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THE SECOND LETTER.

Reverend Sir,”

“I have often thought that the chief occasions of men's differing so much in their opinions, were, either their not understanding each other; or else, that instead of ingenuously searching after truth, they have made it their business to find out arguments for the proof of what they have once asserted. However, it is certain there may be other reasons for persons not agreeing in their opinions; and where it is so, I cannot but think, with you, that they will find reason to suffer each other to differ friendly; every man having a way of thinking, in some respects, peculiarly his own.

“I am sorry, I must tell you, your answers to my objections are not satisfactory. The reasons why I think them not so are as follow:

“You say; ‘whatever is absolutely necessary at all, is absolutely necessary in every part of space, and in every point of duration.’ Were this evident, it would certainly prove what you bring it for; viz. that whatever may, without a contradiction, be absent from one place at one time, may also be absent from all places at all times. But I do not conceive that the idea of ubiquity is contained in the idea of self-existence, or directly follows from it, any otherwise than as whatever exists must exist somewhere. You add; whatever can at any time be conceived possibly to be absent from any one part of space, may, for the same reason [viz. the implying no contradiction in the nature of things] be conceived possibly to be absent from every other part of space at the same time. Now, I cannot see, that I can make these two suppositions for the same reason, or upon the same account. The reason why I conceive this being may be absent from one place, is, because it doth not contradict the former proof [drawn from the nature of things,] in which I proved only that it must necessarily exist. But the other supposition, viz. that I can conceive it possible to be absent from every part of space at one and the same time, directly contradicts the proof that it must exist somewhere; and so is an express contradiction. Unless it be said, that as, when we have proved the three angles of a triangle equal to two right ones, that relation of the equality ofits angles to two right ones will be wherever a triangle exists; so, when we have proved the necessary existence of a being, this being must exist everywhere. But there is a great difference between these two things; the one being the proof 423of a certain relation, upon supposition of such a being's existence with such particular properties; and consequently, wherever this being and these properties exist, this relation must exist too. But, from the proof of the necessary existence of a being, it is no evident consequence that it exists everywhere. My using the word demonstration, instead of proof, which leaves no room for doubt, was through negligence, for I never heard of strict demonstration of matter of fact.

“In your answer to my second difficulty, you say; whatsoever is necessarily-existing, there is need of its existence, in order to the supposal of the existence of any other thing. All the consequences you draw from this proposition I see proved demonstrably; and consequently, that the two propositions I thought independent are closely connected. But how, or upon what account, is there need of the existence of whatever is necessarily-existing, in order to the existence of any other thing? Is it as there is need of space and duration, in order to the existence of any thing; or is it needful only as the cause of the existence of all other things? If the former be said, as your instance seems to intimate, I answer, space and duration are very abstruse in their natures, and, I think, cannot properly be called things, but are considered rather as affections which belong, and, in the order of our thoughts are antecedently necessary, to the existence of all things. And I can no more conceive how a necessarily-existing being can, on the same account or in the same manner as space and duration are, be needful in order to the existence of any other being, than I can conceive extension attributed to a thought; that idea no more belonging to a thing existing, than extension belongs to thought. But if the latter be said, that there is need of the existence of whatever is a necessary being, in order to the existence of any other thing; only as this necessary being must be the cause of the existence of all other things; I think this is plainly begging the question; for it supposes that there is no other being exists, but what is casual, and so not necessary. And on what other account, or in what other manner than one of these two, there can be need of the existence of a necessary being in order to the existence of any thing else, I cannot conceive.

“Thus, sir, you see I entirely agree with you in all the consequences you have drawn from your suppositions; but cannot see the truth of the suppositions themselves.

“I have aimed at nothing in my style but only to be intelligible; being sensible that it is very difficult (as you observe) to express one's self on these sorts of subjects, especially for one who is altogether unaccustomed to write upon them.

“I have nothing at present more to add, but my sincerest thanks for your trouble in answering my letter, and for your 424professed readiness to be acquainted with any other difficulty that I may meet with in any of your writings. I am willing to interpret this as somewhat like a promise of an answer to what I have now written, if there be any thing in it which deserves one. I am,

“Reverend Sir,

“Your most obliged humble Servant.”

Nov. 23, 1713.

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