— 46 —
Occasion of this Essay.       §7. This was that which gave the first Rise to this Essay con-
— 47 —
cerning the Understanding. For I thought that the first Step
towards satisfying several Enquiries, the Mind of Man was very
apt to run into, was, to take a Survey of our own Understandings,
examine our own Powers, and see to what Things they were adapted.
Till that was done I suspected we began at the wrong end, and in
vain sought for Satisfaction in a quiet and secure Possession of
Truths, that most concern’d us, whilst we let loose our Thoughts
into the vast Ocean of Being, as if all that boundless Extent, were the
natural, and undoubted Possession of our Understandings, wherein
there was nothing exempt from its Decisions, or that escaped its
Comprehension. Thus Men, extending their Enquiries beyond their
Capacities, and letting their Thoughts wander into those depths,
where they can find no sure Footing; ’tis no Wonder, that they raise
Questions, and multiply Disputes, which never coming to any clear
Resolution, are proper only to continue and increase their Doubts,
and to confirm them at last in perfect Scepticism. Whereas were the
Capacities of our Understandings well considered, the Extent of our
Knowledge once discovered, and the Horizon found, which sets the
Bounds between the enlightned and dark Parts of Things; between
what is, and what is not comprehensible by us, Men would perhaps
with less scruple acquiesce in the avow’d Ignorance of the one, and
imploy their Thoughts and Discourse, with more Advantage and
Satisfaction in the other.
Locke Hum I, 1, §7, pp. 46-47