David Hume speaks out
"Ever since Plato first perceived that the inquiry
into the nature of the good life of the individual was necessarily associated
with a converging (and not parallel) inquiry into the nature of the good
community, a close and continuing association has persisted between
political philosophy and
philosophy in general.
Historically, the main difference between philosophy and
political philosophy has
been a matter of
specialization rather than one of method or temper. By virtue of this
alliance, political theorists
accepted as their own the basic
quest of the philosopher for systematic knowledge." - Sheldon S. Wolin,
Politics and Vision Moral philosophy, or the
science of human nature, may be
treated after two different manners; each of which has its peculiar merit, and
may contribute to the entertainment and
reformation of mankind.
The one considers man chiefly as born for action; and as influenced in
his measures by taste and sentiment; pursuing one object, and avoiding another,
according to the value which these objects appear to possess, and
according to the light in which they present
As virtue is allowed to be the
most valuable, this species of
philosophers paint her in the most amiable colors; borrowing all helps from
poetry and eloquence, and treating their subject in an easy and obvious manner,
and such as is best fitted to please the
imagination, and engage the
They select the most
striking observations and
instances from common life; place opposite characters in a
proper contrast; and alluring us into
the paths of virtue by the
views of glory and happiness, direct our steps in these paths by
the soundest precepts and most
They make us feel
the difference between vice and
virtue; they excite and regulate our sentiments; and so they can but
bend our hearts to the
love of virtue and
species of philosophers consider man in the light of
a reasonable rather than an active
being, and endeavor to form his
understanding more than cultivate his manners.
human nature as a subject of
speculation; and with a narrow scrutiny examine it, in order to find those
principles, which regulate our
understanding, excite our
sentiments, and make us approve
or blame any particular object, action, or behavior.
They think it a reproach to all
literature, that philosophy should
not yet have fixed, beyond controversy,
the foundation of
morals, reasoning, and
criticism; and should
forever talk of truth and falsehood,
vice and virtue, beauty and deformity,
without being able to determine the source
of these distinctions.
While they attempt this arduous task, they
are deterred by no difficulties; but proceeding from particular instances to
general principles, they still push on their inquiries to principles more
general, and rest not satisfied till
they arrive at those original principles, by which, in every science,
all human curiosity must be bounded.
It is easy for a profound
philosopher to commit a
mistake in his subtle reasoning; and
one mistake is the necessary
parent of another, while he pushes on his
consequences, and is not
deterred from embracing any conclusion, by
its unusual appearance,
or its contradiction to popular
Though their speculations appear
abstract, and even unintelligible to common readers, they aim at the
approbation of the learned and the wise; and think themselves sufficiently
compensated for the labor of their whole lives, if they can discover some
hidden truths, which may contribute to the instruction of posterity.
is certain that the easy and obvious
philosophy will always, with the generality of mankind, have the preference
above the accurate and abstruse; and by many will be recommended, not only as
more agreeable, but more useful than the other. It enters more into common
life; molds the heart and
affections; and, by touching those principles which actuate men, reforms
their conduct, and brings them nearer to that model of perfection which it
This also must be confessed, that the most durable, as well
as just fame, has been acquired by the easy philosophy, and that abstract
reasoners appear hitherto to have enjoyed only a momentary reputation, from the
caprice or ignorance of their own age, but have not been able to support their
renown with more equitable posterity.
philosopher, who purposes
only to represent the common sense of
mankind in more beautiful and more
engaging colors, if by accident he falls
into error, goes no farther; but
his appeal to common sense, and
the natural sentiments of the mind,
returns into the right path and
secures himself from any
Accurate and just
reasoning is the only remedy, fitted
for all dispositions; and is alone able to subvert that
abstruse philosophy and metaphysical
jargon, which being mixed up with
superstition, renders it in a manner
impenetrable to careless thinkers, and gives it the air of
Besides this advantage
of rejecting, after deliberate enquiry, the most uncertain and disagreeable
part of man's purported knowledge, there are many positive advantages, which
result from an accurate scrutiny into the powers and faculties of
It is remarkable concerning the
operation of the mind, that, though most intimately present to us, yet,
whenever they become the object of reflection, they appear involved in
obscurity; nor can the eye readily find those lines and boundaries, which
The objects are too fine to remain long in the
same aspect or situation; and must be
apperceived in an instant, by a superior penetration, derived from nature, and
improved by habit and reflection.
