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Those who maintain innate practical Principles, tell us not what they are.       §14. The difference there is amongst Men in their practical
Principles, is so evident, that, I think, I need say no more to evince,
that it will be impossible to find any innate Moral Rules, by this
mark of general assent: And ’tis enough to make one suspect, that
the supposition of such innate Principles, is but an Opinion taken
up at pleasure; since those who talk so confidently of them, are so
sparing to tell us, which they are. This might with justice be expected
from those Men, who lay stress upon this Opinion: and it gives
occasion to distrust either their Knowledge or Charity, who declar-
ing, That God has imprinted on the Minds of Men, the foun-
dations of Knowledge, and the Rules of Living, are yet so little
favourable to the Information of their Neighbours, or the Quiet of
Mankind, as not to point out to them, which they are, in the
variety Men are distracted with. But in truth, were there any such
innate Principles, there would be no need to teach them. Did Men
find such innate Propositions stamped on their Minds, they would
easily be able to distinguish them from other Truths, that they
afterwards learned, and deduced from them; and there would be
nothing more easy, than to know what, and how many they were.
There could be no more doubt about their number, than there is
about the number of our Fingers; and ’tis like then, every System
would be ready to give them us by tale. But since no body, that I
know, has ventured yet to give a Catalogue of them, they cannot
blame those who doubt of these innate Principles; since even they
who require Men to believe, that there are such innate Propositions,
do not tell us what they are. ’Tis easy to foresee, that if different
Men of different Sects should go about to give us a List of those
innate practical Principles, they would set down only such as
suited their distinct Hypotheses, and were fit to support the
Doctrines of their particular Schools or Churches: A plain evidence,
that there are no such innate Truths. Nay, a great part of Men are
so far from finding any such innate Moral Principles in themselves,
that by denying freedom to Mankind; and thereby making Men no
other than bare Machins, they take away not only innate, but all
Moral Rules whatsoever, and leave not a possibility to believe any
such, to those who cannot conceive, how any thing can be capable
of a Law, that is not a free Agent: And upon that ground, they must
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necessarily reject all Principles of Vertue, who cannot put Morality
and Mechanism together; which are not very easy to be reconciled, or
made consistent.
Locke Hum I, 3, §14, pp. 76-77