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Upon this Hypothesis, the Thoughts of a sleeping Man ought to be most rational.       §15. To think often, and never to retain it so much as one moment, is a
very useless sort of thinking: and the Soul in such a state of thinking,
does very little, if at all, excel that of a Looking-glass, which
constantly receives variety of Images, or Ideas, but retains none;
they disappear and vanish, and there remain no footsteps of them;
the Looking-glass is never the better for such Ideas, nor the Soul for
such Thoughts. Perhaps it will be said, that in a waking Man, the
materials of the Body are employ’d, and made use of, in thinking;
and that the memory of Thoughts, is retained by the impressions
that are made on the Brain, and the traces there left after such
thinking; but that in the thinking of the Soul, which is not perceived
in a sleeping Man, there the Soul thinks apart, and making no use of the
Organs of the Body, leaves no impressions on it, and consequently no memory
of such Thoughts. Not to mention again the absurdity of two
distinct Persons, which follows from this Supposition, I answer
farther, That whatever Ideas the Mind can receive, and contem-
plate without the help of the Body, it is reasonable to conclude, it
can retain without the help of the Body too, or else the Soul, or any
separate Spirit, will have but little advantage by thinking. If it has
no memory of its own Thoughts; if it cannot lay them up for its
use, and be able to recal them upon occasion; if it cannot reflect
upon what is past, and make use of its former Experiences, Reason-
ings, and Contemplations, to what purpose does it think? They,
who make the Soul a thinking Thing at this rate, will not make it a
much more noble Being, than those do, whom they condemn, for
allowing it to be nothing but the subtilest parts of Matter. Charac-
ters drawn on Dust, that the first breath of wind effaces; or Im-
pressions made on a heap of Atoms, or animal Spirits, are altogether
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as useful, and render the Subject as noble, as the Thoughts of a
Soul that perish in thinking; that once out of sight, are gone for
ever, and leave no memory of themselves behind them. Nature
never makes excellent things, for mean or no uses: and it is hardly
to be conceived, that our infinitely wise Creator, should make so
admirable a Faculty, as the power of Thinking, that Faculty which
comes nearest the Excellency of his own incomprehensible Being,
to be so idlely and uselesly employ’d, at least 1/4 part of its time here,
as to think constantly, without remembring any of those Thoughts,
without doing any good to it self or others, or being any way useful
to any other part of the Creation. If we will examine it, we shall not
find, I suppose, the motion of dull and sensless matter, any where in
the Universe, made so little use of, and so wholly thrown away.
Locke Hum II, 1, §15, pp. 112-113