A Treatise of Human Nature HTML version

any insight into the essence of bodies we discover their connexion, the absence of this
insight, while the union and inference remain, will never, in any case, remove the
necessity. It is the observation of the union, which produces the inference; for which
reason it might be thought sufficient, if we prove a constant union in the actions of the
mind, in order to establish the inference, along with the necessity of these actions. But
that I may bestow a greater force on my reasoning, I shall examine these particulars apart,
and shall first prove from experience that our actions have a constant union with our
motives, tempers, and circumstances, before I consider the inferences we draw from it.
To this end a very slight and general view of the common course of human affairs will be
sufficient. There is no light, in which we can take them, that does nor confirm this
principle. Whether we consider mankind according to the difference of sexes, ages,
governments, conditions, or methods of education; the same uniformity and regular
operation of natural principles are discernible. Uke causes still produce like effects; in the
same manner as in the mutual action of the elements and powers of nature.
There are different trees, which regularly produce fruit, whose relish is different from
each other; and this regularity will be admitted as an instance of necessity and causes in
external bodies. But are the products of Guienne and of Champagne more regularly
different than the sentiments, actions, and passions of the two sexes, of which the one are
distinguished by their force and maturity, the other by their delicacy and softness?
Are the changes of our body from infancy to old age more regular and certain than those
of our mind and conduct? And would a man be more ridiculous, who would expect that
an infant of four years old will raise a weight of three hundred pound, than one, who from
a person of the same age. would look for a philosophical reasoning, or a prudent and
well-concerted action?
We must certainly allow, that the cohesion of the parts of matter arises from natural and
necessary principles, whatever difficulty we may find in explaining them: And for a
reason we must allow, that human society is founded on like principles; and our reason in
the latter case, is better than even that in the former; because we not only observe, that
men always seek society, but can also explain the principles, on which this universal
propensity is founded. For is it more certain, that two flat pieces of marble will unite
together, than that two young savages of different sexes will copulate? Do the children
arise from this copulation more uniformly, than does the parents care for their safety and
preservation? And after they have arrived at years of discretion by the care of their
parents, are the inconveniencies attending their separation more certain than their
foresight of these inconveniencies and their care of avoiding them by a close union and
The skin, pores, muscles, and nerves of a day-labourer are different from those of a man
of quality: So are his sentiments, actions and manners. The different stations of life
influence the whole fabric, external and internal; and different stations arise necessarily,
because uniformly, from the necessary and uniform principles of human nature. Men
cannot live without society, and cannot be associated without government. Government