TNH 1.3.06.08

You may think you can elude this argument. You may want to claim that all conclusions from causes and effects are built on solid reasoning, saying this without going into the question of whether our reasoning on this subject is derived from demonstration or from probability. Well, please produce this reasoning so that we can examine it. You may say that after experience of the constant conjunction of certain ·kinds of· objects we reason as follows:

This kind of object is always found to produce an object of that kind. It couldn’t have this effect if it weren’t endowed with a power of production. The power necessarily implies the effect; and therefore there is a valid basis for drawing a conclusion from the existence of one object to the existence of another. The •past production implies a •power; the •power implies a •new production; and the new production is what we infer from the power and the past production.

It would be easy for me to show the weakness of this reasoning •if I were willing to appeal to the observations I have already made, that the idea of production is the same as the idea of causation, and that no existence certainly and demonstratively implies a power in any other object; or •if it were proper to bring in here things I shall have occasion to say later about the idea we form of power and efficacy. But these approaches might seem •to weaken my system by resting one part of it on another, or •to create confusion in my reasoning ·by taking things out of order·; so I shall try to maintain my present thesis without either of those kinds of help.

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