An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding HTML version

commonly conjoined with it, all our knowledge must have been limited to the narrow
sphere of our memory and senses; and we should never have been able to adjust means to
ends, or employ our natural powers, either to the producing of good, or avoiding of evil.
Those, who delight in the discovery and contemplation of final causes, have here ample
subject to employ their wonder and admiration.
45. I shall add, for a further confirmation of the foregoing theory, that, as this operation
of the mind, by which we infer like effects from like causes, and vice versa, is so
essential to the subsistence of all human creatures, it is not probable, that it could be
trusted to the fallacious deductions of our reason, which is slow in its operations; appears
not, in any degree, during the first years of infancy; and at best is, in every age and period
of human life, extremely liable to error and mistake. It is more conformable to the
ordinary wisdom of nature to secure so necessary an act of the mind, by some instinct or
mechanical tendency, which may be infallible in its operations, may discover itself at the
first appearance of life and thought, and may be independent of all the laboured
deductions of the understanding. As nature has taught us the use of our limbs, without
giving us the knowledge of the muscles and nerves, by which they are actuated; so has
she implanted in us an instinct, which carries forward the thought in a correspondent
course to that which she has established among external objects; though we are ignorant
of those powers and forces, on which this regular course and succession of objects totally