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Title: Philosophical Works, v. 2 (of 4) - Including all the Essays, and Exhibiting the more Important - Alterations and Corrections in the Successive Editions - Published by the Author
Author: Hume, David
Language: English
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    PART I.


    Division of the Subject
    Of Pride and Humility, their Objects and Causes
    Whence these Objects and Causes are derived
    Of the Relations of Impressions and Ideas
    Of the Influence of these Relations on Pride and Humility
    Limitations of this System
    Of Vice and Virtue
    Of Beauty and Deformity
    Of external Advantages and Disadvantages
    Of Property and Riches
    Of the Love of Fame
    Of Pride and Humility of Animals

    PART II.


    Of the Objects and Causes of Love and Hatred
    Experiments to confirm this System
    Difficulties solved
    Of the Love of Relations
    Of our Esteem for the Rich and Powerful
    Of Benevolence and Anger
    Of Compassion
    Of Malice and Envy
    Of the mixture of Benevolence and Anger with Compassion and Malice
    Of Respect and Contempt
    Of the Amorous Passion, or Love betwixt the Sexes
    Of Love and Hatred of Animals



    Of Liberty and Necessity
    The Same subject continued
    Of the Influencing Motives of the Will
    Of the Causes of the Violent Passions
    Of the Effects of Custom
    Of the Influence of the Imagination on the Passions
    Of Contiguity and Distance in Space and Time
    The same Subject continued
    Of the Direct Passions
    Of Curiosity, or the Love of Truth


    PART I.


    Moral Distinctions not derived from Reason
    Moral Distinctions derived from a Moral Sense

    PART II.


    Justice, whether a natural or artificial Virtue?
    Of the Origin of Justice and Property
    Of the Rules which determine Property
    Of the Transference of Property by Consent
    Of the Obligation of Promises
    Some farther Reflections concerning Justice and Injustice
    Of the Origin of Government
    Of the Source of Allegiance
    Of the Measures of Allegiance
    Of the Objects of Allegiance
    Of the Laws of Nations
    Of Chastity and Modesty



    Of the Origin of the Natural Virtues and Vices
    Of Greatness of Mind
    Of Goodness and Benevolence
    Of Natural Abilities
    Some farther Reflections concerning the Natural Virtues
    Conclusion of this Book

    Dialogues concerning Natural Religion

    Appendix to the Treatise of Human Nature







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[1] 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.

'Tis 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 specious division, that I may proceed
with the greater order; and, having said all 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
dependents. And under the direct passions, desire, aversion, grief,
joy, hope, fear, despair, and security. I shall begin with the former.

[1] Book I. Part I. Sect. 2.



The passions of _pride_ and _humility_ being simple and uniform
impressions, 'tis 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 passions.

'Tis 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 increase 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, 'tis 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 could 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. 'Tis 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
could 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 causes 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
mien, address in dancing, riding, fencing, and of his dexterity in
any manual business or manufacture. But this is not all. The passion,
looking farther, comprehends whatever objects are in the least allied
or related to us. Our country, family, children, relations, riches,
houses, gardens, horses, dogs, clothes; any of these may become a cause
either of pride or of humility.

From the consideration of these causes, it appears necessary we should
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 subdivided 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.

'Tis evident, in the first place, that these passions are determined
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. 'Tis always self,
which is the object of pride and humility; and whenever the passions
look beyond, 'tis 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 'tis the distinguishing
characteristic of these passions. Unless nature had given some original
qualities to the mind, it could never have any secondary ones; because
in that case it would have no foundation for action, nor could 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 increase 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
'tis 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,
clothes. 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. 'Tis 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 scrutoire, produced pride in him who became possessed 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 'tis 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 ancients,
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 phenomenon, instead of adapting it to the old; to overload our
hypothesis 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,
_that 'tis from natural principles this variety of causes excite
pride and humility_, and _that 'tis not by a different principle each
different cause is adapted to its passion_. We shall now proceed to
inquire 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. 'Tis 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 completed.
In like manner our temper, when elevated with joy, naturally throws
itself into love, generosity, pity, courage, pride, and the other
resembling affections. 'Tis 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? 'Tis 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, 'tis 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 an 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 landscape 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." In this
phenomenon 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, 'tis the beauty or
deformity of our person, houses, equipage, or furniture, by which
we are rendered either vain or humble. The same qualities, when
transferred to subjects, which bear us no relation, influence not in
the smallest degree either of these affections.

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 'tis 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 as 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, 'tis here in vain to reason or

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. 'Tis evident we never
should be possessed of that passion, were there not a disposition of
mind proper for it; and 'tis as evident, that the passion always turns
our view to ourselves, and makes us think of our own qualities and

This being fully comprehended, it may now be asked, _Whether nature
produces the passion immediately of herself, or whether she must be
assisted by the cooperation of other causes_? For 'tis observable,
that 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, 'tis 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 clothes, equipage, or fortune. _Secondly_, 'tis
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 could
ever make its appearance. Upon the whole, we may rest satisfied 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 allied to the passion,
and are placed on a subject allied 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 'tis 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 'tis 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. 'Tis 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 passion.

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, 'twill be proper to make some
limitations to the general system, _that all agreeable objects, related
to ourselves by an association of ideas and of impressions, produce
pride, and disagreeable ones, humility_: and these limitations are
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
regaled with delicacies of every kind: but 'tis only the master of
the feast, who, beside the same joy, has the additional passion of
self-applause and vanity. 'Tis 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,
'tis requisite to pride, in order to produce a transition from one
passion to another, and convert the satisfaction 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.[2]

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. 'Tis 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 'tis 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 'tis shared with
such vast numbers.

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 satisfied 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 satisfied 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. 'Twill 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 or riches they are
possessed 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 'tis 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 embarrassed 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 varied 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 may arise 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 showing 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.

[2] Part. II. Sect. 4.



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, 'twould be entirely foreign to my present purpose
to enter upon the controversy, which of late years has so much excited
the curiosity of the public, _whether these moral distinctions be
founded on natural and original principles, or arise from interest
and education_. The examination of this I reserve for the following
book; and, in the mean time, shall endeavour to show, that my system
maintains its ground upon either of these hypotheses, which will be a
strong proof of its solidity.

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 'tis 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
'tis 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, 'tis 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, 'tis 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 show why such a system of thought
must be received under that denomination, and such another rejected.
'Tis only by taste we can decide concerning it, nor are we possessed
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? 'Tis plainly nothing but a sensation of
pleasure from true wit, and of uneasiness from false, without our 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 surprised
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 satisfied with ourselves; and that by _humility_ I mean the
opposite impression. 'Tis 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 'tis
by none esteemed a virtue to feel any fruitless remorses upon the
thoughts of past villany and baseness. Let us, therefore, examine these
impressions, considered in themselves; and inquire 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

But this effect of personal and bodily qualities is not only a proof
of the present system, by showing 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 remarkable.

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. 'Tis 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 'tis 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
always supposes a common cause, 'tis plain that 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 waiting 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 least 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, though we
have not yet exhausted all our arguments.

'Tis 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 phenomenon 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 its contrary of humility. Now,
'tis obvious that every thing useful, beautiful or surprising, agrees
in producing a separate pleasure, and agrees in nothing else. The
pleasure, therefore, with relation to self, must be the cause of the

Though it should not be questioned whether beauty be not something
real, and different from the power of producing pleasure, it can never
be disputed, that, as surprise 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 surprise, 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

In this phenomenon 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 mortified 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 ourself, 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 gout; nor do
they ever confess them without reluctance and uneasiness. And though
young men are not ashamed of every headache 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 round 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 surprise 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 'tis 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 'tis 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 choose
to survey directly in ourselves, rather than by reflection 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, 'tis there the view, fixes at
last, and the passion finds its ultimate and final cause.

There are instances, indeed, wherein men show 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 betwixt ourselves and the
shining qualities of the person we resemble. But, besides that this
multitude of relations must weaken the connexion, 'tis 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. 'Tis 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 could 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.

'Tis evident, then, that when the mind feels the passion, either of
pride or humility, upon the appearance of a 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 shows 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 completed in itself, and would
require no farther addition or increase from any other affection. But,
supposing the first emotion to be only related to pride or humility,
'tis 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, 'tis 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
increase 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 'twould 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 could 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 'tis 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, 'tis 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 possessed 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

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 'tis 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 honours and fortune have never passed through any female. Let us
endeavour to explain these phenomena by the foregoing system.

'Tis 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 increase the passion, and whatever weakens the
relations must diminish the passion. Now 'tis certain the identity of
the possession strengthens the relation of ideas arising from blood
and kindred, and conveys the fancy with greater facility from one
generation to another, from the remotest 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.
'Tis a quality of human nature, which we shall consider afterwards,[3]
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. 'Tis 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
but a propensity to pass from one idea to 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 possessed of a superior spirit and genius to the
father, as often happens, the _general rule_ prevails, notwithstanding
the exception, 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.

[3] Part II. Sect. 2.



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 'twill be impossible for me fully to explain
before I come to treat of justice and the other moral virtues. 'Tis
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 pleases upon the object, or the advantages which he reaps
from it. 'Tis 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

Every thing belonging to a vain man is the best that is any where to
be found. His houses, equipage, furniture, clothes, horses, hounds,
excel all others in his conceit; and 'tis 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
servant 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 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 advanced.

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 surprised 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 'tis 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 humility.

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 possessed 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, 'tis 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.

'Tis 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 'tis 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, 'tis evident that, wherever a person is in such a situation with
regard to me that there is no very powerful motive to deter him from
injuring me, and consequently 'tis _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

But we may farther observe, that this satisfaction increases, when
any good approaches, in such a manner that it is 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 enjoying 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 the nearer approach of the pleasure, 'tis 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,[4] where I shall explain that false sensation
of liberty, which makes 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.

'Twill now be easy to draw this whole reasoning to a point, and
to prove, that when riches produce any pride or vanity in their
possessors, as they never fail to do, 'tis 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 power 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 clearly 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

'Tis 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 could move and act in obedience to the will; 'tis 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_.

[4] Part III. Sect. 2.



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 phenomenon, 'twill 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 'tis 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 cheerful countenance infuses a sensible
complacency and serenity into my mind; as an angry or sorrowful one
throws a sudden damp 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 phenomenon 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.

'Tis 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 'tis 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
like 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, 'tis 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 person.

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 afterwards.[5] 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 parts 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, 'tis no wonder an idea of a sentiment or passion may by
this means be so enlivened as to become the very sentiment or passion.
The lively idea of any object always approaches its impression; and
'tis 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 'tis 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 'tis 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 phenomena give to the foregoing system concerning
the understanding, and consequently to the present one concerning
the passions, since these are analogous to each other. 'Tis 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. 'Tis 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 phenomena; though at the same time it must be
confessed, 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 enliven 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 surprising and

'Tis 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
possessed of it. The eulogiums 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. 'Tis 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;[6] 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 phenomena of the
passions, and see if they agree with it.

Among these phenomena we may esteem it a very favourable one to our
present purpose, 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 manner we are principally mortified with the
contempt of persons upon whose judgment we set some value, and are,
in a great 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 favourable
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

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 'tis 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 possessed 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. Nobody 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 phenomenon is analogous to the system of
pride and humility above explained, which may seem so extraordinary to
vulgar apprehensions.

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 accustomed to a more
splendid way of living, or thinks himself entitled to it by his birth
and quality, every thing below is disagreeable and even shameful; and
'tis with the 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 to his ease and

If there be any objections to this hypothesis, _that the pleasure which
we receive from praise arises from a communication of sentiments_, we
shall find, upon examination, that these objections, when taken in a
proper light, will serve to confirm it. Popular fame may be agreeable
even to a man who despises the vulgar; but 'tis 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, though they do not most readily assent to it; but 'tis
because of the opposition betwixt the passion, which is natural to
them, and that received by sympathy. A violent lover, in like manner,
is very much displeased when you blame and condemn his love; though
'tis 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.

[5] Part II. Sect. 4.

[6] Book I. Part III. Sect. 10.



Thus, in whatever light we consider this subject, we may still
observe, that the 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 'tis 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.

'Tis 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. 'Tis 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 to 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 falsehood
on the whole. Let us therefore apply this method of inquiry, 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 show the correspondence of _passions_
in men and animals, and afterwards compare the _causes_, which produce
these passions.

'Tis 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 mule
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
'tis on beauty, strength, swiftness, or some other useful or agreeable
quality, that this passage 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 phenomena, 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 show
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 ill natured;
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 common to all creatures; 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 'tis 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 system.





'Tis 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 inquiry, 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_, 'tis 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. 'Tis 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,
'tis 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 diversified, 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, possessions, clothes,
nation and climate. There is not one of these objects but what, by
its different qualities, may produce love and esteem, or hatred and

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 show of probability, _that the cause of both these
passions is always related to a thinking being_, and _that the cause of
the former produces a separate pleasure, and of the latter a separate

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.

'Tis 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 to
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 reasonings concerning pride and humility, by an
argument that is founded on unquestionable experience.

There are few persons that are satisfied with their own character,
or genius, or fortune, who are not desirous of showing themselves to
the world, and of acquiring the love and approbation of mankind. Now
'tis 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 satisfied. 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 could men expect a correspondence
in the sentiments of every other person with those themselves have
entertained. 'Tis 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



Upon duly weighing these arguments, no one will make any scruple to
assent to that conclusion I draw from them, concerning the transition
along related impressions and ideas, especially as 'tis 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, 'twill
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. 'Tis 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: 'tis 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 ever 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:
'tis 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_. 'Tis 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 it 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 phenomena of the passions. Suppose I
were travelling with a companion through a country to which we are both
utter strangers; 'tis 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 considered 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
'tis 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 chuse 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 to wheel
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 completed 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 diversified. Esteem and contempt,
indeed, arise on some occasions instead of love and hatred; but these
are, at the bottom, the same passions, only diversified 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 relations.

Before we consider what they are in fact, let us determine what they
ought to be, conformable to my hypothesis. 'Tis 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 carried 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. 'Tis 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 reason.

_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 shows 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 'tis
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 reflections.

'Tis 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, 'tis opposed by it.

Now, I have observed, that those two faculties of the mind, the
imagination and passions, assist each other in their operation 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, 'tis 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 soever 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 phenomenon
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 'tis 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, 'tis 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

_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. 'Tis 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 an 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. 'Tis 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, 'tis 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 phenomenon, 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 overlook 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, 'tis 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 phenomena appear contradictory, and
require some attention to be reconciled.

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, 'tis 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 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 phenomena, when duly weighed, will be found convincing
proofs of this hypothesis.

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 'tis commonly by complying with it, and
by seeking another quality, which may counterbalance that principle
from whence the opposition arises. When we love the father or master
of a family, we 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 increases 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, 'tis 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 the imagination passes with difficulty from contiguous to
remote_. 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. 'Tis 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 'tis 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 a relation,[1] or with but one,[2]
never produces either of these passions; and 'tis found[3] 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 ideas or of
impressions,[4] 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, even under the appearance of its contrary;[5] 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, 'tis found
to arise from some other circumstance which counterbalances it. Thus,
not only the variations resolve themselves into the general principle,
but even the variations of these variations.

[1] First experiment.

[2] Second and third experiments.

[3] Fourth experiment.

[4] Sixth experiment.

[5] Seventh and eighth experiments.



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, 'tis with
difficulty we allow him the figure and character of a man. He is a
sorcerer; he has a communication with demons, 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. 'Tis evident the same
method of thinking rims 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, 'tis necessary,
in order to produce some relation, and connect this action sufficiently
with the person, that it be derived from a particular forethought and
design. 'Tis 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 shows 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
'tis observable, that the principal part of an injury is the contempt
and hatred which it shows 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, hatred, 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 show, 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 phenomenon.

'Tis evident, in the first place, that this circumstance is not
decisive; and though it may be able to diminish the passions, 'tis
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 lawsuit, 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 'tis 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 'tis 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, 'twill be necessary to show 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, 'tis 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 inquiring 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 countrymen, 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 affection.

There is another phenomenon 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 forbear preferring him to strangers of whose superior merit we
are fully convinced. These two phenomena 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 enlivening 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 good will.

'Tis 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 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 alone common to _relation, acquaintance_,
and _resemblance_.

The great propensity men have to pride may be considered as another
similar phenomenon. 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
contract 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 phenomena
which attend it. 'Tis 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 widowhood. 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 'tis certain the
ties of blood are not so much loosened in the latter case as by the
marriage of a mother. These two phenomena are remarkable in themselves,
but much more so when compared.

In order to produce a perfect relation betwixt two objects, 'tis
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. 'Tis the same 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 carried 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 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 'tis shared with
her husband; nor a son his with a parent, because 'tis 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, 'twill be proper in this place to explain these phenomena.

Here it happens, most fortunately, that the greatest difficulty is,
not to discover a principle capable of producing such an effect,
but to chuse 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
phenomenon. The question is, to which of them we ought principally to
ascribe it.

'Tis 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, 'tis 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
_Cider_ 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, could 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 organs.

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, 'tis 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 'tis 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, 'tis _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. 'Tis
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, 'tis more natural
for us to take a contiguous object, viz. the satisfaction which this
power affords the person who is possessed of it. And of this we shall
be farther satisfied, 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 possessed 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 avaricious man is respected for his money, though he scarce
is possessed 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.

'Tis 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 'tis 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 show 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
'tis 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 phenomena 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 'tis 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 'tis
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
pride of _sympathy_, by which we enter into the sentiments of 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 apart 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, 'tis seldom we rest
there, and carry not our view to its influence on sensible and rational
creatures. A man who shows 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, anti-chambers and passages; and indeed 'tis 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? 'Tis 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, scrutoires, chimneys,
coaches, saddles, 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.

'Tis 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. 'Tis 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 balancing the
figures, and placing them with the greatest exactness on their proper
centre of gravity.

A figure which is not justly balanced 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, increase 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
reflection 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 'tis difficult to
distinguish the images and reflections, 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 phenomena 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. 'Tis 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 phenomenon which
is more stubborn, and will not so easily bend to our purpose. We need
not be surprised 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 no wise contrary to my system, but only departs a little
from that simplicity which has been hitherto its principal force and

The passions of love and hatred are always followed by, or rather
conjoined with, benevolence and anger. 'Tis 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 completed 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 'tis 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 increases, 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 could
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.

'Twill 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 'tis 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 phenomenon
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 shows 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 increases 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 overlooking
that greatness of mind which elevates him above such emotions, or
only considering it so far as to increase 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 show no sense of shame, nor seem in the least
conscious of their folly. All this proceeds from sympathy, but 'tis
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 appearance.

We have also instances wherein an indifference and insensibility
under misfortune increases our concern for the misfortunate, even
though the indifference proceed not from any virtue and magnanimity.
'Tis 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
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 effect the imagination,
especially when presented by the subject; and 'tis on the imagination
that pity entirely depends.[6]

[6] 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
estimable, 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 hand 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
accompanied 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, 'twill be easy,
by careful and exact experiments, to separate and distinguish them.
For, to instance only in the cases of extension and number, 'tis
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
increases or diminishes by the increase or diminution of the objects,
we may conclude, according to our foregoing principles,[7] that 'tis
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 when conceived by the mind; 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 accompanied 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
inferred 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 errors.

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 increases, we naturally
imagine that the object has likewise increased. 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 any thing 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 operation.

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 'tis from this principle I derive the
passions of malice and envy.

'Tis 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
pleasure, and therefore produces pain when compared 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 satisfied 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 effects.

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 increase 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. 'Tis 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 enliven 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. 'Tis 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
magnified 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 contrast.

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 pursuit 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.

'Tis worthy of observation concerning that envy which arises from a
superiority in others, that 'tis 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 scribblers, 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, 'tis 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 'tis 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 a different
age. All these differences prevent or weaken the comparison, and
consequently the passion.

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, then 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 country.

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. 'Tis the same case with comparison; and from both these
phenomena 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 removes any
usual or natural effect, we may certainly conclude that its presence
contributes to the production of the effect.

[7] Book I. Part III. Sect. 15.




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 'tis 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 impulses 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, 'tis by
this chain the passions of pity and malice are connected with love and

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 dependence 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, 'tis 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, 'tis 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.

'Tis plain they arise, not from the double relations of impressions and
ideas, if we regard only the present sensation. For, taking the first
case of rivalship, though the pleasure and advantage of an antagonist
necessarily causes my pain and loss, yet, to counterbalance 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 'tis easy to imagine that the latter sentiment may, in
some 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 has 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 phenomenon, 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 'tis 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 phenomena,
indeed, may in part be accounted for from other principles.

But here there occurs a considerable objection, which 'twill 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 'tis a maxim
which I have just now established, and which is absolutely necessary
to the explication of the phenomena of pity and malice, "That 'tis 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 phenomenon which
he would explain?

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 phenomenon.

'Tis 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, 'tis 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. 'Tis a great effort of imagination
to form such lively ideas even of the present sentiments of others as
to feel these very sentiments; but 'tis impossible we could 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,
'tis 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

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 undervalue
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
increase of the sympathy has evidently the same effect as the increase
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 adversity.

But though the force of the impression generally produces pity and
benevolence, 'tis certain that, by being carried 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 bad fortune; and from
that complete sympathy there arises pity and benevolence. But 'twill
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 well-shaped; 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 sympathy.

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 middling 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 misfortune, 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 affliction?

I shall just observe, before I leave the present subject, that this
phenomenon 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



There now remains only to explain the passions 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 phenomenon. Whether my
reasoning be received or not, the phenomenon is undisputed, and appears
in many instances. Among the rest, 'tis 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 mortified
with the presence of one above us. Contempt or scorn has so strong a
tincture of pride, that there scarce is any other passion discernible:
Whereas in esteem or respect, love makes a more considerable ingredient
than humility. The passion of vanity is so prompt, that it rouses at
the least call; while humility requires a stronger impulse to make it
exert itself.

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 transferred 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 that the two latter painful.
But though this be universally true, 'tis observable, that the two
agreeable as well as the two painful passions, have some differences,
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 enfeeble 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,
'twill be necessary to form a distinct idea. Let us remember that pride
and hatred invigorate the soul, and love and humility enfeeble 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.

'Tis 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. 'Tis 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 phenomenon, 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 ideas 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. 'Tis 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 shows 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, 'tis 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. 'Tis 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, 'tis 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 'tis absolutely necessary to the satisfying that
appetite. If an object, therefore, by any separate qualities, inclines
us to approach the meat, it naturally increases 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,
'tis 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 'tis 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 'tis 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. 'Tis
certain, therefore, that 'tis only by their relation they produce each
other. But the relation of passions is not alone sufficient. 'Tis
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, 'tis 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 in 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 system.

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 'tis 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.

'Tis 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 'tis remarkable, that though almost all
animals use in play the same member, and nearly the same action as
in fighting; a lion, a tiger, 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 pleasure.

Every one has observed how much more dogs are animated when they hunt
in a pack, than when they pursue their game apart; and 'tis evident
this can proceed from nothing but from sympathy. 'Tis also well known
to hunters, that this effect follows in a greater degree, and even in
too great a degree, where too packs that are strangers to each other
are joined together. We might, perhaps, be at a loss to explain this
phenomenon, 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 inquiry. 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, 'tis
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 clear 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 will.

'Tis 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 not the least traces of
indifference or liberty. Every object is determined by an absolute fate
to a certain degree and direction of its 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. 'Tis their constant union alone with which
we are acquainted; and 'tis from the constant union the necessity
arises. If objects had not 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. 'Tis 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 not 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. Like 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 pounds, 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 like 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 it is
more certain that two flat pieces of marble will unite together, than
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 inconveniences
attending their separation more certain than their foresight of these
inconveniences, and their care of avoiding them by a close union and

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 these 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, lawsuits, 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 traveller 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 phenomena 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 balances 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, 'tis 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 other.

'Tis commonly allowed that madmen 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 show, 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 it to the other.

There is no philosopher, whose judgment is so rivetted 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
Cæsar, the success of Augustus, the cruelty of Nero; and, remembering
many other concurrent testimonies, we conclude that those facts were
once really existent, 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 'tis 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 supercargo. 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. 'Tis 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 'tis the very same with the idea of these 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. 'Tis
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, discover the impossibility of his escape, as well from the
obstinacy of the gaoler, as from the walls and bars with which he is
surrounded; and in all attempts for his freedom, chooses 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 axe 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 change.

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 till I know the meaning he assigns to
these terms.



I believe we may assign the three following reasons for the prevalence
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, 'tis difficult for us to persuade ourselves we were governed
by necessity, and that 'twas 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 _spontaneity_, 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 'tis 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, could have
been completed into the thing itself; because, should that be denied,
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, 'tis certainly false;
but 'tis not certain an opinion is false, because 'tis 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 tacitly, 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_. 'Tis
indeed certain, that as all human laws are founded on rewards and
punishments, 'tis 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 'tis usually conjoined with the action, common sense
requires it should be esteemed a cause, and be looked 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, is regarded as the avenger of crimes merely on
account of their odiousness and deformity, not only 'tis impossible,
without the necessary connexion of cause and effect in human actions,
that punishments could be inflicted compatible with justice and moral
equity; but also that it could 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, 'tis 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, 'tis
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. 'Tis 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 the doctrine of _liberty_
or _chance_, they never were just proofs, and consequently never were

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 chooses 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 synonymous; 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, 'tis 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, ancient 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, inconstancy,
and deceitfulness of the latter, have been as strongly insisted on. In
order to show 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 the 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 'tis 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.

'Tis 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 carried to avoid or embrace what will give us this uneasiness
or satisfaction. 'Tis 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 'tis evident, in this case, that the impulse arises not
from reason, but is only directed by it. 'Tis 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 'tis 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. 'Tis impossible reason could 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, 'tis 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 feet high. 'Tis 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 _accompanied_ with some judgment or opinion. According to this
principle, which is so obvious and natural, 'tis 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 of the existence of objects, which really do not
exist. Secondly, When in exerting any passion in action, we choose
means sufficient for the designed end, and deceive ourselves in our
judgment of causes and effects. Where a passion is neither founded on
false suppositions, nor chooses means insufficient for the end, the
understanding can neither justify nor condemn it. 'Tis not contrary to
reason to prefer the destruction of the whole world to the scratching
of my finger. 'Tis not contrary to reason for me to choose my total
ruin, to prevent the least uneasiness of an Indian, or person wholly
unknown to me. 'Tis as little contrary to reason to prefer even my
own acknowledged 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 accompanied with some false judgment, in order to its being
unreasonable; and even then, 'tis 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, 'tis
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 falsehood 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 falsehood of that supposition, they must become
indifferent to me.

'Tis 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 schools, 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 'tis 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 falsehood. 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 counteract a violent passion
in prosecution of their interests and designs; 'tis 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 solicitations 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. 'Tis 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, 'tis certain that, when we
would govern a man, and push him to any action, 'twill 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 increase 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 increased or diminished by
the increase 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.

'Tis 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. 'Tis true, in order to make a perfect union among the 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 'tis 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 caprice
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. 'Tis 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 increases 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 themselves.

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 'tis 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 increases 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
increase 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 enliven 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
increases 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.

'Tis certain, nothing more powerful 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 shows enough to prepossess 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 complete the idea, rouses 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 increases or diminishes our affections.
The Duc de la Rochefoucault has very well observed, that absence
destroys weak passions, but increases 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, increases
the passion, and gives it new force and violence.



But nothing has a greater effect both to increase 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 extraordinary.

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 spirits
moving in their new direction. As this difficulty excites the spirits,
'tis the source of wonder, surprise, and of all the emotions which
arise from novelty, and is in itself very agreeable, like every thing
which enlivens the mind to a moderate degree. But though surprise 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, which is another
very powerful principle of the human mind, and an infallible source
of pleasure where the facility goes not beyond a certain degree. And
here 'tis 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 for 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 affection.

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 increases 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.



'Tis remarkable, that the imagination and affections have a 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. 'Tis 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 'tis
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
'twas 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 could be more advantageous than the design of
Themistocles; but at the same time that nothing could be more unjust:
upon which the people unanimously rejected the project.

A late celebrated historian[1] admires this passage of ancient history
as one of the most singular that is any where to be met with. "Here,"
says he, "they are not philosophers, to whom 'tis 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. 'Tis 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 balance 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 'tis 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

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 phenomenon may be explained from the same principle.

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 till 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 enforced 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

'Tis 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. 'Tis too weak to take any hold of the
mind, or be attended with emotion.

[1] Mons. Rollin.



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.

'Tis 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. 'Tis 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. 'Tis 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 to-morrow, 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 India 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 phenomenon 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 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 phenomenon 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, 'tis 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 phenomenon. 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 'tis 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 of 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 interrupting 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, 'tis evident that, abstractedly
considered, their relation to the present is almost equal. For as the
future will _some time_ be present, so the past was _once_ present.
If we could, 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 choose 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 increasing, 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 phenomena, 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 phenomena, which seem to be in a manner the
reverse of these: why a very great distance increases our esteem and
admiration for an object: why such a distance in time increases 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 phenomenon, why a great distance increases our
esteem and admiration for an object; 'tis evident that the mere view
and contemplation of any greatness, whether successive or extended,
enlarges the soul, and gives 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 'tis not
necessary the object should be actually distant from us in order to
cause our admiration; but that 'tis 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 view 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. Ancient busts and inscriptions are more valued than Japan
tables: and, not to mention the Greeks and Romans, 'tis certain we
regard with more veneration the old Chaldeans and Egyptians, than the
modern Chinese and Persians; and bestow more fruitless pains to clear
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 phenomenon.

'Tis 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 inverse. Opposition not only enlarges the
soul; but the soul, when full of courage and magnanimity, in a manner
seeks opposition.

     Spumantemque dari pecora inter inertia votis
     Optat aprum, aut fulvum descendere monte leonem.

Whatever supports and fills the passions is agreeable to us; as, on the
contrary, what weakens and enfeebles them is uneasy. As opposition has
the first effect, and facilitates 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 fancied 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_. On
the contrary, a vulgar and trivial conception is styled 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 sight.

'Tis 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 'tis 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 till 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 studied in music and poetry, is called
the fall 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 every thing which invigorates and enlivens 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 effect of sustaining and increasing 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 relicks 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 phenomenon I have remarked will be a full confirmation of
this. 'Tis 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 phenomenon 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, increases 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 'tis
often found that the calm ones, when corroborated by reflection, and
seconded by resolution, are able to control 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 comprehension.



'Tis 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, 'tis 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 increase
our desire and aversion to the object. Thus, a suit of fine clothes
produces pleasure from their beauty; and this pleasure produces the
direct passions, or the impressions of volition and desire. Again,
when these clothes 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

_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.
'Tis 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, 'tis 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, 'tis 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, 'tis not of 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 extremely 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 fear.

Upon this head there may be started a very curious question concerning
that contrariety of passions which is our present subject. 'Tis
observable, that where the objects of contrary passions are presented
at once, beside the increase 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 lawsuit, 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 indifference.

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 tranquillity.

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. 'Tis impossible, by one
steady view, to survey the opposite chances, and the events dependent
on them; but 'tis 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. 'Tis 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 _alkali_ 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. Increase 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 increased it, by diminishing
the probability on that side, and you'll see the passion clear every
moment, 'till it changes insensibly into hope; which again runs, after
the same manner, by slow degrees, into joy, as you increase that part
of the composition by the increase 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 'tis a proof, that a coloured ray of the
sun passing through a prism, is a composition of two others, when, as
you diminish or increase 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 'tis 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 the contrariety of views which is
common to both.

'Tis 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 will 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 fixed 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 'tis 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, 'tis 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 phenomenon in the passions,
which at first sight seems very extraordinary, viz. that surprise 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 phenomenon 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

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 principle 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 nearly allied to fear.
Uncertainty is, indeed, in one respect, as nearly allied 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 relation of impressions to the
uneasy passions.

'Tis thus our uncertainty concerning any minute circumstance relating
to a person, increases our apprehensions of his death or misfortune.
Horace has remarked this phenomenon:

     Ut assidens implumibus pullus avis
       Serpentium allapsus timet,
     Magis relictis; non, ut adsit, auxili
       Latura plus presentibus.

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
desirable. A virgin, on her bridal-night 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. 'Tis 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
subdivisions of the other affections, as well as of fear. Love may
show 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.
'Tis for this reason I have all along confined myself to the principal

The same care of avoiding prolixity is the reason why I waive 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 consideration that love of truth, which was
the first source of all our inquiries. 'Twill therefore be proper,
before we leave this subject, to bestow a few reflections on that
passion, and show its origin in human nature. 'Tis 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 confusion.

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. 'Tis certain that the former
species of truth is not desired merely as truth, and that 'tis 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 'tis 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. 'Tis 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; 'tis 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 'tis 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 consists 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 complete the pleasure, 'tis not on account of any
considerable addition which of itself it brings to our enjoyment, but
only because 'tis 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

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. 'Tis evident, that the pleasure of hunting
consists in the action of the mind and body; the motion, the attention,
the difficulty, and the uncertainty. 'Tis 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 partridges 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 'tis 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 overlooks
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 complete, 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. 'Tis here, as in certain chemical 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 'tis 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 mixed with pain, does in the main give them a
sensible pleasure. And this pleasure is here increased 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 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 phenomenon.

It has been proved at large, that the influence of belief is at once
to enliven 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. 'Tis 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 'tis 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. 'Tis 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. 'Tis 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, obliterated.







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 'tis
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 'tis 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 inquiry concerning morals,
_whether 'tis by means of our ideas or impressions we distinguish
betwixt vice and virtue, and pronounce an action blameable or
praiseworthy_? This will 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 juxtaposition 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,
'twere 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, 'tis 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 deterred 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 actions, 'tis 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 it 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,[1] that reason is perfectly inert, and can never either prevent
or produce any action or affection. 'Twill 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 subject.

Reason is the discovery of truth or falsehood. Truth or falsehood
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,
'tis evident our passions, volitions, and actions, are not susceptible
of any such agreement or disagreement; being original facts and
realities, complete in themselves, and implying no reference to other
passions, volitions, and actions. 'Tis 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 showing 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 or unreasonable: laudable or blameable,
therefore, are not the same with reasonable or unreasonable. The merit
and demerit of actions frequently contradict, and sometimes control
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 falsehood may be the source of morals,
'twill now be proper to consider.

It has been observed, that reason, in a strict and philosophical sense,
can have an 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 of 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, 'tis 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 fall 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 falsehood 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 'tis 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 'tis 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 'tis only
on others they have such an influence. 'Tis 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 lie or
falsehood; 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 falsehood 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.[2]

Thus, upon the whole, 'tis impossible that the distinction betwixt
moral good and evil can be made by 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 falsehood, is attended
with virtue or vise. 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 show 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 tis 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 'tis 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 demerit. _Resemblance, contrariety, degrees in quality_, and
_proportions in quantity and number_; all these relations belong as
properly to matter, as to our actions, passions, and volitions. 'Tis
unquestionable, therefore, that morality lies not in any of these
relations, nor the sense of it in their discovery.[3]

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 complete 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. 'Tis
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 could 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 could 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

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, 'tis 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 'tis 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. 'Tis 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, 'tis not sufficient to show
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 shown, 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. 'Tis 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 rational measures of right and wrong; because it
is impossible to show those relations, upon which such a distinction
may be founded: and 'tis 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 clear 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 show 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 choose 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? 'Tis
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. 'Tis 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 choose 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 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

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
whichever 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 'tis 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 surprised 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, 'tis 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.

[1] Book II. Part III. Sect. 3

[2] One might think it were entirely superfluous to prove this, if a
late author, who has had the good fortune to obtain some reputation,
had not seriously affirmed, that such a falsehood 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 immoral.

'Tis 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 conclusion.

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,
'tis impossible he can produce any error, nor will any one, from these
circumstances, take him to be other than what he really is.

'Tis 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 another. Are
they, therefore, upon that account, immoral?

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 falsehood 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 'tis 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 falsehood 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 falsehood in action, provided
you can give me any plausible reason why such a falsehood 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
falsehood, 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?

[3] 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.



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 proceeding from vice to be uneasy. Every moment's
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 inquiries concerning these moral distinctions, it will be
sufficient to show 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 inquire 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 implied in the immediate pleasure they convey to us.

I have objected to the system which establishes eternal rational
measures of right and wrong, that 'tis impossible to show, in the
actions of reasonable creatures, any relations which are not found in
external objects; and therefore, if morality always attended these
relations, 'twere 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. 'Tis
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. 'Tis 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
villany 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 'tis certain a
musical voice is nothing but one that naturally gives a _particular_
kind of pleasure; yet 'tis 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 principle is it derived,
and whence does it arise in the human mind_? To this I reply, _first_,
that 'tis 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,
'tis 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 completest 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 carried on
in the easiest and most simple manner. 'Tis 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 discovery.

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 increase
or diminish, 'twill be impossible to fix any exact boundaries betwixt
them. We may only affirm on this head, that if ever there was any thing
which could 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, showed 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, 'tis 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, 'tis 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 'tis 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.[4]

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, 'tis 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,
'tis evident that the actions themselves are artificial, and are
performed with a certain design and intention; otherwise they could
never be ranked under any of these denominations. 'Tis 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
show 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.

[4] 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 taken.





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.

'Tis 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
inquiry, 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 shows a want of natural
affection, which is the duty of every parent. Were not natural
affection a duty, the care of children could not be a duty; and 'twere
impossible we could 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 principles of
humanity, which is meritorious and laudable.

In short, it may be established as an undoubted maxim, _that no action
can be virtuous, or morally good, unless there be in human nature some
motive to produce it distinct from the sense of its morality_.

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 'tis usual, in this case, as in
all others, to fix our attention on the signs, and neglect, in some
measure, the thing signified. 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 villany 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
would immediately ask you, _Wherein consists this honesty and justice,
which you find in restoring a loan, and abstaining from the property
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 'tis 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 'tis impossible that the virtuous motive and the
regard to the virtue can be the same.

'Tis 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 'tis 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 appetite.

But should it be affirmed, that the reason or motive of such actions
is the _regard to public 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 shown 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 ourself. 'Tis true,
there is no human, and indeed no sensible creature, whose happiness
or misery does not, in some measure, affect us, when brought near
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 phenomena that
point out any such kind affection to men, independent of their merit,
and every other circumstance. We love company in general; but 'tis as
we love any other amusement. An Englishman in Italy is a friend; a
European 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, right, 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. 'Tis 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 economy 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 which the rules of justice are established by the artifice of men_;
and _concerning the reasons which determine us to attribute to the
observance or neglect of these rules a moral beauty and deformity_.
These questions will appear afterwards to be distinct. We shall begin
with the former.

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 clothes 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

'Tis 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 'tis possible for him, in his
savage and solitary condition, ever to become. When every individual
person labours apart, 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 increases;
and by mutual succour, we are less exposed to fortune and accidents.
'Tis by this additional _force, ability_, and _security_, that society
becomes advantageous.

But, in order to form society, 'tis requisite not only that it be
advantageous, but also that men be sensible of these advantages; and
'tis 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 tie 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 comers 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 affect ion
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 'tis 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 expense 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 opposition of passions, and a
consequent opposition of actions, which cannot but be dangerous to the
new-established union.

'Tis, 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 three different species
of goods which we are possessed of; the internal satisfaction 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 control 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,
'twill 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 'tis 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 centres 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 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 must
seek for a remedy, by putting these goods, as far as possible, on the
same footing with the fixed and constant advantages of the mind and
body. This can be done after no other manner, than by a convention
entered into by all the members of the society to bestow stability on
the possession of those external goods, and leave every one in the
peaceable enjoyment of what he may acquire by his fortune and industry.
By this means, every one knows what he may safely possess; and the
passions are restrained in their partial and contradictory motions. Nor
is such a restraint contrary to these passions; for, if so, it could
never be entered into nor maintained; but it is only contrary to their
heedless and impetuous movement. Instead of departing from our own
interest, or from that of our nearest friends, by abstaining from the
possessions of others, we cannot better consult both these interests,
than by such a convention; because it is by that means we maintain
society, which is so necessary to their well-being and subsistence, as
well as to our own.

This convention is not of the nature of a _promise_; for even promises
themselves, as we shall see afterwards, arise from human conventions.
It is only a general sense of common interest; which sense all the
members of the society express to one another, and which induces them
to regulate their conduct by certain rules. I observe, that it will
be for my interest to leave another in the possession of his goods,
_provided_ he will act in the same manner with regard to me. He is
sensible of a like interest in the regulation of his conduct. When
this common sense of interest is mutually expressed, and is known to
both, it produces a suitable resolution and behaviour. And this may
properly enough be called a convention or agreement betwixt us, though
without the interposition of a promise; since the actions of each of
us have a reference to those of the other, and are performed upon the
supposition that something is to be performed on the other part. Two
men who pull the oars of a boat, do it by an agreement or convention,
though they have never given promises to each other. Nor is the rule
concerning the stability of possession the less derived from human
conventions, that it arises gradually, and acquires force by a slow
progression, and by our repeated experience of the inconveniences
of transgressing it. On the contrary, this experience assures us
still more, that the sense of interest has become common to all our
fellows, and gives us a confidence of the future regularity of their
conduct; and 'tis only on the expectation of this that our moderation
and abstinence are founded. In like manner are languages gradually
established by human conventions, without any promise. In like manner
do gold and silver become the common measures of exchange, and are
esteemed sufficient payment for what is of a hundred times their value.

After this convention, concerning abstinence from the possessions of
others, is entered into, and every one has acquired a stability in
his possessions, there immediately arise the ideas of justice and
injustice; as also those of _property, right_, and _obligation_. The
latter are altogether unintelligible, without first understanding
the former. Our property is nothing but those goods, whose constant
possession is established by the laws of society; that is, by the laws
of justice. Those, therefore, who make use of the words _property_,
or _right_, or _obligation_, before they have explained the origin of
justice, or even make use of them in that explication, are guilty of
a very gross fallacy, and can never reason upon any solid foundation.
A man's property is some object related to him. This relation is not
natural, but moral, and founded on justice. 'Tis very preposterous,
therefore, to imagine that we can have any idea of property, without
fully comprehending the nature of justice, and showing its origin in
the artifice and contrivance of men. The origin of justice explains
that of property. The same artifice gives rise to both. As our first
and most natural sentiment of morals is founded on the nature of our
passions, and gives the preference to ourselves and friends above
strangers, 'tis impossible there can be naturally any such thing as a
fixed right or property, while the opposite passions of men impel them
in contrary directions, and are not restrained by any convention or

No one can doubt that the convention for the distinction of property,
and for the stability of possession, is of all circumstances the most
necessary to the establishment of human society, and that, after the
agreement for the fixing and observing of this rule, there remains
little or nothing to be done towards settling a perfect harmony and
concord. All the other passions, beside this of interest, are either
easily restrained, or are not of such pernicious consequence when
indulged. _Vanity_ is rather to be esteemed a social passion, and a
bond of union among men. _Pity_ and _love_ are to be considered in the
same light. And as to _envy_ and _revenge_, though pernicious, they
operate only by intervals, and are directed against particular persons,
whom we consider as our superiors or enemies. This avidity alone, of
acquiring goods and possessions for ourselves and our nearest friends,
is insatiable, perpetual, universal, and directly destructive of
society. There scarce is any one who is not actuated by it; and there
is no one who has not reason to fear from it, when it acts without
any restraint, and gives way to its first and most natural movements.
So that, upon the whole, we are to esteem the difficulties in the
establishment of society to be greater or less, according to those we
encounter in regulating and restraining this passion.

'Tis certain, that no affection of the human mind has both a sufficient
force and a proper direction to counterbalance the love of gain,
and render men fit members of society, by making them abstain from
the possessions of others. Benevolence to strangers is too weak for
this purpose; and as to the other passions, they rather inflame this
avidity, when we observe, that the larger our possessions are, the more
ability we have of gratifying all our appetites. There is no passion,
therefore, capable of controlling the interested affection, but the
very affection itself, by an alteration of its direction. Now, this
alteration must necessarily take place upon the least reflection;
since 'tis evident that the passion is much better satisfied by its
restraint than by its liberty, and that, in preserving society, we
make much greater advances in the acquiring possessions, than in the
solitary and forlorn condition which must follow upon violence and an
universal license. The question, therefore, concerning the wickedness
or goodness of human nature, enters not in the least into that other
question concerning the origin of society; nor is there any thing to
be considered but the degrees of men's sagacity or folly. For whether
the passion of self-interest be esteemed vicious or virtuous, 'tis all
a case, since itself alone restrains it; so that if it be virtuous,
men become social by their virtue; if vicious, their vice has the same

Now, as 'tis by establishing the rule for the stability of possession
that this passion restrains itself, if that rule be very abstruse
and of difficult invention, society must be esteemed in a manner
accidental, and the effect of many ages. But if it be found, that
nothing can be more simple and obvious than that rule; that every
parent, in order to preserve peace among his children, must establish
it; and that these first rudiments of justice must every day be
improved, as the society enlarges: if all this appear evident, as it
certainly must, we may conclude that 'tis utterly impossible for men to
remain any considerable time in that savage condition which precedes
society, but that his very first state and situation may justly be
esteemed social. This, however, hinders not but that philosophers
may, if they please, extend their reasoning to the supposed _state of
nature_; provided they allow it to be a mere philosophical fiction,
which never had, and never could have, any reality. Human nature
being composed of two principal parts, which are requisite in all
its actions, the affections and understanding, 'tis certain that the
blind motions of the former, without the direction of the latter,
incapacitate men for society; and it may be allowed us to consider
separately the effects that result from the separate operations
of these two component parts of the mind. The same liberty may be
permitted to moral, which is allowed to natural philosophers; and 'tis
very usual with the latter to consider any motion as compounded and
consisting of two parts separate from each other, though at the same
time they acknowledge it to be in itself uncompounded and inseparable.

This _state of nature_, therefore, is to be regarded as a mere fiction,
not unlike that of the _golden age_ which poets have invented; only
with this difference, that the former is described as full of war,
violence and injustice; whereas the latter is painted out to us as
the most charming and most peaceable condition that can possibly be
imagined. The seasons, in that first age of nature, were so temperate,
if we may believe the poets, that there was no necessity for men to
provide themselves with clothes and houses as a security against the
violence of heat and cold. The rivers flowed with wine and milk; the
oaks yielded honey; and nature spontaneously produced her greatest
delicacies. Nor were these the chief advantages of that happy age.
The storms and tempests were not alone removed from nature; but those
more furious tempests were unknown to human breasts, which now cause
such uproar, and engender such confusion. Avarice, ambition, cruelty,
selfishness, were never heard of: cordial affection, compassion,
sympathy, were the only movements with which the human mind was yet
acquainted. Even the distinction of _mine_ and _thine_ was banished
from that happy race of mortals, and carried with them the very notions
of property and obligation, justice and injustice.

This, no doubt, is to be regarded as an idle fiction; but yet deserves
our attention, because nothing can more evidently show the origin of
those virtues, which are the subjects of our present inquiry. I have
already observed, that justice takes its rise from human conventions;
and that these are intended as a remedy to some inconveniences, which
proceed from the concurrence of certain _qualities_ of the human mind
with the _situation_ of external objects. The qualities of the mind
are _selfishness_ and _limited generosity_: and the situation of
external objects is their _easy change_, joined to their _scarcity_ in
comparison of the wants and desires of men. But however philosophers
may have been bewildered in those speculations, poets have been guided
more infallibly, by a certain taste or common instinct, which, in most
kinds of reasoning, goes farther than any of that art and philosophy
with which we have been yet acquainted. They easily perceived, if every
man had a tender regard for another, or if nature supplied abundantly
all our wants and desires, that the jealousy of interest, which justice
supposes, could no longer have place; nor would there be any occasion
for those distinctions and limits of property and possession, which at
present are in use among mankind. Increase to a sufficient degree the
benevolence of men, or the bounty of nature, and you render justice
useless, by supplying its place with much nobler virtues, and more
valuable blessings. The selfishness of men is animated by the few
possessions we have, in proportion to our wants; and 'tis to restrain
this selfishness, that men have been obliged to separate themselves
from the community, and to distinguish betwixt their own goods and
those of others.

Nor need we have recourse to the fictions of poets to learn this;
but, beside the reason of the thing, may discover the same truth
by common experience and observation. 'Tis easy to remark, that a
cordial affection renders all things common among friends; and that
married people, in particular, mutually lose their property, and are
unacquainted with the _mine_ and _thine_, which are so necessary, and
yet cause such disturbance in human society. The same effect arises
from any alteration in the circumstances of mankind; as when there is
such a plenty of any thing as satisfies all the desires of men: in
which case the distinction of property is entirely lost, and every
thing remains in common. This we may observe with regard to air and
water, though the most valuable of all external objects; and may easily
conclude, that if men were supplied with every thing in the same
abundance, or if _every one_ had the same affection and tender regard
for _every one_ as for himself, justice and injustice would be equally
unknown among mankind.

Here then is a proposition, which, I think, may be regarded as certain,
_that 'tis only from the selfishness and confined generosity of men,
along with the scanty provision nature has made for his wants, that
justice derives its origin_. If we look backward we shall find,
that this proposition bestows an additional force on some of those
observations which we have already made on this subject.

_First_, We may conclude from it, that a regard to public interest, or
a strong extensive benevolence, is not our first and original motive
for the observation of the rules of justice; since 'tis allowed, that
if men were endowed with such a benevolence, these rules would never
have been dreamt of.

_Secondly_, We may conclude from the same principle, that the sense
of justice is not founded on reason, or on the discovery of certain
connexions and relations of ideas, which are eternal, immutable,
and universally obligatory. For since it is confessed, that such an
alteration as that above-mentioned, in the temper and circumstances
of mankind, would entirely alter our duties and obligations, 'tis
necessary upon the common system, _that the sense of virtue is derived
from reason_, to show the change which this must produce in the
relations and ideas. But 'tis evident, that the only cause why the
extensive generosity of man, and the perfect abundance of every thing,
would destroy the very idea of justice, is, because they render it
useless; and that, on the other hand, his confined benevolence, and
his necessitous condition, give rise to that virtue, only by making
it requisite to the public interest, and to that of every individual.
'Twas therefore a concern for our own and the public interest which
made us establish the laws of justice; and nothing can be more certain,
than that it is not any relation of ideas which gives us this concern,
but our impressions and sentiments, without which every thing in nature
is perfectly indifferent to us, and can never in the least affect us.
The sense of justice, therefore, is not founded on our ideas, but on
our impressions.

_Thirdly_, We may farther confirm the foregoing proposition, _that
those impressions, which give rise to this sense of justice, are
not natural to the mind of man, but arise from artifice and human
conventions_. For, since any considerable alteration of temper and
circumstances destroys equally justice and injustice; and since such
an alteration has an effect only by changing our own and the public
interest, it follows, that the first establishment of the rules of
justice depends on these different interests. But if men pursued the
public interest naturally, and with a hearty affection, they would
never have dreamed of restraining each other by these rules; and if
they pursued their own interest, without any precaution, they would
run headlong into every kind of injustice and violence. These rules,
therefore, are artificial, and seek their end in an oblique and
indirect manner; nor is the interest which gives rise to them of a kind
that could be pursued by the natural and inartificial passions of men.

To make this more evident, consider, that, though the rules of justice
are established merely by interest, their connexion with interest
is somewhat singular, and is different from what may be observed on
other occasions. A single act of justice is frequently contrary to
_public interest_; and were it to stand alone, without being followed
by other acts, may, in itself, be very prejudicial to society. When a
man of merit, of a beneficent disposition, restores a great fortune
to a miser, or a seditious bigot, he has acted justly and laudably;
but the public is a real sufferer. Nor is every single act of justice,
considered apart, more conducive to private interest than to public;
and 'tis easily conceived how a man may impoverish himself by a signal
instance of integrity, and have reason to wish, that, with regard to
that single act, the laws of justice were for a moment suspended in
the universe. But, however single acts of justice may be contrary,
either to public or private interest, 'tis certain that the whole plan
or scheme is highly conducive, or indeed absolutely requisite, both
to the support of society, and the well-being of every individual.
'Tis impossible to separate the good from the ill. Property must be
stable, and must be fixed by general rules. Though in one instance
the public be a sufferer, this momentary ill is amply compensated by
the steady prosecution of the rule, and by the peace and order which
it establishes in society. And even every individual person must find
himself a gainer on balancing the account; since, without justice,
society must immediately dissolve, and every one must fall into that
savage and solitary condition, which is infinitely worse than the worst
situation that can possibly be supposed in society. When, therefore,
men have had experience enough to observe, that, whatever may be the
consequence of any single act of justice, performed by a single person,
yet the whole system of actions concurred in by the whole society,
is infinitely advantageous to the whole, and to every part, it is not
long before justice and property take place. Every member of society
is sensible of this interest: every one expresses this sense to his
fellows, along with the resolution he has taken of squaring his actions
by it, on condition that others will do the same. No more is requisite
to induce any one of them to perform an act of justice, who has the
first opportunity. This becomes an example to others; and thus justice
establishes itself by a kind of convention or agreement, that is, by
a sense of interest, supposed to be common to all, and where every
single act is performed in expectation that others are to perform the
like. Without such a convention, no one would ever have dreamed that
there was such a virtue as justice, or have been induced to conform his
actions to it. Taking any single act, my justice may be pernicious in
every respect; and 'tis only upon the supposition that others are to
imitate my example, that I can be induced to embrace that virtue; since
nothing but this combination can render justice advantageous, or afford
me any motives to conform myself to its rules.

