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terminating in one alone; and the other is a consideration of both, as existing separately.

§. 14. Thirdly. The parts of pure space are immoveable, which follows from their inseparability: motion being nothing but change of distance between any two things but this cannot be between parts that are inseparable which therefore must needs be at perpetual rest one amongst another.

Thus the determined idea of simple space distinguishes it plainly and sufficiently from body; since its parts are inseparable, immoveable, and without resistance to the motion of body.

The defini

it not.

§. 15. If any one ask me, what this space, tion ofexten- I speak of, is? I will tell him, when he sión explains tells me what his extension is. For to say, as is usually done, that extension is to have partes extra partes, is to say only, that extension is extension for what am I the better informed in the nature of extension, when I am told, that extension is to have parts that are extended, exterior to parts that are extended, i. e. extension consists of extended parts? As if one asking, what a fibre was? I should answer him, that it was a thing made up of several fibres: would he thereby be enabled to understand what a fibre was better than he did before? Or rather, would he not have reason to think, that my design was to make sport with him, rather than seriously to instruct him?

Division of beings into bodies and

spirits, proves

not space body the



. 16. Those who contend that space and body are the same, bring this dilemma: either this space is something or nothing; if nothing be between two bodies, they must necessarily touch: if it be allowed to be something, they ask, whether it be

body or spirit? To which I answer, by another question, who told them that there was, or could be nothing but solid beings, which could not think, and thinking beings that were not extended? which is all they mean by the terms body and spirit.

§. 17.

§. 17. If it be demanded (as usually it is) whether this space, void of body, be substance or accident; I shall readily answer, I know not; nor shall be ashamed to own my ignorance, till they that ask show me a clear distinct idea of substance.

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Substance which we know not, no proof against space without body.

§. 18. I endeavour, as much as I can, to deliver myself from those fallacies which we are apt to put upon ourselves, by taking words for things. It helps not our ignorance, to feign a knowledge where we have none, by making a noise with sounds, without clear and distinct significations. Names made at pleasure neither alter the nature of things, nor make us understand them but as they are signs of and stand for determined ideas. And I desire those who lay so much stress on the sound of these two syllables, substance, to consider whether applying it, as they do, to the infinite incomprehensible God, to finite spirit, and to body, it be in the same sense; and whether it stands for the same idea, when each of those three so different beings are called substances. If so, whether it will thence follow, that God, spirits, and body, agreeing in the same common nature of substance, differ not any otherwise, than in a bare different modification of that substance; as a tree and a pebble being in the same sense body, and agreeing in the common nature of body, differ only in a bare modification of that common matter which will be a very harsh doctrine. If they say, that they apply it to God, finite spirit, and matter, in three different significations; and that it stands for one idea, when God is said to be a substance; for another, when the soul is called substance; and for a third, when a body is called so; if the name substance stands for three several distinct ideas, they would do well to make known those distinct ideas, or at least to give three distinct names to them, to prevent in so important a notion the confusion and errors that will naturally follow from the promiscuous use of so doubtful a term; which is so far from being suspected to have three distinct, that in ordinary use it has scarce one clear distinct signification; and if they can thus


make three distinct ideas of substance, what hinders why another may not make a fourth?

Substance and accidents, of little use in philosophy.

§. 19. They who first ran into the notion of accidents, as a sort of real beings that needed something to inhere in, were forced to find out the word substance to support them. Had the poor Indian philosopher (who imagined that the earth also wanted something to bear it up) but thought of this word substance, he needed not to have been at the trouble to find an elephant to support it, and a tortoise to support his elephant: the word substance would have done it effectually. And he that inquired, might have taken it for as good an answer from an Indian philosopher, that substance, without knowing what it is, is that which supports the earth; as we take it for a sufficient answer, and good doctrine, from our European philosophers, that substance, without knowing what it is, is that which supports accidents. So that of substance we have no idea of what it is, but only a confused obscure one of what it does.

