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whether they be equal or no; because their agreement or disagreement in equality can never be perceived by an immediate comparing them: the difference of figure makes their parts incapable of an exact immediate application; and therefore there is need of some intervening qualities to measure them by, which is demonstration, or rational knowledge.
$ 4. Fourthly, it follows also, from what is above observed, that our rational knowledge cannot reach to the whole extent of our ideas; because between two different ideas we would examine, we cannot always find such mediums, as we can connect one to another with an intuitive knowledge, in all the parts of the deduction; and wherever that fails, we come short of knowledge and demonstration.
4. Nor demonstrative knowledge.
5. Sensitive knowledge
narrower than either.
§ 6. From all which it is evident, that the extent of our knowledge comes not only short of the reality of things, but even of the extent of our own ideas. Though our knowledge be limited to our ideas, and cannot exceed them either in extent or perfection; and though these be very narrow bounds, in respect of the extent of all being, and far short of what we may justly imagine to be in some even created understandings, not tied down to the dull and narrow information which is to be received from some few, and not very acute ways of perception, such as are our senses; yet it would be well with us if our knowledge were but as large as our ideas, and there were not many doubts and inquiries concerning the ideas we have, whereof we are not, nor I believe ever shall be, in this world resolved. Nevertheless I do not question but that human knowledge, under the present circumstances of our beings and constitutions, may
6. Our knowledge therefore
§ 5. Fifthly, sensitive knowledge reaching no farther than the existence of things actually present to our senses, is yet much narrower than either of the former.
than our ideas.
be carried much farther than it has hitherto been, if men would sincerely, and with freedom of mind, employ all that industry and labour of thought, in improving the means of discovering truth, which they do for the colouring or support of falsehood, to maintain a system, interest, or party, they are once engaged in. But yet, after all, I think I may, without injury to human perfection, be confident, that our knowledge would never reach to all we might desire to know concerning those ideas we have; nor be able to surmount all the difficulties, and resolve all the questions, that might arise concerning any of them. We have the ideas of a square, a circle, and equality; and yet, perhaps, shall never be able to find a circle equal to a square, and certainly know that it is so. We have the ideas of matter and thinking, but possibly shall never be able to know, whether any mere material being thinks, or no ; it being
* Against that assertion of Mr. Locke, that possibly we shall never be able to know whether any mere material being thinks or no, &c. the bishop of Worcester argues thus: if this be true, then, for all that we can know by our ideas of matter and thinking, matter may have a power of thinking: and, if this hold, then it is impossible to prove a spiritual substance in us from the idea of thinking: "for how can we be assured by our ideas, that God hath not given such a power of thinking to matter so disposed as our bodies are? especially since it is said †, "That, in respect of our notions, it is not much more remote from our comprehension to conceive that God can, if he pleases, superadd to our idea of matter a faculty of thinking, than that he should superadd to it another substance, with a faculty of thinking." Whoever asserts this can never prove a spiritual substance in us from a faculty of thinking, because he cannot know, from the idea of matter and thinking, that matter so disposed cannot think: and he cannot be certain, that God hath not framed the matter of our bodies so as to be capable of it.
To which Mr. Locke answers thus: here your lordship argues, that upon my principles it cannot be proved that there is a spiritual substance in us. To which, give me leave, with submission, to say, that I think it may be proved from my principles, and I think I have done it; and the proof in my book stands thus: First, we experiment in ourselves thinking. The idea of this action or
† Essay of Human Understanding, B. 4. C. 3. § 6.
mode of thinking is inconsistent with the idea of self-subsistence, and therefore has a necessary connexion with a support or subject of inhesion: the idea of that support is what we call substance; and so from thinking experimented in us, we have a proof of a thinking substance in us, which in my sense is a spirit. Against this your lordship will argue, that, by what I have said of the possibility that God may, if he pleases, superadd to matter a faculty of thinking, it can never be proved that there is a spiritual substance in us, because, upon that supposition, it is possible it may be a material substance that thinks in us. I grant it; but add, that the general idea of substance being the same every where, the modification of thinking, or the power of thinking, joined to it, makes it a spirit, without considering what other modifications it has, as, whether it has the modification of solidity or no. As, on the other side, substance, that has the modification of solidity, is matter, whether it has the modification of thinking, or no. And therefore, if your lordship means by a spiritual, an immaterial substance, I grant I have not proved, nor upon my principles can it be proved, (your lordship meaning, as I think you do, demonstratively proved) that there is an immaterial substance in us that thinks. Though I presume, from what I have said about this supposition of a system of matter, thinking* (which there demonstrates that God is immaterial) will prove it in the highest degree probable, that the thinking substance in us is immaterial. But your lordship thinks not probability enough, and by charging the want of demonstration upon my principles, that the thinking thing in us is immaterial, your lordship seems to conclude it demonstrable from principles of philosophy. That demonstration I should with joy receive from your lordship, or any one. For though all the great ends of morality and religion are well enough secured without it, as I have shown†, yet it would be a great advance of our knowledge in nature and philosophy.
