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Of the Co-existence of Powers a very little way.
      §16. But as to the Powers of Substances to change the sensible
Qualities of other Bodies, which make a great part of our Enquiries
about them, and is no inconsiderable branch of our Knowledge; I
doubt, as to these, whether our Knowledge reaches much farther than
our Experience; or whether we can come to the discovery of most
of these Powers, and be certain that they are in any Subject by the
connexion with any of those Ideas, which to us make its Essence.
Because the Active and Passive Powers of Bodies, and their ways of
operating, consisting in a Texture and Motion of Parts, which we
cannot by any means come to discover: ’Tis but in very few Cases,
we can be able to perceive their dependence on, or repugnance to
any of those Ideas, which make our complex one of that sort of
Things. I have here instanced in the corpuscularian Hypothesis, as
that which is thought to go farthest in an intelligible Explication of
the Qualities of Bodies; and I fear the Weakness of humane Under-
standing is scarce able to substitute another, which will afford us a
fuller and clearer discovery of the necessary Connexion, and Co-
existence, of the Powers, which are to be observed united in several
— 548 —
sorts of them. This at least is certain, that which ever Hypothesis be
clearest and truest, (for of that it is not my business to determine,)
our Knowledge concerning corporeal Substances, will be very little
advanced by any of them, till we are made see, what Qualities and
Powers of Bodies have a necessary Connexion or Repugnancy one with
another; which in the present State of Philosophy, I think, we know
but to a very small degree: And, I doubt, whether with those
Faculties we have, we shall ever be able to carry our general Know-
ledge (I say not particular Experience) in this part much farther.
Experience is that, which in this part we must depend on. And it
were to be wish’d, that it were more improved. We find the ad-
vantages some Men’s generous pains have this way brought to the
stock of natural Knowledge. And if others, especially the Philoso-
phers by fire, who pretend to it, had been so wary in their obser-
vations, and sincere in their reports, as those who call themselves
Philosophers ought to have been, our acquaintance with the bodies
here about us, and our insight into their Powers and Operations had
been yet much greater.
Locke Hum IV, 3, §16, pp. 547-548