But though the causes of pride and humility be plainly natural, we
shall find upon examination, that they are not original, and that it is
utterly impossible they should each of them be adapted to these passions
by a particular provision, and primary constitution of nature, Beside
their prodigious number, many of them are the effects of art, and arise
partly from the industry, partly from the caprice, and partly from
the good fortune of men, Industry produces houses, furniture, cloaths.
Caprice determines their particular kinds and qualities. And good
fortune frequently contributes to all this, by discovering the effects
that result from the different mixtures and combinations of bodies. It
is absurd, therefore, to imagine, that each of these was foreseen and
provided for by nature, and that every new production of art, which
causes pride or humility; instead of adapting itself to the passion by
partaking of some general quality, that naturally operates on the mind;
is itself the object of an original principle, which till then lay
concealed in the soul, and is only by accident at last brought to light.
Thus the first mechanic, that invented a fine scritoire, produced pride
in him, who became possest of it, by principles different from those,
which made him proud of handsome chairs and tables. As this appears
evidently ridiculous, we must conclude, that each cause of pride and
humility is not adapted to the passions by a distinct original quality;
but that there are some one or more circumstances common to all of them,
on which their efficacy depends.

Besides, we find in the course of nature, that though the effects be
many, the principles, from which they arise, are commonly but few and
simple, and that it is the sign of an unskilful naturalist to have
recourse to a different quality, in order to explain every different
operation. How much more must this be true with regard to the human
mind, which being so confined a subject may justly be thought incapable
of containing such a monstrous heap of principles, as would be necessary
to excite the passions of pride and humility, were each distinct cause
adapted to the passion by a distinct set of principles?

Here, therefore, moral philosophy is in the same condition as natural,
with regard to astronomy before the time of COPERNICUS. The antients,
though sensible of that maxim, THAT NATURE DOES NOTHING IN VAIN,
contrived such intricate systems of the heavens, as seemed inconsistent
with true philosophy, and gave place at last to something more simple
and natural. To invent without scruple a new principle to every
new phaenomenon, instead of adapting it to the old; to overload our
hypotheses with a variety of this kind; are certain proofs, that none of
these principles is the just one, and that we only desire, by a number
of falsehoods, to cover our ignorance of the truth.


Thus we have established two truths without any obstacle or difficulty,
CAUSE IS ADAPTED TO ITS PASSION. We shall now proceed to enquire how
we may reduce these principles to a lesser number, and find among the
causes something common, on which their influence depends.

In order to this we must reflect on certain properties of human nature,
which though they have a mighty influence on every operation both of
the understanding and passions, are not commonly much insisted on by
philosophers. The first of these is the association of ideas, which I
have so often observed and explained. It is impossible for the mind to
fix itself steadily upon one idea for any considerable time; nor can
it by its utmost efforts ever arrive at such a constancy. But however
changeable our thoughts may be, they are not entirely without rule and
method in their changes. The rule, by which they proceed, is to pass
from one object to what is resembling, contiguous to, or produced by it.
When one idea is present to the imagination, any other, united by these
relations, naturally follows it, and enters with more facility by means
of that introduction.

The second property I shall observe in the human mind is a like
association of impressions. All resembling impressions are connected
together, and no sooner one arises than the rest immediately follow.
Grief and disappointment give rise to anger, anger to envy, envy to
malice, and malice to grief again, till the whole circle be compleated.
In like manner our temper, when elevated with joy, naturally throws
itself into love, generosity, pity, courage, pride, and the other
resembling affections. It is difficult for the mind, when actuated by
any passion, to confine itself to that passion alone, without any
change or variation. Human nature is too inconstant to admit of any such
regularity. Changeableness is essential to it. And to what can it so
naturally change as to affections or emotions, which are suitable to the
temper, and agree with that set of passions, which then prevail? It is
evident, then, there is an attraction or association among impressions,
as well as among ideas; though with this remarkable difference, that
ideas are associated by resemblance, contiguity, and causation; and
impressions only by resemblance.

In the THIRD place, it is observable of these two kinds of association,
that they very much assist and forward each other, and that the
transition is more easily made where they both concur in the same
object. Thus a man, who, by any injury from another, is very much
discomposed and ruffled in his temper, is apt to find a hundred subjects
of discontent, impatience, fear, and other uneasy passions; especially
if he can discover these subjects in or near the person, who was
the cause of his first passion. Those principles, which forward the
transition of ideas, here concur with those, which operate on the
passions; and both uniting in one action, bestow on the mind a double
impulse. The new passion, therefore, must arise with so much greater
violence, and the transition to it must be rendered so much more easy
and natural.

Upon this occasion I may cite the authority of an elegant writer, who
expresses himself in the following manner.

"As the fancy delights in every thing that is great, strange, or
beautiful, and is still more pleased the more it finds of these
perfections in the same object, so it is capable of receiving a new
satisfaction by the assistance of another sense. Thus any continued
sound, as the music of birds, or a fall of waters, awakens every moment
the mind of the beholder, and makes him more attentive to the several
beauties of the place, that lie before him. Thus if there arises a
fragrancy of smells or perfumes, they heighten the pleasure of the
imagination, and make even the colours and verdure of the landschape
appear more agreeable; for the ideas of both senses recommend each
other, and are pleasanter together than when they enter the mind
separately: As the different colours of a picture, when they are well
disposed, set off one another, and receive an additional beauty from the
advantage of the situation." [Addison, SPECTATOR 412, final paragraph.]

In this phaenomenon we may remark the association both of impressions
and ideas, as well as the mutual assistance they lend each other.


These principles being established on unquestionable experience, I begin
to consider how we shall apply them, by revolving over all the causes of
pride and humility, whether these causes be regarded, as the qualities,
that operate, or as the subjects, on which the qualities are placed. In
examining these qualities I immediately find many of them to concur
in producing the sensation of pain and pleasure, independent of those
affections, which I here endeavour to explain. Thus the beauty of our
person, of itself, and by its very appearance, gives pleasure, as well
as pride; and its deformity, pain as well as humility. A magnificent
feast delights us, and a sordid one displeases. What I discover to
be true in some instances, I suppose to be so in all; and take it for
granted at present, without any farther proof, that every cause of
pride, by its peculiar qualities, produces a separate pleasure, and of
humility a separate uneasiness.

Again, in considering the subjects, to which these qualities adhere, I
make a new supposition, which also appears probable from many obvious
instances, viz, that these subjects are either parts of ourselves, or
something nearly related to us. Thus the good and bad qualities of
our actions and manners constitute virtue and vice, and determine our
personal character, than which nothing operates more strongly on these
passions. In like manner, it is the beauty or deformity of our person,
houses, equipage, or furniture, by which we are rendered either vain or
humble. The same qualities, when transfered to subjects, which bear
us no relation, influence not in the smallest degree either of these

Having thus in a manner supposed two properties of the causes of these
affections, viz, that the qualities produce a separate pain or pleasure,
and that the subjects, on which the qualities are placed, are related
to self; I proceed to examine the passions themselves, in order to find
something in them, correspondent to the supposed properties of their
causes. First, I find, that the peculiar object of pride and humility
is determined by an original and natural instinct, and that it is
absolutely impossible, from the primary constitution of the mind, that
these passions should ever look beyond self, or that individual person.
of whose actions and sentiments each of us is intimately conscious. Here
at last the view always rests, when we are actuated by either of these
passions; nor can we, in that situation of mind, ever lose sight of this
object. For this I pretend not to give any reason; but consider such a
peculiar direction of the thought as an original quality.

The SECOND quality, which I discover in these passions, and which I
likewise consider an an original quality, is their sensations, or the
peculiar emotions they excite in the soul, and which constitute their
very being and essence. Thus pride is a pleasant sensation, and humility
a painful; and upon the removal of the pleasure and pain, there is in
reality no pride nor humility. Of this our very feeling convinces us;
and beyond our feeling, it is here in vain to reason or dispute.

If I compare, therefore, these two established properties of the
passions, viz, their object, which is self, and their sensation, which
is either pleasant or painful, to the two supposed properties of the
causes, viz, their relation to self, and their tendency to produce a
pain or pleasure, independent of the passion; I immediately find, that
taking these suppositions to be just, the true system breaks in upon me
with an irresistible evidence. That cause, which excites the passion, is
related to the object, which nature has attributed to the passion;
the sensation, which the cause separately produces, is related to
the sensation of the passion: From this double relation of ideas and
impressions, the passion is derived. The one idea is easily converted
into its correlative; and the one impression into that, which resembles
and corresponds to it: With how much greater facility must this
transition be made, where these movements mutually assist each other,
and the mind receives a double impulse from the relations both of its
impressions and ideas?

That we may comprehend this the better, we must suppose, that nature has
given to the organs of the human mind, a certain disposition fitted to
produce a peculiar impression or emotion, which we call pride: To this
emotion she has assigned a certain idea, viz, that of self, which it
never fails to produce. This contrivance of nature is easily conceived.
We have many instances of such a situation of affairs. The nerves of the
nose and palate are so disposed, as in certain circumstances to convey
such peculiar sensations to the mind: The sensations of lust and hunger
always produce in us the idea of those peculiar objects, which are
suitable to each appetite. These two circumstances are united in pride.
The organs are so disposed as to produce the passion; and the passion,
after its production, naturally produces a certain idea. All this needs
no proof. It is evident we never should be possest of that passion, were
there not a disposition of mind proper for it; and it is as evident,
that the passion always turns our view to ourselves, and makes us think
of our own qualities and circumstances.

This being fully comprehended, it may now be asked, WHETHER NATURE
in this particular her conduct is different in the different passions
and sensations. The palate must be excited by an external object, in
order to produce any relish: But hunger arises internally, without the
concurrence of any external object. But however the case may stand with
other passions and impressions, it is certain, that pride requires the
assistance of some foreign object, and that the organs, which produce
it, exert not themselves like the heart and arteries, by an original
internal movement. For first, daily experience convinces us, that pride
requires certain causes to excite it, and languishes when unsupported by
some excellency in the character, in bodily accomplishments, in cloaths,
equipage or fortune. SECONDLY, it is evident pride would be perpetual,
if it arose immediately from nature; since the object is always the
same, and there is no disposition of body peculiar to pride, as there
is to thirst and hunger. Thirdly, Humility is in the very same situation
with pride; and therefore, either must, upon this supposition, be
perpetual likewise, or must destroy the contrary passion from, the very
first moment; so that none of them coued ever make its appearance. Upon
the whole, we may rest satisfyed with the foregoing conclusion, that
pride must have a cause, as well as an object, and that the one has no
influence without the other.

The difficulty, then, is only to discover this cause, and find what
it is that gives the first motion to pride, and sets those organs in
action, which are naturally fitted to produce that emotion. Upon
my consulting experience, in order to resolve this difficulty, I
immediately find a hundred different causes, that produce pride; and
upon examining these causes, I suppose, what at first I perceive to be
probable, that all of them concur in two circumstances; which are, that
of themselves they produce an impression, allyed to the passion, and
are placed on a subject, allyed to the object of the passion. When I
consider after this the nature of relation, and its effects both on the
passions and ideas, I can no longer doubt, upon these suppositions, that
it is the very principle, which gives rise to pride, and bestows
motion on those organs, which being naturally disposed to produce that
affection, require only a first impulse or beginning to their action.
Any thing, that gives a pleasant sensation, and is related to self,
excites the passion of pride, which is also agreeable, and has self for
its object.

What I have said of pride is equally true of humility. The sensation of
humility is uneasy, as that of pride is agreeable; for which reason the
separate sensation, arising from the causes, must be reversed, while
the relation to self continues the same. Though pride and humility are
directly contrary in their effects, and in their sensations, they have
notwithstanding the same object; so that it is requisite only to change
the relation of impressions, without making any change upon that
of ideas. Accordingly we find, that a beautiful house, belonging to
ourselves, produces pride; and that the same house, still belonging to
ourselves, produces humility, when by any accident its beauty is
changed into deformity, and thereby the sensation of pleasure, which
corresponded to pride, is transformed into pain, which is related to
humility. The double relation between the ideas and impressions subsists
in both cases, and produces an easy transition from the one emotion to
the other.

In a word, nature has bestowed a kind of attraction on certain
impressions and ideas, by which one of them, upon its appearance,
naturally introduces its correlative. If these two attractions or
associations of impressions and ideas concur on the same object, they
mutually assist each other, and the transition of the affections and
of the imagination is made with the greatest ease and facility. When
an idea produces an impression, related to an impression, which is
connected with an idea, related to the first idea, these two impressions
must be in a manner inseparable, nor will the one in any case be
unattended with the other. It is after this manner, that the particular
causes of pride and humility are determined. The quality, which operates
on the passion, produces separately an impression resembling it; the
subject, to which the quality adheres, is related to self, the object of
the passion: No wonder the whole cause, consisting of a quality and of a
subject, does so unavoidably give rise to the pass on.

To illustrate this hypothesis we may compare it to that, by which I
have already explained the belief attending the judgments, which we form
from causation. I have observed, that in all judgments of this kind,
there is always a present impression and a related idea; and that
the present impression gives a vivacity to the fancy, and the relation
conveys this vivacity, by an easy transition, to the related idea.
Without the present impression, the attention is not fixed, nor the
spirits excited. Without the relation, this attention rests on its
first object, and has no farther consequence. There is evidently a great
analogy betwixt that hypothesis and our present one of an impression
and idea, that transfuse themselves into another impression and idea by
means of their double relation: Which analogy must be allowed to be no
despicable proof of both hypotheses.


But before we proceed farther in this subject, and examine particularly
all the causes of pride and humility, it will be proper to make some
limitations to the general system, THAT ALL AGREEABLE OBJECTS, RELATED
derived from the very nature of the subject.

I. Suppose an agreeable object to acquire a relation to self, the
first passion, that appears on this occasion, is joy; and this passion
discovers itself upon a slighter relation than pride and vain-glory. We
may feel joy upon being present at a feast, where our senses are regard
with delicacies of every kind: But it is only the master of the feast,
who, beside the same joy, has the additional passion of self-applause
and vanity. It is true, men sometimes boast of a great entertainment,
at which they have only been present; and by so small a relation convert
their pleasure into pride: But however, this must in general be owned,
that joy arises from a more inconsiderable relation than vanity, and
that many things, which are too foreign to produce pride, are yet able
to give us a delight and pleasure, The reason of the difference may be
explained thus. A relation is requisite to joy, in order to approach
the object to us, and make it give us any satisfaction. But beside this,
which is common to both passions, it is requisite to pride, in order
to produce a transition from one passion to another, and convert the
falsification into vanity. As it has a double task to perform, it must
be endowed with double force and energy. To which we may add, that where
agreeable objects bear not a very close relation to ourselves, they
commonly do to some other person; and this latter relation not only
excels, but even diminishes, and sometimes destroys the former, as we
shall see afterwards. [Part II. Sec. 4.]

Here then is the first limitation, we must make to our general position,
that every thing related to us, which produces pleasure or pain,
produces likewise pride or humility. There is not only a relation
required, but a close one, and a closer than is required to joy.

II. The second limitation is, that the agreeable or disagreeable object
be not only closely related, but also peculiar to ourselves, or at least
common to us with a few persons. It is a quality observable in human
nature, and which we shall endeavour to explain afterwards, that
every thing, which is often presented and to which we have been
long accustomed, loses its value in our eyes, and is in a little
time despised and neglected. We likewise judge of objects more from
comparison than from their real and intrinsic merit; and where we cannot
by some contrast enhance their value, we are apt to overlook even what
is essentially good in them. These qualities of the mind have an effect
upon joy as well as pride; and it is remarkable, that goods which are
common to all mankind, and have become familiar to us by custom, give us
little satisfaction; though perhaps of a more excellent kind, than those
on which, for their singularity, we set a much higher value. But though
this circumstance operates on both these passions, it has a much greater
influence on vanity. We are rejoiced for many goods, which, on account
of their frequency, give us no pride. Health, when it returns after a
long absence, affords us a very sensible satisfaction; but is seldom
regarded as a subject of vanity, because it is shared with such vast

The reason, why pride is so much more delicate in this particular than
joy, I take to be, as follows. In order to excite pride, there are
always two objects we must contemplate, viz. the cause or that object
which produces pleasure; and self, which is the real object of the
passion. But joy has only one object necessary to its production, viz.
that which gives pleasure; and though it be requisite, that this bear
some relation to self, yet that is only requisite in order to render it
agreeable; nor is self, properly speaking, the object of this passion.
Since, therefore, pride has in a manner two objects, to which it directs
our view; it follows, that where neither of them have any singularity,
the passion must be more weakened upon that account, than a passion,
which has only one object. Upon comparing ourselves with others, as
we are every moment apt to do, we find we are not in the least
distinguished; and upon comparing the object we possess, we
discover still the same unlucky circumstance. By two comparisons so
disadvantageous the passion must be entirely destroyed.

III The third limitation is, that the pleasant or painful object be very
discernible and obvious, and that not only to ourselves, but to others
also. This circumstance, like the two foregoing, has an effect upon
joy, as well as pride. We fancy Ourselves more happy, as well as more
virtuous or beautiful, when we appear so to others; but are still more
ostentatious of our virtues than of our pleasures. This proceeds from
causes, which I shall endeavour to explain afterwards.

IV. The fourth limitation is derived from the inconstancy of the cause
of these passions, and from the short duration of its connexion with
ourselves. What is casual and inconstant gives but little joy, and less
pride. We are not much satisfyed with the thing itself; and are still
less apt to feel any new degrees of self-satisfaction upon its account.
We foresee and anticipate its change by the imagination; which makes
us little satisfyed with the thing: We compare it to ourselves, whose
existence is more durable; by which means its inconstancy appears still
greater. It seems ridiculous to infer an excellency in ourselves from an
object, which is of so much shorter duration, and attends us during so
small a part of our existence. It will be easy to comprehend the reason,
why this cause operates not with the same force in joy as in pride;
since the idea of self is not so essential to the former passion as to
the latter.

V. I may add as a fifth limitation, or rather enlargement of this
system, that general rules have a great influence upon pride and
humility, as well as on all the other passions. Hence we form a notion
of different ranks of men, suitable to the power of riches they
are possest of; and this notion we change not upon account of any
peculiarities of the health or temper of the persons, which may deprive
them of all enjoyment in their possessions. This may be accounted for
from the same principles, that explained the influence of general rules
on the understanding. Custom readily carries us beyond the just bounds
in our passions, as well as in our reasonings.

It may not be amiss to observe on this occasion, that the influence
of general rules and maxims on the passions very much contributes to
facilitate the effects of all the principles, which we shall explain
in the progress of this treatise. For it is evident, that if a
person full-grown, and of the same nature with ourselves, were on a
sudden-transported into our world, he would be very much embarrased with
every object, and would not readily find what degree of love or hatred,
pride or humility, or any other passion he ought to attribute to it. The
passions are often varyed by very inconsiderable principles; and these
do not always play with a perfect regularity, especially on the first
trial. But as custom and practice have brought to light all these
principles, and have settled the just value of every thing; this must
certainly contribute to the easy production of the passions, and guide
us, by means of general established maxims, in the proportions we
ought to observe in preferring one object to another. This remark may,
perhaps, serve to obviate difficulties, that mayarise concerning some
causes, which I shall hereafter ascribe to particular passions,
and which may be esteemed too refined to operate so universally and
certainly, as they are found to do.

I shall close this subject with a reflection derived from these five
limitations. This reflection is, that the persons, who are proudest, and
who in the eye of the world have most reason for their pride, are not
always the happiest; nor the most humble always the most miserable, as
may at first sight be imagined from this system. An evil may be real.
though its cause has no relation to us: It may be real, without being
peculiar: It may be real, without shewing itself to others: It may be
real, without being constant: And it may be real, without falling
under the general rules. Such evils as these will not fail to render
us miserable, though they have little tendency to diminish pride: And
perhaps the most real and the most solid evils of life will be found of
this nature.


Taking these limitations along with us, let us proceed to examine the
causes of pride and humility; and see, whether in every case we can
discover the double relations, by which they operate on the passions.
If we find that all these causes are related to self, and produce a
pleasure or uneasiness separate from the passion, there will remain no
farther scruple with regard to the present system. We shall principally
endeavour to prove the latter point; the former being in a manner

To begin, with vice and virtue; which are the most obvious causes of
these passions; it would be entirely foreign to my present purpose to
enter upon the controversy, which of late years has so much excited the
The examination of this I reserve for the following book; and in the
mean time I shall endeavour to show, that my system maintains its ground
upon either of these hypotheses; which will be a strong proof of its

For granting that morality had no foundation in nature, it must still
be allowed, that vice and virtue, either from self-interest or the
prejudices of education, produce in us a real pain and pleasure; and
this we may observe to be strenuously asserted by the defenders of that
hypothesis. Every passion, habit, or turn of character (say they)
which has a tendency to our advantage or prejudice, gives a delight
or uneasiness; and it is from thence the approbation or disapprobation
arises. We easily gain from the liberality of others, but are always
in danger of losing by their avarice: Courage defends us, but cowardice
lays us open to every attack: Justice is the support of society, but
injustice, unless checked would quickly prove its ruin: Humility exalts;
but pride mortifies us. For these reasons the former qualities are
esteemed virtues, and the latter regarded as vices. Now since it is
granted there is a delight or uneasiness still attending merit or
demerit of every kind, this is all that is requisite for my purpose.

But I go farther, and observe, that this moral hypothesis and my present
system not only agree together, but also that, allowing the former to be
just, it is an absolute and invincible proof of the latter. For if
all morality be founded on the pain or pleasure, which arises from
the prospect of any loss or advantage, that may result from our own
characters, or from those of others, all the effects of morality must-be
derived from the same pain or pleasure, and among the rest, the passions
of pride and humility. The very essence of virtue, according to this
hypothesis, is to produce pleasure and that of vice to give pain. The
virtue and vice must be part of our character in order to excite pride
or humility. What farther proof can we desire for the double relation of
impressions and ideas?

The same unquestionable argument may be derived from the opinion of
those, who maintain that morality is something real, essential, and
founded on nature. The most probable hypothesis, which has been advanced
to explain the distinction betwixt vice and virtue, and the origin of
moral rights and obligations, is, that from a primary constitution
of nature certain characters and passions, by the very view and
contemplation, produce a pain, and others in like manner excite a
pleasure. The uneasiness and satisfaction are not only inseparable
from vice and virtue, but constitute their very nature and essence.
To approve of a character is to feel an original delight upon its
appearance. To disapprove of it is to be sensible of an uneasiness.
The pain and pleasure, therefore, being the primary causes of vice and
virtue, must also be the causes of all their effects, and consequently
of pride and humility, which are the unavoidable attendants of that

But supposing this hypothesis of moral philosophy should be allowed to
be false, it is still evident, that pain and pleasure, if not the causes
of vice and virtue, are at least inseparable from them. A generous and
noble character affords a satisfaction even in the survey; and when
presented to us, though only in a poem or fable, never fails to charm
and delight us. On the other hand cruelty and treachery displease from
their very nature; nor is it possible ever to reconcile us to these
qualities, either in ourselves or others. Thus one hypothesis of
morality is an undeniable proof of the foregoing system, and the other
at worst agrees with it. But pride and humility arise not from these
qualities alone of the mind, which, according to the vulgar systems of
ethicks, have been comprehended as parts of moral duty, but from
any other that has a connexion with pleasure and uneasiness. Nothing
flatters our vanity more than the talent of pleasing by our wit,
good humour, or any other accomplishment; and nothing gives us a more
sensible mortification than a disappointment in any attempt of that
nature. No one has ever been able to tell what wit is, and to-shew why
such a system of thought must be received under that denomination, and
such another rejected. It is only by taste we can decide concerning
it, nor are we possest of any other standard, upon which we can form a
judgment of this kind. Now what is this taste, from which true and false
wit in a manner receive their being, and without which no thought can
have a title to either of these denominations? It is plainly nothing
but a sensation of pleasure from true wit, and of uneasiness from
false, without oar being able to tell the reasons of that pleasure
or uneasiness. The power of bestowing these opposite sensations is.
therefore, the very essence of true and false wit; and consequently the
cause of that pride or humility, which arises from them.

There may, perhaps, be some, who being accustomed to the style of the
schools and pulpit, and having never considered human nature in any
other light, than that in which they place it, may here be surprized
to hear me talk of virtue as exciting pride, which they look upon as a
vice; and of vice as producing humility, which they have been taught to
consider as a virtue. But not to dispute about words, I observe, that by
pride I understand that agreeable impression, which arises in the mind,
when the view either of our virtue, beauty, riches or power makes us
satisfyed with ourselves: and that by humility I mean the opposite
impression. It is evident the former impression is not always vicious,
nor the latter virtuous. The most rigid morality allows us to receive
a pleasure from reflecting on a generous action; and it is by none
esteemed a virtue to feel any fruitless remorses upon the thoughts
of past villainy and baseness. Let us, therefore, examine these
impressions, considered in themselves; and enquire into their causes,
whether placed on the mind or body, without troubling ourselves at
present with that merit or blame, which may attend them.


Whether we consider the body as a part of ourselves, or assent to those
philosophers, who regard it as something external, it must still be
allowed to be near enough connected with us to form one of these double
relations, which I have asserted to be necessary to the causes of pride
and humility. Wherever, therefore, we can find the other relation of
impressions to join to this of ideas, we may expect with assurance
either of these passions, according as the impression is pleasant
or uneasy. But beauty of all kinds gives us a peculiar delight and
satisfaction; as deformity produces pain, upon whatever subject it may
be placed, and whether surveyed in an animate or inanimate object. If
the beauty or deformity, therefore, be placed upon our own bodies, this
pleasure or uneasiness must be converted into pride or humility, as
having in this case all the circumstances requisite to produce a perfect
transition of impressions and ideas. These opposite sensations are
related to the opposite passions. The beauty or deformity is closely
related to self, the object of both these passions. No wonder, then our
own beauty becomes an object of pride, and deformity of humility.

But this effect of personal and bodily qualities is not only a proof of.
the present system, by shewing that the passions arise not in this case
without all the circumstances I have required, but may be employed as
a stronger and more convincing argument. If we consider all the
hypotheses, which have been formed either by philosophy or common
reason, to explain the difference betwixt beauty and deformity, we shall
find that all of them resolve into this, that beauty is such an order
and construction of parts, as either by the primary constitution of
our nature, by custom, or by caprice, is fitted to give a pleasure
and satisfaction to the soul. This is the distinguishing character of
beauty, and forms all the difference betwixt it and deformity, whose
natural tendency is to produce uneasiness. Pleasure and pain, therefore,
are not only necessary attendants of beauty and deformity, but
constitute their very essence. And indeed, if we consider, that a
great part of the beauty, which we admire either in animals or in other
objects, is derived from the idea of convenience and utility, we shall
make no scruple to assent to this opinion. That shape, which produces
strength, is beautiful in one animal; and that which is a sign of
agility in another. The order and convenience of a palace are no less
essential to its beauty, than its mere figure and appearance. In like
manner the rules of architecture require, that the top of a pillar
should be more slender than its base, and that because such a figure
conveys to us the idea of security, which is pleasant; whereas the
contrary form gives us the apprehension of danger, which is uneasy. From
innumerable instances of this kind, as well as from considering that
beauty like wit, cannot be defined, but is discerned only by a taste
or sensation, we may conclude, that beauty is nothing but a form, which
produces pleasure, as deformity is a structure of parts, which conveys
pain; and since the power of producing pain and pleasure make in this
manner the essence of beauty and deformity, all the effects of these
qualities must be derived from the sensation; and among the rest
pride and humility, which of all their effects are the most common and

This argument I esteem just and decisive; but in order to give greater
authority to the present reasoning, let us suppose it false for a
moment, and see what will follow. It is certain, then, that if the
power of producing pleasure and pain forms not the essence of beauty and
deformity, the sensations are at least inseparable from the qualities,
and it is even difficult to consider them apart. Now there is nothing
common to natural and moral beauty, (both of which are the causes of
pride) but this power of producing pleasure; and as a common effect
supposes always a common cause, it is plain the pleasure must in both
cases be the real and influencing cause of the passion. Again; there is
nothing originally different betwixt the beauty of our bodies and the
beauty of external and foreign objects, but that the one has a near
relation to ourselves, which is wanting in the other. This original
difference, therefore, must be the cause of all their other differences,
and among the rest, of their different influence upon the passion of
pride, which is excited by the beauty of our person, but is not affected
in the lcast by that of foreign and external objects. Placing, then,
these two conclusions together, we find they compose the preceding
system betwixt them, viz, that pleasure, as a related or resembling
impression, when placed on a related object by a natural transition,
produces pride; and its contrary, humility. This system, then, seems
already sufficiently confirmed by experience; that we have not yet
exhausted all our arguments.

It is not the beauty of the body alone that produces pride, but also
its strength and force. Strength is a kind of power; and therefore the
desire to excel in strength is to be considered as an inferior
species of ambition. For this reason the present phaenomenon will be
sufficiently accounted for, in explaining that passion.

Concerning all other bodily accomplishments we may observe in general,
that whatever in ourselves is either useful, beautiful, or surprising,
is an object of pride; and it's contrary, of humility. Now it is
obvious, that every thing useful, beautiful or surprising, agrees in
producing a separate pleasure and agrees in nothing else. The pleasure,
therefore, with the relation to self must be the cause of the passion.

Though it should be questioned, whether beauty be not something real,
and different from the power of producing pleasure, it can never be
disputed, that as surprize is nothing but a pleasure arising from
novelty, it is not, properly speaking, a quality in any object, but
merely a passion or impression in the soul. It must, therefore, be
from that impression, that pride by a natural transition arises. And
it arises so naturally, that there is nothing in us or belonging to
us, which produces surprize, that does not at the same time excite that
other passion. Thus we are vain of the surprising adventures we have
met with, the escapes we have made, and dangers we have been exposed to.
Hence the origin of vulgar lying; where men without any interest, and
merely out of vanity, heap up a number of extraordinary events, which
are either the fictions of their brain, or if true, have at least no
connexion with themselves. Their fruitful invention supplies them with
a variety of adventures; and where that talent is wanting, they
appropriate such as belong to others, in order to satisfy their vanity.

In this phaenomenon are contained two curious experiments, which if we
compare them together, according to the known rules, by which we judge
of cause and effect in anatomy, natural philosophy, and other sciences,
will be an undeniable argument for that influence of the double
relations above-mentioned. By one of these experiments we find, that an
object produces pride merely by the interposition of pleasure; and that
because the quality, by which it produces pride, is in reality nothing
but the power of producing pleasure. By the other experiment we find,
that the pleasure produces the pride by a transition along related
ideas; because when we cut off that relation the passion is immediately
destroyed.. A surprising adventure, in which we have been ourselves
engaged, is related to us, and by that means produces pride: But the
adventures of others, though they may cause pleasure, yet for want of
this relation of ideas, never excite that passion. What farther proof
can be desired for the present system?

There is only one objection to this system with regard to our body:
which is, that though nothing be more agreeable than health, and more
painful than sickness, yet commonly men are neither proud of the one,
nor mortifyed with the other. This will easily be accounted for, if
we consider the second and fourth limitations, proposed to our general
system. It was observed, that no object ever produces pride or humility,
if it has not something peculiar to ourself; as also, that every
cause of that passion must be in some measure constant, and hold some
proportion to the duration of our self, which, is its object. Now as
health and sickness vary incessantly to all men, and there is none, who
is solely or certainly fixed in either, these accidental blessings and
calamities are in a manner separated from us, and are never considered
as connected with our being and existence. And that this account is just
appears hence, that wherever a malady of any kind is so rooted in our
constitution, that we no longer entertain any hopes of recovery, from
that moment it becomes an object of humility; as is evident in old men,
whom nothing mortifies more than the consideration of their age and
infirmities. They endeavour, as long as possible, to conceal their
blindness and deafness, their rheums and gouts; nor do they ever confess
them without reluctance and uneasiness. And though young men are not
ashamed of every head-ach or cold they fall into, yet no topic is so
proper to mortify human pride, and make us entertain a mean opinion of
our nature, than this, that we are every moment of our lives subject to
such infirmities. This sufficiently proves that bodily pain and sickness
are in themselves proper causes of humility; though the custom of
estimating every thing by comparison more than by its intrinsic worth
and value, makes us overlook these calamities, which we find to be
incident to every one, and causes us to form an idea of our merit and
character independent of them.

We are ashamed of such maladies as affect others, and are either
dangerous or disagreeable to them. Of the epilepsy; because it gives a
horror to every one present: Of the itch; because it is infectious:
Of the king's-evil; because it commonly goes to posterity. Men always
consider the sentiments of others in their judgment of themselves. This
has evidently appeared in some of the foregoing reasonings; and will
appear still more evidently, and be more fully explained afterwards.


But though pride and humility have the qualities of our mind and body
that is self, for their natural and more immediate causes, we find
by experience, that there are many other objects, which produce these
affections, and that the primary one is, in some measure, obscured and
lost by the multiplicity of foreign and extrinsic. We found a vanity
upon houses, gardens, equipages, as well as upon personal merit and
accomplishments; and though these external advantages be in themselves
widely distant from thought or a person, yet they considerably influence
even a passion, which is directed to that as its ultimate object,
This, happens when external objects acquire any particular relation to
ourselves, and are associated or connected with us. A beautiful fish
in the ocean, an animal in a desart, and indeed any thing that neither
belongs, nor is related to us, has no manner of influence on our vanity,
whatever extraordinary qualities it may be endowed with, and whatever
degree of surprize and admiration it may naturally occasion. It must be
some way associated with us in order to touch our pride. Its idea must
hang in a manner, upon that of ourselves and the transition from the one
to the other must be easy and natural.

But here it is remarkable, that though the relation of resemblance
operates upon the mind in the same manner as contiguity and causation,
in conveying us from one idea to another, yet it is seldom a foundation
either of pride or of humility. If we resemble a person in any of the
valuable parts of his character, we must, in some degree, possess the
quality, in which we resemble him; and this quality we always chuse to
survey directly in ourselves rather than by reflexion in another person,
when we would found upon it any degree of vanity. So that though a
likeness may occasionally produce that passion by suggesting a more
advantageous idea of ourselves, it is there the view fixes at last, and
the passion finds its ultimate and final cause.

There are instances, indeed, wherein men shew a vanity in resembling a
great man in his countenance, shape, air, or other minute circumstances,
that contribute not in any degree to his reputation; but it must be
confessed that this extends not very far, nor is of any considerable
moment in these affections. For this I assign the following reason. We
can never have a vanity of resembling in trifles any person, unless
he be possessed of very shining qualities, which give us a respect and
veneration for him. These qualities, then, are, properly speaking, the
causes of our vanity, by means of their relation to ourselves. Now after
what manner are they related to ourselves? They are parts of the person
we value, and consequently connected with these trifles; which are
also supposed to be parts of him. These trifles are connected with the
resembling qualities in us; and these qualities in us, being parts,
are connected with the whole; and by that means form a chain of several
links of the person we resemble. But besides that this multitude of
relations must weaken the connexion; it is evident the mind, in passing
from the shining qualities to the trivial ones, must by that contrast
the better perceive the minuteness of the latter, and be in some measure
ashamed of the comparison and resemblance.

The relation, therefore, of contiguity, or that of causation, betwixt
the cause and object of pride and humility, is alone requisite to
give rise to these passions; and these relations are nothing else
but qualities, by which the imagination is conveyed from one idea to
another. Now let us consider what effect these can possibly have upon
the mind, and by what means they become so requisite to the production
of the passions. It is evident, that the association of ideas operates
in so silent and imperceptible a manner, that we are scarce sensible of
it, and discover it more by its effects than by any immediate feeling or
perception. It produces no emotion, and gives rise to no new impression
of any kind, but only modifies those ideas, of which the mind was
formerly possessed, and which it coued recal upon occasion. From this
reasoning, as well as from undoubted experience, we may conclude, that
an association of ideas, however necessary, is not alone sufficient to
give rise to any passion.

It is evident, then, that when the mind feels the passion either of
pride or humility upon the appearance of related object, there is,
beside the relation or transition of thought, an emotion or original
impression produced by some other principle. The question is, whether
the emotion first produced be the passion itself, or some other
impression related to it. This question we cannot be long in deciding,
For besides all the other arguments, with which this subject abounds,
it must evidently appear, that the relation of ideas, which experience
shews to be so requisite a circumstance to the production of the
passion, would be entirely superfluous, were it not to second a relation
of affections, and facilitate the transition from one impression
to another. If nature produced immediately the passion of pride or
humility, it would be compleated in itself, and would require no farther
addition or encrease from any other affection. But supposing the first
emotion to be only related to pride or humility, it is easily conceived
to what purpose the relation of objects may serve, and how the two
different associations, of impressions and ideas, by uniting their
forces, may assist each other's operation. This is not only easily
conceived, but I will venture to affirm it is the only manner, in which
we can conceive this subject. An easy transition of ideas, which, of
itself, causes no emotion, can never be necessary, or even useful to
the passions, but by forwarding the transition betwixt some related
impressions. Not to mention, that the same object causes a greater
or smaller degree of pride, not only in proportion to the encrease or
decrease of its qualities, but also to the distance or nearness of the
relation; which is a clear argument for the transition of affections
along the relation of ideas; since every change in the relation produces
a proportionable change in the passion. Thus one part of the preceding
system, concerning the relations of ideas is a sufficient proof of
the other, concerning that of impressions; and is itself so evidently
founded on experience, that it would be lost time to endeavour farther
to prove it.

This will appear still more evidently in particular instances. Men are
vain of the beauty of their country, of their county, of their parish.
Here the idea of beauty plainly produces a pleasure. This pleasure
is related to pride. The object or cause of this pleasure is, by the
supposition, related to self, or the object of pride. By this double
relation of impressions and ideas, a transition is made from the one
impression to the other.

Men are also vain of the temperature of the climate, in which they were
born; of the fertility of their native soil; of the goodness of the
wines, fruits or victuals, produced by it; of the softness or force of
their language; with other particulars of that kind. These objects have
plainly a reference to the pleasures of the senses, and are originally
considered as agreeable to the feeling, taste or hearing. How is it
possible they coued ever become objects of pride, except by means of
that transition above-explained?

There are some, that discover a vanity of an opposite kind, and affect
to depreciate their own country, in comparison of those, to which
they have travelled. These persons find, when they are at home, and
surrounded with their countrymen, that the strong relation betwixt them
and their own nation is shared with so many, that it is in a manner lost
to them; whereas their distant relation to a foreign country, which is
formed by their having seen it and lived in it, is augmented by their
considering how few there are who have done the same. For this reason
they always admire the beauty, utility and rarity of what is abroad,
above what is at home.