We come now to the second question we proposed, viz. _Why we annex the
idea of virtue to justice, and of vice to injustice_. This question
will not detain us long after the principles which we have already
established. All we can say of it at present will be despatched in a
few words: and for farther satisfaction, the reader must wait till
we come to the _third_ part of this book. The natural obligation to
justice, viz. interest, has been fully explained; but as to the _moral_
obligation, or the sentiment of right and wrong, 'twill first be
requisite to examine the natural virtues, before we can give a full
and satisfactory account of it.

After men have found by experience, that their selfishness and confined
generosity, acting at their liberty, totally incapacitate them for
society; and at the same time have observed, that society is necessary
to the satisfaction of those very passions, they are naturally induced
to lay themselves under the restraint of such rules, as may render
their commerce more safe and commodious. To the imposition, then, and
observance of these rules, both in general, and in every particular
instance, they are at first induced only by a regard to interest; and
this motive, on the first formation of society, is sufficiently strong
and forcible. But when society has become numerous, and has increased
to a tribe or nation, this interest is more remote; nor do men so
readily perceive that disorder and confusion follow upon every breach
of these rules, as in a more narrow and contracted society. But though,
in our own actions, we may frequently lose sight of that interest which
we have in maintaining order, and may follow a lesser and more present
interest, we never fail to observe the prejudice we receive, either
mediately or immediately, from the injustice of others; as not being
in that case either blinded by passion, or biassed by any contrary
temptation. Nay, when the injustice is so distant from us as no way
to affect our interest, it still displeases us; because we consider
it as prejudicial to human society, and pernicious to every one that
approaches the person guilty of it. We partake of their uneasiness
by _sympathy_; and as every thing which gives uneasiness in human
actions, upon the general survey, is called Vice, and whatever produces
satisfaction, in the same manner, is denominated Virtue, this is the
reason why the sense of moral good and evil follows upon justice and
injustice. And though this sense, in the present case, be derived only
from contemplating the actions of others, yet we fail not to extend
it even to our own actions. The _general rule_ reaches beyond those
instances from which it arose; while, at the same time, we naturally
_sympathize_ with others in the sentiments they entertain of us.

Though this progress of the sentiments be _natural_, and even
necessary, 'tis certain, that it is here forwarded by the artifice of
politicians, who, in order to govern men more easily, and preserve
peace in human society, have endeavoured to produce an esteem for
justice, and an abhorrence of injustice. This, no doubt, must have
its effect; but nothing can be more evident, than that the matter has
been carried too far by certain writers on morals, who seem to have
employed their utmost efforts to extirpate all sense of virtue from
among mankind. Any artifice of politicians may assist nature in the
producing of those sentiments, which she suggests to us, and may even,
on some occasions, produce alone an approbation or esteem for any
particular action; but 'tis impossible it should be the sole cause of
the distinction we make betwixt vice and virtue. For if nature did not
aid us in this particular, 'twould be in vain for politicians to talk
of _honourable_ or _dishonourable, praiseworthy_ or _blameable_. These
words would be perfectly unintelligible, and would no more have any
idea annexed to them, than if they were of a tongue perfectly unknown
to us. The utmost politicians can perform, is to extend the natural
sentiments beyond their original bounds; but still nature must furnish
the materials, and give us some notion of moral distinctions.

As public praise and blame increase our esteem for justice, so private
education and instruction contribute to the same effect. For as parents
easily observe, that a man is the more useful, both to himself and
others, the greater degree of probity and honour he is endowed with,
and that those principles have, greater force when custom and education
assist interest and reflection: for these reasons they are induced
to inculcate on their children, from their earliest infancy, the
principles of probity, and teach them to regard the observance of those
rules by which society is maintained, as worthy and honourable, and
their violation as base and infamous. By this means the sentiments of
honour may take root in their tender minds, and acquire such firmness
and solidity, that they may fall little short of those principles which
are the most essential to our natures, and the most deeply radicated in
our internal constitution.

What farther contributes to increase their solidity, is the interest
of our reputation, after the opinion, _that a merit or demerit attends
justice or injustice_, is once firmly established among mankind.
There is nothing which touches us more nearly than our reputation,
and nothing on which our reputation more depends than our conduct
with relation to the property of others. For this reason, every one
who has any regard to his character, or who intends to live on good
terms with mankind, must fix an inviolable law to himself, never, by
any temptation, to be induced to violate those principles which are
essential to a man of probity and honour.

I shall make only one observation before I leave this subject, viz.
that, though I assert that, in the _state of_ nature, or that imaginary
state which preceded society, there be neither justice nor injustice,
yet I assert not that it was allowable, in such a state, to violate
the property of others. I only maintain, that there was no such thing
as property; and consequently could be no such thing as justice or
injustice. I shall have occasion to make a similar reflection with
regard to _promises_, when I come to treat of them; and I hope this
reflection, when duly weighed, will suffice to remove all odium from
the foregoing opinions, with regard to justice and injustice.



Though the establishment of the rule, concerning the stability of
possession, be not only useful, but even absolutely necessary to human
society, it can never serve to any purpose, while it remains in such
general terms. Some method must be shown, by which we may distinguish
what particular goods are to be assigned to each particular person,
while the rest of mankind are excluded from their possession and
enjoyment. Our next business, then, must be to discover the reasons
which modify this general rule, and fit it to the common use and
practice of the world.

'Tis obvious, that those reasons are not derived from any utility or
advantage, which either the _particular_ person or the public may
reap from his enjoyment of any _particular_ goods, beyond what would
result from the possession of them by any other person. 'Twere better,
no doubt, that every one were possessed of what is most suitable
to him, and proper for his use: But besides, that this relation of
fitness may be common to several at once, 'tis liable to so many
controversies, and men are so partial and passionate in judging of
these controversies, that such a loose and uncertain rule would be
absolutely incompatible with the peace of human society. The convention
concerning the stability of possession is entered into, in order to cut
off all occasions of discord and contention; and this end would never
be attained, were we allowed to apply this rule differently in every
particular case, according to every particular utility which might be
discovered in such an application. Justice, in her decisions, never
regards the fitness or unfitness of objects to particular persons, but
conducts herself by more extensive views. Whether a man be generous, or
a miser, he is equally well received by her, and obtains, with the same
facility, a decision in his favour, even for what is entirely useless
to him.

It follows, therefore, that the general rule, _that possession must be
stable_, is not applied by particular judgments, but by other general
rules, which must extend to the whole society, and be inflexible
either by spite or favour. To illustrate this, I propose the following
instance. I first consider men in their savage and solitary condition;
and suppose that, being sensible of the misery of that state, and
foreseeing the advantages that would result from society, they seek
each other's company, and make an offer of mutual protection and
assistance. I also suppose that they are endowed with such sagacity as
immediately to perceive that the chief impediment to this project of
society and partnership lies in the avidity and selfishness of their
natural temper; to remedy which, they enter into a convention which for
the stability of possession, and for mutual restraint and forbearance.
I am sensible that this method of proceeding is not altogether natural;
but, besides that, I here only suppose those reflections to be formed
at once, which, in fact, arise insensibly and by degrees; besides this,
I say, 'tis very possible that several persons, being by different
accidents separated from the societies to which they formerly belonged,
may be obliged to form a new society among themselves; in which case
they are entirely in the situation above-mentioned.

'Tis evident, then, that their first difficulty in this situation,
after the general convention for the establishment of society, and for
the constancy of possession, is, how to separate their possessions,
and assign to each his particular portion, which he must for the
future unalterably enjoy. This difficulty will not detain them long;
but it must immediately occur to them, as the most natural expedient,
that every one continue to enjoy what he is at present master of, and
that property or constant possession be conjoined to the immediate
possession. Such is the effect of custom, that it not only reconciles
us to any thing we have long enjoyed, but even gives us an affection
for it, and makes us prefer it to other objects, which may be more
valuable, but are less known to us. What has long lain under our eye,
and has often been employed to our advantage, _that_ we are always the
most unwilling to part with; but can easily live without possessions
which we never have enjoyed, and are not accustomed to. 'Tis evident,
therefore, that men would easily acquiesce in this expedient, _that
every one continue to enjoy what he is at present possessed of_; and
this is the reason why they would so naturally agree in preferring

But we may observe, that, though the rule of the assignment of property
to the present possessor be natural, and by that means useful, yet
its utility extends not beyond the first formation of society; nor
would any thing be more pernicious than the constant observance of
it; by which restitution would be excluded, and every injustice would
be authorized and rewarded. We must, therefore, seek for some other
circumstance, that may give rise to property after society is once
established; and of this kind I find four most considerable, viz.
Occupation, Prescription, Accession, and Succession. We shall briefly
examine each of these, beginning with _occupation_.

The possession of all external goods is changeable and uncertain;
which is one of the most considerable impediments to the establishment
of society, and is the reason why, by universal agreement, express
or tacit, men restrain themselves by what we now call the rules of
justice and equity. The misery of the condition which precedes this
restraint, is the cause why we submit to that remedy as quickly as
possible; and this affords us an easy reason why why annex the idea of
property to the first possession, or to _occupation_. Men are unwilling
to leave property in suspense, even for the shortest time, or open the
least door to violence and disorder. To which we may add, that the
first possession always engages the attention most; and did we neglect
it, there would be no colour of reason for assigning property to any
succeeding possession.[2]

There remains nothing but to determine exactly what is meant by
possession; and this is not so easy as may at first sight be imagined.
We are said to be in possession of any thing, not only when we
immediately touch it, but also when we are so situated with respect
to it, as to have it in our power to use it; and may move, alter,
or destroy it, according to our present pleasure or advantage. This
relation, then, is a species of cause and effect; and as property is
nothing but a stable possession, derived from the rules of justice,
or the conventions of men, 'tis to be considered as the same species
of relation. But here we may observe, that, as the power of using any
object becomes more or less certain, according as the interruptions
we may meet with are more or less probable; and as this probability
may increase by insensible degrees, 'tis in many cases impossible to
determine when possession begins or ends; nor is there any certain
standard by which we can decide such controversies. A wild boar that
falls into our snares, is deemed to be in our possession if it be
impossible for him to escape. But what do we mean by impossible? How
do we separate this impossibility from an improbability? And how
distinguish that exactly from a probability? Mark the precise limits of
the one and the other, and show the standard, by which we may decide
all disputes that may arise, and, as we find, by experience, frequently
do arise upon this subject.[3]

But such disputes may not arise concerning the real existence of
property and possession, but also concerning their extent; and these
disputes are often susceptible of no decision, or can be decided by no
other faculty than the imagination. A person who lands on the shore of
a small island that is desart and uncultivated is deemed its possessor
from the very first moment, and acquires the property of the whole;
because the object is there bounded and circumscribed in the fancy, and
at the same time is proportioned to the new possessor. The same person
landing on a desart island as large as Great Britain, extends his
property no farther than his immediate possession; though a numerous
colony are esteemed the proprietors of the whole from the instant of
their debarkment.

But if it often happens that the title of first possession becomes
obscure through time, and that 'tis impossible to determine many
controversies which may arise concerning it; in that case, long
possession or _prescription_ naturally takes place, and gives a person
a sufficient property in any thing he enjoys. The nature of human
society admits not of any great accuracy; nor can we always remount
to the first origin of things, in order to determine their present
condition. Any considerable space of time sets objects at such a
distance that they seem in a manner to lose their reality, and have
as little influence on the mind as if they never had been in being. A
man's title that is clear and certain at present, will seem obscure
and doubtful fifty years hence, even though the facts on which it is
founded should be proved with the greatest evidence and certainty.
The same facts have not the same influence after so long an interval
of time. And this may be received as a convincing argument for our
preceding doctrine with regard to property and justice. Possession
during a long tract of time conveys a title to any object. But as 'tis
certain that, however every thing be produced in time, there is nothing
real that is produced by time, it follows, that property being produced
by time, is not any thing real in the objects, but is the offspring of
the sentiments, on which alone time is found to have any influence.[4]

We acquire the property of objects by _accession_, when they are
connected in an intimate manner with objects that are already our
property, and at the same time are inferior to them. Thus, the fruits
of our garden, the offspring of our cattle, and the work of our slaves,
are all of them esteemed our property, even before possession. Where
objects are connected together in the imagination, they are apt to be
put on the same footing, and are commonly supposed to be endowed with
the same qualities. We readily pass from one to the other, and make no
difference in our judgments concerning them, especially if the latter
be inferior to the former. [5]

The right of _succession_ is a very natural one, from the presumed
consent of the parent or near relation, and from the general interest
of mankind, which requires that men's possessions should pass to those
who are dearest to them, in order to render them more industrious
and frugal. Perhaps these causes are seconded by the influence of
_relation_, or the association of ideas, by which we are naturally
directed to consider the son after the parent's decease, and ascribe
to him a title to his father's possessions. Those goods must become the
property of somebody: but _of whom_ is the question. Here 'tis evident
the person's children naturally present themselves to the mind; and
being already connected to those possessions by means of their deceased
parent, we are apt to connect them still farther by the relation of
property. Of this there are many parallel instances.[6]

[1] No questions in philosophy are more difficult, than when a number
of causes present themselves for the same phenomenon, to determine
which is the principal and predominant. There seldom is any very
precise argument to fix our choice, and men must be contented to
be guided by a kind of taste or fancy, arising from analogy, and a
comparison of similar instances. Thus, in the present case, there
are, no doubt, motives of public interest for most of the rules
which determine property; but still I suspect, that these rules are
principally fixed by the imagination, or the more frivolous properties
of our thought and conception. I shall continue to explain these
causes, leaving it to the reader's choice, whether he will prefer those
derived from public utility, or those derived from the imagination. We
shall begin with the right of the present possessor.

'Tis a quality which I have already observed(*) in human nature, that
when two objects appear in a close relation to each other, the mind is
apt to ascribe to them any additional relation, in order to complete
the union; and this inclination is so strong, as often to make us run
into errors (such as that of the conjunction of thought and matter) if
we find that they can serve to that purpose. Many of our impressions
are incapable of place or local position; and yet those very
impressions we suppose to have a local conjunction with the impressions
of sight and touch, merely because they are conjoined by causation, and
are already united in the imagination. Since, therefore, we can feign a
new relation, and even an absurd one, in order to complete any union,
'twill easily be imagined, that if there be any relations which depend
on the mind, 'twill readily conjoin them to any preceding relation,
and unite, by a new bond, such objects as have already an union in the
fancy. Thus, for instance, we never fail, in our arrangement of bodies,
to place those which are resembling in contiguity to each other, or at
least in _correspondent_ points of view; because we feel a satisfaction
in joining the relation of contiguity to that of resemblance, or the
resemblance of situation to that of qualities. And this is easily
accounted for from the known properties of human nature. When the mind
is determined to join certain objects, but undetermined in its choice
of the particular objects, it naturally turns its eye to such as are
related together. They are already united in the mind: they present
themselves at the same time to the conception; and instead of requiring
any new reason for their conjunction, it would require a very powerful
reason to make us overlook this natural affinity. This we shall have
occasion to explain more fully afterwards when we come to treat of
_beauty_. In the mean time, we may content ourselves with observing,
that the same love of order and uniformity which arranges the books in
a library, and the chairs in a parlour, contributes to the formation
of society, and to the well-being of mankind, by modifying the general
rule concerning the stability of possession. And as property forms a
relation betwixt a person and an object, 'tis natural to found it on
some preceding relation; and, as property is nothing but a constant
possession, secured by the laws of society, 'tis natural to add it to
the present possession, which is a relation that resembles it. For
this also has its influence. If it be natural to conjoin till sorts of
relations, 'tis more so to conjoin such relations as are resembling,
and are related together. (*) Book I. Part IV. Sect. 5

[2] Some philosophers account for the right of occupation, by saying
that every one has a property in his own labour; and when he joins that
labour to any thing, it gives him the property of the whole: but, I.
There are several kinds of occupation where we cannot be said to join
our labour to the object we acquire: as when we possess a meadow by
grazing our cattle upon it 2. This accounts for the matter by means of
_accession_; which is taking a needless circuit. 3. We cannot be said
to join our labour to any thing but in a figurative sense. Properly
speaking, we only make an alteration on it by our labour. This forms
a relation betwixt us and the object; and thence arises the property,
according to the preceding principles.

[3] If we seek a solution of these difficulties in reason and public
interest, we never shall find satisfaction; and if we look for it in
the imagination, 'tis evident, that the qualities which operate upon
that faculty, run so insensibly and gradually into each other, that
'tis impossible to give them any precise bounds or termination. The
difficulties on this head must increase, when we consider that our
judgment alters very sensibly according to the subject, and that the
same power and proximity will be deemed possession in one case, which
is not esteemed such in another. A person who has hunted a hare to
the last degree of weariness, would look upon it as an injustice for
another to rush in before him, and seize his prey. But the same person,
advancing to pluck an apple that hangs within his reach, has no reason
to complain if another, more alert, passes him, and takes possession.
What is the reason of this difference, but that immobility, not being
natural to the hare, but the effect of industry, forms in that case a
strong relation with the hunter, which is wanting in the other?

Here, then, it appears, that a certain and infallible power of
enjoyment, without touch or some other sensible relation, often
produces not property: and I farther observe, that a sensible relation,
without any present power, is sometimes sufficient to give a title to
any object. The sight of a thing is seldom a considerable relation, and
is only regarded as such, when the object is hidden, or very obscure;
in which case we find that the view alone conveys a property; according
to that maxim, _that even a whole continent belongs to the nation which
first discovered it_. 'Tis however remarkable, that both in the case of
discovery and that of possession, the first discoverer and possessor
must join to the relation an intention of rendering himself proprietor,
otherwise the relation will not have its effect; and that because the
connexion in our fancy betwixt the property and the relation is not so
great but that it requires to be helped by such an intention.

From all these circumstances, 'tis easy to see how perplexed many
questions may become concerning the acquisition of property by
occupation; and the least effort of thought may present us with
instances which are not susceptible of any reasonable decision. If we
prefer examples which are real to such as are feigned, we may consider
the following one, which is to be met with in almost every writer
that has treated of the laws of nature. Two Grecian colonies, leaving
their native country in search of new seats, were informed that a city
near them was deserted by its inhabitants. To know the truth of this
report, they despatched at once two messengers, one from each colony,
who finding, on their approach, that the information was true, begun a
race together, with an intention to take possession of the city, each
of them for his countrymen. One of these messengers, finding that he
was not an equal match for the other, launched his spear at the gates
of the city, and was so fortunate as to fix it there before the arrival
of his companion. This produced a dispute betwixt the two colonies,
which of them was the proprietor of the empty city; and this dispute
still subsists among philosophers. For my part, I find the dispute
impossible to be decided, and that because the whole question hangs
upon the fancy, which in this case is not possessed of any precise or
determinate standard upon which it can give sentence. To make this
evident, let us consider, that if these two persons had been simply
members of the colonies, and not messengers or deputies, their actions
would not have been of any consequence; since in that case their
relation to the colonies would have been but feeble and imperfect. Add
to this, that nothing determined them to run to the gates rather than
the walls or any other part of the city, but that the gates, being the
most *obviated*, and remarkable part, satisfy the fancy best in taking
them for the whole; as we find by the poets, who frequently draw their
images and metaphors from them. Besides, we may consider that the touch
or contact of the one messenger is not properly possession, no more
than the piercing the gates with the spear, but only forms a relation;
and there is a relation in the other case equally obvious, though not
perhaps of equal force. Which of these relations, then, conveys a right
and property, or whether any of them be sufficient for that effect, I
leave to the decision of such as are wiser than myself.

[4] Present possession is plainly a relation betwixt a person and an
object; but is not sufficient to counterbalance the relation of first
possession, unless the former be long and uninterrupted; in which case
the relation is increased on the side of the present possession by
the extent of time, and diminished on that of first possession by the
distance. This change in the relation produces a consequent change in
the property.

[5] This source of property can never be explained but from the
imagination; and one may affirm, that the causes are here unmixed. We
shall proceed to explain them more particularly, and illustrate them by
examples from common life and experience.

It has been observed above, that the mind has a natural propensity to
join relations, especially resembling ones, and finds a kind of fitness
and uniformity in such an union. From this propensity are derived these
laws of nature, _that upon the first formation of society, property
always follows the present possession_; and afterwards, _that it arises
from first or from long possession_. Now, we may easily observe, that
relation is not confined merely to one degree; but that from an object
that is related to us, we acquire a relation to every other object
which is related to it, and so on, till the thought loses the chain by
too long a progress. However the relation may weaken by each remove,
'tis not immediately destroyed; but frequently connects two objects
by means of an intermediate one, which is related to both. And this
principle is of such force as to give rise to the right of _accession_,
and causes us to acquire the property, not only of such objects as we
are immediately possessed of, but also of such as are closely connected
with them.

Suppose a German, a Frenchman, and a Spaniard, to come into a room
where there are placed upon the table three bottles of wine, Rhenish,
Burgundy, and Port; and suppose they should fall a quarrelling about
the division of them, a person who was chosen for umpire would
naturally, to show his impartiality, give every one the product of his
own country; and this from a principle which, in some measure, is the
source of those laws of nature that ascribe property to occupation,
prescription and accession.

In all these cases, and particularly that of accession, there is first
a _natural_ union betwixt the idea of the person and that of the
object, and afterwards a new and moral union produced by that right
or property which we ascribe to the person. But here there occurs a
difficulty which merits our attention, and may afford us an opportunity
of putting to trial that singular method of reasoning which has been
employed on the present subject. I have already observed, that the
imagination passes with greater facility from little to great, than
from great to little, and that the transition of ideas is always easier
and smoother in the former case than in the latter. Now, as the right
of accession arises from the easy transition of ideas by which related
objects are connected together, it should naturally be imagined that
the right of accession must increase in strength, in proportion as
the transition of ideas is performed with greater facility. It may
therefore be thought; that when we have acquired the property of any
small object, we shall readily consider any great object related to it
as an accession, and as belonging to the proprietor of the small one;
since the transition is in that case very easy from the small object
to the great one, and should connect them together in the closest
manner. But in fact the case is always found to be otherwise. The
empire of Great Britain seems to draw along with it the dominion of
the Orkneys, the Hebrides, the Isle of Man, and the Isle of Wight; but
the authority over those lesser islands does not naturally imply any
title to Great Britain. In short, a small object naturally follows a
great one as its accession; but a great one is never supposed to belong
to the proprietor of a small one related to it, merely on account of
that property and relation. Yet in this latter case the transition of
ideas is smoother from the proprietor to the small object which is
his property, and from the small object to the great one, than in the
former case from the proprietor to the great object, and from the great
one to the small. It may therefore be thought, that these phenomena are
objections to the foregoing hypothesis, _that the ascribing of property
to accession is nothing but an effect of the relations of ideas, and of
the smooth transition of the imagination_.

'Twill be easy to solve this objection, if we consider the agility and
unsteadiness of the imagination, with the different views in which it
is continually placing its objects. When we attribute to a person a
property in two objects, we do not always pass from the person to one
object, and from that to the other related to it. The objects being
here to be considered as the property of the person, we are apt to join
them together, and place them in the same light. Suppose, therefore,
a great and a small object to be related together, if a person be
strongly related to the great object, he will likewise be strongly
related to both the objects considered together, because he is related
to the most considerable part. On the contrary, if he be only related
to the small object, he will not be strongly related to both considered
together, since his relation lies only with the most trivial part,
which is not apt to strike us in any great degree when we consider the
whole. And this is the reason why small objects become accessions to
great ones, and not great to small.

'Tis the general opinion of philosophers and civilians, that the sea is
incapable of becoming the property of any nation; and that because 'tis
impossible to take possession of it, or form any such distinct relation
with it, as may be the foundation of property. Where this reason
ceases, property immediately takes place. Thus, the most strenuous
advocates for the liberty of the seas universally allow, that friths
and bays naturally belong as an accession to the proprietors of the
surrounding continent These have properly no more bond or union with
the land than the _Pacific_ ocean would have; but having an union in
the fancy, and being at the same time _inferior_, they are of course
regarded as an accession.

The property of rivers, by the laws of most nations, and by the natural
turn of our thought, is attributed to the proprietors of their banks,
excepting such vast rivers as the Rhine or the Danube, which seem too
large to the imagination to follow as an accession the property of
the neighbouring fields. Yet even these rivers are considered as the
property of that nation through whose dominions they run; the idea of
a nation being a suitable bulk to correspond with them, and bear them
such a relation in the fancy.

The accessions which are made to lands bordering upon rivers, follow
the land, say the civilians, provided it be made by what they
call _alluvion_, that is, insensibly and imperceptibly; which are
circumstances that mightily assist the imagination in the conjunction.
Where there is any considerable portion torn at once from one bank,
and joined to another, it becomes not his property whose land it falls
on, till it unite with the land, and till the trees or plants have
spread their roots into both. Before that, the imagination does not
sufficiently join them.

There are other cases which somewhat resemble this of accession,
but which, at the bottom, are considerably different, and merit our
attention. Of this kind is the conjunction of the properties of
different persons, after such a manner as not to admit of _separation_.
The question is, to whom the united mass must belong.

Where this conjunction is of such a nature as to admit of _division_,
but not of _separation_, the decision is natural and easy. The
whole mass must be supposed to be common betwixt the proprietors
of the several parts, and afterwards must be divided according to
the proportions of these parts. But here I cannot forbear taking
notice of a remarkable subtilty of the Roman law, in distinguishing
betwixt _confusion_ and _commixtion_. Confusion is an union of two
bodies, such as different liquors, where the parts become entirely
undistinguishable. Commixtion is the blending of two bodies, such as
two bushels of corn, where the parts remain separate in an obvious and
visible manner. As in the latter case the imagination discovers not so
entire an union as in the former, but is able to trace and preserve
a distinct idea of the property of each; this is the reason why the
_civil_ law, though it established an entire community in the case of
_confusion_, and after that a proportional division, yet in the case of
_commixtion_, supposes each of the proprietors to maintain a distinct
right; however, necessity may at last force them to submit to the same
division. _Quod si frumentum Titii frumento tuo mistum fuerit: siquidem
ex voluntate vestra, communc est: quia singula corpora, id est, singula
grana, quæ a cujusque propria fuerunt, ex consensu vestro communicata
sunt. Quod si casu id mistum fuerit, vel Titius id miscuerit sine
tua voluntate, non videtur id communc esse; quia singula corpora
in sua substantia durant. Sed nec magis istis casibus commune sit
frumentum quam grex intelligitur esse communis, si pecora Titii tuis
pecoribus mista fuerint. Sed si ab alterutro vestrum totum id frumentum
retineatur, in rem quidem actio pro modo frumenti cujusque competit.
Arbitrio autem judicis, ut ipse æstimet quale cujusque frumentum
fuerit_. Inst. Lib. II. Tit I. § 28.

Where the properties of two persons are united after such a manner as
neither to admit of _division_ nor _separation_, as when one builds a
house on another's ground, in that case the whole must belong to one of
the proprietors; and here I assert, that it naturally is conceived to
belong to the proprietor of the most considerable part. For, however
the compound object may have a relation to two different persons, and
carry our view at once to both of them, yet, as the most considerable
part principally engages our attention, and by the strict union draws
the inferior along it; for this reason, the whole bears a relation to
the proprietor of that part, and is regarded as his property. The only
difficulty is, what we shall be pleased to call the most considerable
part, and most attractive to the imagination.

This quality depends on several different circumstances which have
little connexion with each other. One part of a compound object may
become more considerable than another, either because it is more
constant and durable; because it is of greater value; because it is
more obvious and remarkable; because it is of greater extent; or
because its existence is more separate and independent. 'Twill be easy
to conceive, that, as these circumstances may be conjoined and opposed
in all the different ways, and according to all the different degrees,
which can be imagined, there will result many cases where the reasons
on both sides are so equally balanced, that 'tis impossible for us to
give any satisfactory decision. Here, then, is the proper business of
municipal laws, to fix what the principles of human nature have left

The superficies yields to the soil, says the civil law: the writing to
the paper: the canvas to the picture. These decisions do not well agree
together, and are a proof of the contrariety of those principles from
which they are derived.

But of all the questions of this kind, the most curious is that which
for so many ages divided the disciples of _Proculus_ and _Sabinus_.
Suppose a person should make a cup from the metal of another, or a ship
from his wood, and suppose the proprietor of the metal or wood should
demand his goods, the question is, whether he acquires a title to the
cup or ship. _Sabinus_ maintained the affirmative, and asserted, that
the substance or matter is the foundation of all the qualities; that
it is incorruptible and immortal, and therefore superior to the form,
which is casual and dependent. On the other hand, _Proculus_ observed,
that the form is the most obvious and remarkable part, and that from
it bodies are denominated of this or that particular species. To which
he might have added, that the matter or substance is in most bodies
so fluctuating and uncertain, that 'tis utterly impossible to trace
it in all its changes. For my part, I know not from what principles
such a controversy can be certainly determined. I shall therefore
content myself with observing, that the decision of _Trebonian_ seems
to me pretty ingenious; that the cup belongs to the proprietor of the
metal, because it can be brought back to its first form: but that the
ship belongs to the author of its form, for a contrary reason. But,
however ingenious this reason may seem, it plainly depends upon the
fancy, which, by the possibility of such a reduction, finds a closer
connexion and relation betwixt a cup and the proprietor of its metal,
than betwixt a ship and the proprietor of its wood, where the substance
is more fixed and unalterable.

[6] In examining the different titles to authority in government,
we shall meet with many reasons to convince us that the right of
succession depends, in a great measure, on the imagination. Meanwhile I
shall rest contented with observing one example, which belongs to the
present subject. Suppose that a person die without children, and that
a dispute arises among his relations concerning his inheritance; 'tis
evident, that if his riches be derived partly from his father, partly
from his mother, the most natural way of determining such a dispute
is, to divide his possessions, and assign each part to the family from
whence it is derived. Now, as the person is supposed to have been
once the full and entire proprietor of those goods, I ask, what is it
makes us find a certain equity and natural reason in this partition,
except it be the imagination? His affection to these families does not
depend upon his possessions; for which reason his consent can never be
presumed precisely for such a partition. And as to the public interest,
it seems not to be in the least concerned on the one side or the other.



However useful, or even necessary, the stability of possession may be
to human society, 'tis attended with very considerable inconveniences.
The relation of fitness or suitableness ought never to enter into
consideration, in distributing the properties of mankind; but we must
govern ourselves by rules which are more general in their application,
and more free from doubt and uncertainty. Of this kind is _present_
possession upon the first establishment of society; and afterwards
_occupation, prescription, accession_, and _succession_. As these
depend very much on chance, they must frequently prove contradictory
both to men's wants and desires; and persons and possessions must often
be very ill adjusted. This is a grand inconvenience, which calls for a
remedy. To apply one directly, and allow every man to seize by violence
what he judges to be fit for him, would destroy society; and therefore
the rules of justice seek some medium betwixt a rigid stability and
this changeable and uncertain adjustment. But there is no medium
better than that obvious one, that possession and property should
always be stable, except when the proprietor consents to bestow them on
some other person. This rule can have no ill consequence in occasioning
wars and dissensions, since the proprietor's consent, who alone is
concerned, is taken along in the alienation; and it may serve to many
good purposes in adjusting property to persons. Different parts of the
earth produce different commodities; and not only so, but different
men both are by nature fitted for different employments, and attain
to greater perfection in any one, when they confine themselves to it
alone. All this requires a mutual exchange and commerce; for which
reason the translation of property by consent is founded on a law of
nature, as well as its stability without such a consent.

So far is determined by a plain utility and interest. But perhaps 'tis
from more trivial reasons, that _delivery_, or a sensible transference
of the object, is commonly required by civil laws, and also by the laws
of nature, according to most authors, as a requisite circumstance in
the translation of property. The property of an object, when taken for
something real, without any reference to morality, or the sentiments of
the mind, is a quality perfectly insensible, and even inconceivable;
nor can we form any distinct notion, either of its stability or
translation. This imperfection of our ideas is less sensibly felt with
regard to its stability, as it engages less our attention, and is
easily past over by the mind, without any scrupulous examination. But
as the translation of property from one person to another is a more
remarkable event, the defect of our ideas becomes more sensible on that
occasion, and obliges us to turn ourselves on every side in search of
some remedy. Now, as nothing more enlivens any idea than a present
impression, and a relation betwixt that impression and the idea; 'tis
natural for us to seek some false light from this quarter. In order
to aid the imagination in conceiving the transference of property, we
take the sensible object, and actually transfer its possession to the
person on whom we would bestow the property. The supposed resemblance
of the actions, and the presence of this sensible delivery, deceive the
mind, and make it fancy that it conceives the mysterious transition of
the property. And that this explication of the matter is just, appears
hence, that men have invented a _symbolical_ delivery, to satisfy the
fancy where the real one is impracticable. Thus the giving the keys of
a granary, is understood to be the delivery of the corn contained in
it: the giving of stone and earth represents the delivery of a manor.
This is a kind of superstitious practice in civil laws, and in the laws
of nature, resembling the _Roman Catholic_ superstitions in religion.
As the _Roman Catholics_ represent the inconceivable mysteries of the
_Christian_ religion, and render them more present to the mind, by
a taper, or habit, or grimace, which is supposed to resemble them;
so lawyers and moralists have run into like inventions for the same
reason, and have endeavoured by those means to satisfy themselves
concerning the transference of property by consent.



That the rule of morality, which enjoins the performance of
promises, is not _natural_, will sufficiently appear from these two
propositions, which I proceed to prove, viz. _that a promise would not
be intelligible before human conventions had established it; and that
even if it were intelligible, it would not be attended with any moral

I say, _first_, that a promise is not intelligible naturally, nor
antecedent to human conventions; and that a man, unacquainted with
society, could never enter into any engagements with another, even
though they could perceive each other's thoughts by intuition. If
promises be natural and intelligible, there must be some act of the
mind attending these words, I _promise_; and on this act of the mind
must the obligation depend. Let us therefore run over all the faculties
of the soul, and see which of them is exerted in our promises.

The act of the mind, expressed by a promise, is not a _resolution_ to
perform any thing; for that alone never imposes any obligation. Nor is
it a _desire_ of such a performance; for we may bind ourselves without
such a desire, or even with an aversion, declared and avowed. Neither
is it the _willing_ of that action which we promise to perform; for a
promise always regards some future time, and the will has an influence
only on present actions. It follows, therefore, that since the act of
the mind, which enters into a promise, and produces its obligation,
is neither the resolving, desiring, nor willing any particular
performance, it must necessarily be the _willing_ of that _obligation_
which arises from the promise. Nor is this only a conclusion of
philosophy, but is entirely conformable to our common ways of thinking
and of expressing ourselves, when we say that we are bound by our
own consent, and that the obligation arises from our mere will and
pleasure. The only question then is, whether there be not a manifest
absurdity in supposing this act of the mind, and such an absurdity as
no man could fall into, whose ideas are not confounded with prejudice
and the fallacious use of language.

All morality depends upon our sentiments; and when any action or
quality of the mind pleases us _after a certain manner_, we say it is
virtuous; and when the neglect or non-performance of it displeases
us _after a like manner_, we say that we lie under an obligation
to perform it. A change of the obligation supposes a change of the
sentiment; and a creation of a new obligation supposes some new
sentiment to arise. But 'tis certain we can naturally no more change
our own sentiments than the motions of the heavens; nor by a single
act of our will, that is, by a promise, render any action agreeable or
disagreeable, moral or immoral, which, without that act, would have
produced contrary impressions, or have been endowed with different
qualities. It would be absurd, therefore, to will any new obligation,
that is, any new sentiment of pain or pleasure; nor is it possible
that men could naturally fall into so gross an absurdity. A promise,
therefore, is _naturally_ something altogether unintelligible, nor is
there any act of the mind belonging to it.[7]

But, _secondly_, if there was any act of the mind belonging to it, it
could not _naturally_ produce any obligation. This appears evidently
from the foregoing reasoning. A promise creates a new obligation. A new
obligation supposes new sentiments to arise. The will never creates new
sentiments. There could not naturally, therefore, arise any obligation
from a promise, even supposing the mind could fall into the absurdity
of willing that obligation.

The same truth may be proved still more evidently by that reasoning
which proved justice in general to be an artificial virtue. No action
can be required of us as our duty, unless there be implanted in
human nature some actuating passion or motive capable of producing
the action. This motive cannot be the sense of duty. A sense of
duty supposes an antecedent obligation; and where an action is not
required by any natural passion, it cannot be required by any natural
obligation; since it may be omitted without proving any defect or
imperfection in the mind and temper, and consequently without any
vice. Now, 'tis evident we have no motive leading us to the performance
of promises, distinct from a sense of duty. If we thought that promises
had no moral obligation, we never should feel any inclination to
observe them. This is not the case with the natural virtues. Though
there was no obligation to relieve the miserable, our humanity would
lead us to it; and when we omit that duty, the immorality of the
omission arises from its being a proof that we want the natural
sentiments of humanity. A father knows it to be his duty to take care
of his children, but he has also a natural inclination to it. And if
no human creature had that inclination, no one could lie under any
such obligation. But as there is naturally no inclination to observe
promises distinct from a sense of their obligation, it follows,
that fidelity is no natural virtue, and that promises have no force
antecedent to human conventions.

If any one dissent from this, he must give a regular proof of these two
propositions, viz. _that there is a peculiar act of the mind annexed
to promises_; and _that consequent to this act of the mind, there
arises an inclination to perform, distinct from a sense of duty_. I
presume that it is impossible to prove either of these two points; and
therefore I venture to conclude, that promises are human inventions,
founded on the necessities and interests of society.

In order to discover these necessities and interests, we must consider
the same qualities of human nature which we have already found to give
rise to the preceding laws of society. Men being naturally selfish, or
endowed only with a confined generosity, they are not easily induced to
perform any action for the interest of strangers, except with a view
to some reciprocal advantage, which they had no hope of obtaining
but by such a performance. Now, as it frequently happens that these
mutual performances cannot be finished at the same instant, 'tis
necessary that one party be contented to remain in uncertainty, and
depend upon the gratitude of the other for a return of kindness. But
so much corruption is there among men, that, generally speaking, this
becomes but a slender security; and as the benefactor is here supposed
to bestow his favours with a view to self-interest, this both takes
off from the obligation, and sets an example of selfishness, which
is the true mother of ingratitude. Were we, therefore, to follow the
natural course of our passions and inclinations, we should perform
but few actions for the advantage of others from disinterested views,
because we are naturally very limited in our kindness and affection;
and we should perform as few of that kind out of regard to interest,
because we cannot depend upon their gratitude. Here, then, is the
mutual commerce of good offices in a manner lost among mankind, and
every one reduced to his own skill and industry for his well-being
and subsistence. The invention of the law of nature, concerning the
_stability_ of possession, has already rendered men tolerable to each
other; that of the _transference_ of property and possession by consent
has begun to render them mutually advantageous; but still these laws
of nature, however strictly observed, are not sufficient to render
them so serviceable to each other as by nature they are fitted to
become. Though possession be _stable_, men may often reap but small
advantage from it, while they are possessed of a greater quantity of
any species of goods than they have occasion for, and at the same
time suffer by the want of others. The _transference_ of property,
which is the proper remedy for this inconvenience, cannot remedy it
entirely; because it can only take place with regard to such objects
as are _present_ and _individual_, but not to such as are _absent_ or
_general_. One cannot transfer the property of a particular house,
twenty leagues distant, because the consent cannot be attended with
delivery, which is a requisite circumstance. Neither can one transfer
the property of ten bushels of corn, or five hogsheads of wine, by the
mere expression and consent, because these are only general terms, and
have no direct relation to any particular heap of corn or barrels of
wine. Besides, the commerce of mankind is not confined to the barter
of commodities, but may extend to services and actions, which we may
exchange to our mutual interest and advantage. Your corn is ripe
to-day; mine will be so to-morrow. 'Tis profitable for us both that I
should labour with you to-day, and that you should aid me to-morrow. I
have no kindness for you, and know you have as little for me. I will
not, therefore, take any pains upon your account; and should I labour
with you upon my own account, in expectation of a return, I know I
should be disappointed, and that I should in vain depend upon your
gratitude. Here, then, I leave you to labour alone: you treat me in the
same manner. The seasons change; and both of us lose our harvests for
want of mutual confidence and security.

All this is the effect of the natural and inherent principles and
passions of human nature; and as these passions and principles are
unalterable, it may be thought that our conduct, which depends on them,
must be so too, and that 'twould be in vain, either for moralists or
politicians, to tamper with us, or attempt to change the usual course
of our actions, with a view to public interest. And, indeed, did the
success of their designs depend upon their success in correcting the
selfishness and ingratitude of men, they would never make any progress,
unless aided by Omnipotence, which is alone able to new-mould the
human mind, and change its character in such fundamental articles.
All they can pretend to is, to give a new direction to those natural
passions, and teach us that we can better satisfy our appetites in an
oblique and artificial manner, than by their headlong and impetuous
motion. Hence I learn to do a service to another, without bearing him
any real kindness; because I foresee that he will return my service,
in expectation of another of the same kind, and in order to maintain
the same correspondence of good offices with me or with others. And
accordingly, after I have served him, and he is in possession of the
advantage arising, from my action, he is induced to perform his part,
as foreseeing the consequences of his refusal.

But though this self-interested commerce of men begins to take place,
and to predominate in society, it does not entirely abolish the more
generous and noble intercourse of friendship and good offices. I may
still do services to such persons as I love, and am more particularly
acquainted with, without any prospect of advantage; and they may
make me a return in the same manner, without any view but that of
recompensing my past services. In order, therefore, to distinguish
those two different sorts of commerce, the interested and the
disinterested, there is a _certain form of words_ invented for the
former, by which we bind ourselves to the performance of any action.
This form of words constitutes what we call a _promise_, which is
the sanction of the interested commerce of mankind. When a man says
_he promises any thing_, he in effect expresses a _resolution_ of
performing it; and along with that, by making use of this _form of
words,_, subjects himself to the penalty of never being trusted again
in case of failure. A resolution is the natural act of the mind, which
promises express; but were there no more than a resolution in the case,
promises would only declare our former motives, and would not create
any new motive or obligation. They are the conventions of men, which
create a new motive, when experience has taught us that human affairs
would be conducted much more for mutual advantage, were there certain
_symbols_ or _signs_ instituted, by which we might give each other
security of our conduct in any particular incident. After these signs
are instituted, whoever uses them is immediately bound by his interest
to execute his engagements, and must never expect to be trusted any
more, if he refuse to perform what he promised.

Nor is that knowledge, which is requisite to make mankind sensible of
this interest in the _institution_ and _observance_ of promises, to be
esteemed superior to the capacity of human nature, however savage and
uncultivated. There needs but a very little practice of the world, to
make us perceive all these consequences and advantages. The shortest
experience of society discovers them to every mortal; and when each
individual perceives the same sense of interest in all his fellows, he
immediately performs his part of any contract, as being assured that
they will not be wanting in theirs. All of them, by concert, enter
into a scheme of actions, calculated for common benefit, and agree to
be true to their word; nor is there any thing requisite to form this
concert or convention, but that every one have a sense of interest
in the faithful fulfilling of engagements, and express that sense to
other members of the society. This immediately causes that interest
to operate upon them; and interest is the _first_ obligation to the
performance of promises.

Afterwards a sentiment of morals concurs with interest, and becomes
a new obligation upon mankind. This sentiment of morality, in the
performance of promises, arises from the same principles as that
in the abstinence from the property of others. _Public interest,
education_, and _the artifices of politicians_, have the same effect
in both cases. The difficulties that occur to us in supposing a moral
obligation to attend promises, we either surmount or elude. For
instance, the expression of a resolution is not commonly supposed to
be obligatory; and we cannot readily conceive how the making use of a
certain form of words should be able to cause any material difference.
Here, therefore, we _feign_ a new act of the mind, which we call the
_willing_ an obligation; and on this we suppose the morality to depend.
But we have proved already, that there is no such act of the mind, and
consequently, that promises impose no natural obligation.

To confirm this, we may subjoin some other reflections concerning
that will, which is supposed to enter into a promise, and to cause
its obligation. 'Tis evident, that the will alone is never supposed
to cause the obligation, but must be expressed by words or signs, in
order to impose a tie upon any man. The expression being once brought
in as subservient to the will, soon becomes the principal part of the
promise; nor will a man be less bound by his word, though he secretly
give a different direction to his intention, and withhold himself
both from a resolution, and from willing an obligation. But though the
expression makes on most occasions the whole of the promise, yet it
does not always so; and one who should make use of any expression of
which he knows not the meaning, and which he uses without any intention
of binding himself, would not certainly be bound by it. Nay, though he
knows its meaning, yet if he uses it in jest only, and with such signs
as show evidently he has no serious intention of binding himself, he
would not lie under any obligation of performance; but 'tis necessary
that the words be a perfect expression of the will, without any
contrary signs. Nay, even this we must not carry so far as to imagine,
that one, whom, by our quickness of understanding, we conjecture, from
certain signs, to have an intention of deceiving us, is not bound by
his expression or verbal promise, if we accept of it; but must limit
this conclusion to those cases where the signs are of a different kind
from those of deceit. All these contradictions are easily accounted
for, if the obligation of promises be merely a human invention for the
convenience of society; but will never be explained, if it be something
_real_ and _natural_, arising from any action of the mind or body.

I shall farther observe, that, since every new promise imposes a new
obligation of morality on the person who promises, and since this
new obligation arises from his will; 'tis one of the most mysterious
and incomprehensible operations that can possibly be imagined, and
may even be compared to _transubstantiation_, or _holy orders_,[8]
where a certain form of words, along with a certain intention,
changes entirely the nature of an external object, and even of a
human creature. But though these mysteries be so far alike, 'tis very
remarkable that they differ widely in other particulars, and that this
difference may be regarded as a strong proof of the difference of their
origins. As the obligation of promises is an invention for the interest
of society, 'tis warped into as many different forms as that interest
requires, and even runs into direct contradictions, rather than lose
sight of its object. But as those other monstrous doctrines are mere
priestly inventions, and have no public interest in view, they are less
disturbed in their progress by new obstacles; and it must be owned,
that, after the first absurdity, they follow more directly the current
of reason and good sense. Theologians clearly perceived, that the
external form of words, being mere sound, require an intention to make
them have any efficacy; and that this intention being once considered
as a requisite circumstance, its absence must equally prevent the
effect, whether avowed or concealed, whether sincere or deceitful.
Accordingly, they have commonly determined, that the intention of
the priest makes the sacrament, and that when he secretly withdraws
his intention, he is highly criminal in himself; but still destroys
the baptism, or communion, or holy orders. The terrible consequences
of this doctrine were not able to hinder its taking place; as the
inconvenience of a similar doctrine, with regard to promises, have
prevented that doctrine from establishing itself. Men are always more
concerned about the present life than the future; and are apt to think
the smallest evil which regards the former, more important than the
greatest which regards the latter.

We may draw the same conclusion, concerning the origin of promises,
from the force which is supposed to invalidate all contracts, and
to free us from their obligation. Such a principle is a proof
that promises have no natural obligation, and are mere artificial
contrivances for the convenience and advantage of society. If we
consider aright of the matter, force is not essentially different
from any other motive of hope or fear, which may induce us to engage
our word, and lay ourselves under any obligation. A man, dangerously
wounded, who promises a competent sum to a surgeon to cure him, would
certainly be bound to performance; though the case be not so much
different from that of one who promises a sum to a robber, as to
produce so great a difference in our sentiments of morality, if these
sentiments were not built entirely on public interest and convenience.

[7] Were morality discoverable by reason, and not by sentiment, 'twould
be still more evident that promises could make no alteration upon it.
Morality is supposed to consist in relation. Every new imposition of
morality, therefore, must arise from some new relation of objects;
and consequently the will could not produce immediately any change in
morals, but could have that effect only by producing a change upon the
objects. But as the moral obligation of a promise is the pure effect
of the will, without the least change in any part of the universe, it
follows, that promises have no natural obligation.

Should it be said, that this act of the will, being in effect a new
object, produces new relations and new duties; I would answer, that
this is a pure sophism, which may be detected by a very moderate share
of accuracy and exactness. To will a new obligation, is to will a new
relation of objects; and therefore, if this new relation of objects
were formed by the volition itself, we should, in effect, will the
volition, which is plainly absurd and impossible. The will has here
no object to which it could tend, but must return upon itself in
_infinitum_. The new obligation depends upon new relations. The new
relations depend upon a new volition. The new volition has for object a
new obligation, and consequently new relations, and consequently a new
volition; which volition, again, has in view a new obligation, relation
and volition, without any termination. 'Tis impossible, therefore, we
could ever will a new obligation; and consequently 'tis impossible the
will could ever accompany a promise, or produce a new obligation of

[8] I mean so far as holy orders are supposed to produce the _indelible
Character_. In other respects they are only a legal qualification.



We have now run over the three fundamental laws of nature, _that of the
stability of possession, of its transference by consent_, and _of the
performance of promises_. 'Tis on the strict observance of those three
laws that the peace and security of human society entirely depend; nor
is there any possibility of establishing a good correspondence among
men, where these are neglected. Society is absolutely necessary for
the well-being of men; and these are as necessary to the supports
of society. Whatever restraint they may impose on the passions of
men, they are the real offspring of those passions, and are only a
more artful and more refined way of satisfying them. Nothing is more
vigilant and inventive than our passions; and nothing is more obvious
than the convention for the observance of these rules. Nature has,
therefore, trusted this affair entirely to the conduct of men, and has
not placed in the mind any peculiar original principles, to determine
us to a set of actions, into which the other principles of our frame
and constitution were sufficient to lead us. And to convince us the
more fully of this truth, we may here stop a moment, and, from a review
of the preceding reasonings, may draw some new arguments, to prove that
those laws, however necessary, are entirely artificial, and of human
invention; and consequently, that justice is an artificial, and not a
natural virtue.

I. The first argument I shall make use of is derived from the vulgar
definition of justice. Justice is commonly defined to be _a constant
and perpetual will of giving every one his due_. In this definition
'tis supposed that there are such things as right and property,
independent of justice, and antecedent to it; and that they would have
subsisted, though men had never dreamt of practising such a virtue.
I have already observed, in a cursory manner, the fallacy of this
opinion, and shall here continue to open up, a little more distinctly,
my sentiments on that subject.

I shall begin with observing, that this quality, which we call
_property_, is like many of the imaginary qualities of the
_Peripatetic_ philosophy, and vanishes upon a more accurate inspection
into the subject, when considered apart from our moral sentiments, 'Tis
evident property does not consist in any of the sensible qualities
of the object. For these may continue invariably the same, while the
property changes. Property, therefore, must consist in some relation of
the object. But 'tis not in its relation with regard to other external
and inanimate objects. For these may also continue invariably the
same, while the property changes. This quality, therefore, consists in
the relations of objects to intelligent and rational beings. But 'tis
not the external and corporeal relation which forms the essence of
property. For that relation may be the same betwixt inanimate objects,
or with regard to brute creatures; though in those cases it forms no
property. 'Tis therefore in some internal relation that the property
consists; that is, in some influence which the external relations of
the object have on the mind and actions. Thus, the external relation
which we call _occupation_ or first possession, is not of itself
imagined to be the property of the object, but only to cause its
property. Now, 'tis evident this external relation causes nothing in
external objects, and has only an influence on the mind, by giving us
a sense of duty in abstaining from that object, and in restoring it to
the first possessor. These actions are properly what we call _justice_;
and consequently 'tis on that virtue that the nature of property
depends, and not the virtue on the property.

If any one, therefore, would assert that justice is a natural virtue,
and injustice a natural vice, he must assert, that abstracting from the
notions of _property_ and _right_ and _obligation_, a certain conduct
and train of actions, in certain external relations of objects, has
naturally a moral beauty or deformity, and causes an original pleasure
or uneasiness. Thus, the restoring a man's goods to him is considered
as virtuous, not because nature has annexed a certain sentiment of
pleasure to such a conduct with regard to the property of others, but
because she has annexed that sentiment to such a conduct, with regard
to those external objects of which others have had the first or long
possession, or which they have received by the consent of those who
have had first or long possession. If nature has given us no such
sentiment, there is not naturally, nor antecedent to human conventions,
any such thing as property. Now, though it seems sufficiently evident,
in this dry and accurate consideration of the present subject, that
nature has annexed no pleasure or sentiment of approbation to such a
conduct, yet, that I may leave as little room for doubt as possible, I
shall subjoin a few more arguments to confirm my opinion.

_First_, If nature had given us a pleasure of this kind, it would
have been as evident and discernible as on every other occasion; nor
should we have found any difficulty to perceive, that the consideration
of such actions, in such a situation, gives a certain pleasure and
sentiment of approbation. We should not have been obliged to have
recourse to notions of property in the definition of justice, and at
the same time make use of the notions of justice in the definition of
pro-property. This deceitful method of reasoning is a plain proof that
there are contained in the subject some obscurities and difficulties
which we are not able to surmount, and which we desire to evade by this

_Secondly_, Those rules by which properties, rights and obligations
are determined, have in them no marks of a natural origin, but many
of artifice and contrivance. They are too numerous to have proceeded
from nature; they are changeable by human laws; and have all of them a
direct and evident tendency to public good, and the support of civil
society. This last circumstance is remarkable upon two accounts.
_First_, Because, though the cause of the establishment of these laws
had been a _regard_ for the public good, as much as the public good
is their natural tendency, they would still have been artificial, as
being purposely contrived, and directed to a certain end. _Secondly_,
Because, if men had been endowed with such a strong regard for public
good, they would never have restrained themselves by these rules; so
that the laws of justice arise from natural principles, in a manner
still more oblique and artificial. 'Tis self-love which is their real
origin; and as the self-love of one person is naturally contrary to
that of another, these several interested passions are obliged to
adjust themselves after such a manner as to concur in some system
of conduct and behaviour. This system, therefore, comprehending the
interest of each individual, is of course advantageous to the public,
though it be not intended for that purpose by the inventors.