It becomes, therefore,
no inconsiderable part of
science barely to know the different operations of the mind, to seperate them
from each other to class them under their proper heads, and to correct all that
seeming disorder when made the object of reflection and inquiry.
Everyone will readily allow that there is considerable difference
between the perceptions of the mind,
when a man feels the pain of excessive heat, or the
pleasure of moderate warmth, and when he
afterwards recalls to his memory
this sensation, or anticipates it by his imagination.
These faculties may mimic or copy the
perceptions of the senses; but they never can entirely reach the force and
vivacity of the original sentiment.
The utmost we say of them, even
when they operate with greatest vigor, is, that they represent their object in
so lively a manner, that we could almost say we feel or see it.
colors of poetry, however
splendid, can never paint natural objects in such a manner as to make the
description be taken for a real landscape.
The most lively thought is
still inferior to the dullest sensation.
We may observe a like
distinction to run through all the other perceptions of the
mind. A man in a fit of
anger, is actuated in a very different manner
from a man who only thinks of that emotion. If you tell me, that any individual
is in love, I easily understand your meaning, and from a just
conception of his situation; but
never can mistake that conception for
the real disorders and agitations of the
When we reflect on our
past sentiments and affections,
our thought is a faithful mirror, and
attempts to copy its objects truly; but the colors which it employs are faint
and dull, in comparison of those in which our original perceptions were
clothed. It requires no nice discernment or
metaphysical head to mark
the distinction between them.
Nothing, at first
view, may appear more unbounded than the
thought of man, which not only
escapes all human power and
authority, but is not even restrained within the limits of nature and
reality. To form monsters, and join incongruous shapes and appearances,
costs the imagination no more trouble
than to conceive the most natural and familiar objects.
the body is confined to the
Earth, along which it creeps with pain and difficulty;
the thought can in an instant transport
us into the most distant regions of reality; or even beyond reality, into
the unbounded chaos,
where natural law no longer
Though our thought appears to possess
this unbounded liberty we shall find, upon a nearer examination, that it is
really confined within very narrow limits, and that all this creative power of
the mind amounts to no more than the faculty of compounding, transposing,
augmenting, or diminishing the materials afforded us by the senses and
All sensations, either outward or inward, are strong
and vivid: the connection between them are more exactly determined; nor is it
easy to fall into error or
mistake with regard to them.
All ideas, especially abstract ones, are
naturally faint and obscure:
the mind has but a slender hold of them: they are
apt to be confounded with other
resembling ideas; we are apt to
imagine it has a determinate idea annexed to it, but this is not
bring ideas into so clear a light we may reasonably hope to remove all dispute
which may arise, concerning their nature and reality!
It is evident
that there is a principle of connection between the different thoughts or ideas
of the mind, and that in their
appearance to the memory or
imagination, they introduce each other
with a certain degree of method
In our more serious thinking or discourse this is so
observable that any particular thought, which breaks in upon the regular tract
or chain of ideas, is immediately remarked and rejected.
Even in our
wildest and most wandering reveries,
nay in our very dreams, we shall find,
if we reflect, that the imagination ran not altogether at adventures, but that
there was still a connection upheld among the different ideas, which succeeded
Were the loosest and freest conversation to be transcribed,
there would immediately be observed something which connected it in all its
Or where this is wanting, the individual who broke the
thread of discourse might still inform you, that there had revolved in his mind
a succession of thought, which had gradually led him from the subject of
Among different languages,
even where we suspect the least connection or communication, it is found, that
the words, expressive of ideas, the most compounded, do yet nearly correspond
to each other: a certain proof that the
comprehended in the compound
ones, were bound together by
some universal principle, which had
an equal influence on all
All the objects of human
reason or enquiry may naturally be divided into two kinds,
relations of ideas, and
matters of fact.