Since we can be vain of a country, climate or any inanimate object,
which bears a relation to us, it is no wonder we are vain of the
qualities of those, who are connected with us by blood or friendship.
Accordingly we find, that the very same qualities, which in ourselves
produce pride, produce also in a lesser degree the same affection, when
discovered in persons related to us. The beauty, address, merit, credit
and honours of their kindred are carefully displayed by the proud, as
some of their most considerable sources of their vanity.

As we are proud of riches in ourselves, so to satisfy our vanity we
desire that every one, who has any connexion with us, should likewise be
possest of them, and are ashamed of any one, that is mean or poor, among
our friends and relations. For this reason we remove the poor as far
from us as possible; and as we cannot prevent poverty in some distant
collaterals, and our forefathers are taken to be our nearest relations;
upon this account every one affects to be of a good family, and to be
descended from a long succession of rich and honourable ancestors.

I have frequently observed, that those, who boast of the antiquity of
their families, are glad when they can join this circumstance, that
their ancestors for many generations have been uninterrupted proprietors
of the same portion of land, and that their family has never changed its
possessions, or been transplanted into any other county or province.
I have also observed, that it is an additional subject of vanity, when
they can boast, that these possessions have been transmitted through
a descent composed entirely of males, and that the honour, and fortune
have never past through any female. Let us endeavour to explain these
phaenomena by the foregoing system.

It is evident, that when any one boasts of the antiquity of his family,
the subjects of his vanity are not merely the extent of time and number
of ancestors, but also their riches and credit, which are supposed to
reflect a lustre on himself on account of his relation to them. He first
considers these objects; is affected by them in an agreeable manner;
and then returning back to himself, through the relation of parent and
child, is elevated with the passion of pride, by means of the double
relation, of impressions and ideas. Since therefore the passion depends
on these relations, whatever strengthens any of the relations must also
encrease the passion, and whatever weakens the relations must diminish
the passion. Now it is certain the identity of the possesion strengthens
the relation of ideas arising from blood and kindred, and conveys the
fancy with greater facility from one generation to another, from the
remote ancestors to their posterity, who are both their heirs and their
descendants. By this facility the impression is transmitted more entire,
and excites a greater degree of pride and vanity.

The case is the same with the transmission of the honours and fortune
through a succession of males without their passing through any female.
It is a quality of human nature, which we shall consider [Part II. Sect,
2.] afterwards, that the imagination naturally turns to whatever is
important and considerable; and where two objects are presented to it,
a small and a great one, usually leaves the former, and dwells entirely
upon the latter. As in the society of marriage, the male sex has the
advantage above the female, the husband first engages our attention;
and whether we consider him directly, or reach him by passing
through related objects, the thought both rests upon him with greater
satisfaction, and arrives at him with greater facility than his consort.
It is easy to see, that this property must strengthen the child's
relation to the father, and weaken that to the mother. For as all
relations are nothing hut a propensity to pass from one idea ma another,
whatever strengthens the propensity strengthens the relation; and as we
have a stronger propensity to pass from the idea of the children to that
of the father, than from the same idea to that of the mother, we ought
to regard the former relation as the closer and more considerable. This
is the reason why children commonly bear their father's name, and are
esteemed to be of nobler or baser birth, according to his family. And
though the mother should be possest of a superior spirit and genius to
the father, as often happens, the general rule prevails, notwithstanding
the exceprion, according to the doctrine above-explained. Nay even when
a superiority of any kind is so great, or when any other reasons have
such an effect, as to make the children rather represent: the mother's
family than the father's, the general rule still retains such an
efficacy that it weakens the relation, and makes a kind of break in the
line of ancestors. The imagination runs not along them with facility,
nor is able to transfer the honour and credit of the ancestors to their
posterity of the same name and family so readily, as when the transition
is conformable to the general rules, and passes from father to son, or
from brother to brother.


But the relation, which is esteemed the closest, and which of all others
produces most commonly the passion of pride, is that of property. This
relation it will be impossible for me fully to explain before I come
to treat of justice and the other moral virtues. It is sufficient to
observe on this occasion, that property may be defined, such a relation
betwixt a person and an object as permits him, but forbids any other,
the free use and possession of it, without violating the laws of justice
and moral equity. If justice, therefore, be a virtue, which has a
natural and original influence on the human mind, property may be looked
upon as a particular species of causation; whether we consider the
liberty it gives the proprietor to operate as he please upon the object
or the advantages, which he reaps from it. It is the same case, if
justice, according to the system of certain philosophers, should be
esteemed an artificial and not a natural virtue. For then honour, and
custom, and civil laws supply the place of natural conscience, and
produce, in some degree, the same effects. This in the mean time is
certain, that the mention of the property naturally carries our thought
to the proprietor, and of the proprietor to the property; which being
a proof of a perfect relation of ideas is all that is requisite to our
present purpose. A relation of ideas, joined to that of impressions,
always produces a transition of affections; and therefore, whenever any
pleasure or pain arises from an object, connected with us by property.
we may be certain, that either pride or humility must arise from
this conjunction of relations; if the foregoing system be solid and
satisfactory. And whether it be so or not, we may soon satisfy ourselves
by the most cursory view of human life.

Every thing belonging to a vain man is the best that is any where to be
found. His houses, equipage, furniture, doaths, horses, hounds, excel
all others in his conceit; and it is easy to observe, that from the
least advantage in any of these, he draws a new subject of pride and
vanity. His wine, if you'll believe him, has a finer flavour than
any other; his cookery is more exquisite; his table more orderly; his
servants more expert; the air, in which he lives, more healthful; the
soil he cultivates more fertile; his fruits ripen earlier and to greater
perfection: Such a thing is remarkable for its novelty; such another for
its antiquity: This is the workmanship of a famous artist; that belonged
once to such a prince or great man: All objects, in a word, that are
useful, beautiful or surprising, or are related to such, may, by means
of property, give rise to this passion. These agree in giving pleasure,
and agree in nothing else. This alone is common to them; and therefore
must be the quality that produces the passion, which is their common
effect. As every new instance is a new argument, and as the instances
are here without number, I may venture to affirm, that scarce any
system was ever so fully proved by experience, as that which I have here

If the property of any thing, that gives pleasure either by its
utility, beauty or novelty, produces also pride by a double relation
of impressions and ideas; we need not be surprized, that the power of
acquiring this property, should have the same effect. Now riches are to
be considered as the power of acquiring the property of what pleases;
and it is only in this view they have any influence on the passions.
Paper will, on many occasions, be considered as riches, and that because
it may convey the power of acquiring money: And money is not riches,
as it is a metal endowed with certain qualities of solidity, weight
and fusibility; but only as it has a relation to the pleasures and
conveniences of life. Taking then this for granted, which is in itself
so evident, we may draw from it one of the strongest arguments I have
yet employed to prove the influence of the double relations on pride and

It has been observed in treating of the understanding, that the
distinction, which we sometimes make betwixt a power and the exercise
of it, is entirely frivolous, and that neither man nor any other being
ought ever to be thought possest of any ability, unless it be exerted
and put in action. But though this be strictly true in a just and
philosophical way of thinking, it is certain it is not the philosophy
of our passions; but that many things operate upon them by means of the
idea and supposition of power, independent of its actual exercise. We
are pleased when we acquire an ability of procuring pleasure, and are
displeased when another acquires a power of giving pain. This is evident
from experience; but in order to give a just explication of the matter,
and account for this satisfaction and uneasiness, we must weigh the
following reflections.

It is evident the error of distinguishing power from its exercise
proceeds not entirely from the scholastic doctrine of free-will, which,
indeed, enters very little into common life, and has but small influence
on our vulgar and popular ways of thinking. According to that doctrine,
motives deprive us not of free-will, nor take away our power of
performing or forbearing any action. But according to common notions a
man has no power, where very considerable motives lie betwixt him and
the satisfaction of his desires, and determine him to forbear what he
wishes to perform. I do not think I have fallen into my enemy's power,
when I see him pass me in the streets with a sword by his side, while
I am unprovided of any weapon. I know that the fear of the civil
magistrate is as strong a restraint as any of iron, and that I am in as
perfect safety as if he were chained or imprisoned. But when a person
acquires such an authority over me, that not only there is no external
obstacle to his actions; but also that he may punish or reward me as he
pleases, without any dread of punishment in his turn, I then attribute a
full power to him, and consider myself as his subject or vassal.

Now if we compare these two cases, that of a person, who has very
strong motives of interest or safety to forbear any action, and that of
another, who lies under no such obligation, we shall find, according
to the philosophy explained in the foregoing book, that the only
known difference betwixt them lies in this, that in the former case we
conclude from past experience, that the person never will perform that
action, and in the latter, that he possibly or probably will perform it.
Nothing is more fluctuating and inconstant on many occasions, than the
will of man; nor is there any thing but strong motives, which can give
us an absolute certainty in pronouncing concerning any of his future
actions. When we see a person free from these motives, we suppose a
possibility either of his acting or forbearing; and though in general
we may conclude him to be determined by motives and causes, yet this
removes not the uncertainty of our judgment concerning these causes, nor
the influence of that uncertainty on the passions. Since therefore we
ascribe a power of performing an action to every one, who has no very
powerful motive to forbear it, and refuse it to such as have; it may
justly be concluded, that power has always a reference to its exercise,
either actual or probable, and that we consider a person as endowed with
any ability when we find from past experience, that it is probable, or
at least possible he may exert it. And indeed, as our passions always
regard the real existence of objects, and we always judge of this
reality from past instances; nothing can be more likely of itself,
without any farther reasoning, than that power consists in the
possibility or probability of any action, as discovered by experience
and the practice of the world.

Now it is evident, that wherever a person is in such a situadon with
regard to me, that there is no very powerful motive to deter him from
injuring me, and consequently it is uncertain whether he will injure me
or not, I must be uneasy in such a situation, and cannot consider the
possibility or probability of that injury without a sensible concern.
The passions are not only affected by such events as are certain and
infallible, but also in an inferior degree by such as are possible
and contingent. And though perhaps I never really feel any harm, and
discover by the event, that, philosophically speaking, the person never
had any power of harming me; since he did not exert any; this prevents
not my uneasiness from the preceding uncertainty. The agreeable passions
may here operate as well as the uneasy, and convey a pleasure when I
perceive a good to become either possible or probable by the possibility
or probability of another's bestowing it on me, upon the removal of any
strong motives, which might formerly have hindered him.

But we may farther observe, that this satisfaction encreases, when any
good approaches in such a manner that it it in one's own power to take
or leave it, and there neither is any physical impediment, nor any
very strong motive to hinder our enjoyment. As all men desire pleasure,
nothing can be more probable, than its existence when there is no
external obstacle to the producing it, and men perceive no danger in
following their inclinations. In that case their imagination easily
anticipates the satisfaction, and conveys the same joy, as if they were
persuaded of its real and actual existence.

But this accounts not sufficiently for the satisfaction, which attends
riches. A miser receives delight from his money; that is, from the power
it affords him of procuring all the pleasures and conveniences of life,
though he knows he has enjoyed his riches for forty years without ever
employing them; and consequently cannot conclude by any species of
reasoning, that the real existence of these pleasures is nearer, than if
he were entirely deprived of all his possessions. But though he cannot
form any such conclusion in a way of reasoning concerning she nearer
approach of the pleasure, it is certain he imagines it to approach
nearer, whenever all external obstacles are removed, along with the more
powerful motives of interest and danger, which oppose it. For farther
satisfaction on this head I must refer to my account of the will, where
I shall [Part III. Sect. 2.] explain that false sensation of liberty,
which make, us imagine we can perform any thing, that is not very
dangerous or destructive. Whenever any other person is under no
strong obligations of interest to forbear any pleasure, we judge from
experience, that the pleasure will exist, and that he will probably
obtain it. But when ourselves are in that situation, we judge from
an illusion of the fancy, that the pleasure is still closer and more
immediate. The will seems to move easily every way, and casts a shadow
or image of itself, even to that side, on which it did not settle. By
means of this image the enjoyment seems to approach nearer to us, and
gives us the same lively satisfaction, as if it were perfectly certain
and unavoidable.

It will now be easy to draw this whole reasoning to a paint, and to
prove, that when riches produce any pride or vanity in their possessors,
as they never fail so do, it is only by means of a double relation of
impressions and ideas. The very essence of riches consists in the power
of procuring the pleasures and conveniences of life. The very essence of
this consists in the probability of its exercise, and in its causing us
to anticipate, by a true or false reasoning, the real existence of
the pleasure. This anticipation of pleasure is, in itself, a very
considerable pleasure; and as its cause is some possession or property,
which we enjoy, and which is thereby related to us, we here dearly see
all the parts of the foregoing system most exactly and distinctly drawn
out before us. For the same reason, that riches cause pleasure and
pride, and poverty excites uneasiness and humility, power must produce
the former emotions, and slavery the latter. Power or an authority over
others makes us capable of satisfying all our desires; as slavery, by
subjecting us to the will of others, exposes us to a thousand wants, and

It is here worth observing, that the vanity of power, or shame of
slavery, are much augmented by the consideration of the persons,
over whom we exercise our authority, or who exercise it over us. For
supposing it possible to frame statues of such an admirable mechanism,
that they coued move and act in obedience to the will; it is evident
the possession of them would give pleasure and pride, but not to such a
degree, as the same authority, when exerted over sensible and rational
creatures, whose condition, being compared to our own, makes it seem
more agreeable and honourable. Comparison is in every case a sure method
of augmenting our esteem of any thing. A rich man feels the felicity of
his condition better by opposing it to that of a beggar. But there is
a peculiar advantage in power, by the contrast, which is, in a manner,
presented to us, betwixt ourselves and the person we command. The
comparison is obvious and natural: The imagination finds it in the very
subject: The passage of the thought to its conception is smooth and
easy. And that this circumstance has a considerable effect in augmenting
its influence, will appear afterwards in examining the nature of malice
and envy.


But beside these original causes of pride and humility, there is a
secondary one in the opinions of others, which has an equal influence
on the affections. Our reputation, our character, our name are
considerations of vast weight and importance; and even the other causes
of pride; virtue, beauty and riches; have little influence, when not
seconded by the opinions and sentiments of others. In order to account
for this phaenomenon it will be necessary to take some compass, and
first explain the nature of sympathy.

No quality of human nature is more remarkable, both in itself and in its
consequences, than that propensity we have to sympathize with others,
and to receive by communication their inclinations and sentiments,
however different from, or even contrary to our own. This is not only
conspicuous in children, who implicitly embrace every opinion proposed
to them; but also in men of the greatest judgment and understanding,
who find it very difficult to follow their own reason or inclination,
in opposition to that of their friends and daily companions. To this
principle we ought to ascribe the great uniformity we may observe in the
humours and turn of thinking of those of the same nation; and it is much
more probable, that this resemblance arises from sympathy, than from
any influence of the soil and climate, which, though they continue
invariably the same, are not able to preserve the character of a nation
the same for a century together. A good-natured man finds himself in an
instant of the same humour with his company; and even the proudest and
most surly take a tincture from their countrymen and acquaintance. A
chearful countenance infuses a sensible complacency and serenity into my
mind; as an angry or sorrowful one throws a sudden dump upon me. Hatred,
resentment, esteem, love, courage, mirth and melancholy; all these
passions I feel more from communication than from my own natural temper
and disposition. So remarkable a phaenomenon merits our attention, and
must be traced up to its first principles.

When any affection is infused by sympathy, it is at first known only
by its effects, and by those external signs in the countenance and
conversation, which convey an idea of it. This idea is presently
converted into an impression, and acquires such a degree of force and
vivacity, as to become the very passion itself, and produce an equal
emotion, as any original affection. However instantaneous this change of
the idea into an impression may be, it proceeds from certain views
and reflections, which will not escape the strict scrutiny of a.
philosopher, though they may the person himself, who makes them.

It is evident, that the idea, or rather impression of ourselves is
always intimately present with us, and that our consciousness gives us
so lively a conception of our own person, that it is not possible to
imagine, that any thing can in this particular go beyond it. Whatever
object, therefore, is related to ourselves must be conceived with a
little vivacity of conception, according to the foregoing principles;
and though this relation should not be so strong as that of causation,
it must still have a considerable influence. Resemblance and contiguity
are relations not to be neglected; especially when by an inference
from cause and effect, and by the observation of external signs, we are
informed of the real existence of the object, which is resembling or

Now it is obvious, that nature has preserved a great resemblance among
all human creatures, and that we never remark any passion or principle
in others, of which, in some degree or other, we may not find a parallel
in ourselves. The case is the same with the fabric of the mind, as with
that of the body. However the parts may differ in shape or size, their
structure and composition are in general the same. There is a very
remarkable resemblance, which preserves itself amidst all their variety;
and this resemblance must very much contribute to make us enter into
the sentiments of others; and embrace them with facility and pleasure.
Accordingly we find, that where, beside the general resemblance of our
natures, there is any peculiar similarity in our manners, or character,
or country, or language, it facilitates the sympathy. The stronger the
relation is betwixt ourselves and any object, the more easily does the
imagination make the transition, and convey to the related idea the
vivacity of conception, with which we always form the idea of our own

Nor is resemblance the only relation, which has this effect, but
receives new force from other relations, that may accompany it. The
sentiments of others have little influence, when far removed from
us, and require the relation of contiguity, to make them communicate
themselves entirely. The relations of blood, being a species of
causation, may sometimes contribute to the same effect; as also
acquaintance, which operates in the same manner with education and
custom; as we shall see more fully [Part II. Sect. 4.] afterwards.
All these relations, when united together, convey the impression
or consciousness of our own person to the idea of the sentiments or
passions of others, and makes us conceive them in the strongest and most
lively manner.

It has been remarked in the beginning of this treatise, that all ideas
are borrowed from impressions, and that these two kinds of perceptions
differ only in the degrees of force and vivacity, with which they
strike upon the soul. The component part of ideas and impressions are
precisely alike. The manner and order of their appearance may be the
same. The different degrees of their force and vivacity are, therefore,
the only particulars, that distinguish them: And as this difference may
be removed, in some measure, by a relation betwixt the impressions and
ideas, it is no wonder an idea of a sentiment or passion, may by this
means be inlivened as to become the very sentiment or passion. The
lively idea of any object always approaches is impression; and it
is certain we may feel sickness and pain from the mere force of
imagination, and make a malady real by often thinking of it. But this
is most remarkable in the opinions and affections; and it is there
principally that a lively idea is converted into an impression. Our
affections depend more upon ourselves, and the internal operations of
the mind, than any other impressions; for which reason they arise more
naturally from the imagination, and from every lively idea we form of
them. This is the nature and cause of sympathy; and it is after this
manner we enter so deep into the opinions and affections of others,
whenever we discover them.

What is principally remarkable in this whole affair is the strong
confirmation these phaenomena give to the foregoing system concerning
the understanding, and consequently to the present one concerning the
passions; since these are analogous to each other. It is indeed evident,
that when we sympathize with the passions and sentiments of others,
these movements appear at first in our mind as mere ideas, and are
conceived to belong to another person, as we conceive any other matter
of fact. It is also evident, that the ideas of the affections of others
are converted into the very impressions they represent, and that the
passions arise in conformity to the images we form of them. All this is
an object of the plainest experience, and depends not on any hypothesis
of philosophy. That science can only be admitted to explain the
phaenomena; though at the same time it must be confest, they are so
clear of themselves, that there is but little occasion to employ it. For
besides the relation of cause and effect, by which we are convinced of
the reality of the passion, with which we sympathize; besides this, I
say, we must be assisted by the relations of resemblance and contiguity,
in order to feel the sympathy in its full perfection. And since these
relations can entirely convert an idea into an impression, and convey
the vivacity of the latter into the former, so perfectly as to lose
nothing of it in the transition, we may easily conceive how the relation
of cause and effect alone, may serve to strengthen and inliven an
idea. In sympathy there is an evident conversion of an idea into an
impression. This conversion arises from the relation of objects to
ourself. Ourself is always intimately present to us. Let us compare
all these circumstances, and we shall find, that sympathy is exactly
correspondent to the operations of our understanding; and even contains
something more surprizing and extraordinary.

It is now time to turn our view from the general consideration of
sympathy, to its influence on pride and humility, when these passions
arise from praise and blame, from reputation and infamy. We may observe,
that no person is ever praised by another for any quality, which would
not, if real, produce, of itself, a pride in the person possest of
it. The elogiums either turn upon his power, or riches, or family,
or virtue; all of which are subjects of vanity, that we have already
explained and accounted for. It is certain, then, that if a person
considered himself in the same light, in which he appears to his
admirer, he would first receive a separate pleasure, and afterwards a
pride or self-satisfaction, according to the hypothesis above explained.
Now nothing is more natural than for us to embrace the opinions of
others in this particular; both from sympathy, which renders all their
sentiments intimately present to us; and from reasoning, which makes us
regard their judgment, as a kind of argument for what they affirm.
These two principles of authority and sympathy influence almost all our
opinions; but must have a peculiar influence, when we judge of our own
worth and character. Such judgments are always attended with passion
[Book I, Part III. Sect. 10.]; and nothing tends more to disturb
our understanding, and precipitate us into any opinions, however
unreasonable, than their connexion with passion; which diffuses itself
over the imagination, and gives an additional force to every related
idea. To which we may add, that being conscious of great partiality in
our own favour, we are peculiarly pleased with any thing, that confirms
the good opinion we have of ourselves, and are easily shocked with
whatever opposes it.

All this appears very probable in theory; but in order to bestow a
full certainty on this reasoning, we must examine the phaenonena of the
passions, and see if they agree with it.

Among these phaenomena we may esteem it a very favourable one to our
present purposes that though fame in general be agreeable, yet we
receive a much greater satisfaction from the approbation of those, whom
we ourselves esteem and approve of, than of those, whom we hate and
despise. In like measure we are principally mortifyed with the contempt
of persons, upon whose judgment we set some value, and are, in a peat
measure, indifferent about the opinions of the rest of mankind. But
if the mind received from any original instinct a desire of fame
and aversion to infamy, fame and infamy would influence us without
distinction; and every opinion, according as it were favourabk or
unfavourable, would equally excite that desire or aversion. The judgment
of a fool is the judgment of another person, as well as that of a wise
man, and is only inferior in its influence on our own judgment.

We are not only better pleased with the approbation of a wise man than
with that of a fool, but receive an additional satisfaction from the
former, when it is obtained after a long and intimate acquaintance. This
is accounted for after the same manner.

The praises of others never give us much pleasure, unless they concur
with our own opinion, and extol us for those qualities, in which we
chiefly excel. A mere soldier little values the character of eloquence:
A gownman of courage: A bishop of humour: Or a merchant of learning.
Whatever esteem a man may have for any quality, abstractedly considered;
when he is conscious he is not possest of it; the opinions of the whole
world will give him little pleasure in that particular, and that because
they never will be able to draw his own opinion after them.

Nothing is more usual than for men of good families, but narrow
circumstances, to leave their friends and country, and rather seek their
livelihood by mean and mechanical employments among strangers, than
among those, who are acquainted with their birth and education. We shall
be unknown, say they, where we go. No body will suspect from what
family we are sprung. We shall be removed from all our friends and
acquaintance, and our poverty and meanness will by that means sit more
easy upon us. In examining these sentiments, I find they afford many
very convincing arguments for my present purpose.

First, We may infer from them, that the uneasiness of being contemned
depends on sympathy, and that sympathy depends on the relation of
objects to ourselves; since we are most uneasy under the contempt of
persons, who are both related to us by blood, and contiguous in place.
Hence we-seek to diminish this sympathy and uneasiness by separating
these relations, and placing ourselves in a contiguity to strangers, and
at a distance from relations.

Secondly, We may conclude, that relations are requisite to sympathy, not
absolutely considered as relations, but by their influence in converting
our ideas of the sentiments of others into the very sentiments, by means
of the association betwixt the idea of their persons, and that of our
own. For here the relations of kindred and contiguity both subsist; but
not being united in the same persons, they contribute in a less degree
to the sympathy.

Thirdly, This very circumstance of the diminution of sympathy by the
separation of relations is worthy of our attention. Suppose I am placed
in a poor condition among strangers, and consequently am but lightly
treated; I yet find myself easier in that situation, than when I was
every day exposed to the contempt of my kindred and countrymen. Here
I feel a double contempt; from my relations, but they are absent; from
those about me, but they are strangers. This double contempt is likewise
strengthened by the two relations of kindred and contiguity. But as
the persons are not the same, who are connected with me by those two
relations, this difference of ideas separates the impressions arising
from the contempt, and keeps them from running into each other. The
contempt of my neighbours has a certain influence; as has also that of
my kindred: But these influences are distinct, and never unite; as when
the contempt proceeds from persons who are at once both my neighbours
and kindred. This phaenomenon is analogous to the system of pride and
humility above-explained, which may seem so extraordinary to vulgar

Fourthly, A person in these circumstances naturally conceals his birth
from those among whom he lives, and is very uneasy, if any one suspects
him to be of a family, much superior to his present fortune and way of
living. Every thing in this world is judged of by comparison. What is
an immense fortune for a private gentleman is beggary for a prince. A
peasant would think himself happy in what cannot afford necessaries for
a gentleman. When a man has either been acustomed to a more splendid way
of living, or thinks himself intitled to it by his birth and quality,
every thing below is disagreeable and even shameful; and it is with she
greatest industry he conceals his pretensions to a better fortune. Here
he himself knows his misfortunes; but as those, with whom he lives.
are ignorant of them, he has the disagreeable reflection and comparison
suggested only by his own thoughts, and never receives it by a
sympathy with others; which must contribute very much so his ease and

If there be any objections to this hypothesis, THAT THE PLEASURE, WHICH
shall find, uponexamination, that these objections, when taken in a
properlight, will serve to confirm it. Popular fame may be agreeable
even to a man, who despises the vulgar; but it is because their
multitude gives them additional weight and authority. Plagiaries are
delighted with praises, which they are conscious they do not deserve;
but this is a kind of castle-building, where the imagination amuses
itself with its own fictions, and strives to render them firm and stable
by a sympathy with the sentiments of others. Proud men are most shocked
with contempt, should they do not most readily assent to it; but it is
because of the opposition betwixt the passion, which is natural so them,
and that received by sympathy. A violent lover in like manner is very
much disp pleased when you blame and condemn his love; though it is
evident your opposition can have no influence, but by the hold it
takes of himself, and by his sympathy with you. If he despises you, or
perceives you are in jest, whatever you say has no effect upon him.


Thus in whatever light we consider this subject, we may still observe,
that die causes of pride and humility correspond exactly to our
hypothesis, and that nothing can excite either of these passions,
unless it be both related to ourselves, and produces a pleasure or pain
independent of the passion. We have not only proved, that a tendency
to produce pleasure or pain is common to all the causes of pride or
humility, but also that it is the only thing, which is common; and
consequently is the quality, by which they operate. We have farther
proved, that the most considerable causes of these passions are
really nothing but the power of producing either agreeable or uneasy
sensations; and therefore that all their effects, and amongst the rest,
pride and humility, are derived solely from that origin. Such simple
and natural principles, founded on such solid proofs, cannot fail to be
received by philosophers, unless opposed by some objections, that have
escaped me.

It is usual with anatomists to join their observations and experiments
on human bodies to those on beasts, and from the agreement of these
experiments to derive an additional argument for any particular
hypothesis. It is indeed certain, that where the structure of parts in
brutes is the same as in men, and the operation of these parts also
the same, the causes of that operation cannot be different, and that
whatever we discover to be true of the one species, may be concluded
without hesitation to be certain of the other. Thus though the mixture
of humours and the composition of minute parts may justly be presumed
so be somewhat different in men from what it is in mere animals; and
therefore any experiment we make upon the one concerning the effects of
medicines will not always apply to the other; yet as the structure of
the veins and muscles, the fabric and situation of the heart, of the
lungs, the stomach, the liver and other parts, are the same or nearly
the same in all animals, the very same hypothesis, which in one species
explains muscular motion, the progress of the chyle, the circulation of
the blood, must be applicable to every one; and according as it
agrees or disagrees with the experiments we may make in any species of
creatures, we may draw a proof of its truth or falshood on the whole.
Let us, therefore, apply this method of enquiry, which is found so just
and useful in reasonings concerning the body, to our present anatomy of
the mind, and see what discoveries we can make by it.

In order to this we must first shew the correspondence of passions in
men and animals, and afterwards compare the causes, which produce these

It is plain, that almost in every species of creatures, but especially
of the nobler kind, there are many evident marks of pride and humility.
The very port and gait of a swan, or turkey, or peacock show the high
idea he has entertained of himself, and his contempt of all others. This
is the more remarkable, that in the two last species of animals, the
pride always attends the beauty, and is discovered in the male only.
The vanity and emulation of nightingales in singing have been commonly
remarked; as likewise that of horses in swiftness, of hounds in sagacity
and smell, of the bull and cock in strength, and of every other animal
in his particular excellency. Add to this, that every species of
creatures, which approach so often to man, as to familiarize themselves
with him, show an evident pride in his approbation, and are pleased with
his praises and caresses, independent of every other consideration. Nor
are they the caresses of every one without distinction, which give them
this vanity, but those principally of the persons they know and love;
in the same manner as that passion is excited in mankind. All these are
evident proofs, that pride and humility are not merely human passions,
but extend themselves over the whole animal creation.

The CAUSES of these passions are likewise much the same in beasts as
in us, making a just allowance for our superior knowledge and
understanding. Thus animals have little or no sense of virtue or vice;
they quickly lose sight of the relations of blood; and are incapable of
that of right and property: For which reason the causes of their pride
and humility must lie solely in the body, and can never be placed either
in the mind or external objects. But so far as regards the body, the
same qualities cause pride in the animal as in the human kind; and it is
on beauty, strength, swiftness or some other useful or agreeable quality
that this passion is always founded.

The next question is, whether, since those passions are the same, and
arise from the same causes through the whole creation, the manner, in
which the causes operate, be also the same. According to all rules of
analogy, this is justly to be expected; and if we find upon trial,
that the explication of these phaenomena, which we make use of in
one species, will not apply to the rest, we may presume that that
explication, however specious, is in reality without foundation.

In order to decide this question, let us consider, that there is
evidently the same relation of ideas, and derived from the same causes,
in the minds of animals as in those of men. A dog, that has hid a bone,
often forgets the place; but when brought to it, his thought passes
easily to what he formerly concealed, by means of the contiguity, which
produces a relation among his ideas. In like manner, when he has been
heartily beat in any place, he will tremble on his approach to it,
even though he discover no signs of any present danger. The effects
of resemblance are not so remarkable; but as that relation makes a
considerable ingredient in causation, of which all animals shew
so evident a judgment, we may conclude that the three relations of
resemblance, contiguity and causation operate in the same manner upon
beasts as upon human creatures.

There are also instances of the relation of impressions, sufficient
to convince us, that there is an union of certain affections with each
other in the inferior species of creatures as well as in the superior,
and that their minds are frequently conveyed through a series of
connected emotions. A dog, when elevated with joy, runs naturally into
love and kindness, whether of his master or of the sex. In like manner,
when full of pain and sorrow, he becomes quarrelsome and illnatured;
and that passion; which at first was grief, is by the smallest occasion
converted into anger.

Thus all the internal principles, that are necessary in us to produce
either pride or humility, are commcm to all creaturn; and since the
causes, which excite these passions, are likewise the same, we may
justly conclude, that these causes operate after the same manner through
the whole animal creation. My hypothesis Is so simple, and supposes so
little reflection and judgment, that it is applicable to every sensible
creature; which must not only be allowed to be a convincing proof of its
veracity, but, I am confident, will be found an objection to every other



It is altogether impossible to give any definition of the passions
of love and hatred; and that because they produce merely a simple
impression, without any mixture or composition. Twould be as unnecessary
to attempt any description of them, drawn from their nature, origin,
causes and objects; and that both because these are the subjects of
our present enquiry, and because these passions of themselves are
sufficiently known from our common feeling and experience. This we
have already observed concerning pride and humility, and here repeat it
concerning love and hatred; and indeed there is so great a resemblance
betwixt these two sets of passions, that we shall be obliged to begin
with a kind of abridgment of our reasonings concerning the former, in
order to explain the latter.

As the immediate object of pride and humility is self or that identical
person, of whose thoughts, actions, and sensations we are intimately
conscious; so the object of love and hatred is some other person, of
whose thoughts, actions, and sensations we are not conscious. This is
sufficiently evident from experience. Our love and hatred are always
directed to some sensible being external to us; and when we talk
of self-love, it is not in a proper sense, nor has the sensation it
produces any thing in common with that tender emotion which is excited
by a friend or mistress. It is the same case with hatred. We may be
mortified by our own faults and follies; but never feel any anger or
hatred except from the injuries of others.

But though the object of love and hatred be always some other person, it
is plain that the object is not, properly speaking, the cause of these
passions, or alone sufficient to excite them. For since love and hatred
are directly contrary in their sensation, and have the same object in
common, if that object were also their cause, it would produce these
opposite passions in an equal degree; and as they must, from the very
first moment, destroy each other, none of them would ever be able to
make its appearance. There must, therefore, be some cause different from
the object.

If we consider the causes of love and hatred, we shall find they are
very much diversifyed, and have not many things in common. The virtue,
knowledge, wit, good sense, good humour of any person, produce love
and esteem; as the opposite qualities, hatred and contempt. The same
passions arise from bodily accomplishments, such as beauty, force,
swiftness, dexterity; and from their contraries; as likewise from the
external advantages and disadvantages of family, possession, cloaths,
nation and climate. There is not one of these objects, but what by its
different qualities may produce love and esteem, or hatred and contempt.

From the view of these causes we may derive a new distinction betwixt
the quality that operates, and the subject on which it is placed. A
prince, that is possessed of a stately palace, commands the esteem
of the people upon that account; and that first, by the beauty of the
palace, and secondly, by the relation of property, which connects it
with him. The removal of either of these destroys the passion; which
evidently proves that the cause Is a compounded one.

Twould be tedious to trace the passions of love and hatred, through all
the observations which we have formed concerning pride and humility,
and which are equally applicable to both sets of passions. Twill be
sufficient to remark in general, that the object of love and hatred is
evidently some thinking person; and that the sensation of the former
passion is always agreeable, and of the latter uneasy. We may also
suppose with some shew of probability, THAT THE CAUSE OF BOTH THESE

One of these suppositions, viz, that the cause of love and hatred must
be related to a person or thinking being, in order to produce these
passions, is not only probable, but too evident to be contested. Virtue
and vice, when considered in the abstract; beauty and deformity, when
placed on inanimate objects; poverty and riches when belonging to a
third person, excite no degree of love or hatred, esteem or contempt
towards those, who have no relation to them. A person looking out at a
window, sees me in the street, and beyond me a beautiful palace, with
which I have no concern: I believe none will pretend, that this person
will pay me the same respect, as if I were owner of the palace.

It is not so evident at first sight, that a relation of impressions is
requisite to these passions, and that because in the transition the one
impression is so much confounded with the other, that they become in a
manner undistinguishable. But as in pride and humility, we have easily
been able to make the separation, and to prove, that every cause of
these passions, produces a separate pain or pleasure, I might here
observe the same method with the same success, in examining particularly
the several causes of love and hatred. But as I hasten a full and
decisive proof of these systems, I delay this examination for a moment:
And in the mean time shall endeavour to convert to my present purpose
all my reaaonings concerning pride and humility, by an argument that
is founded on unquestionable examination.

There are few persons, that are satisfyed with their own character, or
genius, or fortune, who are nor desirous of shewing themselves to the
world, and of acquiring the love and approbation of mankind. Now it is
evident, that the very same qualities and circumstances, which are the
causes of pride or self-esteem, are also the causes of vanity or the
desire of reputation; and that we always put to view those particulars
with which in ourselves we are best satisfyed. But if love and esteem
were not produced by the same qualities as pride, according as these
qualities are related to ourselves or others, this method of proceeding
would be very absurd, nor coued men expect a correspondence in
the sentiments of every other person, with those themselves have
entertained. It is true, few can form exact systems of the passions, or
make reflections on their general nature and resemblances. But without
such a progress in philosophy, we are not subject to many mistakes in
this particular, but are sufficiently guided by common experience, as
well as by a kind of presentation; which tells us what will operate on
others, by what we feel immediately in ourselves. Since then the same
qualities that produce pride or humility, cause love or hatred; all
the arguments that have been employed to prove, that the causes of the
former passions excite a pain or pleasure independent of the passion,
will be applicable with equal evidence to the causes of the latter.


Upon duly weighing these arguments, no one will make any scruple to
assent to that condusion I draw from them, concerning the transition
along related impressions and ideas, especially as it is a principle,
in itself, so easy and natural. But that we may place this system beyond
doubt both with regard to love and hatred, pride and humility, it will
be proper to make some new experiments upon all these passions, as well
as to recal a few of these observations, which I have formerly touched

In order to make these experiments, let us suppose I am in company with
a person, whom I formerly regarded without any sentiments either of
friendship or enmity. Here I have the natural and ultimate object of all
these four passions placed before me. Myself am the proper object of
pride or humility; the other person of love or hatred.

Regard now with attention the nature of these passions, and their
situation with respect to each other. It is evident here are four
affections, placed, as it were, in a square or regular connexion with,
and distance from each other. The passions of pride and humility, as
well as those of love and hatred, are connected together by the identity
of their object, which to the first set of passions is self, to the
second some other person. These two lines of communication or connexion
form two opposite sides of the square. Again, pride and love are
agreeable passions; hatred and humility uneasy. This similitude of
sensation betwixt pride and love, and that betwixt humility and hatred
form a new connexion, and may be considered as the other two sides of
the square. Upon the whole, pride is connected with humility, love
with hatred, by their objects or ideas: Pride with love, humility with
hatred, by their sensations or impressions.

I say then, that nothing can produce any of these passions without
bearing it a double relation, viz, of ideas to the object of the
passion, and of sensation to the passion itself. This we must prove by
our experiments. First Experiment. To proceed with the greater order
in these experiments, let us first suppose, that being placed in the
situation above-mentioned, viz, in company with some other person, there
is an object presented, that has no relation either of impressions
or ideas to any of these passions. Thus suppose we regard together an
ordinary stone, or other common object, belonging to neither of us, and
causing of itself no emotion, or independent pain and pleasure: It is
evident such an object will produce none of these four passions. Let
us try it upon each of them successively. Let us apply it to love, to
hatred, to humility, to pride; none of them ever arises in the smallest
degree imaginable. Let us change the object, as oft as we please;
provided still we choose one, that has neither of these two relations.
Let us repeat the experiment in all the dispositions, of which the mind
is susceptible. No object, in the vast variety of nature, will, in any
disposition, produce any passion without these relations.

