Influence of Early Impressions

Hanover Historical Texts Project
Baron D'Holbach,
Good Sense: or, Natural Ideas Opposed to Supernatural; being a Translation from a Work Called "Le Bon Sens"
corrected and carefully revised by H. D. Robinson

(Boston: J. P. Mendum, 1856) Pages 19-20

Scanned by Aaron Gulyas, February, 1998.

THE brain of man, especially in infancy, is like soft wax, fit to receive every impression that is made upon it. Education furnishes him with almost all his ideas at a time, when he is incapable of judging for himself. We believe we have received from nature or have brought with us in our birth, the true or false ideas, which, in a tender age, had been instilled into our minds; and this persuasion is one of the greatest sources of our errors.

Prejudice contributes to cement in us the opinions of those who have been charged with our instruction. We believe them much more experieticed than ourselves; we suppose they are fully convinced of the things which they teach us; we have the greatest confidence in them; by the care they have taken of us in infancy, we judge them incapable of wishing to deceive us. These are the mootives that make us adopt a thousand errors, without other foundation than the hazardous authority of those by whom we have been brought up. The prohibition, likewise, of reasoning upon what they teach us, by no means 1essens our confidence; but often contributes to increase our rspect for their opinions.

Divines act very wisely in teaching men their religious principles before they are capable of distinguishing truth from falsehood, or their left hand from their right. It would be as difficult to instill into the mind of a man, forty years old, the extravagant notions that are given us of the divinity, as to eradicate them from the mind of him who had imbibed them from infancy.

Return to Texts and Documents
Return to Hanover College Department of History
Please send comments to: