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his natural or determinate bias. The body is free when it can obey the impulse of the mind; so also a billiard-ball might be said to be free while it is not fixed to the table, or hindered from being impelled by the stroke of the mace. In the same sense, the water, as Mr Hobbes observes, is said to descend freely along the channel of the river, while no obstacle intercepts its progress. But though necessarians allow liberty to the body, and to inanimate things, they deny that it is in any sense applicable to the mind or will.

ESSAY

VIII.

ON LOCKE'S ESSAY ON THE HUMAN

UNDERSTANDING.

ESSAY VIII.

ON LOCKE'S ESSAY ON THE HUMAN

UNDERSTANDING.

This work owes its present rank among philosophical productions, to its embodiment of the great principle first brought forward by Hobbes. All its author's attempts to modify this principle or reconcile it to common notions have been gradually exploded, and have given place to the more severe and logical deductions of Hobbes from the same general principle. Mr Locke took the faculties of the mind as he found them in himself and others, and endeavoured to account for them on a new principle. By this compromise with candour and common sense, he prepared the way for the introduction of the principle, which being once established, very soon overturned all the trite opinions and vulgar prejudices which were improperly associated with it. There was in fact no place for them in the new system.

The great defect with which the ` Essay on the Human Understanding' is chargeable is, that there is not really a word about the nature of the understanding in it, nor any attempt to show what it is, or whether it is or is not any thing, distinct from the faculty of simple perception. The operations of thinking, comparing, discerning, reasoning, willing, and the like, which Mr Locke ascribes to it, are the operations of nothing, or of I know not what. All the force of his mind seems to have been so bent on exploding innate ideas, and tracing our thoughts to their external source, that he either forgot or had not leisure to examine what the internal principle of all thought is. He took for his basis a bad simile—that the mind is like a blank sheet of paper, originally void of all characters whatever; for this, though true as far as relates to innate ideas, that is, to any impressions actually existing in it, is not true of the mind itself, which is not like a sheet of paper, the passive receiver and retainer of the impressions made upon it. The inference from this simile has however been that the understanding is nothing in itself, nor the cause of any thing; never acting, but always acted upon ; that it is but a convenient repository for the straggling images of things, a sort of empty room into which ideas are conveyed from without through the doors of the senses, as you would carry

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