Second Experiment. Since an object, that wants both these relations
can never produce any passion, let us bestow on it only one of these
relations; and see what will follow. Thus suppose, I regard a stone or
any common object, that belongs either to me or my companion, and by
that means acquires a relation of ideas to the object of the passions:
It is plain, that to consider the matter a priori, no emotion of any
kind can reasonably be expected. For besides, that a relation of ideas
operates secretly and calmly on the mind, it bestows an equal impulse
towards the opposite passions of pride and humility, love and hatred,
according as the object belongs to ourselves or others; which opposition
of the passions must destroy both, and leave the mind perfectly free
from any affection or emotion. This reasoning a priori is confirmed
by experience. No trivial or vulgar object, that causes not a pain or
pleasure, independent of the passion, will ever, by its property or
other relations either to ourselves or others, be able to produce the
affections of pride or humility, love or hatred.

Third Experiment. It is evident, therefore, that a relation of ideas is
not able alone to give rise to these affections. Let us now remove
this relation, and in its stead place a relation of impressions, by
presenting an object, which is agreeable or disagreeable, but has
no relation either to ourself or companion; and let us observe the
consequences. To consider the matter first a priori, as in the preceding
experiment; we may conclude, that the object will have a small, but an
uncertain connexion with these passions. For besides, that this relation
is not a cold and imperceptible one, it has not the inconvenience of
the relation of ideas, nor directs us with equal force to two contrary
passions, which by their opposition destroy each other. But if we
consider, on the other hand, that this transition from the sensation
to the affection is not forwarded by any principle, that produces
a transition of ideas; but, on the contrary, that though the one
impression be easily transfused into the other, yet the change of
objects is supposed contrary to all the principles, that cause a
transition of that kind; we may from thence infer, that nothing will
ever be a steady or durable cause of any passion, that is connected with
the passion merely by a relation of impressions. What our reason would
conclude from analogy, after balancing these arguments, would be, that
an object, which produces pleasure or uneasiness, but has no manner of
connexion either with ourselves or others, may give such a turn to the
disposition, as that may naturally fall into pride or love, humility or
hatred, and search for other objects, upon which by a double relation,
it can found these affections; but that an object, which has only one of
these relations, though the most advantageous one, can never give rise
to any constant and established passion.

Most fortunately all this reasoning is found to be exactly conformable
to experience, and the phaenomena of the passions. Suppose I were
travelling with a companion through a country, to which we are both
utter strangers; it is evident, that if the prospects be beautiful,
the roads agreeable, and the inns commodious, this may put me into good
humour both with myself and fellow-traveller. But as we suppose, that
this country has no relation either to myself or friend it can never be
the immediate cause of pride or love; and therefore if I found not the
passion on some other object, that bears either of us a closer relation,
my emotions are rather to be considerd as the overflowings of an elevate
or humane disposition, than as an established passion. The case is the
same where the object produces uneasiness.

Fourth Experiment. Having found, that neither an object without any
relation of ideas or impressions, nor an object, that has only one
relation, can ever cause pride or humility, love or hatred; reason alone
may convince us, without any farther experiment, that whatever has a
double relation must necessarily excite these passions; since it is
evident they must have some cause. But to leave as little room for doubt
as possible, let us renew our experiments, and see whether the event in
this case answers our expectation. I choose an object, such as virtue,
that causes a separate satisfaction: On this object I bestow a relation
to self; and find, that from this disposition of affairs, there
immediately arises a passion. But what passion? That very one of pride,
to which this object bears a double relation. Its idea is related
to that of self, the object of the passion: The sensation it causes
resembles the sensation of the passion. That I may be sure I am not
mistaken in this experiment, I remove first one relation; then another;
and find, that each removal destroys the passion, and leaves the object
perfectly indifferent. But I am not content with this. I make a still
farther trial; and instead of removing the relation, I only change
it for one of a different kind. I suppose the virtue to belong to my
companion, not to myself; and observe what follows from this alteration.
I immediately perceive the affections wheel to about, and leaving pride,
where there is only one relation, viz, of impressions, fall to the side
of love, where they are attracted by a double relation of impressions
and ideas. By repeating the same experiment, in changing anew the
relation of ideas, I bring the affections back to pride; and by a new
repetition I again place them at love or kindness. Being fully convinced
of the influence of this relation, I try the effects of the other; and
by changing virtue for vice, convert the pleasant impression, which
arises from the former, into the disagreeable one, which proceeds from
the latter. The effect still answers expectation. Vice, when placed
on another, excites, by means of its double relations, the passion of
hatred, instead of love, which for the same reason arises from virtue.
To continue the experiment, I change anew the relation of ideas, and
suppose the vice to belong to myself. What follows? What is usual. A
subsequent change of the passion from hatred to humility. This humility
I convert into pride by a new change of the impression; and find after
all that I have compleated the round, and have by these changes brought
back the passion to that very situation, in which I first found it.

But to make the matter still more certain, I alter the object; and
instead of vice and virtue, make the trial upon beauty and deformity,
riches and poverty, power and servitude. Each of these objects runs
the circle of the passions in the same manner, by a change of their
relations: And in whatever order we proceed, whether through pride,
love, hatred, humility, or through humility, hatred, love, pride, the
experiment is not in the least diversifyed. Esteem and contempt, indeed,
arise on some occasions instead of love and hatred; but these are at
the bottom the same passions, only diversifyed by some causes, which we
shall explain afterwards.

Fifth Experiment. To give greater authority to these experiments, let
us change the situation of affairs as much as possible, and place the
passions and objects in all the different positions, of which they are
susceptible. Let us suppose, beside the relations above-mentioned, that
the person, along with whom I make all these experiments, is closely
connected with me either by blood or friendship. He is, we shall
suppose, my son or brother, or is united to me by a long and familiar
acquaintance. Let us next suppose, that the cause of the passion
acquires a double relation of impressions and ideas to this person; and
let us see what the effects are of all these complicated attractions and

Before we consider what they are in fact, let us determine what they
ought to be, conformable to my hypothesis. It is plain, that, according
as the impression is either pleasant or uneasy, the passion of love or
hatred must arise towards the person, who is thus connected to the cause
of the impression by these double relations, which I have all along
required. The virtue of a brother must make me love him; as his vice
or infamy must excite the contrary passion. But to judge only from the
situation of affairs, I should not expect, that the affections would
rest there, and never transfuse themselves into any other impression. As
there is here a person, who by means of a double relation is the object
of my passion, the very same reasoning leads me to think the passion
will be carryed farther. The person has a relation of ideas to myself,
according to the supposition; the passion, of which he is the object, by
being either agreeable or uneasy, has a relation of impressions to pride
or humility. It is evident, then, that one of these passions must arise
from the love or hatred.

This is the reasoning I form in conformity to my hypothesis; and am
pleased to find upon trial that every thing answers exactly to my
expectation. The virtue or vice of a son or brother not only excites
love or hatred, but by a new transition, from similar causes, gives rise
to pride or humility. Nothing causes greater vanity than any shining
quality in our relations; as nothing mortifies us more than their vice
or infamy. This exact conformity of experience to our reasoning is
a convincing proof of the solidity of that hypothesis, upon which we

Sixth Experiment. This evidence will be still augmented, if we reverse
the experiment, and preserving still the same relations, begin only with
a different passion. Suppose, that instead of the virtue or vice of a
son or brother, which causes first love or hatred, and afterwards pride
or humility, we place these good or bad qualities on ourselves,
without any immediate connexion with the person, who is related to us:
Experience shews us, that by this change of situation the whole chain is
broke, and that the mind is not conveyed from one passion to another,
as in the preceding instance. We never love or hate a son or brother
for the virtue or vice we discern in ourselves; though it is evident
the same qualities in him give us a very sensible pride or humility. The
transition from pride or humility to love or hatred is not so natural
as from love or hatred to pride or humility. This may at first sight be
esteemed contrary to my hypothesis; since the relations of impressions
and ideas are in both cases precisely the same. Pride and humility are
impressions related to love and hatred. Myself am related to the person.
It should, therefore, be expected, that like causes must produce like
effects, and a perfect transition arise from the double relation, as in
all other cases. This difficulty we may easily solve by the following

It is evident, that as we are at all times intimately conscious of
ourselves, our sentiments and passions, their ideas must strike upon us
with greater vivacity than the ideas of the sentiments and passions of
any other person. But every thing, that strikes upon us with vivacity,
and appears in a full and strong light, forces itself, in a manner, into
our consideration, and becomes present to the mind on the smallest hint
and most trivial relation. For the same reason, when it is once present,
it engages the attention, and keeps it from wandering to other
objects, however strong may be their relation to our first object.
The imagination passes easily from obscure to lively ideas, but with
difficulty from lively to obscure. In the one case the relation is aided
by another principle: In the other case, it is opposed by it.

Now I have observed, that those two faculties of the mind, the
imagination and passions, assist each other in their operations when
their propensities are similar, and when they act upon the same object.
The mind has always a propensity to pass from a passion to any other
related to it; and this propensity is forwarded when the object of the
one passion is related to that of the other. The two impulses concur
with each other, and render the whole transition more smooth and easy.
But if it should happen, that while the relation of ideas, strictly
speaking, continues the same, its influence, in causing a transition
of the imagination, should no longer take place, it is evident its
influence on the passions must also cease, as being dependent entirely
on that transition. This is the reason why pride or humility is not
transfused into love or hatred with the same ease, that the latter
passions are changed into the former. If a person be my brother I am
his likewise: but though the relations be reciprocal they have very
different effects on the imagination. The passage is smooth and open
from the consideration of any person related to us to that of ourself,
of whom we are every moment conscious. But when the affections are once
directed to ourself, the fancy passes not with the same facility from
that object to any other person, how closely so ever connected with us.
This easy or difficult transition of the imagination operates upon the
passions, and facilitates or retards their transition, which is a clear
proof, that these two faculties of the passions and imagination are
connected together, and that the relations of ideas have an influence
upon the affections. Besides innumerable experiments that prove this,
we here find, that even when the relation remains; if by any particular
circumstance its usual effect upon the fancy in producing an association
or transition of ideas, is prevented; its usual effect upon the
passions, in conveying us from one to another, is in like manner

Some may, perhaps, find a contradiction betwixt this phaenomenon
and that of sympathy, where the mind passes easily from the idea of
ourselves to that of any other object related to us. But this difficulty
will vanish, if we consider that in sympathy our own person is not the
object of any passion, nor is there any thing, that fixes our attention
on ourselves; as in the present case, where we are supposed to be
actuated with pride or humility. Ourself, independent of the perception
of every other object, is in reality nothing: For which reason we must
turn our view to external objects; and it is natural for us to consider
with most attention such as lie contiguous to us, or resemble us. But
when self is the object of a passion, it is not natural to quit the
consideration of it, till the passion be exhausted: in which case the
double relations of impressions and ideas can no longer operate.

Seventh Experiment. To put this whole reasoning to a farther trial, let
us make a new experiment; and as we have already seen the effects of
related passions and ideas, let us here suppose an identity of passions
along with a relation of ideas; and let us consider the effects of this
new situation. It is evident a transition of the passions from the one
object to the other is here in all reason to be expected; since the
relation of ideas is supposed still to continue, and identity of
impressions must produce a stronger connexion, than the most perfect
resemblance, that can be imagined. If a double relation, therefore, of
impressions and ideas is able to produce a transition from one to the
other, much more an identity of impressions with a relation of ideas.
Accordingly we find, that when we either love or hate any person,
the passions seldom continue within their first bounds; but extend
themselves towards all the contiguous objects, and comprehend the
friends and relations of him we love or hate. Nothing is more natural
than to bear a kindness to one brother on account of our friendship for
another, without any farther examination of his character. A quarrel
with one person gives us a hatred for the whole family, though entirely
innocent of that, which displeases us. Instances of this kind are every
where to be met with.

There is only one difficulty in this experiment, which it will be
necessary to account for, before we proceed any farther. It is evident,
that though all passions pass easily from one object to another related
to it, yet this transition is made with greater facility, where the more
considerable object is first presented, and the lesser follows it, than
where this order is reversed, and the lesser takes the precedence. Thus
it is more natural for us to love the son upon account of the father,
than the father upon account of the son; the servant for the master,
than the master for the servant; the subject for the prince, than the
prince for the subject. In like manner we more readily contract a hatred
against a whole family, where our first quarrel is with the head of it,
than where we are displeased with a son, or servant, or some inferior
member. In short, our passions, like other objects, descend with greater
facility than they ascend.

That we may comprehend, wherein consists the difficulty of explaining
this phaenomenon, we must consider, that the very same reason, which
determines the imagination to pass from remote to contiguous objects,
with more facility than from contiguous to remote, causes it likewise
to change with more ease, the less for the greater, than the greater for
the less. Whatever has the greatest influence is most taken notice of;
and whatever is most taken notice of, presents itself most readily to
the imagination. We are more apt to over-look in any subject, what is
trivial, than what appears of considerable moment; but especially if the
latter takes the precedence, and first engages our attention. Thus if
any accident makes us consider the Satellites of JUPITER, our fancy is
naturally determined to form the idea of that planet; but if we first
reflect on the principal planet, it is more natural for us to overlook
its attendants. The mention of the provinces of any empire conveys our
thought to the seat of the empire; but the fancy returns not with the
same facility to the consideration of the provinces. The idea of the
servant makes us think of the master; that of the subject carries our
view to the prince. But the same relation has not an equal influence
in conveying us back again. And on this is founded that reproach of
Cornelia to her sons, that they ought to be ashamed she should be more
known by the title of the daughter of Scipio than by that of the mother
of the Gracchi. This was, in other words, exhorting them to render
themselves as illustrious and famous as their grandfather, otherwise the
imagination of the people, passing from her who was intermediate,
and placed in an equal relation to both, would always leave them, and
denominate her by what was more considerable and of greater moment. On
the same principle is founded that common custom of making wives bear
the name of their husbands, rather than husbands that of their wives; as
also the ceremony of giving the precedency to those, whom we honour and
respect. We might find many other instances to confirm this principle,
were it not already sufficiently evident.

Now since the fancy finds the same facility in passing from the lesser
to the greater, as from remote to contiguous, why does not this easy
transition of ideas assist the transition of passions in the former
case, as well as in the latter? The virtues of a friend or brother
produce first love, and then pride; because in that case the imagination
passes from remote to contiguous, according to its propensity. Our own
virtues produce not first pride, and then love to a friend or brother;
because the passage in that case would be from contiguous to remote,
contrary to its propensity. But the love or hatred of an inferior causes
not readily any passion to the superior, though that be the natural
propensity of the imagination: While the love or hatred of a superior,
causes a passion to the inferior, contrary to its propensity. In short,
the same facility of transition operates not in the same manner
upon superior and inferior as upon contiguous and remote. These two
phaenomena appear contradictory, and require some attention to be

As the transition of ideas is here made contrary to the natural
propensity of the imagination, that faculty must be overpowered by some
stronger principle of another kind; and as there is nothing ever present
to the mind but impressions and ideas, this principle must necessarily
lie in the impressions. Now it has been observed, that impressions or
passions are connected only by their resemblance, and that where any two
passions place the mind in the same or in similar dispositions, it
very naturally passes from the one to the other: As on the contrary, a
repugnance in the dispositions produces a difficulty in the transition
of the passions. But it is observable, that this repugnance may arise
from a difference of degree as well as of kind; nor do we experience a
greater difficulty in passing suddenly from a small degree of love to a
small degree of hatred, than from a small to a great degree of either
of these affections. A man, when calm or only moderately agitated, is so
different, in every respect, from himself, when disturbed with a violent
passion, that no two persons can be more unlike; nor is it easy to
pass from the one extreme to the other, without a considerable interval
betwixt them.

The difficulty is not less, if it be not rather greater, in passing from
the strong passion to the weak, than in passing from the weak to the
strong, provided the one passion upon its appearance destroys the other,
and they do not both of them exist at once. But the case is entirely
altered, when the passions unite together, and actuate the mind at
the same time. A weak passion, when added to a strong, makes not so
considerable a change in the disposition, as a strong when added to a
weak; for which reason there is a closer connexion betwixt the great
degree and the small, than betwixt the small degree and the great.

The degree of any passion depends upon the nature of its object; and an
affection directed to a person, who is considerable in our eyes, fills
and possesses the mind much more than one, which has for its object
a person we esteem of less consequence. Here then the contradiction
betwixt the propensities of the imagination and passion displays itself.
When we turn our thought to a great and a small object, the imagination
finds more facility in passing from the small to the great, than from
the great to the small; but the affections find a greater difficulty:
And as the affections are a more powerful principle than the
imagination, no wonder they prevail over it, and draw the mind to their
side. In spite of the difficulty of passing from the idea of great to
that of little, a passion directed to the former, produces always
a similar passion towards the latter; when the great and little are
related together. The idea of the servant conveys our thought most
readily to the master; but the hatred or love of the master produces
with greater facility anger or good-will to the servant. The strongest
passion in this case takes the precedence; and the addition of the
weaker making no considerable change on the disposition, the passage is
by that means rendered more easy and natural betwixt them.

As in the foregoing experiment we found, that a relation of ideas,
which, by any particular circumstance, ceases to produce its usual
effect of facilitating the transition of ideas, ceases likewise to
operate on the passions; so in the present experiment we find the same
property of the impressions. Two different degrees of the same passion
are surely related together; but if the smaller be first present, it
has little or no tendency to introduce the greater; and that because the
addition of the great to the little, produces a more sensible alteration
on the temper, than the addition of the little to the great. These
phaenomena, when duly weighed, will be found convincing proofs of this

And these proofs will be confirmed, if we consider the manner in which
the mind here reconciles the contradiction, I have observed betwixt the
passions and the imagination. The fancy passes with more facility from
the less to the greater, than from the greater to the less: But on the
contrary a violent passion produces more easily a feeble, than that does
a violent. In this opposition the passion in the end prevails over the
imagination; but it is commonly by complying with it, and by seeking
another quality, which may counter-ballance that principle, from whence
the opposition arises. When we love the father or master of a family,
we little think of his children or servants. But when these are present
with us, or when it lies any ways in our power to serve them, the
nearness and contiguity in this case encreases their magnitude, or at
least removes that opposition, which the fancy makes to the transition
of the affections. If the imagination finds a difficulty in passing from
greater to less, it finds an equal facility in passing from remote to
contiguous, which brings the matter to an equality, and leaves the way
open from the one passion to the other.

Eighth Experiment. I have observed that the transition from love or
hatred to pride or humility, is more easy than from pride or humility to
love or hatred; and that the difficulty, which the imagination finds in
passing from contiguous to remote, is the cause why we scarce have any
instance of the latter transition of the affections. I must, however,
make one exception, viz, when the very cause of the pride and humility
is placed in some other person. For in that case the imagination is
necessitated to consider the person, nor can it possibly confine its
view to ourselves. Thus nothing more readily produces kindness and
affection to any person, than his approbation of our conduct and
character: As on the other hand, nothing inspires us with a stronger
hatred, than his blame or contempt. Here it is evident, that the
original passion is pride or humility, whose object is self; and that
this passion is transfused into love or hatred, whose object is some
other person, notwithstanding the rule I have already established, THAT
But the transition in this case is not made merely on account of the
relation betwixt ourselves and the person; but because that very person
is the real cause of our first passion, and of consequence is intimately
connected with it. It is his approbation that produces pride; and
disapprobation, humility. No wonder, then, the imagination returns back
again attended with the related passions of love and hatred. This is
not a contradiction, but an exception to the rule; and an exception that
arises from the same reason with the rule itself.

Such an exception as this is, therefore, rather a confirmation of
the rule. And indeed, if we consider all the eight experiments I have
explained, we shall find that the same principle appears in all of them,
and that it is by means of a transition arising from a double relation
of impressions and ideas, pride and humility, love and hatred are
produced. An object without [First Experiment.] a relation, or [Second
and Third Experiments] with but one, never produces either of these
passions; and it is [Fourth Experiment.] found that the passion always
varies in conformity to the relation. Nay we may observe, that where the
relation, by any particular circumstance, has not its usual effect
of producing a transition either of [Sixth Experiment.] ideas or of
impressions, it ceases to operate upon the passions, and gives rise
neither to pride nor love, humility nor hatred. This rule we find still
to hold good [Seventh and Eighth Experiments.] even under the appearance
of its contrary; and as relation is frequently experienced to have no
effect; which upon examination is found to proceed from some particular
circumstance, that prevents the transition; so even in instances, where
that circumstance, though present, prevents not the transition, it is
found to arise from some other circumstance, which counter-balances
it. Thus not only the variations resolve themselves into the general
principle, but even the variations of these variations.


After so many and such undeniable proofs drawn from daily experience
and observation, it may seem superfluous to enter into a particular
examination of all the causes of love and hatred. I shall, therefore,
employ the sequel of this part, First, In removing some difficulties,
concerning particular causes of these passions. Secondly, In examining
the compound affections, which arise from the mixture of love and hatred
with other emotions.

Nothing is more evident, than that any person acquires our kindness, or
is exposed to our ill-will, in proportion to the pleasure or uneasiness
we receive from him, and that the passions keep pace exactly with the
sensations in all their changes and variations. Whoever can find the
means either by his services, his beauty, or his flattery, to render
himself useful or agreeable to us, is sure of our affections: As on the
other hand, whoever harms or displeases us never fails to excite our
anger or hatred. When our own nation is at war with any other, we detest
them under the character of cruel, perfidious, unjust and violent: But
always esteem ourselves and allies equitable, moderate, and merciful. If
the general of our enemies be successful, it is with difficulty we
allow him the figure and character of a man. He is a sorcerer: He has a
communication with daemons; as is reported of OLIVER CROMWELL, and the
DUKE OF LUXEMBOURG: He is bloody-minded, and takes a pleasure in death
and destruction. But if the success be on our side, our commander has
all the opposite good qualities, and is a pattern of virtue, as well as
of courage and conduct. His treachery we call policy: His cruelty is an
evil inseparable from war. In short, every one of his faults we either
endeavour to extenuate, or dignify it with the name of that virtue,
which approaches it. It is evident the same method of thinking runs
through common life.

There are some, who add another condition, and require not only that
the pain and pleasure arise from the person, but likewise that it arise
knowingly, and with a particular design and intention. A man, who wounds
and harms us by accident, becomes not our enemy upon that account, nor
do we think ourselves bound by any ties of gratitude to one, who does
us any service after the same manner. By the intention we judge of the
actions, and according as that is good or bad, they become causes of
love or hatred.

But here we must make a distinction. If that quality in another, which
pleases or displeases, be constant and inherent in his person and
character, it will cause love or hatred independent of the intention:
But otherwise a knowledge and design is requisite, in order to give rise
to these passions. One that is disagreeable by his deformity or folly is
the object of our aversion, though nothing be more certain, than that he
has not the least intention of displeasing us by these qualities. But
if the uneasiness proceed not from a quality, but an action, which
is produced and annihilated in a moment, it is necessary, in order to
produce some relation, and connect this action sufficiently with the
person, that it be derived from a particular fore-thought and design. It
is not enough, that the action arise from the person, and have him for
its immediate cause and author. This relation alone is too feeble and
inconstant to be a foundation for these passions. It reaches not the
sensible and thinking part, and neither proceeds from any thing durable
in him, nor leaves any thing behind it; but passes in a moment, and is
as if it had never been. On the other hand, an intention shews certain
qualities, which remaining after the action is performed, connect it
with the person, and facilitate the transition of ideas from one to the
other. We can never think of him without reflecting on these qualities;
unless repentance and a change of life have produced an alteration
in that respect: In which case the passion is likewise altered. This
therefore is one reason, why an intention is requisite to excite either
love or hatred.

But we must farther consider, that an intention, besides its
strengthening the relation of ideas, is often necessary to produce a
relation of impressions, and give rise to pleasure and uneasiness. For
it is observable, that the principal part of an injury is the contempt
and hatred, which it shews in the person, that injures us; and without
that, the mere harm gives us a less sensible uneasiness. In like manner,
a good office is agreeable, chiefly because it flatters our vanity, and
is a proof of the kindness and esteem of the person, who performs it.
The removal of the intention, removes the mortification in the one
case, and vanity in the other, and must of course cause a remarkable
diminution in the passions of love and hatred.

I grant, that these effects of the removal of design, in diminishing the
relations of impressions and ideas, are not entire, nor able to remove
every degree of these relations. But then I ask, if the removal of
design be able entirely to remove the passion of love and hatred?
Experience, I am sure, informs us of the contrary, nor is there any
thing more certain, than that men often fall into a violent anger for
injuries, which they themselves must own to be entirely involuntary and
accidental. This emotion, indeed, cannot be of long continuance; but
still is sufficient to shew, that there is a natural connexion betwixt
uneasiness and anger, and that the relation of impressions will operate
upon a very small relation of ideas. But when the violence of the
impression is once a little abated, the defect of the relation begins to
be better felt; and as the character of a person is no wise interested
in such injuries as are casual and involuntary, it seldom happens that
on their account, we entertain a lasting enmity.

To illustrate this doctrine by a parallel instance, we may observe, that
not only the uneasiness, which proceeds from another by accident, has
but little force to excite our passion, but also that which arises
from an acknowledged necessity and duty. One that has a real design of
harming us, proceeding not from hatred and ill-will, but from justice
and equity, draws not upon him our anger, if we be in any degree
reasonable; notwithstanding he is both the cause, and the knowing cause
of our sufferings. Let us examine a little this phaenomenon.

It is evident in the first place, that this circumstance is not
decisive; and though it may be able to diminish the passions, it is
seldom it can entirely remove them. How few criminals are there, who
have no ill-will to the person, that accuses them, or to the judge, that
condemns them, even though they be conscious of their own deserts? In
like manner our antagonist in a law-suit, and our competitor for
any office, are commonly regarded as our enemies; though we must
acknowledge, if we would but reflect a moment, that their motive is
entirely as justifiable as our own.

Besides we may consider, that when we receive harm from any person, we
are apt to imagine him criminal, and it is with extreme difficulty
we allow of his justice and innocence. This is a clear proof, that,
independent of the opinion of iniquity, any harm or uneasiness has a
natural tendency to excite our hatred, and that afterwards we seek for
reasons upon which we may justify and establish the passion. Here the
idea of injury produces not the passion, but arises from it.

Nor is it any wonder that passion should produce the opinion of injury;
since otherwise it must suffer a considerable diminution, which all the
passions avoid as much as possible. The removal of injury may remove the
anger, without proving that the anger arises only from the injury. The
harm and the justice are two contrary objects, of which the one has a
tendency to produce hatred, and the other love; and it is according
to their different degrees, and our particular turn of thinking, that
either of the objects prevails, and excites its proper passion.


Having given a reason, why several actions, that cause a real pleasure
or uneasiness, excite not any degree, or but a small one, of the passion
of love or hatred towards the actors; it will be necessary to shew,
wherein consists the pleasure or uneasiness of many objects, which we
find by experience to produce these passions.

According to the preceding system there is always required a double
relation of impressions and ideas betwixt the cause and effect, in order
to produce either love or hatred. But though this be universally true,
it is remarkable that the passion of love may be excited by only one
relation of a different kind, viz, betwixt ourselves and the object; or
more properly speaking, that this relation is always attended with both
the others. Whoever is united to us by any connexion is always sure of a
share of our love, proportioned to the connexion, without enquiring into
his other qualities. Thus the relation of blood produces the strongest
tie the mind is capable of in the love of parents to their children, and
a lesser degree of the same affection, as the relation lessens. Nor
has consanguinity alone this effect, but any other relation without
exception. We love our country-men, our neighbours, those of the same
trade, profession, and even name with ourselves. Every one of these
relations is esteemed some tie, and gives a title to a share of our

There is another phaenomenon, which is parallel to this, viz, that
acquaintance, without any kind of relation, gives rise to love and
kindness. When we have contracted a habitude and intimacy with any
person; though in frequenting his company we have not been able to
discover any very valuable quality, of which he is possessed; yet we
cannot forebear preferring him to strangers, of whose superior merit we
are fully convinced. These two phaenomena of the effects of relation
and acquaintance will give mutual light to each other, and may be both
explained from the same principle.

Those, who take a pleasure in declaiming against human nature, have
observed, that man is altogether insufficient to support himself; and
that when you loosen all the holds, which he has of external objects,
he immediately drops down into the deepest melancholy and despair.
From this, say they, proceeds that continual search after amusement
in gaming, in hunting, in business; by which we endeavour to forget
ourselves, and excite our spirits from the languid state, into which
they fall, when not sustained by some brisk and lively emotion. To
this method of thinking I so far agree, that I own the mind to be
insufficient, of itself, to its own entertainment, and that it naturally
seeks after foreign objects, which may produce a lively sensation, and
agitate the spirits. On the appearance of such an object it awakes, as
it were, from a dream: The blood flows with a new tide: The heart is
elevated: And the whole man acquires a vigour, which he cannot command
in his solitary and calm moments. Hence company is naturally so
rejoicing, as presenting the liveliest of all objects, viz, a rational
and thinking Being like ourselves, who communicates to us all the
actions of his mind; makes us privy to his inmost sentiments and
affections; and lets us see, in the very instant of their production,
all the emotions, which are caused by any object. Every lively idea
is agreeable, but especially that of a passion, because such an idea
becomes a kind of passion, and gives a more sensible agitation to the
mind, than any other image or conception.

This being once admitted, all the rest is easy. For as the company
of strangers is agreeable to us for a short time, by inlivening our
thought; so the company of our relations and acquaintance must be
peculiarly agreeable, because it has this effect in a greater degree,
and is of more durable influence. Whatever is related to us is conceived
in a lively manner by the easy transition from ourselves to the related
object. Custom also, or acquaintance facilitates the entrance, and
strengthens the conception of any object. The first case is parallel to
our reasonings from cause and effect; the second to education. And as
reasoning and education concur only in producing a lively and strong
idea of any object; so is this the only particular, which is common
to relation and acquaintance. This must, therefore, be the influencing
quality, by which they produce all their common effects; and love or
kindness being one of these effects, it must be from the force and
liveliness of conception, that the passion is derived. Such a conception
is peculiarly agreeable, and makes us have an affectionate regard for
every thing, that produces it, when the proper object of kindness and

It is obvious, that people associate together according to their
particular tempers and dispositions, and that men of gay tempers
naturally love the gay; as the serious bear an affection to the serious.
This not only happens, where they remark this resemblance betwixt
themselves and others, but also by the natural course of the
disposition, and by a certain sympathy, which always arises betwixt
similar characters. Where they remark the resemblance, it operates after
the manner of a relation, by producing a connexion of ideas. Where
they do not remark it, it operates by some other principle; and if this
latter principle be similar to the former, it must be received as a
confirmation of the foregoing reasoning.

The idea of ourselves is always intimately present to us, and conveys a
sensible degree of vivacity to the idea of any other object, to which we
are related. This lively idea changes by degrees into a real impression;
these two kinds of perception being in a great measure the same, and
differing only in their degrees of force and vivacity. But this change
must be produced with the greater ease, that our natural temper gives
us a propensity to the same impression, which we observe in others,
and makes it arise upon any slight occasion. In that case resemblance
converts the idea into an impression, not only by means of the relation,
and by transfusing the original vivacity into the related idea; but also
by presenting such materials as take fire from the least spark. And as
in both cases a love or affection arises from the resemblance, we may
learn that a sympathy with others is agreeable only by giving an emotion
to the spirits, since an easy sympathy and correspondent emotions are

The great propensity men have to pride may be considered as another
similar phaenomenon. It often happens, that after we have lived a
considerable time in any city; however at first it might be disagreeable
to us; yet as we become familiar with the objects, and contact an
acquaintance, though merely with the streets and buildings, the aversion
diminishes by degrees, and at last changes into the opposite passion.
The mind finds a satisfaction and ease in the view of objects, to which
it is accustomed, and naturally prefers them to others, which, though,
perhaps, in themselves more valuable, are less known to it. By the same
quality of the mind we are seduced into a good opinion of ourselves, and
of all objects, that belong to us. They appear in a stronger light; are
more agreeable; and consequently fitter subjects of pride and vanity,
than any other.

It may not be amiss, in treating of the affection we bear our
acquaintance and relations, to observe some pretty curious phaenomena,
which attend it. It is easy to remark in common life, that children
esteem their relation to their mother to be weakened, in a great
measure, by her second marriage, and no longer regard her with the same
eye, as if she had continued in her state of widow-hood. Nor does this
happen only, when they have felt any inconveniences from her second
marriage, or when her husband is much her inferior; but even without
any of these considerations, and merely because she has become part of
another family. This also takes place with regard to the second marriage
of a father; but in a much less degree: And it is certain the ties of
blood are not so much loosened in the latter case as by the marriage of
a mother. These two phaenomena are remarkable in themselves, but much
more so when compared.

In order to produce a perfect relation betwixt two objects, it is
requisite, not only that the imagination be conveyed from one to the
other by resemblance, contiguity or causation, but also that it return
back from the second to the first with the same ease and facility. At
first sight this may seem a necessary and unavoidable consequence. If
one object resemble another, the latter object must necessarily resemble
the former. If one object be the cause of another, the second object is
effect to its cause. It is the same case with contiguity: And therefore
the relation being always reciprocal, it may be thought, that the return
of the imagination from the second to the first must also, in every
case, be equally natural as its passage from the first to the second.
But upon farther examination we shall easily discover our mistake.
For supposing the second object, beside its reciprocal relation to the
first, to have also a strong relation to a third object; in that case
the thought, passing from the first object to the second, returns not
back with the same facility, though the relation continues the same; but
is readily carryed on to the third object, by means of the new relation,
which presents itself, and gives a new impulse to the imagination. This
new relation, therefore, weakens the tie betwixt the first and second
objects. The fancy is by its very nature wavering and inconstant; and
considers always two objects as more strongly related together, where it
finds the passage equally easy both in going and returning, than where
the transition is easy only in one of these motions. The double motion
is a kind of a double tie, and binds the objects together in the closest
and most intimate manner.

The second marriage of a mother breaks not the relation of child and
parent; and that relation suffices to convey my imagination from myself
to her with the greatest ease and facility. But after the imagination is
arrived at this point of view, it finds its object to be surrounded with
so many other relations, which challenge its regard, that it knows not
which to prefer, and is at a loss what new object to pitch upon. The
ties of interest and duty bind her to another family, and prevent that
return of the fancy from her to myself, which is necessary to support
the union. The thought has no longer the vibration, requisite to set it
perfectly at ease, and indulge its inclination to change. It goes with
facility, but returns with difficulty; and by that interruption finds
the relation much weakened from what it would be were the passage open
and easy on both sides.

Now to give a reason, why this effect follows not in the same degree
upon the second marriage of a father: we may reflect on what has been
proved already, that though the imagination goes easily from the view of
a lesser object to that of a greater, yet it returns not with the same
facility from the greater to the less. When my imagination goes from
myself to my father, it passes not so readily from him to his second
wife, nor considers him as entering into a different family, but as
continuing the head of that family, of which I am myself a part. His
superiority prevents the easy transition of the thought from him to his
spouse, but keeps the passage still open for a return to myself along
the same relation of child and parent. He is not sunk in the new
relation he acquires; so that the double motion or vibration of thought
is still easy and natural. By this indulgence of the fancy in its
inconstancy, the tie of child and parent still preserves its full force
and influence. A mother thinks not her tie to a son weakened, because it
is shared with her husband: Nor a son his with a parent, because it is
shared with a brother. The third object is here related to the first, as
well as to the second; so that the imagination goes and comes along all
of them with the greatest facility.


Nothing has a greater tendency to give us an esteem for any person, than
his power and riches; or a contempt, than his poverty and meanness:
And as esteem and contempt are to be considered as species of love and
hatred, it will be proper in this place to explain these phaenomena.

Here it happens most fortunately, that the greatest difficulty is not to
discover a principle capable of producing such an effect, but to choose
the chief and predominant among several, that present themselves. The
satisfaction we take in the riches of others, and the esteem we have for
the possessors may be ascribed to three different causes. FIRST, To the
objects they possess; such as houses, gardens, equipages; which, being
agreeable in themselves, necessarily produce a sentiment of pleasure
in every one; that either considers or surveys them. SECONDLY, To the
expectation of advantage from the rich and powerful by our sharing
their possessions. THIRDLY, To sympathy, which makes us partake of the
satisfaction of every one, that approaches us. All these principles may
concur in producing the present phaenomenon. The question is, to which
of them we ought principally to ascribe it.

It is certain, that the first principle, viz, the reflection on
agreeable objects, has a greater influence, than what, at first sight,
we may be apt to imagine. We seldom reflect on what is beautiful or
ugly, agreeable or disagreeable, without an emotion of pleasure or
uneasiness; and though these sensations appear not much in our common
indolent way of thinking, it is easy, either in reading or conversation,
to discover them. Men of wit always turn the discourse on subjects that
are entertaining to the imagination; and poets never present any objects
but such as are of the same nature. Mr Philips has chosen CYDER for the
subject of an excellent poem. Beer would not have been so proper, as
being neither so agreeable to the taste nor eye. But he would certainly
have preferred wine to either of them, coued his native country have
afforded him so agreeable a liquor. We may learn from thence, that
every thing, which is agreeable to the senses, is also in some measure
agreeable to the fancy, and conveys to the thought an image of that
satisfaction, which it gives by its real application to the bodily

But though these reasons may induce us to comprehend this delicacy of
the imagination among the causes of the respect, which we pay the
rich and powerful, there are many other reasons, that may keep us from
regarding it as the sole or principal. For as the ideas of pleasure
can have an influence only by means of their vivacity, which makes them
approach impressions, it is most natural those ideas should have that
influence, which are favoured by most circumstances, and have a natural
tendency to become strong and lively; such as our ideas of the passions
and sensations of any human creature. Every human creature resembles
ourselves, and by that means has an advantage above any other object, in
operating on the imagination.

Besides, if we consider the nature of that faculty, and the great
influence which all relations have upon it, we shall easily be
persuaded, that however the ideas of the pleasant wines, music, or
gardens, which the rich man enjoys, may become lively and agreeable, the
fancy will not confine itself to them, but will carry its view to the
related objects; and in particular, to the person, who possesses them.
And this is the more natural, that the pleasant idea or image produces
here a passion towards the person, by means of his relation to the
object; so that it is unavoidable but he must enter into the original
conception, since he makes the object of the derivative passion: But if
he enters into the original conception, and is considered as enjoying
these agreeable objects, it is sympathy, which is properly the cause of
the affection; and the third principle is more powerful and universal
than the first.

Add to this, that riches and power alone, even though unemployed,
naturally cause esteem and respect: And consequently these passions
arise not from the idea of any beautiful or agreeable objects. It is
true; money implies a kind of representation of such objects, by the
power it affords of obtaining them; and for that reason may still be
esteemed proper to convey those agreeable images, which may give rise
to the passion. But as this prospect is very distant, it is more natural
for us to take a contiguous object, viz, the satisfaction, which this
power affords the person, who is possest of it. And of this we shall be
farther satisfyed, if we consider, that riches represent the goods of
life, only by means of the will; which employs them; and therefore imply
in their very nature an idea of the person, and cannot be considered
without a kind of sympathy with his sensations and enjoyments.

