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Difference of Men's Discoveries depends upon the different application of their Faculties.       §22. To conclude, some Ideas forwardly offer themselves to all
Men’s Understandings; and some sorts of Truths result from any
Ideas, as soon as the mind puts them into Propositions: Other
Truths require a train of Ideas placed in order, a due comparing of
them, and deductions made with attention, before they can be
discovered, and assented to. Some of the first sort, because of their
general and easy reception, have been mistaken for innate: But the
truth is, Ideas and Notions are no more born with us, than Arts and
Sciences; though some of them, indeed, offer themselves to our
Faculties, more readily than others; and therefore are more gener-
ally received: Though that too, be according as the Organs of our
Bodies, and Powers of our Minds, happen to be employ’d; God having
fitted Men with faculties and means, to discover, receive, and retain Truths,
accordingly as they are employd. The great difference that is to be found
in the Notions of Mankind, is, from the different use they put their
Faculties to, whilst some (and those the most) taking things upon
trust, misimploy their power of Assent, by lazily enslaving their
Minds, to the Dictates and Dominion of others, in Doctrines, which
it is their duty carefully to examine; and not blindly, with an
implicit faith, to swallow: Others employing their Thoughts only
about some few things, grow acquainted sufficiently with them,
attain great degrees of knowledge in them, and are ignorant of all
other, having never let their Thoughts loose, in the search of other
Enquiries. Thus, that the three Angles of a Triangle are equal to
two Right ones, is a Truth, as certain as any thing can be; and I
think more evident, than many of those Propositions, that go for
Principles; and yet there are millions, however expert in other
things, who know not this at all, because they never set their
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Thoughts on work about such Angles: And he that certainly knows
this Proposition, may yet be utterly ignorant of the truth of other
Propositions, in Mathematicks it self, which are as clear and evident
as this; because, in his search of those mathematical Truths, he
stopp’d his Thoughts short, and went not so far. The same may
happen concerning the notions we have of the Being of a Deity; for
though there be no Truth, which a Man may more evidently make
out to himself, than the Existence of a God, yet he that shall content
himself with things, as he finds them, in this World, as they minister
to his Pleasures and Passions, and not make enquiry a little farther
into their Causes, Ends, and admirable Contrivances, and pursue
the thoughts thereof with diligence and attention, may live long
without any notion of such a Being: And if any Person hath, by talk,
put such a Notion into his head, he may, perhaps, believe it: But if
he hath never examined it, his knowledge of it will be no perfecter,
than his, who having been told, that the three Angles of a Triangle
are equal to two Right ones, takes it upon trust, without examining
the demonstration; and may yield his assent as to a probable
Opinion, but hath no knowledge of the truth of it; which yet his
Faculties, if carefully employ’d, were able to make clear and evi-
dent to him. But this only by the by, to shew how much our
knowledge depends upon the right use of those Powers Nature hath bestowed
upon us, and how little upon such innate Principles, as are in vain
supposed to be in all Mankind for their direction; which all Men
could not but know, if they were there, or else they would be there
to no purpose: And which since all Men do not know, nor can
distinguish from other adventitious truths, we may well conclude
there are no such.
Locke Hum I, 4, §22, pp. 99-100