Relations of ideas are the sciences of geometry,
arithmetic; and in short, every
affirmation which is either intuitively or
That the square of the hypothenuse is equal to
the square of the two sides, is a statement which expresses a relation between
That three times five is equal to the half of thirty,
expresses a relation between these numbers.
Statements of this category are discovered by
the mere operation of thought, without dependence on what is anywhere existent
in the universe.
Though there never were a
circle or triangle in nature, the
truths demonstrated by Euclid for ever
retain their certainty and evidence.
Matters of fact, which are the
second objects of human reason, are not ascertained in the same manner; nor is
our evidence of their truth, however great, of a like nature with the
The contrary of every matter of fact is still possible and
is conceived by the mind with the same facility and distinctness as if it was
conformable to reality.
therefore, be a subject worthy of curiosity, to enquire what is the
nature of that evidence which assures us of any real existence and matter of
fact, beyond the present testimony of our senses, or the records of our
memory. Such enquiries may even
prove useful, by exciting curiosity, and destroying, that
implicit faith and security, which is the bane of all reasoning and free
To convince us that all the
laws of nature, and all the operations
of bodies without exception, are known only by experience, the
following reflections may
In reality, all arguments from experience are founded on the
similarity which we discover among natural objects, and by which we are induced
to expect effects similar to those which we have found to follow from such
None but a fool
will ever pretend to dispute the authority of experience, or to
reject that great guide of human life, it may surely be allowed a
philosopher to have so much
curiosity at least as to examine
the principle of human nature,
which gives this mighty authority
to experience, and makes us draw advantage from that similarity which
nature has placed among different objects.
Now it appears evident that,
if this conclusion were formed by reason, it would be as perfect at first,
and upon one instance, as after ever so long a course of experience. But the
case is far otherwise. It is only after a long course of uniform experiments in
any category, that we attain a firm reliance and security with regard to a
course of uniform experiments shows us a number of uniform effects,
resulting from certain objects, and teaches us that those particular objects,
at that particular time, were endowed with such powers and forces.
a new object, endowed with similar sensible qualities, is produced, we expect
similar powers and forces, and look for a like effect.
All inferences from
experience suppose, as their foundation, that the future will resemble the
past, and that similar powers will be connected with similar sensible
If there be any suspicion that the course of
nature may change, and that the
past may be no rule for the future, all experience becomes useless, and can
give rise to no inference or conclusion.
All inferences from experience
are effects of expectations, not of reasoning.
Expectation, then, is the great
guide of human life.
It is that principle alone which renders our
experience useful to us, and makes us expect, for
the future, a similar course of
events with those which have appeared in
expectation, we should be entirely
ignorant of every matter of fact beyond what is immediately in
never know how to adjust means to ends, or to employ our natural powers in the
production of any effect.
There would be an end at once of all
It may be proper to remark, that though our conclusions from
experience carry us beyond our memory and senses, and assure us of
matters of fact which happened
in the most distant places and most
remote ages, yet some facts must always be present to the senses or
memory, from which we may first
proceed in drawing these conclusions.
A man, who should find in a
desert country the remains of pompous buildings, would conclude that the
country had, in ancient times, been cultivated by civilized inhabitants; but
did nothing of this nature occur to him, he could never
form such an inference.
learn the events of former ages from
history; but then we must peruse the volumes in which this instruction is
contained, and thence carry up our inferences from one testimony to another,
till we arrive at the eyewitnesses and spectators of these
In a word, if we proceed not upon some fact present to the
memory or senses, our
reasoning would be merely
hypothetical; and however the particular links might be connected with each
other, the whole chain of
inferences would have nothing to support it, nor could we ever, by its
means, arrive at the knowledge of any real existence.