This we may confirm by a reflection, which to some will, perhaps,
appear too subtile and refined. I have already observed, that power,
as distinguished from its exercise, has either no meaning at all, or
is nothing but a possibility or probability of existence; by which any
object approaches to reality, and has a sensible influence on the mind.
I have also observed, that this approach, by an illusion of the fancy,
appears much greater, when we ourselves are possest of the power, than
when it is enjoyed by another; and that in the former case the objects
seem to touch upon the very verge of reality, and convey almost an equal
satisfaction, as if actually in our possession. Now I assert, that where
we esteem a person upon account of his riches, we must enter into this
sentiment of the proprietor, and that without such a sympathy the idea
of the agreeable objects, which they give him the power to produce,
would have but a feeble influence upon us. An avaritious man is
respected for his money, though he scarce is possest of a power; that
is, there scarce is a probability or even possibility of his employing
it in the acquisition of the pleasures and conveniences of life. To
himself alone this power seems perfect and entire; and therefore we must
receive his sentiments by sympathy, before we can have a strong intense
idea of these enjoyments, or esteem him upon account of them.

Thus we have found, that the first principle, viz, the agreeable idea of
those objects, which riches afford the enjoyment of; resolves itself in
a great measure into the third, and becomes a sympathy with the person
we esteem or love. Let us now examine the second principle, viz, the
agreeable expectation of advantage, and see what force we may justly
attribute to it.

It is obvious, that though riches and authority undoubtedly give
their owner a power of doing us service, yet this power is not to be
considered as on the same footing with that, which they afford him, of
pleasing himself, and satisfying his own appetites. Self-love approaches
the power and exercise very near each other in the latter case; but
in order to produce a similar effect in the former, we must suppose a
friendship and good-will to be conjoined with the riches. Without that
circumstance it is difficult to conceive on what we can found our hope
of advantage from the riches of others, though there is nothing more
certain, than that we naturally esteem and respect the rich, even before
we discover in them any such favourable disposition towards us.

But I carry this farther, and observe, not only that we respect the rich
and powerful, where they shew no inclination to serve us, but also when
we lie so much out of the sphere of their activity, that they cannot
even be supposed to be endowed with that power. Prisoners of war are
always treated with a respect suitable to their condition; and it is
certain riches go very far towards fixing the condition of any person.
If birth and quality enter for a share, this still affords us an
argument of the same kind. For what is it we call a man of birth,
but one who is descended from a long succession of rich and powerful
ancestors, and who acquires our esteem by his relation to persons whom
we esteem? His ancestors, therefore, though dead, are respected, in some
measure, on account of their riches, and consequently without any kind
of expectation.

But not to go so far as prisoners of war and the dead to find instances
of this disinterested esteem for riches, let us observe with a
little attention those phaenomena that occur to us in common life and
conversation. A man, who is himself of a competent fortune, upon coming
into a company of strangers, naturally treats them with different
degrees of respect and deference, as he is informed of their different
fortunes and conditions; though it is impossible he can ever propose,
and perhaps would not accept of any advantage from them. A traveller is
always admitted into company, and meets with civility, in proportion as
his train and equipage speak him a man of great or moderate fortune. In
short, the different ranks of men are, in a great measure, regulated
by riches, and that with regard to superiors as well as inferiors,
strangers as well as acquaintance.

There is, indeed, an answer to these arguments, drawn from the influence
of general rules. It may be pretended, that being accustomed to expect
succour and protection from the rich and powerful, and to esteem them
upon that account, we extend the same sentiments to those, who
resemble them in their fortune, but from whom we can never hope for any
advantage. The general rule still prevails, and by giving a bent to the
imagination draws along the passion, in the same manner as if its proper
object were real and existent.

But that this principle does not here take place, will easily appear,
if we consider, that in order to establish a general rule, and extend it
beyond its proper bounds, there is required a certain uniformity in
our experience, and a great superiority of those instances, which are
conformable to the rule, above the contrary. But here the case is quite
otherwise. Of a hundred men of credit and fortune I meet with, there
is not, perhaps, one from whom I can expect advantage; so that it is
impossible any custom can ever prevail in the present case.

Upon the whole, there remains nothing, which can give us an esteem for
power and riches, and a contempt for meanness and poverty, except the
principle of sympathy, by which we enter into the sentiments of the
rich and poor, and partake of their pleasure and uneasiness. Riches give
satisfaction to their possessor; and this satisfaction is conveyed to
the beholder by the imagination, which produces an idea resembling
the original impression in force and vivacity. This agreeable idea or
impression is connected with love, which is an agreeable passion. It
proceeds from a thinking conscious being, which is the very object of
love. From this relation of impressions, and identity of ideas, the
passion arises, according to my hypothesis.

The best method of reconciling us to this opinion is to take a general
survey of the universe, and observe the force of sympathy through the
whole animal creation, and the easy communication of sentiments from one
thinking being to another. In all creatures, that prey not upon others,
and are not agitated with violent passions, there appears a remarkable
desire of company, which associates them together, without any
advantages they can ever propose to reap from their union. This is still
more conspicuous in man, as being the creature of the universe, who
has the most ardent desire of society, and is fitted for it by the most
advantages. We can form no wish, which has not a reference to society.
A perfect solitude is, perhaps, the greatest punishment we can suffer.
Every pleasure languishes when enjoyed a-part from company, and every
pain becomes more cruel and intolerable. Whatever other passions we may
be actuated by; pride, ambition, avarice, curiosity, revenge or lust;
the soul or animating principle of them all is sympathy; nor would
they have any force, were we to abstract entirely from the thoughts and
sentiments of others. Let all the powers and elements of nature conspire
to serve and obey one man: Let the sun rise and set at his command: The
sea and rivers roll as he pleases, and the earth furnish spontaneously
whatever may be useful or agreeable to him: He will still be miserable,
till you give him some one person at least, with whom he may share his
happiness, and whose esteem and friendship he may enjoy.

This conclusion from a general view of human nature, we may confirm by
particular instances, wherein the force of sympathy is very remarkable.
Most kinds of beauty are derived from this origin; and though our first
object be some senseless inanimate piece of matter, it is seldom we rest
there, and carry not our view to its influence on sensible and rational
creatures. A man, who shews us any house or building, takes particular
care among other things to point out the convenience of the apartments,
the advantages of their situation, and the little room lost in the
stairs, antichambers and passages; and indeed it is evident, the chief
part of the beauty consists in these particulars. The observation of
convenience gives pleasure, since convenience is a beauty. But after
what manner does it give pleasure? It is certain our own interest is
not in the least concerned; and as this is a beauty of interest, not of
form, so to speak, it must delight us merely by communication, and by
our sympathizing with the proprietor of the lodging. We enter into his
interest by the force of imagination, and feel the same satisfaction,
that the objects naturally occasion in him.

This observation extends to tables, chairs, scritoires, chimneys,
coaches, sadles, ploughs, and indeed to every work of art; it being an
universal rule, that their beauty is chiefly derived from their utility,
and from their fitness for that purpose, to which they are destined.
But this is an advantage, that concerns only the owner, nor is there any
thing but sympathy, which can interest the spectator.

It is evident, that nothing renders a field more agreeable than its
fertility, and that scarce any advantages of ornament or situation will
be able to equal this beauty. It is the same case with particular trees
and plants, as with the field on which they grow. I know not but a
plain, overgrown with furze and broom, may be, in itself, as beautiful
as a hill covered with vines or olive-trees; though it will never appear
so to one, who is acquainted with the value of each. But this is a
beauty merely of imagination, and has no foundation in what appears to
the senses. Fertility and value have a plain reference to use; and
that to riches, joy, and plenty; in which though we have no hope of
partaking, yet we enter into them by the vivacity of the fancy, and
share them, in some measure, with the proprietor.

There is no rule in painting more reasonable than that of ballancing the
figures, and placing them with the greatest exactness on their proper
centers of gravity. A figure, which is not justly ballanced, is
disagreeable; and that because it conveys the ideas of its fall, of
harm, and of pain: Which ideas are painful, when by sympathy they
acquire any degree of force and vivacity.

Add to this, that the principal part of personal beauty is an air
of health and vigour, and such a construction of members as promises
strength and activity. This idea of beauty cannot be accounted for but
by sympathy.

In general we may remark, that the minds of men are mirrors to one
another, not only because they reflect each others emotions, but also
because those rays of passions, sentiments and opinions may be often
reverberated, and may decay away by insensible degrees. Thus the
pleasure, which a rich man receives from his possessions, being thrown
upon the beholder, causes a pleasure and esteem; which sentiments again,
being perceived and sympathized with, encrease the pleasure of the
possessor; and being once more reflected, become a new foundation for
pleasure and esteem in the beholder. There is certainly an original
satisfaction in riches derived from that power, which they bestow, of
enjoying all the pleasures of life; and as this is their very nature and
essence, it must be the first source of all the passions, which arise
from them. One of the most considerable of these passions is that of
love or esteem in others, which therefore proceeds from a sympathy with
the pleasure of the possessor. But the possessor has also a secondary
satisfaction in riches arising from the love and esteem he acquires by
them, and this satisfaction is nothing but a second reflexion of
that original pleasure, which proceeded from himself. This secondary
satisfaction or vanity becomes one of the principal recommendations
of riches, and is the chief reason, why we either desire them for
ourselves, or esteem them in others. Here then is a third rebound of the
original pleasure; after which it is difficult to distinguish the images
and reflexions, by reason of their faintness and confusion.


Ideas may be compared to the extension and solidity of matter, and
impressions, especially reflective ones, to colours, tastes, smells and
other sensible qualities. Ideas never admit of a total union, but are
endowed with a kind of impenetrability, by which they exclude each
other, and are capable of forming a compound by their conjunction,
not by their mixture. On the other hand, impressions and passions are
susceptible of an entire union; and like colours, may be blended so
perfectly together, that each of them may lose itself, and contribute
only to vary that uniform impression, which arises from the whole. Some
of the most curious phaenomena of the human mind are derived from this
property of the passions.

In examining those ingredients, which are capable of uniting with love
and hatred, I begin to be sensible, in some measure, of a misfortune,
that has attended every system of philosophy, with which the world has
been yet acquainted. It is commonly found, that in accounting for the
operations of nature by any particular hypothesis; among a number
of experiments, that quadrate exactly with the principles we would
endeavour to establish; there is always some phaenomenon, which is more
stubborn, and will not so easily bend to our purpose. We need not be
surprized, that this should happen in natural philosophy. The essence
and composition of external bodies are so obscure, that we must
necessarily, in our reasonings, or rather conjectures concerning
them, involve ourselves in contradictions and absurdities. But as
the perceptions of the mind are perfectly known, and I have used all
imaginable caution in forming conclusions concerning them, I have always
hoped to keep clear of those contradictions, which have attended every
other system. Accordingly the difficulty, which I have at present in
my eye, is nowise contrary to my system; but only departs a little from
that simplicity, which has been hitherto its principal force and beauty.

The passions of love and hatred are always followed by, or rather
conjoined with benevolence and anger. It is this conjunction, which
chiefly distinguishes these affections from pride and humility. For
pride and humility are pure emotions in the soul, unattended with any
desire, and not immediately exciting us to action. But love and hatred
are not compleated within themselves, nor rest in that emotion, which
they produce, but carry the mind to something farther. Love is always
followed by a desire of the happiness of the person beloved, and an
aversion to his misery: As hatred produces a desire of the misery and
an aversion to the happiness of the person hated. So remarkable a
difference betwixt these two sets of passions of pride and humility,
love and hatred, which in so many other particulars correspond to each
other, merits our attention.

The conjunction of this desire and aversion with love and hatred may be
accounted for by two different hypotheses. The first is, that love and
hatred have not only a cause, which excites them, viz, pleasure and
pain; and an object, to which they are directed, viz, a person or
thinking being; but likewise an end, which they endeavour to attain,
viz, the happiness or misery of the person beloved or hated; all which
views, mixing together, make only one passion. According to this system,
love is nothing but the desire of happiness to another person, and
hatred that of misery. The desire and aversion constitute the very
nature of love and hatred. They are not only inseparable but the same.

But this is evidently contrary to experience. For though it is certain
we never love any person without desiring his happiness, nor hate any
without wishing his misery, yet these desires arise only upon the ideas
of the happiness or misery of our friend or enemy being presented by the
imagination, and are not absolutely essential to love and hatred. They
are the most obvious and natural sentiments of these affections, but not
the only ones. The passions may express themselves in a hundred ways,
and may subsist a considerable time, without our reflecting on the
happiness or misery of their objects; which clearly proves, that these
desires are not the same with love and hatred, nor make any essential
part of them.

We may, therefore, infer, that benevolence and anger are passions
different from love and hatred, and only conjoined with them, by the
original constitution of the mind. As nature has given to the body
certain appetites and inclinations, which she encreases, diminishes,
or changes according to the situation of the fluids or solids; she
has proceeded in the same manner with the mind. According as we are
possessed with love or hatred, the correspondent desire of the happiness
or misery of the person, who is the object of these passions, arises
in the mind, and varies with each variation of these opposite passions.
This order of things, abstractedly considered, is not necessary. Love
and hatred might have been unattended with any such desires, or their
particular connexion might have been entirely reversed. If nature had
so pleased, love might have had the same effect as hatred, and hatred as
love. I see no contradiction in supposing a desire of producing misery
annexed to love, and of happiness to hatred. If the sensation of the
passion and desire be opposite, nature coued have altered the sensation
without altering the tendency of the desire, and by that means made them
compatible with each other.


But though the desire of the happiness or misery of others, according to
the love or hatred we bear them, be an arbitrary and original instinct
implanted in our nature, we find it may be counterfeited on many
occasions, and may arise from secondary principles. Pity is a concern
for, and malice a joy in the misery of others, without any friendship or
enmity to occasion this concern or joy. We pity even strangers, and
such as are perfectly indifferent to us: And if our ill-will to another
proceed from any harm or injury, it is not, properly speaking, malice,
but revenge. But if we examine these affections of pity and malice we
shall find them to be secondary ones, arising from original affections,
which are varied by some particular turn of thought and imagination.

It will be easy to explain the passion of pity, from the precedent
reasoning concerning sympathy. We have a lively idea of every thing
related to us. All human creatures are related to us by resemblance.
Their persons, therefore, their interests, their passions, their pains
and pleasures must strike upon us in a lively manner, and produce an
emotion similar to the original one; since a lively idea is easily
converted into an impression. If this be true in general, it must be
more so of affliction and sorrow. These have always a stronger and more
lasting influence than any pleasure or enjoyment.

A spectator of a tragedy passes through a long train of grief, terror,
indignation, and other affections, which the poet represents in the
persons he introduces. As many tragedies end happily, and no excellent
one can be composed without some reverses of fortune, the spectator must
sympathize with all these changes, and receive the fictitious joy as
well as every other passion. Unless, therefore, it be asserted, that
every distinct passion is communicated by a distinct original
quality, and is not derived from the general principle of sympathy
above-explained, it must be allowed, that all of them arise from
that principle. To except any one in particular must appear highly
unreasonable. As they are all first present in the mind of one person,
and afterwards appear in the mind of another; and as the manner of their
appearance, first as an idea, then as an impression, is in every case
the same, the transition must arise from the same principle. I am
at least sure, that this method of reasoning would be considered as
certain, either in natural philosophy or common life.

Add to this, that pity depends, in a great measure, on the contiguity,
and even sight of the object; which is a proof, that it is derived from
the imagination. Not to mention that women and children are most subject
to pity, as being most guided by that faculty. The same infirmity, which
makes them faint at the sight of a naked sword, though in the hands of
their best friend, makes them pity extremely those, whom they find in
any grief or affliction. Those philosophers, who derive this passion
from I know not what subtile reflections on the instability of fortune,
and our being liable to the same miseries we behold, will find this
observation contrary to them among a great many others, which it were
easy to produce.

There remains only to take notice of a pretty remarkable phaenomenon
of this passion; which is, that the communicated passion of sympathy
sometimes acquires strength from the weakness of its original, and even
arises by a transition from affections, which have no existence.
Thus when a person obtains any honourable office, or inherits a great
fortune, we are always the more rejoiced for his prosperity, the
less sense he seems to have of it, and the greater equanimity and
indifference he shews in its enjoyment. In like manner a man, who is
not dejected by misfortunes, is the more lamented on account of his
patience; and if that virtue extends so far as utterly to remove all
sense of uneasiness, it still farther encreases our compassion. When a
person of merit falls into what is vulgarly esteemed a great misfortune,
we form a notion of his condition; and carrying our fancy from the cause
to the usual effect, first conceive a lively idea of his sorrow, and
then feel an impression of it, entirely over-looking that greatness of
mind, which elevates him above such emotions, or only considering it so
far as to encrease our admiration, love and tenderness for him. We find
from experience, that such a degree of passion is usually connected with
such a misfortune; and though there be an exception in the present
case, yet the imagination is affected by the general rule, and makes
us conceive a lively idea of the passion, or rather feel the passion
itself, in the same manner, as if the person were really actuated by it.
From the same principles we blush for the conduct of those, who behave
themselves foolishly before us; and that though they shew no sense of
shame, nor seem in the least conscious of their folly. All this proceeds
from sympathy; but it is of a partial kind, and views its objects only
on one side, without considering the other, which has a contrary effect,
and would entirely destroy that emotion, which arises from the first

We have also instances, wherein an indifference and insensibility under
misfortune encreases our concern for the misfortunate, even though
the indifference proceed not from any virtue and magnanimity. It is an
aggravation of a murder, that it was committed upon persons asleep and
in perfect security; as historians readily observe of any infant prince,
who is captive in the hands of his enemies, that he is the more worthy
of compassion the less sensible he is of his miserable condition. As we
ourselves are here acquainted with the wretched situation of the person,
it gives us a lively idea and sensation of sorrow, which is the passion
that generally attends it; and this idea becomes still more lively,
and the sensation more violent by a contrast with that security and
indifference, which we observe in the person himself. A contrast of any
kind never fails to affect the imagination, especially when presented by
the subject; and it is on the imagination that pity entirely depends.

     [Footnote 11.  To prevent all ambiguity, I must observe,
     that where I oppose the imagination to the memory, I mean in
     general the faculty that presents our fainter ideas. In all
     other places, and particularly when it is opposed to the
     understanding, I understand the same faculty, excluding only
     our demonstrative and probable reasonings.]


We must now proceed to account for the passion of malice, which imitates
the effects of hatred, as pity does those of love; and gives us a joy in
the sufferings and miseries of others, without any offence or injury on
their part.

So little are men governed by reason in their sentiments and opinions,
that they always judge more of objects by comparison than from their
intrinsic worth and value. When the mind considers, or is accustomed
to, any degree of perfection, whatever falls short of it, though really
esteemable, has notwithstanding the same effect upon the passions; as
what is defective and ill. This is an original quality of the soul, and
similar to what we have every day experience of in our bodies. Let a man
heat one band and cool the other; the same water will, at the same time,
seem both hot and cold, according to the disposition of the different
organs. A small degree of any quality, succeeding a greater, produces
the same sensation, as if less than it really is, and even sometimes as
the opposite quality. Any gentle pain, that follows a violent one, seems
as nothing, or rather becomes a pleasure; as on the other hand a violent
pain, succeeding a gentle one, is doubly grievous and uneasy.

This no one can doubt of with regard to our passions and sensations. But
there may arise some difficulty with regard to our ideas and objects.
When an object augments or diminishes to the eye or imagination from a
comparison with others, the image and idea of the object are still the
same, and are equally extended in the retina, and in the brain or organ
of perception. The eyes refract the rays of light, and the optic nerves
convey the images to the brain in the very same manner, whether a great
or small object has preceded; nor does even the imagination alter the
dimensions of its object on account of a comparison with others. The
question then is, how from the same impression and the same idea we can
form such different judgments concerning the same object, and at one
time admire its bulk, and at another despise its littleness. This
variation in our judgments must certainly proceed from a variation
in some perception; but as the variation lies not in the immediate
impression or idea of the object, it must lie in some other impression,
that accompanies it.

In order to explain this matter, I shall just touch upon two principles,
one of which shall be more fully explained in the progress of this
treatise; the other has been already accounted for. I believe it may
safely be established for a general maxim, that no object is presented
to the senses, nor image formed in the fancy, but what is accompanyed
with some emotion or movement of spirits proportioned to it; and however
custom may make us insensible of this sensation and cause us to confound
it with the object or idea, it will be easy, by careful and exact
experiments, to separate and distinguish them. For to instance only in
the cases of extension and number; it is evident, that any very bulky
object, such as the ocean, an extended plain, a vast chain of mountains,
a wide forest: or any very numerous collection of objects, such as an
army, a fleet, a crowd, excite in the mind a sensible emotion; and that
the admiration, which arises on the appearance of such objects, is one
of the most lively pleasures, which human nature is capable of enjoying.
Now as this admiration encreases or diminishes by the encrease or
diminution of the objects, we may conclude, according to our foregoing
[Book I. Part III. Sect. 15.] principles, that it is a compound effect,
proceeding from the conjunction of the several effects, which arise from
each part of the cause. Every part, then, of extension, and every unite
of number has a separate emotion attending it; and though that emotion
be not always agreeable, yet by its conjunction with others, and by its
agitating the spirits to a just pitch, it contributes to the production
of admiration, which is always agreeable. If this be allowed with
respect to extension and number, we can make no difficulty with respect
to virtue and vice, wit and folly, riches and poverty, happiness and
misery, and other objects of that kind, which are always attended with
an evident emotion.

The second principle I shall take notice of is that of our adherence
to general rules; which has such a mighty influence on the actions and
understanding, and is able to impose on the very senses. When an object
is found by-experience to be always accompanyed with another; whenever
the first object appears, though changed in very material circumstances;
we naturally fly to the conception of the second, and form an idea of it
in as lively and strong a manner, as if we had infered its existence by
the justest and most authentic conclusion of our understanding. Nothing
can undeceive us, not even our senses, which, instead of correcting this
false judgment, are often perverted by it, and seem to authorize its

The conclusion I draw from these two principles, joined to the influence
of comparison above-mentioned, is very short and decisive. Every object
is attended with some emotion proportioned to it; a great object with
a great emotion, a small object with a small emotion. A great object,
therefore, succeeding a small one makes a great emotion succeed a small
one. Now a great emotion succeeding a small one becomes still greater,
and rises beyond its ordinary proportion. But as there is a certain
degree of an emotion, which commonly attends every magnitude of an
object; when the emotion encreases, we naturally imagine that the object
has likewise encreased. The effect conveys our view to its usual cause,
a certain degree of emotion to a certain magnitude of the object; nor
do we consider, that comparison may change the emotion without changing
anything in the object. Those who are acquainted with the metaphysical
part of optics and know how we transfer the judgments and conclusions
of the understanding to the senses, will easily conceive this whole

But leaving this new discovery of an impression, that secretly attends
every idea; we must at least allow of that principle, from whence the
discovery arose, that objects appear greater or less by a comparison
with others. We have so many instances of this, that it is impossible
we can dispute its veracity; and it is from this principle I derive the
passions of malice and envy.

It is evident we must receive a greater or less satisfaction or
uneasiness from reflecting on our own condition and circumstances,
in proportion as they appear more or less fortunate or unhappy,
in proportion to the degrees of riches, and power, and merit, and
reputation, which we think ourselves possest of. Now as we seldom judge
of objects from their intrinsic value, but form our notions of them
from a comparison with other objects; it follows, that according as we
observe a greater or less share of happiness or misery in others,
we must make an estimate of our own, and feel a consequent pain or
pleasure. The misery of another gives us a more lively idea of our
happiness, and his happiness of our misery. The former, therefore,
produces delight; and the latter uneasiness.

Here then is a kind of pity reverst, or contrary sensations arising
in the beholder, from those which are felt by the person, whom he
considers. In general we may observe, that in all kinds of comparison an
object makes us always receive from another, to which it is compared,
a sensation contrary to what arises from itself in its direct and
immediate survey. A small object makes a great one appear still greater.
A great object makes a little one appear less. Deformity of itself
produces uneasiness; but makes us receive new pleasure by its contrast
with a beautiful object, whose beauty is augmented by it; as on the
other hand, beauty, which of itself produces pleasure, makes us receive
a new pain by the contrast with any thing ugly, whose deformity it
augments. The case, therefore, must be the same with happiness and
misery. The direct survey of another's pleasure naturally gives us
plcasure, and therefore produces pain when cornpared with our own. His
pain, considered in itself, is painful to us, but augments the idea of
our own happiness, and gives us pleasure.

Nor will it appear strange, that we may feel a reverst sensation from
the happiness and misery of others; since we find the same comparison
may give us a kind of malice against ourselves, and make us rejoice for
our pains, and grieve for our pleasures. Thus the prospect of past pain
is agreeable, when we are satisfyed with our present condition; as on
the other hand our past pleasures give us uneasiness, when we enjoy
nothing at present equal to them. The comparison being the same, as when
we reflect on the sentiments of others, must be attended with the same

Nay a person may extend this malice against himself, even to his present
fortune, and carry it so far as designedly to seek affliction, and
encrease his pains and sorrows. This may happen upon two occasions.
First, Upon the distress and misfortune of a friend, or person dear to
him. Secondly, Upon the feeling any remorses for a crime, of which he
has been guilty. It is from the principle of comparison that both these
irregular appetites for evil arise. A person, who indulges himself
in any pleasure, while his friend lies under affliction, feels the
reflected uneasiness from his friend more sensibly by a comparison with
the original pleasure, which he himself enjoys. This contrast, indeed,
ought also to inliven the present pleasure. But as grief is here
supposed to be the predominant passion, every addition falls to that
side, and is swallowed up in it, without operating in the least upon the
contrary affection. It is the same case with those penances, which men
inflict on themselves for their past sins and failings. When a criminal
reflects on the punishment he deserves, the idea of it is magnifyed by a
comparison with his present ease and satisfaction; which forces him,
in a manner, to seek uneasiness, in order to avoid so disagreeable a

This reasoning will account for the origin of envy as well as of malice.
The only difference betwixt these passions lies in this, that envy
is excited by some present enjoyment of another, which by comparison
diminishes our idea of our own: Whereas malice is the unprovoked desire
of producing evil to another, in order to reap a pleasure from the
comparison. The enjoyment, which is the object of envy, is commonly
superior to our own. A superiority naturally seems to overshade us,
and presents a disagreeable comparison. But even in the case of an
inferiority, we still desire a greater distance, in order to augment,
still more the idea of ourself. When this distance diminishes, the
comparison is less to our advantage; and consequently gives us less
pleasure, and is even disagreeable. Hence arises that species of envy,
which men feel, when they perceive their inferiors approaching or
overtaking them in the pursuits of glory or happiness. In this envy we
may see the effects of comparison twice repeated. A man, who compares
himself to his inferior, receives a pleasure from the comparison: And
when the inferiority decreases by the elevation of the inferior, what
should only have been a decrease of pleasure, becomes a real pain, by a
new comparison with its preceding condition.

It is worthy of observation concerning that envy, which arises from a
superiority in others, that it is not the great disproportion betwixt
ourself and another, which produces it; but on the contrary, our
proximity. A common soldier bears no such envy to his general as to
his sergeant or corporal; nor does an eminent writer meet with so great
jealousy in common hackney scriblers, as in authors, that more
nearly approach him. It may, indeed, be thought, that the greater
the disproportion is, the greater must be the uneasiness from the
comparison. But we may consider on the other hand, that the great
disproportion cuts off the relation, and either keeps us from comparing
ourselves with what is remote from us, or diminishes the effects of
the comparison. Resemblance and proximity always produce a relation of
ideas; and where you destroy these ties, however other accidents may
bring two ideas together; as they have no bond or connecting quality
to join them in the imagination; it is impossible they can remain long
united, or have any considerable influence on each other.

I have observed in considering the nature of ambition, that the great
feel a double pleasure in authority from the comparison of their own
condition with that of their slaves; and that this comparison has a
double influence, because it is natural, and presented by the subject.
When the fancy, in the comparison of objects, passes not easily from the
one object to the other, the action of the mind is, in a great measure,
broke, and the fancy, in considering the second object, begins, as it
were, upon a new footing. The impression, which attends every object,
seems not greater in that case by succeeding a less of the same kind;
but these two impressions are distinct, and produce their distinct
effects, without any communication together. The want of relation in the
ideas breaks the relation of the impressions, and by such a separation
prevents their mutual operation and influence.

To confirm this we may observe, that the proximity in the degree of
merit is not alone sufficient to give rise to envy, but must be assisted
by other relations. A poet is not apt to envy a philosopher, or a poet
of a different kind, of a different nation, or of a different age. All
these differences prevent or weaken the comparison, and consequently the

This too is the reason, why all objects appear great or little, merely
by a comparison with those of the same species. A mountain neither
magnifies nor diminishes a horse in our eyes; but when a Flemish and
a Welsh horse are seen together, the one appears greater and the other
less, than when viewed apart.

From the same principle we may account for that remark of historians,
that any party in a civil war always choose to call in a foreign enemy
at any hazard rather than submit to their fellow-citizens. Guicciardin
applies this remark to the wars in Italy, where the relations betwixt
the different states are, properly speaking, nothing but of name,
language, and contiguity. Yet even these relations, when joined with
superiority, by making the comparison more natural, make it likewise
more grievous, and cause men to search for some other superiority, which
may be attended with no relation, and by that means may have a less
sensible influence on the imagination. The mind quickly perceives its
several advantages and disadvantages; and finding its situation to be
most uneasy, where superiority is conjoined with other relations, seeks
its repose as much as possible, by their separation, and by breaking
that association of ideas, which renders the comparison so much more
natural and efficacious. When it cannot break the association, it feels
a stronger desire to remove the superiority; and this is the reason why
travellers are commonly so lavish of their praises to the Chinese and
Persians, at the same time, that they depreciate those neighbouring
nations, which may stand upon a foot of rivalship with their native

These examples from history and common experience are rich and curious;
but we may find parallel ones in the arts, which are no less remarkable.
should an author compose a treatise, of which one part was serious and
profound, another light and humorous, every one would condemn so strange
a mixture, and would accuse him of the neglect of all rules of art and
criticism. These rules of art are founded on the qualities of human
nature; and the quality of human nature, which requires a consistency in
every performance is that which renders the mind incapable of passing
in a moment from one passion and disposition to a quite different
one. Yet this makes us not blame Mr Prior for joining his Alma and his
Solomon in the same volume; though that admirable poet has succeeded
perfectly well in the gaiety of the one, as well as in the melancholy
of the other. Even supposing the reader should peruse these two
compositions without any interval, he would feel little or no difficulty
in the change of passions: Why, but because he considers these
performances as entirely different, and by this break in the ideas,
breaks the progress of the affections, and hinders the one from
influencing or contradicting the other?

An heroic and burlesque design, united in one picture, would be
monstrous; though we place two pictures of so opposite a character in
the same chamber, and even close by each other, without any scruple or

In a word, no ideas can affect each other, either by comparison, or by
the passions they separately produce, unless they be united together
by some relation, which may cause an easy transition of the ideas, and
consequently of the emotions or impressions, attending the ideas; and
may preserve the one impression in the passage of the imagination to the
object of the other. This principle is very remarkable, because it is
analogous to what we have observed both concerning the understanding and
the passions. Suppose two objects to be presented to me, which are not
connected by any kind of relation. Suppose that each of these objects
separately produces a passion; and that these two passions are in
themselves contrary: We find from experience, that the want of relation
in the objects or ideas hinders the natural contrariety of the passions,
and that the break in the transition of the thought removes the
affections from each other, and prevents their opposition. It is the
same case with comparison; and from both these phaenomena we may safely
conclude, that the relation of ideas must forward the transition of
impressions; since its absence alone is able to prevent it, and to
separate what naturally should have operated upon each other. When the
absence of an object or quality re moves any usual or natural effect, we
may certalnly conclude that its presence contributes to the production
of the effect.


Thus we have endeavoured to account for pity and malice. Both these
affections arise from the imagination, according to the light, in which
it places its object. When our fancy considers directly the sentiments
of others, and enters deep into them, it makes us sensible of all the
passions it surveys, but in a particular manner of grief or sorrow. On
the contrary, when we compare the sentiments of others to our own, we
feel a sensation directly opposite to the original one, viz. a joy from
the grief of others, and a grief from their joy. But these are only the
first foundations of the affections of pity and malice. Other passions
are afterwards confounded with them. There is always a mixture of love
or tenderness with pity, and of hatred or anger with malice. But it must
be confessed, that this mixture seems at first sight to be contradictory
to my system. For as pity is an uneasiness, and malice a joy, arising
from the misery of others, pity should naturally, as in all other cases,
produce hatred; and malice, love. This contradiction I endeavour to
reconcile, after the following manner.

In order to cause a transition of passions, there is required a double
relation of impressions and ideas, nor is one relation sufficient to
produce this effect. But that we may understand the full force of this
double relation, we must consider, that it is not the present sensation
alone or momentary pain or pleasure, which determines the character of
any passion, but the whole bent or tendency of it from the beginning to
the end. One impression may be related to another, not only when
their sensations are resembling, as we have all along supposed in the
preceding cases; but also when their im pulses or directions are similar
and correspondent. This cannot take place with regard to pride and
humility; because these are only pure sensations, without any direction
or tendency to action. We are, therefore, to look for instances of
this peculiar relation of impressions only in such affections, as are
attended with a certain appetite or desire; such as those of love and

Benevolence or the appetite, which attends love, is a desire of the
happiness of the person beloved, and an aversion to his misery; as anger
or the appetite, which attends hatred, is a desire of the misery of the
person hated, and an aversion to his happiness. A desire, therefore,
of the happiness of another, and aversion to his misery, are similar to
benevolence; and a desire of his misery and aversion to his happiness
are correspondent to anger. Now pity is a desire of happiness to
another, and aversion to his misery; as malice is the contrary appetite.
Pity, then, is related to benevolence; and malice to anger: And as
benevolence has been already found to be connected with love, by a
natural and original quality, and anger with hatred; it is by this chain
the passions of pity and malice are connected with love and hatred.

This hypothesis is founded on sufficient experience. A man, who from any
motives has entertained a resolution of performing an action, naturally
runs into every other view or motive, which may fortify that resolution,
and give it authority and influence on the mind. To confirm us in any
design, we search for motives drawn from interest, from honour, from
duty. What wonder, then, that pity and benevolence, malice, and anger,
being the same desires arising from different principles, should so
totally mix together as to be undistinguishable? As to the connexion
betwixt benevolence and love, anger and hatred, being original and
primary, it admits of no difficulty.

We may add to this another experiment, viz, that benevolence and anger,
and consequently love and hatred, arise when our happiness or misery
have any dependance on the happiness or misery of another person,
without any farther relation. I doubt not but this experiment will
appear so singular as to excuse us for stopping a moment to consider it.

Suppose, that two persons of the same trade should seek employment in a
town, that is not able to maintain both, it is plain the success of one
is perfectly incompatible with that of the other, and that whatever is
for the interest of either is contrary to that of his rival, and so vice
versa. Suppose again, that two merchants, though living in different
parts of the world, should enter into co-partnership together, the
advantage or loss of one becomes immediately the advantage or loss of
his partner, and the same fortune necessarily attends both. Now it
is evident, that in the first case, hatred always follows upon the
contrariety of interests; as in the second, love arises from their
union. Let us consider to what principle we can ascribe these passions.

It is plain they arise not from the double relations of impressions and
ideas, if we regard only the present sensation. For takeing the first
case of rivalship; though the pleasure and advantage of an antagonist
necessarily causes my pain and loss, yet to counter-ballance this, his
pain and loss causes my pleasure and advantage; and supposing him to be
unsuccessful, I may by this means receive from him a superior degree of
satisfaction. In the same manner the success of a partner rejoices me,
but then his misfortunes afflict me in an equal proportion; and it
is easy to imagine, that the latter sentiment may in many cases
preponderate. But whether the fortune of a rival or partner be good or
bad, I always hate the former and love the latter.

This love of a partner cannot proceed from the relation or connexion
betwixt us; in the same manner as I love a brother or countryman. A
rival has almost as close a relation to me as a partner. For as the
pleasure of the latter causes my pleasure, and his pain my pain; so the
pleasure of the former causes my pain, and his pain my pleasure. The
connexion, then, of cause and effect is the same in both cases; and
if in the one case, the cause and effect have a farther relation of
resemblance, they have that of contrariety in the other; which, being
also a species of resemblance, leaves the matter pretty equal.

The only explication, then, we can give of this phaenomenon is derived
from that principle of a parallel direction above-mentioned. Our concern
for our own interest gives us a pleasure in the pleasure, and a pain in
the pain of a partner, after the same manner as by sympathy we feel a
sensation correspondent to those, which appear in any person, who is
present with us. On the other hand, the same concern for our interest
makes us feel a pain in the pleasure, and a pleasure in the pain of a
rival; and in short the same contrariety of sentiments as arises from
comparison and malice. Since, therefore, a parallel direction of the
affections, proceeding from interest, can give rise to benevolence or
anger, no wonder the same parallel direction, derived from sympathy and
from comparison, should have the same effect.

In general we may observe, that it is impossible to do good to others,
from whatever motive, without feeling some touches of kindness and
good-will towards them; as the injuries we do, not only cause hatred in
the person, who suffers them, but even in ourselves. These phaenomena,
indeed, may in part be accounted for from other principles.

But here there occurs a considerable objection, which it will be
necessary to examine before we proceed any farther. I have endeavoured
to prove, that power and riches, or poverty and meanness; which give
rise to love or hatred, without producing any original pleasure or
uneasiness; operate upon us by means of a secondary sensation derived
from a sympathy with that pain or satisfaction, which they produce in
the person, who possesses them. From a sympathy with his pleasure there
arises love; from that with his uneasiness, hatred. But it is a maxim,
which I have just now established, and which is absolutely necessary to
the explication of the phaenomena of pity and malice, that it is not the
present sensation or momentary pain or pleasure, which determines the
character of any passion, but the general bent or tendency of it from
the beginning to the end. For this reason, pity or a sympathy with
pain produces love, and that because it interests us in the fortunes of
others, good or bad, and gives us a secondary sensation correspondent
to the primary; in which it has the same influence with love and
benevolence. Since then this rule holds good in one case, why does it
not prevail throughout, and why does sympathy in uneasiness ever produce
any passion beside good-will and kindness? Is it becoming a philosopher
to alter his method of reasoning, and run from one principle to its
contrary, according to the particular phaenomenon, which he would

I have mentioned two different causes, from which a transition of
passion may arise, viz, a double relation of ideas and impressions, and
what is similar to it, a conformity in the tendency and direction of any
two desires, which arise from different principles. Now I assert, that
when a sympathy with uneasiness is weak, it produces hatred or contempt
by the former cause; when strong, it produces love or tenderness by the
latter. This is the solution of the foregoing difficulty, which seems so
urgent; and this is a principle founded on such evident arguments, that
we ought to have established it, even though it were not necessary to
the explication of any phaenomenon.

