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In order to apply this general maxim, we must first examine
•the disposition of the mind when it views an object that preserves a perfect identity, and then find
•some other object that we wrongly identify with the former one because it causes in us a similar disposition.
When we fix our thought on some object and suppose it to continue the same for some time, it’s clear that we are supposing that only the time is changing, and we don’t put ourselves to the trouble of producing any new image or idea of the object. The mind’s faculties in this case are not put to any work beyond what is necessary to continue the idea we formerly had, which goes on existing without variation or interruption. The passage from one moment to the next is hardly felt, and the conception of it doesn’t involve any difference of perception or idea… . That is the disposition of the mind when it contemplates a perfectly identical object. Now we have to discover what other objects can put the mind in that same disposition when it considers them, causing the same uninterrupted passage of the imagination from one idea to another. This is of the highest importance. For if we find any such objects, we can certainly conclude (from the foregoing principle) that it is very natural for them to be wrongly identified with identical objects, and are taken to be such in most of our reasonings. But though this question is very important, it is not very difficult or doubtful. For I immediately reply that a sequence of related objects puts the mind into this disposition: such a •sequence is contemplated with the same smooth and uninterrupted progress of the imagination as accompanies a view of a •single invariable object. The very nature and essence of ·natural· relations is to connect our ideas with each other, and when one idea appears to facilitate the move to the related one. The move between related ideas is therefore so smooth and easy that it produces little alteration in the mind, and seems like a continuation of a single action; and as the continuation of a single action is an effect of the continued view of a single object, this is why we attribute singleness to every succession of related objects, treating them as though they were a single object. The thought slides along the succession as easily as if it were considering only one object; and so it confounds the succession with the identity.

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