If I ask why you
believe any particular matter of fact, which you relate, you must tell me some
reason; and this reason will be some other matter of fact, connected with it.
But as you cannot proceed after this manner, in infinitum, you must at
last terminate in some matter of fact, which is present to your
memory or senses; or must allow that
your belief is entirely without foundation.
What is the conclusion of
the whole matter?
A simple one; though, it must be confessed, pretty
remote from the common theories of
belief of matter of fact or real existence is derived merely from some object,
present to the memory or senses, and
a perceived connection between that and some other object. In other words;
having found, in many instances, that any two kinds of object - flame and heat,
snow and cold - have always been connected together; if flame or snow be
presented anew to the senses, the mind
is carried by expectation to expect
heat or cold, and to believe that such a
quality does exist, and will discover itself upon a nearer approach.
This belief is the necessary result of placing the mind in such
It is an operation of the soul, when we are so situated,
as unavoidable as to feel the passion of compassion, when we receive benefits;
or hatred, when we meet with injuries.
All these operations are of
natural instincts, which
no reasoning or process of the thought and understanding is able either to
produce or to prevent.
The great advantage of the
mathematical sciences above the
moral consists in this, that the ideas of the former, being sensible, are
always clear and determinate, the smallest distinction between them is
immediately perceptible, and the same terms are still expressive of the same
ideas, without ambiguity or
An oval is never mistaken for a
circle, nor an hyperbola for an
The isosceles and right triangles are distinguished by boundaries
more exact than vice and virtue, right
If any term be defined in geometry, the mind readily, of
itself, substitutes, on all occasions, the definition for the term defined: or
even when no definition is employed, the object itself may be presented to the
senses, and by that means be steadily and clearly
finer sentiments of the mind, the operations of the understanding, the various
agitations of the passion., though
really in themselves distinct, easily escape us, when surveyed by
reflection; nor is it in our
power to recall the original object, as often as we have occasion to
Ambiguity, by this means, is
gradually introduced into our reasoning: similar objects are readily taken to
be the same: and the conclusion becomes at last very wide of the premises.
If the mind, with greater facility, retains the ideas of geometry clear
and determinate, it must carry on a much longer and more intricate chain of
reasoning and compare
ideas much wider of each other in order to reach the abstruse truths of moral
science. And if moral ideas are apt, without extreme care, to fall into
obscurity and confusion, the
inferences are always much shorter in these disquisitions, and the intermediate
steps, which lead to the conclusion, much fewer than in the sciences which
treat of quantity and number.
In reality, there is scarcely a
proposition in Euclid so simple, as not to consist of more parts, than are to
be found in any moral reasoning which runs not into chimera and conceit. Where
we trace the principles of the human mind through a few steps, we may be very
well satisfied with our progress; considering how soon nature throws a bar to
all our enquiries, and reduces us to an acknowledgment of our
obstacle, therefore, to our improvement in the moral or
metaphysical sciences is the obscurity
of the ideas, and ambiguity of
principal difficulty in the mathematics is the length of inferences and compass
of thought, requisite to the forming of any conclusion. And, perhaps, our
progress in physics is chiefly retarded
by the want of proper experiments and
phenomena, which are often
discovered by chance, and cannot
always be found, when requisite, even by the most diligent and prudent inquiry.
philosophy appears hitherto to have received less improvement than either
physics, we may conclude, that, if there
be any difference in this regard among these sciences, the difficulties, which
obstruct the progress of the former, require superior care and capacity to be
All our ideas are nothing but copies of our
impressions, or, in
other words, that it is impossible for us to think of
anything, which we have not antecedently felt, either by our external or
ideas, may, perhaps, be well known by definition, which is nothing but an
enumeration of those parts or simple ideas, that compose them.
have pushed up definitions to the most simple ideas, and find still more
ambiguity and obscurity; what
resource are we then possessed of?
invention can we throw light upon these ideas, and render them altogether
precise and determinate to our intellectual view?
original sentiments from which the ideas are copied. These
impressions are all
strong and sensible. They admit not of
not only placed in a full light themselves, but may throw light on their
correspondent ideas, which dwell in obscurity.