It is certain, that sympathy is not always limited to the present
moment, but that we often feel by communication the pains and pleasures
of others, which are not in being, and which we only anticipate by the
force of imagination. For supposing I saw a person perfectly unknown to
me, who, while asleep in the fields, was in danger of being trod under
foot by horses, I should immediately run to his assistance; and in this
I should be actuated by the same principle of sympathy, which makes me
concerned for the present sorrows of a stranger. The bare mention of
this is sufficient. Sympathy being nothing but a lively idea converted
into an impression, it is evident, that, in considering the future
possible or probable condition of any person, we may enter into it with
so vivid a conception as to make it our own concern; and by that means
be sensible of pains and pleasures, which neither belong to ourselves,
nor at the present instant have any real existence.

But however we may look forward to the future in sympathizing with any
person, the extending of our sympathy depends in a great measure upon
our sense of his present condition. It is a great effort of imagination,
to form such lively ideas even of the present sentiments of others as
to feel these very sentiments; but it is impossible we coued extend this
sympathy to the future, without being aided by some circumstance in
the present, which strikes upon us in a lively manner. When the present
misery of another has any strong influence upon me, the vivacity of the
conception is not confined merely to its immediate object, but diffuses
its influence over all the related ideas, and gives me a lively notion
of all the circumstances of that person, whether past, present, or
future; possible, probable or certain. By means of this lively notion
I am interested in them; take part with them; and feel a sympathetic
motion in my breast, conformable to whatever I imagine in his. If I
diminish the vivacity of the first conception, I diminish that of the
related ideas; as pipes can convey no more water than what arises at
the fountain. By this diminution I destroy the future prospect, which is
necessary to interest me perfectly in the fortune of another. I may
feel the present impression, but carry my sympathy no farther, and never
transfuse the force of the first conception into my ideas of the related
objects. If it be another's misery, which is presented in this feeble
manner, I receive it by communication, and am affected with all the
passions related to it: But as I am not so much interested as to
concern myself in his good fortune, as well as his bad, I never feel the
extensive sympathy, nor the passions related to it.

Now in order to know what passions are related to these different kinds
of sympathy, we must consider, that benevolence is an original pleasure
arising from the pleasure of the person beloved, and a pain proceeding
from his pain: From which correspondence of impressions there arises a
subsequent desire of his pleasure, and aversion to his pain. In order,
then, to make a passion run parallel with benevolence, it is requisite
we should feel these double impressions, correspondent to those of the
person, whom we consider; nor is any one of them alone sufficient for
that purpose. When we sympathize only with one impression, and that
a painful one, this sympathy is related to anger and to hatred, upon
account of the uneasiness it conveys to us. But as the extensive or
limited sympathy depends upon the force of the first sympathy; it
follows, that the passion of love or hatred depends upon the same
principle. A strong impression, when communicated, gives a double
tendency of the passions; which is related to benevolence and love by a
similarity of direction; however painful the first impression might have
been. A weak impression, that is painful, is related to anger and hatred
by the resemblance of sensations. Benevolence, therefore, arises from a
great degree of misery, or any degree strongly sympathized with: Hatred
or contempt from a small degree, or one weakly sympathized with; which
is the principle I intended to prove and explain.

Nor have we only our reason to trust to for this principle, but also
experience. A certain degree of poverty produces contempt; but a degree
beyond causes compassion and good-will. We may under-value a peasant
or servant; but when the misery of a beggar appears very great, or
is painted in very lively colours, we sympathize with him in his
afflictions; and feel in our heart evident touches of pity and
benevolence. The same object causes contrary passions according to its
different degrees. The passions, therefore, must depend upon principles,
that operate in such certain degrees, according to my hypothesis. The
encrease of the sympathy has evidently the same effect as the encrease
of the misery.

A barren or desolate country always seems ugly and disagreeable, and
commonly inspires us with contempt for the inhabitants. This deformity,
however, proceeds in a great measure from a sympathy with the
inhabitants, as has been already observed; but it is only a weak
one, and reaches no farther than the immediate sensation, which is
disagreeable. The view of a city in ashes conveys benevolent sentiments;
because we there enter so deep into the interests of the miserable
inhabitants, as to wish for their prosperity, as well as feel their

But though the force of the impression generally produces pity and
benevolence, it is certain, that by being carryed too far it ceases
to have that effect. This, perhaps, may be worth our notice. When the
uneasiness is either small in itself, or remote from us, it engages not
the imagination, nor is able to convey an equal concern for the future
and contingent good, as for the present and real evil Upon its acquiring
greater force, we become so interested in the concerns of the person, as
to be sensible both of his good and had fortune; and from that compleat
sympathy there arises pity and benevolence. But it will easily be
imagined, that where the present evil strikes with more than ordinary
force, it may entirely engage our attention, and prevent that double
sympathy, above-mentioned. Thus we find, that though every one, but
especially women, are apt to contract a kindness for criminals, who go
to the scaffold, and readily imagine them to be uncommonly handsome and
wellshaped; yet one, who is present at the cruel execution of the rack,
feels no such tender emotions; but is in a manner overcome with horror,
and has no leisure to temper this uneasy sensation by any opposite

But the instance, which makes the most clearly for my hypothesis, is
that wherein by a change of the objects we separate the double sympathy
even from a midling degree of the passion; in which case we find, that
pity, instead of producing love and tenderness as usual, always gives
rise to the contrary affection. When we observe a person in misfortunes,
we are affected with pity and love; but the author of that misfortune
becomes the object of our strongest hatred, and is the more detested in
proportion to the degree of our compassion. Now for what reason should
the same passion of pity produce love to the person, who suffers the
misfortune, and hatred to the person, who causes it; unless it be
because in the latter case the author bears a relation only to the
misfortune; whereas in considering the sufferer we carry our view on
every side, and wish for his prosperity, as well as are sensible of his

I. shall just observe, before I leave the present subject, that this
phaenomenon of the double sympathy, and its tendency to cause love, may
contribute to the production of the kindness, which we naturally bear
our relations and acquaintance. Custom and relation make us enter deeply
into the sentiments of others; and whatever fortune we suppose to attend
them, is rendered present to us by the imagination, and operates as if
originally our own. We rejoice in their pleasures, and grieve for their
sorrows, merely from the force of sympathy. Nothing that concerns them
is indifferent to us; and as this correspondence of sentiments is the
natural attendant of love, it readily produces that affection.


There now remains only to explain the passion of respect and contempt,
along with the amorous affection, in order to understand all the
passions which have any mixture of love or hatred. Let us begin with
respect and contempt.

In considering the qualities and circumstances of others, we may either
regard them as they really are in themselves; or may make a comparison
betwixt them and our own qualities and circumstances; or may join these
two methods of consideration. The good qualities of others, from the
first point of view, produce love; from the second, humility; and from
the third, respect; which is a mixture of these two passions. Their
bad qualities, after the same manner, cause either hatred, or pride, or
contempt, according to the light in which we survey them.

That there is a mixture of pride in contempt, and of humility
in respect, is, I think, too evident, from their very feeling or
appearance, to require any particular proof. That this mixture arises
from a tacit comparison of the person contemned or respected with
ourselves is no less evident. The same man may cause either respect,
love, or contempt by his condition and talents, according as the person,
who considers him, from his inferior becomes his equal or superior. In
changing the point of view, though the object may remain the same,
its proportion to ourselves entirely alters; which is the cause of an
alteration in the passions. These passions, therefore, arise from our
observing the proportion; that is, from a comparison.

I have already observed, that the mind has a much stronger propensity
to pride than to humility, and have endeavoured, from the principles
of human nature, to assign a cause for this phaenomenon. Whether my
reasoning be received or not, the phaenomenon is undisputed, and appears
in many instances. Among the rest, it is the reason why there is a much
greater mixture of pride in contempt, than of humility in respect, and
why we are more elevated with the view of one below us, than mortifyed
with the presence of one above us. Contempt or scorn has so strong a
tincture of pride, that there scarce is any other passion discernable:
Whereas in esteem or respect, love makes a more considerable ingredient
than humility. The passion of vanity is so prompt, that it rouzes at the
least call; while humility requires a stronger impulse to make it exert

But here it may reasonably be asked, why this mixture takes place only
in some cases, and appears not on every occasion. All those objects,
which cause love, when placed on another person, are the causes of
pride, when transfered to ourselves; and consequently ought to be causes
of humility, as well as love, while they belong to others, and are only
compared to those, which we ourselves possess. In like manner every
quality, which, by being directly considered, produces hatred, ought
always to give rise to pride by comparison, and by a mixture of these
passions of hatred and pride ought to excite contempt or scorn. The
difficulty then is, why any objects ever cause pure love or hatred, and
produce not always the mixt passions of respect and contempt.

I have supposed all along, that the passions of love and pride, and
those of humility and hatred are similar in their sensations, and that
the two former are always agreeable, and the two latter painful.
But though this be universally true, it is observable, that the two
agreeable, as well as the two painful passions, have some difference,
and even contrarieties, which distinguish them. Nothing invigorates and
exalts the mind equally with pride and vanity; though at the same time
love or tenderness is rather found to weaken and infeeble it. The same
difference is observable betwixt the uneasy passions. Anger and hatred
bestow a new force on all our thoughts and actions; while humility and
shame deject and discourage us. Of these qualities of the passions, it
will be necessary to form a distinct idea. Let us remember, that pride
and hatred invigorate the soul; and love and humility infeeble it.

From this it follows, that though the conformity betwixt love and hatred
in the agreeableness of their sensation makes them always be excited by
the same objects, yet this other contrariety is the reason, why they are
excited in very different degrees. Genius and learning are pleasant
and magnificent objects, and by both these circumstances are adapted to
pride and vanity; but have a relation to love by their pleasure only.
Ignorance and simplicity are disagreeable and mean, which in the same
manner gives them a double connexion with humility, and a single one
with hatred. We may, therefore, consider it as certain, that though
the same object always produces love and pride, humility and hatred,
according to its different situations, yet it seldom produces either the
two former or the two latter passions, in the same proportion.

It is here we must seek for a solution of the difficulty
above-mentioned, why any object ever excites pure love or hatred, and
does not always produce respect or contempt, by a mixture of humility
or pride. No quality in another gives rise to humility by comparison,
unless it would have produced pride by being placed in ourselves; and
vice versa no object excites pride by comparison, unless it would have
produced humility by the direct survey. This is evident, objects always
produce by comparison a sensation directly contrary to their original
one. Suppose, therefore, an object to be presented, which is peculiarly
fitted to produce love, but imperfectly to excite pride; this object,
belonging to another, gives rise directly to a great degree of love, but
to a small one of humility by comparison; and consequently that latter
passion is scarce felt in the compound, nor is able to convert the love
into respect. This is the case with good nature, good humour, facility,
generosity, beauty, and many other qualities. These have a peculiar
aptitude to produce love in others; but not so great a tendency to
excite pride in ourselves: For which reason the view of them, as
belonging to another person, produces pure love, with but a small
mixture of humility and respect. It is easy to extend the same reasoning
to the opposite passions.

Before we leave this subject, it may not be amiss to account for a
pretty curious phaenomenon, viz, why we commonly keep at a distance such
as we contemn, and allow not our inferiors to approach too near even
in place and situation. It has already been observed, that almost every
kind of idea is attended with some emotion, even the ideas of number
and extension, much more those of such objects as are esteemed of
consequence in life, and fix our attention. It is not with entire
indifference we can survey either a rich man or a poor one, but must
feel some faint touches at least, of respect in the former case, and of
contempt in the latter. These two passions are contrary to each other;
but in order to make this contrariety be felt, the objects must be
someway related; otherwise the affections are totally separate and
distinct, and never encounter. The relation takes place wherever the
persons become contiguous; which is a general reason why we are uneasy
at seeing such disproportioned objects, as a rich man and a poor one, a
nobleman and a porter, in that situation.

This uneasiness, which is common to every spectator, must be more
sensible to the superior; and that because the near approach of the
inferior is regarded as a piece of ill-breeding, and shews that he is not
sensible of the disproportion, and is no way affected by it. A sense
of superiority in another breeds in all men an inclination to keep
themselves at a distance from him, and determines them to redouble the
marks of respect and reverence, when they are obliged to approach him;
and where they do not observe that conduct, it is a proof they are not
sensible of his superiority. From hence too it proceeds, that any great
difference in the degrees of any quality is called a distance by a
common metaphor, which, however trivial it may appear, is founded on
natural principles of the imagination. A great difference inclines us to
produce a distance. The ideas of distance and difference are, therefore,
connected together. Connected ideas are readily taken for each other;
and this is in general the source of the metaphor, as we shall have
occasion to observe afterwards.


Of all the compound passions, which proceed from a mixture of love and
hatred with other affections, no one better deserves our attention, than
that love, which arises betwixt the sexes, as well on account of its
force and violence, as those curious principles of philosophy, for
which it affords us an uncontestable argument. It is plain, that this
affection, in its most natural state, is derived from the conjunction
of three different impressions or passions, viz. The pleasing sensation
arising from beauty; the bodily appetite for generation; and a generous
kindness or good-will. The origin of kindness from beauty may be
explained from the foregoing reasoning. The question is how the bodily
appetite is excited by it.

The appetite of generation, when confined to a certain degree, is
evidently of the pleasant kind, and has a strong connexion with, all the
agreeable emotions. Joy, mirth, vanity, and kindness are all incentives
to this desire; as well as music, dancing, wine, and good cheer. On the
other hand, sorrow, melancholy, poverty, humility are destructive of it.
From this quality it is easily conceived why it should be connected with
the sense of beauty.

But there is another principle that contributes to the same effect.
I have observed that the parallel direction of the desires is a real
relation, and no less than a resemblance in their sensation, produces
a connexion among them. That we may fully comprehend the extent of this
relation, we must consider, that any principal desire may be attended
with subordinate ones, which are connected with it, and to which if
other desires are parallel, they are by that means related to the
principal one. Thus hunger may oft be considered as the primary
inclination of the soul, and the desire of approaching the meat as the
secondary one; since it is absolutely necessary to the satisfying that
appetite. If an object, therefore, by any separate qualities, inclines
us to approach the meat, it naturally encreases our appetite; as on the
contrary, whatever inclines us to set our victuals at a distance, is
contradictory to hunger, and diminishes our inclination to them. Now
it is plain that beauty has the first effect, and deformity the second:
Which is the reason why the former gives us a keener appetite for our
victuals, and the latter is sufficient to disgust us at the most savoury
dish that cookery has invented. All this is easily applicable to the
appetite for generation.

From these two relations, viz, resemblance and a parallel desire,
there arises such a connexion betwixt the sense of beauty, the bodily
appetite, and benevolence, that they become in a manner inseparable: And
we find from experience that it is indifferent which of them advances
first; since any of them is almost sure to be attended with the related
affections. One, who is inflamed with lust, feels at least a momentary
kindness towards the object of it, and at the same time fancies her more
beautiful than ordinary; as there are many, who begin with kindness and
esteem for the wit and merit of the person, and advance from that to the
other passions. But the most common species of love is that which first
arises from beauty, and afterwards diffuses itself into kindness and
into the bodily appetite. Kindness or esteem, and the appetite to
generation, are too remote to unite easily together. The one is,
perhaps, the most refined passion of the soul; the other the most gross
and vulgar. The love of beauty is placed in a just medium betwixt them,
and partakes of both their natures: From whence it proceeds, that it is
so singularly fitted to produce both.

This account of love is not peculiar to my system, but is unavoidable
on any hypothesis. The three affections, which compose this passion,
are evidently distinct, and has each of them its distinct object. It is
certain, therefore, that it is only by their relation they produce
each other. But the relation of passions is not alone sufficient. It is
likewise necessary, there should be a relation of ideas. The beauty
of one person never inspires us with love for another. This then is a
sensible proof of the double relation of impressions and ideas. From one
instance so evident as this we may form a judgment of the rest.

This may also serve in another view to illustrate what I have insisted
on concerning the origin of pride and humility, love and hatred. I have
observed, that though self be the object of the first set of passions,
and some other person of the second, yet these objects cannot alone be
the causes of the passions; as having each of them a relation to two
contrary affections, which must from the very first moment destroy
each other. Here then is the situation of the mind, as I have already
described it. It has certain organs naturally fitted to produce a
passion; that passion, when produced, naturally turns the view to a
certain object. But this not being sufficient to produce the passion,
there is required some other emotion, which by a double relation of
impressions and ideas may set these principles in action, and bestow on
them their first impulse. This situation is still more remarkable with
regard to the appetite of generation. Sex is not only the object, but
also the cause of the appetite. We not only turn our view to it, when
actuated by that appetite; but the reflecting on it suffices to excite
the appetite. But as this cause loses its force by too great frequency,
it is necessary it should be quickened by some new impulse; and that
impulse we find to arise from the beauty of the person; that is, from a
double relation of impressions and ideas. Since this double relation is
necessary where an affection has both a distinct cause, and object,
how much more so, where it has only a distinct object, without any
determinate cause?


But to pass from the passions of love and hatred, and from their
mixtures and compositions, as they appear m man, to the same affections,
as they display themselves in brutes; we may observe, not only that love
and hatred are common to the whole sensitive creation, but likewise that
their causes, as above-explained, are of so simple a nature, that they
may easily be supposed to operate on mere animals. There is no force of
reflection or penetration required. Every thing is conducted by springs
and principles, which are not peculiar to man, or any one species of
animals. The conclusion from this is obvious in favour of the foregoing

Love in animals, has not for its only object animals of the same
species, but extends itself farther, and comprehends almost every
sensible and thinking being. A dog naturally loves a man above his own
species, and very commonly meets with a return of affection.

As animals are but little susceptible either of the pleasures or pains
of the imagination, they can judge of objects only by the sensible
good or evil, which they produce, and from that must regulate their
affections towards them. Accordingly we find, that by benefits or
injuries we produce their love or hatred; and that by feeding and
cherishing any animal, we quickly acquire his affections; as by beating
and abusing him we never fail to draw on us his enmity and ill-will.

Love in beasts is not caused so much by relation, as in our species;
and that because their thoughts are not so active as to trace relations,
except in very obvious instances. Yet it is easy to remark, that on some
occasions it has a considerable influence upon them. Thus acquaintance,
which has the same effect as relation, always produces love in animals
either to men or to each other. For the same reason any likeness among
them is the source of affection. An ox confined to a park with horses,
will naturally join their company, if I may so speak, but always leaves
it to enjoy that of his own species, where he has the choice of both.

The affection of parents to their young proceeds from a peculiar
instinct in animals, as well as in our species.

It is evident, that sympathy, or the communication of passions, takes
place among animals, no less than among men. Fear, anger, courage, and
other affections are frequently communicated from one animal to another,
without their knowledge of that cause, which produced the original
passion. Grief likewise is received by sympathy; and produces almost all
the same consequences, and excites the same emotions as in our species.
The howlings and lamentations of a dog produce a sensible concern in
his fellows. And it is remarkable, that though almost all animals use in
play the same member, and nearly the same action as in fighting; a lion,
a tyger, a cat their paws; an ox his horns; a dog his teeth; a horse
his heels: Yet they most carefully avoid harming their companion,
even though they have nothing to fear from his resentment; which is
an evident proof of the sense brutes have of each other's pain and

Every one has observed how much more dogs are animated when they hunt in
a pack, than when they pursue their game apart; and it is evident this
can proceed from nothing but from sympathy. It is also well known to
hunters, that this effect follows in a greater degree, and even in
too great a degree, where two packs, that are strangers to each other,
are joined together. We might, perhaps, be at a loss to explain this
phaenomenon, if we had not experience of a similar in ourselves.

Envy and malice are passions very remarkable in animals. They are
perhaps more common than pity; as requiring less effort of thought and



We come now to explain the direct passions, or the impressions, which
arise immediately from good or evil, from pain or pleasure. Of this kind
are, desire and aversion, grief and joy, hope and fear.

Of all the immediate effects of pain and pleasure, there is none more
remarkable than the WILL; and though properly speaking, it be not
comprehended among the passions, yet as the full understanding of its
nature and properties, is necessary to the explanation of them, we shall
here make it the subject of our enquiry. I desire it may be observed,
that by the will, I mean nothing but the internal impression we feel and
are conscious of, when we knowingly give rise to any new motion of our
body, or new perception of our mind. This impression, like the preceding
ones of pride and humility, love and hatred, it is impossible to define,
and needless to describe any farther; for which reason we shall cut off
all those definitions and distinctions, with which philosophers are wont
to perplex rather than dear up this question; and entering at first
upon the subject, shall examine that long disputed question concerning
liberty and necessity; which occurs so naturally in treating of the

It is universally acknowledged, that the operations of external bodies
are necessary, and that in the communication of their motion, in their
attraction, and mutual cohesion, there are nor the least traces of
indifference or liberty. Every object is determined by an absolute fate
toa certain degree and direction of irs motion, and can no more depart
from that precise line, in which it moves, than it can convert itself
into an angel, or spirit, or any superior substance. The actions,
therefore, of matter are to be regarded as instances of necessary
actions; and whatever is in this respect on the same footing with
matter, must be acknowledged to be necessary. That we may know whether
this be the case with the actions of the mind, we shall begin with
examining matter, and considering on what the idea of a necessity in its
operations are founded, and why we conclude one body or action to be the
infallible cause of another.

It has been observed already, that in no single instance the ultimate
connexion of any objects is discoverable, either by our senses or
reason, and that we can never penetrate so far into the essence and
construction of bodies, as to perceive the principle, on which their
mutual influence depends. It is their constant union alone, with which
we are acquainted; and it is from the constant union the necessity
arises. If objects had nor an uniform and regular conjunction with each
other, we should never arrive at any idea of cause and effect; and even
after all, the necessity, which enters into that idea, is nothing but
a determination of the mind to pass from one object to its usual
attendant, and infer the existence of one from that of the other. Here
then are two particulars, which we are to consider as essential to
necessity, viz, the constant union and the inference of the mind; and
wherever we discover these we must acknowledge a necessity. As the
actions of matter have no necessity, but what is derived from these
circumstances, and it is not by any insight into the essence of bodies
we discover their connexion, the absence of this insight, while
the union and inference remain, will never, in any case, remove the
necessity. It is the observation of the union, which produces the
inference; for which reason it might be thought sufficient, if we prove
a constant union in the actions of the mind, in order to establish the
inference, along with the necessity of these actions. But that I
may bestow a greater force on my reasoning, I shall examine these
particulars apart, and shall first prove from experience that
our actions have a constant union with our motives, tempers, and
circumstances, before I consider the inferences we draw from it.

To this end a very slight and general view of the common course of human
affairs will be sufficient. There is no light, in which we can take
them, that does nor confirm this principle. Whether we consider mankind
according to the difference of sexes, ages, governments, conditions,
or methods of education; the same uniformity and regular operation
of natural principles are discernible. Uke causes still produce like
effects; in the same manner as in the mutual action of the elements and
powers of nature.

There are different trees, which regularly produce fruit, whose relish
is different from each other; and this regularity will be admitted as
an instance of necessity and causes in external bodies. But are the
products of Guienne and of Champagne more regularly different than the
sentiments, actions, and passions of the two sexes, of which the one are
distinguished by their force and maturity, the other by their delicacy
and softness?

Are the changes of our body from infancy to old age more regular and
certain than those of our mind and conduct? And would a man be more
ridiculous, who would expect that an infant of four years old will raise
a weight of three hundred pound, than one, who from a person of the
same age would look for a philosophical reasoning, or a prudent and
well-concerted action?

We must certainly allow, that the cohesion of the parts of matter arises
from natural and necessary principles, whatever difficulty we may find
in explaining them: And for a reason we must allow, that human society
is founded on like principles; and our reason in the latter case, is
better than even that in the former; because we not only observe, that
men always seek society, but can also explain the principles, on which
this universal propensity is founded. For is it more certain, that two
flat pieces of marble will unite together, than that two young savages
of different sexes will copulate? Do the children arise from this
copulation more uniformly, than does the parents care for their safety
and preservation? And after they have arrived at years of discretion
by the care of their parents, are the inconveniencies attending their
separation more certain than their foresight of these inconveniencies
and their care of avoiding them by a close union and confederacy?

The skin, pores, muscles, and nerves of a day-labourer are different
from those of a man of quality: So are his sentiments, actions and
manners. The different stations of life influence the whole fabric,
external and internal; and different stations arise necessarily, because
uniformly, from the necessary and uniform principles of human nature.
Men cannot live without society, and cannot be associated without
government. Government makes a distinction of property, and establishes
the different ranks of men. This produces industry, traffic,
manufactures, law-suits, war, leagues, alliances, voyages, travels,
cities, fleets, ports, and all those other actions and objects, which
cause such a diversity, and at the same time maintain such an uniformity
in human life.

Should a traveller, returning from a far country, tell us, that he had
seen a climate in the fiftieth degree of northern latitude, where all
the fruits ripen and come to perfection in the winter, and decay in the
summer, after the same manner as in England they are produced and decay
in the contrary seasons, he would find few so credulous as to believe
him. I am apt to think a travellar would meet with as little credit, who
should inform us of people exactly of the same character with those in
Plato's republic on the one hand, or those in Hobbes's Leviathan on the
other. There is a general course of nature in human actions, as well as
in the operations of the sun and the climate. There are also characters
peculiar to different nations and particular persons, as well as
common to mankind. The knowledge of these characters is founded on the
observation of an uniformity in the actions, that flow from them; and
this uniformity forms the very essence of necessity.

I can imagine only one way of eluding this argument, which is by denying
that uniformity of human actions, on which it is founded. As long as
actions have a constant union and connexion with the situation and
temper of the agent, however we may in words refuse to acknowledge the
necessity, we really allow the thing. Now some may, perhaps, find a
pretext to deny this regular union and connexion. For what is more
capricious than human actions? What more inconstant than the desires of
man? And what creature departs more widely, not only from right reason,
but from his own character and disposition? An hour, a moment is
sufficient to make him change from one extreme to another, and overturn
what cost the greatest pain and labour to establish. Necessity is
regular and certain. Human conduct is irregular and uncertain. The one,
therefore, proceeds not from the other.

To this I reply, that in judging of the actions of men we must proceed
upon the same maxims, as when we reason concerning external objects.
When any phaenomena are constantly and invariably conjoined together,
they acquire such a connexion in the imagination, that it passes from
one to the other, without any doubt or hesitation. But below this there
are many inferior degrees of evidence and probability, nor does one
single contrariety of experiment entirely destroy all our reasoning. The
mind ballances the contrary experiments, and deducting the inferior from
the superior, proceeds with that degree of assurance or evidence, which
remains. Even when these contrary experiments are entirely equal, we
remove not the notion of causes and necessity; but supposing that the
usual contrariety proceeds from the operation of contrary and concealed
causes, we conclude, that the chance or indifference lies only in
our judgment on account of our imperfect knowledge, not in the things
themselves, which are in every case equally necessary, though to
appearance not equally constant or certain. No union can be more
constant and certain, than that of some actions with some motives and
characters; and if in other cases the union is uncertain, it is no more
than what happens in the operations of body, nor can we conclude any
thing from the one irregularity, which will not follow equally from the

It is commonly allowed that mad-men have no liberty. But were we to
judge by their actions, these have less regularity and constancy than
the actions of wise-men, and consequently are farther removed from
necessity. Our way of thinking in this particular is, therefore,
absolutely inconsistent; but is a natural consequence of these confused
ideas and undefined terms, which we so commonly make use of in our
reasonings, especially on the present subject.

We must now shew, that as the union betwixt motives and actions has the
same constancy, as that in any natural operations, so its influence
on the understanding is also the same, in determining us to infer the
existence of one from that of another. If this shall appear, there is no
known circumstance, that enters into the connexion and production of the
actions of matter, that is not to be found in all the operations of
the mind; and consequently we cannot, without a manifest absurdity,
attribute necessity to the one, and refuse into the other.

There is no philosopher, whose judgment is so riveted to this
fantastical system of liberty, as not to acknowledge the force of moral
evidence, and both in speculation and practice proceed upon it, as upon
a reasonable foundation. Now moral evidence is nothing but a conclusion
concerning the actions of men, derived from the consideration of their
motives, temper and situation. Thus when we see certain characters or
figures described upon paper, we infer that the person, who produced
them, would affirm such facts, the death of Caesar, the success of
Augustus, the cruelty of Nero; and remembering many other concurrent
testimonies we conclude, that those facts were once really existant, and
that so many men, without any interest, would never conspire to deceive
us; especially since they must, in the attempt, expose themselves to the
derision of all their contemporaries, when these facts were asserted to
be recent and universally known. The same kind of reasoning runs through
politics, war, commerce, economy, and indeed mixes itself so entirely
in human life, that it is impossible to act or subsist a moment without
having recourse to it. A prince, who imposes a tax upon his subjects,
expects their compliance. A general, who conducts an army, makes account
of a certain degree of courage. A merchant looks for fidelity and skill
in his factor or super-cargo. A man, who gives orders for his dinner,
doubts not of the obedience of his servants. In short, as nothing
more nearly interests us than our own actions and those of others, the
greatest part of our reasonings is employed in judgments concerning
them. Now I assert, that whoever reasons after this manner, does ipso
facto believe the actions of the will to arise from necessity, and that
he knows not what he means, when he denies it.

All those objects, of which we call the one cause and the other effect,
considered in themselves, are as distinct and separate from each other,
as any two things in nature, nor can we ever, by the most accurate
survey of them, infer the existence of the one from that of the other.
It is only from experience and the observation of their constant
union, that we are able to form this inference; and even after all, the
inference is nothing but the effects of custom on the imagination. We
must not here be content with saying, that the idea of cause and effect
arises from objects constantly united; but must affirm, that it is
the very same with the idea of those objects, and that the necessary
connexion is not discovered by a conclusion of the understanding, but
is merely a perception of the mind. Wherever, therefore, we observe the
same union, and wherever the union operates in the same manner upon the
belief and opinion, we have the idea of causes and necessity, though
perhaps we may avoid those expressions. Motion in one body in all past
instances, that have fallen under our observation, is followed upon
impulse by motion in another. It is impossible for the mind to penetrate
farther. From this constant union it forms the idea of cause and
effect, and by its influence feels the necessity. As there is the same
constancy, and the same influence in what we call moral evidence, I ask
no more. What remains can only be a dispute of words.

And indeed, when we consider how aptly natural and moral evidence cement
together, and form only one chain of argument betwixt them, we shall
make no scruple to allow, that they are of the same nature, and
derived from the same principles. A prisoner, who has neither money nor
interest, discovers the impossibility of his escape, as well from the
obstinacy of the goaler, as from the walls and bars with which he is
surrounded; and in all attempts for his freedom chuses rather to work
upon the stone and iron of the one, than upon the inflexible nature of
the other. The same prisoner, when conducted to the scaffold, foresees
his death as certainly from the constancy and fidelity of his guards
as from the operation of the ax or wheel. His mind runs along a certain
train of ideas: The refusal of the soldiers to consent to his escape,
the action of the executioner; the separation of the head and body;
bleeding, convulsive motions, and death. Here is a connected chain of
natural causes and voluntary actions; but the mind feels no difference
betwixt them in passing from one link to another; nor is less certain of
the future event than if it were connected with the present impressions
of the memory and senses by a train of causes cemented together by what
we are pleased to call a physical necessity. The same experienced union
has the same effect on the mind, whether the united objects be motives,
volitions and actions; or figure and motion. We may change the names of
things; but their nature and their operation on the understanding never

I dare be positive no one will ever endeavour to refute these reasonings
otherwise than by altering my definitions, and assigning a different
meaning to the terms of cause, and effect, and necessity, and liberty,
and chance. According to my definitions, necessity makes an essential
part of causation; and consequently liberty, by removing necessity,
removes also causes, and is the very same thing with chance. As chance
is commonly thought to imply a contradiction, and is at least directly
contrary to experience, there are always the same arguments against
liberty or free-will. If any one alters the definitions, I cannot
pretend to argue with him, until I know the meaning he assigns to these


I believe we may assign the three following reasons for the prevalance
of the doctrine of liberty, however absurd it may be in one sense, and
unintelligible in any other. First, After we have performed any action;
though we confess we were influenced by particular views and motives; it
is difficult for us to persuade ourselves we were governed by necessity,
and that it was utterly impossible for us to have acted otherwise; the
idea of necessity seeming to imply something of force, and violence,
and constraint, of which we are not sensible. Few are capable of
distinguishing betwixt the liberty of spontaniety, as it is called in
the schools, and the liberty of indifference; betwixt that which is
opposed to violence, and that which means a negation of necessity and
causes. The first is even the most common sense of the word; and as it
is only that species of liberty, which it concerns us to preserve,
our thoughts have been principally turned towards it, and have almost
universally confounded it with the other.

Secondly, There is a false sensation or experience even of the
liberty of indifference; which is regarded as an argument for its real
existence. The necessity of any action, whether of matter or of the
mind, is not properly a quality in the agent, but in any thinking or
intelligent being, who may consider the action, and consists in the
determination of his thought to infer its existence from some preceding
objects: As liberty or chance, on the other hand, is nothing but the
want of that determination, and a certain looseness, which we feel in
passing or not passing from the idea of one to that of the other. Now we
may observe, that though in reflecting on human actions we seldom feel
such a looseness or indifference, yet it very commonly happens, that in
performing the actions themselves we are sensible of something like
it: And as all related or resembling objects are readily taken for each
other, this has been employed as a demonstrative or even an intuitive
proof of human liberty. We feel that our actions are subject to our will
on most occasions, and imagine we feel that the will itself is subject
to nothing; because when by a denial of it we are provoked to try, we
feel that it moves easily every way, and produces an image of itself
even on that side, on which it did not settle. This image or faint
motion, we persuade ourselves, coued have been compleated into the thing
itself; because, should that be denyed, we find, upon a second trial,
that it can. But these efforts are all in vain; and whatever capricious
and irregular actions we may perform; as the desire of showing our
liberty is the sole motive of our actions; we can never free ourselves
from the bonds of necessity. We may imagine we feel a liberty within
ourselves; but a spectator can commonly infer our actions from our
motives and character; and even where he cannot, he concludes in
general, that he might, were he perfectly acquainted with every
circumstance of our situation and temper, and the most secret springs
of our complexion and disposition. Now this is the very essence of
necessity, according to the foregoing doctrine.

A third reason why the doctrine of liberty has generally been better
received in the world, than its antagonist, proceeds from religion,
which has been very unnecessarily interested in this question. There is
no method of reasoning more common, and yet none more blameable, than in
philosophical debates to endeavour to refute any hypothesis by a pretext
of its dangerous consequences to religion and morality. When any opinion
leads us into absurdities, it is certainly false; but it is not certain
an opinion is false, because it is of dangerous consequence. Such
topics, therefore, ought entirely to be foreborn, as serving nothing
to the discovery of truth, but only to make the person of an antagonist
odious. This I observe in general, without pretending to draw any
advantage from it. I submit myself frankly to an examination of this
kind, and dare venture to affirm, that the doctrine of necessity,
according to my explication of it, is not only innocent, but even
advantageous to religion and morality.

I define necessity two ways, conformable to the two definitions of
cause, of which it makes an essential part. I place it either in the
constant union and conjunction of like objects, or in the inference of
the mind from the one to the other. Now necessity, in both these senses,
has universally, though tacitely, in the schools, in the pulpit, and in
common life, been allowed to belong to the will of man, and no one has
ever pretended to deny, that we can draw inferences concerning human
actions, and that those inferences are founded on the experienced union
of like actions with like motives and circumstances. The only particular
in which any one can differ from me, is either, that perhaps he will
refuse to call this necessity. But as long as the meaning is understood,
I hope the word can do no harm. Or that he will maintain there is
something else in the operations of matter. Now whether it be so or
not is of no consequence to religion, whatever it may be to natural
philosophy. I may be mistaken in asserting, that we have no idea of any
other connexion in the actions of body, and shall be glad to be farther
instructed on that head: But sure I am, I ascribe nothing to the actions
of the mind, but what must readily be allowed of. Let no one, therefore,
put an invidious construction on my words, by saying simply, that
I assert the necessity of human actions, and place them on the same
footing with the operations of senseless matter. I do not ascribe to the
will that unintelligible necessity, which is supposed to lie in matter.
But I ascribe to matter, that intelligible quality, call it necessity or
not, which the most rigorous orthodoxy does or must allow to belong to
the will. I change, therefore, nothing in the received systems, with
regard to the will, but only with regard to material objects.

Nay I shall go farther, and assert, that this kind of necessity is so
essential to religion and morality, that without it there must ensue
an absolute subversion of both, and that every other supposition is
entirely destructive to all laws both divine and human. It is indeed
certain, that as all human laws are founded on rewards and punishments,
it is supposed as a fundamental principle, that these motives have an
influence on the mind, and both produce the good and prevent the evil
actions. We may give to this influence what name we please; but as it
is usually conjoined with the action, common sense requires it should be
esteemed a cause, and be booked upon as an instance of that necessity,
which I would establish.

This reasoning is equally solid, when applied to divine laws, so far
as the deity is considered as a legislator, and is supposed to inflict
punishment and bestow rewards with a design to produce obedience. But I
also maintain, that even where he acts not in his magisterial capacity,
but is regarded as the avenger of crimes merely on account of their
odiousness and deformity, not only it is impossible, without the
necessary connexion of cause and effect in human actions, that
punishments coued be inflicted compatible with justice and moral equity;
but also that it coued ever enter into the thoughts of any reasonable
being to inflict them. The constant and universal object of hatred or
anger is a person or creature endowed with thought and consciousness;
and when any criminal or injurious actions excite that passion, it
is only by their relation to the person or connexion with him. But
according to the doctrine of liberty or chance, this connexion is
reduced to nothing, nor are men more accountable for those actions,
which are designed and premeditated, than for such as are the most
casual and accidental. Actions are by their very nature temporary and
perishing; and where they proceed not from some cause in the characters
and disposition of the person, who performed them, they infix not
themselves upon him, and can neither redound to his honour, if good, nor
infamy, if evil. The action itself may be blameable; it may be contrary
to all the rules of morality and religion: But the person is not
responsible for it; and as it proceeded from nothing in him, that is
durable or constant, and leaves nothing of that nature behind it, it is
impossible he can, upon its account, become the object of punishment or
vengeance. According to the hypothesis of liberty, therefore, a man is
as pure and untainted, after having committed the most horrid crimes, as
at the first moment of his birth, nor is his character any way concerned
in his actions; since they are not derived from it, and the wickedness
of the one can never be used as a proof of the depravity of the other.
It is only upon the principles of necessity, that a person acquires
any merit or demerit from his actions, however the common opinion may
incline to the contrary.

