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Chapter XVI

Of the Degrees of Assent.

Our Assent ought to be regulated by the grounds of Probability.
      §1.The grounds of Probability, we have laid down in the fore-
going Chapter, as they are the Foundations on which our Assent is
built; so are they also the measure whereby its several degrees are,
or ought to be regulated: only we are to take notice, that whatever
grounds of Probability there may be, they yet operate no farther on
the Mind, which searches after Truth, and endeavours to judge
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right, than they appear; at least in the first Judgment or Search that
the Mind makes. I confess, in the Opinions Men have, and firmly
stick to, in the World, their Assent is not always from an actual view
of the Reasons that it first prevailed with them: It being in many
cases almost impossible, and in most very hard, even for those who
have very admirable Memories, to retain all the Proofs, which upon
a due examination, made them embrace that side, of the Question.
It suffices, that they have once with care and fairness, sifted the
Matter as far as they could; and that they have searched into all the
Particulars, that they could imagine to give any light to the Ques-
tion; and with the best of their Skill, cast up the account upon the
whole Evidence: and thus having once found on which side the Prob-
ability appeared to them, after as full and exact an enquiry as they
can make, they lay up the Conclusion in their Memories, as a Truth
they have discovered; and for the future, they remain satisfied with
the Testimony of their Memories, that this is the Opinion, that by
the Proofs they have once seen of it, deserves such a degree of their
Assent as they afford it.
Locke Hum IV, 16, §1, pp. 657-658