Sec 5, 6: The Same Subject; Existence

SEC 5: THE SAME SUBJECT CONTINUED

  • The second part of my system is that the idea of space or extension is nothing but the idea of visible or tangible points distributed in a certain order.
  • If this is true, it follows that we cannot form an idea of a vacuum or space where there is nothing visible or tangible.
    • This creates three objections which I shall examine together.
      • Because the answer I give to one is a consequence of the answers for the others.
  1. For many ages, men have disputed a vacuum and a plenum, without being able to conclude the affair.
    • Philosophers think themselves at liberty to take part on either side as their fancy leads them.
    • But whatever foundation there may be for a controversy on the things themselves, it may be pretended, that:
      • the very dispute is decisive concerning the idea
      • it is impossible men could so long reason about a vacuum and refute or defend it, without knowing what they refuted or defended.
  1. The reality of the idea of a vacuum may be proven by the following reasoning.
    • Every idea is possible.
    • The world is currently a plenum.
      • But we may easily conceive it to be deprived of motion.
    • It is also possible to conceive the annihilation of any part of matter by the deity’s omnipotence, while the other parts remain at rest, since:
      • every idea that is distinguishable is separable by the imagination
      • every idea that is separable by the imagination may be conceived to be separately existent.
    • The existence of one particle of matter does not imply the existence of another particle, than a square in one body implies a square in every body.
    • What results from the concurrence of these two possible ideas of rest and annihilation?
    • What must we conceive to follow the annihilation of the air and subtle matter in the room, if the walls remained the same without any motion or alteration?
      • Some metaphysicians answer that since matter and extension are the same, the annihilation of one implies the annihilation of the other.
        • They touch each other because there is no distance between the walls of the room, in the same way as my hand touches the paper before me.
      • This answer is very common.
      • But I defy these metaphysicians to:
        • conceive the matter according to their hypothesis, or
        • imagine the room’s floor, roof, and walls, to touch each other while preserving the same position.
      • How can the two walls that run from south to north touch each other, while they touch the opposite ends of two walls that run from east to west?
      • How can the floor and roof ever meet while they are separated by the four walls that lie in a contrary position?
        • If you change their position, you suppose a motion.
        • If you conceive anything between them, you suppose a new creation.
    • But keeping strictly to the two ideas of rest and annihilation, the idea resulting from them is not that of a contact of parts, but of the idea of a vacuum.
  1. The third objection carries the matter further.
    • It asserts that the idea of a vacuum is real and possible, necessary and unavoidable.
    • This assertion is founded on the motion we observe in bodies.
      • This motion would be impossible and inconceivable without a vacuum, into which one body must move to make way for another.
    • I shall not enlarge on this objection.
      • Because it principally belongs to natural philosophy which is not within our present sphere.
  • To answer these objections, we must:
    • take the matter pretty deep
    • consider the nature and origin of several ideas.
      • Lest we dispute without understanding perfectly the subject of the controversy.
  • The idea of darkness is no positive idea.
    • It is merely the negation of light or coloured and visible objects.
  • A man who enjoys his sight, receives no perception when entirely deprived of light just as a man born blind.
    • A man born blind has no idea of light or darkness.
      • The consequence of this is that:
        • it is not from the mere removal of visible objects that we receive the impression of extension without matter
        • the idea of utter darkness can never be the same with the idea of vacuum.
  • Suppose a man were supported in the air and softly conveyed along by some invisible power.
    • He is sensible of nothing.
    • He never receives the idea of extension nor any idea from this invariable motion.
    • Even if he moves his limbs, this cannot convey to him the idea of extension.
    • He feels a certain sensation or impression, which have parts successive to each other and may give him the idea of time.
    • But his sensations are not disposed in a way to convey the idea of space or extension.
  • Therefore, darkness and motion, with the removal of everything visible and tangible, can never give us the idea of extension without matter or a vacuum.
  • Can darkness and motion convey this idea when mixed with something visible and tangible?
  • All bodies seen by the eye, appear as if painted on a plain surface.
    • Their different degrees of remoteness from ourselves are discovered more by reason than by the senses.
  • When I hold up my hand before me and spread my fingers, they are separated by the blue sky as they were by any visible object which I place between them.
  • Therefore, to know whether the sight can convey the impression and idea of a vacuum, we must suppose that there are luminous bodies presented to us amidst darkness.
