|| INTRODUCTION | 002 ||

The cause of this is thought to be the obscurity of things , or the natural weakness and imperfection of our understandings .

It is said , the faculties we have are few , and those designed by nature for the support and comfort of life , and not to penetrate into the inward essence and constitution of things .

Besides , the mind of the human being finite , when it treats of things which partake of infinity , it is not to be wondered at if it run into absurdities and contradictions , out of which it is impossible it should ever extricate itself , it being of the nature of infinite not to be comprehended by that which is finite .

|| INTRODUCTION | 003 ||

But , perhaps , we may be too partial to ourselves in placing the fault originally in our faculties , and not rather in the wrong use we make of them .

It is a hard thing to suppose that right deductions from true principles should ever end in consequences which cannot be maintained or made consistent .

We should believe that GOD has dealt more bountifully with humans than to give them a strong desire for that knowledge which GOD had placed quite out of their reach .

This were not agreeable to the wonted indulgent methods of providence , which , whatever appetites it may have implanted in the creatures , does usually furnish them with such means as , if rightly made use of , will not fail to satisfy them .

Upon the whole , I am inclined to think that the far greater part , if not all , of those difficulties which have hitherto amused philosophers , and blocked up the way to knowledge , are entirely owing to ourselves .

That we have first raised a dust and then complain we cannot see .

|| INTRODUCTION | 004 ||

My purpose therefore is , to try if I can discover what those principles are which have introduced all that doubtfulness and uncertainty , those absurdities and contradictions , into the several sects of philosophy ; insomuch that the wisest people have thought our ignorance incurable , conceiving it to arise from the natural dullness and limitation of our faculties .

And surely it is a work well deserving our pains to make a strict inquiry concerning the first principles of human knowledge , to sift and examine them on all sides , especially since there may be some grounds to suspect that those lets and difficulties , which stay and embarrass the mind in its search after truth , do not spring from any darkness and intricacy in the objects , or natural defect in the understanding , so much as from false principles which have been insisted on , and might have been avoided .

|| INTRODUCTION | 005 ||

How difficult and discouraging soever this attempt may seem , when I consider how many great and extraordinary people have gone before me in the same designs , yet I am not without some hopes , upon the consideration that the largest views are not always the clearest , and that one who is shortsighted will be obliged to draw the object nearer , and may , perhaps , by a close and narrow survey , discern that which had escaped far better eyes .

|| INTRODUCTION | 006 ||

In order to prepare the mind of the reader for the easier conceiving what follows , it is proper to premise somewhat , by way of introduction , concerning the nature and abuse of language .

But the unravelling this matter leads me in some measure to anticipate my design , by taking notice of what seems to have had a chief part in rendering speculation intricate and perplexed , and to have occasioned innumerable errors and difficulties in almost all parts of knowledge .

And that is the opinion that the mind hath a power of framing abstract ideas or notions of things .

One who is not a perfect stranger to the writings and disputes of philosophers must needs acknowledge that no small part of them are spent about abstract ideas .

These are in a more especial manner thought to be the object of those sciences which go by the name of logic and metaphysics , and of all that which passes under the notion of the most abstracted and sublime learning , in all which one shall scarce find any question handled in such a manner as does not suppose their existence in the mind , and that it is well acquainted with them .