382. To Josiah Wedgwood Address: T. Poole | N. Stowey | Bridgewater | SomersetSingle Sheet MS. British Museum. Hitherto unpublished. Postmark: 27 March 1801. Stamped: Keswick. Tuesday, Feb. 24, 1801 My dear Sir Ecce iterum Crispinus! 3 -- It has been made appear then, I think, that Des Cartes & Locke held precisely the same opinions concerning the original Sources of our Ideas. They both taught, nearly in the same words and wholly to the same Purpose, that the Objects of human Knowledge are either Ideas imprinted on the ____________________ 1 Objectiones Tertiae, 'Objectio' X. 2 'Responsio' to 'Objectio' X. 3 Juvenal, iv. 1. -685- Senses, or else such as are perceived by attending to the passions and operations of the mind, or lastly Ideas formed by Help of Memory and Imagination, either compounding, dividing, or barely representing those originally perceived in the aforesaid Ways. This proves no more, I allow, than that Mr Locke's first Book is founded on a blunder in the History of Opinions, and that Des Cartes and Locke agreed with each other in a Tenet, common to all the Philosophers before them; but it is far enough from proving the assertion I made in my first Letter, that the whole System of Locke, as far [as] it was a System (i.e. made up of cohering Parts) was to be found in the writings of Des Cartes. But even that, which I have proved, trifling as it may seem, has led me to Reflections on the Rise & Growth of literary Reputation, that have both interested & edified me; nor can it, I suppose, be wholly without effect on the minds of any, who know or remember how much of Locke's Fame rests on the common Belief, that in overthrowing the Doctrine of Innate Ideas he had overthrown some ancient, general, & uncouth Superstition, which had been as a pillar to all other Superstitions. If you ask a person, what Sir Isaac Newton did -- the answer would probably be, he discovered the universal action of Gravity, and applied it to the Solution of all the Phaenomena of the Universe. Ask what Locke did, & you will be told if I mistake not, that he overthrew the Notion, generally held before his time, of innate Ideas, and deduced all our knowledge from experience. Were it generally known, that these Innate Ideas were Men of Straw, or scarcely so much as that -- and that the whole of Mr Locke's first Book is a jumble of Truisms, Calumnies, and Misrepresentations, I suspect, that we should give the name of Newton a more worthy associate -- & instead of Locke & Newton, we should say, BACON & NEWTON, or still better perhaps, Newton and Hartley. Neither N. nor H. discovered the Law, nor that it was a Law; but both taught & first taught, the way to apply it universally. Kepler (aye, and Des Cartes too) had done much more for Newton, than Hobbes had done for Hartley / even were it all true which it has been fashionable of late to believe of Hobbes. But I recur to my assertion, that Locke System existed in the writings of Descartes; not merely that it is deducible from them, but that it exists in them, actually, explicitly. Do me the kindness to believe, my dear Sir! that I am sensible how exceedingly dull these Letters must needs be; but if the Facts, which they contain, have not been noticed to you, or by you, they can scarcely be so worthless, as to be overpaid for by the Reading of a long Letter in close handwriting: tho' this be no trifle to eyes like your's & mine. Without more apology then I proceed to detail my Proofs. -- In the -686- Meditations and the Treatise De Methodo Descartes gives a little History of the rise - growth of his opinions. When he first began to think himself from out of that state in which he, like every body else, suppose themselves to perceive objects immediately without reflecting at all either on their minds or their senses, he saw that those Ideas, which referred him to Objects as externally present, were more vivid - definite than those of memory or imagination, &were not connected with volition. 'Experiebar enim, illas absque ullo meo consensu mihi advenire, et quum multo magis vividae et expressae essent quam ullae ex iis quas ipse prudens et sciens meditando effingebam, vel memoriae meae impressas advertebam, fieri non posse videbatur ut a meipso procederent: ideoque supererat, ut ab aliis quibusdam Rebus advenirent, quarum Rerum. cum nullam aliunde Notitiam haberem, quam ex istis ipsis Ideis, non poterat aliud mihi venire in mentem, quàm, illas iis similes esse[']; 1 - seeing that his other Ideas were less vivid than those which referred him to Objects as externally present, et ex earum partibus componi, he was led to believe that his mind did nothing more than passively represent the Objects which were within the reach of the Senses. But afterwards, the Differences made by Distance in the Shape of Objects, and his often Detecting of himself in such Speeches as these 'Yonder is a man coming', when in truth he saw only a Red or Blue Coat, - perhaps only the Glimmer even of that, forced him to consider that this seemingly intuitive Faith was made up of Judgements passed by the Mind in consequence of repeated Experiences, that such Appearances in the Distance would form that other appearance which we call a man, when he came close to it; and that from hence he had been caused to judge, both that the appearance was a man, and that the Man was at a Distance. These Judgements too were often found to have been