    • Their light discovers only these bodies themselves, without giving us any impression of the surrounding objects.
  • We must form a parallel supposition on the objects of our feeling.
    • It is improper to suppose a perfect removal of all tangible objects.
      • We must allow something to be perceived by the feeling.
  • After an interval and motion of the hand, another object is touched.
    • After leaving that object, another object is touched, and so on, as often as we please.
    • Do these intervals afford us the idea of extension without body?
  • When only two luminous bodies appear to the eye, we can perceive whether they are:
    • conjoined or separate
    • separated by a great or small distance.
  • If this distance varies, we can perceive its increase or reduction with the motion of the bodies.
    • But as the distance in this case is not anything coloured or visible, it may be thought that there is here a vacuum or pure extension intelligible to the mind and obvious to the very senses.
  • This is our natural and most familiar way of thinking.
    • We shall learn to correct this by a little reflection.
  • When two bodies present themselves, where there was formerly an entire darkness, the only discoverable change is in the appearance of these two objects.
    • All the rest continues to be as before, a perfect negation of light and every visible object.
  • This is true of what are remote from these bodies and the very distance between them.
    • This distance is nothing but darkness or the negation of light.
      • It has no parts nor composition.
      • It is invariable and indivisible.
  • Since this distance causes no perception different from what a blind man sees or what we see in darkness, it must share the same properties.
  • Blindness and darkness afford us no ideas of extension.
    • It is impossible that the dark and undistinguishable distance between two bodies can ever produce that idea.
  • The sole difference between an absolute darkness and the appearance of two or more visible luminous objects is in the:
    • objects themselves
    • the way they affect our senses.
  • The following produce the only perceptions which we can judge of the distance:
    • the angles of the rays of light flowing from them, forming with each other
    • the motion required in the eye, in its passage from one to the other
    • the different parts of the organs affected by them.
  • Each of these perceptions are simple and indivisible.
    • They can never give us the idea of extension.
  • We may illustrate this by considering:
    • the sense of feeling, and
    • the imaginary distance or interval between tangible or solid objects.
  • I suppose two cases:
    • a man supported in the air, moving his limbs without meeting anything tangible
    • a man, feeling something tangible, leaves it and after a sensible motion, perceives another tangible object.
  • What is the difference between these two cases?
    • The difference is merely in the perception of those objects.
  • The sensation arising from the motion is the same in both cases.
    • That sensation cannot:
      • convey to us an idea of extension when unaccompanied with some other perception.
      • give us more of that idea of extension when mixed with the impressions of tangible objects, since that mixture does not change it.
  • Motion and darkness, alone or attended with tangible and visible objects, convey no idea of a vacuum or extension without matter.
    • But they are why we falsely imagine that we can form such an idea.
    • For there is:
      • a close relation between that motion and darkness
      • a real extension or composition of visible and tangible objects.
  1. We may observe that two visible objects appearing in utter darkness:
    • affect the senses in the same way
    • form the same angle by the rays which flow from them and meet in the eye, as if the distance between them were filled with visible objects that give us a true idea of extension.
  • The sensation of motion is likewise the same when there is nothing tangible between two bodies, as when we feel a compounded body, whose different parts are placed beyond each other.
  1. Two bodies, placed to affect the senses in the same way as two other bodies that have a certain extent of visible objects between them, are capable of receiving the same extent without any:
    • sensible impulse or penetration
    • change on their angle.
  • Similarly, when there is an object which we cannot feel after another object without an interval and our hand motion, experience shows us that it is possible for the same object to be felt with the same sensation of motion along with the impression of solid objects.
    • In other words, an invisible and intangible distance may be converted into a visible and tangible one without any change on the distant objects.
  1. These two kinds of distance have nearly the same effects on every natural phenomenon.
    • All qualities, such as heat, cold, light, attraction, etc. reduce in proportion to the distance.
    • There is but little difference observed whether this distance be:
      • marked by compounded and sensible objects, or
      • known only by how the distant objects affect the senses.
  • Here then are three relations between that distance which conveys the idea of extension, and that other, which is not filled with any coloured or solid object.
  • The distant objects affect the senses in the same way, whether separated by the one distance or the other.
  • The second species of distance is found capable of receiving the first.
  • They both equally reduce the force of every quality.
  • These relations between the two kinds of distance will afford us an easy reason why:
    • the one has so often been taken for the other
    • we imagine we have an idea of extension without the idea of any object of the sight or feeling.
