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2. Answer to Mr Norris Reflections (1692-1693)

Section 1 (of 2)

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<1> The first exception is at these words p. 1. § The understanding like the eye whilst it makes us see & perceive other things takes noe notice of itself· But if it be not the priviledg of a Cursory Reflector to take notice of or passe by what he pleases the very next words would have told him what the author Intended and I suppose readers versed in Civil conversation and who thinke it noe prejudice to truth the world and their owne ingenuity to be willing to understand what the author intends will not finde it hard by reading those words conteind in the same sentence viz And it requires art and pains to set it at a distance and make it its owne object· But whatever be theDifficultys &c to finde by the help of a litle Charity that I meant this for an Apologie for my self and an excuse for my faileings in treating a subject which had as I apprehended some peculiar difficultys and had not that I knew been much considerd. And I would desire the Reflector for his owne sake as well as mine to make a litle more allowance for the future to poore authors if he and I may take that title for if the spirit of Criticisme should once be soe rampant as to bring to a rigid examen all that is to be found in books, and should observe what is amisse in expression, in method in argument in decorum in Dedication etcetera it would be a hard time for those who set pen to paper espetially if they have any fondnesse for their owne conceptions and thinke the world injust if they are not presently shewd in print. I for my part have always thought if a writer were not guilty either of great disingenuity or great mistakes whereby truth and good manners were like to be injured his other marks of human frailty might be forgiven him and with me the obligation I had to him for what he taught or seemd sincerly to intend to teach me compounded for those slips which perhaps I thought I met with in him. At least I thinke this is due to every one that his words should be understood in the most favourable and most consistent meaning could be put upon them· If the Reflector had been in this of my minde a good deale of pretious inke and paper might have been spard and he might have allowd more time to others to be better imploid in reading his other writeing. For what need the world be troubled with it if he could notmakeany consistent sense in a sentence of mine which whether true or false Sense or Nonsense was noe thing to the main designe of my treatise or what is his reader Edified by a whole page spent in findeing fault with my method in not beginning with the definition of the word Idea which I beleive scarce any one who reads my booke doubts what I meane by. or if he did he might be satisfied before he came to the end of this first Chapter where I tell him that it is a Terme which I thinke stands best to stand for whatsoever is the object of the understanding when aman thinksorwhatever | the minde can be imploid about in thinkeing p. 4 §. 8. and soe I suppose the Reflector might have spared blameing me for not haveing stated the meaning of the word Idea before I proceeded to the Origination of Ideas which I conclude upon a review he will finde I have don

Diplomatic

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<1> The first exception is at these words p. 1. § The understanding like the eye whilst it makes us see & perceive other things takes noe notice of itself· The. wherin which he findes fault with for haveing noe great discovery or for being a contradi<ction> But if it be not the priviledg of a Cursory Reflector. to take notice of what or passe by what he pleases the very next words would have told him what the author Intended and I suppose people readers versed in Civil conversation and who have a minde to understand what they read thinke it noe prejudice to truth th eire world and their owne ingenuity to be willing to understand what the author intends will not finde it hard to by reading the sentence out to the end those words conteind in the same sentence

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viz And it requires art and pains to set it at a distance and make it its owne object· But whatever be theDifficultys &c which to finde by the help of a litle Charity that I in meant this for an Apologie for my self and an excuse for my faileings in medleing with treating a subject which was had some p<eculiar> as I apprehended some peculiar difficultys and had not that I knew been much considerd. And I would desire the Reflector for t. be.... for his owne sake as well as mine to be to make a litle more allowance for the future to poore authors if he and I may take that title for if the spirit of Criticisme should once be soe rampant as to bring to an exa<men> a n rigid examen all that is to be found in books, and should observe what is amisse in expression, in method in argument in decorum in Dedication etcetera it would be a hard time for those who set pen to paper espetially if they have any fondnesse for their owne conceptions and thinke the

108r

world injust if they are not presently shewd to the world in print. I for my part have always thought if a writer were not guilty either of great disingenuity or great mistakes whereby truth was like to be and good manners were not like to be injured his other marks of human frailty might be forgiven him and to with me the obligation I had to him for what he taught or seemd sincerly to intend to teach me compounded for those slips which perhaps I thought I met with in him. At least I thinke this is due to every one that his words should be understood in the most favourable and most col consistent meaning could be put upon them· If the Reflector had been in this of my minde a good deale of pretious inke and paper might have been spard and he might have allowd more time to others to be better imploid in reading

108v

his other writeing. For what need the world be troubled with it if he could nothe findemakeany consistent sense in a sentence of mine which whether true or false Sense or Nonsense was noe thing to the main designe of my treatise or what is his reader Edified by a whole page spent in findeing fault with my method in not beginning with dthe definition w. of the word Idea which I beleive scarce any one who reads my booke or at least looks into the Reflectors lexicon for there he says he has it can doubts what I meane by. or if he did he might be satisfied before he came to the end of this first Chapter where I tell him that it is a Terme which I thinke stands best to stand for whatsoever is the object of the understanding when aman thinksorp..whatever | ..whateverthe minde can be imploid about in thinkeing p. 4 §. 8. and soe I thinke suppose the Reflector might have spared blameing me for not haveing stated the meaning of the word Idea before I proceeded to the Origination of Ideas which I conclude upon a review Ihe will finde I have don


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E1, I.i.1, p. 1: ‘The Understanding, like the Eye, whilst it makes us see, and perceive all other Things, takes no notice of it self: And it requires Art and Pains to set it at a distance, and make it its own Object: But whatever be the Difficulties, that lie in the way of this Enquiry; whatever it be, that keeps us so much in the Dark to our selves; sure I am, that all the Light we can let in upon our own Minds; all the Acquaintance we can make with our own Understandings, will not only be very pleasant; but bring us great Advantage, in directing our Thoughts in the search of other Things.’
‘Cursory Reflector’: cf. the title of Norris’s review: Cursory reflections.
Norris, Cursory Reflections, p. 2: ‘What the Ingenious Author intends in this Period, or how to make out any consistent Sense of it, I do not understand.’
E1, I.i.8, p. 4: ‘It being that Term, which, I think, serves best to stand for whatsoever is the Object of the Understanding when a Man thinks, I have used it to express whatever is meant by Phantasm, Notion, Species, or whatever it is, which the Mind can be employ’d about in thinking, and I could not avoid frequently using it.’
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