Hobbes also attempted to explain “trains of thought,” by which he meant the tendency of one thought to follow another in some coherent manner. The question was how such a phenomenon occurs, and Hobbes’s answer reintroduced the law of contiguity first pro- posed by Aristotle. That is, events that are experi- enced together are remembered together and are subsequently thought of together. All the British empiricists who followed Hobbes accepted this concept of association as their explanation as to why mental events are experienced or remembered in a particular order.
The [origin of all thoughts] is that which we can sense, for there is no conception in a man’s mind, which hath not at first, totally, or by parts, been begotten upon the organs of sense. The rest are derived from that original.
Although Hobbes accepted Descartes’s deductive method, he rejected his concept of innate ideas. For Hobbes, all ideas came from experience or, more specifically, from sensory experience.
Following in the tradition of Democr itus, Hobbes was also a materialist. Because all that exists is matter and motion, Hobbes thought it absurd to postulate a nonmaterial mind, as Descartes had done. All so-called mental phenomena could be explained by the sense experiences that result when the motion of external bodies stimulates the sense receptors, thereby causing internal motion. What others refer to as “mind,” for Hobbes, was nothing more than the sum total of a person’s thinking activ- ities—that is, a series of motions within the individ- ual. Concerning the mind–body problem, Hobbes was a physical monist; he denied the existence of a nonmaterial mind.
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