  • We may establish it as a general maxim in this science of human nature, that wherever there is a close relation between two ideas, the mind is very apt to mistake them, and in all its discourses and reasonings to use the one for the other.
    • This phenomenon occurs on so many occasions, and is of such consequence, that I cannot forbear stopping a moment to examine its causes.
    • I shall only premise that we must:
      • distinguish exactly between the phenomenon itself and the causes which I shall assign for it
      • not imagine from any uncertainty in the causes, that the phenomenon is also uncertain.
  • The phenomenon may be real, though my explication be chimerical.
  • The falsehood of the one is no consequence of the falsehood of the other.
    • Though at the same time, we may observe that it is very natural for us to draw such a consequence; which is an evident instance of that very principle I am trying to explain.
  • When I received the relations of resemblance, contiguity and causation, as principles of union among ideas, without examining their causes, it was more to prosecute my first maxim.
    • This maxim is that we must rest contented with experience than for the want of something specious and plausible.
  • It would have been easy to have:
    • made an imaginary dissection of the brain
    • shown why, upon our conception of any idea, the animal spirits:
      • run into all the contiguous traces
      • rouse up the other ideas that are related to it.
  • I have neglected any advantage from this topic in explaining the relations of ideas.
    • I am afraid I must recourse to it, to account for the mistakes that arise from these relations.
  • I shall therefore observe that the mind is endowed with a power of exciting any idea it pleases, whenever it dispatches the spirits into that region of the brain where the idea is placed.
    • These spirits always excite the idea when they:
      • run precisely into the proper traces
      • rummage that cell which belongs to the idea.
  • Their motion is:
    • seldom direct
    • naturally turns a little to the one side or the other
  • This is why the animal spirits, falling into the contiguous traces, present other related ideas in lieu of that idea which the mind desired to survey at first.
    • We are not always sensible of this change.
      • Continuing the same train of thought, we make use of the related idea, which is presented to us, and employ it in our reasoning, as if it were the same with what we demanded.
  • This is the cause of many mistakes and sophisms in philosophy; as will naturally be imagined, and as it would be easy to show, if there was occasion.
  • The relation of resemblance is the most fertile source of error of the three relations above-mentioned.
    • There are few mistakes in reasoning which do not borrow largely from that origin.
  • Resembling ideas are related together.
    • The mind’s actions which we employ in considering them are so similar, that we are unable to distinguish them.
    • This last circumstance is of great consequence.
    • Wherever the actions of the mind in forming any two ideas are the same or resembling, we are very apt to confound these ideas, and take the one for the other.
  • Of this we shall see many instances in the progress of this treatise.
  • Resemblance is the relation, which most readily produces a mistake in ideas.
    • Yet the relations of causation and contiguity may also concur in the same influence.
  • We might cite the figures of poets and orators as proofs of this.
    • It is usual for men to:
      • use words for ideas
      • talk instead of thinking in their reasonings.
  • We use words for ideas.
    • They are commonly so closely connected that the mind easily mistakes them.
  • The idea of distance is not visible nor tangible.
    • This is why we substitute the idea of a distance in the room of extension.
    • In causing this mistake, there concur the relations of causation and resemblance.
  • The first species of distance is found to be convertible into the second.
    • In this respect, it is a kind of cause.
  • The similarity of their manner of affecting the senses and reducing every quality, forms the relation of resemblance.
  • I can now answer all the objections derived from metaphysics or mechanics.
  • A vacuum is an extension without matter
    • The frequent disputes concerning  a vacuum do not prove the reality of the idea on which the dispute turns.
  • Men most commonly deceive themselves in this, especially when there is another idea presented, through any close relation, which may be the occasion of their mistake.
  • We may almost make the same answer to the second objection, derived from the conjunction of the ideas of rest and annihilation.
    • When everything is annihilated in the room and the walls stay immovable, the room must be conceived in the same way as at present.
      • Presently, the air that fills it is not an object of the senses.
    • This annihilation gives the eye that fictitious distance discovered by:
      • the different parts of the organ that are affected.
      • the degrees of light and shade
      • the feeling from a motion in the hand.
  • We should not search any farther.
    • On whichever side we turn this subject, these are the only impressions that such an object can produce after the supposed annihilation.
    • Impressions can only give rise to resembling ideas.