The scenes of the
universe are continually shifting, and one object follows another in
uninterrupted succession; but
the power of force, which
actuates the whole is concealed from us.
questions which have been canvassed and
disputed with great eagerness, since the first origin of science, and
philosophy, that the meaning of all the
terms, at least, should have
been agreed upon among the disputants; and our enquiries, in the course of two
thousand years, been able to pass from words to the true and real subject of
How easy may it appear to give exact definitions of
the terms employed in
reasoning, and make these definitions,
not the mere sound of words, the object of future scrutiny and examination. If
we consider the matter more narrowly, we shall be apt to draw a quite
From this circumstance alone, that a controversy has been
long kept on foot, and remains still undecided, we may presume that there is
some ambiguity in the
expression, and that the disputants affix different ideas to the words employed
in the controversy.
As the faculties
of the mind are naturally alike in every individual; otherwise nothing
could be more fruitless than to reason or dispute together; it were
impossible, if men affix the
same ideas to their terms, that they could so long form different opinions of
the same subject; especially when they communicate their views, and each party
turn themselves on all sides, in search of arguments which may give them the
victory over their antagonists.
It is true, if men attempt the discussion of
questions which are entirely beyond the reach of human capacity, such as those
concerning the origin of substance, or the economy of the intellectual system,
they may long beat the air in their fruitless contests, and never arrive at any
If the question regard any subject of common life
and experience, nothing, one would think, could preserve the dispute so long
undecided but some ambiguous expressions, which keep the antagonists still at a
distance, and hinder them from grappling with each other.
both learned and ignorant, have always
been of the same opinion with regard to this subject.
intelligible definitions would immediately have put an end to the whole
I own that this dispute has been so much canvassed on all
hands, and has led
philosophers into such a
labyrinth of obscure sophistry,
that it is no wonder, if a sensible
reader indulge his ease so far as to
turn a deaf ear to the proposal of such a question, from which he can expect neither
instruction or entertainment.
state of the argument here proposed may, perhaps, serve to renew his attention;
as it has more novelty, promises at least some
decision of the controversy,
and will not much disturb his ease by any intricate or obscure reasoning.
I hope, therefore, to make it
appear that all men have ever agreed in the knowledge.html#know" both of
connection and of liberty, according
to any reasonable sense, which can be
put on these terms; and that the whole controversy, has hitherto turned merely
We shall begin with examining the knowledge.html#know" of
connection. It appears evident that, if all the scenes of nature were
continually shifted in such a manner that no two events bore any resemblance to
each other, but every object was entirely new, without any similitude to
whatever had been seen before, we should never, in that case, have attained the
least idea of connection among these objects.
reasoning concerning the operations of
nature would, from that moment would be at an end; and the
senses would remain the only canals by which
the knowledge of any realexistence could
possibly have access to the mind.
Our idea, therefore, of connection
arises entirely from the uniformity observable in the
operations of nature, where similar objects are constantly connected together,
and the mind is determined by expectation to infer the one from the
appearance of the other. Beyond the constant connection of similar objects, and
the consequent inference from one to the other, we have no notion of any
If it appear, therefore, that all
mankind have ever allowed, with out any
doubt or hesitation, that these
connections take place in the voluntary actions of men, and in the operations
of mind; it must follow, that all mankind have ever agreed in the
knowledge.html#know" of connection, and they have hitherto disputed merely for
not understanding each other.
It is universally acknowledged that there
is a great uniformity among the
actions of men, in all nations and ages, and that
human nature remains still the
same, in its principles and operations.
