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Chapter III


No innate practical Principles.

No moral Principles so clear and so generally received, as the forementioned speculative Maxims.       §1. If those speculative Maxims, whereof we discoursed in the
fore-going Chapter, have not an actual universal assent from all
Mankind, as we there proved, it is much more visible concerning
practical Principles, that they come short of an universal Reception: and I
think it will be hard to instance any one moral Rule, which can
pretend to so general and ready an assent as, What is, is, or to be so
manifest a Truth as this, That it is impossible for the same thing to be, and
not to be. Whereby it is evident, That they are farther removed from
a title to be innate; and the doubt of their being native Impressions
on the Mind, is stronger against these moral Principles than the
other. Not that it brings their Truth at all in question. They are
equally true, though not equally evident. Those speculative
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Maxims carry their own Evidence with them: But moral Principles
require Reasoning and Discourse, and some Exercise of the Mind,
to discover the certainty of their Truth. They lie not open as
natural Characters ingraven on the Mind; which if any such were,
they must needs be visible by themselves, and by their own light
be certain and known to every Body. But this is no Derogation
to their Truth and Certainty, no more than it is to the Truth or
Certainty, of the Three Angles of a Triangle being equal to two
right ones, because it is not so evident, as The whole is bigger than a
part; nor so apt to be assented to at first hearing. It may suffice, that
these moral Rules are capable of Demonstration: and therefore it is
our own faults, if we come not to a certain Knowledge of them. But
the Ignorance wherein many Men are of them, and the slowness of
assent, wherewith others receive them, are manifest Proofs, that
they are not innate, and such as offer themselves to their view
without searching.
Locke Hum I, 3, §1, pp. 65-66