  • Since a body interposed between two other bodies may be annihilated without producing any change on either hand of it, we can easily conceive how any change may be:
    • created anew
    • yet produce as little alteration.
  • The motion of a body has much the same effect as its creation.
    • The distant bodies are no more affected in the one case, than in the other.
    • This satisfies the imagination.
      • It proves there is no repugnance in such a motion.
  • Afterwards, experience persuades us that:
    • two bodies situated in the above manner, really have such a capacity of receiving body between them
    • there is no obstacle to the conversion of the invisible and intangible distance into one that is visible and tangible.
  • However natural that conversion may seem, we cannot be sure it is practical before experiencing it.
  • Thus, I have answered the three objections above-mentioned.
    • Few will be satisfied with these answers.
    • They will immediately propose new objections and difficulties.
  • It will probably be said that my reasoning makes nothing to the matter in hands and that I explain only the manner in which objects affect the senses, without trying to account for their real nature and operations.
  • There is nothing visible or tangible interposed between two bodies.
    • Yet we find BY EXPERIENCE, that the bodies may:
      • be placed in the same manner with regard to the eye.
      • require the same motion of the hand in passing from one to the other, as if divided by something visible and tangible.
  • This invisible and intangible distance is also found by experience to contain a capacity of:
    • receiving body, or
    • becoming visible and tangible.
  • Here is the whole of my system.
  • I have not tried to explain the cause which:
    • separates bodies this way
    • gives them a capacity of receiving others between them, without any impulse or penetration.
  • I answer this objection by:
    • pleading guilty.
    • confessing that my intention never was to:
      • penetrate into the nature of bodies, or
      • explain the secret causes of their operations.
  • This does not belong to my present purpose.
    • I am afraid that:
      • such an enterprise is beyond the reach of human understanding.
      • we can never pretend to know body otherwise than by those external properties, which discover themselves to the senses.
  • To those who attempt anything further, I cannot approve of their ambition until I see in someone instance at least, that they have met with success.
  • But at present I content myself with knowing perfectly:
    • how objects affect my senses
    • their connections with each other, as far as experience informs me of them.
  • This suffices for the conduct of life.
    • This also suffices for my philosophy, which pretends only to explain the nature and causes of our perceptions, or impressions and ideas [Footnote 4.].

Footnote 4.

  • As long as we confine our speculations to the appearances of objects to our senses, without entering into a long essay about their real nature and operations, we:
    • are safe from all difficulties
    • can never be embarrassed by any question.
  • Thus, if asked whether the invisible and intangible distance between two objects is something or nothing.
    • It is easy to answer that it is SOMETHING, namely a property of the objects which affect the SENSES after such a particular manner.
  • If asked whether two objects, with a distance between them, touch or not, it may be answered that this depends on the definition of TOUCH.
    • Objects touch if they touch when there is nothing SENSIBLE between them.
    • Objects do not touch, when:
      • their IMAGES strike contiguous parts of the eye
      • the hand FEELS both objects successively, without any interposed motion.
  • The appearances of objects to our senses are all consistent.
    • No difficulties can ever arise, but from the obscurity of the terms we use.
  • If we carry our inquiry beyond the appearances of objects to the senses, most of our conclusions will be full of skepticism and uncertainty.
    • There are no very decisive arguments on either side, if asked whether the invisible and intangible distance is always full of:
      • body, or
      • something that might become visible or tangible by an improvement of our organs.
    • I am inclined to the contrary opinion as being more suitable to vulgar and popular notions.
  • If THE NEWTONIAN philosophy is rightly understood, it will be found to mean no more.
    • It asserts:
      • a vacuum.
      • bodies are placed in such a way to receive bodies between them, without impulsion or penetration.
    • The real nature of this position of bodies is unknown.
    • We are only acquainted with its:
      • effects on the senses
      • power of receiving body.
  • The following are most suitable to that philosophy:
    • a modest skepticism
    • a fair confession of ignorance in subjects that exceed all human capacity.
  • The foregoing reasoning will explain a paradox: if ‘vacuum’ is given to:
    • the invisible and intangible distance, or
    • the capacity of becoming a visible and tangible distance
      • then extension and matter are the same
      • Yet there is a vacuum.
  • If you will not give it that name, motion is possible in a plenum, without any impulse to infinity, without:
    • returning in a circle
    • penetration.
  • We must always confess that we have no idea of any real extension without:
    • filling it with sensible objects
    • conceiving its parts as visible or tangible.