II. In the _second_ place, we may observe, that all kinds of vice
and virtue run insensibly into each other, and may approach by such
imperceptible degrees as will make it very difficult, if not absolutely
impossible, to determine when the one ends and the other begins; and
from this observation we may derive a new argument for the foregoing
principle. For, whatever may be the case with regard to all kinds
of vice and virtue, 'tis certain that rights, and obligations, and
property, admit of no such insensible gradation, but that a man
either has a full and perfect property, or none at all; and is either
entirely obliged to perform any action, or lies under no manner of
obligation. However civil laws may talk of a perfect _dominion_, and of
an imperfect, 'tis easy to observe, that this arises from a fiction,
which has no foundation in reason, and can never enter into our notions
of natural justice and equity. A man that hires a horse, though but
for a day, has as full a right to make use of it for that time, as he
whom we call its proprietor has to make use of it any other day; and
'tis evident that, however the use may be bounded in time or degree,
the right itself is not susceptible of any such gradation, but is
absolute and entire, so far as it extends. Accordingly, we may observe,
that this right both arises and perishes in an instant; and that a man
entirely acquires the property of any object by occupation, or the
consent of the proprietor; and loses it by his own consent, without any
of that insensible gradation which is remarkable in other qualities and
relations. Since, therefore, this is the case with regard to property,
and rights, and obligations, I ask, how it stands with regard to
justice and injustice? After whatever manner you answer this question,
you run into inextricable difficulties. If you reply, that justice
and injustice admit of degree, and run insensibly into each other,
you expressly contradict the foregoing position, that obligation and
property are not susceptible of such a gradation. These depend entirely
upon justice and injustice, and follow them in all their variations.
Where the justice is entire, the property is also entire: where the
justice is imperfect, the property must also be imperfect. And _vice
versa_, if the property admit of no such variations, they must also
be incompatible with justice. If you assent, therefore, to this last
proposition, and assert that justice and injustice are not susceptible
of degrees, you in effect assert that they are not _naturally_ either
vicious or virtuous; since vice and virtue, moral good and evil, and
indeed all _natural_ qualities, run insensibly into each other, and are
on many occasions undistinguishable.

And here it may be worth while to observe, that though abstract
reasoning and the general maxims of philosophy and law establish this
position, _that property, and right, and obligation, admit not of
degrees_, yet, in our common and negligent way of thinking, we find
great difficulty to entertain that opinion, and do even secretly
embrace the contrary principle. An object must either be in the
possession of one person or another. An action must either be performed
or not. The necessity there is of choosing one side in these dilemmas,
and the impossibility there often is of finding any just medium, oblige
us, when we reflect on the matter, to acknowledge that all property and
obligations are entire. But, on the other hand, when we consider the
origin of property and obligation, and find that they depend on public
utility, and sometimes on the propensity of the imagination, which
are seldom entire on any side, we are naturally inclined to imagine
that these moral relations admit of an insensible gradation. Hence
it is that in references, where the consent of the parties leave the
referees entire masters of the subject, they commonly discover so much
equity and justice on both sides as induces them to strike a medium,
and divide the difference betwixt the parties. Civil judges, who have
not this liberty, but are obliged to give a decisive sentence on some
one side, are often at a loss how to determine, and are necessitated
to proceed on the most frivolous reasons in the world. Half rights
and obligations, which seem so natural in common life, are perfect
absurdities in their tribunal; for which reason they are often obliged
to take half arguments for whole ones, in order to terminate the affair
one way or other.

III. The _third_ argument of this kind I shall make use of may be
explained thus. If we consider the ordinary course of human actions,
we shall find that the mind restrains not itself by any general and
universal rules, but acts on most occasions as it is determined by
its present motives and inclination. As each action is a particular
individual event, it must proceed from particular principles, and from
our immediate situation within ourselves, and with respect to the rest
of the universe. If on some occasions we extend our motives beyond
those very circumstances which gave rise to them, and form something
like _general rides_ for our conduct, 'tis easy to observe that these
rules are not perfectly inflexible, but allow of many exceptions.
Since, therefore, this is the ordinary course of human actions, we
may conclude that the laws of justice, being universal and perfectly
inflexible, can never be derived from nature, nor be the immediate
offspring of any natural motive or inclination. No action can be either
morally good or evil, unless there be some natural passion or motive to
impel us to it, or deter us from it; and tis evident that the morality
must be susceptible of all the same variations which are natural to the
passion. Here are two persons who dispute for an estate; of whom one is
rich, a fool, and a bachelor; the other poor, a man of sense, and has a
numerous family: the first is my enemy; the second my friend. Whether
I be actuated in this affair by a view to public or private interest,
by friendship or enmity, I must be induced to do my utmost to procure
the estate to the latter. Nor would any consideration of the right and
property of the persons be able to restrain me, were I actuated only
by natural motives, without any combination or convention with others.
For as all property depends on morality, and as all morality depends
on the ordinary course of our passions and actions, and as these again
are only directed by particular motives, 'tis evident such a partial
conduct must be suitable to the strictest morality, and could never
be a violation of property. Were men, therefore, to take the liberty
of acting with regard to the laws of society, as they do in every
other affair, they would conduct themselves, on most occasions, by
particular judgments, and would take into consideration the characters
and circumstances of the persons, as well as the general nature of the
question. But 'tis easy to observe, that this would produce an infinite
confusion in human society, and that the avidity and partiality of men
would quickly bring disorder into the world, if not restrained by some
general and inflexible principles. 'Twas therefore with a view to this
inconvenience, that men have established those principles, and have
agreed to restrain themselves by general rules, which are unchangeable
by spite and favour, and by particular views of private or public
interest. These rules, then, are artificially invented for a certain
purpose, and are contrary to the common principles of human nature,
which accommodate themselves to circumstances, and have no stated
invariable method of operation.

Nor do I perceive how I can easily be mistaken in this matter. I see
evidently, that when any man imposes on himself general inflexible
rules in his conduct with others, he considers certain objects as
their property, which he supposes to be sacred and inviolable. But
no proposition can be more evident, than that property is perfectly
unintelligible without first supposing justice and injustice; and that
these virtues and vices are as unintelligible, unless we have motives,
independent of the morality, to impel us to just actions, and deter
us from unjust ones. Let those motives, therefore, be what they will,
they must accommodate themselves to circumstances, and must admit of
all the variations which human affairs, in their incessant revolutions,
are susceptible of. They are, consequently, a very improper foundation
for such rigid inflexible rules as the laws of nature; and 'tis evident
these laws can only be derived from human conventions, when men have
perceived the disorders that result from following their natural and
variable principles.

Upon the whole, then, we are to consider this distinction betwixt
justice and injustice, as having two different foundations, viz.
that of _interest_, when men observe, that 'tis impossible to live
in society without restraining themselves by certain rules; and that
of _morality_, when this interest is once observed, and men receive
a pleasure from the view of such actions as tend to the peace of
society, and an uneasiness from such as are contrary to it. 'Tis the
voluntary convention and artifice of men which makes the first interest
take place; and therefore those laws of justice are so far to be
considered as _artificial_. After that interest is once established and
acknowledged, the sense of morality in the observance of these rules
follows _naturally_, and of itself; though tis certain, that it is also
augmented by a new _artifice_, and that the public instructions of
politicians, and the private education of parents, contribute to the
giving us a sense of honour and duty, in the strict regulation of our
actions with regard to the properties of others.



Nothing is more certain, than that men are in a great measure governed
by interest, and that, even when they extend their concern beyond
themselves, 'tis not to any great distance; nor is it usual for
them, in common life, to look farther than their nearest friends and
acquaintance. 'Tis no less certain, that 'tis impossible for men to
consult their interest in so effectual a manner, as by an universal and
inflexible observance of the rules of justice, by which alone they can
preserve society, and keep themselves from falling into that wretched
and savage condition which is commonly represented as the _state of
nature_. And as this interest which all men have in the upholding of
society, and the observation of the rules of justice, is great, so
is it palpable and evident, even to the most rude and uncultivated
of the human race; and 'tis almost impossible for any one who has
had experience of society, to be mistaken in this particular. Since,
therefore, men are so sincerely attached to their interest, and their
interest is so much concerned in the observance of justice, and this
interest is so certain and avowed, it may be asked, how any disorder
can ever arise in society, and what principle there is in human nature
so _powerful_ as to overcome so strong a passion, or so _violent_ as to
obscure so clear a knowledge?

It has been observed, in treating of the Passions, that men are
mightily governed by the imagination, and proportion their affections
more to the light under which any object appears to them, than to its
real and intrinsic value. What strikes upon them with a strong and
lively idea commonly prevails above what lies in a more obscure light;
and it must be a great superiority of value that is able to compensate
this advantage. Now, as every thing that is contiguous to us, either in
space or time, strikes upon us with such an idea, it has a proportional
effect on the will and passions, and commonly operates with more force
than any object that lies in a more distant and obscure light. Though
we may be fully convinced, that the latter object excels the former, we
are not able to regulate our actions by this judgment, but yield to the
solicitations of our passions, which always plead in favour of whatever
is near and contiguous.

This is the reason why men so often act in contradiction to their known
interest; and, in particular, why they prefer any trivial advantage
that is present, to the maintenance of order in society, which so
much depends on the observance of justice. The consequences of every
breach of equity seem to lie very remote, and and are not liable to
counterbalance any immediate advantage that may be reaped from it. They
are, however, never the less real for being remote; and as all men are,
in some degree, subject to the same weakness, it necessarily happens,
that the violations of equity must become very frequent in society,
and the commerce of men, by that means, be rendered very dangerous
and uncertain. You have the same propension that I have in favour of
what is contiguous above what is remote. You are, therefore, naturally
carried to commit acts of injustice as well as me. Your example both
pushes me forward in this way by imitation, and also affords me a new
reason for any breach of equity, by showing me, that I should be the
cully of my integrity, if I alone should impose on myself a severe
restraint amidst the licentiousness of others.

This quality, therefore, of human nature, not only is very dangerous
to society, but also seems, on a cursory view, to be incapable of any
remedy. The remedy can only come from the consent of men; and if men
be incapable of themselves to prefer remote to contiguous, they will
never consent to any thing which would oblige them to such a choice,
and contradict, in so sensible a manner, their natural principles and
propensities. Whoever chooses the means, chooses also the end; and
if it be impossible for us to prefer what is remote, 'tis equally
impossible for us to submit to any necessity which would oblige us to
such a method of acting.

But here 'tis observable, that this infirmity of human nature becomes
a remedy to itself, and that we provide against our negligence about
remote objects, merely because we are naturally inclined to that
negligence. When we consider any objects at a distance, all their
minute distinctions vanish, and we always give the preference to
whatever is in itself preferable, without considering its situation and
circumstances. This gives rise to what, in an improper sense, we call
_reason_, which is a principle that is often contradictory to those
propensities that display themselves upon the approach of the object.
In reflecting on any action which I am to perform a twelvemonth hence,
I always resolve to prefer the greater good, whether at that time it
will be more contiguous or remote; nor does any difference in that
particular make a difference in my present intentions and resolutions.
My distance from the final determination makes all those minute
differences vanish, nor am I affected by any thing but the general and
more discernible qualities of good and evil. But on my nearer approach,
those circumstances which I at first overlooked begin to appear, and
have an influence on my conduct and affections. A new inclination to
the present good springs up, and makes it difficult for me to adhere
inflexibly to my first purpose and resolution. This natural infirmity
I may very much regret, and I may endeavour, by all possible means, to
free myself from it. I may have recourse to study and reflection within
myself; to the advice of friends; to frequent meditation, and repeated
resolution: And having experienced how ineffectual all these are, I
may embrace with pleasure any other expedient by which I may impose a
restraint upon myself, and guard against this weakness.

The only, difficulty, therefore, is to find out this expedient, by
which men cure their natural weakness, and lay themselves under the
necessity of observing the laws of justice and equity, notwithstanding
their violent propension to prefer contiguous to remote. 'Tis
evident such a remedy can never be effectual without correcting
this propensity; and as 'tis impossible to change or correct any
thing material in our nature, the utmost we can do is to change our
circumstances and situation, and render the observance of the laws of
justice our nearest interest, and their violation our most remote.
But this being impracticable with respect to all mankind, it can only
take place with respect to a few, whom we thus immediately interest
in the execution of justice. These are the persons whom we call civil
magistrates, kings and their ministers, our governors and rulers,
who, being indifferent persons to the greatest part of the state,
have no interest, or but a remote one, in any act of injustice; and,
being satisfied with their present condition, and with their part in
society, have an immediate interest in every execution of justice,
which is so necessary to the upholding of society. Here, then, is the
origin of civil government and society. Men are not able radically to
cure, either in themselves or others, that narrowness of soul which
makes them prefer the present to the remote. They cannot change their
natures. All they can do is to change their situation, and render
the observance of justice the immediate interest of some particular
persons, and its violation their more remote. These persons, then, are
not only induced to observe those rules in their own conduct, but also
to constrain others to a like regularity, and enforce the dictates of
equity through the whole society. And if it be necessary, they may
also interest others more immediately in the execution of justice, and
create a number of officers, civil and military, to assist them in
their government.

But this execution of justice, though the principal, is not the
only advantage of government. As violent passion hinders men from
seeing distinctly the interest they have in an equitable behaviour
towards others, so it hinders them from seeing that equity itself,
and gives them a remarkable partiality in their own favours. This
inconvenience is corrected in the same manner as that above mentioned.
The same persons who execute the laws of justice, will also decide all
controversies concerning them; and, being indifferent to the greatest
part of the society, will decide them more equitably than every one
would in his own case.

By means of these two advantages in the _execution_ and _decision_
of justice, men acquire a security against each other's weakness and
passion, as well as against their own, and, under the shelter of their
governors, begin to taste at ease the sweets of society and mutual
assistance. But government extends farther its beneficial influence;
and, not contented to protect men in those conventions they make for
their mutual interest, it often obliges them to make such conventions,
and forces them to seek their own advantage, by a concurrence in some
common end or purpose. There is no quality in human nature which causes
more fatal errors in our conduct, than that which leads us to prefer
whatever is present to the distant and remote, and makes us desire
objects more according to their situation than their intrinsic value.
Two neighbours may agree to drain a meadow, which they possess in
common: because 'tis easy for them to know each other's mind; and each
must perceive, that the immediate consequence of his failing in his
part, is the abandoning the whole project. But 'tis very difficult, and
indeed impossible, that a thousand persons should agree in any such
action; it being difficult for them to concert so complicated a design,
and still more difficult for them to execute it; while each seeks a
pretext to free himself of the trouble and expense, and would lay the
whole burden on others. Political society easily remedies both these
inconveniences. Magistrates find an immediate interest in the interest
of any considerable part of their subjects. They need consult nobody
but themselves to form any scheme for the promoting of that interest.
And as the failure of any one piece in the execution is connected,
though not immediately, with the failure of the whole, they prevent
that failure, because they find no interest in it, either immediate
or remote. Thus, bridges are built, harbours opened, ramparts raised,
canals formed, fleets equipped, and armies disciplined, every where,
by the care of government, which, though composed of men subject to
all human infirmities, becomes, by one of the finest and most subtile
inventions imaginable, a composition which is in some measure exempted
from all these infirmities.



Though government be an invention very advantageous, and even in some
circumstances absolutely necessary to mankind, it is not necessary in
all circumstances; nor is it impossible for men to preserve society
for some time, without having recourse to such an invention. Men, 'tis
true, are always much inclined to prefer present interest to distant
and remote; nor is it easy for them to resist the temptation of any
advantage that they may immediately enjoy, in apprehension of an evil
that lies at a distance from them; but still this weakness is less
conspicuous where the possessions and the pleasures of life are few
and of little value, as they always are in the infancy of society.
An Indian is but little tempted to dispossess another of his hut, or
to steal his bow, as being already provided of the same advantages;
and as to any superior fortune which may attend one above another in
hunting and fishing, 'tis only casual and temporary, and will have
but small tendency to disturb society. And so far am I from thinking
with some philosophers, that men are utterly incapable of society
without government, that I assert the first rudiments of government
to arise from quarrels, not among men of the same society, but among
those of different societies. A less degree of riches will suffice
to this latter effect, is requisite for the former. Men fear nothing
from public war and violence but the resistance they meet with, which,
because they share it in common, seems less terrible, and, because it
comes from strangers, seems less pernicious in its consequences, than
when they are exposed singly against one whose commerce is advantageous
to them, and without whose society 'tis impossible they can subsist.
Now foreign war, to a society without government, necessarily produces
civil war. Throw any considerable goods among men, they instantly fall
a quarrelling, while each strives to get possession of what pleases
him, without regard to the consequences. In a foreign war, the most
considerable of all goods, life and limbs, are at stake; and as every
one shuns dangerous ports, seizes the best arms, seeks excuse for the
slightest wounds, the laws, which may be well enough observed while
men were calm, can now no longer take place, when they are in such

This we find verified in the American tribes, where men live in concord
and amity among themselves, without any established government, and
never pay submission to any of their fellows, except in time of war,
when their captain enjoys a shadow of authority, which he loses after
their return from the field and the establishment of peace with the
neighbouring tribes. This authority, however, instructs them in the
advantages of government, and teaches them to have recourse to it,
when, either by the pillage of war, by commerce, or by any fortuitous
inventions, their riches and possessions have become so considerable
as to make them forget, on every emergence, the interest they have in
the preservation of peace and justice. Hence we may give a plausible
reason, among others, why all governments are at first monarchical,
without any mixture and variety; and why republics arise only from the
abuses of monarchy and despotic power. Camps are the true mothers of
cities; and as war cannot be administered, by reason of the suddenness
of every exigency, without some authority in a single person, the same
kind of authority naturally takes place in that civil government which
succeeds the military. And this reason I take to be more natural than
the common one derived from patriarchal government, or the authority
of a father, which is said first to take place in one family, and to
accustom the members of it to the government of a single person. The
state of society without government is one of the most natural states
of men, and must subsist with the conjunction of many families, and
long after the first generation. Nothing but an increase of riches
and possessions could oblige men to quit it; and so barbarous and
uninstructed are all societies on their first formation, that many
years must elapse before these can increase to such a degree as to
disturb men in the enjoyment of peace and concord.

But though it be possible for men to maintain a small uncultivated
society without government, 'tis impossible they should maintain a
society of any kind without justice, and the observance of those
three fundamental laws concerning the stability of possession, its
translation by consent, and the performance of promises. These are
therefore antecedent to government, and are supposed to impose an
obligation, before the duty of allegiance to civil magistrates has
once been thought of. Nay, I shall go farther, and assert, that
government, _upon its first establishment_, would naturally be supposed
to derive its obligation from those laws of of nature, and, in
particular, from that concerning the performance of promises. When men
have once perceived the necessity of government to maintain peace and
execute justice, they would naturally assemble together, would choose
magistrates, determine their power, and _promise_ them obedience. As
a promise is supposed to be a bond or security already in use, and
attended with a moral obligation, 'tis to be considered as the original
sanction of government, and as the source of the first obligation to
obedience. This reasoning appears so natural, that it has become the
foundation of our fashionable system of politics, and is in a manner
the creed of a party amongst us, who pride themselves, with reason, on
the soundness of their philosophy, and their liberty of thought. 'All
men,' say they, 'are born free and equal: government and superiority
can only be established by consent: the consent of men, in establishing
government, imposes on them a new obligation, unknown to the laws
of nature. Men, therefore, are bound to obey their magistrates,
only because they promise it; and if they had not given their word,
either expressly or tacitly, to preserve allegiance, it would never
have become a part of their moral duty. This conclusion, however,
when carried so far as to comprehend government in all its ages and
situations, is entirely erroneous; and I maintain, that though the duty
of allegiance be at first grafted on the obligation of promises, and be
for some time supported by that obligation, yet it quickly takes root
of itself, and has an original obligation and authority, independent
of all contracts. This is a principle of moment, which we must examine
with care and attention, before we proceed any farther.

'Tis reasonable for those philosophers who assert justice to be a
natural virtue, and antecedent to human conventions, to resolve all
civil allegiance into the obligation of a promise, and assert that 'tis
our own consent alone which binds us to any submission to magistracy.
For as all government is plainly an invention of men, and the origin of
most governments is known in history, 'tis necessary to mount higher,
in order to find the source of our political duties, if we would assert
them to have any _natural_ obligation of morality. These philosophers,
therefore, quickly observe, that society is as ancient as the human
species, and those three fundamental laws of nature as ancient as
society; so that, taking advantage of the antiquity and obscure origin
of these laws, they first deny them to be artificial and voluntary
inventions of men, and then seek to ingraft on them those other duties
which are more plainly artificial. But being once undeceived in this
particular, and having found that _natural_ as well as _civil_ justice
derives its origin from human conventions, we shall quickly perceive
how fruitless it is to resolve the one into the other, and seek, in the
laws of nature, a stronger foundation for our political duties than
interest and human conventions; while these laws themselves are built
on the very same foundation. On whichever side we turn this subject,
we shall find that these two kinds of duty are exactly on the same
footing, and have the same source both of their _first invention_ and
_moral obligation_. They are contrived to remedy like inconveniences,
and acquire their moral sanction in the same manner, from their
remedying those inconveniences. These are two points which we shall
endeavour to prove as distinctly as possible.

We have already shown, that men _invented_ the three fundamental
laws of nature, when they observed the necessity of society to their
mutual subsistence, and found that 'twas impossible to maintain any
correspondence together, without some restraint on their natural
appetites. The same self-love, therefore, which renders men so
incommodious to each other, taking a new and more convenient direction,
produces the rules of justice, and is the _first_ motive of their
observance. But when men have observed, that though the rules of
justice be sufficient to maintain any society, yet 'tis impossible
for them, of themselves, to observe those rules in large and polished
societies; they establish government as a new invention to attain
their ends, and preserve the old, or procure new advantages, by a more
strict execution of justice. So far, therefore, our _civil_ duties are
connected with our _natural_, that the former are invented chiefly for
the sake of the latter; and that the principal object of government
is to constrain men to observe the laws of nature. In this respect,
however, that law of nature, concerning the performance of promises, is
only comprised along with the rest; and its exact observance is to be
considered as an effect of the institution of government, and not the
obedience to government as an effect of the obligation of a promise.
Though the object of our civil duties be the enforcing of our natural,
yet the _first_[9] motive of the invention, as well as performance
of both, is nothing but self-interest; and since there is a separate
interest in the obedience to government, from that in the performance
of promises, we must also allow of a separate obligation. To obey the
civil magistrate is requisite to preserve order and concord in society.
To perform promises is requisite to beget mutual trust and confidence
in the common offices of life. The ends, as well as the means, are
perfectly distinct; nor is the one subordinate to the other.

To make this more evident, let us consider, that men will often bind
themselves by promises to the performance of what it would have been
their interest to perform, independent of these promises; as when they
would give others a fuller security, by superadding a new obligation
of interest to that which they formerly lay under. The interest in the
performance of promises, besides its moral obligation, is general,
avowed, and of the last consequence in life. Other interests may be
more particular and doubtful; and we are apt to entertain a greater
suspicion, that men may indulge their humour or passion in acting
contrary to them. Here, therefore, promises come naturally in play, and
are often required for fuller satisfaction and security. But supposing
those other interests to be as general and avowed as the interest in
the performance of a promise, they will be regarded as on the same
footing, and men will begin to repose the same confidence in them. Now
this is exactly the case with regard to our civil duties, or obedience
to the magistrate; without which no government could subsist, nor any
peace or order be maintained in large societies, where there are so
many possessions on the one hand, and so many wants, real or imaginary,
on the other. Our civil duties, therefore, must soon detach themselves
from our promises, and acquire a separate force and influence. The
interest in both is of the very same kind; 'tis general, avowed,
and prevails in all times and places. There is, then, no pretext of
reason for founding the one upon the other, while each of them has a
foundation peculiar to itself. We might as well resolve the obligation
to abstain from the possessions of others, into the obligation of a
promise, as that of allegiance. The interests are not more distinct in
the one case than the other. A regard to property is not more necessary
to natural society, than obedience is to civil society or government;
nor is the former society more necessary to the being of mankind,
than the latter to their well-being and happiness. In short, if the
performance of promises be advantageous, so is obedience to government;
if the former interest be general, so is the latter; if the one
interest be obvious and avowed, so is the other. And as these two rules
are founded on like obligations of interest, each of them must have a
peculiar authority, independent of the other.

But 'tis not only the _natural_ obligations of interest, which are
distinct in promises and allegiance; but also the _moral_ obligations
of honour and conscience: nor does the merit or demerit of the one
depend in the least upon that of the other. And, indeed, if we consider
the close connexion there is betwixt the natural and moral obligations,
we shall find this conclusion to be entirely unavoidable. Our interest
is always engaged on the side of obedience to magistracy; and there is
nothing but a great present advantage that can lead us to rebellion, by
making us overlook the remote interest which we have in the preserving
of peace and order in society. But though a present interest may thus
blind us with regard to our own actions, it takes not place with regard
to those of others; nor hinders them from appearing in their true
colours, as highly prejudicial to public interest, and to our own in
particular. This naturally gives us an uneasiness, in considering such
seditious and disloyal actions, and makes us attach to them the idea
of vice and moral deformity. 'Tis the same principle which causes us
to disapprove of all kinds of private injustice, and, in particular,
of the breach of promises. We blame all treachery and breach of faith;
because we consider, that the freedom and extent of human commerce
depend entirely on a fidelity with regard to promises. We blame all
disloyalty to magistrates; because we perceive that the execution of
justice, in the stability of possession, its translation by consent,
and the performance of promises, is impossible, without submission to
government. As there are here two interests entirely distinct from each
other, they must give rise to two moral obligations, equally separate
and independent. Though there was no such thing as a promise in the
world, government would still be necessary in all large and civilized
societies; and if promises had only their own proper obligation,
without the separate sanction of government, they would have but little
efficacy in such societies. This separates the boundaries of our public
and private duties, and shows that the latter are more dependent on the
former, than the former on the latter. _Education_, and _the artifice
of politicians_, concur to bestow a farther morality on loyalty, and to
brand all rebellion with a greater degree of guilt and infamy. Nor is
it a wonder that politicians should be very industrious in inculcating
such notions, where their interest is so particularly concerned.

Lest those arguments should not appear entirely conclusive (as I think
they are), I shall have recourse to authority, and shall prove, from
the universal consent of mankind, that the obligation of submission to
government is not derived from any promise of the subjects. Nor need
any one wonder, that though I have all along endeavoured to establish
my system on pure reason, and have scarce ever cited the judgment even
of philosophers or historians on any article, I should now appeal to
popular authority, and oppose the sentiments of the rabble to any
philosophical reasoning. For it must be observed, that the opinions of
men, in this case, carry with them a peculiar authority, and are, in
a great measure, infallible. The distinction of moral good and evil
is founded on the pleasure or pain which results from the view of any
sentiment or character; and, as that pleasure or pain cannot be unknown
to the person who feels it, it follows,[10] that there is just so much
vice or virtue in any character as every one places in it, and that
'tis impossible in this particular we can ever be mistaken. And, though
our judgments concerning the _origin_ of any vice or virtue, be not so
certain as those concerning their _degrees_, yet, since the question in
this case regards not any philosophical origin of an obligation, but a
plain matter of fact, 'tis not easily conceived how we can fall into
an error. A man who acknowledges himself to be bound to another for
a certain sum, must certainly know whether it be by his own bond, or
that of his father; whether it be of his mere good will, or for money
lent him; and under what conditions, and for what purposes, he has
bound himself. In like manner, it being certain that there is a moral
obligation to submit to government, because everyone thinks so; it must
be as certain that this obligation arises not from a promise; since no
one, whose judgment has not been led astray by too strict adherence to
a system of philosophy, has ever yet dreamt of ascribing it to that
origin. Neither magistrates nor subjects have formed this idea of our
civil duties.

We find, that magistrates are so far from deriving their authority, and
the obligation to obedience in their subjects, from the foundation of
a promise or original contract, that they conceal, as far as possible,
from their people, especially from the vulgar, that they have their
origin from thence. Were this the sanction of government, our rulers
would never receive it tacitly, which is the utmost that can be
pretended; since what is given tacitly and insensibly, can never have
such influence on mankind as what is performed expressly and openly.
A tacit promise is, where the will is signified by other more diffuse
signs than those of speech; but a will there must certainly be in the
case, and that can never escape the person's notice who exerted it,
however silent or tacit. But were you to ask the far greatest part of
the nation, whether they had ever consented to the authority of their
rulers, or promised to obey them, they would be inclined to think very
strangely of you; and would certainly reply, that the affair depended
not on their consent, but that they were born to such an obedience.
In consequence of this opinion, we frequently see them imagine such
persons to be their natural rulers, as are at that time deprived of
all power and authority, and whom no man, however foolish, would
voluntarily choose; and this merely because they are in that line
which ruled before, and in that decree of it which used to succeed:
though perhaps in so distant a period, that scarce any man alive could
ever have given any promise of obedience. Has a government, then, no
authority over such as these, because they never consented to it,
and would esteem the very attempt of such a free choice a piece of
arrogance and impiety? We find by experience, that it punishes them
very freely for what it calls treason and rebellion, which, it seems,
according to this system, reduces itself to common injustice. If you
say, that by dwelling in its dominions, they in effect consented to
the established government, I answer, that this can only be where they
think the affair depends on their choice, which few or none beside
those philosophers have ever yet imagined. It never was pleaded as an
excuse for a rebel, that the first act he performed, after he came
to years of discretion, was to levy war against the sovereign of the
state; and that, while he was a child he could not bind himself by his
own consent, and having become a man, showed plainly, by the first act
he performed, that he had no design to impose on himself any obligation
to obedience. We find, on the contrary, that civil laws punish this
crime at the same age as any other which is criminal of itself,
without our consent; that is, when the person is come to the full use
of reason: whereas to this crime it ought in justice to allow some
intermediate time, in which a tacit consent at least might be supposed.
To which we may add, that a man living under an absolute government
would owe it no allegiance; since, by its very nature, it depends not
on consent. But as that is as _natural_ and _common_ a government as
any, it must certainly occasion some obligation; and 'tis plain from
experience, that men who are subjected to it do always think so. This
is a clear proof, that we do not commonly esteem our allegiance to
be derived from our consent or promise; and a farther proof is, that
when our promise is upon any account expressly engaged, we always
distinguish exactly betwixt the two obligations, and believe the one to
add more force to the other, than in a repetition of the same promise.
Where no promise is given, a man looks not on his faith as broken
in private matters, upon account of rebellion; but keeps those two
duties of honour and allegiance perfectly distinct and separate. As
the uniting of them was thought by these philosophers a very subtile
invention, this is a convincing proof that 'tis not a true one; since
no man can either give a promise, or be restrained by its sanction and
obligation, unknown to himself.



Those political writers who have had recourse to a promise, or original
contract, as the source of our allegiance to government, intended
to establish a principle which is perfectly just and reasonable;
though the reasoning upon which they endeavoured to establish it, was
fallacious and sophistical. They would prove, that our submission to
government admits of exceptions, and that an egregious tyranny in the
rulers is sufficient to free the subjects from all ties of allegiance.
Since men enter into society, say they, and submit themselves to
government by their free and voluntary consent, they must have in
view certain advantages which they, propose to reap from it, and for
which they are contented to resign their native liberty. There is
therefore something mutual engaged on the part of the magistrate,
viz. protection and security; and 'tis only by the hopes he affords
of these advantages, that he can ever persuade men to submit to him.
But when, instead of protection and security, they meet with tyranny
and oppression, they are freed from their promises, (as happens in
all conditional contracts), and return to that state of liberty
which preceded the institution of government. Men would never be so
foolish as to enter into such engagements as should turn entirely
to the advantage of others, without any view of bettering their own
condition. Whoever proposes to draw any profit from our submission,
must engage himself, either expressly or tacitly, to make us reap some
advantage from his authority; nor ought he to expect, that, without the
performance of his part, we will ever continue in obedience.

I repeat it: This conclusion is just, though the principles be
erroneous; and I flatter myself, that I can establish the same
conclusion on more reasonable principles. I shall not take such a
compass, in establishing our political duties, as to assert that men
perceive the advantages of government; that they institute government
with a view to those advantages; that this institution requires a
promise of obedience, which imposes a moral obligation to a certain
degree, but, being conditional, ceases to be binding whenever the other
contracting party performs not his part of the engagement. I perceive,
that a promise itself arises entirely from human conventions, and is
invented with a view to a certain interest. I seek, therefore, some
such interest more immediately connected with government, and which may
be at once the original motive to its institution, and the source of
our obedience to it. This interest I find to consist in the security
and protection which we enjoy in political society, and which we can
never attain when perfectly free and independent. As the interest,
therefore, is the immediate sanction of government, the one can have no
longer being than the other; and whenever the civil magistrate carries
his oppression so far as to render his authority perfectly intolerable,
we are no longer bound to submit to it. The cause ceases; the effect
must cease also.

So far the conclusion is immediate and direct, concerning the _natural_
obligation which we have to allegiance. As to the _moral_ obligation,
we may observe, that the maxim would here be false, that _when the
cause ceases the effect must cease also_. For there is a principle
of human nature, which we have frequently taken notice of, that men
are mightily addicted to _general rules_, and that we often carry our
maxims beyond those reasons which first induced us to establish them.
Where cases are similar in many circumstances, we are apt to put them
on the same footing, without considering that they differ in the most
material circumstances, and that the resemblance is more apparent than
real. It may therefore be thought, that, in the case of allegiance,
our moral obligation of duty will not cease, even though the natural
obligation of interest, which is its cause, has ceased; and that men
may be bound by _conscience_ to submit to a tyrannical government,
against their own and the public interest. And indeed, to the force of
this argument I so far submit, as to acknowledge, that general rules
commonly extend beyond the principles on which they are founded; and
that we seldom make any exception to them, unless that exception have
the qualities of a general rule, and be founded on very numerous and
common instances. Now this I assert to be entirely the present case.
When men submit to the authority of others, 'tis to procure themselves
some security against the wickedness and injustice of men, who are
perpetually carried, by their unruly passions, and by their present
and immediate interest, to the violation of all the laws of society.
But as this imperfection is inherent in human nature, we know that it
must attend men in all their states and conditions; and that those
whom we choose for rulers, do not immediately become of a superior
nature to the rest of mankind, upon account of their superior power and
authority. What we expect from them depends not on a change of their
nature, but of their situation, when they acquire a more immediate
interest in the preservation of order and the execution of justice.
But, besides that this interest is only more immediate in the execution
of justice among their subjects; besides this, I say, we may often
expect, from the irregularity of human nature, that they will neglect
even this immediate interest, and be transported by their passions
into all the excesses of cruelty and ambition. Our general knowledge
of human nature, our observation of the past history of mankind,
our experience of present times; all these causes must induce us to
open the door of exceptions, and must make us conclude, that we may
resist the more violent effects of supreme power without any crime or

Accordingly we may observe, that this is both the general practice and
principle of mankind, and that no nation that could find any remedy,
ever yet suffered the cruel ravages of a tyrant, or were blamed for
their resistance. Those who took up arms against Dionysius or Nero, or
Philip the Second, have the favour of every reader in the perusal of
their history; and nothing but the most violent perversion of common
sense can ever lead us to condemn them. 'Tis certain, therefore, that
in all our notions of morals, we never entertain such an absurdity
as that of passive obedience, but make allowances for resistance in
the more flagrant instances of tyranny and oppression. The general
opinion of mankind has some authority in all cases; but in this of
morals 'tis perfectly infallible. Nor is it less infallible, because
men cannot distinctly explain the principles on which it is founded.
Few persons can carry on this train of reasoning: 'Government is a mere
human invention for the interest of society. Where the tyranny of the
governor removes this interest, it also removes the natural obligation
to obedience. The moral obligation is founded on the natural, and
therefore must cease where _that_ ceases; especially where the subject
is such as makes us foresee very many occasions wherein the natural
obligation may cease, and causes us to form a kind of general rule for
the regulation of our conduct in such occurrences.' But though this
train of reasoning be too subtile for the vulgar, 'tis certain that
all men have an implicit notion of it, and are sensible that they owe
obedience to government merely on account of the public interest; and,
at the same time, that human nature is so subject to frailties and
passions, as may easily pervert this institution, and change their
governors into tyrants and public enemies. If the sense of public
interest were not our original motive to obedience, I would fain ask,
what other principle is there in human nature capable of subduing
the natural ambition of men, and forcing them to such a submission?
Imitation and custom are not sufficient. For the question still recurs,
what motive first produces those instances of submission which we
imitate, and that train of actions which produces the custom? There
evidently is no other principle than public interest; and if interest
first produces obedience to government, the obligation to obedience
must cease whenever the interest ceases in any great degree, and in a
considerable number of instances.



But though, on some occasions, it may be justifiable, both in sound
politics and morality, to resist supreme power, 'tis certain that, in
the ordinary course of human affairs, nothing can be more pernicious
and criminal; and that, besides the convulsions which always attend
revolutions, such a practice tends directly to the subversion of
all government, and the causing an universal anarchy and confusion
among mankind. As numerous and civilized societies cannot subsist
without government, so government is entirely useless without an exact
obedience. We ought always to weigh the advantages which we reap from
authority, against the disadvantages: and by this means we shall become
more scrupulous of putting in practice the doctrine of resistance. The
common rule requires submission; and 'tis only in cases of grievous
tyranny and oppression, that the exception can take place.

Since, then, such a blind submission is commonly due to magistracy,
the next question is, _to whom it is due, and whom we are to regard
as our lawful magistrates_? In order to answer this question, let us
recollect what we have already established concerning the origin of
government and political society. When men have once experienced the
impossibility of preserving any steady order in society, while every
one is his own master, and violates or observes the laws of interest,
according to his present interest or pleasure, they naturally run into
the invention of government, and put it out of their own power, as far
as possible, to transgress the laws of society. Government, therefore,
arises from the voluntary convention of men; and 'tis evident, that the
same convention which establishes government, will also determine the
persons who are to govern, and will remove all doubt and ambiguity in
this particular. And the voluntary consent of men must here have the
greater efficacy, that the authority of the magistrate does _at first_
stand upon the foundation of a promise of the subjects, by which they
bind themselves to obedience, as in every other contract or engagement.
The same promise, then, which binds them to obedience, ties them down
to a particular person, and makes him the object of their allegiance.

But when government has been established on this footing for some
considerable time, and the separate interest which we have in
submission has produced a separate sentiment of morality, the case
is entirely altered, and a promise is no longer able to determine
the particular magistrate; since it is no longer considered as the
foundation of government. We naturally suppose ourselves born to
submission; and imagine that such particular persons have a right to
command, as we on our part are bound to obey. These notions of right
and obligation are derived from nothing but the _advantage_ we reap
from government, which gives us a repugnance to practise resistance
ourselves, and makes us displeased with any instance of it in others.
But here 'tis remarkable, that in this new state of affairs, the
original sanction of government, which is _interest_, is not admitted
to determine the persons whom we are to obey, as the original sanction
did at first, when affairs were on the footing of a _promise_. A
_promise_ fixes and determines the persons, without any uncertainty:
but 'tis evident, that if men were to regulate their conduct in this
particular, by the view of a peculiar _interest_, either public or
private, they would involve themselves in endless confusion, and
would render all government, in a great measure, ineffectual. The
private interest of every one is different; and, though the public
interest in itself be always one and the same, yet it becomes the
source of as great dissensions, by reason of the different opinions
of particular persons concerning it. The same interest, therefore,
which causes us to submit to magistracy, makes us renounce itself in
the choice of our magistrates, and binds us down to a certain form of
government, and to particular persons, without allowing us to aspire
to the utmost perfection in either. The case is here the same as
in that law of nature concerning the stability of possession. 'Tis
highly advantageous, and even absolutely necessary to society, that
possession should be stable; and this leads us to the establishment of
such a rule: but we find, that were we to follow the same advantage,
in assigning particular possessions to particular persons, we should
disappoint our end, and perpetuate the confusion which that rule is
intended to prevent. We must therefore proceed by general rules, and
regulate ourselves by general interests, in modifying the law of
nature concerning the stability of possession. Nor need we fear, that
our attachment to this law will diminish upon account of the seeming
frivolousness of those interests by which it is determined. The
impulse of the mind is derived from a very strong interest; and those
other more minute interests serve only to direct the motion, without
adding any thing to it, or diminishing from it. 'Tis the same case
with government. Nothing is more advantageous to society than such
an invention; and this interest is sufficient to make us embrace it
with ardour and alacrity; though we are obliged afterwards to regulate
and direct our devotion to government by several considerations which
are not of the same importance, and to choose our magistrates without
having in view any particular advantage from the choice.

The _first_ of those principles I shall take notice of, as a foundation
of the right of magistracy, is that which gives authority to all the
most established governments of the world, without exception: I mean,
_long possession_ in any one form of government, or succession of
princes. 'Tis certain, that if we remount to the first origin of every
nation, we shall find, that there scarce is any race of kings, or form
of a commonwealth, that is not primarily founded on usurpation and
rebellion, and whose title is not at first worse than doubtful and
uncertain. Time alone gives solidity to their right; and, operating
gradually on the minds of men, reconciles them to any authority, and
makes it seem just and reasonable. Nothing causes any sentiment to have
a greater influence upon us than custom, or turns our imagination more
strongly to any object. When we have been long accustomed to obey any
set of men, that general instinct or tendency which we have to suppose
a moral obligation attending loyalty, takes easily this direction, and
chooses that set of men for its objects. 'Tis interest which gives the
general instinct; but 'tis custom which gives the particular direction.

And here 'tis observable, that the same length of time has a different
influence on our sentiments of morality, according to its different
influence on the mind. We naturally judge of every thing by comparison;
and since, in considering the fate of kingdoms and republics, we
embrace a long extent of time, a small duration has not, in this
case, a like influence on our sentiments, as when we consider any
other object. One thinks he acquires a right to a horse, or a suit
of clothes, in a very short time; but a century is scarce sufficient
to establish any new government, or remove all scruples in the minds
of the subjects concerning it. Add to this, that a shorter period of
time will suffice to give a prince a title to any additional power
he may usurp, than will serve to fix his right, where the whole
is an usurpation. The kings of France have not been possessed of
absolute power for above two reigns; and yet nothing will appear
more extravagant to Frenchmen than to talk of their liberties. If we
consider what has been said concerning _accession_, we shall easily
account for this phenomenon.

When there is no form of government established by _long_ possession,
the _present_ possession is sufficient to supply its place, and may
be regarded as the _second_ source of all public authority. Right
to authority is nothing but the constant possession of authority,
maintained by the laws of society and the interests of mankind; and
nothing can be more natural than to join this constant possession to
the present one, according to the principles above mentioned. If the
same principles did not take place with regard to the property of
private persons, 'twas because these principles were counterbalanced
by very strong considerations of interest; when we observed, that all
restitution would by that means be prevented, and every violence be
authorized and protected. And, though the same motives may seem to
have force with regard to public authority, yet they are opposed by a
contrary interest; which consists in the preservation of peace, and the
avoiding of all changes, which, however they may be easily produced in
private affairs, are unavoidably attended with bloodshed and confusion
where the public is interested.

Any one who, finding the impossibility of accounting for the right of
the present possessor, by any received system of ethics, should resolve
to deny absolutely that right, and assert that it is not authorized
by morality, would be justly thought to maintain a very extravagant
paradox, and to shock the common sense and judgment of mankind. No
maxim is more conformable, both to prudence and morals, than to
submit quietly to the government which we find established in the
country where we happen to live, without inquiring too curiously into
its origin and first establishment. Few governments will bear being
examined so rigorously. How many kingdoms are there at present in the
world, and how many more do we find in history, whose governors have no
better foundation for their authority than that of present possession!
To confine ourselves to the Roman and Grecian empire; is it not
evident, that the long succession of emperors, from the dissolution
of the Roman liberty, to the final extinction of that empire by the
Turks, could not so much as pretend to any other title to the empire?
The election of the senate was a mere form, which always followed the
choice of the legions; and these were almost always divided in the
different provinces, and nothing but the sword was able to terminate
the difference. 'Twas by the sword, therefore, that every emperor
acquired, as well as defended, his right; and we must either say, that
all the known world, for so many ages, had no government, and owed no
allegiance to any one, or must allow, that the right of the stronger,
in public affairs, is to be received as legitimate, and authorized by
morality, when not opposed by any other title.

The right of _conquest_ may be considered as a _third_ source of the
title of sovereigns. This right resembles very much that of present
possession, but has rather a superior force, being seconded by the
notions of glory and honour which we ascribe to _conquerors_, instead
of the sentiments of hatred and detestation which attend _usurpers_.
Men naturally favour those they love; and therefore are more apt to
ascribe a right to successful violence, betwixt one sovereign and
another, than to the successful rebellion of a subject against his

When neither long possession, nor present possession, nor conquest take
place, as when the first sovereign who founded any monarchy dies; in
that case, the right of _succession_ naturally prevails in their stead,
and men are commonly induced to place the son of their late monarch
on the throne, and suppose him to inherit his father's authority. The
presumed consent of the father, the imitation of the succession to
private families, the interest which the state has in choosing the
person who is most powerful and has the most numerous followers; all
these reasons lead men to prefer the son of their late monarch to any
other person.[12]

These reasons have some weight; but I am persuaded, that, to one who
considers impartially of the matter, 'twill appear that there concur
some principles of the imagination along with those views of interest.
The royal authority seems to be connected with the young prince even in
his father's lifetime, by the natural transition of the thought, and
still more after his death; so that nothing is more natural than to
complete this union by a new relation, and by putting him actually in
possession of what seems so naturally to belong to him.

To confirm this, we may weigh the following phenomena, which are
pretty curious in their kind. In elective monarchies, the right of
succession has no place by the laws and settled custom; and yet its
influence is so natural, that 'tis impossible entirely to exclude it
from the imagination, and render the subjects indifferent to the son
of their deceased monarch. Hence, in some governments of this kind,
the choice commonly falls on one or other of the royal family; and
in some governments they are all excluded. Those contrary phenomena
proceed from the same principle. Where the royal family is excluded,
'tis from a refinement in politics, which makes people sensible of
their propensity to choose a sovereign in that family, and gives them
a jealousy of their liberty, lest their new monarch, aided by this
propensity, should establish his family, and destroy the freedom of
elections for the future.

The history of Artaxerxes and the younger Cyrus, may furnish us with
some reflections to the same purpose. Cyrus pretended a right to the
throne above his elder brother, because he was born after his father's
accession. I do not pretend that this reason was valid. I would only
infer from it, that he would never have made use of such a pretext,
were it not for the qualities of the imagination above-mentioned, by
which we are naturally inclined to unite by a new relation whatever
objects we find already united. Artaxerxes had an advantage above his
brother, as being the eldest son, and the first in succession; but
Cyrus was more closely related to the royal authority, as being begot
after his father was invested with it.

Should it here be pretended, that the view of convenience may be
the source of all the right of succession, and that men gladly take
advantage of any rule by which they can fix the successor of their
late sovereign, and prevent that anarchy and confusion which attends
all new elections; to this I would answer, that I readily allow that
this motive may contribute something to the effect; but at the same
time I assert, that, without another principle, 'tis impossible such
a motive should take place. The interest of a nation requires that the
succession to the crown should be fixed one way or other; but 'tis the
same thing to its interest in what way it be fixed; so that if the
relation of blood had not an effect independent of public interest, it
would never have been regarded without a positive law; and 'twould have
been impossible that so many positive laws of different nations could
ever have concurred precisely in the same views and intentions.

This leads us to consider the _fifth_ source of authority, viz.
_positive laws_, when the legislature establishes a certain form
of government and succession of princes. At first sight, it may be
thought that this must resolve into some of the preceding titles of
authority. The legislative power, whence the positive law is derived,
must either be established by original contract, long possession,
present possession, conquest, or succession; and consequently the
positive law must derive its force from some of those principles. But
here 'tis remarkable, that though a positive law can only derive its
force from these principles, yet it acquires not all the force of the
principle from whence it is derived, but loses considerably in the
transition, as it is natural to imagine. For instance, a government is
established for many centuries on a certain system of laws, forms, and
methods of succession. The legislative power, established by this long
succession, changes, all on a sudden, the whole system of government,
and introduces a new constitution in its stead. I believe few of the
subjects will think themselves bound to comply with this alteration,
unless it have an evident tendency to the public good, but will think
themselves still at liberty to return to the ancient government. Hence
the notion of _fundamental_ laws, which are supposed to be unalterable
by the will of the sovereign; and of this nature the Salic law is
understood to be in France. How far these fundamental laws extend, is
not determined in any government, nor is it possible it ever should.
There is such an insensible gradation from the most material laws to
the most trivial, and from the most ancient laws to the most modern,
that 'twill be impossible to set bounds to the legislative power, and
determine how far it may innovate in the principles of government. That
is the work more of imagination and passion than of reason.

Whoever considers the history of the several nations of the world,
their revolutions, conquests, increase and diminution, the manner in
which their particular governments are established, and the successive
right transmitted from one person to another, will soon learn to treat
very lightly all disputes concerning the rights of princes, and will be
convinced that a strict adherence to any general rules, and the rigid
loyalty to particular persons and families, on which some people set
so high a value, are virtues that hold less of reason than of bigotry
and superstition. In this particular, the study of history confirms the
reasonings of true philosophy, which, showing us the original qualities
of human nature, teaches us to regard the controversies in politics as
incapable of any decision in most cases, and as entirely subordinate
to the interests of peace and liberty. Where the public good does
not evidently demand a change, 'tis certain that the concurrence
of all those titles, _original contract, long possession, present
possession, succession_, and _positive laws_, forms the strongest title
to sovereignty, and is justly regarded as sacred and inviolable. But
when these titles are mingled and opposed in different degrees, they
often occasion perplexity, and are less capable of solution from the
arguments of lawyers and philosophers, than from the swords of the
soldiery. Who shall tell me, for instance, whether Germanicus or Drusus
ought to have succeeded Tiberius, had he died while they were both
alive, without naming any of them for his successor? Ought the right
of adoption to be received as equivalent to that of blood, in a nation
where it had the same effect in private families, and had already,
in two instances, taken place in the public? Ought Germanicus to be
esteemed the eldest son, because he was born before Drusus; or the
younger, because he was adopted after the birth of his brother? Ought
the right of the elder to be regarded in a nation, where the eldest
brother had no advantage in the succession to private families? Ought
the Roman empire at that time to be esteemed hereditary, because of two
examples; or ought it, even so early, to be regarded as belonging to
the stronger, or the present possessor, as being founded on so recent
an usurpation? Upon whatever principles we may pretend to answer these
and such like questions, I am afraid we shall never be able to satisfy
an impartial inquirer, who adopts no party in political controversies,
and will be satisfied with nothing but sound reason and philosophy.

But here an English reader will be apt to inquire concerning that
famous _revolution_ which has had such a happy influence on our
constitution, and has been attended with such mighty consequences.
We have already remarked, that, in the case of enormous tyranny and
oppression, 'tis lawful to take arms even against supreme power; and
that, as government is a mere human invention, for mutual advantage
and security, it no longer imposes any obligation, either natural or
moral, when once it ceases to have that tendency. But though this
_general_ principle be authorized by common sense, and the practice
of all ages, 'tis certainly impossible for the laws, or even for
philosophy, to establish any _particular_ rules by which we may
know when resistance is lawful, and decide all controversies which
may arise on that subject. This may not only happen with regard to
supreme power, but 'tis possible, even in some constitutions, where
the legislative authority is not lodged in one person, that there
may be a magistrate so eminent and powerful as to oblige the laws to
keep silence in this particular. Nor would this silence be an effect
only of their _respect_, but also of their _prudence_; since 'tis
certain, that, in the vast variety of circumstances which occur in
all governments, an exercise of power, in so great a magistrate, may
at one time be beneficial to the public, which at another time would
be pernicious and tyrannical. But notwithstanding this silence of
the laws in limited monarchies, 'tis certain that the people still
retain the right of resistance; since 'tis impossible, even in the
most despotic governments, to deprive them of it. The same necessity
of self-preservation, and the same motive of public good, give them
the same liberty in the one case as in the other. And we may farther
observe, that in such mixed governments, the cases wherein resistance
is lawful must occur much oftener, and greater indulgence be given to
the subjects to defend themselves by force of arms, than in arbitrary
governments. Not only where the chief magistrate enters into measures
in themselves extremely pernicious to the public, but even when he
would encroach on the other parts of the constitution, and extend his
power beyond the legal bounds, it is allowable to resist and dethrone
him; though such resistance and violence may, in the general tenor of
the laws, be deemed unlawful and rebellious. For, besides that nothing
is more essential to public interest than the preservation of public
liberty, 'tis evident, that if such a mixed government be once supposed
to be established, every part or member of the constitution must have
a right of self-defence, and of maintaining its ancient bounds against
the encroachment of every other authority. As matter would have been
created in vain, were it deprived of a power of resistance, without
which no part of it could preserve a distinct existence, and the whole
might be crowded up into a single point; so 'tis a gross absurdity to
suppose, in any government, a right without a remedy, or allow that the
supreme power is shared with the people, without allowing that 'tis
lawful for them to defend their share against every invader. Those,
therefore, who would seem to respect our free government, and yet deny
the right of resistance, have renounced all pretensions to common
sense, and do not merit a serious answer.

