"Intellect, as has he [Aristotle] had said before, was in CAPACITY, after a certain manner, the several Objects intelligible; but was in ACTUALITY no one of them, until it first comprehended it--and that it was the same with the Mind or HUMAN UNDERSTANDING [in it's original State] as with a RASA TABULA or WRITING TABLET, in which nothing as yet had been ACTUALLY written."
— Harris, James (1709-1780)
As to the Simile of the RASA TABULA, or (to speak in a language more modern and familiar) that of A SHEET OF FAIR WRITING PAPER, tho' it be sufficiently evident of itself, it may be illustrated in the following manner.
The Human intellect is pure unmixed, untainted CAPACITY, as a Sheet of fair Writing Paper is pure unmixed, untainted WHITENESS. The pure unmixed Character of this intellectual Capacity renders it fit for every Object of Comprehension, as the pure unmixed Character of the Paper makes it adequate to every Species of Writing. The Paper would not be adequate to this purpose, were it previously scrawled over with Syllables or Letters. As far only as it is clear, it is [end page 415] capable; and if we suppose it perfectly clear, the is it perfectly capable. The Same Sort of Reasoning is applicable to the HUMAN UNDERSTANDING.
Such we take to be the Sentiments of this ancient Sage on this important Subject.