"Our mental vision or conception of ideas is nothing but a revelation made to us by our Maker."

— Hume, David (1711-1776)

Place of Publication
A. Millar
1748, 1777
"Our mental vision or conception of ideas is nothing but a revelation made to us by our Maker."
Metaphor in Context
Here, then, many philosophers think themselves obliged by reason to have recourse, on all occasions, to the same principle, which the vulgar never appeal to but in cases that appear miraculous and supernatural. They acknowledge mind and intelligence to be, not only the ultimate and original cause of all things, but the immediate and sole cause of every event which appears in nature. They pretend that those objects which are commonly denominated causes, are in reality nothing but occasions; and that the true and direct principle of every effect is not any power or force in nature, but a volition of the Supreme Being, who wills that such particular objects should for ever be conjoined with each other. Instead of saying that one billiard-ball moves another by a force which it has derived from the author of nature, it is the Deity himself, they say, who, by a particular volition, moves the second ball, being determined to this operation by the impulse of the first ball, in consequence of those general laws which he has laid down to himself in the government of the universe. But philosophers advancing still in their inquiries, discover that, as we are totally ignorant of the power on which depends the mutual operation of bodies, we are no less ignorant of that power on which depends the operation of mind on body, or of body on mind, nor are we able, either from our senses or consciousness, to assign the ultimate principle in one case more than in the other. The same ignorance, therefore, reduces them to the same conclusion. They assert that the Deity is the immediate cause of the union between soul and body; and that they are not the organs of sense, which, being agitated by external objects, produce sensations in the mind; but that it is a particular volition of our omnipotent Maker, which excites such a sensation, in consequence of such a motion in the organ. In like manner, it is not any energy in the will that produces local motion in our members: it is God himself, who is pleased to second our will, in itself impotent, and to command that motion which we erroneously attribute to our own power and efficacy. Nor do philosophers stop at this conclusion. They sometimes extend the same inference to the mind itself, in its internal operations. Our mental vision or conception of ideas is nothing but a revelation made to us by our Maker. When we voluntarily turn out thoughts to any object, and raise up its image in the fancy, it is not the will which creates that idea: It is the universal Creator, who discovers it to the mind, and readers it present to us.
(p. 71)
Working from Nidditch's census, and also confirming entries in the ESTC (1748, 1750, 1751, 1756, 1758, 1760, 1764, 1767, 1768, 1770, 1772, 1777).

First published as Philosophical Essays Concerning Human Understanding (London: Printed for A Millar, 1748). <Link to ECCO><Link to ECCO-TCP><Link to 1748 edition in Google Books> "Second edition" in 1750, "third edition" in 1756. First titled An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding in 1758.

In ECCO-TCP, see also Essays and Treatises: on Several Subjects. By David Hume, Esq, 4 vols. (London: Printed for A. Millar; and A. Kincaid and A. Donaldson, at Edinburgh, 1760). <Link to vol. III>

Text from David Hume, Enquiries Concerning Human Understanding and Concerning the Principles of Morals. 3rd edition. Ed. L. A. Selby-Bigge; P. H. Nidditch (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1975). Note, Nidditch reproduces the the second volume of the posthumous edition of 1777, which he has collated with the preceding 1772 edition.
Mind's Eye
Date of Entry

The Mind is a Metaphor is authored by Brad Pasanek, Assistant Professor of English, University of Virginia.