It does not belong to my present purpose to show, that these general
principles are applicable to the late _revolution_; and that all the
rights and privileges which ought to be sacred to a free nation, were
at that time threatened with the utmost danger. I am better pleased to
leave this controverted subject, if it really admits of controversy,
and to indulge myself in some philosophical reflections which naturally
arise from that important event.

_First_, We may observe, that should the _lords_ and _commons_ in our
constitution, without any reason from public interest, either depose
the king in being, or, after his death, exclude the prince, who, by
laws and settled custom, ought to succeed, no one would esteem their
proceedings legal, or think themselves bound to comply with them.
But should the king, by his unjust practices, or his attempts for a
tyrannical and despotic power, justly forfeit his legal, it then not
only becomes morally lawful and suitable to the nature of political
society to dethrone him; but, what is more, we are apt likewise to
think, that the remaining members of the constitution acquire a right
of excluding his next heir, and of choosing whom they please for his
successor. This is founded on a very singular quality of our thought
and imagination. When a king forfeits his authority, his heir ought
naturally to remain in the same situation as if the king were removed
by death; unless by mixing himself in the tyranny, he forfeit it for
himself. But though this may seem reasonable, we easily comply with the
contrary opinion. The deposition of a king, in such a government as
ours, is certainly an act beyond all common authority; and an illegal
assuming a power for public good, which, in the ordinary course of
government, can belong to no member of the constitution. When the
public good is so great and so evident as to justify the action, the
commendable use of this license causes us naturally to attribute to the
_parliament_ a right of using farther licenses; and the ancient bounds
of the laws being once transgressed with approbation, we are not apt
to be so strict in confining ourselves precisely within their limits.
The mind naturally runs on with any train of action which it has begun;
nor do we commonly make any scruple concerning our duty, after the
first action of any kind which we perform. Thus at the _revolution_,
no one who thought the deposition of the father justifiable, esteemed
themselves to be confined to his infant son; though, had that unhappy
monarch died innocent at that time, and had his son, by any accident,
been conveyed beyond seas, there is no doubt but a regency would have
been appointed till he should come to age, and could be restored to
his dominions. As the slightest properties of the imagination have
an effect on the judgments of the people, it shows the wisdom of the
laws and of the parliament to take advantage of such properties, and
to choose the magistrates either in or out of a line, according as the
vulgar will most naturally attribute authority and right to them.

_Secondly_, Though the accession of the Prince of Orange to the throne,
might at first give occasion to many disputes, and his title be
contested, it ought not now to appear doubtful, but must have acquired
a sufficient authority from those three princes who have succeeded
him upon the same title. Nothing is more usual, though nothing may,
at first sight, appear more unreasonable, than this way of thinking.
Princes often _seem_ to acquire a right from their successors, as well
as from their ancestors; and a king who, during his lifetime, might
justly be deemed an usurper, will be regarded by posterity as a lawful
prince, because he has had the good fortune to settle his family on
the throne, and entirely change the ancient form of government. Julius
Cæsar is regarded as the first Roman emperor; while Sylla and Marius,
whose titles were really the same as his, are treated as tyrants and
usurpers. Time and custom give authority to all forms of government,
and all successions of princes; and that power, which at first was
founded only on injustice and violence, becomes in time legal and
obligatory. Nor does the mind rest there; but, returning back upon
its footsteps, transfers to their predecessors and ancestors that
right which it naturally ascribes to the posterity, as being related
together, and united in the imagination. The present King of France
makes Hugh Capet a more lawful prince than Cromwell; as the established
liberty of the Dutch is no inconsiderable apology for their obstinate
resistance to Philip the Second.

[10] This proposition must hold strictly true with regard to every
quality that is determined merely by sentiment. In what sense we can
talk either of a _right_ or a _wrong_ taste in morals, eloquence, or
beauty, shall be considered afterwards. In the mean time it may be
observed, that there is such an uniformity in the _general_ sentiments
of mankind, as to render such questions of but small importance.

[11] It is not here asserted, that _present possession_ or _conquest_
are sufficient to give a title against _long possession_ and _positive
laws_: but only that they have some force, and will be able to cast
the balance where the titles are otherwise equal, and will even be
sufficient _sometimes_ to sanctify the weaker title. What degree of
force they have is difficult to determine. I believe all moderate men
will allow, that they have great force in all disputes concerning the
rights of princes.

[12] To prevent mistakes I must observe, that this case of succession
is not the same with that of hereditary monarchies, where custom has
fixed the right of succession. These depend upon the principle of long
possession above explained.



When civil government has been established over the greatest part of
mankind, and different societies have been formed contiguous to each
other, there arises a new set of duties among the neighbouring states,
suitable to the nature of that commerce which they carry on with each
other. Political writers tell us, that in every kind of intercourse
a body politic is to be considered as one person; and indeed, this
assertion is so far just, that different nations, as well as private
persons, require mutual assistance; at the same time that their
selfishness and ambition are perpetual sources of war and discord. But
though nations in this particular resemble individuals, yet as they are
very different in other respects, no wonder they regulate themselves by
different maxims, and give rise to a new set of rules, which we call
_the laws of nations_. Under this head we may comprise the sacredness
of the persons of ambassadors, the declaration of war, the abstaining
from poisoned arms, with other duties of that kind, which are evidently
calculated for the commerce that is peculiar to different societies.

But though these rules be superadded to the laws of nature, the former
do not entirely abolish the latter; and one may safely affirm, that the
three fundamental rules of justice, the stability of possession, its
transference by consent, and the performance of promises, are duties
of princes as well as of subjects. The same interest produces the same
effect in both cases. Where possession has no stability, there must
be perpetual war. Where property is not transferred by consent, there
can be no commerce. Where promises are not observed, there can be no
leagues nor alliances. The advantages, therefore, of peace, commerce,
and mutual succour, make us extend to different kingdoms the same
notions of justice which take place among individuals.

There is a maxim very current in the world, which few politicians are
willing to avow, but which has been authorized by the practice of
all ages, _that there is a system of morals calculated for princes,
much more free than that which ought to govern private persons_.
'Tis evident this is not to be understood of the lesser _extent_ of
public duties and obligations; nor will any one be so extravagant as
to assert, that the most solemn treaties ought to have no force among
princes. For as princes do actually form treaties among themselves,
they must propose some advantage from the execution of them; and the
prospect of such advantage for the future must engage them to perform
their part, and must establish that law of nature. The meaning,
therefore, of this political maxim is, that though the morality of
princes has the same _extent_, yet it has not the same _force_ as
that of private persons, and may lawfully be transgressed from a
more trivial motive. However shocking such a proposition may appear
to certain philosophers, 'twill be easy to defend it upon those
principles, by which we have accounted for the origin of justice and

When men have found by experience that 'tis impossible to subsist
without society, and that 'tis impossible to maintain society, while
they give free course to their appetites; so urgent an interest
quickly restrains their actions, and imposes an obligation to observe
those rules which we call _the laws of justice_. This obligation of
interest rests not here; but, by the necessary course of the passions
and sentiments, gives rise to the moral obligation of duty; while we
approve of such actions as tend to the peace of society, and disapprove
of such as tend to its disturbance. The same _natural_ obligation of
interest takes place among independent kingdoms, and gives rise to
the same _morality_; so that no one of ever so corrupt morals will
approve of a prince, who voluntarily, and of his own accord, breaks his
word, or violates any treaty. But here we may observe, that though the
intercourse of different states be advantageous, and even sometimes
necessary, yet it is not so necessary nor advantageous as that among
individuals, without which 'tis utterly impossible for human nature
ever to subsist. Since, therefore, the _natural_ obligation to justice,
among different states, is not so strong as among individuals, the
_moral_ obligation which arises from it must partake of its weakness;
and we must necessarily give a greater indulgence to a prince or
minister who deceives another, than to a private gentleman who breaks
his word of honour.

Should it be asked, _what proportion these two species of morality
bear to each other_? I would answer, that this is a question to which
we can never give any precise answer; nor is it possible to reduce to
numbers the proportion, which we ought to fix betwixt them. One may
safely affirm, that this proportion finds itself without any art or
study of men; as we may observe on many other occasions. The practice
of the world goes farther in teaching us the degrees of our duty,
than the most subtile philosophy which was ever yet invented. And
this may serve as a convincing proof, that all men have an implicit
notion of the foundation of those moral rules concerning natural and
civil justice, and are sensible that they arise merely from human
conventions, and from the interest which we have in the preservation
of peace and order. For otherwise the diminution of the interest would
never produce a relaxation of the morality, and reconcile us more
easily to any transgression of justice among princes and republics,
than in the private commerce of one subject with another.



If any difficulty attend this system concerning the laws of nature and
nations, 'twill be with regard to the universal approbation or blame
which follows their observance or transgression, and which some may not
think sufficiently explained from the general interests of society.
To remove, as far as possible, all scruples of this kind, I shall
here consider another set of duties, viz. the _modesty_ and _chastity_
which belong to the fair sex: and I doubt not but these virtues will be
found to be still more conspicuous instances of the operation of those
principles which I have insisted on.

There are some philosophers who attack the female virtues with great
vehemence, and fancy they have gone very far in detecting popular
errors, when they can show, that there is no foundation in nature for
all that exterior modesty which we require in the expressions, and
dress, and behaviour of the fair sex. I believe I may spare myself the
trouble of insisting on so obvious a subject, and may proceed, without
farther preparation, to examine after what manner such notions arise
from education, from the voluntary conventions of men, and from the
interest of society.

Whoever considers the length and feebleness of human infancy, with
the concern which both sexes naturally have for their offspring, will
easily perceive, that there must be an union of male and female for the
education of the young, and that this union must be of considerable
duration. But, in order to induce the men to impose on themselves this
restraint, and undergo cheerfully all the fatigues and expenses to
which it subjects them, they must believe that their children are their
own, and that their natural instinct is not directed to a wrong object,
when they give a loose to love and tenderness. Now, if we examine the
structure of the human body, we shall find, that this security is very
difficult to be attained on our part; and that since, in the copulation
of the sexes, the principle of generation goes from the man to the
woman, an error may easily take place on the side of the former, though
it be utterly impossible with regard to the latter. From this trivial
and anatomical observation is derived that vast difference betwixt the
education and duties of the two sexes.

Were a philosopher to examine the matter a _priori_, he would reason
after the following manner. Men are induced to labour for the
maintenance and education of their children, by the persuasion that
they are really their own; and therefore 'tis reasonable, and even
necessary, to give them some security in this particular. This security
cannot consist entirely in the imposing of severe punishments on any
transgressions of conjugal fidelity on the part of the wife; since
these public punishments cannot be inflicted without legal proof, which
'tis difficult to meet with in this subject. What restraint, therefore,
shall we impose on women, in order to counterbalance so strong a
temptation as they have to infidelity? There seems to be no restraint
possible, but in the punishment of bad fame or reputation; a punishment
which has a mighty influence on the human mind, and at the same time
is inflicted by the world upon surmises and conjectures, and proofs
that would never be received in any court of judicature. In order,
therefore, to impose a due restraint on the female sex, we must attach
a peculiar degree of shame to their infidelity, above what arises
merely from its injustice, and must bestow proportionable praises on
their chastity.

But though this be a very strong motive to fidelity, our philosopher
would quickly discover that it would not alone be sufficient to that
purpose. All human creatures, especially of the female sex, are apt
to overlook remote motives in favour of any present temptation: the
temptation is here the strongest imaginable; its approaches are
insensible and seducing; and a woman easily finds, or flatters
herself she shall find, certain means of securing her reputation, and
preventing all the pernicious consequences of her pleasures. 'Tis
necessary, therefore, that, beside the infamy attending such licenses,
there should be some preceding backwardness or dread, which may prevent
their first approaches, and may give the female sex a repugnance to
all expressions, and postures, and liberties, that have an immediate
relation to that enjoyment.

Such would be the reasonings of our speculative philosopher; but I am
persuaded that, if he had not a perfect knowledge of human nature, he
would be apt to regard them as mere chimerical speculations, and would
consider the infamy attending infidelity, and backwardness to all its
approaches, as principles that were rather to be wished than hoped
for in the world. For what means, would he say, of persuading mankind
that the transgressions of conjugal duty are more infamous than any
other kind of injustice, when 'tis evident they are more excusable,
upon account of the greatness of the temptation? And what possibility
of giving a backwardness to the approaches of a pleasure to which
nature has inspired so strong a propensity, and a propensity that 'tis
absolutely necessary in the end to comply with, for the support of the

But speculative reasonings, which cost so much pains to philosophers,
are often formed by the world naturally, and without reflection; as
difficulties which seem unsurmountable in theory, are easily got over
in practice. Those who have an interest in the fidelity of women,
naturally disapprove of their infidelity, and all the approaches to it.
Those who have no interest are carried along with the stream. Education
takes possession of the ductile minds of the fair sex in their
infancy. And when a general rule of this kind is once established,
men are apt to extend it beyond those principles from which it first
arose. Thus, bachelors, however debauched, cannot choose but be shocked
with any instance of lewdness or impudence in woman. And though all
these maxims have a plain reference to generation, yet women past
child-bearing have no more privilege in this respect than those who
are in the flower of their youth and beauty. Men have undoubtedly an
implicit notion, that all those ideas of modesty and decency have a
regard to generation; since they impose not the same laws, _with the
same force_, on the male sex, where that reason takes not place. The
exception is there obvious and extensive, and founded on a remarkable
difference, which produces a clear separation and disjunction of ideas.
But as the case is not the same with regard to the different ages of
women, for this reason, though men know that these notions are founded
on the public interest, yet the general rule carries us beyond the
original principle, and makes us extend the notions of modesty over the
whole sex, from their earliest infancy to their extremest old age and

Courage, which is the point of honour among men, derives its merit in a
great measure from artifice, as well as the chastity of women; though
it has also some foundation in nature, as we shall see afterwards.

As to the obligations which the male sex lie under with regard to
chastity, we may observe that, according to the general notions of
the world, they bear nearly the same proportion to the obligations of
women, as the obligations of the law of nations do to those of the
law of nature. 'Tis contrary to the interest of civil society, that
men should have an _entire_ liberty of indulging their appetites
in venereal enjoyment; but as this interest is weaker than in the
case of the female sex, the moral obligation arising from it must be
proportionably weaker. And to prove this we need only appeal to the
practice and sentiments of all nations and ages.





We come now to the examination of such virtues and vices as are
entirely natural, and have no dependence on the artifice and
contrivance of men. The examination of these will conclude this system
of morals.

The chief spring or actuating principle of the human mind is pleasure
or pain; and when these sensations are removed, both from our thought
and feeling, we are in a great measure incapable of passion or action,
of desire or volition. The most immediate effects of pleasure and pain
are the propense and averse motions of the mind; which are diversified
into volition, into desire and aversion, grief and joy, hope and fear,
according as the pleasure or pain changes its situation, and becomes
probable or improbable, certain or uncertain, or is considered as out
of our power for the present moment. But when, along with this, the
objects that cause pleasure or pain acquire a relation to ourselves or
others, they still continue to excite desire and aversion, grief and
joy; but cause, at the same time, the indirect passions of pride or
humility, love or hatred, which in this case have a double relation of
impressions and ideas to the pain or pleasure.

We have already observed, that moral distinctions depend entirely on
certain peculiar sentiments of pain and pleasure, and that whatever
mental quality in ourselves or others gives us a satisfaction, by the
survey or reflection, is of course virtuous; as every thing of this
nature that gives uneasiness is vicious. Now, since every quality
in ourselves or others which gives pleasure, always causes pride
or love, as every one that produces uneasiness excites humility or
hatred, it follows, that these two particulars are to be considered
as equivalent, with regard to our mental qualities, _virtue_ and the
power of producing love or pride, _vice_ and the power of producing
humility or hatred. In every case, therefore, we must judge of the one
by the other, and may pronounce any _quality_ of the mind virtuous
which causes love or pride, and any one vicious which causes hatred or

If any _action_ be either virtuous or vicious, 'tis only as a sign
of some quality or character. It must depend upon durable principles
of the mind, which extend over the whole conduct, and enter into
the personal character. Actions themselves, not proceeding from any
constant principle, have no influence on love or hatred, pride or
humility; and consequently are never considered in morality.

This reflection is self-evident, and deserves to be attended to, as
being of the utmost importance in the present subject. We are never
to consider any single action in our inquiries concerning the origin
of morals, but only the quality or character from which the action
proceeded. These alone are _durable_ enough to affect our sentiments
concerning the person. Actions are indeed better indications of a
character than words, or even wishes and sentiments; but 'tis only so
far as they are such indications, that they are attended with love or
hatred, praise or blame.

To discover the true origin of morals, and of that love or hatred which
arises from mental qualities, we must take the matter pretty deep, and
compare some principles which have been already examined and explained.

We may begin with considering anew the nature and force of _sympathy_.
The minds of all men are similar in their feelings and operations; nor
can any one be actuated by any affection of which all others are not
in some degree susceptible. As in strings equally wound up, the motion
of one communicates itself to the rest, so all the affections readily
pass from one person to another, and beget correspondent movements
in every human creature. When I see the _effects_ of passion in the
voice and gesture of any person, my mind immediately passes from these
effects to their causes, and forms such a lively idea of the passion as
is presently converted into the passion itself. In like manner, when I
perceive the causes of any emotion, my mind is conveyed to the effects,
and is actuated with a like emotion. Were I present at any of the more
terrible operations of surgery, 'tis certain that, even before it
begun, the preparation of the instruments, the laying of the bandages
in order, the heating of the irons, with all the signs of anxiety and
concern in the patient and assistants, would have a great effect upon
my mind, and excite the strongest sentiments of pity and terror. No
passion of another discovers itself immediately to the mind. We are
only sensible of its causes or effects. From _these_ we infer the
passion; and consequently _these_ give rise to our sympathy.

Our sense of beauty depends very much on this principle; and where
any object has a tendency to produce pleasure in its possessor, it is
always regarded as beautiful; as every object that has a tendency to
produce pain, is disagreeable and deformed. Thus, the conveniency of a
house, the fertility of a field, the strength of a horse, the capacity,
security, and swift-sailing of a vessel, form the principal beauty of
these several objects. Here the object, which is denominated beautiful,
pleases only by its tendency to produce a certain effect. That effect
is the pleasure or advantage of some other person. Now, the pleasure of
a stranger for whom we have no friendship, pleases us only by sympathy.
To this principle, therefore, is owing the beauty which we find in
every thing that is useful. How considerable a part this is of beauty
will easily appear upon reflection. Wherever an object has a tendency
to produce pleasure in the possessor, or, in other words, is the proper
_cause_ of pleasure, it is sure to please the spectator, by a delicate
sympathy with the possessor. Most of the works of art are esteemed
beautiful, in proportion to their fitness for the use of man; and even
many of the productions of nature derive their beauty from that source.
Handsome and beautiful, on most occasions, is not an absolute, but a
relative quality, and pleases us by nothing but its tendency to produce
an end that is agreeable.[1]

The same principle produces, in many instances, our sentiments of
morals, as well as those of beauty. No virtue is more esteemed than
justice, and no vice more detested than injustice; nor are there
any qualities which go farther to the fixing the character, either
as amiable or odious. Now justice is a moral virtue, merely because
it has that tendency to the good of mankind, and indeed is nothing
but an artificial invention to that purpose. The same may be said of
allegiance, of the laws of nations, of modesty, and of good manners.
All these are mere human contrivances for the interest of society. And
since there is a very strong sentiment of morals, which in all nations
and all ages has attended them, we must allow that the reflecting on
the tendency of characters and mental qualities is sufficient to give
us the sentiments of approbation and blame. Now, as the means to an
end can only be agreeable where the end is agreeable, and as the good
of society, where our own interest is not concerned, or that of our
friends, pleases only by sympathy, it follows, that sympathy is the
source of the esteem which we pay to all the artificial virtues.

Thus it appears, _that_ sympathy is a very powerful principle in
human nature, _that_ it has a great influence on our taste of beauty,
and _that_ it produces our sentiment of morals in all the artificial
virtues. From thence we may presume, that it also gives rise to many
of the other virtues, and that qualities acquire our approbation
because of their tendency to the good of mankind. This presumption
must become a certainty, when we find that most of those qualities
which we _naturally_ approve of, have actually that tendency, and
render a man a proper member of society; while the qualities which
we _naturally_ disapprove of have a contrary tendency, and render
any intercourse with the person dangerous or disagreeable. For having
found, that such tendencies have force enough to produce the strongest
sentiment of morals, we can never reasonably, in these cases, look for
any other cause of approbation or blame; it being an inviolable maxim
in philosophy, that where any particular cause is sufficient for an
effect, we ought to rest satisfied with it, and ought not to multiply
causes without necessity. We have happily attained experiments in the
artificial virtues, where the tendency of qualities to the good of
society is the _sole_ cause of our approbation, without any suspicion
of the concurrence of another principle. From thence we learn the force
of that principle. And where that principle may take place, and the
quality approved of is really beneficial to society, a true philosopher
will never require any other principle to account for the strongest
approbation and esteem.

That many of the natural virtues have this tendency to the good
of society, no one can doubt of. Meekness, beneficence, charity,
generosity, clemency, moderation, equity, bear the greatest figure
among the moral qualities, and are commonly denominated the _social_
virtues, to mark their tendency to the good of society. This goes so
far, that some philosophers have represented all moral distinctions
as the effect of artifice and education, when skilful politicians
endeavoured to restrain the turbulent passions of men, and make them
operate to the public good, by the notions of honour and shame. This
system, however, is not consistent with experience. For, _first_,
There are other virtues and vices beside those which have this
tendency to the public advantage and loss. _Secondly_, Had not men a
natural sentiment of approbation and blame, it could never be excited
by politicians, nor would the words _laudable_ and _praiseworthy,
blameable_ and _odious_, be any more intelligible than if they were
a language perfectly unknown to us, as we have already observed.
But though this system be erroneous, it may teach us that moral
distinctions arise in a great measure from the tendency of qualities
and characters to the interests of society, and that 'tis our concern
for that interest which makes us approve or disapprove of them. Now,
we have no such extensive concern for society, but from sympathy; and
consequently 'tis that principle which takes us so far out of ourselves
as to give us the same pleasure or uneasiness in the characters of
others, as if they had a tendency to our own advantage or loss.

The only difference betwixt the natural virtues and justice lies in
this, that the good which results from the former arises from every
single act, and is the object of some natural passion; whereas a
single act of justice, considered in itself, may often be contrary
to the public good; and 'tis only the concurrence of mankind, in a
general scheme or system of action, which is advantageous. When I
relieve persons in distress, my natural humanity is my motive; and so
far as my succour extends, so far have I promoted the happiness of my
fellow-creatures. But if we examine all the questions that come before
any tribunal of justice, we shall find that, considering each case
apart, it would as often be an instance of humanity to decide contrary
to the laws of justice as conformable to them. Judges take from a poor
man to give to a rich; they bestow on the dissolute the labour of the
industrious; and put into the hands of the vicious the means of harming
both themselves and others. The whole scheme, however, of law and
justice is advantageous to the society; and 'twas with a view to this
advantage that men, by their voluntary conventions, established it.
After it is once established by these conventions, it is _naturally_
attended with a strong sentiment of morals, which can proceed from
nothing but our sympathy with the interests of society. We need no
other explication of that esteem which attends such of the natural
virtues as have a tendency to the public good.

I must farther add, that there are several circumstances which render
this hypothesis much more probable with regard to the natural than
the artificial virtues. 'Tis certain, that the imagination is more
affected by what is particular, than by what is general; and that the
sentiments are always moved with difficulty, where their objects are
in any degree loose and undetermined. Now, every particular act of
justice is not beneficial to society, but the whole scheme or system;
and it may not perhaps be any individual person for whom we are
concerned, who receives benefit from justice, but the whole society
alike. On the contrary, every particular act of generosity, or relief
of the industrious and indigent, is beneficial, and is beneficial to
a particular person, who is not undeserving of it. 'Tis more natural,
therefore, to think that the tendencies of the latter virtue will
affect our sentiments, and command our approbation, than those of the
former; and therefore, since we find that the approbation of the former
arises from their tendencies, we may ascribe, with better reason, the
same cause to the approbation of the latter. In any number of similar
effects, if a cause can be discovered for one, we ought to extend
that cause to all the other effects which can be accounted for by
it; but much more, if these other effects be attended with peculiar
circumstances, which facilitate the operation of that cause.

Before I proceed farther, I must observe two remarkable circumstances
in this affair, which may seem objections to the present system. The
first may be thus explained. When any quality or character has a
tendency to the good of mankind, we are pleased with it, and approve
of it, because it presents the lively idea of pleasure; which idea
affects us by sympathy, and is itself a kind of pleasure. But as this
sympathy is very variable, it may be thought that our sentiments of
morals must admit of all the same variations. We sympathize more with
persons contiguous to us, than with persons remote from us; with our
acquaintance, than with strangers; with our countrymen, than with
foreigners. But notwithstanding this variation of our sympathy, we
give the same approbation to the same moral qualities in China as in
England. They appear equally virtuous, and recommend themselves equally
to the esteem of a judicious spectator. The sympathy varies without
a variation in our esteem. Our esteem, therefore, proceeds not from

To this I answer, the approbation of moral qualities most certainly
is not derived from reason, or any comparison of ideas; but proceeds
entirely from a moral taste, and from certain sentiments of pleasure
or disgust, which arise upon the contemplation and view of particular
qualities or characters. Now, 'tis evident that those sentiments,
whencever they are derived, must vary according to the distance or
contiguity of the objects; nor can I feel the same lively pleasure from
the virtues of a person who lived in Greece two thousand years ago,
that I feel from the virtues of a familiar friend and acquaintance.
Yet I do not say that I esteem the one more than the other; and
therefore, if the variation of the sentiment, without a variation of
the esteem, be an objection, it must have equal force against every
other system, as against that of sympathy. But to consider the matter
aright, it has no force at all; and 'tis the easiest matter in the
world to account for it. Our situation with regard both to persons and
things is in continual fluctuation; and a man that lies at a distance
from us, may in a little time become a familiar acquaintance. Besides,
every particular man has a peculiar position with regard to others;
and 'tis impossible we could ever converse together on any reasonable
terms, were each of us to consider characters and persons only as
they appear from his peculiar point of view. In order, therefore, to
prevent those continual _contradictions_, and arrive at a more _stable_
judgment of things, we fix on some _steady_ and _general_ points of
view, and always, in our thoughts, place ourselves in them, whatever
may be our present situation. In like manner, external beauty is
determined merely by pleasure; and 'tis evident a beautiful countenance
cannot give so much pleasure, when seen at a distance of twenty paces,
as when it is brought nearer us. We say not, however, that it appears
to us less beautiful; because we know what effect it will have in such
a position, and by that reflection we correct its momentary appearance.

In general, all sentiments of blame or praise are variable, according
to our situation of nearness or remoteness with regard to the person
blamed or praised, and according to the present disposition of our
mind. But these variations we regard not in our general decisions, but
still apply the terms expressive of our liking or dislike, in the same
manner as if we remained in one point of view. Experience soon teaches
us this method of correcting our sentiments, or at least of correcting
our language, where the sentiments are more stubborn and unalterable.
Our servant, if diligent and faithful, may excite stronger sentiments
of love and kindness than Marcus Brutus, as represented in history;
but we say not, upon that account, that the former character is more
laudable than the latter. We know that, were we to approach equally
near to that renowned patriot, he would command a much higher degree
of affection and admiration. Such corrections are common with regard
to all the senses; and indeed 'twere impossible we could ever make use
of language, or communicate our sentiments to one another, did we not
correct the momentary appearances of things, and overlook our present

'Tis therefore from the influence of characters and qualities upon
those who have an intercourse with any person, that we blame or praise
him. We consider not whether the persons affected by the qualities
be our acquaintance or strangers, countrymen or foreigners. Nay, we
overlook our own interest in those general judgments, and blame not a
man for opposing us in any of our pretensions, when his own interest
is particularly concerned. We make allowance for a certain degree of
selfishness in men, because we know it to be inseparable from human
nature, and inherent in our frame and constitution. By this reflection
we correct those sentiments of blame which so naturally arise upon any

But however the general principle of our blame or praise may be
corrected by those other principles, 'tis certain they are not
altogether efficacious, nor do our passions often correspond entirely
to the present theory. 'Tis seldom men heartily love what lies at
a distance from them, and what no way redounds to their particular
benefit; as 'tis no less rare to meet with persons who can pardon
another any opposition he makes to their interest, however justifiable
that opposition may be by the general rules of morality. Here we are
contented with saying, that reason requires such an impartial conduct,
but that 'tis seldom we can bring ourselves to it, and that our
passions do not readily follow the determination of our judgment. This
language will be easily understood, if we consider what we formerly
said concerning that _reason_ which is able to oppose our passion, and
which we have found to be nothing but a general calm determination
of the passions, founded on some distant view or reflection. When
we form our judgments of persons merely from the tendency of their
characters to our own benefit, or to that of our friends, we find so
many contradictions to our sentiments in society and conversation, and
such an uncertainty from the incessant changes of our situation, that
we seek some other standard of merit and demerit, which may not admit
of so great variation. Being thus loosened from our first station, we
cannot afterwards fix ourselves so commodiously by any means as by a
sympathy with those who have any commerce with the person we consider.
This is far from being as lively as when our own interest is concerned,
or that of our particular friends; nor has it such an influence on our
love and hatred; but being equally conformable to our calm and general
principles, 'tis said to have an equal authority over our reason, and
to command our judgment and opinion. We blame equally a bad action
which we read of in history, with one performed in our neighbourhood
t'other day; the meaning of which is, that we know from reflection that
the former action would excite as strong sentiments of disapprobation
as the latter, were it placed in the same position.

I now proceed to the _second_ remarkable circumstance which I proposed
to take notice of. Where a person is possessed of a character that
in its natural tendency is beneficial to society, we esteem him
virtuous, and are delighted with the view of his character, even though
particular accidents prevent its operation, and incapacitate him from
being serviceable to his friends and country. Virtue in rags is still
virtue; and the love which it procures attends a man into a dungeon or
desart, where the virtue can no longer be exerted in action, and is
lost to all the world. Now, this may be esteemed an objection to the
present system. Sympathy interests us in the good of mankind; and if
sympathy were the source of our esteem for virtue, that sentiment of
approbation could only take place where the virtue actually attained
its end, and was beneficial to mankind. Where it fails of its end, 'tis
only an imperfect means; and therefore can never acquire any merit from
that end. The goodness of an end can bestow a merit on such means alone
as are complete, and actually produce the end.

To this we may reply, that where any object, in all its parts, is
fitted to attain any agreeable end, it naturally gives us pleasure,
and is esteemed beautiful, even though some external circumstances be
wanting to render it altogether effectual. 'Tis sufficient if every
thing be complete in the object itself. A house that is contrived
with great judgment for all the commodities of life, pleases us upon
that account; though perhaps we are sensible, that no one will ever
dwell in it. A fertile soil, and a happy climate, delight us by a
reflection on the happiness which they would afford the inhabitants,
though at present the country be desart and uninhabited. A man, whose
limbs and shape promise strength and activity, is esteemed handsome,
though condemned to perpetual imprisonment. The imagination has a set
of passions belonging to it, upon which our sentiments of beauty much
depend. These passions are moved by degrees of liveliness and strength,
which are inferior to _belief_, and independent of the real existence
of their objects. Where a character is, in every respect, fitted to be
beneficial to society, the imagination passes easily from the cause to
the effect, without considering that there are still some circumstances
wanting to render the cause a complete one. _General rules_ create a
species of probability, which sometimes influences the judgment, and
always the imagination.

'Tis true, when the cause is complete, and a good disposition is
attended with good fortune, which renders it really beneficial to
society, it gives a stronger pleasure to the spectator, and is attended
with a more lively sympathy. We are more affected by it; and yet we do
not say that it is more virtuous, or that we esteem it more. We know
that an alteration of fortune may render the benevolent disposition
entirely impotent; and therefore we separate, as much as possible, the
fortune from the disposition. The case is the same as when we correct
the different sentiments of virtue, which proceed from its different
distances from ourselves. The passions do not always follow our
corrections; but these corrections serve sufficiently to regulate our
abstract notions, and are alone regarded when we pronounce in general
concerning the degrees of vice and virtue.

'Tis observed by critics, that all words or sentences which are
difficult to the pronunciation, are disagreeable to the ear. There
is no difference, whether a man hear them pronounced, or read them
silently to himself. When I run over a book with my eye, I imagine
I hear it all; and also, by the force of imagination, enter into
the uneasiness which the delivery of it would give the speaker. The
uneasiness is not real; but, as such a composition of words has a
natural tendency to produce it, this is sufficient to affect the
mind with a painful sentiment, and render the discourse harsh and
disagreeable. 'Tis a similar case, where any real quality is, by
accidental circumstances, rendered impotent, and is deprived of its
natural influence on society.

Upon these principles we may easily remove any contradiction which
may appear to be betwixt the _extensive sympathy_, on which our
sentiments of virtue depend, and that _limited generosity_, which I
have frequently observed to be natural to men, and which justice and
property suppose, according to the precedent reasoning. My sympathy
with another may give me the sentiment of pain and disapprobation, when
any object is presented that has a tendency to give him uneasiness;
though I may not be willing to sacrifice any thing of my own interest,
or cross any of my passions, for his satisfaction. A house may
displease me by being ill-contrived for the convenience of the owner;
and yet I may refuse to give a shilling towards the rebuilding of it.
Sentiments must touch the heart to make them control our passions: but
they need not extend beyond the imagination, to make them influence
our taste. When a building seems clumsy and tottering to the eye, it is
ugly and disagreeable; though we may be fully assured of the solidity
of the workmanship. 'Tis a kind of fear which causes this sentiment
of disapprobation; but the passion is not the same with that which we
feel when obliged to stand under a wall that we really think tottering
and insecure. The _seeming tendencies_ of objects affect the mind:
and the emotions they excite are of a like species with those which
proceed from the _real consequences_ of objects, but their feeling is
different. Nay, these emotions are so different in their feeling, that
they may often be contrary, without destroying each other; as when the
fortifications of a city belonging to an enemy are esteemed beautiful
upon account of their strength, though we could wish that they were
entirely destroyed. The imagination adheres to the _general_ views of
things, and distinguishes the feelings they produce from those which
arise from our particular and momentary situation.

If we examine the panegyrics that are commonly made of great men, we
shall find, that most of the qualities which are attributed to them
may be divided into two kinds, viz. such as make them perform their
part in society; and such as render them serviceable to themselves, and
enable them to promote their own interest. Their _prudence, temperance,
frugality, industry, assiduity, enterprise, dexterity_, are celebrated,
as well as their _generosity_ and _humanity_. If we ever give an
indulgence to any quality that disables a man from making a figure in
life, 'tis to that of _indolence_, which is not supposed to deprive
one of his parts and capacity, but only suspends their exercise; and
that without any inconvenience to the person himself, since 'tis, in
some measure, from his own choice. Yet indolence is always allowed to
be a fault, and a very great one, if extreme: nor do a man's friends
ever acknowledge him to be subject to it, but in order to save his
character in more material articles. He could make a figure, say they,
if he pleased to give application: his understanding is sound, his
conception quick, and his memory tenacious; but he hates business, and
is indifferent about his fortune. And this a man sometimes may make
even a subject of vanity, though with the air of confessing a fault:
because he may think, that this incapacity for business implies much
more noble qualities; such as a philosophical spirit, a fine taste, a
delicate wit, or a relish for pleasure and society. But take any other
case: suppose a quality that, without being an indication of any other
good qualities, incapacitates a man _always_ for business, and is
destructive to his interest; such as a blundering understanding, and a
wrong judgment of every thing in life; inconstancy and irresolution; or
a want of address in the management of men and business: these are all
allowed to be imperfections in a character; and many men would rather
acknowledge the greatest crimes, than have it suspected that they are
in any degree subject to them.

'Tis very happy, in our philosophical researches, when we find the
same phenomenon diversified by a variety of circumstances; and by
discovering what is common among them, can the better assure ourselves
of the truth of any hypothesis we may make use of to explain it. Were
nothing esteemed virtue but what were beneficial to society, I am
persuaded that the foregoing explication of the moral sense ought still
to be received, and that upon sufficient evidence: but this evidence
must grow upon us, when we find other kinds of virtue which will not
admit of any explication except from that hypothesis. Here is a man
who is not remarkably defective in his social qualities; but what
principally recommends him is his dexterity in business, by which he
has extricated himself from the greatest difficulties, and conducted
the most delicate affairs with a singular address and prudence. I
find an esteem for him immediately to arise in me: his company is a
satisfaction to me; and before I have any farther acquaintance with
him, I would rather do him a service than another whose character is
in every other respect equal, but is deficient in that particular. In
this case, the qualities that please me are all considered as useful
to the person, and as having a tendency to promote his interest and
satisfaction. They are only regarded as means to an end, and please me
in proportion to their fitness for that end. The end, therefore must
be agreeable to me. But what makes the end agreeable? The person is a
stranger: I am no way interested in him, nor lie under any obligation
to him: his happiness concerns not me, farther than the happiness
of every human, and indeed of every sensible creature; that is, it
affects me only by sympathy. From that principle, whenever I discover
his happiness and good, whether in its causes or effects, I enter so
deeply into it, that it gives me a sensible emotion. The appearance
of qualities that have a _tendency_ to promote it, have an agreeable
effect upon my imagination, and command my love and esteem.

This theory may serve to explain, why the same qualities, in all cases,
produce both pride and love, humility and hatred; and the same man
is always virtuous or vicious, accomplished or despicable to others,
who is so to himself. A person in whom we discover any passion or
habit, which originally is only incommodious to himself, becomes always
disagreeable to us merely on its account; as, on the other hand, one
whose character is only dangerous and disagreeable to others, can
never be satisfied with himself, as long as he is sensible of that
disadvantage. Nor is this observable only with regard to characters and
manners, but may be remarked even in the most minute circumstances. A
violent cough in another gives us uneasiness; though in itself it does
not in the least affect us. A man will be mortified if you tell him he
has a stinking breath; though 'tis evidently no annoyance to himself.
Our fancy easily changes its situation; and, either surveying ourselves
as we appear to others, or considering others as they feel themselves,
we enter, by that means, into sentiments which no way belong to us,
and in which nothing but sympathy is able to interest us. And this
sympathy we sometimes carry so far, as even to be displeased with a
quality commodious to us, merely because it displeases others, and
makes us disagreeable in their eyes; though perhaps we never can have
any interest in rendering ourselves agreeable to them.

There have been many systems of morality advanced by philosophers
in all ages; but if they are strictly examined, they may be reduced
to two, which alone merit our attention. Moral good and evil are
certainly distinguished by our _sentiments_, not by _reason_: but these
sentiments may arise either from the mere species or appearance of
characters and passions, or from reflections on their tendency to the
happiness of mankind, and of particular persons. My opinion is, that
both these causes are intermixed in our judgments of morals; after the
same manner as they are in our decisions concerning most kinds of
external beauty: though I am also of opinion, that reflections on the
tendencies of actions have by far the greatest influence, and determine
all the great lines of our duty. There are, however, instances in cases
of less moment, wherein this immediate taste or sentiment produces our
approbation. Wit, and a certain easy and disengaged behaviour, are
qualities _immediately agreeable_ to others, and command their love
and esteem. Some of these qualities produce satisfaction in others
by particular _original_ principles of human nature, which cannot be
accounted for: odiers may be resolved into principles which are more
general. This will best appear upon a particular inquiry.

As some qualities acquire their merit from their being _immediately
agreeable_ to others, without any tendency to public interest; so some
are denominated virtuous from their being _immediately agreeable_
to the person himself, who possesses them. Each of the passions and
operations of the mind has a particular feeling, which must be either
agreeable or disagreeable. The first is virtuous, the second vicious.
This particular feeling constitutes the very nature of the passion; and
therefore needs not be accounted for.

But, however directly the distinction of vice and virtue may seem
to flow from the immediate pleasure or uneasiness, which particular
qualities cause to ourselves or others, 'tis easy to observe, that it
has also a considerable dependence on the principle of _sympathy_ so
often insisted on. We approve of a person who is possessed of qualities
_immediately agreeable_ to those with whom he has any commerce, though
perhaps we ourselves never reaped any pleasure from them. We also
approve of one who is possessed of qualities that are _immediately
agreeable_ to himself, though they be of no service to any mortal. To
account for this, we must have recourse to the foregoing principles.

Thus, to take a general review of the present hypothesis: Every quality
of the mind is denominated virtuous which gives pleasure by the mere
survey, as every quality which produces pain is called vicious. This
pleasure and this pain may arise from four different sources. For
we reap a pleasure from the view of a character which is naturally
fitted to be useful to others, or to the person himself, or which is
agreeable to others, or to the person himself. One may perhaps be
surprised, that, amidst all these interests and pleasures, we should
forget our own, which touch us so nearly on every other occasion. But
we shall easily satisfy ourselves on this head, when we consider, that
every particular person's pleasure and interest being different, 'tis
impossible men could ever agree in their sentiments and judgments,
unless they chose some common point of view, from which they might
survey their object, and which might cause it to appear the same to all
of them. Now, in judging of characters, the only interest or pleasure
which appears the same to every spectator, is that of the person
himself whose character is examined, or that of persons who have a
connexion with him. And, though such interests and pleasures touch us
more faintly than our own, yet, being more constant and universal, they
counterbalance the latter even in practice, and are alone admitted in
speculation as the standard of virtue and morality. They alone produce
that particular feeling or sentiment on which moral distinctions depend.

As to the good or ill desert of virtue or vice, 'tis an evident
consequence of the sentiments of pleasure or uneasiness. These
sentiments produce love or hatred; and love or hatred, by the original
constitution of human passion, is attended with benevolence or anger;
that is, with a desire of making happy the person we love, and
miserable the person we hate. We have treated of this more fully on
another occasion.



It may now be proper to illustrate this general system of morals, by
applying it to particular instances of virtue and vice, and showing how
their merit or demerit arises from the four sources here explained. We
shall begin with examining the passions of _pride_ and _humility_, and
shall consider the vice or virtue that lies in their excesses or just
proportion. An excessive pride or overweening conceit of ourselves,
is always esteemed vicious, and is universally hated, as modesty, or
a just sense of our weakness, is esteemed virtuous, and procures the
good will of every one. Of the four sources of moral distinctions, this
is to be ascribed to the _third_; viz. the immediate agreeableness and
disagreeableness of a quality to others, without any reflections on the
tendency of that quality.

In order to prove this, we must have recourse to two principles,
which are very conspicuous in human nature. The _first_ of these is
the _sympathy_ and communication of sentiments and passions above
mentioned. So close and intimate is the correspondence of human souls,
that no sooner any person approaches me, than he diffuses on me all
his opinions, and draws along my judgment in a greater or lesser
degree. And though, on many occasions, my sympathy with him goes not
so far as entirely to change my sentiments and way of thinking, yet it
seldom is so weak as not to disturb the easy course of my thought, and
give an authority to that opinion which is recommended to me by his
assent and approbation. Nor is it any way material upon what subject he
and I employ our thoughts. Whether we judge of an indifferent person,
or of my own character, my sympathy gives equal force to his decision:
and even his sentiments of his own merit make me consider him in the
same light in which he regards himself.

This principle of sympathy is of so powerful and insinuating a nature,
that it enters into most of our sentiments and passions, and often
takes place under the appearance of its contrary. For 'tis remarkable,
that when a person opposes me in any thing which I am strongly bent
upon, and rouses up my passion by contradiction, I have always a
degree of sympathy with him, nor does my commotion proceed from any
other origin. We may here observe an evident conflict or rencounter
of opposite principles and passions. On the one side, there is that
passion or sentiment which is natural to me; and 'tis observable, that
the stronger this passion is, the greater is the commotion. There must
also be some passion or sentiment on the other side; and this passion
can proceed from nothing but sympathy. The sentiments of others can
never affect us, but by becoming in some measure our own; in which case
they operate upon us, by opposing and increasing our passions, in the
very same manner as if they had been originally derived from our own
temper and disposition. While they remain concealed in the minds of
others, they can never have any influence upon us: and even when they
are known, if they went no farther than the imagination or conception,
that faculty is so accustomed to objects of every different kind, that
a mere idea, though contrary to our sentiments and inclinations, would
never alone be able to affect us.

The _second_ principle I shall take notice of is that of _comparison_,
or the variation of our judgments concerning objects, according to
the proportion they bear to those with which we compare them. We
judge more of objects by comparison than by their intrinsic worth and
value; and regard every thing as mean, when set in opposition to what
is superior of the same kind. But no comparison is more obvious than
that with ourselves; and hence it is, that on all occasions it takes
place, and mixes with most of our passions. This kind of comparison is
directly contrary to sympathy in its operation, as we have observed in
treating of _compassion and malice_.[2] _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. The direct survey of another's pleasure naturally
gives us pleasure; and therefore produces pain, when compared with our
own. His pain, considered in itself is painful; but augments the idea
of our own happiness, and gives us pleasure_.

Since then those principles of sympathy, and a comparison with
ourselves, are directly contrary, it may be worth while to consider,
what general rules can be formed, beside the particular temper of
the person, for the prevalence of the one or the other. Suppose I am
now in safety at land, and would willingly reap some pleasure from
this consideration, I must think on the miserable condition of those
who are at sea in a storm, and must endeavour to render this idea as
strong and lively as possible, in order to make me more sensible of
my own happiness. But whatever pains I may take, the comparison will
never have an equal efficacy, as if I were really on the shore,[3] and
saw a ship at a distance tost by a tempest, and in danger every moment
of perishing on a rock or sand-bank. But suppose this idea to become
still more lively. Suppose the ship to be driven so near me, that I can
perceive distinctly the horror painted on the countenance of the seamen
and passengers, hear their lamentable cries, see the dearest friends
give their last adieu, or embrace with a resolution to perish in each
other's arms: no man has so savage a heart as to reap any pleasure from
such a spectacle, or withstand the motions of the tenderest compassion
and sympathy. 'Tis evident, therefore, there is a medium in this case;
and that, if the idea be too faint, it has no influence by comparison;
and on the other hand, if it be too strong, it operates on us entirely
by sympathy, which is the contrary to comparison. Sympathy being the
conversion of an idea into an impression, demands a greater force and
vivacity in the idea than is requisite to comparison.

All this is easily applied to the present subject. We sink very much
in our own eyes when in the presence of a great man, or one of a
superior genius; and this humility makes a considerable ingredient in
that _respect_ which we pay our superiors, according to our foregoing
reasonings on that passion.[4] Sometimes even envy and hatred arise
from the comparison; but in the greatest part of men, it rests at
respect and esteem. As sympathy has such a powerful influence on the
human mind, it causes pride to have in some measure the same effect as
merit; and, by making us enter into those elevated sentiments which the
proud man entertains of himself, presents that comparison, which is so
mortifying and disagreeable. Our judgment does not entirely accompany
him in the flattering conceit in which he pleases himself; but still
is so shaken as to receive the idea it presents, and to give it an
influence above the loose conceptions of the imagination. A man who,
in an idle humour, would form a notion of a person of a merit very
much superior to his own, would not be mortified by that fiction: but
when a man, whom we are really persuaded to be of inferior merit, is
presented to us; if we observe in him any extraordinary degree of pride
and self-conceit, the firm persuasion he has of his own merit, takes
hold of the imagination, and diminishes us in our own eyes, in the same
manner as if he were really possessed of all the good qualities which
he so liberally attributes to himself. Our idea is here precisely in
that medium which is requisite to make it operate on us by comparison.
Were it accompanied with belief, and did the person appear to have
the same merit which he assumes to himself, it would have a contrary
effect, and would operate on us by sympathy. The influence of that
principle would then be superior to that of comparison, contrary to
what happens where the person's merit seems below his pretensions.

The necessary consequence of these principles is, that pride, or
an overweening conceit of ourselves, must be vicious; since it
causes uneasiness in all men, and presents them every moment with a
disagreeable comparison. 'Tis a trite observation in philosophy, and
even in common life and conversation, that 'tis our own pride, which
makes us so much displeased with the pride of other people; and that
vanity becomes insupportable to us merely because we are vain. The gay
naturally associate themselves with the gay, and the amorous with the
amorous; but the proud never can endure the proud, and rather seek the
company of those who are of an opposite disposition. As we are all of
us proud in some degree, pride is universally blamed and condemned
by all mankind, as having a natural tendency to cause uneasiness in
others by means of comparison. And this effect must follow the more
naturally, that those, who have an ill-grounded conceit of themselves,
are for ever making those comparisons; nor have they any other method
of supporting their vanity. A man of sense and merit is pleased with
himself, independent of all foreign considerations; but a fool must
always find some person that is more foolish, in order to keep himself
in good humour with his own parts and understanding.

But though an overweening conceit of our own merit be vicious and
disagreeable, nothing can be more laudable than to have a value for
ourselves, where we really have qualities that are valuable. The
utility and advantage of any quality to ourselves is a source of
virtue, as well as its agreeableness to others; and 'tis certain, that
nothing is more useful to us in the conduct of life, than a due degree
of pride, which makes us sensible of our own merit, and gives us a
confidence and assurance in all our projects and enterprises. Whatever
capacity any one may be endowed with, 'tis entirely useless to him, if
he be not acquainted with it, and form not designs suitable to it. 'Tis
requisite on all occasions to know our own force; and were it allowable
to err on either side, 'twould be more advantageous to over-rate our
merit, than to form ideas of it below its just standard. Fortune
commonly favours the bold and enterprising; and nothing inspires us
with more boldness than a good opinion of ourselves.

Add to this, that though pride, or self-applause, be sometimes
disagreeable to others, 'tis always agreeable to ourselves; as, on the
other hand, modesty, though it give pleasure to every one who observes
it, produces often uneasiness in the person endowed with it. Now, it
has been observed, that our own sensations determine the vice and
virtue of any quality, as well as those sensations, which it may excite
in others.

Thus, self-satisfaction and vanity may not only be allowable, but
requisite in a character. 'Tis however certain, that good breeding and
decency require that we should avoid all signs and expressions, which
tend directly to show that passion. We have, all of us, a wonderful
partiality for ourselves, and were we always to give vent to our
sentiments in this particular, we should mutually cause the greatest
indignation in each other, not only by the immediate presence of so
disagreeable a subject of comparison, but also by the contrariety of
our judgments. In like manner, therefore, as we establish the _laws
of nature_, in order to secure property in society, and prevent the
opposition of self-interest, we establish the _rules of good breeding_,
in order to prevent the opposition of men's pride, and render
conversation agreeable and offensive. Nothing is more disagreeable than
a man's overweening conceit of himself. Every one almost has a strong
propensity to this vice. No one can well distinguish _in himself_
betwixt the vice and virtue, or be certain that his esteem of his
own merit is well-founded; for these reasons, all direct expressions
of this passion are condemned; nor do we make any exception to this
rule in favour of men of sense and merit. They are not allowed to do
themselves justice openly in words, no more than other people; and even
if they show a reserve and secret doubt in doing themselves justice
in their own thoughts, they will be more applauded. That impertinent,
and almost universal propensity of men, to overvalue themselves, has
given us such a _prejudice_ against self-applause, that we are apt to
condemn it by a _general rule_ wherever we meet with it; and 'tis with
some difficulty we give a privilege to men of sense, even in their
most secret thoughts. At least, it must be owned that some disguise in
this particular is absolutely requisite; and that, if we harbour pride
in our breasts, we must carry a fair outside, and have the appearance
of modesty and mutual deference in all our conduct and behaviour. We
must, on every occasion, be ready to prefer others to ourselves; to
treat them with a kind of deference, even though they be our equals; to
seem always the lowest and least in the company, where we are not very
much distinguished above them; and if we observe these rules in our
conduct, men will have more indulgence for our secret sentiments, when
we discover them in an oblique manner.

