C. Baldwin, Printer, New Bridge-street, London.
Your lordship has the idea of subsisting by itself, and therefore you conclude you have a clear and distinct idea of the thing that subsists by itself; which, methinks, is all one, as if your countryman should say, he hath an idea of a cedar of Lebanon, that it is a tree of a nature to need no prop to lean on for its support; therefore he hath a clear and distinct idea of a cedar of Lebanon; which clear and distinct idea, when he comes to examine, is nothing but a general one of a tree, with which his indetermined idea of a cedar is confounded. Just so is the idea of substance; which, however called clear and distinct, is confounded with the general indetermined idea of something. But suppose that the manner of subsisting by itself gives us a clear and distinct idea of substance, how does that prove, That upon my principles we can come to no certainty of reason, that there is any such thing as substance in the world? Which is the proposition to be proved.
Books and treatises written, or supposed to be written, by Mr. Locke.
§ 3. But perhaps it may not be an unpardonable digression, nor wholly impertinent to our present design, if we reflect here upon the different state of the mind in thinking, which those instances of attention, reverie, and dreaming, &c. before-mentioned, naturally enough suggest. That there are ideas, some or other, always present in the mind of a waking man, every one’s experience convinces him, though the mind employs itself about them with several degrees of attention. Sometimes the mind fixes itself with so much earnestness on the contemplation of some objects, that it turns their ideas on all sides, remarks their relations and circumstances, and views every part so nicely, and with such intention, that it shuts out all other thoughts, and takes no notice of the ordinary impressions made then on the senses, which at another season would produce very sensible perceptions: at other times it barely observes the train of ideas that succeed in the understanding, without directing and pursuing any of them: and at other times it lets them pass almost quite unregarded, as faint shadows that make no impression.
Secondly, when a thing is made up of particles, which did all of them before exist, but that very thing so constituted of pre-existing particles, which, considered all together, make up such a collection of simple ideas as had not any existence before; as this man, this egg, rose, or cherry, &c. And this, when referred to a substance, produced in the ordinary course of nature by internal principle, but set on work, and received from some external agent or cause, and working by insensible ways, which we perceive not, we call generation; when the cause is extrinsecal, and the effect produced by a sensible separation, or juxta-position of discernible parts, we call it making; and such are all artificial things. When any simple idea is produced, which was not in that subject before, we call it alteration. Thus a man is generated, a picture made, and either of them altered, when any new sensible quality or simple idea is produced in either of them, which was not there before; and the things thus made to exist, which were not there before, are effects; and those things, which operated to the existence, causes. In which, and all other causes, we may observe, that the notion of cause and effect has its rise from ideas, received by sensation, or reflection; and that this relation, how comprehensible soever, terminates at last in them. For to have the idea of cause and effect, it suffices to consider any simple idea, or substance, as beginning to exist by the operation of some other, without knowing the manner of that operation.
Common Place-Book to the Bible.
§ 9. The ideas that make our complex ones of corporeal substances, are of these three sorts. First, the ideas of the primary qualities of things which are discovered by our senses, and are in them even when we perceive them not; such are the bulk, figure, number, situation, and motion of the parts of bodies, which are really in them, whether we take notice of them or no. Secondly, the sensible secondary qualities, which depending on these, are nothing but the powers those substances have to produce several ideas in us by our senses; which ideas are not in the things themselves, otherwise than as any thing is in its cause. Thirdly, the aptness we consider in any substance to give or receive such alterations of primary qualities, as that the substance so altered should produce in us different ideas from what it did before; these are called active and passive powers: all which powers, as far as we have any notice or notion of them, terminate only in sensible simple ideas. For whatever alteration a loadstone has the power to make in the minute particles of iron, we should have no notion of any power it had at all to operate on iron, did not its sensible motion discover it: and I doubt not, but there are a thousand changes, that bodies we daily handle have a power to cause in one another, which we never suspect, because they never appear in sensible effects.