wrong; he often misunderstood the meaning of these appearances, and he saw clearly that if any one phaenomenon, however different, were connected with another sufficiently long - sufficiently often, they would be identified in the mind so as to pass for intuitions. This he illustrates by the common phrases, I have a pain in my Limbs, &c. He was led to consider the vast power of association chiefly by having his curiosity excited concerning the causes that determined the place of Pain, and relates in the fourth Part of his Principia the fact to which he had before alluded in his sixth meditation. Cum puellae cuidam, manurn gravi morbo affectam habenti, velarentur Oculi quoties Chirurgus accedebat, ne curationis apparatu turbaretur, eique post aliquot dies brachium ad cubitum usque, oh gangraenam in eo serpentem, fuisset ampu- ____________________ 1 Meditatio Sexta. -687- tatum, et panni in ejus locum ita substituti ut plane ignoraret se brachio suo privatam fuisse, ipsa interim varios dolores, nunc in uno ejus manus, quae abscissa erat, Digito, nunc in alio se sentire querebatur 1. To these he added the old crambe bis cocta of the Pyrrhonists, of the ordinary Phaenomena of Dreams and Deliria, in which Ideas became so vivid as to be undistinguishable from Impressions; but he observes in his own defence, 'Nec tamen in eo Scepticos imitabar, qui dubitant tantùm ut dubitent, et praeter incertitudinem ipsam nihil quaerunt. Nam contra totus in eo eram ut aliquid certi reperirem.' 2 -- In consequence of his reflection on these and similar facts he informs us that he found himself compelled to turn his view inward upon his own frame and faculties in order to determine what share they had in the making up both of his Ideas and of his Judgements on them. He now saw clearly, that the objects, which he had hitherto supposed to have been intromitted into his mind by his senses, must be the joint production of his Mind, his Senses, and an unknown Tertium Aliquid / all which might possibly be developements of his own Nature, in a way unknown to him. The existence of archetypes to his Ideas was not therefore proveable either by the vividness of any Impression nor by it's disconnection from the Will. Et quamvis sensuum perceptiones a voluntate meâ non penderent, non ideo concludendum esse putabam illas a rebus a me diversis procedere, quia forte aliqua esse potest in me ipso facultas, etsi mihi nondum cognita, illarum effectrix. 3 All such ideas however, as arose in him without his will, - referred him to something separate from himself, or were recollected as such, he termed adventitious: and factitious when the parts only of any Shape were remembered by him, but the disposition, or number, of these parts were imagined either actively or passively by him, i.e. awake or in dreams. But besides these he found in himself certain Ideas of Relation, certain Ideas, or rather modes of contemplating Ideas, of which he had acquired the knowlege by attending to the operations of his own Thoughts, and which did not depend in any degree on his Will. In these he recognized the fountains of Truth, and of Truth immutable, because it did not depend upon the existence of any Archetypes. These Truths in his early works he called Innate Ideas, but in his Principia he dropped this name, - adopted that of res cogitativae, or experiences acquired by Reflection. By these, according to him, we may acquire the knowlege, that there is a God, and from the Veracity implied in the Idea of an absolutely perfect Being deduce a complete Assurance, that all these Things are real to the belief of the ____________________ 1 Principia, Pt. IV, Sect. CXCVI. 2 De Methodo, Pt. III. 3 Meditatio Sexta. -688- Reality of which our Reason doth truly - irresistably compel us. A clear and distinct Perception therefore of any thing warrants it's Truth - Reality in the relation, in which it is clearly - distinctly perceived. On these grounds he builds the certainty of an external World -- / in what sense he uses these words, I may have occasion to shew hereafter / and to consider his Ideas in reference to it. Accordingly he divides his Ideas, precisely as Mr Locke has done, into simple ideas, of one sense, of more than one sense, of Reflexion, - both of Reflexion - Sensation / and states the distinction of primary - secondary Qualities, or of Qualities - Powers, in words so exactly corresponding to Mr Locke's, that they might be deemed a free Translation, one of the other -- save only that Solidity which Mr Locke distinguishes from Hardness, - affirms to be a primary Quality of Matter, Des Cartes considers only as a secondary Quality, a mode of Hardness, a mere sensation of Resistance, of course a power not a quality, that same Somewhat, which Mr Locke calls Motivity (& with Thinking form[s] according to him the primary Ideas of Spirit,) - which Des Cartes therefore very consistently excluded from his Idea of Matter: as Mr Locke ought to have done, unless he had been able to shew the difference between Resistance - Impulse, or power of originating motion, which last he expressly confines to the Idea of Spirit. The subjects of Perception, Retention, and Discerning which Locke has skimmed over so superficially - yet not without admixture of error in his 9th, 10th, - 11th Chapters, Des Cartes, in his Dissertatio De Methodo, in the fourth Book of his Dioptrics, - in the Pars Prima of his Work De