I believe no one who has any practice of the world, and can penetrate
into the inward sentiments of men, will assert that the humility which
good-breeding and decency require of us, goes beyond the outside,
or that a thorough sincerity in this particular is esteemed a real
part of our duty. On the contrary, we may observe, that a genuine and
hearty pride, or self-esteem, if well concealed and well founded, is
essential to the character of a man of honour, and that there is no
quality of the mind which is more indispensably requisite to procure
the esteem and approbation of mankind. There are certain deferences and
mutual submissions which custom requires of the different ranks of men
towards each other; and whoever exceeds in this particular, if through
interest, is accused of meanness, if through ignorance, of simplicity.
'Tis necessary, therefore, to know our rank and station in the world,
whether it be fixed by our birth, fortune, employments, talents, or
reputation. 'Tis necessary to feel the sentiment and passion of pride
in conformity to it, and to regulate our actions accordingly. And
should it be said, that prudence may suffice to regulate our actions in
this particular, without any real pride, I would observe, that here the
object of prudence is to conform our actions to the general usage and
custom; and that 'tis impossible those tacit airs of superiority should
ever have been established and authorized by custom, unless men were
generally proud, and unless that passion were generally approved, when

If we pass from common life and conversation to history, this reasoning
acquires new force, when we observe, that all those great actions and
sentiments which have become the admiration of mankind, are founded on
nothing but pride and self-esteem. 'Go,' says Alexander the Great to
his soldiers, when they refused to follow him to the Indies, 'go tell
your countrymen, that you left Alexander completing the conquest of
the world.' This passage was always particularly admired by the prince
of Condé, as we learn from St Evremond. 'Alexander,' said that prince,
'abandoned by his soldiers, among barbarians not yet fully subdued,
felt in himself such a dignity and right of empire, that he could not
believe it possible any one could refuse to obey him. Whether in Europe
or in Asia, among Greeks or Persians, all was indifferent to him;
wherever he found men, he fancied he had found subjects.'

In general, we may observe, that whatever we call _heroic virtue_,
and admire under the character of greatness and elevation of mind, is
either nothing but a steady and well-established pride and self-esteem,
or partakes largely of that passion. Courage, intrepidity, ambition,
love of glory, magnanimity, and all the other shining virtues of that
kind, have plainly a strong mixture of self-esteem in them, and derive
a great part of their merit from that origin. Accordingly we find,
that many religious declaimers decry those virtues as purely pagan
and natural, and represent to us the excellency of the _Christian_
religion, which places humility in the rank of virtues, and corrects
the judgment of the world, and even of philosophers, who so generally
admire all the efforts of pride and ambition. Whether this virtue of
humility has been rightly understood, I shall not pretend to determine.
I am content with the concession, that the world naturally esteems a
well-regulated pride, which secretly animates our conduct, without
breaking out into such indecent expressions of vanity as may offend the
vanity of others.

The merit of pride or self-esteem is derived from two circumstances,
viz. its utility, and its agreeableness to ourselves; by which it
capacitates us for business, and at the same time gives us an immediate
satisfaction. When it goes beyond its just bounds, it loses the first
advantage, and even becomes prejudicial; which is the reason why we
condemn an extravagant pride and ambition, however regulated by the
decorums of good-breeding and politeness. But as such a passion is
still agreeable, and conveys an elevated and sublime sensation to the
person who is actuated by it, the sympathy with that satisfaction
diminishes considerably the blame which naturally attends its dangerous
influence on our conduct and behaviour. Accordingly we may observe,
that an excessive courage and magnanimity, especially when it displays
itself under the frowns of fortune, contributes in a great measure to
the character of a hero, and will render a person the admiration of
posterity, at the same time that it ruins his affairs, and leads him
into dangers and difficulties with which otherwise he would never have
been acquainted.

Heroism, or military glory, is much admired by the generality of
mankind. They consider it as the most sublime kind of merit. Men
of cool reflection are not so sanguine in their praises of it. The
infinite confusions and disorder which it has caused in the world,
diminish much of its merit in their eyes. When they would oppose the
popular notions on this head, they always paint out the evils which
this supposed virtue has produced in human society; the subversion of
empires, the devastation of provinces, the sack of cities. As long as
these are present to us, we are more inclined to hate than admire the
ambition of heroes. But when we fix our view on the person himself,
who is the author of all this mischief, there is something so dazzling
in his character, the mere contemplation of it so elevates the mind,
that we cannot refuse it our admiration. The pain which we receive from
its tendency to the prejudice of society, is overpowered by a stronger
and more immediate sympathy.

Thus, our explication of the merit or demerit which attends the
degrees of pride or self-esteem, may serve as a strong argument for
the preceding hypothesis, by showing the effects of those principles
above explained in all the variations of our judgments concerning
that passion. Nor will this reasoning be advantageous to us only by
showing, that the distinction of vice and virtue arises from the _four_
principles of the _advantage_ and of the _pleasure_ of the _person
himself_ and of _others_, but may also afford us a strong proof of some
under parts of that hypothesis.

No one who duly considers of this matter will make any scruple of
allowing, that any piece of ill-breeding, or any expression of pride
and haughtiness, is displeasing to us, merely because it shocks our
own pride, and leads us by sympathy into a comparison which causes the
disagreeable passion of humility. Now, as an insolence of this kind
is blamed even in a person who has always been civil to ourselves in
particular, nay, in one whose name is only known to us in history, it
follows that our disapprobation proceeds from a sympathy with others,
and from the reflection that such a character is highly displeasing
and odious to every one who converses or has any intercourse with
the person possest of it. We sympathize with those people in their
uneasiness; and as their uneasiness proceeds in part from a sympathy
with the person who insults them, we may here observe a double rebound
of the sympathy, which is a principle very similar to what we have
observed on another occasion.[5]

[1] Decentior equus cujus astricta sunt ilia; sed idem velocior.
Pulcher aspectu sit athleta, cujus lacertos exercitatio expressit; idem
certamini paratior. Nunquam vero _species ab utilitate_ dividitur. Sed
hoc quidem discernere, modici judicii est.--Quinct. lib. 8.

[2] Book II. Part II. Sect 8.


Suavi mari magno turbantibus æquora ventis E terra magnum alterius
spectare laborem; Non quia vexari quenquam est jucunda voluptas, Sed
quibus ipse malis careas quia cernere suav'est.--_Lucret_.

[4] Book II. Part II. Sect 10.



Having thus explained the origin of that praise and approbation which
attends every thing we call _great_ in human affections, we now proceed
to give an account of their _goodness_, and show whence its merit is

When experience has once given us a competent knowledge of human
affairs, and has taught us the proportion they bear to human passion,
we perceive that the generosity of men is very limited, and that it
seldom extends beyond their friends and family, or, at most, beyond
their native country. Being thus acquainted with the nature of man,
we expect not any impossibilities from him; but confine our view to
that narrow circle in which any person moves, in order to form a
judgment of his moral character. When the natural tendency of his
passions leads him to be serviceable and useful within his sphere,
we approve of his character, and love his person, by a sympathy with
the sentiments of those who have a more particular connexion with
him. We are quickly obliged to forget get our own interest in our
judgments of this kind, by reason of the perpetual contradictions
we meet with in society and conversation, from persons that are not
placed in the same situation, and have not the same interest with
ourselves. The only point of view in which our sentiments concur with
those of others, is when we consider the tendency of any passion to
the advantage or harm of those who have any immediate connexion or
intercourse with the person possessed of it. And though this advantage
or harm be often very remote from ourselves, yet sometimes 'tis very
near us, and interests us strongly by sympathy. This concern we
readily extend to other cases that are resembling; and when these are
very remote, our sympathy is proportionably weaker, and our praise or
blame fainter and more doubtful. The case is here the same as in our
judgments concerning external bodies. All objects seem to diminish by
their distance; but though the appearance of objects to our senses
be the original standard by which we judge of them, yet we do not
say that they actually diminish by the distance; but, correcting the
appearance by reflection, arrive at a more constant and established
judgment concerning them. In like manner, though sympathy be much
fainter than our concern for ourselves, and a sympathy with persons
remote from us much fainter than that with persons near and contiguous,
yet we neglect all these differences in our calm judgments concerning
the characters of men. Besides that we ourselves often change our
situation in this particular, we every day meet with persons who are
in a different situation from ourselves, and who could never converse
with us on any reasonable terms, were we to remain constantly in that
situation and point of view which is peculiar to us. The intercourse
of sentiments, therefore, in society and conversation, makes us form
some general unalterable standard by which we may approve or disapprove
of characters and manners. And though the _heart_ does not always take
part with those general notions, or regulate its love and hatred by
them, yet are they sufficient for discourse, and serve all our purposes
in company, in the pulpit, on the theatre, and in the schools.

From these principles, we may easily account for that merit which is
commonly ascribed to _generosity, humanity, compassion, gratitude,
friendship, fidelity, zeal, disinterestedness, liberality_, and all
those other qualities which form the character of good and benevolent.
A propensity to the tender passions makes a man agreeable and useful
in all the parts of life, and gives a just direction to all his other
qualities, which otherwise may become prejudicial to society. Courage
and ambition, when not regulated by benevolence, are fit only to make
a tyrant and public robber. 'Tis the same case with judgment and
capacity, and all the qualities of that kind. They are indifferent in
themselves to the interests of society, and have a tendency to the
good or ill of mankind, according as they are directed by these other

As love is _immediately agreeable_ to the person who is actuated by it,
and hatred _immediately disagreeable_, this may also be a considerable
reason why we praise all the passions that partake of the former,
and blame all those that have any considerable share of the latter.
'Tis certain we are infinitely touched with a tender sentiment, as
well as with a great one. The tears naturally start in our eyes at
the conception of it; nor can we forbear giving a loose to the same
tenderness towards the person who exerts it. All this seems to me a
proof that our approbation has, in these cases, an origin different
from the prospect of utility and advantage, either to ourselves or
others. To which we may add, that men naturally, without reflection,
approve of that character which is most like their own. The man of a
mild disposition and tender affections, in forming a notion of the
most perfect virtue, mixes in it more of benevolence and humanity than
the man of courage and enterprise, who naturally looks upon a certain
elevation of the mind as the most accomplished character. This must
evidently proceed from an _immediate_ sympathy, which men have with
characters similar to their own. They enter with more warmth into such
sentiments, and feel more sensibly the pleasure which arises from them.

'Tis remarkable, that nothing touches a man of humanity more than
any instance of extraordinary delicacy in love or friendship, where
a person is attentive to the smallest concerns of his friend, and is
willing to sacrifice to them the most considerable interest of his own.
Such delicacies have little influence on society; because they make
us regard the greatest trifles: but they are the more engaging the
more minute the concern is, and are a proof of the highest merit in
any one who is capable of them. The passions are so contagious, that
they pass with the greatest facility from one person to another, and
produce correspondent movements in all human breasts. Where friendship
appears in very signal instances, my heart catches the same passion,
and is warmed by those warm sentiments that display themselves before
me. Such agreeable, movements must give me an affection to every one
that excites them. This is the case with every thing that is agreeable
in any person. The transition from pleasure to love is easy: but the
transition must here be still more easy; since the agreeable sentiment
which is excited by sympathy, is love itself; and there is nothing
required but to change the object.

Hence the peculiar merit of benevolence in all its shapes and
appearances. Hence even its weaknesses are virtuous and amiable; and a
person, whose grief upon the loss of a friend were excessive, would be
esteemed upon that account. His tenderness bestows a merit, as it does
a pleasure, on his melancholy.

We are not, however, to imagine that all the angry passions are
vicious, though they are disagreeable. There is a certain indulgence
due to human nature in this respect. Anger and hatred are passions
inherent in our very frame and constitution. The want of them, on some
occasions, may even be a proof of weakness and imbecility. And where
they appear only in a low degree, we not only excuse them because they
are natural, but even bestow our applauses on them, because they are
inferior to what appears in the greatest part of mankind.

Where these angry passions rise up to cruelty, they form the most
detested of all vices. All the pity and concern which we have for the
miserable sufferers by this vice, turns against the person guilty of
it, and produces a stronger hatred than we are sensible of on any other

Even when the vice of inhumanity rises not to this extreme degree, our
sentiments concerning it are very much influenced by reflections on
the harm that results from it. And we may observe in general, that if
we can find any quality in a person, which renders him incommodious
to those who live and converse with him, we always allow it to be a
fault or blemish, without any farther examination. On the other hand,
when we enumerate the good qualities of any person, we always mention
those parts of his character which render him a safe companion, an easy
friend, a gentle master, an agreeable husband, or an indulgent father.
We consider him with all his relations in society; and love or hate
him, according as he affects those who have any immediate intercourse
with him. And 'tis a most certain rule, that if there be no relation
of life in which I could not wish to stand to a particular person, his
character must so far be allowed to be perfect. If he be as little
wanting to himself as to others, his character is entirely perfect.
This is the ultimate test of merit and virtue.

[5] Book II. Part II. Sect. 5.



No distinction is more usual in all systems of ethics, than that
betwixt _natural abilities_ and _moral virtues_; where the former are
placed on the same footing with bodily endowments, and are supposed
to have no merit or moral worth annexed to them. Whoever considers
the matter accurately, will find, that a dispute upon this head would
be merely a dispute of words, and that, though these qualities are
not altogether of the same kind, yet they agree in the most material
circumstances. They are both of them equally mental qualities: and both
of them equally produce pleasure; and have of course an equal tendency
to procure the love and esteem of mankind. There are few who are not as
jealous of their character, with regard to sense and knowledge, as to
honour and courage; and much more than with regard to temperance and
sobriety. Men are even afraid of passing for good-natured, lest _that_
should be taken for want of understanding; and often boast of more
debauches than they have been really engaged in, to give themselves
airs of fire and spirit. In short, the figure a man makes in the
world, the reception he meets with in company, the esteem paid him
by his acquaintance; all these advantages depend almost as much upon
his good sense and judgment, as upon any other part of his character.
Let a man have the best intentions in the world, and be the farthest
from all injustice and violence, he will never be able to make himself
be much regarded, without a moderate share, at least, of parts and
understanding. Since then natural abilities, though perhaps inferior,
yet are on the same footing, both as to their causes and effects, with
those qualities which we call moral virtues, why should we make any
distinction betwixt them?

Though we refuse to natural abilities the title of virtues, we must
allow, that they procure the love and esteem of mankind; that they give
a new lustre to the other virtues; and that a man possessed of them is
much more entitled to our good will and services than one entirely void
of them. It may indeed be pretended, that the sentiment of approbation
which those qualities produce, besides its being _inferior_, is also
somewhat _different_ from that which attends the other virtues. But
this, in my opinion, is not a sufficient reason for excluding them
from the catalogue of virtues. Each of the virtues, even benevolence,
justice, gratitude, integrity, excites a different sentiment or
feeling in the spectator. The characters of Cæsar and Cato, as drawn by
Sallust, are both of them virtuous, in the strictest sense of the word,
but in a different way: nor are the sentiments entirely the same which
arise from them. The one produces love, the other esteem; the one is
amiable, the other awful: we could wish to meet with the one character
in a friend, the other character we would be ambitious of in ourselves.
In like manner, the approbation which attends natural abilities, may
be somewhat different to the feeling from that which arises from the
other virtues, without making them entirely of a different species. And
indeed we may observe, that the natural abilities, no more than the
other virtues, produce not, all of them, the same kind of approbation.
Good sense and genius beget esteem; wit and humour excite love.[6]

Those who represent the distinction betwixt natural abilities and
moral virtues as very material, may say, that the former are entirely
involuntary, and have therefore no merit attending them, as having no
dependence on liberty and free will. But to this I answer, _first_,
That many of those qualities which all moralists, especially the
ancients, comprehend under the title of moral virtues, are equally
involuntary and necessary with the qualities of the judgment and
imagination. Of this nature are constancy, fortitude, magnanimity;
and, in short, all the qualities which form the _great_ man. I might
say the same, in some degree, of the others; it being almost impossible
for the mind to change its character in any considerable article, or
cure itself of a passionate or splenetic temper, when they are natural
to it. The greater degree there is of these blameable qualities,
the more vicious they become, and yet they are the less voluntary.
_Secondly_, I would have any one give me a reason, why virtue and vice
may not be involuntary, as well as beauty and deformity. These moral
distinctions arise from the natural distinctions of pain and pleasure;
and when we receive those feelings from the general consideration
of any quality or character, we denominate it vicious or virtuous.
Now I believe no one will assert, that a quality can never produce
pleasure or pain to the person who considers it, unless it be perfectly
voluntary in the person who possesses it. _Thirdly_, As to free will,
we have shown that it has no place with regard to the actions, no more
than the qualities of men. It is not a just consequence, that what is
voluntary is free. Our actions are more voluntary than our judgments;
but we have not more liberty in the one than in the other.

But, though this distinction betwixt voluntary and involuntary, be not
sufficient to justify the distinction betwixt natural abilities and
moral virtues, yet the former distinction will afford us a plausible
reason, why moralists have invented the latter. Men have observed,
that, though natural abilities and moral qualities be in the main on
the same footing, there is, however, this difference betwixt them,
that the former are almost invariable by any art or industry; while
the latter, or at least the actions that proceed from them, may be
changed by the motives of rewards and punishment, praise and blame.
Hence legislators and divines and moralists have principally applied
themselves to the regulating these voluntary actions, and have
endeavoured to produce additional motives for being virtuous in that
particular. They knew, that to punish a man for folly, or exhort him to
be prudent and sagacious, would have but little effect; though the same
punishments and exhortations, with regard to justice and injustice,
might have a considerable influence. But as men, in common life and
conversation, do not carry those ends in view, but naturally praise
or blame whatever pleases or displeases them, they do not seem much
to regard this distinction, but consider prudence under the character
of virtue as well as benevolence, and penetration as well as justice.
Nay, we find that all moralists, whose judgment is not perverted by a
strict adherence to a system, enter into the same way of thinking; and
that the ancient moralists, in particular, made no scruple of placing
prudence at the head of the cardinal virtues. There is a sentiment
of esteem and approbation, which may be excited, in some degree, by
any faculty of the mind, in its perfect state and condition; and to
account for this sentiment is the business of _philosophers_. It
belongs to _grammarians_ to examine what qualities are entitled to the
denomination of _virtue_; nor will they find, upon trial, that this is
so easy a task as at first sight they may be apt to imagine.

The principal reason why natural abilities are esteemed, is because
of their tendency to be useful to the person who is possessed of
them. 'Tis impossible to execute any design with success, where it is
not conducted with prudence and discretion; nor will the goodness
of our intentions alone suffice to procure us a happy issue to our
enterprises. Men are superior to beasts principally by the superiority
of their reason; and they are the degrees of the same faculty, which
set such an infinite difference betwixt one man and another. All the
advantages of art are owing to human reason; and where fortune is not
very capricious, the most considerable part of these advantages must
fall to the share of the prudent and sagacious.

When it is asked, whether a quick or a slow apprehension be most
valuable? whether one, that at first view penetrates into a subject,
but can perform nothing upon study; or a contrary character, which must
work out every thing by dint of application? whether a clear head, or
a copious invention? whether a profound genius, or a sure judgment? in
short, what character, or peculiar understanding, is more excellent
than another? 'Tis evident we can answer none of these questions,
without considering which of those qualities capacitates a man best for
the world, and carries him farthest in any of his undertakings.

There are many other qualities of the mind, whose merit is derived
from the same origin. _Industry, perseverance, patience, activity,
vigilance, application, constancy_, with other virtues of that kind,
which 'twill be easy to recollect, are esteemed valuable upon no other
account than their advantage in the conduct of life. 'Tis the same case
with _temperance, frugality, economy, resolution_; as, on the other
hand, _prodigality, luxury, irresolution, uncertainty_, are vicious,
merely because they draw ruin upon us, and incapacitate us for business
and action.

As wisdom and good sense are valued because they are _useful_ to the
person possessed of them, so _wit_ and _eloquence_ are valued because
they are _immediately agreeable_ to others. On the other hand, _good
humour_ is loved and esteemed, because it is _immediately agreeable_ to
the person himself. 'Tis evident, that the conversation of a man of wit
is very satisfactory; as a cheerful good-humoured companion diffuses
a joy over the whole company, from a sympathy with his gaiety. These
qualities, therefore, being agreeable, they naturally beget love and
esteem, and answer to all the characters of virtue.

'Tis difficult to tell, on many occasions, what it is that renders one
man's conversation so agreeable and entertaining, and another's so
insipid and distasteful. As conversation is a transcript of the mind as
well as books, the same qualities which render the one valuable must
give us an esteem for the other. This we shall consider afterwards.
In the mean time, it may be affirmed in general, that all the merit
a man may derive from his conversation (which, no doubt, may be very
considerable) arises from nothing but the pleasure it conveys to those
who are present.

In this view, _cleanliness_ is also to be regarded as a virtue,
since it naturally renders us agreeable to others, and is a very
considerable source of love and affection. No one will deny that a
negligence in this particular is a fault; and as faults are nothing
but smaller vices, and this fault can have no other origin than the
uneasy sensation which it excites in others, we may in this instance,
seemingly so trivial, clearly discover the origin of the moral
distinction of vice and virtue in other instances.

Besides all those qualities which render a person lovely or valuable,
there is also a certain _je-ne-sçai-quoi_ of agreeable and handsome
that concurs to the same effect. In this case, as well as in that of
wit and eloquence, we must have recourse to a certain sense, which
acts without reflection, and regards not the tendencies of qualities
and characters. Some moralists account for all the sentiments of
virtue by this sense. Their hypothesis is very plausible. Nothing but
a particular inquiry can give the preference to any other hypothesis.
When we find that almost all the virtues have such particular
tendencies, and also find that these tendencies are sufficient alone to
give a strong sentiment of approbation, we cannot doubt, after this,
that qualities are approved of in proportion to the advantage which
results from them.

The _decorum_ or _indecorum_ of a quality, with regard to the age,
or character, or station, contributes also to its praise or blame.
This decorum depends in a great measure upon experience. 'Tis usual
to see men lose their levity as they advance in years. Such a degree
of gravity, therefore, and such years, are connected together in our
thoughts. When we observe, them separated in any person's character,
this imposes a kind of violence on our imagination, and is disagreeable.

That faculty of the soul which, of all others, is of the least
consequence to the character, and has the least virtue or vice in its
several degrees, at the same time that it admits of a great variety
of degrees, is the _memory_. Unless it rise up to that stupendous
height as to surprise us, or sink so low as in some measure to affect
the judgment, we commonly take no notice of its variations, nor ever
mention them to the praise or dispraise of any person. 'Tis so far
from being a virtue to have a good memory, that men generally affect
to complain of a bad one; and, endeavouring to persuade the world
that what they say is entirely of their own invention, sacrifice it
to the praise of genius and judgment. Yet, to consider the matter
abstractedly,'twould be difficult to give a reason why the faculty
of recalling past ideas with truth and clearness, should not have as
much merit in it as the faculty of placing our present ideas in such
an order as to form true propositions and opinions. The reason of the
difference certainly must be, that the memory is exerted without any
sensation of pleasure or pain, and in all its middling degrees serves
almost equally well in business and affairs. But the least variations
in the judgment are sensibly felt in their consequences; while at
the same time that faculty is never exerted in any eminent degree,
without an extraordinary delight and satisfaction. The sympathy with
this utility and pleasure bestows a merit on the understanding; and
the absence of it makes us consider the memory as a faculty very
indifferent to blame or praise.

Before I leave this subject of _natural abilities_, I must observe,
that perhaps one source of the esteem and affection which attends
them, is derived from the _importance_ and _weight_ which they bestow
on the person possessed of them. He becomes of greater consequence
in life. His resolutions and actions affect a greater number of his
fellow-creatures. Both his friendship and enmity are of moment. And
'tis easy to observe, that whoever is elevated, after this manner,
above the rest of mankind, must excite in us the sentiments of esteem
and approbation. Whatever is important engages our attention, fixes
our thought, and is contemplated with satisfaction. The histories of
kingdoms are more interesting than domestic stories; the histories of
great empires more than those of small cities and principalities; and
the histories of wars and revolutions more than those of peace and
order. We sympathize with the persons that suffer, in all the various
sentiments which belong to their fortunes. The mind is occupied by
the multitude of the objects, and by the strong passions that display
themselves. And this occupation or agitation of the mind is commonly
agreeable and amusing. The same theory accounts for the esteem and
regard we pay to men of extraordinary parts and abilities. The good
and ill of multitudes are connected with their actions. Whatever they
undertake is important, and challenges our attention. Nothing is to be
overlooked and despised that regards them. And where any person can
excite these sentiments, he soon acquires our esteem, unless other
circumstances of his character render him odious and disagreeable.

[6] Love and esteem are at the bottom the same passions, and arise from
like causes. The qualities that produce both are agreeable, and give
pleasure. But where this pleasure is severe and serious; or where its
object is great, and makes a strong impression; or where it produces
any degree of humility and awe: in all these cases, the passion which
arises from the pleasure is more properly denominated esteem than love.
Benevolence attends both; but is connected with love in a more eminent



It has been observed, in treating of the Passions, that pride
and humility, love and hatred, are excited by any advantages or
disadvantages of the _mind, body_, or _fortune_; and that these
advantages or disadvantages have that effect by producing a separate
impression of pain or pleasure. The pain or pleasure which arises from
the general survey or view of any action or quality of the _mind_,
constitutes its vice or virtue, and gives rise to our approbation
or blame, which is nothing but a fainter and more imperceptible love
or hatred. We have assigned four different sources of this pain and
pleasure; and, in order to justify more fully that hypothesis, it may
here be proper to observe, that the advantages or disadvantages of
the _body_ and of _fortune_, produce a pain or pleasure from the very
same principles. The tendency of any object to be _useful_ to the
person possessed of it, or to others; to convey _pleasure_ to him or
to others; all these circumstances convey an immediate pleasure to the
person who considers the object, and command his love and approbation.

To begin with the advantages of the _body_; we may observe a phenomenon
which might appear somewhat trivial and ludicrous, if any thing
could be trivial which fortified a conclusion of such importance, or
ludicrous, which was employed in a philosophical reasoning. 'Tis a
general remark, that those we call good _women's men_, who have either
signalized themselves by their amorous exploits, or whose make of body
promises any extraordinary vigour of that kind, are well received by
the fair sex, and naturally engage the affections even of those whose
virtue prevents any design of ever giving employment to those talents.
Here 'tis evident that the ability of such a person to give enjoyment,
is the real source of that love and esteem he meets with among the
females; at the same time that the women who love and esteem him have
no prospect of receiving that enjoyment themselves, and can only be
affected by means of their sympathy with one that has a commerce of
love with him. This instance is singular, and merits our attention.

Another source of the pleasure we receive from considering bodily
advantages, is their utility to the person himself who is possessed of
them. 'Tis certain, that a considerable part of the beauty of men, as
well as of other animals, consists in such a conformation of members as
we find by experience to be attended with strength and agility, and to
capacitate the creature for any action or exercise. Broad shoulders,
a lank belly, firm joints, taper legs; all these are beautiful in our
species, because they are signs of force and vigour, which, being
advantages we naturally sympathize with, they convey to the beholder a
share of that satisfaction they produce in the possessor.

So far as to the _utility_ which may attend any quality of the body.
As to the immediate _pleasure_, 'tis certain that an air of health, as
well as of strength and agility, makes a considerable part of beauty;
and that a sickly air in another is always disagreeable, upon account
of that idea of pain and uneasiness which it conveys to us. On the
other hand, we are pleased with the regularity of our own features,
though it be neither useful to ourselves nor others; and 'tis necessary
for us in some measure to set ourselves at a distance, to make it
convey to us any satisfaction. We commonly consider ourselves as we
appear in the eyes of others, and sympathize with the advantageous
sentiments they entertain with regard to us.

How far the advantages of _fortune_ produce esteem and approbation
from the same principles, we may satisfy ourselves by reflecting on
our precedent reasoning on that subject. We have observed, that our
approbation of those who are possessed of the advantages of fortune,
may be ascribed to three different causes. _First_, To that immediate
pleasure which a rich man gives us, by the view of the beautiful
clothes, equipage, gardens, or houses, which he possesses. _Secondly_,
To the advantage which we hope to reap from him by his generosity and
liberality. _Thirdly_, To the pleasure and advantage which he himself
reaps from his possessions, and which produce an agreeable sympathy
in us. Whether we ascribe our esteem of the rich and great to one or
all of these causes, we may clearly see the traces of those principles
which give rise to the sense of vice and virtue. I believe most people,
at first sight, will be inclined to ascribe our esteem of the rich
to self-interest and the prospect of advantage. But as 'tis certain
that our esteem or deference extends beyond any prospect of advantage
to ourselves, 'tis evident that that sentiment must proceed from a
sympathy with those who are dependent on the person we esteem and
respect, and who have an immediate connexion with him. We consider him
as a person capable of contributing to the happiness or enjoyment of
his fellow-creatures, whose sentiments with regard to him we naturally
embrace. And this consideration will serve to justify my hypothesis in
preferring the _third_ principle to the other two, and ascribing our
esteem of the rich to a sympathy with the pleasure and advantage which
they themselves receive from their possessions. For as even the other
two principles cannot operate to a due extent, or account for all the
phenomena without having recourse to a sympathy of one kind or other,
'tis much more natural to choose that sympathy which is immediate and
direct, than that which is remote and indirect. To which we may add,
that where the riches or power are very great, and render the person
considerable and important, in the world, tire esteem attending them
may in part be ascribed to another source, distinct from these three,
viz. their interesting the mind by a prospect of the multitude and
importance of their consequences; though, in order to account for the
operation of this principle, we must also have recourse to _sympathy_,
as we have observed in the preceding section.

It may not be amiss, on this occasion, to remark the flexibility of
our sentiments, and the several changes they so readily receive from
the objects with which they are conjoined. All the sentiments of
approbation which attend any particular species of objects, have a
great resemblance to each other, though derived from different sources;
and, on the other hand, those sentiments, when directed to different
objects, are different to the feeling, though derived from the same
source. Thus, the beauty of all visible objects causes a pleasure
pretty much the same, though it be sometimes derived from the mere
_species_ and appearance of the objects; sometimes from sympathy,
and an idea of their utility. In like manner, whenever we survey the
actions and characters of men, without any particular interest in them,
the pleasure or pain which arises from the survey (with some minute
differences) is in the main of the same kind, though perhaps there be
a great diversity in the causes from which it is derived. On the other
hand, a convenient house and a virtuous character cause not the same
feeling of approbation, even though the source of our approbation be
the same, and flow from sympathy and an idea of their utility. There
is something very inexplicable in this variation of our feelings; but
'tis what we have experience of with regard to all our passions and



Thus, upon the whole, I am hopeful that nothing is wanting to an
accurate proof of this system of ethics. We are certain that sympathy
is a very powerful principle in human nature. We are also certain
that it has a great influence on our sense of beauty, when we regard
external objects, as well as when we judge of morals. We find that
it has force sufficient to give us the strongest sentiments of
approbation, when it operates alone, without the concurrence of any
other principle; as in the cases of justice, allegiance, chastity, and
good manners. We may observe, that all the circumstances requisite for
its operation are found in most of the virtues, which have, for the
most part, a tendency to the good of society, or to that of the person
possessed of them. If we compare all these circumstances, we shall
not doubt that sympathy is the chief source of moral distinctions;
especially when we reflect, that no objection can be raised against
this hypothesis in one case, which will not extend to all cases.
Justice is certainly approved of, for no other reason than because it
has a tendency to the public good; and the public good is indifferent
to us, except so far as sympathy interests us in it. We may presume the
like with regard to all the other virtues, which have a like tendency
to the public good. They must derive all their merit from our sympathy
with those who reap any advantage from them; as the virtues, which have
a tendency to the good of the person possessed of them, derive their
merit from our sympathy with him.

Most people will readily allow, that the useful qualities of the
mind are virtuous, because of their utility. This way of thinking is
so natural, and occurs on so many occasions, that few will make any
scruple of admitting it. Now, this being once admitted, the force of
sympathy must necessarily be acknowledged. Virtue is considered as
means to an end. Means to an end are only valued so far as the end is
valued. But the happiness of strangers affects us by sympathy alone.
To that principle, therefore, we are to ascribe the sentiment of
approbation which arises from the survey of all those virtues that are
useful to society, or to the person possessed of them. These form the
most considerable part of morality.

Were it proper, in such a subject, to bribe the reader's assent, or
employ any thing but solid argument, we are here abundantly supplied
with topics to engage the affections. All lovers of virtue (and such
we all are in speculation, however we may degenerate in practice)
must certainly be pleased to see moral distinctions derived from so
noble a source, which gives us a just notion both of the _generosity_
and _capacity_ of human nature. It requires but very little knowledge
of human affairs to perceive, that a sense of morals is a principle
inherent in the soul, and one of the most powerful that enters into
the composition. But this sense must certainly acquire new force when,
reflecting on itself, it approves of those principles from whence it is
derived, and finds nothing but what is great and good in its rise and
origin. Those who resolve the sense of morals into original instincts
of the human mind, may defend the cause of virtue with sufficient
authority, but want the advantage which those possess who account for
that sense by an extensive sympathy with mankind. According to their
system, not only virtue must be approved of, but also the sense of
virtue: and not only that sense, but also the principles from whence
it is derived. So that nothing is presented on any side but what is
laudable and good.

This observation may be extended to justice, and the other virtues of
that kind. Though justice be artificial, the sense of its morality is
natural. 'Tis the combination of men in a system of conduct, which
renders any act of justice beneficial to society. But when once it has
that tendency, we _naturally_ approve of it; and if we did not so,
'tis impossible any combination or convention could ever produce that

Most of the inventions of men are subject to change. They depend upon
humour and caprice. They have a vogue for a time, and then sink into
oblivion. It may perhaps be apprehended, that if justice were allowed
to be a human invention, it must be placed on the same footing. But the
cases are widely different. The interest on which justice is founded is
the greatest imaginable, and extends to all times and places. It cannot
possibly be served by any other invention. It is obvious, and discovers
itself on the very first formation of society. All these causes render
the rules of justice steadfast and immutable; at least, as immutable
as human nature. And if they were founded on original instincts, could
they have any greater stability?

The same system may help us to form a just notion of the _happiness_,
as well as of the _dignity_ of virtue, and may interest every principle
of our nature in the embracing and cherishing that noble quality. Who
indeed does not feel an accession of alacrity in his pursuits of
knowledge and ability of every kind, when he considers, that besides
the advantages which immediately result from these acquisitions, they
also give him a new lustre in the eyes of mankind, and are universally
attended with esteem and approbation? And who can think any advantages
of fortune a sufficient compensation for the least breach of the
_social_ virtues, when he considers, that not only his character with
regard to others, but also his peace and inward satisfaction entirely
depend upon his strict observance of them; and that a mind will never
be able to bear its own survey, that has been wanting in its parts to
mankind and society? But I forbear insisting on this subject. Such
reflections require a work apart, very different from the genius of
the present. The anatomist ought never to emulate the painter; nor
in his accurate dissections and portraitures of the smaller parts of
the human body, pretend to give his figures any graceful and engaging
attitude or expression. There is even something hideous, or at least
minute, in the views of things which he presents; and 'tis necessary
the objects should be set more at a distance, and be more covered
up from sight, to make them engaging to the eye and imagination. An
anatomist, however, is admirably fitted to give advice to a painter;
and 'tis even impracticable to excel in the latter art, without the
assistance of the former. We must have an exact knowledge of the parts,
their situation and connection, before we can design with any elegance
or correctness. And thus the most abstract speculations concerning
human nature, however cold and unentertaining, become subservient to
_practical morality_; and may render this latter science more correct
in its precepts, and more persuasive in its exhortations.

See Appendix at the end of the volume.





It has been remarked, my Hermippus, that though the ancient
philosophers conveyed most of their instruction in the form of
dialogue, this method of composition has been little practised in
later ages, and has seldom succeeded in the hands of those who have
attempted it. Accurate and regular argument, indeed, such as is now
expected of philosophical inquirers, naturally throws a man into the
methodical and didactic manner; where he can immediately, without
preparation, explain the point at which he aims; and thence proceed,
without interruption, to deduce the proofs on which it is established.
To deliver a *SYSTEM in conversation, scarcely appears natural; and
while the dialogue-writer desires, by departing from the direct style
of composition, to give a freer air to his performance, and avoid the
appearance of _Author_ and _Reader_, he is apt to run into a worse
inconvenience, and convey the image of _Pedagogue_ and _Pupil_. Or,
if he carries on the dispute in the natural spirit of good company,
by throwing in a variety of topics, and preserving a proper balance
among the speakers, he often loses so much time in preparations and
transitions, that the reader will scarcely think himself compensated,
by all the graces of dialogue, for the order, brevity and precision,
which are sacrificed to them.

There are some subjects, however, to which dialogue-writing is
peculiarly adapted, and where it is still preferable to the direct and
simple method of composition.

Any point of doctrine, which is so _obvious_ that it scarcely admits
of dispute, but at the same time so _important_ that it cannot be too
often inculcated, seems to require some such method of handling it;
where the novelty of the manner may compensate the triteness of the
subject; where the vivacity of conversation may enforce the precept;
and where the variety of lights, presented by various personages and
characters, may appear neither tedious nor redundant.

Any question of philosophy, on the other hand, which is so _obscure_
and _uncertain_, that human reason, can reach no fixed determination
with regard to it; if it should be treated at all, seems to lead us
naturally into the style of dialogue and conversation. Reasonable men
may be allowed to differ, where no one can reasonably be positive:
Opposite sentiments, even without any decision, afford an agreeable
amusement; and if the subject be curious and interesting, the book
carries us, in a manner, into company; and unites the two greatest and
purest pleasures of human life, study and society.

Happily, these circumstances are all to be found in the subject of
NATURAL RELIGION. What truth so obvious, so certain, as the being of a
God, which the most ignorant ages have acknowledged, for which the most
refined geniuses have ambitiously striven to produce new proofs and
arguments? What truth so important as this, which is the ground of all
our hopes, the surest foundation of morality, the firmest support of
society, and the only principle which ought never to be a moment absent
from our thoughts and meditations? But, in treating of this obvious and
important truth, what obscure questions occur concerning the nature of
that Divine Being, his attributes, his decrees, his plan of providence?
These have been always subjected to the disputations of men; concerning
these human reason has not reached any certain determination. But
these are topics so interesting, that we cannot restrain our restless
inquiry with regard to them; though nothing but doubt, uncertainty
and contradiction, have as yet been the result of our most accurate

This I had lately occasion to observe, while I passed, as usual,
part of the summer season with Cleanthes, and was present at those
conversations of his with Philo and Demea, of which I gave you lately
some imperfect account. Your curiosity, you then told me, was so
excited, that I must, of necessity, enter into a more exact detail of
their reasonings, and display those various systems which they advanced
with regard to so delicate a subject as that of natural religion. The
remarkable contrast in their characters still farther raised your
expectations; while you opposed the accurate philosophical turn of
Cleanthes to the careless scepticism of Philo, or compared either of
their dispositions with the rigid inflexible orthodoxy of Demea. My
youth rendered me a mere auditor of their disputes; and that curiosity,
natural to the early season of life, has so deeply imprinted in my
memory the whole chain and connexion of their arguments, that, I hope,
I shall not omit or confound any considerable part of them in the


After I joined the company, whom I found sitting in Cleanthes's
library, Demea paid Cleanthes some compliments on the great care
which he took of my education, and on his unwearied perseverance and
constancy in all his friendships. The father of Pamphilus, said he, was
your intimate friend: The son is your pupil; and may indeed be regarded
as your adopted son, were we to judge by the pains which you bestow in
conveying to him every useful branch of literature and science. You
are no more wanting, I am persuaded, in prudence than in industry. I
shall, therefore, communicate to you a maxim, which I have observed
with regard to my own children, that I may learn how far it agrees with
your practice. The method I follow in their education is founded on
the saying of an ancient, 'That students of philosophy ought first to
learn logics, then ethics, next physics, last of all the nature of the
gods.'[1] This science of natural theology, according to him, being the
most profound and abstruse of any, required the maturest judgment in
its students; and none but a mind enriched with all the other sciences,
can safely be intrusted with it.

Are you so late, says Philo, in teaching your children the principles
of religion? Is there no danger of their neglecting, or rejecting
altogether those opinions of which they have heard so little during
the whole course of their education? It is only as a science, replied
Demea, subjected to human reasoning and disputation, that I postpone
the study of Natural Theology. To season their minds with early piety,
is my chief care; and by continual precept and instruction, and I hope
too by example, I imprint deeply on their tender minds an habitual
reverence for all the principles of religion. While they pass through
every other science, I still remark the uncertainty of each part;
the eternal disputations of men; the obscurity of all philosophy;
and the strange, ridiculous conclusions, which some of the greatest
geniuses have derived from the principles of mere human reason. Having
thus tamed their mind to a proper submission and self-diffidence, I
have no longer any scruple of opening to them the greatest mysteries
of religion; nor apprehend any danger from that assuming arrogance
of philosophy, which may lead them to reject the most established
doctrines and opinions.

Your precaution, says, Philo, of seasoning your childrens minds early
with piety, is certainly very reasonable; and no more than is requisite
in this profane and irreligious age. But what I chiefly admire in your
plan of education, is your method of drawing advantage from the very
principles of philosophy and learning, which, by inspiring pride and
self-sufficiency, have commonly, in all ages, been found so destructive
to the principles of religion. The vulgar, indeed, we may remark, who
are unacquainted with science and profound inquiry, observing the
endless disputes of the learned, have commonly a thorough contempt for
philosophy; and rivet themselves the faster, by that means, in the
great points of theology which have been taught them. Those who enter
a little into study and inquiry, finding many appearances of evidence
in doctrines the newest and most extraordinary, think nothing too
difficult for human reason; and, presumptuously breaking through all
fences, profane the inmost sanctuaries of the temple. But Cleanthes
will, I hope, agree with me, that, after we have abandoned ignorance,
the surest remedy, there is still one expedient left to prevent this
profane liberty. Let Demea's principles be improved and cultivated:
Let us become thoroughly sensible of the weakness, blindness, and
narrow limits of human reason: Let us duly consider its uncertainty and
endless contrarieties, even in subjects of common life and practice:
Let the errors and deceits of our very senses be set before us; the
insuperable difficulties which attend first principles in all systems;
the contradictions which adhere to the very ideas of matter, cause and
effect, extension, space, time, motion; and in a word, quantity of all
kinds, the object of the only science that can fairly pretend to any
certainty or evidence. When these topics are displayed in their full
light, as they are by some philosophers and almost all divines; who
can retain such confidence in this frail faculty of reason as to pay
any regard to its determinations in points so sublime, so abstruse,
so remote from common life and experience? When the coherence of the
parts of a stone, or even that composition of parts which renders it
extended; when these familiar objects, I say, are so inexplicable,
and contain circumstances so repugnant and contradictory; with what
assurance can we decide concerning the origin of worlds, or trace their
history from eternity to eternity?

While Philo pronounced these words, I could observe a smile in the
countenance both of Demea and Cleanthes. That of Demea seemed to
imply an unreserved satisfaction in the doctrines delivered: But, in
Cleanthes's features, I could distinguish an air of finesse; as if he
perceived some raillery or artificial malice in the reasonings of Philo.

You propose then, Philo, said Cleanthes, to erect religious faith on
philosophical scepticism; and you think, that if certainty or evidence
be expelled from every other subject of inquiry, it will all retire to
these theological doctrines, and there acquire a superior force and
authority. Whether your scepticism be as absolute and sincere as you
pretend, we shall learn by and by, when the company breaks up: We shall
then see, whether you go out at the door or the window; and whether
you really doubt if your body has gravity, or can be injured by its
fall; according to popular opinion, derived from our fallacious senses,
and more fallacious experience. And this consideration, Demea, may, I
think, fairly serve to abate our ill-will to this humorous sect of the
sceptics. If they be thoroughly in earnest, they will not long trouble
the world with their doubts, cavils, and disputes: If they be only in
jest, they are, perhaps, bad railers; but can never be very dangerous,
either to the state, to philosophy, or to religion.

In reality, Philo, continued he, it seems certain, that though a
man, in a flush of humour, after intense reflection on the many
contradictions and imperfections of human reason, may entirely renounce
all belief and opinion, it is impossible for him to persevere in
this total scepticism, or make it appear in his conduct for a few
hours. External objects press in upon him; passions solicit him; his
philosophical melancholy dissipates; and even the utmost violence upon
his own temper will not be able, during any time, to preserve the poor
appearance of scepticism. And for what reason impose on himself such
a violence? This is a point in which it will be impossible for him
ever to satisfy himself, consistently with his sceptical principles.
So that, upon the whole, nothing could be more ridiculous than the
principles of the ancient Pyrrhonians; if in reality they endeavoured,
as is pretended, to extend, throughout, the same scepticism which they
had learned from the declamations of their schools, and which they
ought to have confined to them.

In this view, there appears a great resemblance between the sects of
the Stoics and Pyrrhonians, though perpetual antagonists; and both
of them seem founded on this erroneous maxim, That what a man can
perform sometimes, and in some dispositions, he can perform always,
and in every disposition. When the mind, by Stoical reflections, is
elevated into a sublime enthusiasm of virtue, and strongly smit with
any _species_ of honour or public good, the utmost bodily pain and
sufferings will not prevail over such a high sense of duty; and it is
possible, perhaps, by its means, even to smile and exult in the midst
of tortures. If this sometimes may be the case in fact and reality,
much more may a philosopher, in his school, or even in his closet,
work himself up to such an enthusiasm, and support in imagination the
acutest pain or most calamitous event which he can possibly conceive.
But how shall he support this enthusiasm itself? The bent of his mind
relaxes, and cannot be recalled at pleasure; avocations lead him
astray; misfortunes attack him unawares; and the _philosopher_ sinks
by degrees into the _plebeian_.

I allow of your comparison between the Stoics and Sceptics, replied
Philo. But you may observe, at the same time, that though the mind
cannot, in Stoicism, support the highest flights of philosophy, yet,
even when it sinks lower, it still retains somewhat of its former
disposition; and the effects of the Stoic's reasoning will appear in
his conduct in common life, and through the whole tenor of his actions.
The ancient schools, particularly that of Zeno, produced examples of
virtue and constancy which seem astonishing to present times.

     Vain Wisdom all and false Philosophy.
     Yet with a pleasing sorcery could charm
     Pain, for a while, or anguish; and excite
     Fallacious Hope, or arm the obdurate breast
     With stubborn Patience, as with triple steel.

In like manner, if a man has accustomed himself to sceptical
considerations on the uncertainty and narrow limits of reason, he
will not entirely forget them when he turns his reflection on other
subjects; but in all his philosophical principles and reasoning, I dare
not say in his common conduct, he will be found different from those,
who either never formed any opinions in the case, or have entertained
sentiments more favourable to human reason.

To whatever length any one may push his speculative principles of
scepticism, he must act, I own, and live, and converse, like other men;
and for this conduct he is not obliged to give any other reason, than
the absolute necessity he lies under of so doing. If he ever carries
his speculations farther than this necessity constrains him, and
philosophizes either on natural or moral subjects, he is allured by a
certain pleasure and satisfaction which he finds in employing himself
after that manner. He considers besides, that every one, even in common
life, is constrained to have more or less of this philosophy; that
from our earliest infancy we make continual advances in forming more
general principles of conduct and reasoning; that the larger experience
we acquire, and the stronger reason we are endued with, we always
render our principles the more general and comprehensive; and that
what we call _philosophy_ is nothing but a more regular and methodical
operation of the same kind. To philosophize on such subjects, is
nothing essentially different from reasoning on common life; and we
may only expect greater stability, if not greater truth, from our
philosophy, on account of its exacter and more scrupulous method of

But when we look beyond human affairs and the properties of the
surrounding bodies: when we carry our speculations into the two
eternities, before and after the present state of things; into the
creation and formation of the universe; the existence and properties of
spirits; the powers and operations, of one universal Spirit existing
without beginning and without end; omnipotent, omniscient, immutable,
infinite and incomprehensible: We must be far removed from the smallest
tendency to scepticism not to be apprehensive, that we have here got
quite beyond the reach of our faculties. So long as we confine our
speculations to trade, or morals, or politics, or criticism, we make
appeals, every moment, to common sense and experience, which strengthen
our philosophical conclusions, and remove, at least in part, the
suspicion which we so justly entertain with regard to every reasoning
that is very subtile and refined. But, in theological reasonings, we
have not this advantage; while, at the same time, we are employed upon
objects, which, we must be sensible, are too large for our grasp, and
of all others require most to be familiarized to our apprehension. We
are like foreigners in a strange country, to whom every thing must seem
suspicious, and who are in danger every moment of transgressing against
the laws and customs of the people with whom they live and converse. We
know not how far we ought to trust our vulgar methods of reasoning in
such a subject; since, even in common life, and in that province which
is peculiarly appropriated to them, we cannot account for them, and are
entirely guided by a kind of instinct or necessity in employing them.

All sceptics pretend, that, if reason be considered in an abstract
view, it furnishes invincible arguments against itself: and that we
could never retain any conviction or assurance, on any subject, were
not the sceptical reasonings so refined and subtile, that they are
not able to counterpoise the more solid and more natural arguments
derived from the senses and experience. But it is evident, whenever our
arguments lose this advantage, and run wide of common life, that the
most refined scepticism comes to be upon a footing with them, and is
able to oppose and counterbalance them. The one has no more weight than
the other. The mind must remain in suspense between them; and it is
that very suspense or balance, which is the triumph of scepticism.

But I observe, says Cleanthes, with regard to you, Philo, and all
speculative sceptics, that your doctrine and practice are as much at
variance in the most abstruse points of theory as in the conduct of
common life. Wherever evidence discovers itself, you adhere to it,
notwithstanding your pretended scepticism; and I can observe, too, some
of your sect to be as decisive as those who make greater professions of
certainty and assurance. In reality, would not a man be ridiculous, who
pretended to reject Newton's explication of the wonderful phenomenon
of the rainbow, because that explication gives a minute anatomy
of the rays of light; a subject, forsooth, too refined for human
comprehension? And what would you say to one, who, having nothing
particular to object to the arguments of Copernicus and Galilæo for
the motion of the earth, should withhold his assent, on that general
principle, that these subjects were too magnificent and remote to be
explained by the narrow and fallacious reason of mankind?

There is indeed a kind of brutish and ignorant scepticism, as you well
observed, which gives the vulgar a general prejudice against what they
do not easily understand, and makes them reject every principle which
requires elaborate reasoning to prove and establish it. This species of
scepticism is fatal to knowledge, not to religion; since we find, that
those who make greatest profession of it, give often their assent, not
only to the great truths of Theism and natural theology, but even to
the most absurd tenets which a traditional superstition has recommended
to them. They firmly believe in witches, though they will not believe
nor attend to the most simple proposition of Euclid. But the refined
and philosophical sceptics fall into an inconsistence of an opposite
nature. They push their researches into the most abstruse corners of
science; and their assent attends them in every step, proportioned
to the evidence which they meet with. They are even obliged to
acknowledge, that the most abstruse and remote objects are those which
are best explained by philosophy. Light is in reality anatomized: The
true system of the heavenly bodies is discovered and ascertained. But
the nourishment of bodies by food is still an inexplicable mystery:
The cohesion of the parts of matter is still incomprehensible. These
sceptics, therefore, are obliged, in every question, to consider
each particular evidence apart, and proportion their assent to the
precise degree of evidence which occurs. This is their practice in all
natural, mathematical, moral, and political science. And why not the
same, I ask, in the theological and religious? Why must conclusions
of this nature be alone rejected on the general presumption of the
insufficiency of human reason, without any particular discussion of the
evidence? Is not such an unequal conduct a plain proof of prejudice and

Our senses, you say, are fallacious; our understanding erroneous; our
ideas, even of the most familiar objects, extension, duration, motion,
full of absurdities and contradictions. You defy me to solve the
difficulties, or reconcile the repugnancies which you discover in them.
I have not capacity for so great an undertaking: I have not leisure
for it: I perceive it to be superfluous. Your own conduct, in every
circumstance, refutes your principles, and shows the firmest reliance
on all the received maxims of science, morals, prudence, and behaviour.

I shall never assent to so harsh an opinion as that of a celebrated
writer,[2] who says, that the Sceptics are not a sect of philosophers:
They are only a sect of liars. I may, however, affirm (I hope without
offence), that they are a sect of jesters or railers. But for my
part, whenever I find myself disposed to mirth and amusement, I shall
certainly choose my entertainment of a less perplexing and abstruse
nature. A comedy, a novel, or at most a history, seems a more natural
recreation than such metaphysical subtilties and abstractions.

In vain would the sceptic make a distinction between science and common
life, or between one science and another. The arguments employed in
all, if just, are of a similar nature, and contain the same force and
evidence. Or if there be any difference among them, the advantage lies
entirely on the side of theology and natural religion. Many principles
of mechanics are founded on very abstruse reasoning; yet no man who has
any pretensions to science, even no speculative sceptic, pretends to
entertain the least doubt with regard to them. The Copernican system
contains the most surprising paradox, and the most contrary to our
natural conceptions, to appearances, and to our very senses: yet even
monks and inquisitors are now constrained to withdraw their opposition
to it. And shall Philo, a man of so liberal a genius and extensive
knowledge, entertain any general undistinguished scruples with regard
to the religious hypothesis, which is founded on the simplest and most
obvious arguments, and, unless it meets with artificial obstacles, has
such easy access and admission into the mind of man?

