— 67 —
Obj. Though Men deny them in their Practice, yet they admit them in their Thoughts, answered.       §3. Perhaps it will be urged, That the tacit assent of their Minds
agrees to what their Practice contradicts. I answer, First, I have always
thought the Actions of Men the best Interpreters of their thoughts.
But since it is certain, that most Men’s Practice, and some Men’s
open Professions, have either questioned or denied these Principles,
it is impossible to establish an universal consent (though we should
look for it only amongst grown Men) without which, it is impos-
sible to conclude them innate. Secondly, ’Tis very strange and un-
reasonable, to suppose innate practical Principles, that terminate
only in Contemplation. Practical Principles derived from Nature,
are there for Operation, and must produce Conformity of Action,
not barely speculative assent to their truth, or else they are in vain
distinguish’d from speculative Maxims. Nature, I confess, has put
into Man a desire of Happiness, and an aversion to Misery: These
indeed are innate practical Principles, which (as practical Principles
ought) do continue constantly to operate and influence all our
Actions, without ceasing: These may be observ’d in all Persons and
all Ages, steady and universal; but these are Inclinations of the
Appetite to good, not Impressions of truth on the Understanding.
I deny not, that there are natural tendencies imprinted on the Minds
of Men; and that, from the very first instances of Sense and Per-
ception, there are some things, that are grateful, and others un-
welcome to them; some things that they incline to, and others that
they fly: But this makes nothing for innate Characters on the
Mind, which are to be the Principles of Knowledge, regulating our
Practice. Such natural Impressions on the Understanding, are so far
from being confirm’d hereby, that this is an Argument against
them; since if there were certain Characters, imprinted by Nature
on the Understanding, as the Principles of Knowledge, we could
not but perceive them constantly operate in us, and influence our
Knowledge, as we do those others on the Will and Appetite; which
never cease to be the constant Springs and Motives of all our
Actions, to which, we perpetually feel them strongly impelling us.
Locke Hum I, 3, §3, p. 67