TNH 1.3.14.23

But although this is the only reasonable account we can give of necessity, the contrary notion is so riveted in the mind by the forces I have mentioned that I am sure my views will be treated by many as extravagant and ridiculous.

What! the efficacy of causes lies in the determination of the mind? As if causes didn’t operate entirely independently of the mind, and wouldn’t continue their operation even if no minds existed to think about them or reason about them! •Thought may well depend on •causes for its operation, but •causes don’t depend
on •thought. ·To suppose otherwise· is to reverse the order of Nature and give a secondary role to what is really primary. To every operation there is an appropriate power, which must belong to the body that operates. If we remove the power from one cause, we must ascribe it to another; but to remove it from all causes and bestow it on a being that relates to the cause and the effect only by perceiving them is a gross absurdity and contrary to the most certain principles of human reason.

All I can say in reply to these arguments is that they are like a blind man’s claiming to find a great many absurdities in the supposition that the colour of scarlet is not the same as the sound of a trumpet, or that light is not the same as solidity! If we really have no idea of power or efficacy in any object, or of any real connection between causes and effects, it won’t do much good to ‘prove’ that efficacy is necessary in all operations. People who say such things don’t understand their own meanings, and ignorantly run together ideas that are entirely distinct from each other. I willingly allow that both material and immaterial objects may have various qualities of which we know nothing; and if we choose to call these ‘power’ or ‘efficacy’, that won’t matter much to the world. But when we use the terms ‘power’ and ‘efficacy’ not as •meaning those unknown qualities, but rather as •signifying something of which we do have a clear idea, and which is incompatible with the objects to which we attribute it, obscurity and error begin to occur and we are led astray by a false philosophy. That is what happens when we transfer •the determination of the thought to •external objects and credit them with a real intelligible connection between them, this being ·an objectivised analogue of· a quality that can belong only to the observing mind.

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