But so inconsistent are men with themselves, that though they often
assert, that necessity utterly destroys all merit and demerit either
towards mankind or superior powers, yet they continue still to
reason upon these very principles of necessity in all their judgments
concerning this matter. Men are not blamed for such evil actions as they
perform ignorantly and casually, whatever may be their consequences.
Why? but because the causes of these actions are only momentary, and
terminate in them alone. Men are less blamed for such evil actions, as
they perform hastily and unpremeditately, than for such as proceed from
thought and deliberation. For what reason? but because a hasty temper,
though a constant cause in the mind, operates only by intervals, and
infects not the whole character. Again, repentance wipes off every
crime, especially if attended with an evident reformation of life and
manners. How is this to be accounted for? But by asserting that actions
render a person criminal, merely as they are proofs of criminal
passions or principles in the mind; and when by any alteration of these
principles they cease to be just proofs, they likewise cease to be
criminal. But according to the doctrine of liberty or chance they never
were just proofs, and consequently never were criminal.

Here then I turn to my adversary, and desire him to free his own system
from these odious consequences before he charge them upon others. Or if
he rather chuses, that this question should be decided by fair arguments
before philosophers, than by declamations before the people, let him
return to what I have advanced to prove that liberty and chance
are synonimous; and concerning the nature of moral evidence and the
regularity of human actions. Upon a review of these reasonings, I
cannot doubt of an entire victory; and therefore having proved, that all
actions of the will have particular causes, I proceed to explain what
these causes are, and how they operate.


Nothing is more usual in philosophy, and even in common life, than to
talk of the combat of passion and reason, to give the preference to
reason, and assert that men are only so far virtuous as they conform
themselves to its dictates. Every rational creature, it is said, is
obliged to regulate his actions by reason; and if any other motive or
principle challenge the direction of his conduct, he ought to oppose it,
till it be entirely subdued, or at least brought to a conformity with
that superior principle. On this method of thinking the greatest part of
moral philosophy, antient and modern, seems to be founded; nor is
there an ampler field, as well for metaphysical arguments, as popular
declamations, than this supposed pre-eminence of reason above passion.
The eternity, invariableness, and divine origin of the former have
been displayed to the best advantage: The blindness, unconstancy, and
deceitfulness of the latter have been as strongly insisted on. In order
to shew the fallacy of all this philosophy, I shall endeavour to prove
first, that reason alone can never be a motive to any action of the
will; and secondly, that it can never oppose passion in the direction of
the will.

The understanding exerts itself after two different ways, as it judges
from demonstration or probability; as it regards the abstract relations
of our ideas, or those relations of objects, of which experience only
gives us information. I believe it scarce will be asserted, that the
first species of reasoning alone is ever the cause of any action. As its
proper province is the world of ideas, and as the will always places
us in that of realities, demonstration and volition seem, upon that
account, to be totally removed, from each other. Mathematics, indeed,
are useful in all mechanical operations, and arithmetic in almost every
art and profession: But it is not of themselves they have any influence:
Mechanics are the art of regulating the motions of bodies to some
designed end or purpose; and the reason why we employ arithmetic in
fixing the proportions of numbers, is only that we may discover the
proportions of their influence and operation. A merchant is desirous of
knowing the sum total of his accounts with any person: Why? but that he
may learn what sum will have the same effects in paying his debt, and
going to market, as all the particular articles taken together. Abstract
or demonstrative reasoning, therefore, never influences any of our
actions, but only as it directs our judgment concerning causes and
effects; which leads us to the second operation of the understanding.

It is obvious, that when we have the prospect of pain or pleasure from
any object, we feel a consequent emotion of aversion or propensity,
and are carryed to avoid or embrace what will give us this uneasines or
satisfaction. It is also obvious, that this emotion rests not here, but
making us cast our view on every side, comprehends whatever objects are
connected with its original one by the relation of cause and effect.
Here then reasoning takes place to discover this relation; and according
as our reasoning varies, our actions receive a subsequent variation. But
it is evident in this case that the impulse arises not from reason, but
is only directed by it. It is from the prospect of pain or pleasure that
the aversion or propensity arises towards any object: And these emotions
extend themselves to the causes and effects of that object, as they are
pointed out to us by reason and experience. It can never in the least
concern us to know, that such objects are causes, and such others
effects, if both the causes and effects be indifferent to us. Where the
objects themselves do not affect us, their connexion can never give
them any influence; and it is plain, that as reason is nothing but the
discovery of this connexion, it cannot be by its means that the objects
are able to affect us.

Since reason alone can never produce any action, or give rise to
volition, I infer, that the same faculty is as incapable of preventing
volition, or of disputing the preference with any passion or emotion.
This consequence is necessary. It is impossible reason coued have the
latter effect of preventing volition, but by giving an impulse in a
contrary direction to our passion; and that impulse, had it operated
alone, would have been able to produce volition. Nothing can oppose
or retard the impulse of passion, but a contrary impulse; and if this
contrary impulse ever arises from reason, that latter faculty must have
an original influence on the will, and must be able to cause, as well as
hinder any act of volition. But if reason has no original influence,
it is impossible it can withstand any principle, which has such an
efficacy, or ever keep the mind in suspence a moment. Thus it appears,
that the principle, which opposes our passion, cannot be the same
with reason, and is only called so in an improper sense. We speak not
strictly and philosophically when we talk of the combat of passion and
of reason. Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions,
and can never pretend to any other office than to serve and obey
them. As this opinion may appear somewhat extraordinary, it may not be
improper to confirm it by some other considerations.

A passion is an original existence, or, if you will, modification of
existence, and contains not any representative quality, which renders
it a copy of any other existence or modification. When I am angry, I am
actually possest with the passion, and in that emotion have no more a
reference to any other object, than when I am thirsty, or sick, or more
than five foot high. It is impossible, therefore, that this passion
can be opposed by, or be contradictory to truth and reason; since this
contradiction consists in the disagreement of ideas, considered as
copies, with those objects, which they represent.

What may at first occur on this head, is, that as nothing can be
contrary to truth or reason, except what has a reference to it, and as
the judgments of our understanding only have this reference, it must
follow, that passions can be contrary to reason only so far as they are
accompanyed with some judgment or opinion. According to this principle,
which is so obvious and natural, it is only in two senses, that any
affection can be called unreasonable. First, When a passion, such as
hope or fear, grief or joy, despair or security, is founded on the
supposition or the existence of objects, which really do not exist.
Secondly, When in exerting any passion in action, we chuse means
insufficient for the designed end, and deceive ourselves in our judgment
of causes and effects. Where a passion is neither founded on
false suppositions, nor chuses means insufficient for the end, the
understanding can neither justify nor condemn it. It is not contrary to
reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching of
my finger. It is not contrary to reason for me to chuse my total ruin,
to prevent the least uneasiness of an Indian or person wholly unknown
to me. It is as little contrary to reason to prefer even my own
acknowledgeed lesser good to my greater, and have a more ardent
affection for the former than the latter. A trivial good may, from
certain circumstances, produce a desire superior to what arises from
the greatest and most valuable enjoyment; nor is there any thing more
extraordinary in this, than in mechanics to see one pound weight raise
up a hundred by the advantage of its situation. In short, a passion
must be accompanyed with some false judgment in order to its being
unreasonable; and even then it is not the passion, properly speaking,
which is unreasonable, but the judgment.

The consequences are evident. Since a passion can never, in any sense,
be called unreasonable, but when founded on a false supposition or when
it chuses means insufficient for the designed end, it is impossible,
that reason and passion can ever oppose each other, or dispute for the
government of the will and actions. The moment we perceive the falshood
of any supposition, or the insufficiency of any means our passions yield
to our reason without any opposition. I may desire any fruit as of an
excellent relish; but whenever you convince me of my mistake, my longing
ceases. I may will the performance of certain actions as means of
obtaining any desired good; but as my willing of these actions is only
secondary, and founded on the supposition, that they are causes of the
proposed effect; as soon as I discover the falshood of that supposition,
they must become indifferent to me.

It is natural for one, that does not examine objects with a strict
philosophic eye, to imagine, that those actions of the mind are
entirely the same, which produce not a different sensation, and are not
immediately distinguishable to the feeling and perception. Reason, for
instance, exerts itself without producing any sensible emotion; and
except in the more sublime disquisitions of philosophy, or in the
frivolous subtilties of the school, scarce ever conveys any pleasure
or uneasiness. Hence it proceeds, that every action of the mind, which
operates with the same calmness and tranquillity, is confounded with
reason by all those, who judge of things from the first view and
appearance. Now it is certain, there are certain calm desires and
tendencies, which, though they be real passions, produce little emotion
in the mind, and are more known by their effects than by the immediate
feeling or sensation. These desires are of two kinds; either certain
instincts originally implanted in our natures, such as benevolence and
resentment, the love of life, and kindness to children; or the general
appetite to good, and aversion to evil, considered merely as such. When
any of these passions are calm, and cause no disorder in the soul,
they are very readily taken for the determinations of reason, and are
supposed to proceed from the same faculty, with that, which judges of
truth and falshood. Their nature and principles have been supposed the
same, because their sensations are not evidently different.

Beside these calm passions, which often determine the will, there are
certain violent emotions of the same kind, which have likewise a great
influence on that faculty. When I receive any injury from another, I
often feel a violent passion of resentment, which makes me desire his
evil and punishment, independent of all considerations of pleasure and
advantage to myself. When I am immediately threatened with any grievous
ill, my fears, apprehensions, and aversions rise to a great height, and
produce a sensible emotion.

The common error of metaphysicians has lain in ascribing the direction
of the will entirely to one of these principles, and supposing the other
to have no influence. Men often act knowingly against their interest:
For which reason the view of the greatest possible good does not always
influence them. Men often counter-act a violent passion in prosecution
of their interests and designs: It is not therefore the present
uneasiness alone, which determines them. In general we may observe, that
both these principles operate on the will; and where they are contrary,
that either of them prevails, according to the general character or
present disposition of the person. What we call strength of mind,
implies the prevalence of the calm passions above the violent; though
we may easily observe, there is no man so constantly possessed of this
virtue, as never on any occasion to yield to the sollicitations of
passion and desire. From these variations of temper proceeds the great
difficulty of deciding concerning the actions and resolutions of men,
where there is any contrariety of motives and passions.


There is not-in philosophy a subject of more nice speculation than this
of the different causes and effects of the calm and violent passions.
It is evident passions influence not the will in proportion to their
violence, or the disorder they occasion in the temper; but on the
contrary, that when a passion has once become a settled principle of
action, and is the predominant inclination of the soul, it commonly
produces no longer any sensible agitation. As repeated custom and its
own force have made every thing yield to it, it directs the actions and
conduct without that opposition and emotion, which so naturally attend
every momentary gust of passion. We must, therefore, distinguish betwixt
a calm and a weak passion; betwixt a violent and a strong one. But
notwithstanding this, it is certain, that when we would govern a man,
and push him to any action, it will commonly be better policy to work
upon the violent than the calm passions, and rather take him by his
inclination, than what is vulgarly called his reason. We ought to place
the object in such particular situations as are proper to encrease the
violence of the passion. For we may observe, that all depends upon the
situation of the object, and that a variation in this particular will be
able to change the calm and the violent passions into each other. Both
these kinds of passions pursue good, and avoid evil; and both of them
are encreased or diminished by the encrease or diminution of the good or
evil. But herein lies the difference betwixt them: The same good, when
near, will cause a violent passion, which, when remote, produces only a
calm one. As this subject belongs very properly to the present question
concerning the will, we shall here examine it to the bottom, and shall
consider some of those circumstances and situations of objects, which
render a passion either calm or violent.

It is a remarkable property of human nature, that any emotion, which
attends a passion, is easily converted into it, though in their natures
they be originally different from, and even contrary to each other.
It is true; in order to make a perfect union among passions, there is
always required a double relation of impressions and ideas; nor is one
relation sufficient for that purpose. But though this be confirmed by
undoubted experience, we must understand it with its proper limitations,
and must regard the double relation, as requisite only to make one
passion produce another. When two passions are already produced by their
separate causes, and are both present in the mind, they readily mingle
and unite, though they have but one relation, and sometimes without any.
The predominant passion swallows up the inferior, and converts it into
itself. The spirits, when once excited, easily receive a change in their
direction; and it is natural to imagine this change will come from the
prevailing affection. The connexion is in many respects closer betwixt
any two passions, than betwixt any passion and indifference.

When a person is once heartily in love, the little faults and caprices
of his mistress, the jealousies and quarrels, to which that commerce is
so subject; however unpleasant and related to anger and hatred; are yet
found to give additional force to the prevailing passion. It is a common
artifice of politicians, when they would affect any person very much by
a matter of fact, of which they intend to inform him, first to excite
his curiosity; delay as long as possible the satisfying it; and by that
means raise his anxiety and impatience to the utmost, before they give
him a full insight into the business. They know that his curiosity will
precipitate him into the passion they design to raise, and assist the
object in its influence on the mind. A soldier advancing to the battle,
is naturally inspired with courage and confidence, when he thinks on his
friends and fellow-soldiers; and is struck with fear and terror, when
he reflects on the enemy. Whatever new emotion, therefore, proceeds
from the former naturally encreases the courage; as the same emotion,
proceeding from the latter, augments the fear; by the relation of ideas,
and the conversion of the inferior emotion into the predominant. Hence
it is that in martial discipline, the uniformity and lustre of our
habit, the regularity of our figures and motions, with all the pomp and
majesty of war, encourage ourselves and allies; while the same objects
in the enemy strike terror into us, though agreeable and beautiful in

Since passions, however independent, are naturally transfused into each
other, if they are both present at the same time; it follows, that when
good or evil is placed in such a situation, as to cause any particular
emotion, beside its direct passion of desire or aversion, that latter
passion must acquire new force and violence.

This happens, among other cases, whenever any object excites contrary
passions. For it is observable that an opposition of passions commonly
causes a new emotion in the spirits, and produces more disorder, than
the concurrence of any two affections of equal force. This new emotion
is easily converted into the predominant passion, and encreases its
violence, beyond the pitch it would have arrived at had it met with
no opposition. Hence we naturally desire what is forbid, and take a
pleasure in performing actions, merely because they are unlawful.
The notion of duty, when opposite to the passions, is seldom able
to overcome them; and when it fails of that effect, is apt rather to
encrease them, by producing an opposition in our motives and principles.
The same effect follows whether the opposition arises from internal
motives or external obstacles. The passion commonly acquires new force
and violence in both cases.

The efforts, which the mind makes to surmount the obstacle, excite the
spirits and inliven the passion.

Uncertainty has the same influence as opposition. The agitation of the
thought; the quick turns it makes from one view to another; the variety
of passions, which succeed each other, according to the different views;
All these produce an agitation in the mind, and transfuse themselves
into the predominant passion.

There is not in my opinion any other natural cause, why security
diminishes the passions, than because it removes that uncertainty, which
encreases them. The mind, when left to itself, immediately languishes;
and in order to preserve its ardour, must be every moment supported by
a new flow of passion. For the same reason, despair, though contrary to
security, has a like influence.

It is certain nothing more powerfully animates any affection, than to
conceal some part of its object by throwing it into a kind of shade,
which at the same time that it chews enough to pre-possess us in favour
of the object, leaves still some work for the imagination. Besides that
obscurity is always attended with a kind of uncertainty; the effort,
which the fancy makes to compleat the idea, rouzes the spirits, and
gives an additional force to the passion.

As despair and security, though contrary to each other, produce the
same effects; so absence is observed to have contrary effects, and in
different circumstances either encreases or diminishes our affections.
The Duc de La Rochefoucault has very well observed, that absence
destroys weak passions, but encreases strong; as the wind extinguishes
a candle, but blows up a fire. Long absence naturally weakens our idea,
and diminishes the passion: But where the idea is so strong and lively
as to support itself, the uneasiness, arising from absence, encreases
the passion and gives it new force and violence.


But nothing has a greater effect both to encrease and diminish our
passions, to convert pleasure into pain, and pain into pleasure, than
custom and repetition. Custom has two original effects upon the mind, in
bestowing a facility in the performance of any action or the conception
of any object; and afterwards a tendency or inclination towards it;
and from these we may account for all its other effects, however

When the soul applies itself to the performance of any action, or the
conception of any object, to which it is not accustomed, there is a
certain unpliableness in the faculties, and a difficulty of the spirit's
moving in their new direction. As this difficulty excites the spirits,
it is the source of wonder, surprize, and of all the emotions, which
arise from novelty; and is in itself very agreeable, like every thing,
which inlivens the mind to a moderate degree. But though surprize be
agreeable in itself, yet as it puts the spirits in agitation, it not
only augments our agreeable affections, but also our painful, according
to the foregoing principle, that every emotion, which precedes or
attends a passion, is easily converted into it. Hence every thing, that
is new, is most affecting, and gives us either more pleasure or pain,
than what, strictly speaking, naturally belongs to it. When it often
returns upon us, the novelty wears off; the passions subside; the
hurry of the spirits is over; and we survey the objects with greater

By degrees the repetition produces a facility of the human mind, and
an infallible source of pleasure, where the facility goes not beyond
a certain degree. And here it is remarkable that the pleasure, which
arises from a moderate facility, has not the same tendency with that
which arises from novelty, to augment the painful, as well as the
agreeable affections. The pleasure of facility does not so much consist
in any ferment of the spirits, as in their orderly motion; which will
sometimes be so powerful as even to convert pain into pleasure, and give
us a relish in time what at first was most harsh and disagreeable.

But again, as facility converts pain into pleasure, so it often converts
pleasure into pain, when it is too great, and renders the actions of the
mind so faint and languid, that they are no longer able to interest and
support it. And indeed, scarce any other objects become disagreeable
through custom; but such as are naturally attended with some emotion or
affection, which is destroyed by the too frequent repetition. One
can consider the clouds, and heavens, and trees, and stones, however
frequently repeated, without ever feeling any aversion. But when the
fair sex, or music, or good cheer, or any thing, that naturally ought
to be agreeable, becomes indifferent, it easily produces the opposite

But custom not only gives a facility to perform any action, but likewise
an inclination and tendency towards it, where it is not entirely
disagreeable, and can never be the object of inclination. And this
is the reason why custom encreases all active habits, but diminishes
passive, according to the observation of a late eminent philosopher. The
facility takes off from the force of the passive habits by rendering
the motion of the spirits faint and languid. But as in the active, the
spirits are sufficiently supported of themselves, the tendency of the
mind gives them new force, and bends them more strongly to the action.


It is remarkable, that the imagination and affections have close union
together, and that nothing, which affects the former, can be entirely
indifferent to the latter. Wherever our ideas of good or evil acquire a
new vivacity, the passions become more violent; and keep pace with
the imagination in all its variations. Whether this proceeds from
the principle above-mentioned, that any attendant emotion is easily
converted into the predominant, I shall not determine. It is sufficient
for my present purpose, that we have many instances to confirm this
influence of the imagination upon the passions.

Any pleasure, with which we are acquainted, affects us more than any
other, which we own to be superior, but of whose nature we are wholly
ignorant. Of the one we can form a particular and determinate idea:
The other we conceive under the general notion of pleasure; and it is
certain, that the more general and universal any of our ideas are, the
less influence they have upon the imagination. A general idea, though
it be nothing but a particular one considered in a certain view, is
commonly more obscure; and that because no particular idea, by which we
represent a general one, is ever fixed or determinate, but may easily
be changed for other particular ones, which will serve equally in the

There is a noted passage in the history of Greece, which may serve for
our present purpose. Themistocles told the Athenians, that he had formed
a design, which would be highly useful to the public, but which it was
impossible for him to communicate to them without ruining the execution,
since its success depended entirely on the secrecy with which it should
be conducted. The Athenians, instead of granting him full power to
act as he thought fitting, ordered him to communicate his design to
Aristides, in whose prudence they had an entire confidence, and
whose opinion they were resolved blindly to submit to. The design of
Themistocles was secretly to set fire to the fleet of all the Grecian
commonwealths, which was assembled in a neighbouring port, and which
being once destroyed would give the Athenians the empire of the sea
without any rival Aristides returned to the assembly, and told them,
that nothing coued be more advantageous than the design of Themistocles
but at the same time that nothing coued be more unjust: Upon which the
people unanimously rejected the project.

A late celebrated historian [Mons. Rollin {Charles Rollin, HISTOIRE
ANCIENNE.(Paris 1730-38)}.] admires this passage of antient history, as
one of the most singular that is any where to be met.

"Here," says he, "they are not philosophers, to whom it is easy in
their schools to establish the finest maxims and most sublime rules of
morality, who decide that interest ought never to prevail above justice.
It is a whole people interested in the proposal which is made to
them, who consider it as of importance to the public good, and who
notwithstanding reject it unanimously, and without hesitation, merely
because it is contrary to justice."

For my part I see nothing so extraordinary in this proceeding of the
Athenians. The same reasons, which render it so easy for philosophers to
establish these sublime maxims, tend, in part, to diminish the merit
of such a conduct in that people. Philosophers never ballance betwixt
profit and honesty, because their decisions are general, and neither
their passions nor imaginations are interested in the objects. And
though in the present case the advantage was immediate to the Athenians,
yet as it was known only under the general notion of advantage,
without being conceived by any particular idea, it must have had a
less considerable influence on their imaginations, and have been a
less violent temptation, than if they had been acquainted with all
its circumstances: Otherwise it is difficult to conceive, that a whole
people, unjust and violent as men commonly are, should so unanimously
have adhered to justice, and rejected any considerable advantage.

Any satisfaction, which we lately enjoyed, and of which the memory is
fresh and recent, operates on the will with more violence, than another
of which the traces are decayed, and almost obliterated. From whence
does this proceed, but that the memory in the first case assists the
fancy and gives an additional force and vigour to its conceptions?
The image of the past pleasure being strong and violent, bestows these
qualities on the idea of the future pleasure, which is connected with it
by the relation of resemblance.

A pleasure, which is suitable to the way of life, in which we are
engaged, excites more our desires and appetites than another, which
is foreign to it. This phaenomenon may be explained from the same

Nothing is more capable of infusing any passion into the mind, than
eloquence, by which objects are represented in their strongest and most
lively colours. We may of ourselves acknowledge, that such an object
is valuable, and such another odious; but until an orator excites the
imagination, and gives force to these ideas, they may have but a feeble
influence either on the will or the affections.

But eloquence is not always necessary. The bare opinion of another,
especially when inforced with passion, will cause an idea of good or
evil to have an influence upon us, which would otherwise have been
entirely neglected. This proceeds from the principle of sympathy or
communication; and sympathy, as I have already observed, is nothing
but the conversion of an idea into an impression by the force of

It is remarkable, that lively passions commonly attend a lively
imagination. In this respect, as well as others, the force of the
passion depends as much on the temper of the person, as the nature or
situation of the object.

I have already observed, that belief is nothing but a lively idea
related to a present impression. This vivacity is a requisite
circumstance to the exciting all our passions, the calm as well as the
violent; nor has a mere fiction of the imagination any considerable
influence upon either of them. It is too weak to take hold of the mind,
or be attended with emotion.


There is an easy reason, why every thing contiguous to us, either in
space or time, should be conceived with a peculiar force and vivacity,
and excel every other object, in its influence on the imagination.
Ourself is intimately present to us, and whatever is related to self
must partake of that quality. But where an object is so far removed
as to have lost the advantage of this relation, why, as it is farther
removed, its idea becomes still fainter and more obscure, would,
perhaps, require a more particular examination.

It is obvious, that the imagination can never totally forget the points
of space and time, in which we are existent; but receives such frequent
advertisements of them from the passions and senses, that however it
may turn its attention to foreign and remote objects, it is necessitated
every moment to reflect on the present. IOt is also remarkable, that in
the conception of those objects, which we regard as real and existent,
we take them in their proper order and situation, and never leap from
one object to another, which is distant from it, without running over,
at least in a cursory manner, all those objects, which are interposed
betwixt them. When we reflect, therefore, on any object distant from
ourselves, we are obliged not only to reach it at first by passing
through all the intermediate space betwixt ourselves and the object, but
also to renew our progress every moment; being every moment recalled to
the consideration of ourselves and our present situation. It is easily
conceived, that this interruption must weaken the idea by breaking the
action of the mind, and hindering the conception from being so intense
and continued, as when we reflect on a nearer object. The fewer steps
we make to arrive at the object, and the smoother the road is, this
diminution of vivacity is less sensibly felt, but still may be observed
more or less in proportion to the degrees of distance and difficulty.

Here then we are to consider two kinds of objects, the contiguous and
remote; of which the former, by means of their relation to ourselves,
approach an impression in force and vivacity; the latter by reason of
the interruption in our manner of conceiving them, appear in a weaker
and more imperfect light. This is their effect on the imagination. If
my reasoning be just, they must have a proportionable effect on the will
and passions. Contiguous objects must have an influence much superior to
the distant and remote. Accordingly we find in common life, that men are
principally concerned about those objects, which are not much removed
either in space or time, enjoying the present, and leaving what is afar
off to the care of chance and fortune. Talk to a man of his condition
thirty years hence, and he will not regard you. Speak of what is to
happen tomorrow, and he will lend you attention. The breaking of a
mirror gives us more concern when at home, than the burning of a house,
when abroad, and some hundred leagues distant.

But farther; though distance both in space and time has a considerable
effect on the imagination, and by that means on the will and passions,
yet the consequence of a removal in space are much inferior to those of
a removal in time. Twenty years are certainly but a small distance
of time in comparison of what history and even the memory of some may
inform them of, and yet I doubt if a thousand leagues, or even the
greatest distance of place this globe can admit of, will so remarkably
weaken our ideas, and diminish our passions. A West-Indian merchant will
tell you, that he is not without concern about what passes in Jamaica;
though few extend their views so far into futurity, as to dread very
remote accidents.

The cause of this phaenomenon must evidently lie in the different
properties of space and time. Without having recourse to metaphysics,
any one may easily observe, that space or extension consists of a number
of co-existent parts disposed in a certain order, and capable of being
at once present to the sight or feeling. On the contrary, time or
succession, though it consists likewise of parts, never presents to us
more than one at once; nor is it possible for any two of them ever to
be co-existent. These qualities of the objects have a suitable effect on
the imagination. The parts of extension being susceptible of an union to
the senses, acquire an union in the fancy; and as the appearance of
one part excludes not another, the transition or passage of the thought
through the contiguous parts is by that means rendered more smooth and
easy. On the other hand, the incompatibility of the parts of time in
their real existence separates them in the imagination, and makes it
more difficult for that faculty to trace any long succession or series
of events. Every part must appear single and alone, nor can regularly
have entrance into the fancy without banishing what is supposed to have
been immediately precedent. By this means any distance in time causes a
greater interruption in the thought than an equal distance in space, and
consequently weakens more considerably the idea, and consequently the
passions; which depend in a great measure, on the imagination, according
to my system.

There is another phaenomenon of a like nature with the foregoing, viz,
the superior effects of the same distance in futurity above that in the
past. This difference with respect to the will is easily accounted for.
As none of our actions can alter the past, it is not strange it should
never determine the will. But with respect to the passions the question
is yet entire, and well worth the examining.

Besides the propensity to a gradual progression through the points of
space and time, we have another peculiarity in our method of thinking,
which concurs in producing this phaenomenon. We always follow the
succession of time in placing our ideas, and from the consideration of
any object pass more easily to that, which follows immediately after
it, than to that which went before it. We may learn this, among other
instances, from the order, which is always observed in historical
narrations. Nothing but an absolute necessity can oblige an historian to
break the order of time, and in his narration give the precedence to an
event, which was in reality posterior to another.

This will easily be applied to the question in hand, if we reflect on
what I have before observed, that the present situation of the person is
always that of the imagination, and that it is from thence we proceed
to the conception of any distant object. When the object is past, the
progression of the thought in passing to it from the present is contrary
to nature, as proceeding from one point of time to that which is
preceding, and from that to another preceding, in opposition to the
natural course of the succession. On the other hand, when we turn our
thought to a future object, our fancy flows along the stream of time,
and arrives at the object by an order, which seems most natural, passing
always from one point of time to that which is immediately posterior to
it. This easy progression of ideas favours the imagination, and makes
it conceive its object in a stronger and fuller light, than when we
are continually opposed in our passage, and are obliged to overcome the
difficulties arising from the natural propensity of the fancy. A small
degree of distance in the past has, therefore, a greater effect, in
interupting and weakening the conception, than a much greater in
the future. From this effect of it on the imagination is derived its
influence on the will and passions.

There is another cause, which both contributes to the same effect, and
proceeds from the same quality of the fancy, by which we are determined
to trace the succession of time by a similar succession of ideas. When
from the present instant we consider two points of time equally distant
in the future and in the past, it is evident, that, abstractedly
considered, their relation to the present is almost equal. For as the
future will sometime be present, so the past was once present. If we
coued, therefore, remove this quality of the imagination, an equal
distance in the past and in the future, would have a similar influence.
Nor is this only true, when the fancy remains fixed, and from the
present instant surveys the future and the past; but also when it
changes its situation, and places us in different periods of time. For
as on the one hand, in supposing ourselves existent in a point of time
interposed betwixt the present instant and the future object, we find
the future object approach to us, and the past retire, and become more
distant: so on the other hand, in supposing ourselves existent in a
point of time interposed betwixt the present and the past, the past
approaches to us, and the future becomes more distant. But from the
property of the fancy above-mentioned we rather chuse to fix our thought
on the point of time interposed betwixt the present and the future, than
on that betwixt the present and the past. We advance, rather than retard
our existence; and following what seems the natural succession of time,
proceed from past to present, and from present to future. By which means
we conceive the future as flowing every moment nearer us, and the
past as retiring. An equal distance, therefore, in the past and in the
future, has not the same effect on the imagination; and that because we
consider the one as continually encreasing, and the other as continually
diminishing. The fancy anticipates the course of things, and surveys the
object in that condition, to which it tends, as well as in that, which
is regarded as the present.


Thus we have accounted for three phaenomena, which seem pretty
remarkable. Why distance weakens the conception and passion: Why
distance in time has a greater effect than that in space: And why
distance in past time has still a greater effect than that in future. We
must now consider three phaenomena, which seem to be, in a manner, the
reverse of these: Why a very great distance encreases our esteem and
admiration for an object; Why such a distance in time encreases it
more than that in space: And a distance in past time more than that in
future. The curiousness of the subject will, I hope, excuse my dwelling
on it for some time.

To begin with the first phaenomenon, why a great distance encreases our
esteem and admiration for an object; it is evident that the mere view
and contemplation of any greatness, whether successive or extended,
enlarges the soul, and give it a sensible delight and pleasure. A wide
plain, the ocean, eternity, a succession of several ages; all these are
entertaining objects, and excel every thing, however beautiful, which
accompanies not its beauty with a suitable greatness. Now when any very
distant object is presented to the imagination, we naturally reflect on
the interposed distance, and by that means, conceiving something great
and magnificent, receive the usual satisfaction. But as the fancy passes
easily from one idea to another related to it, and transports to the
second all the passions excited by the first, the admiration, which is
directed to the distance, naturally diffuses itself over the distant
object. Accordingly we find, that it is not necessary the object should
be actually distant from us, in order to cause our admiration; but that
it is sufficient, if, by the natural association of ideas, it conveys
our view to any considerable distance. A great traveller, though in
the same chamber, will pass for a very extraordinary person; as a Greek
medal, even in our cabinet, is always esteemed a valuable curiosity.
Here the object, by a natural transition, conveys our views to the
distance; and the admiration, which arises from that distance, by
another natural transition, returns back to the object.

But though every great distance produces an admiration for the distant
object, a distance in time has a more considerable effect than that in
space. Antient busts and inscriptions are more valued than Japan tables:
And not to mention the Greeks and Romans, it is certain we regard with
more veneration the old Chaldeans and Egyptians, than the modern Chinese
and Persians, and bestow more fruitless pains to dear up the history and
chronology of the former, than it would cost us to make a voyage, and
be certainly informed of the character, learning and government of the
latter. I shall be obliged to make a digression in order to explain this

It is a quality very observable in human nature, that any opposition,
which does not entirely discourage and intimidate us, has rather a
contrary effect, and inspires us with a more than ordinary grandeur
and magnanimity. In collecting our force to overcome the opposition, we
invigorate the soul, and give it an elevation with which otherwise it
would never have been acquainted. Compliance, by rendering our strength
useless, makes us insensible of it: but opposition awakens and employs

This is also true in the universe. Opposition not only enlarges the
soul; but the soul, when full of courage and magnanimity, in a manner
seeks opposition.


[And, among the tamer beasts, [he] longs to be granted, in answer to his
prayers, a slavering boar, or to have a tawny lion come down from the

Whatever supports and fills the passions is agreeable to us; as on the
contrary, what weakens and infeebles them is uneasy. As opposition
has the first effect, and facility the second, no wonder the mind, in
certain dispositions, desires the former, and is averse to the latter.

These principles have an effect on the imagination as well as on the
passions. To be convinced of this we need only consider the influence
of heights and depths on that faculty. Any great elevation of place
communicates a kind of pride or sublimity of imagination, and gives
a fancyed superiority over those that lie below; and, vice versa, a
sublime and strong imagination conveys the idea of ascent and elevation.
Hence it proceeds, that we associate, in a manner, the idea of whatever
is good with that of height, and evil with lowness. Heaven is supposed
to be above, and hell below. A noble genius is called an elevate and
sublime one. ATQUE UDAM SPERNIT HUMUM FUGIENTE PENNA. [Spurns the dank
soil in winged flight.] On the contrary, a vulgar and trivial conception
is stiled indifferently low or mean. Prosperity is denominated ascent,
and adversity descent. Kings and princes are supposed to be placed at
the top of human affairs; as peasants and day-labourers are said to be
in the lowest stations. These methods of thinking, and of expressing
ourselves, are not of so little consequence as they may appear at first

It is evident to common sense, as well as philosophy, that there is no
natural nor essential difference betwixt high and low, and that this
distinction arises only from the gravitation of matter, which produces a
motion from the one to the other. The very same direction, which in
this part of the globe is called ascent, is denominated descent in our
antipodes; which can proceed from nothing but the contrary tendency
of bodies. Now it is certain, that the tendency of bodies, continually
operating upon our senses, must produce, from custom, a like tendency in
the fancy, and that when we consider any object situated in an ascent,
the idea of its weight gives us a propensity to transport it from the
place, in which it is situated, to the place immediately below it, and
so on, until we come to the ground, which equally stops the body and
our imagination. For a like reason we feel a difficulty in mounting, and
pass not without a kind of reluctance from the inferior to that which is
situated above it; as if our ideas acquired a kind of gravity from their
objects. As a proof of this, do we not find, that the facility, which
is so much studyed in music and poetry, is called the fail or cadency of
the harmony or period; the idea of facility communicating to us that of
descent, in the same manner as descent produces a facility?

Since the imagination, therefore, in running from low to high, finds an
opposition in its internal qualities and principles, and since the soul,
when elevated with joy and courage, in a manner seeks opposition, and
throws itself with alacrity into any scene of thought or action, where
its courage meets with matter to nourish and employ it; it follows, that
everything, which invigorates and inlivens the soul, whether by touching
the passions or imagination naturally conveys to the fancy this
inclination for ascent, and determines it to run against the natural
stream of its thoughts and conceptions. This aspiring progress of
the imagination suits the present disposition of the mind; and the
difficulty, instead of extinguishing its vigour and alacrity, has the
contrary affect, of sustaining and encreasing it. Virtue, genius, power,
and riches are for this reason associated with height and sublimity; as
poverty, slavery, and folly are conjoined with descent and lowness. Were
the case the same with us as Milton represents it to be with the angels,
to whom descent is adverse, and who cannot sink without labour and
compulsion, this order of things would be entirely inverted; as appears
hence, that the very nature of ascent and descent is derived from the
difficulty and propensity, and consequently every one of their effects
proceeds from that origin.

All this is easily applied to the present question, why a considerable
distance in time produces a greater veneration for the distant objects
than a like removal in space. The imagination moves with more difficulty
in passing from one portion of time to another, than in a transition
through the parts of space; and that because space or extension appears
united to our senses, while time or succession is always broken and
divided. This difficulty, when joined with a small distance, interrupts
and weakens the fancy: But has a contrary effect in a great removal. The
mind, elevated by the vastness of its object, is still farther elevated
by the difficulty of the conception; and being obliged every moment to
renew its efforts in the transition from one part of time to another,
feels a more vigorous and sublime disposition, than in a transition
through the parts of space, where the ideas flow along with easiness and
facility. In this disposition, the imagination, passing, as is usual,
from the consideration of the distance to the view of the distant
objects, gives us a proportionable veneration for it; and this is the
reason why all the relicts of antiquity are so precious in our eyes, and
appear more valuable than what is brought even from the remotest parts
of the world.

The third phaenomenon I have remarked will be a full confirmation of
this. It is not every removal in time, which has the effect of producing
veneration and esteem. We are not apt to imagine our posterity
will excel us, or equal our ancestors. This phaenomenon is the more
remarkable, because any distance in futurity weakens not our ideas so
much as an equal removal in the past. Though a removal in the past, when
very great, encreases our passions beyond a like removal in the future,
yet a small removal has a greater influence in diminishing them.

In our common way of thinking we are placed in a kind of middle station
betwixt the past and future; and as our imagination finds a kind of
difficulty in running along the former, and a facility in following the
course of the latter, the difficulty conveys the notion of ascent, and
the facility of the contrary. Hence we imagine our ancestors to be, in
a manner, mounted above us, and our posterity to lie below us. Our fancy
arrives not at the one without effort, but easily reaches the other:
Which effort weakens the conception, where the distance is small; but
enlarges and elevates the imagination, when attended with a suitable
object. As on the other hand, the facility assists the fancy in a
small removal, but takes off from its force when it contemplates any
considerable distance.

It may not be improper, before we leave this subject of the will, to
resume, in a few words, all that has been said concerning it, in order
to set the whole more distinctly before the eyes of the reader. What
we commonly understand by passion is a violent and sensible emotion of
mind, when any good or evil is presented, or any object, which, by the
original formation of our faculties, is fitted to excite an appetite.
By reason we mean affections of the very same kind with the former; but
such as operate more calmly, and cause no disorder in the temper: Which
tranquillity leads us into a mistake concerning them, and causes us to
regard them as conclusions only of our intellectual faculties. Both
the causes and effects of these violent and calm passions are pretty
variable, and depend, in a great measure, on the peculiar temper
and disposition of every individual. Generally speaking, the violent
passions have a more powerful influence on the will; though it is often
found, that the calm ones, when corroborated by reflection, and
seconded by resolution, are able to controul them in their most furious
movements. What makes this whole affair more uncertain, is, that a calm
passion may easily be changed into a violent one, either by a change of
temper, or of the circumstances and situation of the object, as by the
borrowing of force from any attendant passion, by custom, or by exciting
the imagination. Upon the whole, this struggle of passion and of reason,
as it is called, diversifies human life, and makes men so different
not only from each other, but also from themselves in different times.
Philosophy can only account for a few of the greater and more sensible
events of this war; but must leave all the smaller and more delicate
revolutions, as dependent on principles too fine and minute for her


It is easy to observe, that the passions, both direct and indirect, are
founded on pain and pleasure, and that in order to produce an affection
of any kind, it is only requisite to present some good or evil. Upon the
removal of pain and pleasure there immediately follows a removal of love
and hatred, pride and humility, desire and aversion, and of most of our
reflective or secondary impressions.

