SECT. 4: The Connection of Ideas


  • All simple ideas may be:
    • separated by the imagination
    • united again in what form it pleases.
  • The operations of imagination would be unaccountable if it were not guided by some universal principles which render it uniform with itself in all times and places.
  • If ideas were entirely loose and unconnected:
    • chance alone would join them
    • it would be impossible for the same simple ideas to fall regularly into complex ones as they commonly do, without some union or associating quality among them.
      • This bond would  naturally introduce one idea with another idea.
      • This uniting principle among ideas is not an inseparable connection.
        • Because that has been already excluded from the imagination.
      • We do not conclude that without that bond, the mind cannot join two ideas.
        • Because nothing is more free than imagination.
      • We are only to regard it as a gentle force which commonly prevails.
        • It is the cause why languages so nearly correspond to each other.
      • Nature points out to each of those simple ideas, which are most proper to be united into a complex one.
  • There are three qualities from which this association arises and by which the mind is conveyed from one idea to another:
    • resemblance
    • contiguity in time or place
    • cause and effect
  • We do not need to prove that:
    • these qualities produce an association among ideas
    • the appearance of one idea naturally introduces another idea.
  • In the course of our thinking and in the constant revolution of our ideas:
    • our imagination runs easily from one idea to any other idea that resembles it
    • this quality alone is a sufficient bond and association to the fancy.
  • The senses, in changing their objects, are necessitated to:
    • change them regularly
    • take them as they lie contiguous to each other.
  • By long custom, the imagination must:
    • acquire the same method of thinking
    • run along the parts of space and time in conceiving its objects.
  • We shall examine the connection made by the relation of cause and effect later.
    • It is sufficient to observe that only the relation of cause and effect:
      • produces a stronger connection in the fancy
      • makes one idea more readily recall another idea.
  • To understand the full extent of these relations, we must consider that two objects are connected together in the imagination when:
    • one object is immediately resembling, contiguous to, or the cause of the other object, and
    • there is a third object interposed between them, which bears any of these relations to both.
  • This may be carried on to a great length.
    • Each remove considerably weakens the relation.
  • Cousins in the fourth degree are connected by causation, but not so closely as brothers, much less as child and parent.
  • In general, all the relations of blood:
    • depend on cause and effect
    • are esteemed near or remote, according to the number of connecting causes interposed between the persons.
  • The relation of causation is the most extensive of the three.
    • Two objects may be considered as placed in this relation, as well when one is the cause of the actions of the other, as when the former is the cause of the latter’s existence.
  • That action or motion is nothing but the object itself, considered in a certain light.
    • The object continues the same in all its different situations.
    • It is easy to imagine how such an influence of objects on one another may connect them in the imagination.
  • Two objects are connected by the relation of cause and effect when:
    • the one produces a motion or any action in the other
    • it has a power of producing motion or action.
  • This is the source of all the relation, of interest and duty, by which men:
    • influence each other in society
    • are placed in the ties of government and subordination.
  • A master is one who has a power of directing the actions of a servant, arising from force or agreement.
  • A judge is one who, in all disputed cases, can fix the property of anything between the members of society by his opinion.
  • When a person has any power, only the exertion of the will is required to convert the power into action.
    • The subject’s obedience is a pleasure and advantage to the superior possibly in every case.
  • These are the principles of union or cohesion among our simple ideas.
    • In the imagination, these supply the place of that inseparable connection, by which they are united in our memory.
  • Here is a kind of attraction, which in the mental world will be found to:
    • have as extraordinary effects as in the natural world
    • show itself in as many and as various forms.
  • Its effects are everywhere conspicuous.
    • But as to its causes, they:
      • are mostly unknown
      • must be resolved into original qualities of human nature, which I will not explain.
  • A true philosopher must:
    • rest contented after establishing any doctrine on a sufficient number of experiments
    • restrain the intemperate desire of searching into causes, when he sees a further examination would lead him into obscure and uncertain speculations.
      • In this case, his inquiry would be much better employed in examining the effects, than the causes of his principle.
  • The most remarkable effects of this union or association of ideas are those complex ideas which:
    • are the common subjects of our thoughts and reasoning
    • generally arise from some principle of union among our simple ideas.
  • These complex ideas may be divided into Relations, Modes, and Substances.
    • We shall briefly:
      • examine each of these in order
      • subjoin some considerations on our general and particular ideas, before we leave the present subject.
        • These may be considered as the elements of this philosophy.

Words: 940

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