And here we may observe, continued he, turning himself towards Demea,
a pretty curious circumstance in the history of the sciences. After
the union of philosophy with the popular religion, upon the first
establishment of Christianity, nothing was more usual, among all
religious teachers, than declamations against reason, against the
senses, against every principle derived merely from human research
and inquiry. All the topics of the ancient academics were adopted by
the fathers; and thence propagated for several ages in every school
and pulpit throughout Christendom. The Reformers embraced the same
principles of reasoning, or rather declamation; and all panegyrics on
the excellency of faith, were sure to be interlarded with some severe
strokes of satire against natural reason. A celebrated prelate too,[3]
of the Romish communion, a man of the most extensive learning, who
wrote a demonstration of Christianity, has also composed a treatise,
which contains all the cavils of the boldest and most determined
Pyrrhonism. Locke seems to have been the first Christian who ventured
openly to assert, that _faith_ was nothing but a species of _reason_;
that religion was only a branch of philosophy; and that a chain of
arguments, similar to that which established any truth in morals,
politics, or physics, was always employed in discovering all the
principles of theology, natural and revealed. The ill use which Bayle
and other libertines made of the philosophical scepticism of the
fathers and first reformers, still farther propagated the judicious
sentiment of Mr Locke: And it is now in a manner avowed, by all
pretenders to reasoning and philosophy, that Atheist and Sceptic are
almost synonymous. And as it is certain that no man is in earnest when
he professes the latter principle, I would fain hope that there are as
few who seriously maintain the former.

Don't you remember, said Philo, the excellent saying of Lord Bacon
on this head? That a little philosophy, replied Cleanthes, makes a
man an Atheist: A great deal converts him to religion. That is a very
judicious remark too, said Philo. But what I have in my eye is another
passage, where, having mentioned David's fool, who said in his heart
there is no God, this great philosopher observes, that the Atheists
now-a-days have a double share of folly; for they are not contented to
say in their hearts there is no God, but they also utter that impiety
with their lips, and are thereby guilty of multiplied indiscretion and
imprudence. Such people, though they were ever so much in earnest,
cannot, methinks, be very formidable.

But though you should rank me in this class of fools, I cannot forbear
communicating a remark that occurs to me, from the history of the
religious and irreligious scepticism with which you have entertained
us. It appears to me, that there are strong symptoms of priestcraft in
the whole progress of this affair. During ignorant ages, such as those
which followed the dissolution of the ancient schools, the priests
perceived, that Atheism, Deism, or heresy of any kind, could only
proceed from the presumptuous questioning of received opinions, and
from a belief that human reason was equal to every thing. Education had
then a mighty influence over the minds of men, and was almost equal in
force to those suggestions of the senses and common understanding, by
which the most determined sceptic must allow himself to be governed.
But at present, when the influence of education is much diminished,
and men, from a more open commerce of the world, have learned to
compare the popular principles of different nations and ages, our
sagacious divines have changed their whole system of philosophy, and
talk the language of Stoics, Platonists, and Peripatetics, not that of
Pyrrhonians and Academics. If we distrust human reason, we have now no
other principle to lead us into religion. Thus, sceptics in one age,
dogmatists in another; whichever system best suits the purpose of these
reverend gentlemen, in giving them an ascendant over mankind, they are
sure to make it their favourite principle, and established tenet.

It is very natural, said Cleanthes, for men to embrace those
principles, by which they find they can best defend their doctrines;
nor need we have any recourse to priestcraft to account for so
reasonable an expedient. And, surely nothing can afford a stronger
presumption, that any set of principles are true, and ought to be
embraced, than to observe that they tend to the confirmation of true
religion, and serve to confound the cavils of Atheists, Libertines, and
Freethinkers of all denominations.

[1] Chrysippus apud Plut. de repug. Stoicorum.

[2] L'art de penser.

[3] Mons. Huet.


I must own, Cleanthes, said Demea, that nothing can more surprise
me, than the light in which you have all along put this argument.
By the whole tenor of your discourse, one would imagine that you
were maintaining the Being of a God, against the cavils of Atheists
and Infidels; and were necessitated to become a champion for that
fundamental principle of all religion. But this, I hope, is not by any
means a question among us. No man, no man at least of common sense,
I am persuaded, ever entertained a serious doubt with regard to a
truth so certain and self-evident. The question is not concerning the
*BEING, but the $NATURE of *GOD. This, I affirm, from the infirmities
of human understanding, to be altogether incomprehensible and unknown
to us. The essence of that supreme Mind, his attributes, the manner
of his existence, the very nature of his duration; these, and every
particular which regards so divine a Being, are mysterious to men.
Finite, weak, and blind creatures, we ought to humble ourselves in his
august presence; and, conscious of our frailties, adore in silence his
infinite perfections, which eye hath not seen, ear hath not heard,
neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive. They are
covered in a deep cloud from human curiosity: It is profaneness to
attempt penetrating through these sacred obscurities: And, next to the
impiety of denying his existence, is the temerity of prying into his
nature and essence, decrees and attributes.

But lest you should think that my _piety_ has here got the better of my
_philosophy_, I shall support my opinion, if it needs any support, by
a very great authority. I might cite all the divines, almost, from the
foundation of Christianity, who have ever treated of this or any other
theological subject: But I shall confine myself, at present, to one
equally celebrated for piety and philosophy. It is Father Malebranche,
who, I remember, thus expresses himself.[1] 'One ought not so much,'
says he, 'to call God a spirit, in order to express positively what
he is, as in order to signify that he is not matter. He is a Being
infinitely perfect: Of this we cannot doubt. But in the same manner
as we ought not to imagine, even supposing him corporeal, that he is
clothed with a human body, as the Anthropomorphites asserted, under
colour that that figure was the most perfect of any; so, neither
ought we to imagine that the spirit of God has human ideas, or bears
any resemblance to our spirit, under colour that we know nothing
more perfect than a human mind. We ought rather to believe, that as
he comprehends the perfections of matter without being material....
he comprehends also the perfections of created spirits without being
spirit, in the manner we conceive spirit: That his true name is, _He
that is_; or, in other words, Being without restriction, All Being, the
Being infinite and universal.'

After so great an authority, Demea, replied Philo, as that which
you have produced, and a thousand more which you might produce, it
would appear ridiculous in me to add my sentiment, or express my
approbation of your doctrine. But surely, where reasonable men treat
these subjects, the question can never be concerning the _Being_,
but only the _Nature_, of the Deity. The former truth, as you well
observe, is unquestionable and self-evident. Nothing exists without a
cause; and the original cause of this universe (whatever it be) we call
God; and piously ascribe to him every species of perfection. Whoever
scruples this fundamental truth, deserves every punishment which
can be inflicted among philosophers, to wit, the greatest ridicule,
contempt, and disapprobation. But as all perfection is entirely
relative, we ought never to imagine that we comprehend the attributes
of this divine Being, or to suppose that his perfections have any
analogy or likeness to the perfections of a human creature. Wisdom,
Thought, Design, Knowledge; these we justly ascribe to him; because
these words are honourable among men, and we have no other language
or other conceptions by which we can express our adoration of him.
But let us beware, lest we think that our ideas anywise correspond to
his perfections, or that his attributes have any resemblance to these
qualities among men. He is infinitely superior to our limited view and
comprehension; and is more the object of worship in the temple, than of
disputation in the schools.

In reality, Cleanthes, continued he, there is no need of having
recourse to that affected scepticism so displeasing to you, in order
to come at this determination. Our ideas reach no farther than our
experience: We have no experience of divine attributes and operations:
I need not conclude my syllogism: You can draw the inference yourself.
And it is a pleasure to me (and I hope to you too) that just reasoning
and sound piety here concur in the same conclusion, and both of them
establish the adorably mysterious and incomprehensible nature of the
Supreme Being.

Not to lose any time in circumlocutions, said Cleanthes, addressing
himself to Demea, much less in replying to the pious declamations of
Philo; I shall briefly explain how I conceive this matter. Look round
the world: contemplate the whole and every part of it: You will find it
to be nothing but one great machine, subdivided into an infinite number
of lesser machines, which again admit of subdivisions to a degree
beyond what human senses and faculties can trace and explain. All these
various machines, and even their most minute parts, are adjusted to
each other with an accuracy which ravishes into admiration all men who
have ever contemplated them. The curious adapting of means to ends,
throughout all nature, resembles exactly, though it much exceeds, the
productions of human contrivance; of human design, thought, wisdom,
and intelligence. Since therefore the effects resemble each other, we
are led to infer, by all the rules of analogy, that the causes also
resemble; and that the Author of Nature is somewhat similar to the
mind of man, though possessed of much larger faculties, proportioned
to the grandeur of the work which he has executed. By this argument
_a posteriori_, and by this argument alone, do we prove at once the
existence of a Deity, and his similarity to human mind and intelligence.

I shall be so free, Cleanthes, said Demea, as to tell you, that from
the beginning I could not approve of your conclusion concerning the
similarity of the Deity to men; still less can I approve of the mediums
by which you endeavour to establish it. What! No demonstration of
the Being of God! No abstract arguments! No proofs _a priori_! Are
these, which have hitherto been so much insisted on by philosophers,
all fallacy, all sophism? Can we reach no farther in this subject than
experience and probability? I will not say that this is betraying
the cause of a Deity; But surely, by this affected candour, you give
advantages to Atheists, which they never could obtain by the mere dint
of argument and reasoning.

What I chiefly scruple in this subject, said Philo, is not so much
that all religious arguments are by Cleanthes reduced to experience,
as that they appear not to be even the most certain and irrefragable
of that inferior kind. That a stone will fall, that fire will burn,
that the earth has solidity, we have observed a thousand and a thousand
times; and when any new instance of this nature is presented, we draw
without hesitation the accustomed inference. The exact similarity
of the cases gives us a perfect assurance of a similar event; and a
stronger evidence is never desired nor sought after. But wherever you
depart, in the least, from the similarity of the cases, you diminish
proportionably the evidence; and may at last bring it to a very weak
_analogy_, which is confessedly liable to error and uncertainty. After
having experienced the circulation of the blood in human creatures, we
make no doubt that it takes place in Titius and Mævius: But from its
circulation in frogs and fishes, it is only a presumption, though a
strong one, from analogy, that it takes place in men and other animals.
The analogical reasoning is much weaker, when we infer the circulation
of the sap in vegetables from our experience that the blood circulates
in animals; and those, who hastily followed that imperfect analogy, are
found, by more accurate experiments, to have been mistaken.

If we see a house, Cleanthes, we conclude, with the greatest certainty,
that it had an architect or builder; because this is precisely that
species of effect which we have experienced to proceed from that
species of cause. But surely you will not affirm, that the universe
bears such a resemblance to a house, that we can with the same
certainty infer a similar cause, or that the analogy is here entire and
perfect. The dissimilitude is so striking, that the utmost you can here
pretend to is a guess, a conjecture, a presumption concerning a similar
cause; and how that pretension will be received in the world, I leave
you to consider.

It would surely be very ill received, replied Cleanthes; and I should
be deservedly blamed and detested, did I allow, that the proofs of a
Deity amounted to no more than a guess or conjecture. But is the whole
adjustment of means to ends in a house and in the universe so slight a
resemblance? The economy of final causes? The order, proportion, and
arrangement of every part? Steps of a stair are plainly contrived, that
human legs may use them in mounting; and this inference is certain and
infallible. Human legs are also contrived for walking and mounting; and
this inference, I allow, is not altogether so certain, because of the
dissimilarity which you remark; but does it, therefore, deserve the
name only of presumption or conjecture?

Good God! cried Demea, interrupting him, where are we? Zealous
defenders of religion allow, that the proofs of a Deity fall short
of perfect evidence! And you, Philo, on whose assistance I depended
in proving the adorable mysteriousness of the Divine Nature, do you
assent to all these extravagant opinions of Cleanthes? For what other
name can I give them? or, why spare my censure, when such principles
are advanced, supported by such an authority, before so young a man as

You seem not to apprehend, replied Philo, that I argue with Cleanthes
in his own way; and, by showing him the dangerous consequences of his
tenets, hope at last to reduce him to our opinion. But what sticks most
with you, I observe, is the representation which Cleanthes has made of
the argument _a posteriori_; and finding that that argument is likely
to escape your hold and vanish into air, you think it so disguised,
that you can scarcely believe it to be set in its true light. Now,
however much I may dissent, in other respects, from the dangerous
principles of Cleanthes, I must allow that he has fairly represented
that argument; and I shall endeavour so to state the matter to you,
that you will entertain no farther scruples with regard to it.

Were a man to abstract from every thing which he knows or has seen, he
would be altogether incapable, merely from his own ideas, to determine
what kind of scene the universe must be, or to give the preference
to one state or situation of things above another. For as nothing
which he clearly conceives could be esteemed impossible or implying
a contradiction, every chimera of his fancy would be upon an equal
footing; nor could he assign any just reason why he adheres to one idea
or system, and rejects the others which are equally possible.

Again; after he opens his eyes, and contemplates the world as it really
is, it would be impossible for him at first to assign the cause of
any one event, much less of the whole of things, or of the universe.
He might set his fancy a rambling; and she might bring him in an
infinite variety of reports and representations. These would all be
possible; but being all equally possible, he would never of himself
give a satisfactory account for his preferring one of them to the rest.
Experience alone can point out to him the true cause of any phenomenon.

Now, according to this method of reasoning, Demea, it follows, (and is,
indeed, tacitly allowed by Cleanthes himself), that order, arrangement,
or the adjustment of final causes, is not of itself any proof of
design; but only so far as it has been experienced to proceed from
that principle. For aught we can know _a priori_, matter may contain
the source or spring of order originally within itself, as well as
mind does; and there is no more difficulty in conceiving, that the
several elements, from an internal unknown cause, may fall into the
most exquisite arrangement, than to conceive that their ideas, in the
great universal mind, from a like internal unknown cause, fall into
that arrangement. The equal possibility of both these suppositions is
allowed. But, by experience, we find, (according to Cleanthes), that
there is a difference between them. Throw several pieces of steel
together, without shape or form; they will never arrange themselves
so as to compose a watch. Stone, and mortar, and wood, without an
architect, never erect a house. But the ideas in a human mind, we see,
by an unknown, inexplicable economy, arrange themselves so as to form
the plan of a watch or house. Experience, therefore, proves, that there
is an original principle of order in mind, not in matter. From similar
effects we infer similar causes. The adjustment of means to ends is
alike in the universe, as in a machine of human contrivance. The
causes, therefore, must be resembling.

I was from the beginning scandalized, I must own, with this
resemblance, which is asserted, between the Deity and human creatures;
and must conceive it to imply such a degradation of the Supreme Being
as no sound Theist could endure. With your assistance, therefore,
Demea, I shall endeavour to defend what you justly call the adorable
mysteriousness of the Divine Nature, and shall refute this reasoning of
Cleanthes, provided he allows that I have made a fair representation of

When Cleanthes had assented, Philo, after a short pause, proceeded in
the following manner.

That all inferences, Cleanthes, concerning fact, are founded on
experience; and that all experimental reasonings are founded on the
supposition that similar causes prove similar effects, and similar
effects similar causes; I shall not at present much dispute with
you. But observe, I entreat you, with what extreme caution all just
reasoners proceed in the transferring of experiments to similar cases.
Unless the cases be exactly similar, they repose no perfect confidence
in applying their past observation to any particular phenomenon.
Every alteration of circumstances occasions a doubt concerning the
event; and it requires new experiments to prove certainly, that the
new circumstances are of no moment or importance. A change in bulk,
situation, arrangement, age, disposition of the air, or surrounding
bodies; any of these particulars may be attended with the most
unexpected consequences: And unless the objects be quite familiar to
us, it is the highest temerity to expect with assurance, after any of
these changes, an event similar to that which before fell under our
observation. The slow and deliberate steps of philosophers here, if
any where, are distinguished from the precipitate march of the vulgar,
who, hurried on by the smallest similitude, are incapable of all
discernment or consideration.

But can you think, Cleanthes, that your usual phlegm and philosophy
have been preserved in so wide a step as you have taken, when you
compared to the universe houses, ships, furniture, machines, and, from
their similarity in some circumstances, inferred a similarity in their
causes? Thought, design, intelligence, such as we discover in men
and other animals, is no more than one of the springs and principles
of the universe, as well as heat or cold, attraction or repulsion,
and a hundred others, which fall under daily observation. It is an
active cause, by which some particular parts of nature, we find,
produce alterations on other parts. But can a conclusion, with any
propriety, be transferred from parts to the whole? Does not the great
disproportion bar all comparison and inference? From observing the
growth of a hair, can we learn any thing concerning the generation of a
man? Would the manner of a leaf's blowing, even though perfectly known,
afford us any instruction concerning the vegetation of a tree?

But, allowing that we were to take the _operations_ of one part of
nature upon another, for the foundation of our judgment concerning the
_origin_ of the whole, (which never can be admitted), yet why select
so minute, so weak, so bounded a principle, as the reason and design
of animals is found to be upon this planet? What peculiar privilege
has this little agitation of the brain which we call _thought_, that
we must thus make it the model of the whole universe? Our partiality
in our own favour does indeed present it on all occasions; but sound
philosophy ought carefully to guard against so natural an illusion.

So far from admitting, continued Philo, that the operations of a part
can afford us any just conclusion concerning the origin of the whole,
I will not allow any one part to form a rule for another part, if the
latter be very remote from the former. Is there any reasonable ground
to conclude, that the inhabitants of other planets possess thought,
intelligence, reason, or any thing similar to these faculties in men?
When nature has so extremely diversified her manner of operation in
this small globe, can we imagine that she incessantly copies herself
throughout so immense a universe? And if thought, as we may well
suppose, be confined merely to this narrow corner, and has even there
so limited a sphere of action, with what propriety can we assign it for
the original cause of all things? The narrow views of a peasant, who
makes his domestic economy the rule for the government of kingdoms, is
in comparison a pardonable sophism.

But were we ever so much assured, that a thought and reason, resembling
the human, were to be found throughout the whole universe, and were
its activity elsewhere vastly greater and more commanding than it
appears in this globe; yet I cannot see, why the operations of a world
constituted, arranged, adjusted, can with any propriety be extended
to a world which is in its embryo-state, and is advancing towards
that constitution and arrangement. By observation, we know somewhat
of the economy, action, and nourishment of a finished animal; but we
must transfer with great caution that observation to the growth of a
foetus in the womb, and still more to the formation of an animalcule in
the loins of its male parent. Nature, we find, even from our limited
experience, possesses an infinite number of springs and principles,
which incessantly discover themselves on every change of her position
and situation. And what new and unknown principles would actuate her in
so new and unknown a situation as that of the formation of a universe,
we cannot, without the utmost temerity, pretend to determine.

A very small part of this great system, during a very short time,
is very imperfectly discovered to us; and do we thence pronounce
decisively concerning the origin of the whole?

Admirable conclusion! Stone, wood, brick, iron, brass, have not, at
this time, in this minute globe of earth, an order or arrangement
without human art and contrivance; therefore the universe could not
originally attain its order and arrangement, without something similar
to human art. But is a part of nature a rule for another part very wide
of the former? Is it a rule for the whole? Is a very small part a rule
for the universe? Is nature in one situation, a certain rule for nature
in another situation vastly different from the former?

And can you blame me, Cleanthes, if I here imitate the prudent reserve
of Simonides, who, according to the noted story, being asked by Hiero,
_What God was_? desired a day to think of it, and then two days more;
and after that manner continually prolonged the term, without ever
bringing in his definition or description? Could you even blame me, if
I had answered at first, _that I did not know_, and was sensible that
this subject lay vastly beyond the reach of my faculties? You might cry
out sceptic and rallier, as much as you pleased: but having found, in
so many other subjects much more familiar, the imperfections and even
contradictions of human reason, I never should expect any success from
its feeble conjectures, in a subject so sublime, and so remote from the
sphere of our observation. When two _species_ of objects have always
been observed to be conjoined together, I can _infer_, by custom, the
existence of one wherever I _see_ the existence of the other; and
this I call an argument from experience. But how this argument can
have place, where the objects, as in the present case, are single,
individual, without parallel, or specific resemblance, may be difficult
to explain. And will any man tell me with a serious countenance, that
an orderly universe must arise from some thought and art like the
human, because we have experience of it? To ascertain this reasoning,
it were requisite that we had experience of the origin of worlds; and
it is not sufficient, surely, that we have seen ships and cities arise
from human art and contrivance.

Philo was proceeding in this vehement manner, somewhat between jest
and earnest, as it appeared to me, when he observed some signs of
impatience in Cleanthes, and then immediately stopped short. What I had
to suggest, said Cleanthes, is only that you would not abuse terms, or
make use of popular expressions to subvert philosophical reasonings.
You know, that the vulgar often distinguish reason from experience,
even where the question relates only to matter of fact and existence;
though it is found, where that _reason_ is properly analyzed, that
it is nothing but a species of experience. To prove by experience
the origin of the universe from mind, is not more contrary to common
speech, than to prove the motion of the earth from the same principle.
And a caviller might raise all the same objections to the Copernican
system, which you have urged against my reasonings. Have you other
earths, might he say, which you have seen to move? Have....

Yes! cried Philo, interrupting him, we have other earths. Is not the
moon another earth, which we see to turn round its centre? Is not
Venus another earth, where we observe the same phenomenon? Are not the
revolutions of the sun also a confirmation, from analogy, of the same
theory? All the planets, are they not earths, which revolve about the
sun? Are not the satellites moons, which move round Jupiter and Saturn,
and along with these primary planets round the sun? These analogies
and resemblances, with others which I have not mentioned, are the sole
proofs of the Copernican system; and to you it belongs to consider,
whether you have any analogies of the same kind to support your theory.

In reality, Cleanthes, continued he, the modern system of astronomy
is now so much received by all inquirers, and has become so essential
a part even of our earliest education, that we are not commonly very
scrupulous in examining the reasons upon which it is founded. It is now
become a matter of mere curiosity to study the first writers on that
subject, who had the full force of prejudice to encounter, and were
obliged to turn their arguments on every side in order to render them
popular and convincing. But if we peruse Galilæo's famous Dialogues
concerning the system of the world, we shall find, that that great
genius, one of the sublimest that ever existed, first bent all his
endeavours to prove, that there was no foundation for the distinction
commonly made between elementary and celestial substances. The schools,
proceeding from the illusions of sense, had carried this distinction
very far; and had established the latter substances to be ingenerable,
incorruptible, unalterable, impassible; and had assigned all the
opposite qualities to the former. But Galilæo, beginning with the moon,
proved its similarity in every particular to the earth; its convex
figure, its natural darkness when not illuminated, its density, its
distinction into solid and liquid, the variations of its phases, the
mutual illuminations of the earth and moon, their mutual eclipses, the
inequalities of the lunar surface, &c. After many instances of this
kind, with regard to all the planets, men plainly saw that these bodies
became proper objects of experience; and that the similarity of their
nature enabled us to extend the same arguments and phenomena from one
to the other.

In this cautious proceeding of the astronomers, you may read your
own condemnation, Cleanthes; or rather may see, that the subject in
which you are engaged exceeds all human reason and inquiry. Can you
pretend to show any such similarity between the fabric of a house, find
the generation of a universe? Have you ever seen nature in any such
situation as resembles the first arrangement of the elements? Have
worlds ever been formed under your eye; and have you had leisure to
observe the whole progress of the phenomenon, from the first appearance
of order to its final consummation? If you have, then cite your
experience, and deliver your theory.

[1] Recherche de la Verité, liv. 3, cap. 9.


How the most absurd argument, replied Cleanthes, in the hands of a
man of ingenuity and invention, may acquire an air of probability!
Are you not aware, Philo, that it became necessary for Copernicus
and his first disciples to prove the similarity of the terrestrial
and celestial matter; because several philosophers, blinded by old
systems, and supported by some sensible appearances, had denied this
similarity? but that it is by no means necessary, that Theists should
prove the similarity of the works of Nature to those of Art; because
this similarity is self-evident and undeniable? The same matter, a
like form; what more is requisite to show an analogy between their
causes, and to ascertain the origin of all things from a divine purpose
and intention? Your objections, I must freely tell you, are no better
than the abstruse cavils of those philosophers who denied motion; and
ought to be refuted in the same manner, by illustrations, examples and
instances, rather than by serious argument and philosophy.

Suppose, therefore, that an articulate voice were heard, in the clouds,
much louder and more melodious than any which human art could ever
reach: Suppose, that this voice were extended in the same instant
over all nations, and spoke to each nation in its own language and
dialect: Suppose, that the words delivered not only contain a just
sense and meaning, but convey some instruction altogether worthy of a
benevolent Being, superior to mankind: Could you possibly hesitate a
moment concerning the cause of this voice? and must you not instantly
ascribe it to some design or purpose? Yet I cannot see but all the
same objections (if they merit that appellation) which lie against the
system of Theism, may also be produced against this inference.

Might you not say, that all conclusions concerning fact were founded
on experience: that when we hear an articulate voice in the dark,
and thence infer a man, it is only the resemblance of the effects
which leads us to conclude that there is a like resemblance in the
cause: but that this extraordinary voice, by its loudness, extent, and
flexibility to all languages, bears so little analogy to any human
voice, that we have no reason to suppose any analogy in their causes:
and consequently, that a rational, wise, coherent speech proceeded, you
know not whence, from some accidental whistling of the winds, not from
any divine reason or intelligence? You see clearly your own objections
in these cavils, and I hope too you see clearly, that they cannot
possibly have more force in the one case than in the other.

But to bring the case still nearer the present one of the universe,
I shall make two suppositions, which imply not any absurdity or
impossibility. Suppose that there is a natural, universal, invariable
language, common to every individual of human race; and that books
are natural productions, which perpetuate themselves in the same
manner with animals and vegetables, by descent and propagation.
Several expressions of our passions contain a universal language: all
brute animals have a natural speech, which, however limited, is very
intelligible to their own species. And as there are infinitely fewer
parts and less contrivance in the finest composition of eloquence, than
in the coarsest organized body, the propagation of an Iliad or Æneid is
an easier supposition than that of any plant or animal.

Suppose, therefore, that you enter into your library, thus peopled by
natural volumes, containing the most refined reason and most exquisite
beauty; could you possibly open one of them, and doubt, that its
original cause bore the strongest analogy to mind and intelligence?
When it reasons and discourses; when it expostulates, argues, and
enforces its views and topics; when it applies sometimes to the pure
intellect, sometimes to the affections; when it collects, disposes, and
adorns every consideration suited to the subject; could you persist in
asserting, that all this, at the bottom, had really no meaning; and
that the first formation of this volume in the loins of its original
parent proceeded not from thought and design? Your obstinacy, I know,
reaches not that degree of firmness: even your sceptical play and
wantonness would be abashed at so glaring an absurdity.

But if there be any difference, Philo, between this supposed case and
the real one of the universe, it is all to the advantage of the latter.
The anatomy of an animal affords many stronger instances of design than
the perusal of Livy or Tacitus; and any objection which you start in
the former case, by carrying me back to so unusual and extraordinary a
scene as the first formation of worlds, the same objection has place on
the supposition of our vegetating library. Choose, then, your party,
Philo, without ambiguity or evasion; assert either that a rational
volume is no proof of a rational cause, or admit of a similar cause to
all the works of nature.

Let me here observe too, continued Cleanthes, that this religious
argument, instead of being weakened by that scepticism so much
affected by you, rather acquires force from it, and becomes more firm
and undisputed. To exclude all argument or reasoning of every kind,
is either affectation or madness. The declared profession of every
reasonable sceptic is only to reject abstruse, remote, and refined
arguments; to adhere to common sense and the plain instincts of
nature; and to assent, wherever any reasons strike him with so full
a force that he cannot, without the greatest violence, prevent it.
Now the arguments for Natural Religion are plainly of this kind; and
nothing but the most perverse, obstinate metaphysics can reject them.
Consider, anatomize the eye; survey its structure and contrivance;
and tell me, from your own feeling, if the idea of a contriver does
not immediately flow in upon you with a force like that of sensation.
The most obvious conclusion, surely, is in favour of design; and it
requires time, reflection, and study, to summon up those frivolous,
though abstruse objections, which can support Infidelity. Who can
behold the male and female of each species, the correspondence of
their parts and instincts, their passions, and whole course of life
before and after generation, but must be sensible, that the propagation
of the species is intended by Nature? Millions and millions of such
instances present themselves through every part of the universe; and
no language can convey a more intelligible irresistible meaning, than
the curious adjustment of final causes. To what degree, therefore, of
blind dogmatism must one have attained, to reject such natural and such
convincing arguments?

Some beauties in writing we may meet with, which seem contrary to
rules, and which gain the affections, and animate the imagination, in
opposition to all the precepts of criticism, and to the authority of
the established masters of art. And if the argument for Theism be, as
you pretend, contradictory to the principles of logic; its universal,
its irresistible influence proves clearly, that there may be arguments
of a like irregular nature. Whatever cavils may be urged, an orderly
world, as well as a coherent, articulate speech, will still be received
as an incontestable proof of design and intention.

It sometimes happens, I own, that the religious arguments have not
their due influence on an ignorant savage and barbarian; not because
they are obscure and difficult, but because he never asks himself any
question with regard to them. Whence arises the curious structure of
an animal? From the copulation of its parents. And these whence? From
_their_ parents? A few removes set the objects at such a distance, that
to him they are lost in darkness and confusion; nor is he actuated by
any curiosity to trace them farther. But this is neither dogmatism
nor scepticism, but stupidity: a state of mind very different from
your sifting, inquisitive disposition, my ingenious friend. You can
trace causes from effects: You can compare the most distant and
remote objects: and your greatest errors proceed not from barrenness
of thought and invention, but from too luxuriant a fertility, which
suppresses your natural good sense, by a profusion of unnecessary
scruples and objections.

Here I could observe, Hermippus, that Philo was a little embarrassed
and confounded: But while he hesitated in delivering an answer, luckily
for him, Demea broke in upon the discourse, and saved his countenance.

Your instance, Cleanthes, said he, drawn from books and language, being
familiar, has, I confess, so much more force on that account: but is
there not some danger too in this very circumstance; and may it not
render us presumptuous, by making us imagine we comprehend the Deity,
and have some adequate idea of his nature and attributes? When I read
a volume, I enter into the mind and intention of the author: I become
him, in a manner, for the instant; and have an immediate feeling and
conception of those ideas which revolved in his imagination while
employed in that composition. But so near an approach we never surely
can make to the Deity. His ways are not our ways. His attributes are
perfect, but incomprehensible. And this volume of nature contains a
great and inexplicable riddle, more than any intelligible discourse or

The ancient Platonists, you know, were the most religious and devout
of all the Pagan philosophers; yet many of them, particularly
Plotinus, expressly declare, that intellect or understanding is not
to be ascribed to the Deity; and that our most perfect worship of him
consists, not in acts of veneration, reverence, gratitude, or love;
but in a certain mysterious self-annihilation, or total extinction of
all our faculties. These ideas are, perhaps, too far stretched; but
still it must be acknowledged, that, by representing the Deity as so
intelligible and comprehensible, and so similar to a human mind, we are
guilty of the grossest and most narrow partiality, and make ourselves
the model of the whole universe.

All the _sentiments_ of the human mind, gratitude, resentment, love,
friendship, approbation, blame, pity, emulation, envy, have a plain
reference to the state and situation of man, and are calculated for
preserving the existence and promoting the activity of such a being
in such circumstances. It seems, therefore, unreasonable to transfer
such sentiments to a supreme existence, or to suppose him actuated by
them; and the phenomena besides of the universe will not support us in
such a theory. All our _ideas_ derived from the senses are confessedly
false and illusive; and cannot therefore be supposed to have place in
a supreme intelligence: And as the ideas of internal sentiment, added
to those of the external senses, compose the whole furniture of human
understanding, we may conclude, that none of the _materials_ of thought
are in any respect similar in the human and in the divine intelligence.
Now, as to the _manner_ of thinking; how can we make any comparison
between them, or suppose them any wise resembling? Our thought is
fluctuating, uncertain, fleeting, successive, and compounded; and
were we to remove these circumstances, we absolutely annihilate its
essence, and it would in such a case be an abuse of terms to apply to
it the name of thought or reason. At least if it appear more pious
and respectful (as it really is) still to retain these terms, when we
mention the Supreme Being, we ought to acknowledge, that their meaning,
in that case, is totally incomprehensible; and that the infirmities
of our nature do not permit us to reach any ideas which in the least
correspond to the ineffable sublimity of the Divine attributes.


It seems strange to me, said Cleanthes, that you, Demea, who are so
sincere in the cause of religion, should still maintain the mysterious,
incomprehensible nature of the Deity, and should insist so strenuously
that he has no manner of likeness or resemblance to human creatures.
The Deity, I can readily allow, possesses many powers and attributes of
which we can have no comprehension: But if our ideas, so far as they
go, be not just, and adequate, and correspondent to his real nature,
I know not what there is in this subject worth insisting on. Is the
name, without any meaning, of such mighty importance? Or how do you
mystics, who maintain the absolute incomprehensibility of the Deity,
differ from Sceptics or Atheists, who assert, that the first cause of
all is unknown and unintelligible? Their temerity must be very great,
if, after rejecting the production by a mind, I mean a mind resembling
the human, (for I know of no other), they pretend to assign, with
certainty, any other specific intelligible cause: And their conscience
must be very scrupulous indeed, if they refuse to call the universal
unknown cause a God or Deity; and to bestow on him as many sublime
eulogies and unmeaning epithets as you shall please to require of them.

Who could imagine, replied Demea, that Cleanthes, the calm
philosophical Cleanthes, would attempt to refute his antagonists
by affixing a nickname to them; and, like the common bigots and
inquisitors of the age, have recourse to invective and declamation,
instead of reasoning? Or does he not perceive, that these topics
are easily retorted, and that Anthropomorphite is an appellation as
invidious, and implies as dangerous consequences, as the epithet of
Mystic, with which he has honoured us? In reality, Cleanthes, consider
what it is you assert when you represent the Deity as similar to a
human mind and understanding. What is the soul of man? A composition
of various faculties, passions, sentiments, ideas; united, indeed,
into one self or person, but still distinct from each other. When it
reasons, the ideas, which are the parts of its discourse, arrange
themselves in a certain form or order; which is not preserved entire
for a moment, but immediately gives place to another arrangement. New
opinions, new passions, new affections, new feelings arise, which
continually diversify the mental scene, and produce in it the greatest
variety and most rapid succession imaginable. How is this compatible
with that perfect immutability and simplicity which all true Theists
ascribe to the Deity? By the same act, say they, he sees past,
present, and future: His love and hatred, his mercy and justice, are
one individual operation: He is entire in every point of space; and
complete in every instant of duration. No succession, no change, no
acquisition, no diminution. What he is implies not in it any shadow of
distinction or diversity. And what he is this moment he ever has been,
and ever will be, without any new judgment, sentiment, or operation. He
stands fixed in one simple, perfect state: nor can you ever gay, with
any propriety, that this act of his is different from that other; or
that this judgment or idea has been lately formed, and will give place,
by succession, to any different judgment or idea.

I can readily allow, said Cleanthes, that those who maintain the
perfect simplicity of the Supreme Being, to the extent in which you
have explained it, are complete Mystics, and chargeable with all the
consequences which I have drawn from their opinion. They are, in a
word, Atheists, without knowing it For though it be allowed, that the
Deity possesses attributes of which we have no comprehension, yet
ought we never to ascribe to him any attributes which are absolutely
incompatible with that intelligent nature essential to him. A mind,
whose acts and sentiments and ideas are not distinct and successive;
one, that is wholly simple, and totally immutable, is a mind which has
no thought, no reason, no will, no sentiment, no love, no hatred; or,
in a word, is no mind at all. It is an abuse of terms to give it that
appellation; and we may as well speak of limited extension without
figure, or of number without composition.

Pray consider, said Philo, whom you are at present inveighing against.
You are honouring with the appellation of _Atheist_ all the sound,
orthodox divines, almost, who have treated of this subject; and you
will at last be, yourself, found, according to your reckoning, the
only sound Theist in the world. But if idolaters be Atheists, as, I
think, may justly be asserted, and Christian Theologians the same, what
becomes of the argument, so much celebrated, derived from the universal
consent of mankind?

But because I know you are not much swayed by names and authorities,
I shall endeavour to show you, a little more distinctly, the
inconveniences of that Anthropomorphism, which you have embraced; and
shall prove, that there is no ground to suppose a plan of the world to
be formed in the Divine mind, consisting of distinct ideas, differently
arranged, in the same manner as an architect forms in his head the plan
of a house which he intends to execute.

It is not easy, I own, to see what is gained by this supposition,
whether we judge of the matter by _Reason_ or by _Experience_. We are
still obliged to mount higher, in order to find the cause of this
cause, which you had assigned as satisfactory and conclusive.

If _Reason_ (I mean abstract reason, derived from inquiries _a priori_)
be not alike mute with regard to all questions concerning cause and
effect, this sentence at least it will venture to pronounce, That
a mental world, or universe of ideas, requires a cause as much, as
does a material world, or universe of objects; and, if similar in its
arrangement, must require a similar cause. For what is there in this
subject, which should occasion a different conclusion or inference? In
an abstract view, they are entirely alike; and no difficulty attends
the one supposition, which is not common to both of them.

Again, when we will needs force _Experience_ to pronounce some
sentence, even on these subjects which lie beyond her sphere, neither
can she perceive any material difference in this particular, between
these two kinds of worlds; but finds them to be governed by similar
principles, and to depend upon an equal variety of causes in their
operations. We have specimens in miniature of both of them. Our own
mind resembles the one; a vegetable or animal body the other. Let
experience, therefore, judge from these samples. Nothing seems more
delicate, with regard to its causes, than thought; and as these causes
never operate in two persons after the same manner, so we never find
two persons who think exactly alike. Nor indeed does the same person
think exactly alike at any two different periods of time. A difference
of age, of the disposition of his body, of weather, of food, of
company, of books, of passions; any of these particulars, or others
more minute, are sufficient to alter the curious machinery of thought,
and communicate to it very different movements and operations. As far
as we can judge, vegetables and animal bodies are not more delicate
in their motions, nor depend upon a greater variety or more curious
adjustment of springs and principles.

How, therefore, shall we satisfy ourselves concerning the cause of that
Being whom you suppose the Author of Nature, or, according to your
system of Anthropomorphism, the ideal world, into which you trace the
material? Have we not the same reason to trace that ideal world into
another ideal world, or new intelligent principle? But if we stop, and
go no farther; why go so far? why not stop at the material world? How
can we satisfy ourselves without going on _in infinitum_? And, after
all, what satisfaction is there in that infinite progression? Let us
remember the story of the Indian philosopher and his elephant. It was
never more applicable than to the present subject. If the material
world rests upon a similar ideal world, this ideal world must rest upon
some other; and so on, without end. It were better, therefore, never
to look beyond the present material world. By supposing it to contain
the principle of its order within itself, we really assert it to be
God; and the sooner we arrive at that Divine Being, so much the better.
When you go one step beyond the mundane system, you only excite an
inquisitive humour which it is impossible ever to satisfy.

To say, that the different ideas which compose the reason of the
Supreme Being, fall into order of themselves, and by their own nature,
is really to talk without any precise meaning. If it has a meaning, I
would fain know, why it is not as good sense to say, that the parts
of the material world fall into order of themselves and by their own
nature. Can the one opinion be intelligible, while the other is not so?

We have, indeed, experience of ideas which fall into order of
themselves, and without any _known_ cause. But, I am sure, we have
a much larger experience of matter which does the same; as, in all
instances of generation and vegetation, where the accurate analysis of
the cause exceeds all human comprehension. We have also experience of
particular systems of thought and of matter which have no order; of the
first in madness, of the second in corruption. Why, then, should we
think, that order is more essential to one than the other? And if it
requires a cause in both, what do we gain by your system, in tracing
the universe of objects into a similar universe of ideas? The first
step which we make leads us on for ever. It were, therefore, wise in
us to limit all our inquiries to the present world, without looking
farther. No satisfaction can ever be attained by these speculations,
which so far exceed the narrow bounds of human understanding.

It was usual with the Peripatetics, you know, Cleanthes, when the cause
of any phenomenon was demanded, to have recourse to their _faculties_,
or _occult qualities_; and to say, for instance, that bread, nourished
by its nutritive faculty, and senna purged by its purgative. But it
has been discovered, that this subterfuge was nothing but the disguise
of ignorance; and that these philosophers, though less ingenuous,
really said the same thing with the sceptics or the vulgar, who
fairly confessed that they knew not the cause of these phenomena.
In like manner, when it is asked, what cause produces order in the
ideas of the Supreme Being; can any other reason be assigned by you,
Anthropomorphites, than that it is a _rational_ faculty, and that
such is the nature of the Deity? But why a similar answer will not be
equally satisfactory in accounting for the order of the world, without
having recourse to any such intelligent creator as you insist on, may
be difficult to determine. It is only to say, that _such_ is the nature
of material objects, and that they are all originally possessed of a
_faculty_ of order and proportion. These are only more learned and
elaborate ways of confessing our ignorance; nor has the one hypothesis
any real advantage above the other, except in its greater conformity to
vulgar prejudices.

You have displayed this argument with great emphasis, replied
Cleanthes: You seem not sensible how easy it is to answer it. Even in
common life, if I assign a cause for any event, is it any objection,
Philo, that I cannot assign the cause of that cause, and answer every
new question which may incessantly be started? And what philosophers
could possibly submit to so rigid a rule? philosophers, who confess
ultimate causes to be totally unknown; and are sensible, that the most
refined principles into which they trace the phenomena, are still to
them as inexplicable as these phenomena themselves are to the vulgar.
The order and arrangement of nature, the curious adjustment of final
causes, the plain use and intention of every part and organ; all these
bespeak in the clearest language an intelligent cause or author. The
heavens and the earth join in the same testimony: The whole chorus of
Nature raises one hymn to the praises of its Creator. You alone, or
almost alone, disturb this general harmony. You start abstruse doubts,
cavils, and objections: You ask me, what is the cause of this cause? I
know not; I care not; that concerns not me. I have found a Deity; and
here I stop my inquiry. Let those go farther, who are wiser or more

I pretend to be neither, replied Philo: And for that very reason, I
should never perhaps have attempted to go so tar; especially when I
am sensible, that I must at last be contented to sit down with the
same answer, which, without farther trouble, might have satisfied me
from the beginning. If I am still to remain in utter ignorance of
causes, and can absolutely give an explication of nothing, I shall
never esteem it any advantage to shove off for a moment a difficulty,
which, you acknowledge, must immediately, in its full force, recur
upon me. Naturalists indeed very justly explain particular effects by
more general causes, though these general causes themselves should
remain in the end totally inexplicable; but they never surely thought
it satisfactory to explain a particular effect by a particular cause,
which was no more to be accounted for than the effect itself. An ideal
system, arranged of itself, without a precedent design, is not a whit
more explicable than a material one, which attains its order in a like
manner; nor is there any more difficulty in the latter supposition than
in the former.


But to show you still more inconveniences, continued Philo, in your
Anthropomorphism, please to take a new survey of your principles.
_Like effects prove like causes_. This is the experimental argument;
and this, you say too, is the sole theological argument. Now, it is
certain, that the liker the effects are which are seen, and the liker
the causes which are inferred, the stronger is the argument. Every
departure on either side diminishes the probability, and renders the
experiment less conclusive. You cannot doubt of the principle; neither
ought you to reject its consequences.

All the new discoveries in astronomy, which prove the immense grandeur
and magnificence of the works of Nature, are so many additional
arguments for a Deity, according to the true system of Theism; but,
according to your hypothesis of experimental Theism, they become
so many objections, by removing the effect still farther from all
resemblance to the effects of human art and contrivance. For, if
Lucretius,[1] even following the old system of the world, could exclaim,

     Quis regere immensi summam, quis habere profundi
     Indu manu validas potis est moderanter habenas?
     Quis pariter coelos omnes convertere? et omnes
     Ignibus ætheriis terras suffire feraces?
     Omnibus inque locis esse omni tempore præsto?

If Tully[2] esteemed this reasoning so natural, as to put it into
the mouth of his Epicurean: 'Quibus enim oculis animi intueri potuit
vester Plato fabricam illam tanti operis, qua construi a Deo atque
ædificari mundum facit? quæ molito? quæ ferramenta? qui vectes? quæ
machinæ? qui minstri tanti muneris fuerunt? quemadmodum autem obedire
et parere voluntati architecti aer, ignis, aqua, terra potuerunt?' If
this argument, I say, had any force in former ages, how much greater
must it have at present, when the bounds of Nature are so infinitely
enlarged, and such a magnificent scene is opened to us? It is still
more unreasonable to form our idea of so unlimited a cause from our
experience of the narrow productions of human design and invention.

The discoveries by microscopes, as they open a new universe in
miniature, are still objections, according to you, arguments, according
to me. The farther we push our researches of this kind, we are still
led to infer the universal cause of all to be vastly different from
mankind, or from any object of human experience and observation.

And what say you to the discoveries in anatomy, chemistry, botany?...
These surely are no objections, replied Cleanthes; they only discover
new instances of art and contrivance. It is still the image of mind
reflected on us from innumerable objects. Add, a mind _like the human_,
said Philo. I know of no other, replied Cleanthes. And the liker the
better, insisted Philo. To be sure, said Cleanthes.

Now, Cleanthes, said Philo, with an air of alacrity and triumph, mark
the consequences. _First_, By this method of reasoning, you renounce
all claim to infinity in any of the attributes of the Deity. For,
as the cause ought only to be proportioned to the effect, and the
effect, so far as it falls under our cognizance, is not infinite; what
pretensions have we, upon your suppositions, to ascribe that attribute
to the Divine Being? You will still insist, that, by removing him so
much from all similarity to human creatures, we give in to the most
arbitrary hypothesis, and at the same time weaken all proofs of his

_Secondly_, You have no reason, on your theory, for ascribing
perfection to the Deity, even in his finite capacity, or for
supposing him free from every error, mistake, or incoherence, in his
undertakings. There are many inexplicable difficulties in the works of
Nature, which, if we allow a perfect author to be proved _a priori_,
are easily solved, and become only seeming difficulties, from the
narrow capacity of man, who cannot trace infinite relations. But
according to your method of reasoning, these difficulties become all
real; and perhaps will be insisted on, as new instances of likeness to
human art and contrivance. At least, you must acknowledge, that it is
impossible for us to tell, from our limited views, whether this system
contains any great faults, or deserves any considerable praise, if
compared to other possible, and even real systems. Could a peasant,
if the Æneid were read to him, pronounce that poem to be absolutely
faultless, or even assign to it its proper rank among the productions
of human wit, he, who had never seen any other production?

But were this world ever so perfect a production, it must still remain
uncertain, whether all the excellences of the work can justly be
ascribed to the workman. If we survey a ship, what an exalted idea must
we form of the ingenuity of the carpenter who framed so complicated,
useful, and beautiful a machine? And what surprise must we feel, when
we find him a stupid mechanic, who imitated others, and copied an art,
which, through a long succession of ages, after multiplied trials,
mistakes, corrections, deliberations, and controversies, had been
gradually improving? Many worlds might have been botched and bungled,
throughout an eternity, ere this system was struck out; much labour
lost, many fruitless trials made; and a slow, but continued improvement
carried on during infinite ages in the art of world-making. In such
subjects, who can determine, where the truth; nay, who can conjecture
where the probability lies, amidst a great number of hypotheses which
may be proposed, and a still greater which may be imagined?

And what shadow of an argument, continued Philo, can you produce, from
your hypothesis, to prove the unity of the Deity? A great number of
men join in building a house or ship, in rearing a city, in framing a
commonwealth; why may not several deities combine in contriving and
framing a world? This is only so much greater similarity to human
affairs. By sharing the work among several, we may so much farther
limit the attributes of each, and get rid of that extensive power and
knowledge, which must be supposed in one deity, and which, according to
you, can only serve to weaken the proof of his existence. And if such
foolish, such vicious creatures as man, can yet often unite in framing
and executing one plan, how much more those deities or demons, whom we
may suppose several degrees more perfect!

To multiply causes without necessity, is indeed contrary to true
philosophy: but this principle applies not to the present case. Were
one deity antecedently proved by your theory, who were possessed
of every attribute requisite to the production of the universe; it
would be needless, I own, (though not absurd), to suppose any other
deity existent. But while it is still a question, Whether all these
attributes are united in one subject, or dispersed among several
independent beings, by what phenomena in nature can we pretend to
decide the controversy? Where we see a body raised in a scale, we
are sure that there is in the opposite scale, however concealed from
sight, some counterpoising weight equal to it; but it is still allowed
to doubt, whether that weight be an aggregate of several distinct
bodies, or one uniform united mass. And if the weight requisite very
much exceeds any thing which we have ever seen conjoined in any single
body, the former supposition becomes still more probable and natural.
An intelligent being of such vast power and capacity as is necessary
to produce the universe, or, to speak in the language of ancient
philosophy, so prodigious an animal exceeds all analogy, and even

But farther, Cleanthes: Men are mortal, and renew their species by
generation; and this is common to all living creatures. The two great
sexes of male and female, says Milton, animate the world. Why must
this circumstance, so universal, so essential, be excluded from those
numerous and limited deities? Behold, then, the theogony of ancient
times brought back upon us.

And why not become a perfect Anthropomorphite? Why not assert the deity
or deities to be corporeal, and to have eyes, a nose, mouth, ears, &c.?
Epicurus maintained, that no man had ever seen reason but in a human
figure; therefore the gods must have a human figure. And this argument,
which is deservedly so much ridiculed by Cicero, becomes, according to
you, solid and philosophical.

In a word, Cleanthes, a man who follows your hypothesis is able perhaps
to assert, or conjecture, that the universe, sometime, arose from
something like design: but beyond that position he cannot ascertain one
single circumstance; and is left afterwards to fix every point of his
theology by the utmost license of fancy and hypothesis. This world, for
aught he knows, is very faulty and imperfect, compared to a superior
standard; and was only the first rude essay of some infant deity, who
afterwards abandoned it, ashamed of his lame performance: it is the
work only of some dependent, inferior deity; and is the object of
derision to his superiors: it is the production of old age and dotage
in some superannuated deity; and ever since his death, has run on at
adventures, from the first impulse and active force which it received
from him. You justly give signs of horror, Demea, at these strange
suppositions; but these, and a thousand more of the same kind, are
Cleanthes's suppositions, not mine. From the moment the attributes of
the Deity are supposed finite, all these have place. And I cannot, for
my part, think that so wild and unsettled a system of theology is, in
any respect, preferable to none at all.

These suppositions I absolutely disown, cried Cleanthes: they strike
me, however, with no horror, especially when proposed in that
rambling way in which they drop from you. On the contrary, they give
me pleasure, when I see, that, by the utmost indulgence of your
imagination, you never get rid of the hypothesis of design in the
universe, but are obliged at every turn to have recourse to it. To
this concession I adhere steadily; and this I regard as a sufficient
foundation for religion.

[1] Lib. xi. 1094.

[2] De Nat Deor. lib. i.


It must be a slight fabric, indeed, said Demea, which can be erected
on so tottering a foundation. While we are uncertain whether there is
one deity or many; whether the deity or deities, to whom we owe our
existence, be perfect or imperfect, subordinate or supreme, dead or
alive, what trust or confidence can we repose in them? What devotion or
worship address to them? What veneration or obedience pay them? To all
the purposes of life the theory of religion becomes altogether useless:
and even with regard to speculative consequences, its uncertainty,
according to you, must render it totally precarious and unsatisfactory.

To render it still more unsatisfactory, said Philo, there occurs to me
another hypothesis, which must acquire an air of probability from the
method of reasoning so much insisted on by Cleanthes. That like effects
arise from like causes: this principle he supposes the foundation of
all religion. But there is another principle of the same kind, no less
certain, and derived from the same source of experience; that where
several known circumstances are observed to be similar, the unknown
will also be found similar. Thus, if we see the limbs of a human body,
we conclude that it is also attended with a human head, though hid from
us. Thus, if we see, through a chink in a wall, a small part of the
sun, we conclude, that, were the wall removed, we should see the whole
body. In short, this method of reasoning is so obvious and familiar,
that no scruple can ever be made with regard to its solidity.

Now, if we survey the universe, so far as it falls under our knowledge,
it bears a great resemblance to an animal or organized body, and
seems actuated with a like principle of life and motion. A continual
circulation of matter in it produces no disorder: a continual waste in
every part is incessantly repaired: the closest sympathy is perceived
throughout the entire system: and each part or member, in performing
its proper offices, operates both to its own preservation and to that
of the whole. The world, therefore, I infer, is an animal; and the
Deity is the soul of the world, actuating it, and actuated by it.

You have too much learning, Cleanthes, to be at all surprised at this
opinion, which, you know, was maintained by almost all the Theists of
antiquity, and chiefly prevails in their discourses and reasonings.
For though, sometimes, the ancient philosophers reason from final
causes, as if they thought the world the workmanship of God; yet it
appears rather their favourite notion to consider it as his body, whose
organization renders it subservient to him. And it must be confessed,
that, as the universe resembles more a human body than it does the
works of human art and contrivance, if our limited analogy could ever,
with any propriety, be extended to the whole of nature, the inference
seems juster in favour of the ancient than the modern theory.

There are many other advantages, too, in the former theory, which
recommended it to the ancient theologians. Nothing more repugnant
to all their notions, because nothing more repugnant to common
experience, than mind without body; a mere spiritual substance,
which fell not under their senses nor comprehension, and of which
they had not observed one single instance throughout all nature. Mind
and body they knew, because they felt both: an order, arrangement,
organization, or internal machinery, in both, they likewise knew, after
the same manner: and it could not but seem reasonable to transfer this
experience to the universe; and to suppose the divine mind and body
to be also coeval, and to have, both of them, order and arrangement
naturally inherent in them, and inseparable from them.