Passionibus, has treated in a manner worthy of the Predecessor of Hartley. In these - the first Book of his Principia you find likewise the whole substance of Locke's 12, 14, 15, 16, 18, 20, 29, 80, 81, 82 - 33rd Chapters. -- Mr Locke has given 25 folio pages to the explanation of Clear, Distinct, obscure, confused, real, fantastical, adequate, inadequate, true - false Ideas; and if I mistake not has exhibited throughout the whole a curious specimen of dim writing. Good heavens! twenty five folio pages to define half a dozen plain words; and yet I hazard the assertion, that the greater number of these words are explained falsely. Des Cartes took the words from the Schools, and defined them only as they occurred. I have taken the trouble to collect - arrange his Definitions / Read them, and when you have a leisure half hour glance your eye over Mr Locke's four Chapters on the meaning of these Words, - compare. -- Our Ideas, says Descartes, are classed & distinguished, not in - for themselves, but in reference to the Judgements of the mind respecting their Relations to each other, to their supposed external Archetypes or Causes, and to Language. -689- Accordingly, Ideas may be divided into simple and complex -- that is, into those which we cannot and those which we can analyse. Again, complex Ideas may be subdivided into complex ideas of memory, as a man, a horse, - complex Ideas of Imagination, as a Centaur, a Chimaera. Simple Ideas are said to be CLEAR, when they recur with such steadiness that we can use names intelligibly. James's Ideas of Red - Yellow are two clear Ideas / let a Red and a Yellow Thing be brought before him, - he will say, this is Red this Yellow, in the same Instance in which others would say it -But his Ideas of Green - Blue are said to be OBSCURE (not that they are not clear in each particular instance in - for themselves, but) because they are so unsteady in relation to their supposed external Cause, that he sometimes mistakes Blue for Green, - Green for Blue -- not always, for then his Ideas would be steady, consequently, his mistake undiscoverable, or more properly, no mistake at all. Again, a man may have an idea that is clear - steady, yet unintelligible because ANOMALOUS. James's Brother cannot distinguish Purple from Violet -- two different external Objects produce uniformly one effect on him, that produce two on his neighbours. When he tells them, he has seen a man in a purple Coat, they know only that he means either Purple or Violet. Simple Ideas can be called neither distinct nor confused. (Mr Locke instead of saying 'the Smell of a Rose - that of a Violet are clear & distinct Ideas' need only have said, they are two Ideas. Distinct does not mean, in accurate language, difference merely, but such difference as can be stated in words. -- When in his preface he says, he has ordinarily preferred the word determinate, - used it instead of clear - distinct, and used it in one sense for simple Ideas, - in another sense for complex Ideas, I may [be] allowed to say without petulance that his word is idly chosen / it means too many things to mean any thing determinately.) A complex idea may be either DISTINCT or CONFUSED. It is said to be distinct, when we distinguish all it's component parts -- that is, when we see the Relations which the Ideas, it may be analysed into, bear to each other. An anatomist has a distinct Idea of the Eye; but I have only a CONFUSED one. I do not know all it's component parts, or I have not arranged them in my mind so as to enable me to pass from one to another, still perceiving their Relations as Parts to the Whole, and as Coparts to each other. When a Complex idea passes on the mind for a simple Idea, for instance, when a plain Man thinks, he has a Pain in his Limbs, this is said to be a clear but not a distinct Idea: in other words, it is to him a simple idea. Light to my child is a clear but not distinct idea, to me a complex but confused one, to Newton it was a distinct complex idea. -- We are likewise said to -690- have sufficient & insufficient, adequate & inadequate Ideas. (For sufficient & insufficient Mr Locke uses True & False Ideas, which I think injudicious.) I have a sufficient Idea of Winter Cole so far as it enables me to distinguish it from Savoy Cabbage; but insufficient inasmuch as I cannot distinguish it from Brocoli. The Botanist's Ideas of Plants may be sufficient to distinguish the Genera & Species; but insufficient to distinguish the Individuals of the same Species from each other. Adequate, that is, perfectly sufficient Ideas, belong only to the Supreme Being. To say with Mr Locke that all simple Ideas are adequate is an error in language. A simple Idea, as a simple Idea, cannot refer to any external Substance, representatively: for as Pythagoras said, nothing exists but in complexity. A simple Idea can be adequate therefore only in reference to itself; and this is merely affirming that this particular Idea is this same particular Idea, that is, if A be A, then A is A. -- nor is it a whit more proper to say, that a Mathematician's Idea of a Triangle is adequate; for this is likewise to say, if A is A, then A is A. Adequate is not synonimous with 'complete', but with 'perfectly coincident': which is absurd to affirm of an Idea with itself. S. T. Coleridge. [A] Mathematician's Idea of a Triangle is falsel[y stated] -- it should be, his Idea, Triangle. --