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"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. Not only have most of the eminent philosophers contributed generously to the main stock of our political ideas, but they have given the political theorist many of his methods of analysis and criteria of judgment. 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



David Hume speaks out

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, instruction, 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 themselves.

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 affections. 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 illustrious examples. 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 probity and true honor.

The other 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. They regard 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 for ever 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 opinion.

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.

It 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 describes.

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.

A 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 renewing his appeal to common sense, and the natural sentiments of the mind, returns into the right path and secures himself from any dangerous illusions.

Accurate and just reasoning is the only remedy, fitted for all individuals and all dispositions; and is alone able to subvert that abstruse philosophy and metaphysical jargon, which being mixed up with popular superstition, renders it in a manner impenetrable to careless thinkers, and gives it the air of science and wisdom. 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 human nature.

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 discriminate and distinguish them. 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 separate 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. All the 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 passion.

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.

And while 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 laws no longer function.

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 experience.

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 necessarily so.

We must 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 and regularity. 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 each other. Were the loosest and freest conversation to be transcribed, there would immediately be observed something which connected it in all its transitions. 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 conversation.

Among different languages, even where we cannot 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 simple ideas, comprehended in the compound ones, were bound together by some universal principle, which had an equal influence on all mankind.

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, algebra, and arithmetic; and in short, every affirmation which is either intuitively or demonstratively certain. That the square of the hypothenuse is equal to the square of the two sides, is a statement which expresses a relation between these figures. 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 foregoing. 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.

It may, 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 enquiry.

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 suffice.

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 objects. 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 particular event.

A long 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. When 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 qualities. 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 the past. Without the influence of expectation, we should be entirely ignorant of every matter of fact beyond what is immediately in the present. We should 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 action.

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.

We 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 distant events.

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 philosophy.

All 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 circumstances.

It is an operation of the soul, when we are so situated, as unavoidable as to feel the passion of love, 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 variation.

An oval is never mistaken for a circle, nor an hyperbola for an ellipsis. The isosceles and right triangles are distinguished by boundaries more exact than vice and virtue, right and wrong. 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 apperceived.

The 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 contemplate it.

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 ignorance.

The chief obstacle, therefore, to our improvement in the moral or metaphysical sciences is the obscurity of the ideas, and ambiguity of the terms.

The 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.

As moral philosophy appears hitherto to have received less improvement than either geometry or 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 surmounted.

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 internal senses.

Complex ideas, may, perhaps, be well known by definition, which is nothing but an enumeration of those parts or simple ideas, that compose them. When we have pushed up definitions to the most simple ideas, and find still more ambiguity and obscurity; what resource are we then possessed of? By what invention can we throw light upon these ideas, and render them altogether precise and determinate to our intellectual view?

Produce the impressions or original sentiments from which the ideas are copied. These impressions are all strong and sensible. They admit not of ambiguity. They are 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.

It might reasonably be expected in 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 the controversy.

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 opposite conclusion.

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 determinate conclusion.

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.

All mankind, both learned and ignorant, have always been of the same opinion with regard to this subject.

A few intelligible definitions would immediately have put an end to the whole controversy.

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.

The 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 doctrine 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 upon words.

We shall begin with examining the doctrine 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.

Inference and reasoning concerning the operations of nature would, from that moment would be at an end; and the memory and 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 connection.

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 doctrine 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.

Ambition, avarice, narcissism, 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 and Romans?

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 behavior.

Records 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.


vivid conception

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.

We 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 behavior.

Why is 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 character.

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.

Are the 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 them.

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 acting.

The poorest 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.


religious error

In proportion 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 doctrine of liberty as well as in that of connection, and that the whole dispute, in this regard also, has been hitherto merely verbal.

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 act.

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.

The mind 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?


premature specualtion

Both these 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 speculation whatsoever.

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.

The 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 ability.

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.

But our 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 faculties.

Though the 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.


adaptation

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 separation.

