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It is no less certain that this philosophical system has no primary recommendation to the imagination, which would never have arrived at such a view on its own and through forces that are intrinsic to it. It will be somewhat difficult to prove this to your full satisfaction, I admit, because it implies a negative, and negatives very often don’t admit of any positive proof. If someone would take the trouble to look into this question and invent a system ·claiming· to account for how this opinion does arise directly from the imagination, we could by examining that system reach a certain judgment on the present topic. Thus:
Let it be taken for granted that •our perceptions are broken and interrupted, and that •however alike they
are they are still different from each other; and let anyone on this basis show why •the imagination directly and immediately (·not through the indirect mechanism I have proposed·) proceeds to the belief in another existing thing that resembles these perceptions in their nature but ·differs from them in being· continuous and uninterrupted and identical.
When someone has done this to my satisfaction, I promise to renounce my present opinion. Meanwhile I can’t help thinking that this, because of the very abstractedness and difficulty of the first supposition [Hume’s phrase], is not fit material for the imagination to work on. Whoever wants to explain the origin of the common opinion about the continued and distinct existence of body must focus on the mind as it commonly is, and proceed on the supposition that our perceptions are our only objects and continue to exist even when not perceived. This opinion is false, but it is the most natural of any, and is the only one that has any primary recommendation to the imagination. As to the second part of the proposition ·that is displayed a page back·, that the philosophical system acquires all its influence on the imagination from the common one: this is a natural and unavoidable consequence of the foregoing conclusion that the philosophical system has no primary recommendation to reason or the imagination. We find by experience that the philosophical system does take hold of many minds, especially of all those who reflect even a little on this subject; so it must derive all its authority from the common system, as it has no authority of its own. These two systems, though directly contrary, are connected together and here is how.

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