An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding HTML version

Moral reasonings are either concerning particular or general facts. All deliberations in life
regard the former; as also all disquisitions in history, chronology, geography, and
The sciences, which treat of general facts, are politics, natural philosophy, physic,
chemistry, &c. where the qualities, causes and effects of a whole species of objects are
enquired into.
Divinity or Theology, as it proves the existence of a Deity, and the immortality of souls,
is composed partly of reasonings concerning particular, partly concerning general facts. It
has a foundation in reason, so far as it is supported by experience. But its best and most
solid foundation is faith and divine revelation.
Morals and criticism are not so properly objects of the understanding as of taste and
sentiment. Beauty, whether moral or natural, is felt, more properly than perceived. Or if
we reason concerning it, and endeavour to fix its standard, we regard a new fact, to wit,
the general tastes of mankind, or some such fact, which may be the object of reasoning
and enquiry.
When we run over libraries, persuaded of these principles, what havoc must we make? If
we take in our hand any volume; of divinity or school metaphysics, for instance; let us
ask, Does it contain any abstract reasoning concerning quantity or number? No. Does it
contain any experimental reasoning concerning matter of fact and existence? No.
Commit it then to the flames: for it can contain nothing but sophistry and illusion.