The same motives always produce
the same actions: the same events follow from
the same causes.
vanity, friendship, generosity, public
spirit: these passions, mixed in various degrees, and distributed through
society, have been, from the beginning
of the Earth, and still are, the source of all the actions and
enterprises, which have ever been
observed among mankind.
Would you know the sentiments, inclinations, and
course of life of the Greeks
Study well the
temper and actions of the French and English: You cannot be much mistaken in
transferring to the former most of the
observations which you have
made with regard to the latter.
Mankind are so much the same, in all
times and places, that history informs us of nothing new or strange in this
particular. Its chief use is only to discover the constant and universal
principles of human nature,
by showing men in all varieties of
circumstances and situations, and furnishing us with materials from which we
may form our observations
and become acquainted with the regular springs of human action and
of wars, intrigues, factions, and
revolutions, are so many
collections of experiments, by which the politician or moral
philosopher fixes the
principles of his science, in the same manner as the physician or
physicist becomes acquainted with the
nature of plants, minerals, and other external objects, by the experiments
which he forms concerning them.
Should a traveler, returning from a far
country, bring us an account of men, wholly different from any with whom we
were ever acquainted; men, who were entirely divested of avarice, ambition, or
revenge; who knew no pleasure but friendship, generosity, and public spirit; we
should immediately, from these circumstances, detect the
falsehood, and prove him a
liar, with the same certainty as
if he had stuffed his narration with stories of centaurs and
dragons, miracles and prodigies.
To explode any forgery in
history, we cannot make use of a more convincing argument, than to prove, that
the actions ascribed to any individual are directly contrary to the
course of nature, and that human
motives, in such circumstances, induced the storyteller to inaccurately report
matters of fact.
must not, however, expect that this uniformity of human actions should
be carried to such a length as that all men, in the same circumstances, will
always act precisely in the same manner, without making any allowance for the
diversity of characters, prejudices, and opinions. Such a
uniformity in every particular,
is found in no part of nature.
Hence likewise the benefit of that
experience, acquired by long life and a variety of business and company, in order to
instruct us in the principles of human nature informs us of nothing new or
strange in this particular. Its chief use is only to discover the constant and
universal principles of human nature, by
showing men in all varieties of circumstances
and situations, and furnishing us with materials from which we may form our
observations and become
acquainted with the regular springs of human action and
the aged gardener more skillful in his calling than the young
beginner? Because there is a certain
uniformity in the operation of
the sun, rain, and
Earth towards the production of
vegetables; and experience teaches the old practitioner the rules by which this
operation is governed and directed.
From observing the
variety of conduct in different men, we are
enabled to form a greater variety of maxims,
which still suppose a degree of uniformity and regularity.
Are the manners of men different in different ages and countries?
We learn thence the great force
of expectation and education, which
mold the human mind from its infancy and form it into a fixed and established
Is the behavior and conduct of the
one sex very unlike that of the other?
Is it thence we become
acquainted with the different characters which nature has impressed upon the
sexes, and which she preserves with constancy and regularity.
actions of the same individual much diversified in the different periods of his
life, from infancy to old age? This affords room for many general
observations concerning the
gradual change of our sentiments and inclinations, and the different maxims
which prevail in the different
ages of human life.
Even the characters, which are peculiar to each
individual, have a uniformity
in their influence;
otherwise our acquaintance with the individuals and our
observation of their conduct
could never teach us their dispositions, or serve to direct our
behavior with regard to
The mutual dependence of men
is so great in all societies that scarce any human action is entirely complete
in itself, or is performed without some reference to the actions of others,
which are requisite to make it answer fully the intention of the agent
craftsman, who labors alone,
expects at least the protection
of the magistrate, to ensure him the enjoyment of
the fruits of his labor. He
also expects that, when he
carries his goods to market, and offers them at a reasonable price, he shall
find purchasers, and shall be able, by the money he acquires, to engage others
to supply him with those commodities which are requisite for his subsistence.
as men extend their dealings, and render their intercourse with others more
complicated, they always comprehend, in their schemes of
life, a greater variety of voluntary actions,
which they expect, from the proper motives, to cooperate with their own.
