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Why other Ideas are not capable of Infinity.       §6. If it be so, that our Idea of Infinity be got from the Power, we
observe in our selves, of repeating without end our own Ideas; It
may be demanded, Why we do not attribute Infinity to other Ideas, as
well as those of Space and Duration; since they may be as easily, and as
often repeated in our Minds as the other; and yet no body ever
thinks of infinite sweetness, or infinite whiteness, though he can
repeat the Idea of Sweet or White, as frequently as those of a Yard,
or a Day? To which I answer, All the Ideas, that are considered as
having parts, and are capable of increase by the addition of any
equal or less parts, afford us by their repetition the Idea of Infinity;
because with this endless repetition, there is continued an enlarge-
ment, of which there can be no end. But in other Ideas it is not so;
for to the largest Idea of Extension or Duration, that I at present
have, the addition of any the least part makes an increase; but to
the perfectest Idea I have of the whitest Whiteness, if I add another
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of a less or equal whiteness, (and of a whiter than I have, I cannot
add the Idea,) it makes no increase, and enlarges not my Idea at all;
and therefore the different Ideas of Whiteness, etc. are called Degrees.
For those Ideas, that consist of Parts, are capable of being augmented
by every addition of the least part; but if you take the Idea of
White, which one parcel of Snow yielded yesterday to your Sight,
and another Idea of White from another parcel of Snow you see to
day, and put them together in your Mind, they embody, as it were,
and run into one, and the Idea of Whiteness is not at all increased;
and if we add a less degree of Whiteness to a greater, we are so far
from increasing, that we diminish it. Those Ideas that consist not of
Parts, cannot be augmented to what proportion Men please, or be
stretched beyond what they have received by their Senses; but
Space, Duration, and Number, being capable of increase by
repetition, leave in the Mind an Idea of an endless room for more;
nor can we conceive any where a stop to a further Addition or
Progression, and so those Ideas alone lead our Minds towards the
Thought of Infinity.
Locke Hum II, 17, §6, pp. 212-213