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The phrases in their context!


The same substratum, if I may so speak, supports the most different modifications, without any difference in itself; and varies them, without any variation.
Neither time, nor place, nor all the diversity of nature are able to produce any composition or change in its perfect simplicity and identity.
I believe this brief exposition of the principles of that famous atheist will be sufficient for the present purpose, and that without entering farther into these gloomy and obscure regions, I shall be able to shew, that this hideous hypothesis is almost the same with that of the immateriality of the soul, which has become so popular.
To make this evident, let us [Part II, SECT. 6.] remember, that as every idea is derived from a preceding perception, it is impossible our idea of a perception, and that of an object or external existence can ever represent what are specifically different from each other.
Whatever difference we may suppose betwixt them, it is still incomprehensible to us; and we are obliged either to conceive an external object merely as a relation without a relative, or to make it the very same with a perception or impression.
The consequence I shall draw from this may, at first sight, appear a mere sophism; but upon the least examination will be found solid and satisfactory.
I say then, that since we may suppose, but never can conceive a specific deference betwixt an object and impression; any conclusion we form concerning the connexion and repugnance of impressions, will not be known certainly to be applicable to objects; but that on the other hand, whatever conclusions of this kind we form concerning objects, will most certainly be applicable to impressions.
The reason is not difficult.
As an object is supposed to be different from an impression, we cannot be sure, that the circumstance, upon which we found our reasoning, is common to both, supposing we form the reasoning upon the impression.
It is still possible, that the object may differ from it in that particular.
But when we first form our reasoning concerning the object, it is beyond doubt, that the same reasoning must extend to the impression: And that because the quality of the object, upon which the argument is founded, must at least be conceived by the mind; and coued not be conceived, unless it were common to an impression; since we have no idea but what is derived from that origin.
Thus we may establish it as a certain maxim, that we can never, by any principle, but by an irregular kind [Such as that of SECT. 2, form the coherence of our perceptions.] of reasoning from experience, discover a connexion or repugnance betwixt objects, which extends not to impressions; though the inverse proposition may not be equally true, that all the discoverable relations of impressions are common to objects.
To apply this to the present case; there are two different systems of being presented, to which I suppose myself under .t necessity of assigning some substance, or ground of inhesion.
I observe first the universe of objects or of body: The sun, moon and stars; the earth, seas, plants, animals, men, ships, houses, and other productions either of art or nature.
Here Spinoza appears, and tells me, that these are only modifications; and that the subject, in which they inhere, is simple, incompounded, and indivisible.
After this I consider the other system of beings, viz.
the universe of thought, or my impressions and ideas.
There I observe another sun, moon and stars; an earth, and seas, covered and inhabited by plants and animals; towns, houses, mountains, rivers; and in short every thing I can discover or conceive in the first system.
Upon my enquiring concerning these, Theologians present themselves, and tell me, that these also are modifications, and modifications of one simple, uncompounded, and indivisible substance.
Immediately upon which I am deafened with the noise of a hundred voices, that treat the first hypothesis with detestation and scorn, and the second with applause and veneration.
I turn my attention to these hypotheses to see what may be the reason of so great a partiality; and find that they have the same fault of being unintelligible, and that as far as we can understand them, they are so much alike, that it is impossible to discover any absurdity in one, which is not common to both of them.