Here, therefore, is a new species of _Anthropomorphism_, Cleanthes,
on which you may deliberate; and a theory which seems not liable to
any considerable difficulties. You are too much superior, surely, to
_systematical prejudices_, to find any more difficulty in supposing
an animal body to be, originally, of itself, or from unknown causes,
possessed of order and organization, than in supposing a similar order
to belong to mind. But the _vulgar prejudice_, that body and mind
ought always to accompany each other, ought not, one should think, to
be entirely neglected; since it is founded on _vulgar experience_,
the only guide which you profess to follow in all these theological
inquiries. And if you assert, that our limited experience is an
unequal standard, by which to judge of the unlimited extent of nature;
you entirely abandon your own hypothesis, and must thenceforward
adopt our Mysticism, as you call it, and admit of the absolute
incomprehensibility of the Divine Nature.

This theory, I own, replied Cleanthes, has never before occurred to me,
though a pretty natural one; and I cannot readily, upon so short an
examination and reflection, deliver any opinion with regard to it. You
are very scrupulous, indeed, said Philo: were I to examine any system
of yours, I should not have acted with half that caution and reserve,
in starting objections and difficulties to it. However, if any thing
occur to you, you will oblige us by proposing it.

Why then, replied Cleanthes, it seems to me, that, though the world
does, in many circumstances, resemble an animal body; yet is the
analogy also defective in many circumstances the most material: no
organs of sense; no seat of thought or reason; no one precise origin of
motion and action. In short, it seems to bear a stronger resemblance
to a vegetable than to an animal, and your inference would be so far
inconclusive in favour of the soul of the world.

But, in the next place, your theory seems to imply the eternity of
the world; and that is a principle, which, I think, can be refuted by
the strongest reasons and probabilities. I shall suggest an argument
to this purpose, which, I believe, has not been insisted on by any
writer. Those, who reason from the late origin of arts and sciences,
though their inference wants not force, may perhaps be refuted by
considerations derived from the nature of human society, which is in
continual revolution, between ignorance and knowledge, liberty and
slavery, riches and poverty; so that it is impossible for us, from
our limited experience, to foretel with assurance what events may or
may not be expected. Ancient learning and history seem to have been
in great danger of entirely perishing after the inundation of the
barbarous nations; and had these convulsions continued a little longer,
or been a little more violent, we should not probably have now known
what passed in the world a few centuries before us. Nay, were it not
for the superstition of the Popes, who preserved a little jargon of
Latin, in order to support the appearance of an ancient and universal
church, that tongue must have been utterly lost; in which case, the
Western world, being totally barbarous, would not have been in a fit
disposition for receiving the Greek language and learning, which was
conveyed to them after the sacking of Constantinople. When learning
and books had been extinguished, even the mechanical arts would have
fallen considerably to decay; and it is easily imagined, that fable or
tradition might ascribe to them a much later origin than the true one.
This vulgar argument, therefore, against the eternity of the world,
seems a little precarious.

But here appears to be the foundation of a better argument. Lucullus
was the first that brought cherry-trees from Asia to Europe; though
that tree thrives so well in many European climates, that it grows
in the woods without any culture. Is it possible, that throughout a
whole eternity, no European had ever passed into Asia, and thought of
transplanting so delicious a fruit into his own country? Or if the tree
was once transplanted and propagated, how could it ever afterwards
perish? Empires may rise and fall, liberty and slavery succeed
alternately, ignorance and knowledge give place to each other; but the
cherry-tree will still remain in the woods of Greece, Spain and Italy,
and will never be affected by the revolutions of human society.

It is not two thousand years since vines were transplanted into France,
though there is no climate in the world more favourable to them. It
is not three centuries since horses, cows, sheep, swine, dogs, corn,
were known in America. Is it possible, that during the revolutions
of a whole eternity, there never arose a Columbus, who might open
the communication between Europe and that continent? We may as well
imagine, that all men would wear stockings for ten thousand years, and
never have the sense to think of garters to tie them. All these seem
convincing proofs of the youth, or rather infancy, of the world; as
being founded on the operation of principles more constant and steady
than those by which human society is governed and directed. Nothing
less than a total convulsion of the elements will ever destroy all
the European animals and vegetables which are now to be found in the
Western world.

And what argument have you against such convulsions? replied Philo.
Strong and almost incontestable proofs may be traced over the whole
earth, that every part of this globe has continued for many ages
entirely covered with water. And though order were supposed inseparable
from matter, and inherent in it; yet may matter be susceptible of many
and great revolutions, through the endless periods of eternal duration.
The incessant changes, to which every part of it is subject, seem to
intimate some such general transformations; though, at the same time,
it is observable, that all the changes and corruptions of which we
have ever had experience, are but passages from one state of order to
another; nor can matter ever rest in total deformity and confusion.
What we see in the parts, we may infer in the whole; at least, that
is the method of reasoning on which you rest your whole theory. And
were I obliged to defend any particular system of this nature, which I
never willingly should do, I esteem none more plausible than that which
ascribes an eternal inherent principle of order to the world, though
attended with great and continual revolutions and alterations. This at
once solves all difficulties; and if the solution, by being so general,
is not entirely complete and satisfactory, it is at least a theory that
we must sooner or later have recourse to, whatever system we embrace.
How could things have been as they are, were there not an original
inherent principle of order somewhere, in thought or in matter? And it
is very indifferent to which of these we give the preference. Chance
has no place, on any hypothesis, sceptical or religious. Every thing
is surely governed by steady, inviolable laws. And were the inmost
essence of things laid open to us, we should then discover a scene,
of which, at present, we can have no idea. Instead of admiring the
order of natural beings, we should clearly see that it was absolutely
impossible for them, in the smallest article, ever to admit of any
other disposition.

Were any one inclined to revive the ancient Pagan Theology, which
maintained, as we learn from Hesiod, that this globe was governed
by 30,000 deities, who arose from the unknown powers of nature: you
would naturally object, Cleanthes, that nothing is gained by this
hypothesis; and that it is as easy to suppose all men animals, beings
more numerous, but less perfect, to have sprung immediately from a
like origin. Push the same inference a step farther, and you will find
a numerous society of deities as explicable as one universal deity,
who possesses within himself the powers and perfections of the whole
society. All these systems, then, of Scepticism, Polytheism, and
Theism, you must allow, on your principles, to be on a like footing,
and that no one of them has any advantage over the others. You may
thence learn the fallacy of your principles.


But here, continued Philo, in examining the ancient system of the soul
of the world, there strikes me, all on a sudden, a new idea, which, if
just, must go near to subvert all your reasoning, and destroy even your
first inferences, on which you repose such confidence. If the universe
bears a greater likeness to animal bodies and to vegetables, than to
the works of human art, it is more probable that its cause resembles
the cause of the former than that of the latter, and its origin ought
rather to be ascribed to generation or vegetation, than to reason or
design. Your conclusion, even according to your own principles, is
therefore lame and defective.

Pray open up this argument a little farther, said Demea, for I do not
rightly apprehend it in that concise manner in which you have expressed

Our friend Cleanthes, replied Philo, as you have heard, asserts, that
since no question of fact can be proved otherwise than by experience,
the existence of a Deity admits not of proof from any other medium. The
world, says he, resembles the works of human contrivance; therefore
its cause must also resemble that of the other. Here we may remark,
that the operation of one very small part of nature, to wit man, upon
another very small part, to wit that inanimate matter lying within
his reach, is the rule by which Cleanthes judges of the origin of
the whole; and he measures objects, so widely disproportioned, by the
same individual standard. But to waive all objections drawn from this
topic, I affirm, that there are other parts of the universe (besides
the machines of human invention) which bear still a greater resemblance
to the fabric of the world, and which, therefore, afford a better
conjecture concerning the universal origin of this system. These parts
are animals and vegetables. The world plainly resembles more an animal
or a vegetable, than it does a watch or a knitting-loom. Its cause,
therefore, it is more probable, resembles the cause of the former. The
cause of the former is generation or vegetation. The cause, therefore,
of the world, we may infer to be something similar or analogous to
generation or vegetation.

But how is it conceivable, said Demea, that the world can arise from
any thing similar to vegetation or generation?

Very easily, replied Philo. In like manner as a tree sheds its seed
into the neighbouring fields, and produces other trees; so the great
vegetable, the world, or this planetary system, produces within itself
certain seeds, which, being scattered into the surrounding chaos,
vegetate into new worlds. A comet, for instance, is the seed of a
world; and after it has been fully ripened, by passing from sun to sun,
and star to star, it is at last tossed into the unformed elements which
every where surround this universe, and immediately sprouts up into a
new system.

Or if, for the sake of variety (for I see no other advantage), we
should suppose this world to be an animal; a comet is the egg of this
animal: and in like manner as an ostrich lays its egg in the sand,
which, without any farther care, hatches the egg, and produces a new
animal; so ... I understand you, says Demea: But what wild, arbitrary
suppositions are these! What _data_ have you for such extraordinary
conclusions? And is the slight, imaginary resemblance of the world to
a vegetable or an animal sufficient to establish the same inference
with regard to both? Objects, which are in general so widely different,
ought they to be a standard for each other?

Right, cries Philo: This is the topic on which I have all along
insisted. I have still asserted, that we have no _data_ to establish
any system of cosmogony. Our experience, so imperfect in itself, and
so limited both in extent and duration, can afford us no probable
conjecture concerning the whole of things. But if we must needs fix
on some hypothesis; by what rule, pray, ought we to determine our
choice? Is there any other rule than the greater similarity of the
objects compared? And does not a plant or an animal, which springs from
vegetation or generation, bear a stronger resemblance to the world,
than does any artificial machine, which arises from reason and design?

But what is this vegetation and generation of which you talk, said
Demea? Can you explain their operations, and anatomize that fine
internal structure on which they depend?

As much, at least, replied Philo, as Cleanthes can explain the
operations of reason, or anatomize that internal structure on which
_it_ depends. But without any such elaborate disquisitions, when I
see an animal, I infer, that it sprang from generation; and that with
as great certainty as you conclude a house to have been reared by
design. These words, _generation, reason_, mark only certain powers
and energies in nature, whose effects are known, but whose essence is
incomprehensible; and one of these principles, more than the other, has
no privilege for being made a standard to the whole of nature.

In reality, Demea, it may reasonably be expected, that the larger the
views are which we take of things, the better will they conduct us in
our conclusions concerning such extraordinary and such magnificent
subjects. In this little corner of the world alone, there are four
principles, _reason, instinct, generation, vegetation_, which are
similar to each other, and are the causes of similar effects. What a
number of other principles may we naturally suppose in the immense
extent and variety of the universe, could we travel from planet to
planet, and from system to system, in order to examine each part of
this mighty fabric? Any one of these four principles above mentioned,
(and a hundred others which lie open to our conjecture), may afford
us a theory by which to judge of the origin of the world; and it is
a palpable and egregious partiality to confine our view entirely to
that principle by which our own minds operate. Were this principle
more intelligible on that account, such a partiality might be somewhat
excuseable: But reason, in its internal fabric and structure, is
really as little known to us as instinct or vegetation; and, perhaps,
even that vague, undeterminate word, _Nature_, to which the vulgar
refer every thing, is not at the bottom more inexplicable. The
effects of these principles are all known to us from experience;
but the principles themselves, and their manner of operation, are
totally unknown; nor is it less intelligible, or less conformable to
experience, to say, that the world arose by vegetation, from a seed
shed by another world, than to say that it arose from a divine reason
or contrivance, according to the sense in which Cleanthes understands

But methinks, said Demea, if the world had a vegetative quality, and
could sow the seeds of new worlds into the infinite chaos, this power
would be still an additional argument for design in its author. For
whence could arise so wonderful a faculty but from design? Or how can
order spring from any thing which perceives not that order which it

You need only look around you, replied Philo, to satisfy yourself with
regard to this question. A tree bestows order and organization on that
tree which springs from it, without knowing the order; an animal in
the same manner on its offspring; a bird on its nest; and instances
of this kind are even more frequent in the world than those of order,
which arise from reason and contrivance. To say, that all this order
in animals and vegetables proceeds ultimately from design, is begging
the question; nor can that great point be ascertained otherwise than by
proving, _a priori_, both that order is, from its nature, inseparably
attached to thought; and that it can never of itself, or from original
unknown principles, belong to matter.

But farther, Demea; this objection which you urge can never be made
use of by Cleanthes, without renouncing a defence which he has already
made against one of my objections. When I inquired concerning the
cause of that supreme reason and intelligence into which he resolves
every thing; he told me, that the impossibility of satisfying such
inquiries could never be admitted as an objection in any species of
philosophy. _We must stop somewhere_, says he; _nor is it ever within
the reach of human capacity to explain ultimate causes, of show the
last connections of any objects. It is sufficient, if any steps, so
far as we go, are supported by experience and observation_. Now, that
vegetation and generation, as well as reason, are experienced to be
principles of order in nature, is undeniable. If I rest my system of
cosmogony on the former, preferably to the latter, it is at my choice.
The matter seems entirely arbitrary. And when Cleanthes asks me what is
the cause of my great vegetative or generative faculty, I am equally
entitled to ask him the cause of his great reasoning principle. These
questions we have agreed to forbear on both sides; and it is chiefly
his interest on the present occasion to stick to this agreement.
Judging by our limited and imperfect experience, generation has some
privileges above reason: for we see every day the latter arise from the
former, never the former from the latter.

Compare, I beseech you, the consequences on both sides. The world, say
I, resembles an animal; therefore it is an animal, therefore it arose
from generation. The steps, I confess, are wide; yet there is some
small appearance of analogy in each step. The world, says Cleanthes,
resembles a machine; therefore it is a machine, therefore it arose from
design. The steps are here equally wide, and the analogy less striking.
And if he pretends to carry on _my_ hypothesis a step farther, and
to infer design or reason from the great principle of generation, on
which I insist; I may, with better authority, use the same freedom
to push farther _his_ hypothesis, and infer a divine generation or
theogony from his principle of reason. I have at least some faint
shadow of experience, which is the utmost that can ever be attained in
the present subject. Reason, in innumerable instances, is observed to
arise from the principle of generation, and never to arise from any
other principle.

Hesiod, and all the ancient mythologists, were so struck with this
analogy, that they universally explained the origin of nature from an
animal birth, and copulation. Plato too, so far as he is intelligible,
seems to have adopted some such notion in his Timæus.

The Brahmins assert, that the world arose from an infinite spider,
who spun this whole complicated mass from his bowels, and annihilates
afterwards the whole or any part of it, by absorbing it again, and
resolving it into his own essence. Here is a species of cosmogony,
which appears to us ridiculous; because a spider is a little
contemptible animal, whose operations we are never likely to take for
a model of the whole universe. But still here is a new species of
analogy, even in our globe. And were there a planet wholly inhabited by
spiders, (which is very possible), this inference would there appear
as natural and irrefragable as that which in our planet ascribes the
origin of all things to design and intelligence, as explained by
Cleanthes. Why an orderly system may not be spun from the belly as well
as from the brain, it will be difficult for him to give a satisfactory

I must confess, Philo, replied Cleanthes, that of all men living, the
task which you have undertaken, of raising doubts and objections,
suits you best, and seems, in a manner, natural and unavoidable to
you. So great is your fertility of invention, that I am not ashamed
to acknowledge myself unable, on a sudden, to solve regularly such
out-of-the-way difficulties as you incessantly start upon me: though
I clearly see, in general, their fallacy and error. And I question
not, but you are yourself, at present, in the same case, and have not
the solution so ready as the objection: while you must be sensible,
that common sense and reason are entirely against you; and that such
whimsies as you have delivered, may puzzle, but never can convince us.


What you ascribe to the fertility of my invention, replied Philo,
is entirely owing to the nature of the subject. In subjects adapted
to the narrow compass of human reason, there is commonly but one
determination, which carries probability or conviction with it; and to
a man of sound judgment, all other suppositions, but that one, appear
entirely absurd and chimerical. But in such questions as the present, a
hundred contradictory views may preserve a kind of imperfect analogy;
and invention has here full scope to exert itself. Without any great
effort of thought, I believe that I could, in an instant, propose other
systems of cosmogony, which would have some faint appearance of truth;
though it is a thousand, a million to one, if either yours or any one
of mine be the true system.

For instance, what if I should revive the old Epicurean hypothesis?
This is commonly, and I believe justly, esteemed the most absurd
system that has yet been proposed; yet I know not whether, with a few
alterations, it might not be brought to bear a faint appearance of
probability. Instead of supposing matter infinite, as Epicurus did, let
us suppose it finite. A finite number of particles is only susceptible
of finite transpositions: and it must happen, in an eternal duration,
that every possible order or position must be tried an infinite number
of times. This world, therefore, with all its events, even the most
minute, has before been produced and destroyed, and will again be
produced and destroyed, without any bounds and limitations. No one, who
has a conception of the powers of infinite, in comparison of finite,
will ever scruple this determination.

But this supposes, said Demea, that matter can acquire motion, without
any voluntary agent or first mover.

And where is the difficulty, replied Philo, of that supposition? Every
event, before experience, is equally difficult and incomprehensible;
and every event, after experience, is equally easy and intelligible.
Motion, in many instances, from gravity, from elasticity, from
electricity, begins in matter, without any known voluntary agent:
and to suppose always, in these cases, an unknown voluntary agent,
is mere hypothesis; and hypothesis attended with no advantages. The
beginning of motion in matter itself is as conceivable _a priori_ as
its communication from mind and intelligence.

Besides, why may not motion have been propagated by impulse through all
eternity, and the same stock of it, or nearly the same, be still upheld
in the universe? As much is lost by the composition of motion, as much
is gained by its resolution. And whatever the causes are, the fact is
certain, that matter is, and always has been, in continual agitation,
as far as human experience or tradition reaches. There is not probably,
at present, in the whole universe, one particle of matter at absolute

And this very consideration too, continued Philo, which we have
stumbled on in the course of the argument, suggests a new hypothesis
of cosmogony, that is not absolutely absurd and improbable. Is there a
system, an order, an economy of things, by which matter can preserve
that perpetual agitation which seems essential to it, and yet maintain
a constancy in the forms which it produces? There certainly is such
an economy; for this is actually the case with the present world.
The continual motion of matter, therefore, in less than infinite
transpositions, must produce this economy or order; and by its very
nature, that order, when once established, supports itself, for many
ages, if not to eternity. But wherever matter is so poized, arranged,
and adjusted, as to continue in perpetual motion, and yet preserve a
constancy in the forms, its situation must, of necessity, have all the
same appearance of art and contrivance which we observe at present. All
the parts of each form must have a relation to each other, and to the
whole; and the whole itself must have a relation to the other parts
of the universe; to the element in which the form subsists; to the
materials with which it repairs its waste and decay; and to every other
form which is hostile or friendly. A defect in any of these particulars
destroys the form; and the matter of which it is composed is again set
loose, and is thrown into irregular motions and fermentations, till it
unite itself to some other regular form. If no such form be prepared
to receive it, and if there be a great quantity of this corrupted
matter in the universe, the universe itself is entirely disordered;
whether it be the feeble embryo of a world in its first beginnings
that is thus destroyed, or the rotten carcase of one languishing in
old age and infirmity. In either case, a chaos ensues; till finite,
though innumerable revolutions produce at last some forms, whose parts
and organs are so adjusted as to support the forms amidst a continued
succession of matter.

Suppose (for we shall endeavour to vary the expression), that matter
were thrown into any position, by a blind, unguided force; it is
evident that this first position must, in all probability, be the
most confused and most disorderly imaginable, without any resemblance
to those works of human contrivance, which, along with a symmetry of
parts, discover an adjustment of means to ends, and a tendency to
self-preservation. If the actuating force cease after this operation,
matter must remain for ever in disorder, and continue an immense chaos,
without any proportion or activity. But suppose that the actuating
force, whatever it be, still continues in matter, this first position
will immediately give place to a second, which will likewise in all
probability be as disorderly as the first, and so on through many
successions of changes and revolutions. No particular order or position
ever continues a moment unaltered. The original force, still remaining
in activity, gives a perpetual restlessness to matter. Every possible
situation is produced, and instantly destroyed. If a glimpse or dawn
of order appears for a moment, it is instantly hurried away, and
confounded, by that never-ceasing force which actuates every part of

Thus the universe goes on for many ages in a continued succession
of chaos and disorder. But is it not possible that it may settle at
last, so as not to lose its motion and active force (for that we
have supposed inherent in it), yet so as to preserve an uniformity
of appearance, amidst the continual motion and fluctuation of its
parts? This we find to be the case with the universe at present.
Every individual is perpetually changing, and every part of every
individual; and yet the whole remains, in appearance, the same. May we
not hope for such a position, or rather be assured of it, from the
eternal revolutions of unguided matter; and may not this account for
all the appearing wisdom and contrivance which is in the universe?
Let us contemplate the subject a little, and we shall find, that this
adjustment, if attained by matter of a seeming stability in the forms,
with a real and perpetual revolution or motion of parts, affords a
plausible, if not a true solution of the difficulty.

It is in vain, therefore, to insist upon the uses of the parts in
animals or vegetables, and their curious adjustment to each other. I
would fain know, how an animal could subsist, unless its parts were so
adjusted? Do we not find, that it immediately perishes whenever this
adjustment ceases, and that its matter corrupting tries some new form?
It happens indeed, that the parts of the world are so well adjusted,
that some regular form immediately lays claim to this corrupted matter:
and if it were not so, could the world subsist? Must it not dissolve as
well as the animal, and pass through new positions and situations, till
in great, but finite succession, it fall at last into the present or
some such order?

It is well, replied Cleanthes, you told us, that this hypothesis
was suggested on a sudden, in the course of the argument. Had
you had leisure to examine it, you would soon have perceived the
insuperable objections to which it is exposed. No form, you say, can
subsist, unless it possess those powers and organs requisite for its
subsistence: some new order or economy must be tried, and so on,
without intermission; till at last some order, which can support and
maintain itself, is fallen upon. But according to this hypothesis,
whence arise the many conveniences and advantages which men and all
animals possess? Two eyes, two ears, are not absolutely necessary for
the subsistence of the species. Human race might have been propagated
and preserved, without horses, dogs, cows, sheep, and those innumerable
fruits and products which serve to our satisfaction and enjoyment. If
no camels had been created for the use of man in the sandy deserts of
Africa and Arabia, would the world have been dissolved? If no loadstone
had been framed to give that wonderful and useful direction to the
needle, would human society and the human kind have been immediately
extinguished? Though the maxims of Nature be in general very frugal,
yet instances of this kind are far from being rare; and any one of them
is a sufficient proof of design, and of a benevolent design, which gave
rise to the order and arrangement of the universe.

At least, you may safely infer, said Philo, that the foregoing
hypothesis is so far incomplete and imperfect, which I shall not
scruple to allow. But can we ever reasonably expect greater success
in any attempts of this nature? Or can we ever hope to erect a system
of cosmogony, that will be liable to no exceptions, and will contain
no circumstance repugnant to our limited and imperfect experience of
the analogy of Nature? Your theory itself cannot surely pretend to any
such advantage, even though you have run into _Anthropomorphism_, the
better to preserve a conformity to common experience. Let us once more
put into trial. In all instances which we have ever seen, ideas are
copied from real objects, and are ectypal, not archetypal, to express
myself in learned terms: You reverse this order, and give thought the
precedence. In all instances which we have ever seen, thought has no
influence upon matter, except where that matter is so conjoined with
it as to have an equal reciprocal influence upon it. No animal can move
immediately any thing but the members of its own body; and indeed,
the equality of action and re-action seems to be an universal law of
nature: But your theory implies a contradiction to this experience.
These instances, with many more, which it were easy to collect,
(particularly the supposition of a mind or system of thought that is
eternal, or, in other words, an animal ingenerable and immortal); these
instances, I say, may teach all of us sobriety in condemning each
other, and let us see, that as no system of this kind ought ever to be
received from a slight analogy, so neither ought any to be rejected on
account of a small incongruity. For that is an inconvenience from which
we can justly pronounce no one to be exempted.

All religious systems, it is confessed, are subject to great and
insuperable difficulties. Each disputant triumphs in his turn; while he
carries on an offensive war, and exposes the absurdities, barbarities,
and pernicious tenets of his antagonist. But all of them, on the whole,
prepare a complete triumph for the _Sceptic_; who tells them, that no
system ought ever to be embraced with regard to such subjects: For
this plain reason, that no absurdity ought ever to be assented to with
regard to any subject. A total suspense of judgment is here our only
reasonable resource. And if every attack, as is commonly observed, and
no defence, among Theologians, is successful; how complete must be
_his_ victory, who remains always, with all mankind, on the offensive,
and has himself no fixed station or abiding city, which he is ever, on
any occasion, obliged to defend?


But if so many difficulties attend the argument _a posteriori_, said
Demea, had we not better adhere to that simple and sublime argument _a
priori_, which, by offering to us infallible demonstration, cuts off
at once all doubt and difficulty? By this argument, too, we may prove
the INFINITY of the Divine attributes, which, I am afraid, can never be
ascertained with certainty from any other topic. For how can an effect,
which either is finite, or, for aught we know, may be so; how can such
an effect, I say, prove an infinite cause? The unity too of the Divine
Nature, it is very difficult, if not absolutely impossible, to deduce
merely from contemplating the works of nature; nor will the uniformity
alone of the plan, even were it allowed, give us any assurance of that
attribute. Whereas the argument _a priori_....

You seem to reason, Demea, interposed Cleanthes, as if those
advantages and conveniences in the abstract argument were full proofs
of its solidity. But it is first proper, in my opinion, to determine
what argument of this nature you choose to insist on; and we shall
afterwards, from itself, better than from its _useful_ consequences,
endeavour to determine what value we ought to put upon it.

The argument, replied Demea, which I would insist on, is the common
one. Whatever exists must have a cause or reason of its existence; it
being absolutely impossible for any thing to produce itself, or be the
cause of its own existence. In mounting up, therefore, from effects
to causes, we must either go on in tracing an infinite succession,
without any ultimate cause at all; or must at last have recourse to
some ultimate cause, that is _necessarily_ existent: Now, that the
first supposition is absurd, may be thus proved. In the infinite chain
or succession of causes and effects, each single effect is determined
to exist by the power and efficacy of that cause which immediately
preceded; but the whole eternal chain or succession, taken together,
is not determined or caused by any thing; and yet it is evident that
it requires a cause or reason, as much as any particular object
which begins to exist in time. The question is still reasonable,
why this particular succession of causes existed from eternity, and
not any other succession, or no succession at all. If there be no
necessarily existent being, any supposition which can be formed is
equally possible; nor is there any more absurdity in Nothing's having
existed from eternity, than there is in that succession of causes
which constitutes the universe. What was it, then, which determined
Something to exist rather than Nothing, and bestowed being on a
particular possibility, exclusive of the rest? _External causes_, there
are supposed to be none. _Chance_ is a word without a meaning. Was it
_Nothing_? But that can never produce any thing. We must, therefore,
have recourse to a necessarily existent Being, who carries the REASON
of his existence in himself, and who cannot be supposed not to exist,
without an express contradiction. There is, consequently, such a Being;
that is, there is a Deity.

I shall not leave it to Philo, said Cleanthes, though I know that the
starting objections is his chief delight, to point out the weakness of
this metaphysical reasoning. It seems to me so obviously ill-grounded,
and at the same time of so little consequence to the cause of true
piety and religion, that I shall myself venture to show the fallacy of

I shall begin with observing, that there is an evident absurdity in
pretending to demonstrate a matter of fact, or to prove it by any
arguments _a priori_. Nothing is demonstrable, unless the contrary
implies a contradiction. Nothing, that is distinctly conceivable,
implies a contradiction. Whatever we conceive as existent, we can
also conceive as non-existent. There is no being, therefore, whose
non-existence implies a contradiction. Consequently there is no being,
whose existence is demonstrable. I propose this argument as entirely
decisive, and am willing to rest the whole controversy upon it.

It is pretended that the Deity is a necessarily existent being; and
this necessity of his existence is attempted to be explained by
asserting, that if we knew his whole essence or nature, we should
perceive it to be as impossible for him not to exist, as for twice two
not to be four. But it is evident that this can never happen, while
our faculties remain the same as at present. It will still be possible
for us, at any time, to conceive the non-existence of what we formerly
conceived to exist; nor can the mind ever lie under a necessity of
supposing any object to remain always in being; in the same manner as
we lie under a necessity of always conceiving twice two to be four. The
words, therefore, _necessary existence_, have no meaning; or, which is
the same thing, none that is consistent.

But farther, why may not die material universe be the necessarily
existent Being, according to this pretended explication of necessity?
We dare not affirm that we know all the qualities of matter; and for
aught we can determine, it may contain some qualities, which, were they
known, would make its non-existence appear as great a contradiction as
that twice two is five. I find only one argument employed to prove,
that the material world is not the necessarily existent Being; and
this argument is derived from the contingency both of the matter and
the form of the world. 'Any particle of matter,' it is said,[1] 'may
be _conceived_ to be annihilated; and any form may be _conceived_ to
be altered. Such an annihilation or alteration, therefore, is not
impossible.' But it seems a great partiality not to perceive, that
the same argument extends equally to the Deity, so far as we have
any conception of him; and that the mind can at least imagine him to
be non-existent, or his attributes to be altered. It must be some
unknown, inconceivable qualities, which can make his non-existence
appear impossible, or his attributes unalterable: And no reason can
be assigned, why these qualities may not belong to matter. As they
are altogether unknown and inconceivable, they can never be proved
incompatible with it.

Add to this, that in tracing an eternal succession of objects, it seems
absurd to inquire for a general cause or first author. How can any
thing, that exists from eternity, have a cause, since that relation
implies a priority in time, and a beginning of existence?

In such a chain, too, or succession of objects, each part is caused
by that which preceded it, and causes that which succeeds it. Where
then is the difficulty? But the WHOLE, you say, wants a cause. I
answer, that the uniting of these parts into a whole, like the uniting
of several distinct countries into one kingdom, or several distinct
members into one body, is performed merely by an arbitrary act of the
mind, and has no influence on the nature of things. Did I show you
the particular causes of each individual in a collection of twenty
particles of matter, I should think it very unreasonable, should you
afterwards ask me, what was the cause of the whole twenty. This is
sufficiently explained in explaining the cause of the parts.

Though the reasonings which you have urged, Cleanthes, may well
excuse me, said Philo, from starting any farther difficulties, yet
I cannot forbear insisting still upon another topic. It is observed
by arithmeticians, that the products of 9 compose always either 9,
or some lesser product of 9, if you add together all the characters
of which any of the former products is composed. Thus, of 18, 27,
36, which are products of 9, you make 9 by adding 1 to 8, 2 to 7, 3
to 6. Thus, 369 is a product also of 9; and if you add 3, 6, and 9,
you make 18, a lesser product of 9.[2] To a superficial observer, so
wonderful a regularity may be admired as the effect either of chance
or design: but a skilful algebraist immediately concludes it to be
the work of necessity, and demonstrates, that it must for ever result
from the nature of these numbers. Is it not probable, I ask, that the
whole economy of the universe is conducted by a like necessity, though
no human algebra can furnish a key which solves the difficulty? And
instead of admiring the order of natural beings, may it not happen,
that, could we penetrate into the intimate nature of bodies, we should
clearly see why it was absolutely impossible they could ever admit of
any other disposition? So dangerous is it to introduce this idea of
necessity into the present question! and so naturally does it afford an
inference directly opposite to the religious hypothesis!

But dropping all these abstractions, continued Philo, and confining
ourselves to more familiar topics, I shall venture to add an
observation, that the argument _a priori_ has seldom been found
very convincing, except to people of a metaphysical head, who have
accustomed themselves to abstract reasoning, and who, finding from
mathematics, that the understanding frequently leads to truth through
obscurity, and, contrary to first appearances, have transferred the
same habit of thinking to subjects where it ought not to have place.
Other people, even of good sense and the best inclined to religion,
feel always some deficiency in such arguments, though they are not
perhaps able to explain distinctly where it lies; a certain proof that
men ever did, and ever will derive their religion from other sources
than from this species of reasoning.

[1] Dr Clarke.

[2] République des Lettres, Août 1685.


It is my opinion, I own, replied Demea, that each man feels, in a
manner, the truth of religion within his own breast, and, from a
consciousness of his imbecility and misery, rather than from any
reasoning, is led to seek protection from that Being, on whom he and
all nature is dependent. So anxious or so tedious are even the best
scenes of life, that futurity is still the object of all our hopes
and fears. We incessantly look forward, and endeavour, by prayers,
adoration, and sacrifice, to appease those unknown powers, whom we
find, by experience, so able to afflict and oppress us. Wretched
creatures that we are! what resource for us amidst the innumerable
ills of life, did not religion, suggest some methods of atonement,
and appease those terrors with which we are incessantly agitated and

I am indeed persuaded, said Philo, that the best, and indeed the only
method of bringing every one to a due sense of religion, is by just
representations of the misery and wickedness of men. And for that
purpose a talent of eloquence and strong imagery is more requisite than
that of reasoning and argument. For is it necessary to prove what every
one feels within himself? It is only necessary to make us feel it, if
possible, more intimately and sensibly.

The people, indeed, replied Demea, are sufficiently convinced of this
great and melancholy truth. The miseries of life; the unhappiness
of man; the general corruptions of our nature; the unsatisfactory
enjoyment of pleasures, riches, honours; these phrases have become
almost proverbial in all languages. And who can doubt of what all men
declare from their own immediate feeling and experience?

In this point, said Philo, the learned are perfectly agreed with the
vulgar; and in all letters, _sacred_ and _profane_, the topic of
human misery has been insisted on with the most pathetic eloquence
that sorrow and melancholy could inspire. The poets, who speak from
sentiment, without a system, and whose testimony has therefore the
more authority, abound in images of this nature. From Homer down to Dr
Young, the whole inspired tribe have ever been sensible, that no other
representation of things would suit the feeling and observation of each

As to authorities, replied Demea, you need not seek them. Look round
this library of Cleanthes. I shall venture to affirm, that, except
authors of particular sciences, such as chemistry or botany, who have
no occasion to treat of human life, there is scarce one of those
innumerable writers, from whom the sense of human misery has not, in
some passage or other, extorted a complaint and confession of it. At
least, the chance is entirely on that side; and no one author has ever,
so far as I can recollect, been so extravagant as to deny it.

There you must excuse me, said Philo: Leibnitz has denied it; and is
perhaps the first[1] who ventured upon so bold and paradoxical an
opinion; at least, the first who made it essential to his philosophical

And by being the first, replied Demea, might he not have been sensible
of his error? For is this a subject in which philosophers can propose
to make discoveries especially in so late an age? And can any man hope
by a simple denial (for the subject scarcely admits of reasoning),
to bear down the united testimony of mankind, founded on sense and

And why should man, added he, pretend to an exemption from the lot of
all other animals? The whole earth, believe me, Philo, is cursed and
polluted. A perpetual war is kindled amongst all living creatures.
Necessity, hunger, want, stimulate the strong and courageous: Fear,
anxiety, terror, agitate the weak and infirm. The first entrance into
life gives anguish to the new-born infant and to its wretched parent:
Weakness, impotence, distress, attend each stage of that life: and it
is at last finished in agony and horror.

Observe too, says Philo, the curious artifices of Nature, in order
to embitter the life of every living being. The stronger prey upon
the weaker, and keep them in perpetual terror and anxiety. The weaker
too, in their turn, often prey upon the stronger, and vex and molest
them without relaxation. Consider that innumerable race of insects,
which either are bred on the body of each animal, or, flying about,
infix their stings in him. These insects have others still less than
themselves, which torment them. And thus on each hand, before and
behind, above and below, every animal is surrounded with enemies, which
incessantly seek his misery and destruction.

Man alone, said Demea, seems to be, in part, an exception to this rule.
For by combination in society, he can easily master lions, tigers, and
bears, whose greater strength and agility naturally enable them to prey
upon him.

On the contrary, it is here chiefly, cried Philo, that the uniform
and equal maxims of Nature are most apparent. Man, it is true, can,
by combination, surmount all his _real_ enemies, and become master of
the whole animal creation: but does he not immediately raise up to
himself _imaginary_ enemies, the demons of his fancy, who haunt him
with superstitious terrors, and blast every enjoyment of life? His
pleasure, as he imagines, becomes, in their eyes, a crime: his food and
repose give them umbrage and offence: his very sleep and dreams furnish
new materials to anxious fear: and even death, his refuge from every
other ill, presents only the dread of endless and innumerable woes. Nor
does the wolf molest more the timid flock, than superstition does the
anxious breast of wretched mortals.

Besides, consider, Demea: This very society, by which we surmount those
wild beasts, our natural enemies; what new enemies does it not raise to
us? What wo and misery does it not occasion? Man is the greatest enemy
of man. Oppression, injustice, contempt, contumely, violence, sedition,
war, calumny, treachery, fraud; by these they mutually torment each
other; and they would soon dissolve that society which they had formed,
were it not for the dread of still greater ills, which must attend
their separation.

But though these external insults, said Demea, from animals, from men,
from all the elements, which assault us, form a frightful catalogue
of woes, they are nothing in comparison of those which arise within
ourselves, from the distempered condition of our mind and body. How
many lie under the lingering torment of diseases? Hear the pathetic
enumeration of the great poet.

     Intestine stone and ulcer, colic-pangs,
     Demoniac frenzy, moping melancholy,
     And moon-struck madness, pining atrophy,
     Marasmus, and wide-wasting pestilence.
     Dire was the tossing, deep the groans: *DESPAIR
     Tended the sick, busiest from couch to couch.
     And over them triumphant *DEATH his dart
     Shook: but delay'd to strike, though oft invok'd
     With vows, as their chief good and final hope.

The disorders of the mind, continued Demea, though more secret, are
not perhaps less dismal and vexatious. Remorse, shame, anguish, rage,
disappointment, anxiety, fear, dejection, despair; who has ever passed
through life without cruel inroads from these tormentors? How many
have scarcely ever felt any better sensations? Labour and poverty, so
abhorred by every one, are the certain lot of the far greater number;
and those few privileged persons, who enjoy ease and opulence, never
reach contentment or true felicity. All the goods of life united would
not make a very happy man; but all the ills united would make a wretch
indeed; and any one of them almost (and who can be free from every
one?) nay often the absence of one good (and who can possess all?) is
sufficient to render life ineligible.

Were a stranger to drop on a sudden into this world, I would show him,
as a specimen of its ills, an hospital full of diseases, a prison
crowded with malefactors and debtors, a field of battle strewed with
carcases, a fleet foundering in the ocean, a nation languishing under
tyranny, famine, or pestilence. To turn the gay side of life to him,
and give him a notion of its pleasures; whether should I conduct him?
to a ball, to an opera, to court? He might justly think, that I was
only showing him a diversity of distress and sorrow.

There is no evading such striking instances, said Philo, but by
apologies, which still farther aggravate the charge. Why have all men,
I ask, in all ages, complained incessantly of the miseries of life?....
They have no just reason, says one: these complaints proceed only from
their discontented, repining, anxious disposition.... And can there
possibly, I reply, be a more certain foundation of misery, than such a
wretched temper?

But if they were really as unhappy as they pretend, says my antagonist,
why do they remain in life?....

     Not satisfied with life, afraid of death.

This is the secret chain, say I, that holds us. We are terrified, not
bribed to the continuance of our existence.

It is only a false delicacy, he may insist, which a few refined spirits
indulge, and which has, spread these complaints among the whole, nice
of mankinds.... And what is this delicacy, I ask, which you blame? Is
it any thing but a greater sensibility to all the pleasures and pains
of life? and if the man of a delicate, refined temper, by being so much
more alive than the rest of the world, is only so much more unhappy,
what judgment must we form in general of human life?

Let men remain at rest, says our adversary, and they will be easy. They
are willing artificers of their own misery.... No! reply I: an anxious
languor follows their repose; disappointment, vexation, trouble, their
activity and ambition.

I can observe something like what you mention in some others, replied
Cleanthes: but I confess I feel little or nothing of it in myself, and
hope that it is not so common as you represent it.

If you feel not human misery yourself, cried Demea, I congratulate
you on so happy a singularity. Others, seemingly the most prosperous,
have not been ashamed to vent their complaints in the most melancholy
strains. Let us attend to the great, the fortunate emperor, Charles
V., when, tired with human grandeur, he resigned all his extensive
dominions into the hands of his son. In the last harangue which
he made on that memorable occasion, he publicly avowed, _that the
greatest prosperities which he had ever enjoyed, had been mixed with
so many adversities, that he might truly say he had never enjoyed
any satisfaction or contentment_. But did the retired life, in which
he sought for shelter, afford him any greater happiness? If we may
credit his son's account, his repentance commenced the very day of his

Cicero's fortune, from small beginnings, rose to the greatest lustre
and renown; yet what pathetic complaints of the ills of life do his
familiar letters, as well as philosophical discourses, contain? And
suitably to his own experience, he introduces Cato, the great, the
fortunate Cato, protesting in his old age, that had he a new life in
his offer, he would reject the present.

Ask yourself, ask any of your acquaintance, whether they would live
over again the last ten or twenty years of their life. No! but the next
twenty, they say, will be better:

     And from the dregs of life, hope to receive
     What the first sprightly running could not give.

Thus at last they find (such is the greatness of human misery, it
reconciles even contradictions), that they complain at once of the
shortness of life, and of its vanity and sorrow.

And is it possible, Cleanthes, said Philo, that after all these
reflections, and infinitely more, which might be suggested, you
can still persevere in your Anthropomorphism, and assert the moral
attributes of the Deity, his justice, benevolence, mercy, and
rectitude, to be of the same nature with these virtues in human
creatures? His power we allow is infinite: whatever he wills is
executed: but neither man nor any other animal is happy: therefore he
does not will their happiness. His wisdom is infinite: he is never
mistaken in choosing the means to any end: but the course of Nature
tends not to human or animal felicity: therefore it is not established
for that purpose. Through the whole compass of human knowledge, there
are no inferences more certain and infallible than these. In what
respect, then, do his benevolence and mercy resemble the benevolence
and mercy of men?

Epicurus's old questions are yet unanswered.

Is he willing to prevent evil, but not able? then is he impotent. Is
he able, but not willing? then is he malevolent Is he both able and
willing? whence then is evil?

You ascribe, Cleanthes (and I believe justly), a purpose and intention
to Nature. But what, I beseech you, is the object of that curious
artifice and machinery, which she has displayed in all animals? The
preservation alone of individuals, and propagation of the species. It
seems enough for her purpose, if such a rank be barely upheld in the
universe, without any care or concern for the happiness of the members
that compose it. No resource for this purpose: no machinery, in order
merely to give pleasure or ease: no fund of pure joy and contentment:
no indulgence, without some want or necessity accompanying it. At
least, the few phenomena of this nature are overbalanced by opposite
phenomena of still greater importance.

Our sense of music, harmony, and indeed beauty of all kinds, gives
satisfaction, without being absolutely necessary to the preservation
and propagation of the species. But what racking pains, on the other
hand, arise from gouts, gravels, megrims, toothaches, rheumatisms,
where the injury to the animal machinery is either small or incurable?
Mirth, laughter, play, frolic, seem gratuitous satisfactions, which
have no farther tendency: spleen, melancholy, discontent, superstition,
are pains of the same nature. How then does the Divine benevolence
display itself, in the sense of you Anthropomorphites? None but we
Mystics, as you were pleased to call us, can account for this strange
mixture of phenomena, by deriving it from attributes, infinitely
perfect, but incomprehensible.

And have you at last, said Cleanthes smiling, betrayed your intentions,
Philo? Your long agreement with Demea did indeed a little surprise me;
but I find you were all the while erecting a concealed battery against
me. And I must confess, that you have now fallen upon a subject worthy
of your noble spirit of opposition and controversy. If you can make out
the present point, and prove mankind to be unhappy or corrupted, there
is an end at once of all religion. For to what purpose establish the
natural attributes of the Deity, while the moral are still doubtful and

You take umbrage very easily, replied Demea, at opinions the most
innocent, and the most generally received, even amongst the religious
and devout themselves: and nothing can be more surprising than to
find a topic like this, concerning the wickedness and misery of man,
charged with no less than Atheism and profaneness. Have not all
pious divines and preachers, who have indulged their rhetoric on so
fertile a subject; have they not easily, I say, given a solution of
any difficulties which may attend it? This world is but a point in
comparison of the universe; this life but a moment in comparison of
eternity. The present evil phenomena, therefore, are rectified in
other regions, and in some future period of existence. And the eyes
of men, being then opened to larger views of things, see the whole
connection of general laws; and trace with adoration, the benevolence
and rectitude of the Deity, through all the mazes and intricacies of
his providence.

No! replied Cleanthes, No! These arbitrary suppositions can never be
admitted, contrary to matter of fact, visible and uncontroverted.
Whence can any cause be known but from its known effects? Whence can
any hypothesis be proved but from the apparent phenomena? To establish
one hypothesis upon another, is building entirely in the air; and
the utmost we ever attain, by these conjectures and fictions, is to
ascertain the bare possibility of our opinion; but never can we, upon
such terms, establish its reality.

The only method of supporting Divine benevolence, and it is what I
willingly embrace, is to deny absolutely the misery and wickedness of
man. Your representations are exaggerated; your melancholy views mostly
fictitious; your inferences contrary to fact and experience. Health is
more common than sickness; pleasure than pain; happiness than misery.
And for one vexation which we meet with, we attain, upon computation, a
hundred enjoyments.

Admitting your position, replied Philo, which yet is extremely
doubtful, you must at the same time allow, that if pain be less
frequent than pleasure, it is infinitely more violent and durable.
One hour of it is often able to outweigh a day, a week, a month of
our common insipid enjoyments; and how many days, weeks, and months,
are passed by several in the most acute torments? Pleasure, scarcely
in one instance, is ever able to reach ecstasy and rapture; and in
no one instance can it continue for any time at its highest pitch
and altitude. The spirits evaporate, the nerves relax, the fabric is
disordered, and the enjoyment quickly degenerates into fatigue and
uneasiness. But pain often, good God, how often! rises to torture and
agony; and the longer it continues, it becomes still more genuine agony
and torture. Patience is exhausted, courage languishes, melancholy
seizes us, and nothing terminates our misery but the removal of its
cause, or another event, which is the sole cure of all evil, but
which, from our natural folly, we regard with still greater horror and

But not to insist upon these topics, continued Philo, though most
obvious, certain, and important; I must use the freedom to admonish
you, Cleanthes, that you have put the controversy upon a most dangerous
issue, and are unawares introducing a total scepticism into the most
essential articles of natural and revealed theology. What! no method of
fixing a just foundation for religion, unless we allow the happiness
of human life, and maintain a continued existence even in this world,
with all our present pains, infirmities, vexations, and follies, to be
eligible and desirable! But this is contrary to every one's feeling and
experience: It is contrary to an authority so established as nothing
can subvert.

No decisive proofs can ever be produced against this authority; nor is
it possible for you to compute, estimate and compare, all the pains and
all the pleasures in the lives of all men and of all animals: And thus,
by your resting the whole system of religion on a point, which, from
its very nature, must for ever be uncertain, you tacitly confess, that
that system is equally uncertain.

But allowing you what never will be believed, at least what you never
possibly can prove, that animal, or at least human happiness, in this
life, exceeds its misery, you have yet done nothing: For this is not,
by any means, what we expect from infinite power, infinite wisdom, and
infinite goodness. Why is there any misery at all in the world? Not by
chance surely. From some cause then. Is it from the intention of the
Deity? But he is perfectly benevolent. Is it contrary to his intention?
But he is almighty. Nothing can shake the solidity of this reasoning,
so short, so clear, so decisive; except we assert, that these subjects
exceed all human capacity, and that our common measures of truth and
falsehood are not applicable to them; a topic which I have all along
insisted on, but which you have, from the beginning, rejected with
scorn and indignation.

But I will be contented to retire still from this intrenchment, for
I deny that you can ever force me in it. I will allow, that pain or
misery in man is _compatible_ with infinite power and goodness in the
Deity, even in your sense of these attributes: What are you advanced by
all these concessions? A mere possible compatibility is not sufficient.
You must _prove_ these pure, unmixt, and uncontrollable attributes
from the present mixt and confused phenomena, and from these alone. A
hopeful undertaking! Were the phenomena ever so pure and unmixt, yet
being finite, they would be insufficient for that purpose. How much
more, where they are also so jarring and discordant!

Here, Cleanthes, I find myself at ease in my argument. Here I triumph.
Formerly, when we argued concerning the natural attributes of
intelligence and design, I needed all my sceptical and metaphysical
subtilty to elude your grasp. In many views of the universe, and of its
parts, particularly the latter, the beauty and fitness of final causes
strike us with such irresistible force, that all objections appear
(what I believe they really are) mere cavils and sophisms; nor can
we then imagine how it was ever possible for us to repose any weight
on them. But there is no view of human life, or of the condition of
mankind, from which, without the greatest violence, we can infer the
moral attributes, or learn that infinite benevolence, conjoined with
infinite power and infinite wisdom, which we must discover by the eyes
of faith alone. It is your turn now to tug the labouring oar, and to
support your philosophical subtilties against the dictates of plain
reason and experience.

[1] That sentiment had been maintained by Dr King, and some few others,
before Leibnitz, though by none of so great fame as that German


I scruple not to allow, said Cleanthes, that I have been apt to
suspect the frequent repetition of the word _infinite_, which we meet
with in all theological writers, to savour more of panegyric than of
philosophy; and that any purposes of reasoning, and even of religion,
would be better served, were we to rest contented with more accurate
and more moderate expressions. The terms, _admirable, excellent,
superlatively great, wise_, and _holy_; these sufficiently fill the
imaginations of men; and any thing beyond, besides that it leads into
absurdities, has no influence on the affections or sentiments. Thus,
in the present subject, if we abandon all human analogy, as seems your
intention, Demea, I am afraid we abandon all religion, and retain no
conception of the great object of our adoration. If we preserve human
analogy, we must for ever find it impossible to reconcile any mixture
of evil in the universe with infinite attributes; much less can we ever
prove the latter from the former. But supposing the Author of Nature
to be finitely perfect, though far exceeding mankind, a satisfactory
account may then be given of natural and moral evil, and every untoward
phenomenon be explained and adjusted. A less evil may then be chosen,
in order to avoid a greater; inconveniences be submitted to, in order
to reach a desirable end; and in a word, benevolence, regulated by
wisdom, and limited by necessity, may produce just such a world as
the present. You, Philo, who are so prompt at starting views, and
reflections, and analogies, I would gladly hear, at length, without
interruption, your opinion of this new theory; and if it deserve our
attention, we may afterwards, at more leisure, reduce it into form.

My sentiments, replied Philo, are not worth being made a mystery of;
and therefore, without any ceremony, I shall deliver what occurs to
me with regard to the present subject. It must, I think, be allowed,
that if a very limited intelligence, whom we shall suppose utterly
unacquainted with the universe, were assured, that it were the
production of a very good, wise, and powerful Being, however finite, he
would, from his conjectures, form _beforehand_ a different notion of it
from what we find it to be by experience; nor would he ever imagine,
merely from these attributes of the cause, of which he is informed,
that the effect could be so full of vice and misery and disorder, as
it appears in this life. Supposing now, that this person were brought
into the world, still assured that it was the workmanship of such a
sublime and benevolent Being; he might, perhaps, be surprised at the
disappointment; but would never retract his former belief, if founded
on any very solid argument; since such a limited intelligence must
be sensible of his own blindness and ignorance, and must allow, that
there may be many solutions of those phenomena, which will for ever
escape his comprehension. But supposing, which is the real case with
regard to man, that this creature is not antecedently convinced of a
supreme intelligence, benevolent, and powerful, but is left to gather
such a belief from the appearances of things; this entirely alters
the case, nor will he ever find any reason for such a conclusion. He
may be fully convinced of the narrow limits of his understanding; but
this will not help him in forming an inference concerning the goodness
of superior powers, since he must form that inference from what he
knows, not from what he is ignorant of. The more you exaggerate his
weakness and ignorance, the more diffident you render him, and give
him the greater suspicion that such subjects are beyond the reach of
his faculties. You are obliged, therefore, to reason with him merely
from the known phenomena, and to drop every arbitrary supposition or

Did I show you a house or palace, where there was not one apartment
convenient or agreeable; where the windows, doors, fires passages,
stairs, and the whole economy of the building, were the source of
noise, confusion, fatigue, darkness, and the extremes of heat and
cold; you would certainly blame the contrivance, without any farther
examination. The architect would in vain display his subtilty, and
prove to you, that if this door or that window were altered, greater
ills would ensue. What he says may be strictly true: The alteration
of one particular, while the other parts of the building remain, may
only augment the inconveniences. But still you would assert in general,
that, if the architect had had skill and good intentions, he might
have formed such a plan of the whole, and might have adjusted the
parts in such a manner, as would have remedied all or most of these
inconveniences. His ignorance, or even your own ignorance of such a
plan, will never convince you of the impossibility of it. If you find
any inconveniences and deformities in the building, you will always,
without entering into any detail, condemn the architect.

In short, I repeat the question: Is the world, considered in general,
and as it appears to us in this life, different from what a man, or
such a limited being, would, _beforehand_, expect from a very powerful,
wise, and benevolent Deity? It must be strange prejudice to assert
the contrary. And from thence I conclude, that however consistent the
world may be, allowing certain suppositions and conjectures, with the
idea of such a Deity, it can never afford us an inference concerning
his existence. The consistence is not absolutely denied, only the
inference. Conjectures, especially where infinity is excluded from the
Divine attributes, may perhaps be sufficient to prove a consistence,
but can never be foundations for any inference.