To what I have said in my book, to show that all the great ends of religion and morality are secured barely by the immortality of the soul, without a necessary supposition that the soul is immaterial, I crave leave to add, that immortality may and shall be annexed to that, which in its own nature is neither immaterial nor immortal, as the apostle expressly declares in these words, For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
Perhaps my using the word spirit for a thinking substance, without excluding materiality out of it, will be thought too great a liberty, and such as deserves censure, because I leave immateriality out of the idea I make it a sign of. I readily own, that words should be sparingly ventured on in a sense wholly new; and nothing but absolute necessity can excuse the boldness of using any term in a sense whereof we can produce no example. But in the present case, I think I have great authorities to justify me. The soul 1 Cor. xv. 53.
B. 4. C. 10. § 16. † B. 4. C. 3. § 6.
is agreed, on all hands, to be that in us which thinks. And he that will look into the first book of Cicero's Tusculan Questions, and into the sixth book of Virgil's Æneid, will find, that these two great men, who of all the Romans best understood philosophy, thought, or at least did not deny the soul to be a subtile matter, which might come under the name of aura, or ignis, or æther, and this soul they both of them called spiritus: in the notion of which, it is plain, they included only thought and active motion, without the total exclusion of matter. Whether they thought right in this, I do not say; that is not the question; but whether they spoke properly, when they called an active, thinking, subtile substance, out of which they excluded only gross and palpable matter, spiritus, spirit. I think that nobody will deny, that if any among the Romans can be allowed to speak properly, Tully and Virgil are the two who may most securely be depended on for it; and one of them speaking of the soul, says, Dum spiritus hos reget artus; and the other, Vita continetur corpore et spiritu. Where it is plain, by corpus, he means (as generally every where) only gross matter that may be felt and handled, as appears by these words, Si cor, aut sanguis, aut cerebrum est animus; certe, quoniam est corpus, interibit cum reliquo corpore; si anima est, fortè dissipabitur; si ignis, extinguetur, Tusc. Quæst. 1. 1. c. 11. Here Cicero opposes corpus to ignis and anima, i. e. aura, or breath. And the foundation of that his distinction of the soul, from that which he calls corpus or body, he gives a little lower in these words, Tanta ejus tenuitas ut fugiat aciem, ib. c. 22. Nor was it the heathen world alone, that had this notion of spirit; the most enlightened of all the ancient people of God, Solomon himself, speaks after the same manner, that which befalleth the sons of men, befalleth beasts, even one thing befalleth them; as the one dieth, so dieth the other, yea they have all one spirit. So I translate the Hebrew word m here, for so I find it translated the very next verse but one; †who knoweth the spirit of man that goeth upward, and the spirit of the beast that goeth down to the earth? In which places it is plain that Solomon applies the word m, and our translators of him the word spirit, to a substance, out of which materiality was not wholly excluded, unless the spirit of a beast that goeth downwards to the earth be immaterial. Nor did the way of speaking in our Saviour's time vary from this: St. Luke tells us, that when our Saviour, after his resurrection, stood in the midst of them, they were affrighted, and supposed that they had seen va, the Greek word which always answers spirit in English; and so the translators of the Bible render it here, they supposed that they had seen a spirit. But our Saviour says to them, behold my hands and my feet, that it is I myself; handle me and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as you see me have. Which words of our Saviour put the same distinction between body and spirit, that Cicero did
* Eccl. iii. 19.
+ Eccl, iii. 21.
Ch. xxiv. 37.
in the place above-cited, viz. That the one was a gross compages, that could be felt and handled; and the other such as Virgil describes the ghost or soul of Anchises.
Ter conatus ibi collo dare brachia circum,
I would not be thought hereby to say, that spirit never does. signify a purely immaterial substance. In that sense the scripture, I take it, speaks, when it says God is a spirit; and in that sense ĺ have used it; and in that sense I have proved from my principles that there is a spiritual substance; and am certain that there is a spiritual immaterial substance; which is, I humbly conceive, a direct answer to your lordship's question in the beginning of this argument, viz. How we come to be certain that there are spiritual substances, supposing this principle to be true, that the simple ideas by sensation and reflection are the sole matter and foundation of all our reasoning? But this hinders not, but that if God, that infinite, omnipotent, and perfectly immaterial Spirit, should please to give to a system of very subtile matter, sense and motion, it might with propriety of speech be called spirit, though materiality were not excluded out of its complex idea. Your lordship proceeds, It is said indeed elsewhere, that it is repugnant to the idea of senseless matter, that it should put into itself sense, perception, and knowledge. But this doth not reach the present case; which is not what matter can do of itself, but what matter prepared by an omnipotent hand can do. And what certainty can we have that he hath not done it? We can have none from the ideas, for those are given up in this case, and consequently we can have no certainty, upon these principles, whether we have any spiritual substance within us or not.
Your lordship in this paragraph proves, that, from what I say, we can have no certainty whether we have any spiritual substance in us or not. If by spiritual substance your lordship means an immaterial substance in us, as you speak, I grant what your lordship says is true, that it cannot upon these principles be demonstrated. But I must crave leave to say at the same time, that upon these principles it can be proved, to the highest degree of probability. If by spiritual substance your lordship means a thinking substance, I must dissent from your lordship, and say, that we can have a certainty, upon my principles, that there is a spiritual substance in us. In short, my lord, upon my principles, i. e. from the idea of thinking, we can have a certainty that there is a thinking substance in us; from hence we have a certainty that there is an eternal thinking substance. This thinking substance, which has been from eternity, I have proved to be immaterial. This eternal, immaterial, thinking substance, has put into us a thinking substance,