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-I know it is a received doctrine, that men have native ideas, and original characters, stamped upon their minds in their very first being.This opinion I have at large examined already; and, I suppose what I have said in the foregoing Book will be much more easily admitted, when I have shown whence the understanding may get all the ideas it has; and by what ways and degrees they may come into the mind;- for which I shall appeal to every one's own observation and experience. Let us then suppose the mind to be, as we say, white paper, void of all characters, without any ideas:- How comes it to be furnished?He considers standard objections to the empiricist principle derived from familiar claims that some knowledge is innate.
Draft B, at approaching 70,000 words, is clearly looking like the first draft of a book.
Draft A, after the first sentence introduction of the empiricist principle in its first lines, continues with a discussion of the source of ideas, dividing them into simple and complex, and the difference between ideas of sensation and reflection.
Light and colours are busy at hand everywhere, when the eye is but open; sounds and some tangible qualities fail not to solicit their proper senses, and force an entrance to the mind;- but yet, I think, it will be granted easily, that if a child were kept in a place where he never saw any other but black and white till he were a man, he would have no more ideas of scarlet or green, than he that from his childhood never tasted an oyster, or a pine-apple, has of those particular relishes. Men then come to be furnished with fewer or more simple ideas from without, according as the objects they converse with afford greater or less variety; and from the operations of their minds within, according as they more or less reflect on them. The mind thinks in proportion to the matter it gets from experience to think about.
For, though he that contemplates the operations of his mind, cannot but have plain and clear ideas of them; yet, unless he turn his thoughts that way, and considers them attentively, he will no more have clear and distinct ideas of all the operations of his mind, and all that may be observed therein, than he will have all the particular ideas of any landscape, or of the parts and motions of a clock, who will not turn his eyes to it, and with attention heed all the parts of it. Follow a child from its birth, and observe the alterations that time makes, and you shall find, as the mind by the senses comes more and more to be furnished with ideas, it comes to be more and more awake; thinks more, the more it has matter to think on.
They are also vital reading, often illuminating Locke’s argument in the later work.
Every man being conscious to himself that he thinks; and that which his mind is applied about whilst thinking being the ideas that are there, it is past doubt that men have in their minds several ideas,- such as are those expressed by the words whiteness, hardness, sweetness, thinking, motion, man, elephant, army, drunkenness, and others: it is in the first place then to be inquired, How he comes by them?And how great a mass of knowledge soever he imagines to be lodged there, he will, upon taking a strict view, see that he has not any idea in his mind but what one of these two have imprinted;- though perhaps, with infinite variety compounded and enlarged by the understanding, as we shall see hereafter. It is by degrees he comes to be furnished with them.And though the ideas of obvious and familiar qualities imprint themselves before the memory begins to keep a register of time or order, yet it is often so late before some unusual qualities come in the way, that there are few men that cannot recollect the beginning of their acquaintance with them.But, equally it does not seem to be intended as a draft of a book.In this sense it stands in contrast with Draft B, which is titled ‘’, and is organised in a way which promises publication, no doubt after revision and elaboration, but which in content is closely related to the earlier draft.The term operations here I use in a large sense, as comprehending not barely the actions of the mind about its ideas, but some sort of passions arising sometimes from them, such as is the satisfaction or uneasiness arising from any thought. The understanding seems to me not to have the least glimmering of any ideas which it doth not receive from one of these two.External objects furnish the mind with the ideas of sensible qualities, which are all those different perceptions they produce in us; and the mind furnishes the understanding with ideas of its own operations.The picture, or clock may be so placed, that they may come in his way every day; but yet he will have but a confused idea of all the parts they are made up of, till he applies himself with attention, to consider them each in particular. After some time it begins to know the objects which, being most familiar with it, have made lasting impressions.Thus it comes by degrees to know the persons it daily converses with, and distinguishes them from strangers; which are instances and effects of its coming to retain and distinguish the ideas the senses convey to it.Draft B is well over twice the length of Draft A, and explores in much greater depth the claims and implications to be found in the earlier version.Although all the issues raised are covered in the published , often with elaboration and greater sophistication, the general direction remains very much the same.