There seem to be _four_ circumstances, on which depend all, or the
greatest part of the ills, that molest sensible creatures; and it
is not impossible but all these circumstances may be necessary
and unavoidable. We know so little beyond common life, or even of
common life, that, with regard to the economy of a universe, there
is no conjecture, however wild, which may not be just; nor any one,
however plausible, which may not be erroneous. All that belongs to
human understanding, in this deep ignorance and obscurity, is to be
sceptical, or at least cautious, and not to admit of any hypothesis
whatever, much less of any which is supported by no appearance of
probability. Now, this I assert to be the case with regard to all the
causes of evil, and the circumstances on which it depends. None of them
appear to human reason in the least degree necessary or unavoidable;
nor can we suppose them such, without the utmost license of imagination.

The _first_ circumstance which introduces evil, is that contrivance or
economy of the animal creation, by which pains, as well as pleasures,
are employed to excite all creatures to action, and make them vigilant
in the great work of self-preservation. Now pleasure alone, in its
various degrees, seems to human understanding sufficient for this
purpose. All animals might be constantly in a state of enjoyment:
but when urged by any of the necessities of nature, such as thirst,
hunger, weariness; instead of pain, they might feel a diminution of
pleasure, by which they might be prompted to seek that object which
is necessary to their subsistence. Men pursue pleasure as eagerly as
they avoid pain; at least, they might have been so constituted. It
seems, therefore, plainly possible to carry on the business of life
without any pain. Why then is any animal ever rendered susceptible of
such a sensation? If animals can be free from it an hour, they might
enjoy a perpetual exemption from it; and it required as particular a
contrivance of their organs to produce that feeling, as to endow them
with sight, hearing, or any of the senses. Shall we conjecture, that
such a contrivance was necessary, without any appearance of reason? and
shall we build on that conjecture as on the most certain truth?

But a capacity of pain would not alone produce pain, were it not for
the _second_ circumstance, viz. the conducting of the world by general
laws; and this seems nowise necessary to a very perfect Being. It is
true, if every thing were conducted by particular volitions, the course
of nature would be perpetually broken, and no man could employ his
reason in the conduct of life. But might not other particular volitions
remedy this inconvenience? In short, might not the Deity exterminate
all ill, wherever it were to be found; and produce all good, without
any preparation, or long progress of causes and effects?

Besides, we must consider, that, according to the present economy of
the world, the course of nature, though supposed exactly regular,
yet to us appears not so, and many events are uncertain, and many
disappoint our expectations. Health and sickness, calm and tempest,
with an infinite number of other accidents, whose causes are unknown
and variable, have a great influence both on the fortunes of particular
persons and on the prosperity of public societies; and indeed all human
life, in a manner, depends on such accidents. A being, therefore, who
knows the secret springs of the universe, might easily, by particular
volitions, turn all these accidents to the good of mankind, and render
the whole world happy, without discovering himself in any operation.
A fleet, whose purposes were salutary to society, might always meet
with a fair wind. Good princes enjoy sound health and long life.
Persons born to power and authority, be framed with good tempers and
virtuous dispositions. A few such events as these, regularly and
wisely conducted, would change the face of the world; and yet would no
more seem to disturb the course of nature, or confound human conduct,
than the present economy of things, where the causes are secret, and
variable, and compounded. Some small touches given to Caligula's brain
in his infancy, might have converted him into a Trajan. One wave, a
little higher than the rest, by burying Cæsar and his fortune in the
bottom of the ocean, might have restored liberty to a considerable
part of mankind. There may, for aught we know, be good reasons why
Providence interposes not in this manner; but they are unknown to
us; and though the mere supposition, that such reasons exist, may be
sufficient to _save_ the conclusion concerning the Divine attributes,
yet surely it can never be sufficient to _establish_ that conclusion.

If every thing in the universe be conducted by general laws, and if
animals be rendered susceptible of pain, it scarcely seems possible
but some ill must arise in the various shocks of matter, and the
various concurrence and opposition of general laws; but this ill
would be very rare, were it not for the _third_ circumstance, which I
proposed to mention, viz. the great frugality with which all powers
and faculties are distributed to every particular being. So well
adjusted are the organs and capacities of all animals, and so well
fitted to their preservation, that, as far as history or tradition
reaches, there appears not to be any single species which has yet
been extinguished in the universe. Every animal has the requisite
endowments; but these endowments are bestowed with so scrupulous an
economy, that any considerable diminution must entirely destroy the
creature. Wherever one power is increased, there is a proportional
abatement in the others. Animals which excel in swiftness are commonly
defective in force. Those which possess both are either imperfect in
some of their senses, or are oppressed with the most craving wants.
The human species, whose chief excellency is reason and sagacity, is
of all others the most necessitous, and the most deficient in bodily
advantages; without clothes, without arms, without food, without
lodging, without any convenience of life, except what they owe to
their own skill and industry. In short, nature seems to have formed
an exact calculation of the necessities of her creatures; and, like
a _rigid master_, has afforded them little more powers or endowments
than what are strictly sufficient to supply those necessities. An
_indulgent parent_ would have bestowed a large stock, in order to
guard against accidents, and secure the happiness and welfare of the
creature in the most unfortunate concurrence of circumstances. Every
course of life would not have been so surrounded with precipices, that
the least departure from the true path, by mistake or necessity, must
involve us in misery and ruin. Some reserve, some fund, would have been
provided to ensure happiness; nor would the powers and the necessities
have been adjusted with so rigid an economy. The Author of Nature is
inconceivably powerful: his force is supposed great, if not altogether
inexhaustible: nor is there any reason, as far as we can judge, to make
him observe this strict frugality in his dealings with his creatures.
It would have been better, were his power extremely limited, to have
created fewer animals, and to have endowed these with more faculties
for their happiness and preservation. A builder is never esteemed
prudent, who undertakes a plan beyond what his stock will enable him to

In order to cure most of the ills of human life, I require not that
man should have the wings of the eagle, the swiftness of the stag, the
force of the ox, the arms of the lion, the scales of the crocodile
or rhinoceros; much less do I demand the sagacity of an angel or
cherubim. I am contented to take an increase in one single power or
faculty of his soul. Let him be endowed with a greater propensity to
industry and labour; a more vigorous spring and activity of mind; a
more constant bent to business and application. Let the whole species
possess naturally an equal diligence with that which many individuals
are able to attain by habit and reflection; and the most beneficial
consequences, without any allay of ill, is the immediate and necessary
result of this endowment. Almost all the moral, as well as natural
evils of human life, arise from idleness; and were our species, by
the original constitution of their frame, exempt from this vice or
infirmity, the perfect cultivation of land, the improvement of arts and
manufactures, the exact execution of every office and duty, immediately
follow; and men at once may fully reach that state of society, which
is so imperfectly attained by the best regulated government. But
as industry is a power, and the most valuable of any, Nature seems
determined, suitably to her usual maxims, to bestow it on men with a
very sparing hand; and rather to punish him severely for his deficiency
in it, than to reward him for his attainments. She has so contrived
his frame, that nothing but the most violent necessity can oblige him
to labour; and she employs all his other wants to overcome, at least
in part, the want of diligence, and to endow him with some share of a
faculty of which she has thought fit naturally to bereave him. Here our
demands may be allowed very humble, and therefore the more reasonable.
If we required the endowments of superior penetration and judgment, of
a more delicate taste of beauty, of a nicer sensibility to benevolence
and friendship; we might be told, that we impiously pretend to break
the order of Nature; that we want to exalt ourselves into a higher rank
of being; that the presents which we require, not being suitable to our
state and condition, would only be pernicious to us. But it is hard; I
dare to repeat it, it is hard, that being placed in a world so full of
wants and necessities, where almost every being and element is either
our foe or refuses its assistance ... we should also have our own
temper to struggle with, and should be deprived of that faculty which
can alone fence against these multiplied evils.

The _fourth_ circumstance, whence arises the misery and ill of
the universe, is the inaccurate workmanship of all the springs and
principles of the great machine of nature. It must be acknowledged,
that there are few parts of the universe, which seem not to serve
some purpose, and whose removal would not produce a visible defect
and disorder in the whole. The parts hang all together; nor can one
be touched without affecting the rest, in a greater or less degree.
But at the same time, it must be observed, that none of these parts
or principles, however useful, are so accurately adjusted, as to keep
precisely within those bounds in which their utility consists; but
they are, all of them, apt, on every occasion, to run into the one
extreme or the other. One would imagine, that this grand production
had not received the last hand of the maker; so little finished is
every part, and so coarse are the strokes with which it is executed.
Thus, the winds are requisite to convey the vapours along the surface
of the globe, and to assist men in navigation: but how oft, rising
up to tempests and hurricanes, do they become pernicious? Rains are
necessary to nourish all the plants and animals of the earth: but how
often are they defective? how often excessive? Heat is requisite to all
life and vegetation; but is not always found in the due proportion.
On the mixture and secretion of the humours and juices of the body
depend the health and prosperity of the animal: but the parts perform
not regularly their proper function. What more useful than all the
passions of the mind, ambition, vanity love, anger? But how oft do they
break their bounds, and cause the greatest convulsions in society?
There is nothing so advantageous in the universe, but what frequently
becomes pernicious, by its excess or defect; nor has Nature guarded,
with the requisite accuracy, against all disorder or confusion. The
irregularity is never perhaps so great as to destroy any species; but
is often sufficient to involve the individuals in ruin and misery.

On the concurrence, then, of these _four_ circumstances, does all or
the greatest part of natural evil depend. Were all living creatures
incapable of pain, or were the world administered by particular
volitions, evil never could have found access into the universe: and
were animals endowed with a large stock of powers and faculties,
beyond what strict necessity requires; or were the several springs
and principles of the universe so accurately framed as to preserve
always the just temperament and medium; there must have been very
little ill in comparison of what we feel at present. What then shall
we pronounce on this occasion? Shall we say that these circumstances
are not necessary, and that they might easily have been altered in
the contrivance of the universe? This decision seems too presumptuous
for creatures so blind and ignorant. Let us be more modest in our
conclusions. Let us allow, that, if the goodness of the Diety (I mean
a goodness like the human) could be established on any tolerable
reasons _a priori_, these phenomena, however untoward, would not be
sufficient to subvert that principle; but might easily, in some unknown
manner, be reconcileable to it. But let us still assert, that as this
goodness is not antecedently established, but must be inferred from the
phenomena, there can be no grounds for such an inference, while there
are so many ills in the universe, and while these ills might so easily
have been remedied, as far as human understanding can be allowed to
judge on such a subject. I am Sceptic enough to allow, that the bad
appearances, notwithstanding all my reasonings, may be compatible with
such attributes as you suppose; but surely they can never prove these
attributes. Such a conclusion cannot result from Scepticism, but must
arise from the phenomena, and from our confidence in the reasonings
which we deduce from these phenomena.

Look round this universe. What an immense profusion of beings, animated
and organized, sensible and active! You admire this prodigious
variety and fecundity. But inspect a little more narrowly these
living existences, the only beings worth regarding. How hostile and
destructive to each other! How insufficient all of them for their own
happiness! How contemptible or odious to the spectator! The whole
presents nothing but the idea of a blind Nature, impregnated by a
great vivifying principle, and pouring forth from her lap, without
discernment or parental care, her maimed and abortive children!

Here the Manichæan system occurs as a proper hypothesis to solve the
difficulty: and no doubt, in some respects, it is very specious, and
has more probability than the common hypothesis, by giving a plausible
account of the strange mixture of good and ill which appears in life.
But if we consider, on the other hand, the perfect uniformity and
agreement of the parts of the universe, we shall not discover in it any
marks of the combat of a malevolent with a benevolent being. There is
indeed an opposition of pains and pleasures in the feelings of sensible
creatures: but are not all the operations of Nature carried on by an
opposition of principles, of hot and cold, moist and dry, light and
heavy? The true conclusion is, that the original Source of all things
is entirely indifferent to all these principles; and has no more regard
to good above ill, than to heat above cold, or to drought above
moisture, or to light above heavy.

There may _four_ hypotheses be framed concerning the first causes of
the universe: _that_ they are endowed with perfect goodness; _that_
they have perfect malice; _that_ they are opposite, and have both
goodness and malice; _that_ they have neither goodness nor malice. Mixt
phenomena can never prove the two former unmixt principles; and the
uniformity and steadiness of general laws seem to oppose the third. The
fourth, therefore, seems by far the most probable.

What I have said concerning natural evil will apply to moral, with
little or no variation; and we have no more reason to infer, that the
rectitude of the Supreme Being resembles human rectitude, than that
his benevolence resembles the human. Nay, it will be thought, that we
have still greater cause to exclude from him moral sentiments, such as
we feel them; since moral evil, in the opinion of many, is much more
predominant above moral good than natural evil above natural good.

But even though this should not be allowed, and though the virtue which
is in mankind should be acknowledged much superior to the vice, yet so
long as there is any vice at all in the universe, it will very much
puzzle you Anthropomorphites, how to account for it. You must assign a
cause for it, without having recourse to the first cause. But as every
effect must have a cause, and that cause another, you must either carry
on the progression _in infinitum_, or rest on that original principle,
who is the ultimate cause of all things....

Hold! hold! cried Demea: Whither does your imagination hurry you? I
joined in alliance with you, in order to prove the incomprehensible
nature of the Divine Being, and refute the principles of Cleanthes,
who would measure every thing by human rule and standard. But I now
find you running into all the topics of the greatest libertines and
infidels, and betraying that holy cause which you seemingly espoused.
Are you secretly, then, a more dangerous enemy than Cleanthes himself?

And are you so late in perceiving it? replied Cleanthes. Believe me,
Demea, your friend Philo, from the beginning, has been amusing himself
at both our expense; and it must be confessed, that the injudicious
reasoning of our vulgar theology has given him but too just a handle
of ridicule. The total infirmity of human reason, the absolute
incomprehensibility of the Divine Nature, the great and universal
misery, and still greater wickedness of men; these are strange topics,
surely, to be so fondly cherished by orthodox divines and doctors.
In ages of stupidity and ignorance, indeed, these principles may
safely be espoused; and perhaps no views of things are more proper to
promote superstition, than such as encourage the blind amazement, the
diffidence, and melancholy of mankind. But at present....

Blame not so much, interposed Philo, the ignorance of these reverend
gentlemen. They know how to change their style with the times. Formerly
it was a most popular theological topic to maintain, that human life
was vanity and misery, and to exaggerate all the ills and pains which
are incident to men. But of late years, divines, we find, begin to
retract this position; and maintain, though still with some hesitation,
that there are more goods than evils, more pleasures than pains, even
in this life. When religion stood entirely upon temper and education,
it was thought proper to encourage melancholy; as indeed mankind never
have recourse to superior powers so readily as in that disposition. But
as men have now learned to form principles, and to draw consequences,
it is necessary to change the batteries, and to make use of such
arguments as will endure at least some scrutiny and examination. This
variation is the same (and from the same causes) with that which I
formerly remarked with regard to Scepticism.

Thus Philo continued to the last his spirit of opposition, and his
censure of established opinions. But I could observe that Demea did not
at all relish the latter part of the discourse; and he took occasion
soon after, on some pretence or other, to leave the company.


After Demea's departure, Cleanthes and Philo continued the conversation
in the following manner. Our friend, I am afraid, said Cleanthes,
will have little inclination to revive this topic of discourse,
while you are in company; and to tell truth, Philo, I should rather
wish to reason with either of you apart on a subject so sublime and
interesting. Your spirit of controversy, joined to your abhorence of
vulgar superstition, carries you strange lengths, when engaged in an
argument; and there is nothing so sacred and venerable, even in your
own eyes, which you spare on that occasion.

I must confess, replied Philo, that I am less cautious on the subject
of Natural Religion than on any other; both because I know that I can
never, on that head, corrupt the principles of any man of common sense;
and because no one, I am confident, in whose eyes I appear a man of
common sense, will ever mistake my intentions. You, in particular,
Cleanthes, with whom I live in unreserved intimacy; you are sensible,
that notwithstanding the freedom of my conversation, and my love of
singular arguments, no one has a deeper sense of religion impressed
on his mind, or pays more profound adoration to the Divine Being,
as he discovers himself to reason, in the inexplicable contrivance
and artifice of nature. A purpose, an intention, a design, strikes
every where the most careless, the most stupid thinker; and no man
can be so hardened in absurd systems, as at all times to reject it.
_That Nature does nothing in vain_, is a maxim established in all
the schools, merely from the contemplation of the works of Nature,
without any religious purpose; and, from a firm conviction of its
truth, an anatomist, who had observed a new organ or canal, would never
be satisfied till he had also discovered its use and intention. One
great foundation of the Copernican system is the maxim, _That Nature
acts by the simplest methods, and chooses the most proper means to
any end_; and astronomers often, without thinking of it, lay this
strong foundation of piety and religion. The same thing is observable
in other parts of philosophy: And thus all the sciences almost lead
us insensibly to acknowledge a first intelligent Author; and their
authority is often so much the greater, as they do not directly profess
that intention.

It is with pleasure I hear Galen reason concerning the structure of
the human body. The anatomy of a man, says he,[1] discovers above 600
different muscles; and whoever duly considers these, will find, that,
in each of them, Nature must have adjusted at least ten different
circumstances, in order to attain the end which she proposed; proper
figure, just magnitude, right disposition of the several ends, upper
and lower position of the whole, the due insertion of the several
nerves, veins, and arteries: So that, in the muscles alone, above 6000
several views and intentions must have been formed and executed. The
bones he calculates to be 284: The distinct purposes aimed at in the
structure of each, above forty. What a prodigious display of artifice,
even in these simple and homogeneous parts! But if we consider the
skin, ligaments, vessels, glandules, humours, the several limbs and
members of the body; how must our astonishment rise upon us, in
proportion to the number and intricacy of the parts so artificially
adjusted! The farther we advance in these researches, we discover new
scenes of art and wisdom: But descry still, at a distance, farther
scenes beyond our reach; in the fine internal structure of the parts,
in the economy of the brain, in the fabric of the seminal vessels. All
these artifices are repeated in every different species of animal, with
wonderful variety, and with exact propriety, suited to the different
intentions of Nature in framing each species. And if the infidelity of
Galen, even when these natural sciences were still imperfect, could
not withstand such striking appearances, to what pitch of pertinacious
obstinacy must a philosopher in this age have attained, who can now
doubt of a Supreme Intelligence!

Could I meet with one of this species (who, I thank God, are very
rare), I would ask him: Supposing there were a God, who did not
discover himself immediately to our senses, were it possible for him
to give stronger proofs of his existence, than what appear on the
whole face of Nature? What indeed could such a Divine Being do, but
copy the present economy of things; render many of his artifices so
plain, that no stupidity could mistake them; afford glimpses of still
greater artifices, which demonstrate his prodigious superiority above
our narrow apprehensions; and conceal altogether a great many from such
imperfect creatures? Now, according to all rules of just reasoning,
every fact must pass for undisputed, when it is supported by all the
arguments which its nature admits of; even though these arguments be
not, in themselves, very numerous or forcible: How much more, in the
present case, where no human imagination can compute their number, and
no understanding estimate their cogency!

I shall farther add, said Cleanthes, to what you have so well urged,
that one great advantage of the principle of Theism, is, that it is
the only system of cosmogony which can be rendered intelligible and
complete, and yet can throughout preserve a strong analogy to what
we every day see and experience in the world. The comparison of the
universe to a machine of human contrivance, is so obvious and natural,
and is justified by so many instances of order and design in Nature,
that it must immediately strike all unprejudiced apprehensions,
and procure universal approbation. Whoever attempts to weaken this
theory, cannot pretend to succeed by establishing in its place any
other that is precise and determinate: It is sufficient for him if
he start doubts and difficulties; and by remote and abstract views
of things, reach that suspense of judgment, which is here the utmost
boundary of his wishes. But, besides that this state of mind is in
itself unsatisfactory, it can never be steadily maintained against
such striking appearances as continually engage us into the religious
hypothesis. A false, absurd system, human nature, from the force of
prejudice, is capable of adhering to with obstinacy and perseverance:
But no system at all, in opposition to a theory supported by strong and
obvious reason, by natural propensity, and by early education, I think
it absolutely impossible to maintain or defend.

So little, replied Philo, do I esteem this suspense of judgment in the
present case to be possible, that I am apt to suspect there enters
somewhat of a dispute of words into this controversy; more than is
usually imagined. That the works of Nature bear a great analogy to
the productions of art, is evident; and according to all the rules of
good reasoning, we ought to infer, if we argue at all concerning them,
that their causes have a proportional analogy. But as there are also
considerable differences, we have reason to suppose a proportional
difference in the causes; and in particular, ought to attribute a much
higher degree of power and energy to the supreme cause, than any we
have ever observed in mankind. Here then the existence of a *DEITY is
plainly ascertained by reason: and if we make it a question, whether,
on account of these analogies, we can properly call him a _mind_
or _intelligence_, notwithstanding the vast difference which may
reasonably be supposed between him and human minds; what is this but
a mere verbal controversy? No man can deny the analogies between the
effects: To restrain ourselves from inquiring concerning the causes is
scarcely possible. From this inquiry, the legitimate conclusion is,
that the causes have also an analogy: And if we are not contented with
calling the first and supreme cause a *GOD or *DEITY, but desire to
vary the expression; what can we call him but *MIND or $THOUGHT, to
which he is justly supposed to bear a considerable resemblance?

All men of sound reason are disgusted with verbal disputes, which
abound so much in philosophical and theological inquiries; and it
is found, that the only remedy for this abuse must arise from clear
definitions, from the precision of those ideas which enter into any
argument, and from the strict and uniform use of those terms which
are employed. But there is a species of controversy, which, from the
very nature of language and of human ideas, is involved in perpetual
ambiguity, and can never, by any precaution or any definitions, be
able to reach a reasonable certainty or precision. These are the
controversies concerning the degrees of any quality or circumstance.
Men may argue to all eternity, whether Hannibal be a great, or a very
great, or a superlatively great man, what degree of beauty Cleopatra
possessed, what epithet of praise Livy or Thucydides is entitled to,
without bringing the controversy to any determination. The disputants
may here agree in their sense, and differ in the terms, or _vice
versa_; yet never be able to define their terms, so as to enter into
each other's meaning: Because the degrees of these qualities are not,
like quantity or number, susceptible of any exact mensuration, which
may be the standard in the controversy. That the dispute concerning
Theism is of this nature, and consequently is merely verbal, or
perhaps, if possible, still more incurably ambiguous, will appear upon
the slightest inquiry. I ask the Theist, if he does not allow, that
there is a great and immeasurable, because incomprehensible difference
between the _human_ and the _divine_ mind: The more pious he is, the
more readily will he assent to the affirmative, and the more will he
be disposed to magnify the difference: He will even assert, that the
difference is of a nature which cannot be too much magnified. I next
turn to the Atheist, who, I assert, is only nominally so, and can never
possibly be in earnest; and I ask him, whether, from the coherence
and apparent sympathy in all the parts of this world, there be not
a certain degree of analogy among all the operations of Nature, in
every situation and in every age; whether the rotting of a turnip, the
generation of an animal, and the structure of human thought, be not
energies that probably bear some remote analogy to each other: It
is impossible he can deny it: He will readily acknowledge it. Having
obtained this concession, I push him still farther in his retreat;
and I ask him, if it be not probable, that the principle which first
arranged, and still maintains order in this universe, bears not also
some remote inconceivable analogy to the other operations of Nature,
and, among the rest, to the economy of human mind and thought. However
reluctant, he must give his assent. Where then, cry I to both these
antagonists, is the subject of your dispute? The Theist allows, that
the original intelligence is very different from human reason: The
Atheist allows, that the original principle of order bears some remote
analogy to it. Will you quarrel, Gentlemen, about the degrees, and
enter into a controversy, which admits not of any precise meaning,
nor consequently of any determination? If you should be so obstinate,
I should not be surprised to find you insensibly change sides; while
the Theist, on the one hand, exaggerates the dissimilarity between the
Supreme Being, and frail, imperfect, variable, fleeting, and mortal
creatures; and the Atheist, on the other, magnifies the analogy among
all the operations of Nature, in every period, every situation, and
every position. Consider then, where the real point of controversy
lies; and if you cannot lay aside your disputes, endeavour, at least,
to cure yourselves of your animosity.

And here I must also acknowledge, Cleanthes, that as the works of
Nature have a much greater analogy to the effects of _our_ art and
contrivance, than to those of _our_ benevolence and justice, we have
reason to infer, that the natural attributes of the Deity have a
greater resemblance to those of men, than his moral have to human
virtues. But what is the consequence? Nothing but this, that the moral
qualities of man are more defective in their kind than his natural
abilities. For, as the Supreme Being is allowed to be absolutely and
entirely perfect, whatever differs most from him, departs the farthest
from the supreme standard of rectitude and perfection.[2]

These, Cleanthes, are my unfeigned sentiments on this subject; and
these sentiments, you know, I have ever cherished and maintained. But
in proportion to my veneration for true religion, is my abhorrence of
vulgar superstitions; and I indulge a peculiar pleasure, I confess,
in pushing such principles, sometimes into absurdity, sometimes into
impiety. And you are sensible, that all bigots, notwithstanding their
great aversion to the latter above the former, are commonly equally
guilty of both.

My inclination, replied Cleanthes, lies, I own, a contrary way.
Religion, however corrupted, is still better than no religion at all.
The doctrine of a future state is so strong and necessary a security
to morals, that we never ought to abandon or neglect it. For if and
temporary rewards and punishments have so great an effect, as we daily
find; how much greater must be expected from such as are infinite and

How happens it then, said Philo, if vulgar superstition be so salutary
to society, that all history abounds so much with accounts of its
pernicious consequences on public affairs? Factions, civil wars,
persecutions, subversions of government, oppression, slavery; these
are the dismal consequences which always attend its prevalency over
the minds of men. If the religious spirit be ever mentioned in any
historical narration, we are sure to meet afterwards with a detail of
the miseries which attend it. And no period of time can be happier or
more prosperous, than those in which it is never regarded or heard of.

The reason of this observation, replied Cleanthes, is obvious. The
proper office of religion is to regulate the heart of men, humanize
their conduct, infuse the spirit of temperance, order, and obedience;
and as its operation is silent, and only enforces the motives of
morality and justice, it is in danger of being overlooked, and
confounded with these other motives. When it distinguishes itself, and
acts as a separate principle over men, it has departed from its proper
sphere, and has become only a cover to faction and ambition.

And so will all religion, said Philo, except the philosophical and
rational kind. Your reasonings are more easily eluded than my facts.
The inference is not just, because finite and temporary rewards and
punishments have so great influence, that therefore such as are
infinite and eternal must have so much greater. Consider, I beseech
you, the attachment which we have to present things, and the little
concern which we discover for objects so remote and uncertain. When
divines are declaiming against the common behaviour and conduct of
the world, they always represent this principle as the strongest
imaginable (which indeed it is); and describe almost all human kind as
lying under the influence of it, and sunk into the deepest lethargy
and unconcern about their religious interests. Yet these same divines,
when they refute their speculative antagonists, suppose the motives
of religion to be so powerful, that, without them, it were impossible
for civil society to subsist; nor are they ashamed of so palpable a
contradiction. It is certain, from experience, that the smallest grain
of natural honesty and benevolence has more effect on men's conduct,
than the most pompous views suggested by theological theories and
systems. A man's natural inclination works incessantly upon him; it
is for ever present to the mind, and mingles itself with every view
and consideration: whereas religious motives, where they act at all,
operate only by starts and bounds; and it is scarcely possible for them
to become altogether habitual to the mind. The force of the greatest
gravity, say the philosophers, is infinitely small, in comparison of
that of the least impulse: yet it is certain, that the smallest gravity
will, in the end, prevail above a great impulse; because no strokes or
blows can be repeated with such constancy as attraction and gravitation.

Another advantage of inclination: It engages on its side all the wit
and ingenuity of the mind; and when set in opposition to religious
principles, seeks every method and art of eluding them: In which it
is almost always successful. Who can explain the heart of man, or
account for those strange salvos and excuses, with which people satisfy
themselves, when they follow their inclinations in opposition to their
religious duty? This is well understood in the world; and none but
fools ever repose less trust in a man, because they hear, that from
study and philosophy, he has entertained some speculative doubts with
regard to theological subjects. And when we have to do with a man, who
makes a great profession of religion and devotion, has this any other
effect upon several, who pass for prudent, than to put them on their
guard, lest they be cheated and deceived by him?

We must farther consider, that philosophers, who cultivate reason and
reflection, stand less in need of such motives to keep them under
the restraint of morals; and that the vulgar, who alone may need
them, are utterly incapable of so pure a religion as represents the
Deity to be pleased with nothing but virtue in human behaviour. The
recommendations to the Divinity are generally supposed to be either
frivolous observances, or rapturous ecstasies, or a bigotted credulity.
We need not run back into antiquity, or wander into remote regions,
to find instances of this degeneracy. Amongst ourselves, some have
been guilty of that atrociousness, unknown to the Egyptian and Grecian
superstitions, of declaiming in express terms, against morality; and
representing it as a sure forfeiture of the Divine favour, if the least
trust or reliance be laid upon it.

But even though superstition or enthusiasm should not put itself in
direct opposition to morality; the very diverting of the attention,
the raising up a new and frivolous species of merit, the preposterous
distribution which it makes of praise and blame, must have the most
pernicious consequences, and weaken extremely men's attachment to the
natural motives of justice and humanity.

Such a principle of action likewise, not being any of the familiar
motives of human conduct, acts only by intervals on the temper;
and must be roused by continual efforts, in order to render the
pious zealot satisfied with his own conduct, and make him fulfil
his devotional task. Many religious exercises are entered into with
seeming fervour, where the heart, at the time, feels cold and languid:
A habit of dissimulation is by degrees contracted; and fraud and
falsehood become the predominant principle. Hence the reason of that
vulgar observation, that the highest zeal in religion and the deepest
hypocrisy, so far from being inconsistent, are often or commonly united
in the same individual character.

The bad effects of such habits, even in common life, are easily
imagined; but where the interests of religion are concerned, no
morality can be forcible enough to bind the enthusiastic zealot. The
sacredness of the cause sanctifies every measure which can be made use
of to promote it.

The steady attention alone to so important an interest as that of
eternal salvation, is apt to extinguish the benevolent affections,
and beget a narrow, contracted selfishness. And when such a temper is
encouraged, it easily eludes all the general precepts of charity and

Thus, the motives of vulgar superstition have no great influence on
general conduct; nor is their operation favourable to morality, in the
instances where they predominate.

Is there any maxim in politics more certain and infallible, than that
both the number and authority of priests should be confined within very
narrow limits; and that the civil magistrate ought, for ever, to keep
his _fasces_ and _axes_ from such dangerous hands? But if the spirit of
popular religion were so salutary to society, a contrary maxim ought
to prevail. The greater number of priests, and their greater authority
and riches, will always augment the religious spirit. And though the
priests have the guidance of this spirit, why may we not expect a
superior sanctity of life, and greater benevolence and moderation, from
persons who are set apart for religion, who are continually inculcating
it upon others, and who must themselves imbibe a greater share of it?
Whence comes it then, that, in fact, the utmost a wise magistrate can
propose with regard to popular religions, is, as far as possible, to
make a saving game of it, and to prevent their pernicious consequences
with regard to society? Every expedient which he tries for so humble
a purpose is surrounded with inconveniences. If he admits only one
religion among his subjects, he must sacrifice, to an uncertain
prospect of tranquillity, every consideration of public liberty,
science, reason, industry, and even his own independency. If he gives
indulgence to several sects, which is the wiser maxim, he must preserve
a very philosophical indifference to all of them, and carefully
restrain the pretensions of the prevailing sect; otherwise he can
expect nothing but endless disputes, quarrels, factions, persecutions,
and civil commotions.

True religion, I allow, has no such pernicious consequences: but we
must treat of religion, as it has commonly been found in the world;
nor have I any thing to do with that speculative tenet of Theism,
which, as it is a species of philosophy, must partake of the beneficial
influence of that principle, and at the same time must lie under a like
inconvenience, of being always confined to very few persons.

Oaths are requisite in all courts of judicature; but it is a question
whether their authority arises from any popular religion. It is the
solemnity and importance of the occasion, the regard to reputation,
and the reflecting on the general interests of society, which are the
chief restraints upon mankind. Customhouse oaths and political oaths
are but little regarded even by some who pretend to principles of
honesty and religion; and a Quaker's asseveration is with us justly put
upon the same footing with the oath of any other person. I know, that
Polybius[3] ascribes the infamy of Greek faith to the prevalency of the
Epicurean philosophy: but I know also, that Punic faith had as bad a
reputation in ancient times as Irish evidence has in modern; though we
cannot account for these vulgar observations by the same reason. Not to
mention that Greek faith was infamous before the rise of the Epicurean
philosophy; and Euripides,[4] in a passage which I shall point out to
you, has glanced a remarkable stroke of satire against his nation, with
regard to this circumstance.

Take care, Philo, replied Cleanthes, take care: push not matters too
far: allow not your zeal against false religion to undermine your
veneration for the true. Forfeit not this principle, the chief, the
only great comfort in life; and our principal support amidst all the
attacks of adverse fortune. The most agreeable reflection, which it is
possible for human imagination to suggest, is that of genuine Theism,
which represents us as the workmanship of a Being perfectly good, wise,
and powerful; who created us for happiness; and who, having implanted
in us immeasurable desires of good, will prolong our existence to all
eternity, and will transfer us into an infinite variety of scenes, in
order to satisfy those desires, and render our felicity complete and
durable. Next to such a Being himself (if the comparison be allowed),
the happiest lot which we can imagine, is that of being under his
guardianship and protection.

These appearances, said Philo, are most engaging and alluring; and with
regard to the true philosopher, they are more than appearances. But it
happens here, as in the former case, that, with regard to the greater
part of mankind, the appearances are deceitful, and that the terrors of
religion commonly prevail above its comforts.

It is allowed, that men never have recourse to devotion so readily as
when dejected with grief or depressed with sickness. Is not this a
proof, that the religious spirit is not so nearly allied to joy as to

But men, when afflicted, find consolation in religion, replied
Cleanthes. Sometimes, said Philo: but it is natural to imagine,
that they will form a notion of those unknown beings, suitably to
the present gloom and melancholy of their temper, when they betake
themselves to the contemplation of them. Accordingly, we find the
tremendous images to predominate in all religions; and we ourselves,
after having employed the most exalted expression in our descriptions
of the Deity, fall into the flattest contradiction in affirming that
the damned are infinitely superior in number to the elect.

I shall venture to affirm, that there never was a popular religion,
which represented the state of departed souls in such a light, as would
render it eligible for human kind that there should be such a state.
These fine models of religion are the mere product of philosophy. For
as death lies between the eye and the prospect of futurity, that event
is so shocking to Nature, that it must throw a gloom on all the regions
which lie beyond it; and suggest to the generality of mankind the idea
of Cerberus and Furies; devils, and torrents of fire and brimstone.

It is true, both fear and hope enter into religion; because both these
passions, at different times, agitate the human mind, and each of
them forms a species of divinity suitable to itself. But when a man
is in a cheerful disposition, he is fit for business, or company, or
entertainment of any kind; and he naturally applies himself to these,
and thinks not of religion. When melancholy and dejected, he has
nothing to do but brood upon the terrors of the invisible world, and
to plunge himself still deeper in affliction. It may indeed happen,
that after he has, in this manner, engraved the religious opinions deep
into his thought and imagination, there may arrive a change of health
or circumstances, which may restore his good humour, and, raising
cheerful prospects of futurity, make him run into the other extreme of
joy and triumph. But still it must be acknowledged, that, as terror
is the primary principle of religion, it is the passion which always
predominates in it, and admits but of short intervals of pleasure.

Not to mention, that these fits of excessive, enthusiastic joy, by
exhausting the spirits, always prepare the way for equal fits of
superstitious terror and dejection; nor is there any state of mind
so happy as the calm and equable. But this state it is impossible to
support, where a man thinks that he lies in such profound darkness
and uncertainty, between an eternity of happiness and an eternity of
misery. No wonder that such an opinion disjoints the ordinary frame
of the mind, and throws it into the utmost confusion. And though that
opinion is seldom so steady in its operation as to influence all the
actions; yet it is apt to make a considerable breach in the temper, and
to produce that gloom and melancholy so remarkable in all devout people.

It is contrary to common sense to entertain apprehensions or terrors
upon account of any opinion whatsoever, or to imagine that we run any
risk hereafter, by the freest use of our reason. Such a sentiment
implies both an _absurdity_ and an _inconsistency_. It is an absurdity
to believe that the Deity has human passions, and one of the lowest
of human passions, a restless appetite for applause. It is an
inconsistency to believe, that, since the Deity has this human passion,
he has not others also; and, in particular, a disregard to the opinions
of creatures so much inferior.

_To know God_, says Seneca, _is to worship him_. All other worship
is indeed absurd, superstitious, and even impious. It degrades him
to the low condition of mankind, who are delighted with entreaty,
solicitation, presents, and flattery. Yet is this impiety the smallest
of which superstition is guilty. Commonly, it depresses the Deity far
below the condition of mankind; and represents him as a capricious
demon, who exercises his power without reason and without humanity! And
were that Divine Being disposed to be offended at the vices and follies
of silly mortals, who are his own workmanship, ill would it surely fare
with the votaries of most popular superstitions. Nor would any of human
race merit his _favour_, but a very few, the philosophical Theists,
who entertain, or rather indeed endeavour to entertain, suitable
notions of his Divine perfections: As the only persons entitled to his
_compassion_ and _indulgence_ would be the philosophical Sceptics, a
sect almost equally rare, who, from a natural diffidence of their own
capacity, suspend, or endeavour to suspend, all judgment with regard to
such sublime and such extraordinary subjects.

If the whole of Natural Theology, as some people seem to maintain,
resolves itself into one simple, though somewhat ambiguous, at least
undefined proposition, _That the cause or causes of order in the
universe probably bear some remote analogy to human intelligence_:
If this proposition be not capable of extension, variation, or more
particular explication: If it affords no inference that affects human
life, or can be the source of any action or forbearance: And if the
analogy, imperfect as it is, can be carried no farther than to the
human intelligence, and cannot be transferred, with any appearance of
probability, to the other qualities of the mind; if this really be the
case, what can the most inquisitive, contemplative, and religious man
do more than give a plain, philosophical assent to the proposition,
as often as it occurs, and believe that the arguments on which it
is established exceed the objections which lie against it? Some
astonishment, indeed, will naturally arise from the greatness of the
object; some melancholy from its obscurity; some contempt of human
reason, that it can give no solution more satisfactory with regard to
so extraordinary and magnificent a question. But believe me, Cleanthes,
the most natural sentiment which a well-disposed mind will feel on
this occasion, is a longing desire and expectation that Heaven would
be pleased to dissipate, at least alleviate, this profound ignorance,
by affording some more particular revelation to mankind, and making
discoveries of the nature, attributes, and operations of the Divine
object of our faith. A person, seasoned with a just sense of the
imperfections of natural reason, will fly to revealed truth with the
greatest avidity: While the haughty Dogmatist, persuaded that he can
erect a complete system of Theology by the mere help of philosophy,
disdains any further aid, and rejects this adventitious instructor.
To be a philosophical Sceptic is, in a man of letters, the first and
most essential step towards being a sound, believing Christian; a
proposition which I would willingly recommend to the attention of
Pamphilus: And I hope Cleanthes will forgive me for interposing so far
in the education and instruction of his pupil.

Cleanthes and Philo pursued not this conversation much farther: and as
nothing ever made greater impression on me, than all the reasonings
of that day, so I confess, that, upon a serious review of the whole,
I cannot but think, that Philo's principles are more probable than
Demea's; but that those of Cleanthes approach still nearer to the truth.

[1] De Formatione Foetus.

[2] It seems evident that the dispute between the Sceptics and
Dogmatists is entirely verbal, or at least regards only the degrees
of doubt and assurance which we ought to indulge with regard to all
reasoning; and such disputes are commonly, at the bottom, verbal, and
admit not of any precise determination. No philosophical Dogmatist
denies that there are difficulties both with regard to the senses and
to all science, and that these difficulties are in a regular, logical
method, absolutely insolvable. No Sceptic denies that we lie under an
absolute necessity, notwithstanding these difficulties, of thinking,
and believing, and reasoning, with regard to all kinds of subjects, and
even of frequently assenting with confidence and security. The only
difference, then, between these sects, if they merit that name, is,
that the Sceptic, from habit, caprice, or inclination, insists most on
the difficulties; the Dogmatist, for like reasons, on the necessity.

[3] Lib. vi. cap. 54.

[4] Iphigenia in Tauride.




There is nothing I would more willingly lay hold of, than an
opportunity of confessing my errors; and should esteem such a return to
truth and reason to be more honourable than the most unerring judgment.
A man who is free from mistakes can pretend to no praises, except from
the justness of his understanding; but a man who corrects his mistakes
shows at once the justness of his understanding, and the candour
and ingenuity of his temper. I have not yet been so fortunate as to
discover any very considerable mistakes in the reasonings delivered
in the preceding volumes, except on one article; but I have found by
experience, that some of my expressions have not been so well chosen
as to guard against all mistakes in the readers; and 'tis chiefly to
remedy this defect I have subjoined the following Appendix.

We can never be induced to believe any matter of fact except where
its cause or its effect is present to us; but what the nature is of
that belief which arises from the relation of cause and effect, few
have had the curiosity to ask themselves. In my opinion this dilemma
is inevitable. Either the belief is some new idea, such as that of
_reality_ or _existence_, which we join to the simple conception
of an object, or it is merely a peculiar _feeling_ or _sentiment_.
That it is not a new idea, annexed to the simple conception, may be
evinced from these two arguments. _First_, We have no abstract idea of
existence, distinguishable and separable from the idea of particular
objects. 'Tis impossible, therefore, that this idea of existence can
be annexed to the idea of any object, or form the difference betwixt
a simple conception and belief. _Secondly_, The mind has the command
over all its ideas, and can separate, unite, mix, and vary them, as
it pleases; so that, if belief consisted merely in a new idea annexed
to the conception, it would be in a man's power to believe what he
pleased. We may therefore conclude, that belief consists merely in a
certain feeling or sentiment; in something that depends not on the
will, but must arise from certain determinate causes and principles
of which we are not masters. When we are convinced of any matter of
fact, we do nothing but conceive it, along with a certain feeling,
different from what attends the mere _reveries_ of the imagination.
And when we express our incredulity concerning any fact, we mean,
that the arguments for the fact produce not that feeling. Did not the
belief consist in a sentiment different from our mere conception,
whatever objects were presented by the wildest imagination would be on
an equal footing with the most established truths founded on history
and experience. There is nothing but the feeling or sentiment to
distinguish the one from the other.

This, therefore, being regarded as an undoubted truth, that _belief is
nothing but a peculiar feeling, different from the simple conception_,
the next question that naturally occurs is, _what is the nature of
this feeling or sentiment, and whether it be analogous to any other
sentiment of the human mind_? This question is important. For if it be
not analogous to any other sentiment, we must despair of explaining
its causes, and must consider it as an original principle of the human
mind. If it be analogous, we may hope to explain its causes from
analogy, and trace it up to more general principles. Now, that there
is a greater firmness and solidity in the conceptions, which are the
objects of conviction and assurance, than in the loose and indolent
reveries of a castle-builder, every one will readily own. They strike
upon us with more force; they are more present to us; the mind has
a firmer hold of them, and is more actuated and moved by them. It
acquiesces in them; and, in a manner, fixes and reposes itself on
them. In short, they approach nearer to the impressions, which are
immediately present to us; and are therefore analogous to many other
operations of the mind.

There is not, in my opinion, any possibility of evading this
conclusion, but by asserting that belief, beside the simple conception,
consists in some impression or feeling, distinguishable from the
conception. It does not modify the conception, and render it more
present and intense: it is only annexed to it, after the same manner
that _will_ and _desire_ are annexed to particular conceptions of
good and pleasure. But the following considerations will, I hope,
be sufficient to remove this hypothesis. _First_, It is directly
contrary to experience, and our immediate consciousness? All men have
ever allowed reasoning to be merely an operation of our thoughts or
ideas; and however those ideas may be varied to the feeling, there is
nothing ever enters into our _conclusions_ but ideas, or our fainter
conceptions. For instance, I hear at present a person's voice with
whom I am acquainted, and this sound comes from the next room. This
impression of my senses immediately conveys my thoughts to the person,
along with all the surrounding objects. I paint them out to myself
as existent at present, with the same qualities and relations that I
formerly knew them possessed of. These ideas take faster hold of my
mind, than the ideas of an enchanted castle. They are different to the
feeling; but there is no distinct or separate impression attending
them. 'Tis the same case when I recollect the several incidents of a
journey, or the events of any history. Every particular fact is there
the object of belief. Its idea is modified differently from the loose
reveries of a castle-builder: but no distinct impression attends
every distinct idea, or conception of matter of fact. This is the
subject of plain experience. If ever this experience can be disputed
on any occasion, 'tis when the mind has been agitated with doubts and
difficulties; and afterwards, upon taking the object in a new point of
view, or being presented with a new argument, fixes and reposes itself
in one settled conclusion and belief. In this case there is a feeling
distinct and separate from the conception. The passage from doubt
and agitation to tranquillity and repose, conveys a satisfaction and
pleasure to the mind. But take any other case. Suppose I see the legs
and thighs of a person in motion, while some interposed object conceals
the rest of his body. Here 'tis certain, the imagination spreads out
the whole figure. I give him a head and shoulders, and breast and neck.
These members I conceive and believe him to be possessed of. Nothing
can be more evident, than that this whole operation is performed
by the thought or imagination alone. The transition is immediate.
The ideas presently strike us. Their customary connexion with the
present impression varies them and modifies them in a certain manner,
but produces no act of the mind, distinct from this peculiarity of
conception. Let any one examine his own mind, and he will evidently
find this to be the truth.

_Secondly_, Whatever may be the case, with regard to this distinct
impression, it must be allowed that the mind has a firmer hold, or
more steady conception of what it takes to be matter of fact than of
fictions. Why then look any farther, or multiply suppositions without

_Thirdly_, We can explain the _causes_ of the firm conception, but not
those of any separate impression. And not only so, but the causes of
the firm conception exhaust the whole subject, and nothing is left to
produce any other effect. An inference concerning a matter of fact is
nothing but the idea of an object that is frequently conjoined, or is
associated with a present impression. This is the whole of it. Every
part is requisite to explain, from analogy, the more steady conception;
and nothing remains capable of producing any distinct impression.

_Fourthly_, The _effects_ of belief, in influencing the passions
and imagination, can all be explained from the firm conception; and
there is no occasion to have recourse to any other principle. These
arguments, with many others, enumerated in the foregoing volumes,
sufficiently prove, that belief only modifies the idea or conception;
and renders it different to the feeling, without producing any distinct

Thus, upon a general view of the subject, there appear to be two
questions of importance, which we may venture to recommend to
the consideration of philosophers, _Whether there be any thing to
distinguish belief from the simple conception, beside the feeling
or sentiment_? And, _Whether this feeling be any thing but a firmer
conception, or a faster hold, that we take of the object_?

If, upon impartial inquiry, the same conclusion that I have formed
be assented to by philosophers, the next business is to examine the
analogy which there is betwixt belief and other acts of the mind,
and find the cause of the firmness and strength of conception; and
this I do not esteem a difficult task. The transition from a present
impression, always enlivens and strengthens any idea. When any object
is presented, the idea of its usual attendant immediately strikes us,
as something real and solid. 'Tis _felt_ rather than conceived, and
approaches the impression, from which it is derived, in its force
and influence. This I have proved at large, and cannot add any new

I had entertained some hopes, that however deficient our theory of the
intellectual world might be, it would be free from those contradictions
and absurdities, which seem to attend every explication, that human
reason can give of the material world. But upon a more strict review of
the section concerning _personal identity_, I find myself involved in
such a labyrinth, that, I must confess, I neither know how to correct
my former opinions, nor how to render them consistent. If this be not
a good _general_ reason for scepticism, 'tis at least a sufficient
one (if I were not already abundantly supplied) for me to entertain
a diffidence and modesty in all my decisions. I shall propose the
arguments on both sides, beginning with those that induced me to deny
the strict and proper identity and simplicity of a self or thinking

When we talk of _self_ or _subsistence_, we must have an idea annexed
to these terms, otherwise they are altogether unintelligible. Every
idea is derived from preceding impressions; and we have no impression
of self or substance, as something simple and individual. We have,
therefore, no idea of them in that sense.

Whatever is distinct, is distinguishable, and whatever is
distinguishable, is separable by the thought or imagination. All
perceptions are distinct. They are, therefore, distinguishable, and
separable, and may be conceived, as separately existent, and may exist
separately, without any contradiction or absurdity.

When I view this table and that chimney, nothing is present to me but
particular perceptions, which are of a like nature with all the other
perceptions. This is the doctrine of philosophers. But this table,
which is present to me, and that chimney, may, and do exist separately.
This is the doctrine of the vulgar, and implies no contradiction.
There, is no contradiction, therefore, in extending the same doctrine
to all the perceptions.

In general, the following reasoning seems satisfactory. All ideas are
borrowed from preceding perceptions. Our ideas of objects, therefore,
are derived from that source. Consequently no proposition can be
intelligible or consistent with regard to objects, which is not so
with regard to perceptions. But 'tis intelligible and consistent to
say, that objects exist distinct and independent, without any common
_simple_ substance or subject of inhesion. This proposition, therefore,
can never be absurd with regard to perceptions.

When I turn my reflection on _myself_, I never can perceive this _self_
without some one or more perceptions; nor can I ever perceive any thing
but the perceptions. 'Tis the composition of these, therefore, which
forms the self.

We can conceive a thinking being to have either many or few
perceptions. Suppose the mind to be reduced even below the life of an
oyster. Suppose it to have only one perception, as of thirst or hunger.
Consider it in that situation. Do you conceive any thing but merely
that perception? Have you any notion of _self_ or _substance_? If not,
the addition of other perceptions can never give you that notion.

The annihilation which some people suppose to follow upon death, and
which entirely destroys this self, is nothing but an extinction of all
particular perceptions; love and hatred, pain and pleasure, thought and
sensation. These, therefore, must be the same with self, since the one
cannot survive the other.

Is _self_ the same with _substance_? If it be, how can that question
have place, concerning the subsistence of self, under a change of
substance? If they be distinct, what is the difference betwixt them?
For my part, I have a notion of neither, when conceived distinct from
particular perceptions.

Philosophers begin to be reconciled to the principle, _that we have
no idea of external substance, distinct from the ideas of particular
qualities_. This must pave the way for a like principle with regard to
the mind, _that we have no notion of it, distinct from the particular

So far I seem to be attended with sufficient evidence. But having thus
loosened all our particular perceptions, when I proceed to explain
the principle of connexion, which binds them together, and makes us
attribute to them a real simplicity and identity, I am sensible that my
account is very defective, and that nothing but the seeming evidence
of the precedent reasonings could have induced me to receive it. If
perceptions are distinct existences, they form a whole only by being
connected together. But no connexions among distinct existences are
ever discoverable by human understanding. We only _feel_ a connexion
or determination of the thought to pass from one object to another. It
follows, therefore, that the thought alone feels personal identity,
when reflecting on the train of past perceptions that compose a mind,
the ideas of them are felt to be connected together, and naturally
introduce each other. However extraordinary this conclusion may seem,
it need not surprise us. Most philosophers seem inclined to think, that
personal identity _arises_ from consciousness, and consciousness is
nothing but a reflected thought or perception. The present philosophy,
therefore, has so far a promising aspect. But all my hopes vanish, when
I come to explain the principles that unite our successive perceptions
in our thought or consciousness. I cannot discover any theory, which
gives me satisfaction on this head.

In short, there are two principles which I cannot render consistent,
nor is it in my power to renounce either of them, viz. _that all
our distinct perceptions are distinct existences, and that the mind
never perceives any real connexion among distinct existences_. Did
our perceptions either inhere in something simple and individual, or
did the mind perceive some real connexion among them, there would be
no difficulty in the case. For my part, I must plead the privilege
of a sceptic, and confess, that this difficulty is too hard for my
understanding. I pretend not, however, to pronounce it absolutely
insuperable. Others, perhaps, or myself, upon more mature reflections,
may discover some hypothesis that will reconcile those contradictions.

I shall also take this opportunity of confessing two other errors of
less importance, which more mature reflection has discovered to me in
my reasoning. The first may be found in Vol. I. page 85, where I say,
that the distance betwixt two bodies is known, among other things, by
the angles which the rays of light flowing from the bodies make with
each other. 'Tis certain, that these angles are not known to the mind,
and consequently can never discover the distance. The second error may
be found in Vol. I. p. 132, where I say, that two ideas of the same
object can only be different by their different degrees of force and
vivacity. I believe there are other differences among ideas, which
cannot properly be comprehended under these terms. Had I said, that
two ideas of the same object can only be different by their different
_feeling_, I should have been nearer the truth.


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