Essay Concerning Human Understanding
For I imagine anyone would easily grant, that it would be impertinent to suppose, the ideas of colors innate in a creature, to whom God had given sight, and a power to receive them by the eyes from external objects: and no less unreasonable would it be to attribute several truths, to the impressions of nature, and innate characters, when we may observe in ourselves faculties, fit to attain as easy and certain knowledge of them, as if they were originally imprinted on the mind.
Let us suppose the mind to be, as we say, white paper, void of all characters.
Pound an almond and the clear white color will be altered to a dirty one and the sweet taste into an oily one. What real alteration can the beating of a pestle make in any body, but an alteration of the texture of it?
Thus we may conceive how words, which were by nature so well adapted to that purpose, came to be made use of by men, as the signs of their ideas.
Our knowledge in all these enquiries reaches very little farther than our experience.
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