TNH 1.3.06.09

Let it be temporarily granted, then, that the production of one object by another in any one instance implies a power, and that this power is connected with its effect. But it has already been proved that the power doesn’t lie in the perceptible qualities of the cause, yet all we have present to us are its perceptible qualities. So I ask: why, in other instances where those qualities have appeared, do you presume that the same power is also there? Your appeal to past experience gives you no help with this. The most it can prove is that that very object which produced a certain other object was at that very instant endowed with a power to do this; but it can’t prove that the same power must continue in the same object (collection of perceptible qualities) ·at other times·, much less that a similar power is always conjoined with similar perceptible qualities ·in other objects·. You might say: ‘We have experience that the same power continues ·through time· to be united with the same object, and that similar objects are endowed with similar powers’; but then I renew my question about why from this experience we form any conclusion that goes beyond the past instances of which we have had experience. If you answer this in the same way that you did the previous question, your answer will raise a new question of the same kind, and so on ad infinitum; which clearly proves that this line of reasoning had no solid foundation.

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