Uncertainty in some instances proceeds from the secret opposition of contrary causes.

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.

The general 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 us.

A man is guilty of unpardonable arrogance who concludes that an argument that has escaped his own investigation does not really exist.

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.


David Hume, English philosopher




sacred geometry

Sacred Geometry

Flowers petal count matches the Fibonacci sequence: 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34 or 55. In the Fibonacci sequence (fn are given by the formula f1 = 1, f2 = 2, f3 = 3, f4 = 5 and generally f n+2 = fn+1 + fn) each number is obtained from the sum of the two preceding: 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, etc.

When one observes the heads of sunflowers, one notices two series of curves, one winding in one direction and one in another; the number of spirals not being the same in each sense.

Why is the number of spirals in general either 21 and 34, either 34 and 55, either 55 and 89, or 89 and 144?

Why do they have either 8 spirals from one side and 13 from the other, or either 5 spirals from one side and 8 from the other?

Why is the number of diagonals of a pineapple also 8 in one direction and 13 in the other?

The answer to these questions is efficiency during the growth cycle of plants.

The ratio between successive Fibonacci numbers approximates an important constant called "the Golden Mean" or sometimes phi, which is approximately 1.61803. The higher you go in the Fibonacci sequence, the more closely the ratio between two successive numbers in the sequence approximates phi. (By the way phi2=phi + 1!). The Fibonacci sequence also shows up in Pascal's triangle, first used by the Chinese mathematician Chu Shih Chieh in providing coefficients for the binomial expansion in his 1303 treatise "The Precious Mirror of the Four Elements", if you add the diagonals!

Sacred Geometry involves using sacred universal patterns in everything we design.

Sacred Geometry as seen in sacred architecture, sacred art and Nature can be heard in sacred music.

Pythagoras found that an oscillating string stopped halfway along its length produces an octave relative to the string's fundamental, while a ratio of 2:3 produces a perfect fifth and 3:4 produces a perfect fourth. Pythagoreans believed that these harmonic ratios gave music powers of healing which could "harmonize" an out-of-balance body.

The Sacred Geometry of mathematical ratios, harmonics and proportion were first noted in nature, music, light and cosmology by the Ancients in poetry, stories, music and art work.

Those who see the Sacred Geometry of the Pattern of Reality attempt to express their worldview of pattern recognition with a complex system of metaphorical allegories by building conceptual structures initially involving light(good) and darkness(bad) to address all levels of human intelligence
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The Golden Ratio



The golden ratio, also known as the god ratio, golden proportion, golden mean, golden section, golden number, divine proportion or sectio divina, is an irrational number, approximately 1.618 033 988 749 894 848, that possesses many interesting properties.

Shapes proportioned according to the golden ratio have long been considered aesthetically pleasing in Western cultures, and the golden ratio is still used frequently in art and design, suggesting a natural balance between symmetry and asymmetry.

The ancient Pythagoreans, who defined numbers as expressions of ratios (and not as units as is common today), believed that reality is numerical and that the golden ratio expressed an underlying truth about existence. Plato said in the Republic (VII, 527 d, e) that it is through geometry that one purifies the eye of the soul, "since it is by it alone that we contemplate the truth." Although Plato, for instance, discusses their importance to both music and esoteric philosophy, he concentrates on the latter. Thus his discourses do not provide physical demonstrations of the ratios, for they were not meant as textbooks, but as spiritual philosophy.

"We must endeavour to persuade those who are prescribe to be the principal men of our State to go and learn arithmetic, not as amateurs, but they must carry on the study until they see the nature of numbers with the mind only; nor again, like merchants or retail-traders, with a view to buying or selling, but for the sake of the soul herself; and because this will be the easiest way for her to pass from becoming into truth and being." - Socrates (according to Plato)


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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 crime."

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American 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 mass media by pressing emotional buttons which have been preprogrammed into the population through prior mass 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 their purposes.

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