TNH 1.3.14.31

(3) Perhaps I can now fully overcome all the natural reluctance to accept my earlier arguments in which I tried to prove that the necessity of a cause to every beginning of existence has no demonstrative or intuitive support. That conclusion won’t appear strange in the light of my definitions. If we define a ‘cause’ to be

An object precedent and contiguous to another, and where all the objects resembling the former are similarly precedent and contiguous to objects that resemble the latter, we can easily grasp that there is no absolute or metaphysical necessity that every beginning of existence should be preceded by such an object. And if we define a ‘cause’ to be An object precedent and contiguous to another, and united with it in the imagination in such a way that the idea of one determines the mind to form the idea of the other, and the impression of one to form a livelier idea of the other, we shall have even less difficulty in assenting to my opinion. Such an influence on the mind—·so far from being something we can be sure must go with every beginning of existence—is in itself perfectly extraordinary and incomprehensible, and it is only from experience and observation that we are certain that it ever occurs.

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