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Obj. Innate Principles may be corrupted, answered.       §20. Nor will it be of much moment here, to offer that very
ready, but not very material Answer, (viz.) That the innate Principles
of Morality, may, by Education, and Custom, and the general Opinion
of those, amongst whom we converse, be darkned, and at last quite
worn out of the Minds of Men. Which assertion of theirs, if true,
quite takes away the Argument of universal Consent, by which this
Opinion of innate Principles is endeavoured to be proved: unless
those Men will think it reasonable, that their private Perswasions,
or that of their Party, should pass for universal Consent; a thing not
unfrequently done, when Men presuming themselves to be the only
Masters of right Reason, cast by the Votes and Opinions of the rest
of Mankind, as not worthy the reckoning. And then their Argument
stands thus: The Principles which all mankind allow for true, are
innate; those that Men of right Reason admit, are the Principles
allowed by all mankind; we and those of our mind, are Men of
reason; therefore we agreeing, our Principles are innate: which is a
very pretty way of arguing, and a short cut to Infallibility. For
otherwise it will be very hard to understand, how there be some
Principles, which all Men do acknowledge, and agree in; and yet
there are none of those Principles, which are not by depraved Custom, and
ill Education, blotted out of the minds of many Men: Which is to say,
That all Men admit, but yet many Men do deny, and dissent from
them. And indeed the supposition of such first Principles, will
serve us to very little purpose; and we shall be as much at a loss
with, as without them, if they may by any humane Power, such as
is the Will of our Teachers, or Opinions of our Companions, be
altered or lost in us: and notwithstanding all this boast of first
Principles, and innate Light, we shall be as much in the dark and
uncertainty, as if there were no such thing at all: It being all one to
have no Rule, and one that will warp any way; or amongst various
and contrary Rules, not to know which is the right. But concerning
innate Principles, I desire these Men to say, whether they can, or
cannot, by Education and Custom, be blurr’d and blotted out: If
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they cannot, we must find them in all Mankind alike, and they
must be clear in every body: And if they may suffer variation
from adventitious Notions, we must then find them clearest
and most perspicuous, nearest the Fountain, in Children and
illiterate People, who have received least impression from foreign
Opinions. Let them take which side they please, they will
certainly find it inconsistent with visible matter of fact, and daily
observation.
Locke Hum I, 3, §20, pp. 80-81