Transcription of LocHum,59[1]
— 59 —
These Maxims not being known sometimes till proposed, proves them not innate.       §21. But we have not yet done with assenting to Propositions at first
hearing and understanding their Terms; ’tis fit we first take notice, That
this, instead of being a mark, that they are innate, is a proof of the
contrary: Since it supposes, that several, who understand and know
other things, are ignorant of these Principles, till they are propos’d
to them; and that one may be unacquainted with these Truths, till
he hears them from others. For if they were innate, What need they
be propos’d, in order to gaining assent; when, by being in the
Understanding, by a natural and original Impression (if there were
any such) they could not but be known before? Or, doth the
proposing them, print them clearer in the Mind, than Nature did?
If so, then the Consequence will be, That a Man knows them better,
after he has been thus taught them, than he did before. Whence it
will follow, That these Principles may be made more evident to us
by other’s teaching, than Nature has made them by Impression:
which will ill agree with the Opinion of innate Principles, and give
but little Authority to them; but on the contrary, makes them un-
fit to be the foundations of all our other Knowledge, as they are
pretended to be. This cannot be deny’d, that Men grow first
acquainted with many of these self-evident Truths, upon their
being proposed: But it is clear, that whosoever does so, finds in
himself, That he then begins to know a Proposition, which he
knew not before; and which from thenceforth he never questions:
not because it was innate; but, because the consideration of the
Nature of the things contained in those Words, would not suffer
him to think otherwise, how, or whensoever he is brought to
reflect on them. And if whatever is assented to at first hearing, and
understanding the terms, must pass for an innate Principle, every
well grounded Observation drawn from particulars into a general
Rule, must be innate. When yet it is certain, that not all, but only
sagacious Heads light at first on these Observations, and reduce
them into general Propositions, not innate, but collected from a
preceding acquaintance, and reflection on particular instances.
These, when observing Men have made them, unobserving Men,
when they are propos’d to them, cannot refuse their assent to.
Locke Hum I, 2, §21, p. 59