It is easy to see that when we think our way along this relation, the inference we make from cause to effect is not based merely on probing these particular objects and learning enough about their inner natures to see why one depends on the other. If we consider these objects in themselves and never look beyond the ideas we form of them, we shall find that none of them implies the existence of anything else
Such an inference—·based purely on the ideas·—would amount to knowledge, and would imply the absolute contradiction and impossibility of conceiving anything different, ·that is, of conceiving the predicted effect not to follow·. But clearly there can’t be any impossibility of that kind, because all distinct ideas are separable. Whenever we pass ·inferentially· from a present impression to the idea of some other object, we could have separated the idea from the impression and have substituted any other idea in place of it.

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