But men in love with their opinions may not only suppose what is in question, but allege wrong matter of fact. How else could any one make it an inference of mine, that a thing is not, because we are not sensible of it in our sleep? I do not say there is no soul in a man, because he is not sensible of it in his sleep: but I do say, he cannot think at any time waking or sleeping, without being sensible of it. Our being sensible of it is not necessary to any thing, but to our thoughts; and to them it is, and to them it will always be necessary, till we can think without being conscious of it.
§ 6. Concerning words also it is farther to be considered: first, that they being immediately the signs of men’s ideas, and by that means the instruments whereby men communicate their conceptions, and express to one another those thoughts and imaginations they have within their own breasts; there comes by constant use to be such a connexion between certain sounds and the ideas they stand for, that the names heard, almost as readily excite certain ideas, as if the objects themselves, which are apt to produce them, did actually affect the senses. Which is manifestly so in all obvious sensible qualities; and in all substances, that frequently and familiarly occur to us.
Discuss both sides and give your opinion. (Reported 2017, GT Test)
§ 15. The idea of infinite has, I confess, something of positive in all those things we apply to it. When we would think of infinite space or duration, we at first step usually make some very large idea, as perhaps of millions of ages, or miles, which possibly we double and multiply several times. All that we thus amass together in our thoughts is positive, and the assemblage of a great number of positive ideas of space or duration. But what still remains beyond this, we have no more a positive distinct notion of, than a mariner has of the depth of the sea; where having let down a large portion of his sounding line, he reaches no bottom; whereby he knows the depth to be so many fathoms, and more; but how much the more is, he hath no distinct notion at all: And could he always supply new line, and find the plummet always sink, without ever stopping, he would be something in the posture of the mind reaching after a complete and positive idea of infinity. In which case let this line be ten, or one thousand fathoms long, it equally discovers what is beyond it; and gives only this confused and comparative idea, that this is not all, but one may yet go farther. So much as the mind comprehends of any space, it has a positive idea of; but in endeavouring to make it infinite, it being always enlarging, always advancing, the idea is still imperfect and incomplete. So much space as the mind takes a view of in its contemplation of greatness, is a clear picture, and positive in the understanding: but infinite is still greater. 1. Then the idea of so much is positive and clear. 2. The idea of greater is also clear, but it is but a comparative idea, viz. the idea of so much greater as cannot be comprehended; and this is plainly negative, not positive. For he has no positive clear idea of the largeness of any extension, (which is that sought for in the idea of infinite) that has not a comprehensive idea of the dimensions of it; and such nobody, I think, pretends to in what is infinite. For to say a man has a positive clear idea of any quantity, without knowing how great it is, is as reasonable as to say, he has the positive clear idea of the number of the sands on the sea-shore, who knows not how many there be; but only that they are more than twenty. For just such a perfect and positive idea has he of an infinite space or duration, who says it is larger than the extent or duration of ten, one hundred, one thousand, or any other number of miles, or years, whereof he has, or can have a positive idea; which is all the idea, I think, we have of infinite. So that what lies beyond our positive idea towards infinity, lies in obscurity; and has the indeterminate confusion of a negative idea, wherein I know I neither do nor can comprehend all I would, it being too large for a finite and narrow capacity: and that cannot but be very far from a positive complete idea, wherein the greatest part of what I would comprehend is left out, under the undeterminate intimation of being still greater: for to say, that having in any quantity measured so much, or gone so far, you are not yet at the end; is only to say, that that quantity is greater. So that the negation of an end in any quantity is, in other words, only to say, that it is bigger: and a total negation of an end is but carrying this bigger still with you, in all the progressions your thoughts shall make in quantity; and adding this idea of still greater, to all the ideas you have, or can be supposed to have, of quantity. Now whether such an idea as that be positive, I leave any one to consider.
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§ 14. A friend of mine knew one perfectly cured of madness by a very harsh and offensive operation. The gentleman, who was thus recovered, with great sense of gratitude and acknowledgment, owned the cure all his life after, as the greatest obligation he could have received; but whatever gratitude and reason suggested to him, he could never bear the sight of the operator: that image brought back with it the idea of that agony which he suffered from his hands, which was too mighty and intolerable for him to endure.