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Hencetis probable that Thinking is the Action, not Essence of the Soul.       §4.This difference of Intention, and Remission of the mind in
thinking, with a great variety of Degrees, between earnest Study,
and very near minding nothing at all, Every one, I think, has
experimented in himself. Trace it a little farther, and you find the
mind in Sleep, retired as it were from the Senses, and out of the
reach of those Motions made on the Organs of Sense, which at
other times produce very vivid and sensible Ideas. I need not, for
this, instance in those, who sleep out whole stormy Nights, without
hearing the Thunder, or seeing the Lightning, or feeling the
shaking of the House, which are sensible enough to those, who are
waking. But in this retirement of the mind from the Senses, it often
retains a yet more loose and incoherent manner of thinking, which
we call Dreaming: And last of all sound Sleep closes the Scene quite,
and puts an end to all Appearances. This I think almost every one
has Experience of in himself, and his own Observation without
difficulty leads him thus far. That which I would farther conclude
from hence is, That since the mind can sensibly put on, at several
times, several degrees of Thinking; and be sometimes even in a wak-
ing Man so remiss, as to have Thoughts dim and obscure to that
degree, that they are very little removed from none at all; and at
last in the dark retirements of sound Sleep, loses the sight perfectly
of all Ideas whatsoever: Since, I say, this is evidently so in Matter of
Fact, and constant Experience, I ask, whether it be not probable,
that thinking is the Action, and not the Essence of the Soul? Since the
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Operations of Agents will easily admit of intention and remission;
but the Essences of things, are not conceived capable of any such
variation. But this by the bye.
Locke Hum II, 19, §4, pp. 228-229