In all these conclusions they take their measures from past
experience, in the same manner
as in their reasoning concerning external objects; and firmly believe that men,
as well as all the elements, are to continue, in their operations, the same
that they have ever found them.
In short, this experimental inference
and reasoning concerning the actions of others enters so much into human life
that no man, while awake, is
ever a moment without employing it.
When we consider how aptly
natural and moral evidence link
together, and form only one chain of argument, we shall allow that they are of
the same nature, and derived from the same principles. To proceed in
reconciling this project with regard to the question of
liberty and connection;
the most contentious question of
meta-physics, the most contentious
science; it will not require many words to prove, that all mankind have
ever agreed in the knowledge.html#know" of
liberty as well as in that of
connection, and that the whole dispute, in this regard also, has been hitherto
Whatever definition we may give of
liberty, we should be careful to
observe two requisite circumstances;
First, that it be consistent with
plain matter of fact;
Secondly, that it be consistent with itself.
If we observe these circumstances, and render our definition
intelligible, I am persuaded that all mankind will be
found of one opinion with regard to it.
Liberty is the ability to act or not
When any opinion leads to absurdities, it is certainly false; but
it is not certain that an opinion is false, because it is of dangerous
consequence. This I observe in
general, without pretending to draw any advantage from it. I frankly submit to
an examination of this category, and shall venture to affirm that the
doctrines, both of connection and of
liberty, as above explained, are not
only consistent with morality,
but are absolutely essential to its support.
Liberty according to that definition
above mentioned, in which all men agree, is also essential to
morality. For as actions are
objects of our moral sentiment, so far only as they are indications of the
internal character, passions, and affections; it is
impossible that they can
give rise either to praise or blame, where they proceed not from moral
principles, but are derived altogether from external violence.
of man is so formed by nature that, upon the appearance of certain characters,
dispositions, and actions, it immediately feels the sentiment of
approbation or blame; nor
are there any emotions more essential to its frame.
Why should not the
acknowledgment of a real distinction between
vice and virtue be reconcilable to all
speculative systems of philosophy, as well
as that of a real distinction between personal beauty and deformity?
distinctions are founded in the natural sentiments of the human mind: And these
sentiments are not to be controlled or altered by any philosophical theory or
The origin and connection of the passions in
man, will acquire additional authority, if we find, that the same theory is
requisite to explain the same phenomena in all other animals.
We shall make trial of this, with regard to the
hypothesis, by which we have, in
the foregoing discourse, endeavored to
account for all reasoning; and it is hoped, that this new point of view will
serve to confirm all our former observations.
It appears evident, that animals as well as men
learn many things from experience, and
infer, that the same events will always follow from the same causes. By this
principle they become acquainted with the more
obvious properties of external
objects, and gradually, from their birth, treasure up a knowledge of the nature
of fire, water, earth, stones, heights, depths and of the
effects which result from their operation.
ignorance and inexperience of
the young are here plainly distinguishable from the cunning and
sagacity of the old, who have
learned, by long
observation, to avoid what
will hurt them, and to pursue what gave ease or pleasure.
A horse, that
has been accustomed to the field, becomes acquainted with the proper height
which he can leap, and will never attempt what exceeds his force and
In all these cases, we may observe, that the animal infers some
matter of fact beyond what immediately strikes his senses; and that this inference is altogether
founded on past experience. The creature
expects from the present object
and condition the same consequences which it has always
found in it observation to
result from similar objects and conditions.