  • The doctrine, that time is nothing but how some real objects exist, is liable to the same objections as the similar doctrine on extension.
    • If we have the idea of a vacuum because we reason on it, we must also have the idea of time without any changeable existence.
    • Since time is the most frequent and common subject of dispute.
  • But we really have no such idea.
    • Where should we derive time from?
    • Does it arise from an impression of:
      • sensation? or
      • reflection?
  • Point it out distinctly to us, that we may know its nature and qualities.
    • But if you cannot point it out, you are certainly mistaken when you imagine you have any such idea.
  • It is impossible to show the impression from which the idea of time, without a changeable existence, is derived.
    • But we can easily point out those appearances which make us fancy we have that idea.
  • There is a continual succession of perceptions in our mind.
    • The idea of time is forever present with us, when we consider a steadfast object at 5:00 and regard the same at 6:00.
  • We are apt to apply to it that idea in the same manner as if every moment were distinguished by an alteration of the object.
  • The first and second appearances of the object:
    • are compared with the succession of our perceptions
    • seem equally removed as if the object had really changed.
  • To which we may add, what experience shows us that the object was susceptible of such a number of changes between these appearances.
    • The unchangeable or rather fictitious duration has the same effect on every quality, by increasing or decreasing it, as that succession which is obvious to the senses.
  • We confound our ideas from these three relations.
    • We imagine we can form the idea of a time and duration, without any change or succession.

 SEC 6: THE IDEA OF EXISTENCE AND EXTERNAL EXISTENCE

  • I will explain the ideas of existence and of external existence.
    • These have their difficulties just as with the ideas of space and time.
  • By explaining existence, we shall be the better prepared to examine knowledge and probability.
  • All the impressions or ideas which we have any consciousness or memory of, are existent.
    • The most perfect idea and assurance of being is derived from this consciousness.
    • From this, we may form almost clear and conclusive dilemma.
      • Since we never remember any idea or impression without attributing existence to it, the idea of existence must be:
        • derived from a distinct impression, conjoined with every perception or object of our thought, or
        • the same with the idea of the perception or object.
  • As this dilemma is a consequence of the principle that every idea arises from a similar impression, so our answer to this dilemma is no more doubtful.
    • I do not think there are any two distinct impressions which are inseparably conjoined.
    • Though certain sensations may at one time be united, we quickly find they:
      • admit of a separation
      • may be presented apart.
    • Though every impression and idea we remember is considered as existent, the idea of existence is not derived from any impression.
  • The idea of existence, then, is the very same with the idea of what we conceive to be existent.
  • Simply reflecting on anything, and reflecting on it as existent, is the same.
  • The idea of existence, when conjoined with the idea of any object, does not add to it.
  • Whatever we conceive, we conceive to exist.
  • Any idea we form is the idea of a being.
    • The idea of a being is any idea we form.
  • Whoever opposes this, must:
    • point out that distinct impression from which the idea of entity is derived
    • prove that this impression is inseparable from every perception we believe to exist.
  • This is impossible.
  • Our reasoning in Part 1, Sec. 7 about the distinction of ideas without any real difference will not serve us here.
    • That kind of distinction is founded on the different resemblances, which the same simple idea may have to several different ideas.
  • But no object can be presented resembling some object with respect to its existence and different from others in the same particular.
    • Since every object that is presented, must necessarily exist.
  • A like reasoning will account for the idea of external existence.
    • Nothing is ever really present with the mind, but its perceptions or impressions and ideas.
  • External objects become known to us only by those perceptions they occasion.
  • To hate, love, think, feel, see, are all nothing but to perceive.
  • It is impossible for us to conceive or form an idea of anything different from ideas and impressions since:
    • nothing is ever present to the mind but perceptions
    • all ideas are derived from something antecedently present to the mind.
  • Let us fix our attention out of ourselves.
    • Let us chase our imagination to the limits of the universe.
    • We never really:
      • advance a step beyond ourselves
      • can conceive any kind of existence, but those perceptions which have appeared in that narrow compass.
  • This is the universe of the imagination.
    • We do not have any idea but what is there produced.
  • When specifically different from our perceptions, our farthest conception of external objects is to form their relative idea without comprehending the related objects.
  • Generally, we do not suppose them specifically different.
    • We only attribute different relations, connections and durations to them.
    • More of this in Part 46, Sec. 2.

Words: 4540

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s