An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding HTML version

minds, there is nothing that produces any impression, nor consequently can suggest any
idea of power or necessary connexion. But when many uniform instances appear, and the
same object is always followed by the same event; we then begin to entertain the notion
of cause and connexion. We then feel a new sentiment or impression, to wit, a customary
connexion in the thought or imagination between one object and its usual attendant; and
this sentiment is the original of that idea which we seek for. For as this idea arises from a
number of similar instances, and not from any single instance, it must arise from that
circumstance, in which the number of instances differ from every individual instance. But
this customary connexion or transition of the imagination is the only circumstance in
which they differ. In every other particular they are alike. The first instance which we
saw of motion communicated by the shock of two billiard balls (to return to this obvious
illustration) is exactly similar to any instance that may, at present, occur to us; except
only, that we could not, at first, infer one event from the other; which we are enabled to
do at present, after so long a course of uniform experience. I know not whether the reader
will readily apprehend this reasoning. I am afraid that, should I multiply words about it,
or throw it into a greater variety of lights, it would only become more obscure and
intricate. In all abstract reasonings there is one point of view which, if we can happily hit,
we shall go farther towards illustrating the subject than by all the eloquence and copious
expression in the world. This point of view we should endeavour to reach, and reserve the
flowers of rhetoric for subjects which are more adapted to them.