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compares it to "a white sheet of paper,"—"an empty cabinet," and "a dark room." He considers that the only objects it contemplates are what he calls its Ideas: and that these are either received from without by the senses; or the mind, by exercising its faculties in reflecting on these materials, forms new conceptions, and thus acquires by experience all its knowledge. He argues, that as it has no innate ideas,no instinctive rule to distinguish truth from falsehood; so it can have "no innate practical principles," but is moral or immoral by education, depraved or virtuous entirely by custom, having no greater tendency, naturally, to good than to evil; to approve what is honest, benevolent, or disinterested, than the contrary, farther than what is virtuous is found to be profitable to society; consequently, that the ideas of a Supreme Being, of moral and religious obligation, and of virtue and vice, are all acquired. Hence he infers, that man, either by process of argumentation, has discovered these Truths: or, where they have been above human research, that they have been made known by Revelation in the written letter of Scripture; nothing, in fact, having been inscribed on the table of the heart by the Creator. For, as Reason or outward research affords the only natural light, and as there are many things which it cannot know, by all its labour, some revelation from above was necessary to man: therefore, that the volume of Holy Scripture supplies that necessity, and now constitutes the common measure and extent of that reve
lation: consequently, that our duties can only be known by the laboured deductions of Reason on the one hand, or the Inspired Writings on the other; and, mediately, by outward instruction.
The following passages, in the writer's own words, will explain the matter more fully. "I doubt not but to shew that a man, by the right use of his natural abilities, may, without any innate principles, attain the knowledge of a God, and other things that concern him—and may arrive at certainty without any such original notions or principles."*
"Let us then suppose the mind to be, as we say, white paper, void of all characters, without any ideas; how comes it to be furnished? Whence has it all the materials of reason and knowledge? To this, I answer, in one word, from Experience: in that, all our knowledge is founded: and from that it ultimately derives itself." Book 2. Ch. i.
"Methinks, the understanding is not much unlike a closet wholly shut from light with only some little opening left to let in external visible resemblances, or ideas of things without," Book 2. Ch. xii." The great source of most of the ideas we have, depending wholly upon our senses, and derived by them to the understanding, I call Sensation. The other fountain from which experience furnisheth the understanding with ideas, is the perception of the operations of our own minds within us, as it is employed about the ideas it has got-I call this Reflection." "These two
* See Essay, Book 1. Ch. iv.
are to me the only originals from whence all our ideas take their beginnings."—" The understanding seems to me not to have the least glimmering of any ideas, which it doth not receive from one of these two. External objects furnish the mind with the ideas of sensible qualities-i, e. The senses at first let in par ticular ideas and furnish the yet empty cabinet."-"And the mind furnishes the understanding with the ideas of its own operations." Book 2. Ch. i." For white paper receives any characters." Book 1. Ch. iii.
And again, with regard to moral duties, he says, "I doubt not, but, without being written on their hearts, many men may, by the same way that they come to the knowledge of other things, come to assent to several moral rules, and be convinced of their obligations; others also may come to be of the same mind, from their education, company, and customs of their country; which persuasion, however got, will serve to set Conscience on work."
"If conscience be a proof of innate principles, contraries may be innate principles; since some men, with the same bent of conscience, prosecute what others avoid." Book 1. Ch. iii.
From this system it follows, according to the same writer, that "Conscience is nothing else but our own opinion or judgment, of the moral rectitude or pravity of our actions;"-that "Virtue is approved, not because it is innate, but because it is profitable;"-that "Good and Evil are nothing but pleasure or pain, or that which occasions or procures pleasure or pain to
us;”—that “Truth signifies nothing but the joining or separating of signs, as the things signified by them, do agree or disagree with one another: the joining or separating of signs being what is called a propo sition;"that" Light, true Light in the mind, is or can be nothing else but the evidence of the truth of any proposition ;"—that "Faith is nothing but a firm assent of the mind to the truth of any proposition ;"
and that "Reason must be our last judge and guide in every thing."* These are Locke's definitions and opinions in his own words.
Now, I think it may easily be seen, that this System, considered as a whole, is united in its parts; and, that it gives a very plain, what if I say, mecha nical view of the human intellect, and of the mode and materials of its instruction or enlargement.
It omits all notice of instincts, inherent determi nations, impulses, and innate principles, speculative or moral.
A few remarks, however, by way of explanation or previous information, are all that I can now with propriety offer. The system of Locke is too comprehensive; his reasonings too profound and connected, and my own ability, and the space I have to allow myself, too limited, to permit me to say much on the subject, if any thing, in so small a compass, that will be likely to prove either satisfactory to myself or to my reader. Yet the little I offer, will, I trust, be fully corroborated. As I proceed in this inquiry, I
* See Essay on Human Understanding.
flatter myself that suitable opportunities will be afforded, to explain my views of the tendency of some of his principles more fully.
I am, notwithstanding, desirous of abating somewhat of the influence which such an author must possess, and of showing, in limine, that his reasonings are far from being considered by many eminent writers as entitled to implicit credit; so that, if I differ with him in some important points, I do not differ alone. It is for this reason that I adduce the testimonies at the end of this Chapter. But if there did not appear to be a stronger sanction than even human authority in support of the view I take, I should hardly venture to hint at opposition.
It will appear from the preceding extracts, that Locke considers Experience to be the only foundation of all our knowledge; that Sensation furnishes the mind with information concerning the qualities of outward material objects; and Reflection furnishes the understanding with a knowledge of the mind's own operations, by means of the different faculties, memory, association, abstraction, imagination, reason, &c.
This is undoubtedly a very simple view of the case; and the clearness and simplicity "are rendered still more striking by the comparison of the human under standing, in its unfurnished state, to a dark closet,— an empty cabinet,—a white sheet of paper. It is no wonder, therefore, that a system, built upon such plain intelligible principles, should gratify every one who is