The impressions, which arise from good and evil most naturally, and with
the least preparation are the direct passions of desire and aversion,
grief and joy, hope and fear, along with volition. The mind by an
original instinct tends to unite itself with the good, and to avoid the
evil, though they be conceived merely in idea, and be considered as to
exist in any future period of time.

But supposing that there is an immediate impression of pain or pleasure,
and that arising from an object related to ourselves or others, this
does not prevent the propensity or aversion, with the consequent
emotions, but by concurring with certain dormant principles of the human
mind, excites the new impressions of pride or humility, love or hatred.
That propensity, which unites us to the object, or separates us from
it, still continues to operate, but in conjunction with the indirect
passions, which arise from a double relation of impressions and ideas.

These indirect passions, being always agreeable or uneasy, give in their
turn additional force to the direct passions, and encrease our desire
and aversion to the object. Thus a suit of fine cloaths produces
pleasure from their beauty; and this pleasure produces the direct
passions, or the impressions of volition and desire. Again, when these
cloaths are considered as belonging to ourself, the double relation
conveys to us the sentiment of pride, which is an indirect passion; and
the pleasure, which attends that passion, returns back to the direct
affections, and gives new force to our desire or volition, joy or hope.

When good is certain or probable, it produces joy. When evil is in the
same situation there arises GRIEF or SORROW.

When either good or evil is uncertain, it gives rise to FEAR or HOPE,
according to the degrees of uncertainty on the one side or the other.

DESIRE arises from good considered simply, and AVERSION is derived from
evil. The WILL exerts itself, when either the good or the absence of the
evil may be attained by any action of the mind or body.

Beside good and evil, or in other words, pain and pleasure, the direct
passions frequently arise from a natural impulse or instinct, which is
perfectly unaccountable. Of this kind is the desire of punishment to our
enemies, and of happiness to our friends; hunger, lust, and a few other
bodily appetites. These passions, properly speaking, produce good and
evil, and proceed not from them, like the other affections.

None of the direct affections seem to merit our particular attention,
except hope and fear, which we shall here endeavour to account for.
It is evident that the very same event, which by its certainty would
produce grief or joy, gives always rise to fear or hope, when only
probable and uncertain. In order, therefore, to understand the reason
why this circumstance makes such a considerable difference, we must
reflect on what I have already advanced in the preceding book concerning
the nature of probability.

Probability arises from an opposition of contrary chances or causes, by
which the mind is not allowed to fix on either side, but is incessantly
tost from one to another, and at one moment is determined to consider
an object as existent, and at another moment as the contrary. The
imagination or understanding, call it which you please, fluctuates
betwixt the opposite views; and though perhaps it may be oftener turned
to the one side than the other, it is impossible for it, by reason of
the opposition of causes or chances, to rest on either. The pro and con
of the question alternately prevail; and the mind, surveying the object
in its opposite principles, finds such a contrariety as utterly destroys
all certainty and established opinion.

Suppose, then, that the object, concerning whose reality we are
doubtful, is an object either of desire or aversion, it is evident,
that, according as the mind turns itself either to the one side or the
other, it must feel a momentary impression of joy or sorrow. An object,
whose existence we desire, gives satisfaction, when we reflect on those
causes, which produce it; and for the same reason excites grief
or uneasiness from the opposite consideration: So that as the
understanding, in all probable questions, is divided betwixt the
contrary points of view, the affections must in the same manner be
divided betwixt opposite emotions.

Now if we consider the human mind, we shall find, that with regard to
the passions, it is not the nature of a wind-instrument of music, which
in running over all the notes immediately loses the sound after the
breath ceases; but rather resembles a string-instrument, where after
each stroke the vibrations still retain some sound, which gradually and
insensibly decays. The imagination is extreme quick and agile; but the
passions are slow and restive: For which reason, when any object is
presented, that affords a variety of views to the one, and emotions to
the other; though the fancy may change its views with great celerity;
each stroke will not produce a clear and distinct note of passion,
but the one passion will always be mixt and confounded with the other.
According as the probability inclines to good or evil, the passion of
joy or sorrow predominates in the composition: Because the nature of
probability is to cast a superior number of views or chances on one
side; or, which is the same thing, a superior number of returns of
one passion; or since the dispersed passions are collected into one, a
superior degree of that passion. That is, in other words, the grief and
joy being intermingled with each other, by means of the contrary views
of the imagination, produce by their union the passions of hope and

Upon this head there may be started a very curious question concerning
that contrariety of passions, which is our present subject. It is
observable, that where the objects of contrary passions are presented
at once, beside the encrease of the predominant passion (which has
been already explained, and commonly arises at their first shock
or rencounter) it sometimes happens, that both the passions exist
successively, and by short intervals; sometimes, that they destroy each
other, and neither of them takes place; and sometimes that both of them
remain united in the mind. It may, therefore, be asked, by what theory
we can explain these variations, and to what general principle we can
reduce them.

When the contrary passions arise from objects entirely different, they
take place alternately, the want of relation in the ideas separating the
impressions from each other, and preventing their opposition. Thus when
a man is afflicted for the loss of a law-suit, and joyful for the birth
of a son, the mind running from the agreeable to the calamitous object,
with whatever celerity it may perform this motion, can scarcely temper
the one affection with the other, and remain betwixt them in a state of

It more easily attains that calm situation, when the same event is of a
mixt nature, and contains something adverse and something prosperous
in its different circumstances. For in that case, both the passions,
mingling with each other by means of the relation, become mutually
destructive, and leave the mind in perfect tranquility.

But suppose, in the third place, that the object is not a compound of
good or evil, but is considered as probable or improbable in any degree;
in that case I assert, that the contrary passions will both of them be
present at once in the soul, and instead of destroying and tempering
each other, will subsist together, and produce a third impression
or affection by their union. Contrary passions are not capable of
destroying each other, except when their contrary movements exactly
rencounter, and are opposite in their direction, as well as in the
sensation they produce. This exact rencounter depends upon the relations
of those ideas, from which they are derived, and is more or less
perfect, according to the degrees of the relation. In the case of
probability the contrary chances are so far related, that they determine
concerning the existence or non-existence of the same object. But this
relation is far from being perfect; since some of the chances lie on
the side of existence, and others on that of non-existence; which are
objects altogether incompatible. It is impossible by one steady view to
survey the opposite chances, and the events dependent on them; but it is
necessary, that the imagination should run alternately from the one to
the other. Each view of the imagination produces its peculiar passion,
which decays away by degrees, and is followed by a sensible vibration
after the stroke. The incompatibility of the views keeps the passions
from shocking in a direct line, if that expression may be allowed; and
yet their relation is sufficient to mingle their fainter emotions. It is
after this manner that hope and fear arise from the different mixture of
these opposite passions of grief and joy, and from their imperfect union
and conjunction.

Upon the whole, contrary passions succeed each other alternately, when
they arise from different objects: They mutually destroy each other,
when they proceed from different parts of the same: And they subsist
both of them and mingle together, when they are derived from the
contrary and incompatible chances or possibilities, on which any one
object depends. The influence of the relations of ideas is plainly seen
in this whole affair. If the objects of the contrary passions be totally
different, the passions are like two opposite liquors in different
bottles, which have no influence on each other. If the objects be
intimately connected, the passions are like an alcali and an acid,
which, being mingled, destroy each other. If the relation be more
imperfect, and consists in the contradictory views of the same object,
the passions are like oil and vinegar, which, however mingled, never
perfectly unite and incorporate.

As the hypothesis concerning hope and fear carries its own evidence
along with it, we shall be the more concise in our proofs. A few strong
arguments are better than many weak ones.

The passions of fear and hope may arise when the chances are equal on
both sides, and no superiority can be discovered in the one above the
other. Nay, in this situation the passions are rather the strongest, as
the mind has then the least foundation to rest upon, and is tossed with
the greatest uncertainty. Throw in a superior degree of probability to
the side of grief, you immediately see that passion diffuse itself over
the composition, and tincture it into fear. Encrease the probability,
and by that means the grief, the fear prevails still more and more, till
at last it runs insensibly, as the joy continually diminishes, into pure
grief. After you have brought it to this situation, diminish the
grief, after the same manner that you encreased it; by diminishing the
probability on that side, and you'll see the passion clear every moment,
until it changes insensibly into hope; which again runs, after the same
manner, by slow degrees, into joy, as you encrease that part of the
composition by the encrease of the probability. Are not these as plain
proofs, that the passions of fear and hope are mixtures of grief and
joy, as in optics it is a proof, that a coloured ray of the sun passing
through a prism, is a composition of two others, when, as you diminish
or encrease the quantity of either, you find it prevail proportionably
more or less in the composition? I am sure neither natural nor moral
philosophy admits of stronger proofs.

Probability is of two kinds, either when the object is really in itself
uncertain, and to be determined by chance; or when, though the object
be already certain, yet it is uncertain to our judgment, which finds
a number of proofs on each side of the question. Both these kinds of
probabilities cause fear and hope; which can only proceed from that
property, in which they agree, viz, the uncertainty and fluctuation they
bestow on the imagination by that contrariety of views, which is common
to both.

It is a probable good or evil, that commonly produces hope or fear;
because probability, being a wavering and unconstant method of surveying
an object, causes naturally a like mixture and uncertainty of passion.
But we may observe, that wherever from other causes this mixture can be
produced, the passions of fear and hope will arise, even though there
be no probability; which must be allowed to be a convincing proof of the
present hypothesis. We find that an evil, barely conceived as possible,
does sometimes produce fear; especially if the evil be very great. A man
cannot think of excessive pains and tortures without trembling, if he be
in the least danger of suffering them. The smallness of the probability
is compensated by the greatness of the evil; and the sensation is
equally lively, as if the evil were more probable. One view or glimpse
of the former, has the same effect as several of the latter.

But they are not only possible evils, that cause fear, but even
some allowed to be impossible; as when we tremble on the brink of a
precipice, though we know ourselves to be in perfect security, and have
it in our choice whether we wili advance a step farther. This
proceeds from the immediate presence of the evil, which influences the
imagination in the same manner as the certainty of it would do; but
being encountered by the reflection on our security, is immediately
retracted, and causes the same kind of passion, as when from a
contrariety of chances contrary passions are produced.

Evils, that are certain, have sometimes the same effect in producing
fear, as the possible or impossible. Thus a man in a strong prison
well-guarded, without the least means of escape, trembles at the thought
of the rack, to which he is sentenced. This happens only when the
certain evil is terrible and confounding; in which case the mind
continually rejects it with horror, while it continually presses in
upon the thought. The evil is there flxed and established, but the mind
cannot endure to fix upon it; from which fluctuation and uncertainty
there arises a passion of much the same appearance with fear.

But it is not only where good or evil is uncertain, as to its existence,
but also as to its kind, that fear or hope arises. Let one be told by
a person, whose veracity he cannot doubt of, that one of his sons is
suddenly killed, it is evident the passion this event would occasion,
would not settle into pure grief, till he got certain information, which
of his sons he had lost. Here there is an evil certain, but the kind of
it uncertain. Consequently the fear we feel on this occasion is without
the least mixture of joy, and arises merely from the fluctuation of the
fancy betwixt its objects. And though each side of the question produces
here the same passion, yet that passion cannot settle, but receives
from the imagination a tremulous and unsteady motion, resembling in its
cause, as well as in its sensation, the mixture and contention of grief
and joy.

From these principles we may account for a phaenomenon in the passions,
which at first sight seems very extraordinary, viz, that surprize is apt
to change into fear, and every thing that is unexpected affrights
us. The most obvious conclusion from this is, that human nature is in
general pusillanimous; since upon the sudden appearance of any object.
we immediately conclude it to be an evil, and without waiting till we
can examine its nature, whether it be good or bad, are at first affected
with fear. This I say is the most obvious conclusion; but upon farther
examination we shall find that the phaenomenon is otherwise to be
accounted for. The suddenness and strangeness of an appearance naturally
excite a commotion in the mind, like every thing for which we are not
prepared, and to which we are not accustomed. This commotion, again,
naturally produces a curiosity or inquisitiveness, which being very
violent, from the strong and sudden impulse of the object, becomes
uneasy, and resembles in its fluctuation and uncertainty, the sensation
of fear or the mixed passions of grief and joy. This image of
fear naturally converts into the thing itself, and gives us a real
apprehension of evil, as the mind always forms its judgments more from
its present disposition than from the nature of its objects.

Thus all kinds of uncertainty have a strong connexion with fear, even
though they do not cause any opposition of passions by the opposite
views and considerations they present to us. A person, who has left his
friend in any malady, will feel more anxiety upon his account, than if
he were present, though perhaps he is not only incapable of giving him
assistance, but likewise of judging of the event of his sickness. In
this case, though the principal object of the passion, viz, the life or
death of his friend, be to him equally uncertain when present as when
absent; yet there are a thousand little circumstances of his friend's
situation and condition, the knowledge of which fixes the idea, and
prevents that fluctuation and uncertainty so near allyed to fear.
Uncertainty is, indeed, in one respect as near allyed to hope as to
fear, since it makes an essential part in the composition of the former
passion; but the reason, why it inclines not to that side, is, that
uncertainty alone is uneasy, and has a reladon of impressions to the
uneasy passions.

It is thus our uncertainty concerning any minute circumstance relating
to a person encreases our apprehensions of his death or misfortune.
Horace has remarked this phaenomenon.


[As a bird, watching over her fledgelings, is more afraid of their being
attacked by snakes if she were to leave them even though, were she to
stay, she would not be any more capable of helping them, when they were
with her.]

But this principle of the connexion of fear with uncertainty I carry
farther, and observe that any doubt produces that passion, even though
it presents nothing to us on any side but what is good and desireable. A
virgin, on her bridalnight goes to bed full of fears and apprehensions,
though she expects nothing but pleasure of the highest kind, and what
she has long wished for. The newness and greatness of the event, the
confusion of wishes and joys so embarrass the mind, that it knows not
on what passion to fix itself; from whence arises a fluttering or
unsettledness of the spirits which being, in some degree, uneasy, very
naturally degenerates into fear.

Thus we still find, that whatever causes any fluctuation or mixture of
passions, with any degree of uneasiness, always produces fear, or at
least a passion so like it, that they are scarcely to be distinguished.

I have here confined myself to the examination of hope and fear in
their most simple and natural situation, without considering all the
variations they may receive from the mixture of different views and
reflections. Terror, consternation, astonishment, anxiety, and other
passions of that kind, are nothing but different species and degrees of
fear. It is easy to imagine how a different situation of the object, or
a different turn of thought, may change even the sensation of a passion;
and this may in general account for all the particular sub-divisions of
the other affections, as well as of fear. Love may shew itself in the
shape of tenderness, friendship, intimacy, esteem, good-will, and in
many other appearances; which at the bottom are the same affections; and
arise from the same causes, though with a small variation, which it is
not necessary to give any particular account of. It is for this reason I
have all along confined myself to the principal passion.

The same care of avoiding prolixity is the reason why I wave the
examination of the will and direct passions, as they appear in animals;
since nothing is more evident, than that they are of the same nature,
and excited by the same causes as in human creatures. I leave this to
the reader's own observation; desiring him at the same time to consider
the additional force this bestows on the present system.


But methinks we have been not a little inattentive to run over so many
different parts of the human mind, and examine so many passions, without
taking once into the consideration that love of truth, which was the
first source of all our enquiries. Twill therefore be proper, before
we leave this subject, to bestow a few reflections on that passion, and
shew its origin in human nature. It is an affection of so peculiar a
kind, that it would have been impossible to have treated of it under any
of those heads, which we have examined, without danger of obscurity and

Truth is of two kinds, consisting either in the discovery of the
proportions of ideas, considered as such, or in the conformity of our
ideas of objects to their real existence. It is certain, that the former
species of truth, is not desired merely as truth, and that it is not the
justness of our conclusions, which alone gives the pleasure. For these
conclusions are equally just, when we discover the equality of two
bodies by a pair of compasses, as when we learn it by a mathematical
demonstration; and though in the one case the proofs be demonstrative,
and in the other only sensible, yet generally speaking, the mind
acquiesces with equal assurance in the one as in the other. And in an
arithmetical operation, where both the truth and the assurance are
of the same nature, as in the most profound algebraical problem, the
pleasure is very inconsiderable, if rather it does not degenerate
into pain: Which is an evident proof, that the satisfaction, which we
sometimes receive from the discovery of truth, proceeds not from it,
merely as such, but only as endowed with certain qualities.

The first and most considerable circumstance requisite to render
truth agreeable, is the genius and capacity, which is employed in its
invention and discovery. What is easy and obvious is never valued; and
even what is in itself difficult, if we come to the knowledge of it
without difficulty, and without any stretch of thought or judgment,
is but little regarded. We love to trace the demonstrations of
mathematicians; but should receive small entertainment from a person,
who should barely inform us of the proportions of lines and angles,
though we reposed the utmost confidence both in his judgment and
veracity. In this case it is sufficient to have ears to learn the truth.
We never are obliged to fix our attention or exert our genius; which of
all other exercises of the mind is the most pleasant and agreeable.

But though the exercise of genius be the principal source of that
satisfaction we receive from the sciences, yet I doubt, if it be alone
sufficient to give us any considerable enjoyment. The truth we discover
must also be of some importance. It is easy to multiply algebraical
problems to infinity, nor is there any end in the discovery of the
proportions of conic sections; though few mathematicians take any
pleasure in these researches, but turn their thoughts to what is more
useful and important. Now the question is, after what manner this
utility and importance operate upon us? The difficulty on this head
arises from hence, that many philosophers have consumed their time, have
destroyed their health, and neglected their fortune, in the search of
such truths, as they esteemed important and useful to the world, though
it appeared from their whole conduct and behaviour, that they were not
endowed with any share of public spirit, nor had any concern for the
interests of mankind. Were they convinced, that their discoveries
were of no consequence, they would entirely lose all relish for their
studies, and that though the consequences be entirely indifferent to
them; which seems to be a contradiction.

To remove this contradiction, we must consider, that there are certain
desires and inclinations, which go no farther than the imagination,
and are rather the faint shadows and images of passions, than any
real affections. Thus, suppose a man, who takes a survey of the
fortifications of any city; considers their strength and advantages,
natural or acquired; observes the disposition and contrivance of the
bastions, ramparts, mines, and other military works; it is plain, that
in proportion as all these are fitted to attain their ends he will
receive a suitable pleasure and satisfaction. This pleasure, as it
arises from the utility, not the form of the objects, can be no other
than a sympathy with the inhabitants, for whose security all this art is
employed; though it is possible, that this person, as a stranger or an
enemy, may in his heart have no kindness for them, or may even entertain
a hatred against them.

It may indeed be objected, that such a remote sympathy is a very slight
foundation for a passion, and that so much industry and application,
as we frequently observe in philosophers, can never be derived from so
inconsiderable an original. But here I return to what I have already
remarked, that the pleasure of study conflicts chiefly in the action
of the mind, and the exercise of the genius and understanding in the
discovery or comprehension of any truth. If the importance of the truth
be requisite to compleat the pleasure, it is not on account of any
considerable addition, which of itself it brings to our enjoyment, but
only because it is, in some measure, requisite to fix our attention.
When we are careless and inattentive, the same action of the
understanding has no effect upon us, nor is able to convey any of that
satisfaction, which arises from it, when we are in another disposition.

But beside the action of the mind, which is the principal foundation
of the pleasure, there is likewise required a degree of success in the
attainment of the end, or the discovery of that truth we examine. Upon
this head I shall make a general remark, which may be useful on many
occasions, viz, that where the mind pursues any end with passion; though
that passion be not derived originally from the end, but merely from
the action and pursuit; yet by the natural course of the affections,
we acquire a concern for the end itself, and are uneasy under any
disappointment we meet with in the pursuit of it. This proceeds from the
relation and parallel direction of the passions above-mentioned.

To illustrate all this by a similar instance, I shall observe, that
there cannot be two passions more nearly resembling each other, than
those of hunting and philosophy, whatever disproportion may at first
sight appear betwixt them. It is evident, that the pleasure of hunting
conflicts in the action of the mind and body; the motion, the attention,
the difficulty, and the uncertainty. It is evident likewise, that these
actions must be attended with an idea of utility, in order to their
having any effect upon us. A man of the greatest fortune, and the
farthest removed from avarice, though he takes a pleasure in hunting
after patridges and pheasants, feels no satisfaction in shooting crows
and magpies; and that because he considers the first as fit for the
table, and the other as entirely useless. Here it is certain, that the
utility or importance of itself causes no real passion, but is
only requisite to support the imagination; and the same person, who
over-looks a ten times greater profit in any other subject, is pleased
to bring home half a dozen woodcocks or plovers, after having employed
several hours in hunting after them. To make the parallel betwixt
hunting and philosophy more compleat, we may observe, that though in
both cases the end of our action may in itself be despised, yet in the
heat of the action we acquire such an attention to this end, that we are
very uneasy under any disappointments, and are sorry when we either miss
our game, or fall into any error in our reasoning.

If we want another parallel to these affections, we may consider the
passion of gaming, which affords a pleasure from the same principles
as hunting and philosophy. It has been remarked, that the pleasure of
gaming arises not from interest alone; since many leave a sure gain for
this entertainment: Neither is it derived from the game alone; since
the same persons have no satisfaction, when they play for nothing: But
proceeds from both these causes united, though separately they have
no effect. It is here, as in certain chymical preparations, where the
mixture of two clear and transparent liquids produces a third, which is
opaque and coloured..

The interest, which we have in any game, engages our attention, without
which we can have no enjoyment, either in that or in any other action.
Our attention being once engaged, the difficulty, variety, and sudden
reverses of fortune, still farther interest us; and it is from that
concern our satisfaction arises. Human life is so tiresome a scene, and
men generally are of such indolent dispositions, that whatever amuses
them, though by a passion mixt with pain, does in the main give them a
sensible pleasure. And this pleasure is here encreased by the nature of
the objects, which being sensible, and of a narrow compass, are entered
into with facility, and are agreeable to the imagination.

The same theory, that accounts for the love of truth in mathematics and
algebra may be extended to morals, politics, natural philosophy, and
other studies, where we consider not the other abstract relations of
ideas, but their real connexions and existence. But beside the love of
knowledge, which displays itself in the sciences, there is a certain
curiosity implanted in human nature, which is a passion derived from
a quite different principle. Some people have an insatiable desire of
knowing the actions and circumstances of their neighbours, though their
interest be no way concerned in them, and they must entirely depend on
others for their information; in which case there is no room for study
or application. Let us search for the reason of this phaenomenon.

It has been proved at large, that the influence of belief is at once to
inliven and infix any idea in the imagination, and prevent all kind
of hesitation and uncertainty about it. Both these circumstances are
advantageous. By the vivacity of the idea we interest the fancy, and
produce, though in a lesser degree, the same pleasure, which arises from
a moderate passion. As the vivacity of the idea gives pleasure, so its
certainty prevents uneasiness, by fixing one particular idea in the
mind, and keeping it from wavering in the choice of its objects. It is a
quality of human nature, which is conspicuous on many occasions, and is
common both to the mind and body, that too sudden and violent a change
is unpleasant to us, and that however any objects may in themselves be
indifferent, yet their alteration gives uneasiness. As it is the nature
of doubt to cause a variation in the thought, and transport us suddenly
from one idea to another, it must of consequence be the occasion of
pain. This pain chiefly takes place, where interest, relation, or the
greatness and novelty of any event interests us in it. It is not every
matter of fact, of which we have a curiosity to be informed; neither are
they such only as we have an interest to know. It is sufficient if the
idea strikes on us with such force, and concerns us so nearly, as to
give us an uneasiness in its instability and inconstancy. A stranger,
when he arrives first at any town, may be entirely indifferent about
knowing the history and adventures of the inhabitants; but as he becomes
farther acquainted with them, and has lived any considerable time among
them, he acquires the same curiosity as the natives. When we are reading
the history of a nation, we may have an ardent desire of clearing up
any doubt or difficulty, that occurs in it; but become careless in such
researches, when the ideas of these events are, in a great measure,




There is an inconvenience which attends all abstruse reasoning that
it may silence, without convincing an antagonist, and requires the
same intense study to make us sensible of its force, that was at first
requisite for its invention. When we leave our closet, and engage in
the common affairs of life, its conclusions seem to vanish, like the
phantoms of the night on the appearance of the morning; and it is
difficult for us to retain even that conviction, which we had attained
with difficulty. This is still more conspicuous in a long chain of
reasoning, where we must preserve to the end the evidence of the first
propositions, and where we often lose sight of all the most received
maxims, either of philosophy or common life. I am not, however, without
hopes, that the present system of philosophy will acquire new force as
it advances; and that our reasonings concerning morals will corroborate
whatever has been said concerning the UNDERSTANDING and the PASSIONS.
Morality is a subject that interests us above all others: We fancy the
peace of society to be at stake in every decision concerning it; and
it is evident, that this concern must make our speculations appear
more real and solid, than where the subject is, in a great measure,
indifferent to us. What affects us, we conclude can never be a chimera;
and as our passion is engaged on the one side or the other, we naturally
think that the question lies within human comprehension; which, in other
cases of this nature, we are apt to entertain some doubt of. Without
this advantage I never should have ventured upon a third volume of such
abstruse philosophy, in an age, wherein the greatest part of men seem
agreed to convert reading into an amusement, and to reject every thing
that requires any considerable degree of attention to be comprehended.

It has been observed, that nothing is ever present to the mind but
its perceptions; and that all the actions of seeing, hearing, judging,
loving, hating, and thinking, fall under this denomination. The mind can
never exert itself in any action, which we may not comprehend under the
term of perception; and consequently that term is no less applicable to
those judgments, by which we distinguish moral good and evil, than
to every other operation of the mind. To approve of one character, to
condemn another, are only so many different perceptions.

Now as perceptions resolve themselves into two kinds, viz. impressions
and ideas, this distinction gives rise to a question, with which we
shall open up our present enquiry concerning morals. WHETHER IT IS
immediately cut off all loose discourses and declamations, and reduce us
to something precise and exact on the present subject.

Those who affirm that virtue is nothing but a conformity to reason; that
there are eternal fitnesses and unfitnesses of things, which are the
same to every rational being that considers them; that the immutable
measures of right and wrong impose an obligation, not only on human
creatures, but also on the Deity himself: All these systems concur in
the opinion, that morality, like truth, is discerned merely by ideas,
and by their juxta-position and comparison. In order, therefore, to
judge of these systems, we need only consider, whether it be possible,
from reason alone, to distinguish betwixt moral good and evil, or
whether there must concur some other principles to enable us to make
that distinction.

If morality had naturally no influence on human passions and actions,
it were in vain to take such pains to inculcate it; and nothing would be
more fruitless than that multitude of rules and precepts, with which all
moralists abound. Philosophy is commonly divided into speculative and
practical; and as morality is always comprehended under the latter
division, it is supposed to influence our passions and actions, and to
go beyond the calm and indolent judgments of the understanding. And this
is confirmed by common experience, which informs us, that men are often
governed by their duties, and are detered from some actions by the
opinion of injustice, and impelled to others by that of obligation.

Since morals, therefore, have an influence on the actions and
affections, it follows, that they cannot be derived from reason; and
that because reason alone, as we have already proved, can never have any
such influence. Morals excite passions, and produce or prevent actions.
Reason of itself is utterly impotent in this particular. The rules of
morality therefore, are not conclusions of our reason.

No one, I believe, will deny the justness of this inference; nor is
there any other means of evading it, than by denying that principle,
on which it is founded. As long as it is allowed, that reason has no
influence on our passions and action, it is in vain to pretend,
that morality is discovered only by a deduction of reason. An active
principle can never be founded on an inactive; and if reason be inactive
in itself, it must remain so in all its shapes and appearances, whether
it exerts itself in natural or moral subjects, whether it considers the
powers of external bodies, or the actions of rational beings.

It would be tedious to repeat all the arguments, by which I have proved
[Book II. Part III. Sect 3.], that reason is perfectly inert, and can
never either prevent or produce any action or affection, it will be easy
to recollect what has been said upon that subject. I shall only recall
on this occasion one of these arguments, which I shall endeavour
to render still more conclusive, and more applicable to the present

Reason is the discovery of truth or falshood. Truth or falshood consists
in an agreement or disagreement either to the real relations of ideas,
or to real existence and matter of fact. Whatever, therefore, is not
susceptible of this agreement or disagreement, is incapable of being
true or false, and can never be an object of our reason. Now it is
evident our passions, volitions, and actions, are not susceptible of
any such agreement or disagreement; being original facts and realities,
compleat in themselves, and implying no reference to other passions,
volitions, and actions. It is impossible, therefore, they can be
pronounced either true or false, and be either contrary or conformable
to reason.

This argument is of double advantage to our present purpose. For
it proves DIRECTLY, that actions do not derive their merit from a
conformity to reason, nor their blame from a contrariety to it; and it
proves the same truth more INDIRECTLY, by shewing us, that as reason
can never immediately prevent or produce any action by contradicting or
approving of it, it cannot be the source of moral good and evil, which
are found to have that influence. Actions may be laudable or blameable;
but they cannot be reasonable: Laudable or blameable, therefore, are
not the same with reasonable or unreasonable. The merit and demerit
of actions frequently contradict, and sometimes controul our natural
propensities. But reason has no such influence. Moral distinctions,
therefore, are not the offspring of reason. Reason is wholly inactive,
and can never be the source of so active a principle as conscience, or a
sense of morals.

But perhaps it may be said, that though no will or action can
be immediately contradictory to reason, yet we may find such a
contradiction in some of the attendants of the action, that is, in its
causes or effects. The action may cause a judgment, or may be obliquely
caused by one, when the judgment concurs with a passion; and by an
abusive way of speaking, which philosophy will scarce allow of, the same
contrariety may, upon that account, be ascribed to the action. How
far this truth or faishood may be the source of morals, it will now be
proper to consider.

It has been observed, that reason, in a strict and philosophical sense,
can have influence on our conduct only after two ways: Either when it
excites a passion by informing us of the existence of something which is
a proper object of it; or when it discovers the connexion of causes and
effects, so as to afford us means of exerting any passion. These are the
only kinds of judgment, which can accompany our actions, or can be
said to produce them in any manner; and it must be allowed, that these
judgments may often be false and erroneous. A person may be affected
with passion, by supposing a pain or pleasure to lie in an object, which
has no tendency to produce either of these sensations, or which produces
the contrary to what is imagined. A person may also take false measures
for the attaining his end, and may retard, by his foolish conduct,
instead of forwarding the execution of any project. These false
judgments may be thought to affect the passions and actions, which are
connected with them, and may be said to render them unreasonable, in
a figurative and improper way of speaking. But though this be
acknowledged, it is easy to observe, that these errors are so far
from being the source of all immorality, that they are commonly
very innocent, and draw no manner of guilt upon the person who is so
unfortunate as to fail into them. They extend not beyond a mistake of
fact, which moralists have not generally supposed criminal, as being
perfectly involuntary. I am more to be lamented than blamed, if I am
mistaken with regard to the influence of objects in producing pain or
pleasure, or if I know not the proper means of satisfying my desires.
No one can ever regard such errors as a defect in my moral character.
A fruit, for instance, that is really disagreeable, appears to me at a
distance, and through mistake I fancy it to be pleasant and delicious.
Here is one error. I choose certain means of reaching this fruit, which
are not proper for my end. Here is a second error; nor is there any
third one, which can ever possibly enter into our reasonings concerning
actions. I ask, therefore, if a man, in this situation, and guilty of
these two errors, is to be regarded as vicious and criminal, however
unavoidable they might have been? Or if it be possible to imagine, that
such errors are the sources of all immorality?

And here it may be proper to observe, that if moral distinctions be
derived from the truth or falshood of those judgments, they must take
place wherever we form the judgments; nor will there be any difference,
whether the question be concerning an apple or a kingdom, or whether the
error be avoidable or unavoidable. For as the very essence of morality
is supposed to consist in an agreement or disagreement to reason, the
other circumstances are entirely arbitrary, and can never either bestow
on any action the character of virtuous or vicious, or deprive it
of that character. To which we may add, that this agreement or
disagreement, not admitting of degrees, all virtues and vices would of
course be equal.

Should it be pretended, that though a mistake of fact be not criminal,
yet a mistake of right often is; and that this may be the source of
immorality: I would answer, that it is impossible such a mistake can
ever be the original source of immorality, since it supposes a real
right and wrong; that is, a real distinction in morals, independent of
these judgments. A mistake, therefore, of right may become a species
of immorality; but it is only a secondary one, and is founded on some
other, antecedent to it.

As to those judgments which are the effects of our actions, and which,
when false, give occasion to pronounce the actions contrary to truth
and reason; we may observe, that our actions never cause any judgment,
either true or false, in ourselves, and that it is only on others
they have such an influence. It is certain, that an action, on many
occasions, may give rise to false conclusions in others; and that a
person, who through a window sees any lewd behaviour of mine with my
neighbour's wife, may be so simple as to imagine she is certainly my
own. In this respect my action resembles somewhat a lye or falshood;
only with this difference, which is material, that I perform not the
action with any intention of giving rise to a false judgment in another,
but merely to satisfy my lust and passion. It causes, however, a mistake
and false judgment by accident; and the falshood of its effects may be
ascribed, by some odd figurative way of speaking, to the action itself.
But still I can see no pretext of reason for asserting, that the
tendency to cause such an error is the first spring or original source
of all immorality.

     [Footnote 12.  One might think it were entirely superfluous
     to prove this, if a late author [William Wollaston, THE
     RELIGION OF NATURE DELINEATED (London 1722)], who has had
     the good fortune to obtain some reputation, had not
     seriously affirmed, that such a falshood is the foundation
     of all guilt and moral deformity. That we may discover the
     fallacy of his hypothesis, we need only consider, that a
     false conclusion is drawn from an action, only by means of
     an obscurity of natural principles, which makes a cause be
     secretly interrupted In its operation, by contrary causes,
     and renders the connexion betwixt two objects uncertain and
     variable. Now, as a like uncertainty and variety of causes
     take place, even in natural objects, and produce a like
     error in our judgment, if that tendency to produce error
     were the very essence of vice and immorality, it should
     follow, that even inanimate objects might be vicious and

     One might think It were entirely superfluous to prove this,
     if a late author [William Wollaston, THE RELIGION OF NATURE
     DELINEATED (London 1722)], who has had the good fortune to
     obtain some reputation, had not seriously affirmed, that
     such a falshood is the foundation of all guilt and moral
     deformity. That we may discover the fallacy of his
     hypothesis, we need only consider, that a false conclusion
     is drawn from an action, only by means of an obscurity of
     natural principles, which makes a cause be secretly
     interrupted In its operation, by contrary causes, and
     renders the connexion betwixt two objects uncertain and
     variable. Now, as a like uncertainty and variety of causes
     take place, even in natural objects, and produce a like
     error in our judgment, if that tendency to produce error
     were the very essence of vice and immorality, it should
     follow, that even inanimate objects might be vicious and

     It is in vain to urge, that inanimate objects act without
     liberty and choice. For as liberty and choice are not
     necessary to make an action produce in us an erroneous
     conclusion, they can be, in no respect, essential to
     morality; and I do not readily perceive, upon this system,
     how they can ever come to be regarded by it. If the tendency
     to cause error be the origin of immorality, that tendency
     and immorality would in every case be inseparable.

     Add to this, that if I had used the precaution of shutting
     the windows, while I indulged myself in those liberties with
     my neighbour's wife, I should have been guilty of no
     immorality; and that because my action, being perfectly
     concealed, would have had no tendency to produce any false

     For the same reason, a thief, who steals In by a ladder at a
     window, and takes all imaginable care to cause no
     disturbance, is in no respect criminal. For either he will
     not be perceived, or if he be, it is impossible he can
     produce any error, nor will any one, from these
     circumstances, take him to be other than what he really is.

     It is well known, that those who are squint-sighted, do very
     readily cause mistakes in others, and that we Imagine they
     salute or are talking to one person, while they address
     themselves to anther. Are they therefore, upon that account,

     Besides, we may easily observe, that in all those arguments
     there is an evident reasoning in a circle. A person who
     takes possession of another's goods, and uses them as his
     own, in a manner declares them to be his own; and this
     falshood is the source of the immorality of injustice. But
     is property, or right, or obligation, intelligible, without
     an antecedent morality?

     A man that is ungrateful to his benefactor, in a manner
     affirms, that he never received any favours from him. But in
     what manner? Is it because it is his duty to be grateful?
     But this supposes, that there is some antecedent rule of
     duty and morals. Is it because human nature is generally
     grateful, and makes us conclude, that a man who does any
     harm never received any favour from the person he harmed?
     But human nature is not so generally grateful, as to justify
     such a conclusion. Or if it were, is an exception to a
     general rule in every case criminal, for no other reason
     than because it is an exception?

     But what may suffice entirely to destroy this whimsical
     system is, that it leaves us under the same difficulty to
     give a reason why truth is virtuous and falshood vicious, as
     to account for the merit or turpitude of any other action. I
     shall allow, if you please, that all immorality is derived
     from this supposed falshood in action, provided you can give
     me any plausible reason, why such a falshood is immoral. If
     you consider rightly of the matter, you will find yourself
     in the same difficulty as at the beginning.

     This last argument is very conclusive; because, if there be
     not an evident merit or turpitude annexed to this species of
     truth or falahood, It can never have any influence upon our
     actions. For, who ever thought of forbearing any action,
     because others might possibly draw false conclusions from
     it? Or, who ever performed any, that he might give rise to
     true conclusions?]

Thus upon the whole, it is impossible, that the distinction betwixt
moral good and evil, can be made to reason; since that distinction
has an influence upon our actions, of which reason alone is incapable.
Reason and judgment may, indeed, be the mediate cause of an action, by
prompting, or by directing a passion: But it is not pretended, that a
judgment of this kind, either in its truth or falshood, is attended
with virtue or vice. And as to the judgments, which are caused by our
judgments, they can still less bestow those moral qualities on the
actions, which are their causes.

But to be more particular, and to shew, that those eternal immutable
fitnesses and unfitnesses of things cannot be defended by sound
philosophy, we may weigh the following considerations.

