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That a Man should be busie in thinking, and yet not retain it the next moment, very improbable.       §19. To suppose the Soul to think, and the Man not to perceive it,
is, as has been said, to make two Persons in one Man: And if one
considers well these Men’s way of speaking, one should be led into
a suspicion, that they do so. For they who tell us, that the Soul
always thinks, do never, that I remember, say, That a Man always
thinks. Can the Soul think, and not the Man? Or a Man think, and
not be conscious of it? This, perhaps, would be suspected of Jargon
in others. If they say, The Man thinks always, but is not always
conscious of it; they may as well say, His Body is extended, without
having parts. For ’tis altogether as intelligible to say, that a body is
extended without parts, as that any thing thinks without being
conscious of it, or perceiving, that it does so. They who talk thus,
may, with as much reason, if it be necessary to their Hypothesis,
say, That a Man is always hungry, but that he does not always feel
it: Whereas hunger consists in that very sensation, as thinking con-
sists in being conscious that one thinks. If they say, That a Man is
always conscious to himself of thinking; I ask, How they know it?
Consciousness is the perception of what passes in a Man’s own
mind. Can another Man perceive, that I am conscious of any thing,
when I perceive it not my self? No Man’s Knowledge here, can go
beyond his Experience. Wake a Man out of a sound sleep, and ask
him, What he was that moment thinking on. If he himself be
conscious of nothing he then thought on, he must be a notable
Diviner of Thoughts, that can assure him, that he was thinking:
May he not with more reason assure him, he was not asleep? This
is something beyond Philosophy; and it cannot he less than Reve-
lation, that discovers to another, Thoughts in my mind, when I can
find none there my self: And they must needs have a penetrating
sight, who can certainly see, that I think, when I cannot perceive
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it my self, and when I declare, that I do not; and yet can see, that
Dogs or Elephants do not think, when they give all the demon-
stration of it imaginable, except only telling us, that they do so. This
some may suspect to be a step beyond the Rosecrucians; it seeming
easier to make ones self invisible to others, than to make another’s
thoughts visible to me, which are not visible to himself. But ’tis but
defining the Soul to be a substance, that always thinks, and the
business is done. If such a definition be of any Authority, I know not
what it can serve for, but to make many Men suspect, That they
have no Souls at all, since they find a good part of their Lives pass
away without thinking. For no Definitions, that I know, no
Suppositions of any Sect, are of force enough to destroy constant
Experience; and, perhaps, ’tis the affectation of knowing beyond
what we perceive, that makes so much useless dispute, and noise,
in the World.
Locke Hum II, 1, §19, pp. 115-116