But though animals
learn many parts of their knowledge from
observation, there are also
many parts of it, which they derive from the original
hand of nature; which much exceed the share of
capacity they possess on ordinary occasions; and in which they improve, little
or nothing, by the longest practice and
experience. These we
denominate instincts, and
are so apt to admire as something very extraordinary, and inexplicable by all
the disquisitions of human understanding.
wonder will, perhaps, cease or
diminish, when we consider, that the experimental reasoning itself, which we
possess in common with beasts, and on which the whole conduct of life, depends,
is nothing but instinct,
that acts in us unknown to ourselves; and in its chief operations, is not
directed by any such relations or comparisons of ideas, as are
the proper objects of our intellectual
instinct be different, yet
still it is an instinct, which teaches a man to avoid the fire; as much as
that, which teaches a bird, with such exactness, the incubation, and the whole
economy and order of its nursery.
I have frequently
considered, what could possibly be the reason why all mankind, though they have
for ever, without hesitation, acknowledged the doctrine of connection and
reasoning, have yet had such a
reluctance to acknowledged it in words, and have rather shown a propensity, in
all ages, to profess the contrary opinion of
some instances proceeds from the secret opposition of contrary
There is no method of reasoning more common, and yet none more
false in philosophical
disputes, to endeavor the refutation
of any hypothesis, by a pretense of
its dangerous consequences to
religion and morality.
observations treasured up by
a course of experience, give us the clue of
human nature, and teach us to
unravel all its intricacies.
Pretexts and appearances no longer deceive
A man is
guilty of unpardonable arrogance
who concludes that an argument that has escaped his own investigation does not
Nothing appears more
surprising to those who consider human affairs with a philosophical eye, than
the ease with which the many are governed by the few.
This web site is not a commercial web site and
is presented for educational purposes only.
This website defines a
new perspective with which to engage reality to which its author adheres. The
author feels that the falsification of reality outside personal experience has
created a populace unable to discern propaganda from reality and that this has
been done purposefully by an international corporate cartel through their
agents who wish to foist a corrupt version of reality on the human race.
Religious intolerance occurs when any group refuses to tolerate religious
practices, religious beliefs or persons due to their religious ideology. This
web site marks the founding of a system of philosophy named The Truth of the
Way of Life - a rational gnostic mystery religion based on reason which
requires no leap of faith, accepts no tithes, has no supreme leader, no church
buildings and in which each and every individual is encouraged to develop a
personal relation with the Creator and Sustainer through the pursuit of the
knowledge of reality in the hope of curing the spiritual corruption that has
enveloped the human spirit. The tenets of The Truth of the Way of Life are
spelled out in detail on this web site by the author. Violent acts against
individuals due to their religious beliefs in America is considered a "hate
This web site in no way condones violence. To the contrary the
intent here is to reduce the violence that is already occurring due to the
international corporate cartels desire to control the human race. The
international corporate cartel already controls the world economic system,
corporate media worldwide, the global industrial military entertainment complex
and is responsible for the collapse of morals, the elevation of self-centered
behavior and the destruction of global ecosystems. Civilization is based on
cooperation. Cooperation does not occur at the point of a gun.
social mores and values have declined precipitously over the last century as
the corrupt international cartel has garnered more and more power. This power
rests in the ability to deceive the populace in general through corporate media
by pressing emotional buttons which have been preprogrammed into the population
through prior corporate media psychological operations. The results have been
the destruction of the family and the destruction of social structures that do
not adhere to the corrupt international elites vision of a perfect world.
Through distraction and coercion the direction of thought of the bulk of the
population has been directed toward solutions proposed by the corrupt
international elite that further consolidates their power and which further
All views and opinions presented on this web site are
the views and opinions of individual human men and women that, through their
writings, showed the capacity for intelligent, reasonable, rational, insightful
and unpopular thought. All factual information presented on this web site is
believed to be true and accurate and is presented as originally presented in
print media which may or may not have originally presented the facts
truthfully. Opinion and thoughts have been adapted, edited, corrected,
redacted, combined, added to, re-edited and re-corrected as nearly all opinion
and thought has been throughout time but has been done so in the spirit of the
original writer with the intent of making his or her thoughts and opinions
clearer and relevant to the reader in the present time.
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