If the thought and understanding were alone capable of fixing the
boundaries of right and wrong, the character of virtuous and vicious
either must lie in some relations of objects, or must be a matter of
fact, which is discovered by our reasoning. This consequence is evident.
As the operations of human understanding divide themselves into two
kinds, the comparing of ideas, and the inferring of matter of fact; were
virtue discovered by the understanding; it must be an object of one of
these operations, nor is there any third operation of the understanding.
which can discover it. There has been an opinion very industriously
propagated by certain philosophers, that morality is susceptible of
demonstration; and though no one has ever been able to advance a single
step in those demonstrations; yet it is taken for granted, that this
science may be brought to an equal certainty with geometry or algebra.
Upon this supposition vice and virtue must consist in some relations;
since it is allowed on all hands, that no matter of fact is capable
of being demonstrated. Let us, therefore, begin with examining this
hypothesis, and endeavour, if possible, to fix those moral qualities,
which have been so long the objects of our fruitless researches. Point
out distinctly the relations, which constitute morality or obligation,
that we may know wherein they consist, and after what manner we must
judge of them.

If you assert, that vice and virtue consist in relations susceptible
of certainty and demonstration, you must confine yourself to those four
relations, which alone admit of that degree of evidence; and in that
case you run into absurdities, from which you will never be able to
extricate yourself. For as you make the very essence of morality to lie
in the relations, and as there is no one of these relations but what is
applicable, not only to an irrational, but also to an inanimate object;
it follows, that even such objects must be susceptible of merit or
IN QUANTITY AND NUMBER; all these relations belong as properly
to matter, as to our actions, passions, and volitions. It is
unquestionable, therefore, that morality lies not in any of these
relations, nor the sense of it in their discovery.

     [Footnote 13.  As a proof, how confused our way of thinking
     on this subject commonly is, we may observe, that those who
     assert, that morality is demonstrable, do not say, that
     morality lies in the relations, and that the relations are
     distinguishable by reason. They only say, that reason can
     discover such an action, In such relations, to be virtuous,
     and such another vicious. It seems they thought it
     sufficient, if they could bring the word, Relation, into the
     proposition, without troubling themselves whether it was to
     the purpose or not. But here, I think, is plain argument.
     Demonstrative reason discovers only relations. But that
     reason, according to this hypothesis, discovers also vice
     and virtue. These moral qualities, therefore, must be
     relations. When we blame any action, in any situation, the
     whole complicated object, of action and situation, must form
     certain relations, wherein the essence of vice consists.
     This hypothesis is not otherwise intelligible. For what does
     reason discover, when it pronounces any action vicious? Does
     it discover a relation or a matter of fact? These questions
     are decisive, and must not be eluded.]

Should it be asserted, that the sense of morality consists in
the discovery of some relation, distinct from these, and that our
enumeration was not compleat, when we comprehended all demonstrable
relations under four general heads: To this I know not what to reply,
till some one be so good as to point out to me this new relation. It is
impossible to refute a system, which has never yet been explained. In
such a manner of fighting in the dark, a man loses his blows in the air,
and often places them where the enemy is not present.

I must, therefore, on this occasion, rest contented with requiring the
two following conditions of any one that would undertake to clear up
this system. First, As moral good and evil belong only to the actions
of the mind, and are derived from our situation with regard to external
objects, the relations, from which these moral distinctions arise, must
lie only betwixt internal actions, and external objects, and must not be
applicable either to internal actions, compared among themselves, or to
external objects, when placed in opposition to other external objects.
For as morality is supposed to attend certain relations, if these
relations coued belong to internal actions considered singly, it would
follow, that we might be guilty of crimes in ourselves, and independent
of our situation, with respect to the universe: And in like manner, if
these moral relations coued be applied to external objects, it would
follow, that even inanimate beings would be susceptible of moral beauty
and deformity. Now it seems difficult to imagine, that any relation can
be discovered betwixt our passions, volitions and actions, compared
to external objects, which relation might not belong either to these
passions and volitions, or to these external objects, compared among
themselves. But it will be still more difficult to fulfil the second
condition, requisite to justify this system. According to the principles
of those who maintain an abstract rational difference betwixt moral good
and evil, and a natural fitness and unfitness of things, it is not only
supposed, that these relations, being eternal and immutable, are the
same, when considered by every rational creature, but their effects are
also supposed to be necessarily the same; and it is concluded they have
no less, or rather a greater, influence in directing the will of the
deity, than in governing the rational and virtuous of our own species.
These two particulars are evidently distinct. It is one thing to know
virtue, and another to conform the will to it. In order, therefore, to
prove, that the measures of right and wrong are eternal laws, obligatory
on every rational mind, it is not sufficient to shew the relations upon
which they are founded: We must also point out the connexion betwixt
the relation and the will; and must prove that this connexion is so
necessary, that in every well-disposed mind, it must take place and have
its influence; though the difference betwixt these minds be in other
respects immense and infinite. Now besides what I have already proved,
that even in human nature no relation can ever alone produce any
action: besides this, I say, it has been shewn, in treating of the
understanding, that there is no connexion of cause and effect, such
as this is supposed to be, which is discoverable otherwise than by
experience, and of which we can pretend to have any security by the
simple consideration of the objects. All beings in the universe,
considered in themselves, appear entirely loose and independent of each
other. It is only by experience we learn their influence and connexion;
and this influence we ought never to extend beyond experience.

Thus it will be impossible to fulfil the first condition required to the
system of eternal measures of right and wrong; because it is impossible
to shew those relations, upon which such a distinction may be founded:
And it is as impossible to fulfil the second condition; because we
cannot prove A PRIORI, that these relations, if they really existed and
were perceived, would be universally forcible and obligatory.

But to make these general reflections more dear and convincing, we may
illustrate them by some particular instances, wherein this character of
moral good or evil is the most universally acknowledged. Of all crimes
that human creatures are capable of committing, the most horrid and
unnatural is ingratitude, especially when it is committed against
parents, and appears in the more flagrant instances of wounds and death.
This is acknowledged by all mankind, philosophers as well as the people;
the question only arises among philosophers, whether the guilt or moral
deformity of this action be discovered by demonstrative reasoning, or
be felt by an internal sense, and by means of some sentiment, which the
reflecting on such an action naturally occasions. This question will
soon be decided against the former opinion, if we can shew the same
relations in other objects, without the notion of any guilt or iniquity
attending them. Reason or science is nothing but the comparing of ideas,
and the discovery of their relations; and if the same relations have
different characters, it must evidently follow, that those characters
are not discovered merely by reason. To put the affair, therefore, to
this trial, let us chuse any inanimate object, such as an oak or elm;
and let us suppose, that by the dropping of its seed, it produces a
sapling below it, which springing up by degrees, at last overtops and
destroys the parent tree: I ask, if in this instance there be wanting
any relation, which is discoverable in parricide or ingratitude? Is
not the one tree the cause of the other's existence; and the latter the
cause of the destruction of the former, in the same manner as when a
child murders his parent? It is not sufficient to reply, that a choice
or will is wanting. For in the case of parricide, a will does not give
rise to any DIFFERENT relations, but is only the cause from which the
action is derived; and consequently produces the same relations, that in
the oak or elm arise from some other principles. It is a will or choice,
that determines a man to kill his parent; and they are the laws of
matter and motion, that determine a sapling to destroy the oak, from
which it sprung. Here then the same relations have different causes; but
still the relations are the same: And as their discovery is not in both
cases attended with a notion of immorality, it follows, that that notion
does not arise from such a discovery.

But to chuse an instance, still more resembling; I would fain ask any
one, why incest in the human species is criminal, and why the very same
action, and the same relations in animals have not the smallest moral
turpitude and deformity? If it be answered, that this action is innocent
in animals, because they have not reason sufficient to discover its
turpitude; but that man, being endowed with that faculty which ought to
restrain him to his duty, the same action instantly becomes criminal to
him; should this be said, I would reply, that this is evidently
arguing in a circle. For before reason can perceive this turpitude, the
turpitude must exist; and consequently is independent of the decisions
of our reason, and is their object more properly than their effect.
According to this system, then, every animal, that has sense, and
appetite, and will; that is, every animal must be susceptible of all the
same virtues and vices, for which we ascribe praise and blame to human
creatures. All the difference is, that our superior reason may serve to
discover the vice or virtue, and by that means may augment the blame
or praise: But still this discovery supposes a separate being in these
moral distinctions, and a being, which depends only on the will and
appetite, and which, both in thought and reality, may be distinguished
from the reason. Animals are susceptible of the same relations, with
respect to each other, as the human species, and therefore would also be
susceptible of the same morality, if the essence of morality consisted
in these relations. Their want of a sufficient degree of reason may
hinder them from perceiving the duties and obligations of morality,
but can never hinder these duties from existing; since they must
antecedently exist, in order to their being perceived. Reason must find
them, and can never produce them. This argument deserves to be weighed,
as being, in my opinion, entirely decisive.

Nor does this reasoning only prove, that morality consists not in any
relations, that are the objects of science; but if examined, will prove
with equal certainty, that it consists not in any matter of fact, which
can be discovered by the understanding. This is the second part of our
argument; and if it can be made evident, we may conclude, that morality
is not an object of reason. But can there be any difficulty in proving,
that vice and virtue are not matters of fact, whose existence we can
infer by reason? Take any action allowed to be vicious: Wilful murder,
for instance. Examine it in all lights, and see if you can find that
matter of fact, or real existence, which you call vice. In which-ever
way you take it, you find only certain passions, motives, volitions
and thoughts. There is no other matter of fact in the case. The vice
entirely escapes you, as long as you consider the object. You never can
find it, till you turn your reflection into your own breast, and find a
sentiment of disapprobation, which arises in you, towards this action.
Here is a matter of fact; but it is the object of feeling, not of
reason. It lies in yourself, not in the object. So that when you
pronounce any action or character to be vicious, you mean nothing,
but that from the constitution of your nature you have a feeling or
sentiment of blame from the contemplation of it. Vice and virtue,
therefore, may be compared to sounds, colours, heat and cold, which,
according to modern philosophy, are not qualities in objects, but
perceptions in the mind: And this discovery in morals, like that other
in physics, is to be regarded as a considerable advancement of the
speculative sciences; though, like that too, it has little or no
influence on practice. Nothing can be more real, or concern us more,
than our own sentiments of pleasure and uneasiness; and if these be
favourable to virtue, and unfavourable to vice, no more can be requisite
to the regulation of our conduct and behaviour.

I cannot forbear adding to these reasonings an observation, which may,
perhaps, be found of some importance. In every system of morality,
which I have hitherto met with, I have always remarked, that the author
proceeds for some time in the ordinary way of reasoning, and establishes
the being of a God, or makes observations concerning human affairs;
when of a sudden I am surprized to find, that instead of the usual
copulations of propositions, is, and is not, I meet with no proposition
that is not connected with an ought, or an ought not. This change is
imperceptible; but is, however, of the last consequence. For as this
ought, or ought not, expresses some new relation or affirmation, it is
necessary that it should be observed and explained; and at the same time
that a reason should be given, for what seems altogether inconceivable,
how this new relation can be a deduction from others, which are entirely
different from it. But as authors do not commonly use this precaution,
I shall presume to recommend it to the readers; and am persuaded, that
this small attention would subvert all the vulgar systems of morality,
and let us see, that the distinction of vice and virtue is not founded
merely on the relations of objects, nor is perceived by reason.


Thus the course of the argument leads us to conclude, that since vice
and virtue are not discoverable merely by reason, or the comparison
of ideas, it must be by means of some impression or sentiment they
occasion, that we are able to mark the difference betwixt them. Our
decisions concerning moral rectitude and depravity are evidently
perceptions; and as all perceptions are either impressions or ideas, the
exclusion of the one is a convincing argument for the other. Morality,
therefore, is more properly felt than judged of; though this feeling or
sentiment is commonly so soft and gentle, that we are apt to confound
it with an idea, according to our common custom of taking all things for
the same, which have any near resemblance to each other.

The next question is, Of what nature are these impressions, and after
what manner do they operate upon us? Here we cannot remain long in
suspense, but must pronounce the impression arising from virtue, to
be agreeable, and that proceding from vice to be uneasy. Every moments
experience must convince us of this. There is no spectacle so fair and
beautiful as a noble and generous action; nor any which gives us more
abhorrence than one that is cruel and treacherous. No enjoyment equals
the satisfaction we receive from the company of those we love and
esteem; as the greatest of all punishments is to be obliged to pass our
lives with those we hate or contemn. A very play or romance may afford
us instances of this pleasure, which virtue conveys to us; and pain,
which arises from vice.

Now since the distinguishing impressions, by which moral good or evil is
known, are nothing but particular pains or pleasures; it follows,
that in all enquiries concerning these moral distinctions, it will be
sufficient to shew the principles, which make us feel a satisfaction or
uneasiness from the survey of any character, in order to satisfy us
why the character is laudable or blameable. An action, or sentiment,
or character is virtuous or vicious; why? because its view causes
a pleasure or uneasiness of a particular kind. In giving a reason,
therefore, for the pleasure or uneasiness, we sufficiently explain the
vice or virtue. To have the sense of virtue, is nothing but to feel a
satisfaction of a particular kind from the contemplation of a character.
The very feeling constitutes our praise or admiration. We go no farther;
nor do we enquire into the cause of the satisfaction. We do not infer
a character to be virtuous, because it pleases: But in feeling that it
pleases after such a particular manner, we in effect feel that it is
virtuous. The case is the same as in our judgments concerning all kinds
of beauty, and tastes, and sensations. Our approbation is implyed in the
immediate pleasure they convey to us.

I have objected to the system, which establishes eternal rational
measures of right and wrong, that it is impossible to shew, in the
actions of reasonable creatures, any relations, which are not found
in external objects; and therefore, if morality always attended these
relations, it were possible for inanimate matter to become virtuous or
vicious. Now it may, in like manner, be objected to the present system,
that if virtue and vice be determined by pleasure and pain, these
qualities must, in every case, arise from the sensations; and
consequently any object, whether animate or inanimate, rational or
irrational, might become morally good or evil, provided it can excite
a satisfaction or uneasiness. But though this objection seems to be the
very same, it has by no means the same force, in the one case as in
the other. For, first, tis evident, that under the term pleasure, we
comprehend sensations, which are very different from each other, and
which have only such a distant resemblance, as is requisite to make them
be expressed by the same abstract term. A good composition of music and
a bottle of good wine equally produce pleasure; and what is more, their
goodness is determined merely by the pleasure. But shall we say upon
that account, that the wine is harmonious, or the music of a good
flavour? In like manner an inanimate object, and the character or
sentiments of any person may, both of them, give satisfaction; but as
the satisfaction is different, this keeps our sentiments concerning them
from being confounded, and makes us ascribe virtue to the one, and not
to the other. Nor is every sentiment of pleasure or pain, which arises
from characters and actions, of that peculiar kind, which makes us
praise or condemn. The good qualities of an enemy are hurtful to us; but
may still command our esteem and respect. It is only when a character
is considered in general, without reference to our particular interest,
that it causes such a feeling or sentiment, as denominates it morally
good or evil. It is true, those sentiments, from interest and morals,
are apt to be confounded, and naturally run into one another. It seldom
happens, that we do not think an enemy vicious, and can distinguish
betwixt his opposition to our interest and real villainy or baseness.
But this hinders not, but that the sentiments are, in themselves,
distinct; and a man of temper and judgment may preserve himself from
these illusions. In like manner, though it is certain a musical voice is
nothing but one that naturally gives a particular kind of pleasure; yet
it is difficult for a man to be sensible, that the voice of an enemy is
agreeable, or to allow it to be musical. But a person of a fine ear, who
has the command of himself, can separate these feelings, and give praise
to what deserves it.

SECONDLY, We may call to remembrance the preceding system of the
passions, in order to remark a still more considerable difference
among our pains and pleasures. Pride and humility, love and hatred are
excited, when there is any thing presented to us, that both bears a
relation to the object of the passion, and produces a separate sensation
related to the sensation of the passion. Now virtue and vice are
attended with these circumstances. They must necessarily be placed
either in ourselves or others, and excite either pleasure or uneasiness;
and therefore must give rise to one of these four passions; which
clearly distinguishes them from the pleasure and pain arising from
inanimate objects, that often bear no relation to us: And this is,
perhaps, the most considerable effect that virtue and vice have upon the
human mind.

It may now be asked in general, concerning this pain or pleasure, that
distinguishes moral good and evil, FROM WHAT PRINCIPLES IS IT DERIVED,
that it is absurd to imagine, that in every particular instance, these
sentiments are produced by an original quality and primary constitution.
For as the number of our duties is, in a manner, infinite, it is
impossible that our original instincts should extend to each of them,
and from our very first infancy impress on the human mind all that
multitude of precepts, which are contained in the compleatest system
of ethics. Such a method of proceeding is not conformable to the usual
maxims, by which nature is conducted, where a few principles produce all
that variety we observe in the universe, and every thing is carryed on
in the easiest and most simple manner. It is necessary, therefore, to
abridge these primary impulses, and find some more general principles,
upon which all our notions of morals are founded.

But in the second place, should it be asked, Whether we ought to search
for these principles in nature, or whether we must look for them in some
other origin? I would reply, that our answer to this question depends
upon the definition of the word, Nature, than which there is none more
ambiguous and equivocal. If nature be opposed to miracles, not only the
distinction betwixt vice and virtue is natural, but also every event,
which has ever happened in the world, EXCEPTING THOSE MIRACLES, ON WHICH
OUR RELIGION IS FOUNDED. In saying, then, that the sentiments of vice
and virtue are natural in this sense, we make no very extraordinary

But nature may also be opposed to rare and unusual; and in this sense
of the word, which is the common one, there may often arise disputes
concerning what is natural or unnatural; and one may in general affirm,
that we are not possessed of any very precise standard, by which these
disputes can be decided. Frequent and rare depend upon the number of
examples we have observed; and as this number may gradually encrease
or diminish, it will be impossible to fix any exact boundaries betwixt
them. We may only affirm on this head, that if ever there was any thing,
which coued be called natural in this sense, the sentiments of morality
certainly may; since there never was any nation of the world, nor any
single person in any nation, who was utterly deprived of them, and
who never, in any instance, shewed the least approbation or dislike of
manners. These sentiments are so rooted in our constitution and temper,
that without entirely confounding the human mind by disease or madness,
it is impossible to extirpate and destroy them.

But nature may also be opposed to artifice, as well as to what is rare
and unusual; and in this sense it may be disputed, whether the notions
of virtue be natural or not. We readily forget, that the designs,
and projects, and views of men are principles as necessary in their
operation as heat and cold, moist and dry: But taking them to be free
and entirely our own, it is usual for us to set them in opposition
to the other principles of nature should it, therefore, be demanded,
whether the sense of virtue be natural or artificial, I am of opinion,
that it is impossible for me at present to give any precise answer to
this question. Perhaps it will appear afterwards, that our sense of some
virtues is artificial, and that of others natural. The discussion of
this question will be more proper, when we enter upon an exact detail of
each particular vice and virtue.

     [Footnote 14.  In the following discourse natural is also
     opposed sometimes to civil, sometimes to moral. The
     opposition will always discover the sense, in which it is

Mean while it may not be amiss to observe from these definitions of
natural and unnatural, that nothing can be more unphilosophical than
those systems, which assert, that virtue is the same with what is
natural, and vice with what is unnatural. For in the first sense of the
word, Nature, as opposed to miracles, both vice and virtue are equally
natural; and in the second sense, as opposed to what is unusual, perhaps
virtue will be found to be the most unnatural. At least it must be
owned, that heroic virtue, being as unusual, is as little natural as the
most brutal barbarity. As to the third sense of the word, it is certain,
that both vice and virtue are equally artificial, and out of nature. For
however it may be disputed, whether the notion of a merit or demerit
in certain actions be natural or artificial, it is evident, that the
actions themselves are artificial, and are performed with a certain
design and intention; otherwise they coued never be ranked under any of
these denominations. It is impossible, therefore, that the character
of natural and unnatural can ever, in any sense, mark the boundaries of
vice and virtue.

Thus we are still brought back to our first position, that virtue is
distinguished by the pleasure, and vice by the pain, that any action,
sentiment or character gives us by the mere view and contemplation.
This decision is very commodious; because it reduces us to this simple
question, Why any action or sentiment upon the general view or survey,
gives a certain satisfaction or uneasiness, in order to shew the
origin of its moral rectitude or depravity, without looking for any
incomprehensible relations and qualities, which never did exist
in nature, nor even in our imagination, by any clear and distinct
conception. I flatter myself I have executed a great part of my present
design by a state of the question, which appears to me so free from
ambiguity and obscurity.



I have already hinted, that our sense of every kind of virtue is not
natural; but that there are some virtues, that produce pleasure and
approbation by means of an artifice or contrivance, which arises from
the circumstances and necessity of mankind. Of this kind I assert
justice to be; and shall endeavour to defend this opinion by a short,
and, I hope, convincing argument, before I examine the nature of the
artifice, from which the sense of that virtue is derived.

It is evident, that when we praise any actions, we regard only the
motives that produced them, and consider the actions as signs or
indications of certain principles in the mind and temper. The external
performance has no merit. We must look within to find the moral quality.
This we cannot do directly; and therefore fix our attention on actions,
as on external signs. But these actions are still considered as signs;
and the ultimate object of our praise and approbation is the motive,
that produced them.

After the same manner, when we require any action, or blame a person for
not performing it, we always suppose, that one in that situation should
be influenced by the proper motive of that action, and we esteem it
vicious in him to be regardless of it. If we find, upon enquiry, that
the virtuous motive was still powerful over his breast, though checked
in its operation by some circumstances unknown to us, we retract our
blame, and have the same esteem for him, as if he had actually performed
the action, which we require of him.

It appears, therefore, that all virtuous actions derive their merit
only from virtuous motives, and are considered merely as signs of those
motives. From this principle I conclude, that the first virtuous motive,
which bestows a merit on any action, can never be a regard to the virtue
of that action, but must be some other natural motive or principle. To
suppose, that the mere regard to the virtue of the action may be the
first motive, which produced the action, and rendered it virtuous, is to
reason in a circle. Before we can have such a regard, the action must
be really virtuous; and this virtue must be derived from some virtuous
motive: And consequently the virtuous motive must be different from the
regard to the virtue of the action. A virtuous motive is requisite to
render an action virtuous. An action must be virtuous, before we can
have a regard to its virtue. Some virtuous motive, therefore, must be
antecedent to that regard.

Nor is this merely a metaphysical subtilty; but enters into all our
reasonings in common life, though perhaps we may not be able to place it
in such distinct philosophical terms. We blame a father for neglecting
his child. Why? because it shews a want of natural affection, which is
the duty of every parent. Were not natural affection a duty, the care of
children coued not be a duty; and it were impossible we coued have the
duty in our eye in the attention we give to our offspring. In this case,
therefore, all men suppose a motive to the action distinct from a sense
of duty.

Here is a man, that does many benevolent actions; relieves the
distressed, comforts the afflicted, and extends his bounty even to the
greatest strangers. No character can be more amiable and virtuous. We
regard these actions as proofs of the greatest humanity. This humanity
bestows a merit on the actions. A regard to this merit is, therefore,
a secondary consideration, and derived from the antecedent principle of
humanity, which is meritorious and laudable.

In short, it may be established as an undoubted maxim, THAT NO ACTION

But may not the sense of morality or duty produce an action, without any
other motive? I answer, It may: But this is no objection to the present
doctrine. When any virtuous motive or principle is common in human
nature, a person, who feels his heart devoid of that motive, may hate
himself upon that account, and may perform the action without the
motive, from a certain sense of duty, in order to acquire by practice,
that virtuous principle, or at least, to disguise to himself, as much
as possible, his want of it. A man that really feels no gratitude in his
temper, is still pleased to perform grateful actions, and thinks he has,
by that means, fulfilled his duty. Actions are at first only considered
as signs of motives: But it is usual, in this case, as in all others, to
fix our attention on the signs, and neglect, in some measure, the thing
signifyed. But though, on some occasions, a person may perform an action
merely out of regard to its moral obligation, yet still this supposes
in human nature some distinct principles, which are capable of producing
the action, and whose moral beauty renders the action meritorious.

Now to apply all this to the present case; I suppose a person to have
lent me a sum of money, on condition that it be restored in a few days;
and also suppose, that after the expiration of the term agreed on, he
demands the sum: I ask, What reason or motive have I to restore the
money? It will, perhaps, be said, that my regard to justice, and
abhorrence of villainy and knavery, are sufficient reasons for me, if
I have the least grain of honesty, or sense of duty and obligation. And
this answer, no doubt, is just and satisfactory to man in his civilized
state, and when trained up according to a certain discipline and
education. But in his rude and more natural condition, if you are
pleased to call such a condition natural, this answer would be rejected
as perfectly unintelligible and sophistical. For one in that situation
OF OTHERS? It does not surely lie in the external action. It must,
therefore be placed in the motive, from which the external action is
derived. This motive can never be a regard to the honesty of the action.
For it is a plain fallacy to say, that a virtuous motive is requisite
to render an action honest, and at the same time that a regard to the
honesty is the motive of the action. We can never have a regard to the
virtue of an action, unless the action be antecedently virtuous. No
action can be virtuous, but so far as it proceeds from a virtuous
motive. A virtuous motive, therefore, must precede the regard to the
virtue, and it is impossible, that the virtuous motive and the regard to
the virtue can be the same.

It is requisite, then, to find some motive to acts of justice and
honesty, distinct from our regard to the honesty; and in this lies the
great difficulty. For should we say, that a concern for our private
interest or reputation is the legitimate motive to all honest actions;
it would follow, that wherever that concern ceases, honesty can no
longer have place. But it is certain, that self-love, when it acts at
its liberty, instead of engaging us to honest actions, is the source
of all injustice and violence; nor can a man ever correct those vices,
without correcting and restraining the natural movements of that

But should it be affirmed, that the reason or motive of such actions is
the regard to publick interest, to which nothing is more contrary than
examples of injustice and dishonesty; should this be said, I would
propose the three following considerations, as worthy of our attention.
First, public interest is not naturally attached to the observation of
the rules of justice; but is only connected with it, after an artificial
convention for the establishment of these rules, as shall be shewn more
at large hereafter. Secondly, if we suppose, that the loan was secret,
and that it is necessary for the interest of the person, that the money
be restored in the same manner (as when the lender would conceal his
riches) in that case the example ceases, and the public is no longer
interested in the actions of the borrower; though I suppose there is no
moralist, who will affirm, that the duty and obligation ceases. Thirdly,
experience sufficiently proves, that men, in the ordinary conduct
of life, look not so far as the public interest, when they pay their
creditors, perform their promises, and abstain from theft, and robbery,
and injustice of every kind. That is a motive too remote and too sublime
to affect the generality of mankind, and operate with any force in
actions so contrary to private interest as are frequently those of
justice and common honesty.

In general, it may be affirmed, that there is no such passion in human
minds, as the love of mankind, merely as such, independent of personal
qualities, of services, or of relation to ourseit It is true, there is
no human, and indeed no sensible, creature, whose happiness or misery
does not, in some measure, affect us when brought near to us, and
represented in lively colours: But this proceeds merely from sympathy,
and is no proof of such an universal affection to mankind, since this
concern extends itself beyond our own species. An affection betwixt the
sexes is a passion evidently implanted in human nature; and this passion
not only appears in its peculiar symptoms, but also in inflaming every
other principle of affection, and raising a stronger love from beauty,
wit, kindness, than what would otherwise flow from them. Were there an
universal love among all human creatures, it would appear after the same
manner. Any degree of a good quality would cause a stronger affection
than the same degree of a bad quality would cause hatred; contrary to
what we find by experience. Men's tempers are different, and some have a
propensity to the tender, and others to the rougher, affections: But
in the main, we may affirm, that man in general, or human nature, is
nothing but the object both of love and hatred, and requires some other
cause, which by a double relation of impressions and ideas, may excite
these passions. In vain would we endeavour to elude this hypothesis.
There are no phaenomena that point out any such kind affection to
men, independent of their merit, and every other circumstance. We
love company in general; but it is as we love any other amusement. An
Englishman in Italy is a friend: A Euro paean in China; and perhaps a
man would be beloved as such, were we to meet him in the moon. But
this proceeds only from the relation to ourselves; which in these cases
gathers force by being confined to a few persons.

If public benevolence, therefore, or a regard to the interests of
mankind, cannot be the original motive to justice, much less can private
benevolence, or a regard to the interests of the party concerned, be
this motive. For what if he be my enemy, and has given me just cause to
hate him? What if he be a vicious man, and deserves the hatred of all
mankind? What if he be a miser, and can make no use of what I would
deprive him of? What if he be a profligate debauchee, and would rather
receive harm than benefit from large possessions? What if I be in
necessity, and have urgent motives to acquire something to my family?
In all these cases, the original motive to justice would fail; and
consequently the justice itself, and along with it all property, tight,
and obligation.

A rich man lies under a moral obligation to communicate to those in
necessity a share of his superfluities. Were private benevolence the
original motive to justice, a man would not be obliged to leave others
in the possession of more than he is obliged to give them. At least
the difference would be very inconsiderable. Men generally fix their
affections more on what they are possessed of, than on what they never
enjoyed: For this reason, it would be greater cruelty to dispossess a
man of any thing, than not to give it him. But who will assert, that
this is the only foundation of justice?

Besides, we must consider, that the chief reason, why men attach
themselves so much to their possessions is, that they consider them
as their property, and as secured to them inviolably by the laws of
society. But this is a secondary consideration, and dependent on the
preceding notions of justice and property.

A man's property is supposed to be fenced against every mortal, in every
possible case. But private benevolence is, and ought to be, weaker in
some persons, than in others: And in many, or indeed in most persons,
must absolutely fail. Private benevolence, therefore, is not the
original motive of justice.

From all this it follows, that we have no real or universal motive for
observing the laws of equity, but the very equity and merit of that
observance; and as no action can be equitable or meritorious, where
it cannot arise from some separate motive, there is here an evident
sophistry and reasoning in a circle. Unless, therefore, we will allow,
that nature has established a sophistry, and rendered it necessary and
unavoidable, we must allow, that the sense of justice and injustice is
not derived from nature, but arises artificially, though necessarily
from education, and human conventions.

I shall add, as a corollary to this reasoning, that since no action can
be laudable or blameable, without some motives or impelling passions,
distinct from the sense of morals, these distinct passions must have a
great influence on that sense. It is according to their general force
in human nature, that we blame or praise. In judging of the beauty of
animal bodies, we always carry in our eye the oeconomy of a certain
species; and where the limbs and features observe that proportion, which
is common to the species, we pronounce them handsome and beautiful.
In like manner we always consider the natural and usual force of the
passions, when we determine concerning vice and virtue; and if the
passions depart very much from the common measures on either side, they
are always disapproved as vicious. A man naturally loves his children
better than his nephews, his nephews better than his cousins, his
cousins better than strangers, where every thing else is equal. Hence
arise our common measures of duty, in preferring the one to the other.
Our sense of duty always follows the common and natural course of our

To avoid giving offence, I must here observe, that when I deny justice
to be a natural virtue, I make use of the word, natural, only as opposed
to artificial. In another sense of the word; as no principle of the
human mind is more natural than a sense of virtue; so no virtue is more
natural than justice. Mankind is an inventive species; and where an
invention is obvious and absolutely necessary, it may as properly be
said to be natural as any thing that proceeds immediately from original
principles, without the intervention of thought or reflection. Though
the rules of justice be artificial, they are not arbitrary. Nor is
the expression improper to call them Laws of Nature; if by natural we
understand what is common to any species, or even if we confine it to
mean what is inseparable from the species.


We now proceed to examine two questions, viz, CONCERNING THE MANNER, IN
questions will appear afterwards to be distinct. We shall begin with the

Of all the animals, with which this globe is peopled, there is none
towards whom nature seems, at first sight, to have exercised more
cruelty than towards man, in the numberless wants and necessities, with
which she has loaded him, and in the slender means, which she affords
to the relieving these necessities. In other creatures these two
particulars generally compensate each other. If we consider the lion as
a voracious and carnivorous animal, we shall easily discover him to be
very necessitous; but if we turn our eye to his make and temper, his
agility, his courage, his arms, and his force, we shall find, that his
advantages hold proportion with his wants. The sheep and ox are deprived
of all these advantages; but their appetites are moderate, and their
food is of easy purchase. In man alone, this unnatural conjunction of
infirmity, and of necessity, may be observed in its greatest perfection.
Not only the food, which is required for his sustenance, flies his
search and approach, or at least requires his labour to be produced, but
he must be possessed of cloaths and lodging, to defend him against the
injuries of the weather; though to consider him only in himself, he
is provided neither with arms, nor force, nor other natural abilities,
which are in any degree answerable to so many necessities.

It is by society alone he is able to supply his defects, and raise
himself up to an equality with his fellow-creatures, and even acquire a
superiority above them. By society all his infirmities are compensated;
and though in that situation his wants multiply every moment upon him,
yet his abilities are still more augmented, and leave him in every
respect more satisfied and happy, than it is possible for him, in his
savage and solitary condition, ever to become. When every individual
person labours a-part, and only for himself, his force is too small to
execute any considerable work; his labour being employed in supplying
all his different necessities, he never attains a perfection in any
particular art; and as his force and success are not at all times equal,
the least failure in either of these particulars must be attended with
inevitable ruin and misery. Society provides a remedy for these three
inconveniences. By the conjunction of forces, our power is augmented:
By the partition of employments, our ability encreases: And by mutual
succour we are less exposed to fortune and accidents. It is by
this additional force, ability, and security, that society becomes

But in order to form society, it is requisite not only that it be
advantageous, but also that men be sensible of these advantages; and
it is impossible, in their wild uncultivated state, that by study and
reflection alone, they should ever be able to attain this knowledge.
Most fortunately, therefore, there is conjoined to those necessities,
whose remedies are remote and obscure, another necessity, which having a
present and more obvious remedy, may justly be regarded as the first
and original principle of human society. This necessity is no other than
that natural appetite betwixt the sexes, which unites them together, and
preserves their union, till a new tye takes place in their concern for
their common offspring. This new concern becomes also a principle of
union betwixt the parents and offspring, and forms a more numerous
society; where the parents govern by the advantage of their superior
strength and wisdom, and at the same time are restrained in the exercise
of their authority by that natural affection, which they bear their
children. In a little time, custom and habit operating on the tender
minds of the children, makes them sensible of the advantages, which they
may reap from society, as well as fashions them by degrees for it, by
rubbing off those rough corners and untoward affections, which prevent
their coalition.

For it must be confest, that however the circumstances of human nature
may render an union necessary, and however those passions of lust and
natural affection may seem to render it unavoidable; yet there are other
particulars in our natural temper, and in our outward circumstances,
which are very incommodious, and are even contrary to the requisite
conjunction. Among the former, we may justly esteem our selfishness to
be the most considerable. I am sensible, that generally speaking, the
representations of this quality have been carried much too far; and that
the descriptions, which certain philosophers delight so much to form
of mankind in this particular, are as wide of nature as any accounts
of monsters, which we meet with in fables and romances. So far from
thinking, that men have no affection for any thing beyond themselves,
I am of opinion, that though it be rare to meet with one, who loves any
single person better than himself; yet it is as rare to meet with one,
in whom all the kind affections, taken together, do not overbalance all
the selfish. Consult common experience: Do you not see, that though
the whole expence of the family be generally under the direction of the
master of it, yet there are few that do not bestow the largest part of
their fortunes on the pleasures of their wives, and the education of
their children, reserving the smallest portion for their own proper use
and entertainment. This is what we may observe concerning such as have
those endearing ties; and may presume, that the case would be the same
with others, were they placed in a like situation.

But though this generosity must be acknowledged to the honour of human
nature, we may at the same time remark, that so noble an affection,
instead of fitting men for large societies, is almost as contrary
to them, as the most narrow selfishness. For while each person loves
himself better than any other single person, and in his love to others
bears the greatest affection to his relations and acquaintance, this
must necessarily produce an oppositon of passions, and a consequent
opposition of actions; which cannot but be dangerous to the
new-established union.

It is however worth while to remark, that this contrariety of passions
would be attended with but small danger, did it not concur with
a peculiarity in our outward circumstances, which affords it an
opportunity of exerting itself. There are different species of goods,
which we are possessed of; the internal satisfaction of our minds, the
external advantages of our body, and the enjoyment of such possessions
as we have acquired by our industry and good fortune. We are perfectly
secure in the enjoyment of the first. The second may be ravished from
us, but can be of no advantage to him who deprives us of them. The last
only are both exposed to the violence of others, and may be transferred
without suffering any loss or alteration; while at the same time, there
is not a sufficient quantity of them to supply every one's desires and
necessities. As the improvement, therefore, of these goods is the chief
advantage of society, so the instability of their possession, along with
their scarcity, is the chief impediment.

In vain should we expect to find, in uncultivated nature, a remedy to
this inconvenience; or hope for any inartificial principle of the
human mind, which might controul those partial affections, and make us
overcome the temptations arising from our circumstances. The idea of
justice can never serve to this purpose, or be taken for a natural
principle, capable of inspiring men with an equitable conduct towards
each other. That virtue, as it is now understood, would never have
been dreamed of among rude and savage men. For the notion of injury or
injustice implies an immorality or vice committed against some
other person: And as every immorality is derived from some defect or
unsoundness of the passions, and as this defect must be judged of, in a
great measure, from the ordinary course of nature in the constitution
of the mind; it will be easy to know, whether we be guilty of any
immorality, with regard to others, by considering the natural, and usual
force of those several affections, which are directed towards them.
Now it appears, that in the original frame of our mind, our strongest
attention is confined to ourselves; our next is extended to our
relations and acquaintance; and it is only the weakest which reaches to
strangers and indifferent persons. This partiality, then, and unequal
affection, must not only have an influence on our behaviour and conduct
in society, but even on our ideas of vice and virtue; so as to make
us regard any remarkable transgression of such a degree of partiality,
either by too great an enlargement, or contraction of the affections,
as vicious and immoral. This we may observe in our common judgments
concerning actions, where we blame a person, who either centers all
his affections in his family, or is so regardless of them, as, in any
opposition of interest, to give the preference to a stranger, or
mere chance acquaintance. From all which it follows, that our natural
uncultivated ideas of morality, instead of providing a remedy for the
partiality of our affections, do rather conform themselves to that
partiality, and give it an additional force and influence.

The remedy, then, is not derived from nature, but from artifice; or
more e properly speaking, nature provides a remedy in the judgment and
understanding, for what is irregular and incommodious in the affections.
For when men, from their early education in society, have become
sensible of the infinite advantages that result from it, and have
besides acquired a new affection to company and conversation; and when
they have observed, that the principal disturbance in society arises
from those goods, which we call external, and from their looseness and
easy transition from one person to another; they