Dialogues Between Hylas and Philonous
The Second Dialogue
HYL. I beg your pardon, Philonous, for not meeting you sooner. All this morning my
head was so filled with our late conversation that I had not leisure to think of the time of
the day, or indeed of anything else.
PHILONOUS. I am glad you were so intent upon it, in hopes if there were any mistakes
in your concessions, or fallacies in my reasonings from them, you will now discover them
HYL. I assure you I have done nothing ever since I saw you but search after mistakes and
fallacies, and, with that view, have minutely examined the whole series of yesterday's
discourse: but all in vain, for the notions it led me into, upon review, appear still more
clear and evident; and, the more I consider them, the more irresistibly do they force my
PHIL. And is not this, think you, a sign that they are genuine, that they proceed from
nature, and are conformable to right reason? Truth and beauty are in this alike, that the
strictest survey sets them both off to advantage; while the false lustre of error and
disguise cannot endure being reviewed, or too nearly inspected.
HYL. I own there is a great deal in what you say. Nor can any one be more entirely
satisfied of the truth of those odd consequences, so long as I have in view the reasonings
that lead to them. But, when these are out of my thoughts, there seems, on the other hand,
something so satisfactory, so natural and intelligible, in the modern way of explaining
things that, I profess, I know not how to reject it.
PHIL. I know not what way you mean.
HYL. I mean the way of accounting for our sensations or ideas.
PHIL. How is that?
HYL. It is supposed the soul makes her residence in some part of the brain, from which
the nerves take their rise, and are thence extended to all parts of the body; and that
outward objects, by the different impressions they make on the organs of sense,
communicate certain vibrative motions to the nerves; and these being filled with spirits
propagate them to the brain or seat of the soul, which, according to the various
impressions or traces thereby made in the brain, is variously affected with ideas.
PHIL. And call you this an explication of the manner whereby we are affected with
HYL. Why not, Philonous? Have you anything to object against it?