§. 20. Whatever a learned man may do here, an intelligent American, who inquired into the nature of things, would scarce take it for a satisfactory account, if desiring to learn our architecture, he should be told, that a pillar was a thing supported by a basis, and a basis something that supported a pillar. Would he not think himself mocked, instead of taught, with such an account as this? And a stranger to them would be very liberally instructed in the nature of books, and the things they contained, if he should be told, that all learned books consisted of paper and letters, and that letters were things inhering in paper, and paper a thing that held forth letters: a notable way of having clear ideas of letters and papers! But were the Latin words inhærentia and substantia, put into the plain English ones that answer them, and were called sticking on and under-propping, they would better discover to us the very great clearness there is in the doctrine of substance and accidents, and show of what use they are in deciding of questions in philosophy.

A vacuum beyond the

utmost bounds of


§. 21. But to return to our idea of space. If body be not supposed infinite, which I think no one will affirm, I would ask, Whether, if God placed a man at the extremity of corporeal beings, he could not stretch his hand beyond his body? If he could, then he would put his arm where there was before space without body; and if there he spread his fingers, there would still be space between them without body. If he could not stretch out his hand, it must be because of some external hindrance; for we suppose him alive, with such a power of moving the parts of his body that he hath now, which is not in itself impossible, if God so pleased to have it; (or at least it is not impossible for God so to move him:) and then I ask, Whether that which hinders his hand from moving outwards be substance or accident, something or nothing? And when they have resolved that, they will be able to resolve themselves what that is, which is or may be between two bodies at a distance, that is not body, and has no solidity. In the mean time, the argument is at least as good, that where nothing hinders (as beyond the utmost bounds of all bodies) a body put in motion may move on; as where there is nothing between, there two bodies must necessarily touch; for pure space between, is sufficient to take away the necessity of mutual contact: but bare space in the way, is not sufficient to stop motion. The truth is, these men must either own that they think body infinite, though they are loth to speak it out, or else affirm that space is not body. For I would fain meet with that thinking man, that can in his thoughts set any bounds to space, more than he can to duration; or by thinking hope to arrive at the end of either and therefore, if his idea of eternity be infinite, so is his idea of immensity; they are both finite or infinite alike.

The power of annihilation proves a va

§. 22. Farther, those who assert the impossibility of space existing without matter, must not only make body infinite, but must also deny a power in God to annihilate any part of matter. No one, I suppose, will deny that God



can put an end to all motion that is in matter, and fix all the bodies of the universe in a perfect quiet and rest, and continue them so long as he pleases. Whoever then will allow, that God can, during such a general rest, annihilate either this book, or the body of him that reads it, must necessarily admit the possibility of a vacuum; for it is evident, that the space that was filled by the parts of the annihilated body, will still remain, and be a space without body. For the circumambient bodies being in perfect rest, are a wall of adamant, and in that state make it a perfect impossibility for any other body to get into that space. And indeed the necessary motion of one particle of matter into the place from whence another particle of matter is removed, is but a consequence from the supposition of plenitude which will therefore need some better proof than a supposed matter of fact, which experiment can never make out: our own clear and distinct ideas plainly satisfying us, that there is no necessary connexion between space and solidity, since we can conceive the one without the other. And those who dispute for or against a vacuum, do thereby confess they have distinct ideas of vacuum and plenum, i. e. that they have an idea of extension void of solidity, though they deny its existence or else they dispute about nothing at all. For they who so much alter the signification of words, as to call extension body, and consequently make the whole essence of body to be nothing but pure extension without solidity, must talk absurdly whenever they speak of vacuum, since it is impossible for extension to be without extension. For vacuum, whether we affirm or deny its existence, signifies space without body, whose very existence no one can deny to be possible, who will not make matter infinite, and take from God a power to annihilate any particle of it.



§. 23. But not to go so far as beyond proves a va the utmost bounds of body in the universe, nor appeal to God's omnipotency, to find a vacuum, the motion of bodies that are in our view and neighbourhood seems to me plainly to, evince it.


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