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the immediate signification of relative words being very often other supposed known relations, which, if traced one to another, still end in simple ideas. $ 19. Secondly, That in relations we have for the most part, if not always, as clear a notion of the relation, as we have of those simple ideas wherein it is founded. Agreement or disagreement, whereon relation depends, being things whereof we have commonly as clear ideas as of any other whatsoever; it being but the distinguishing simple ideas, or their degrees one from another, without which we could have no distinct knowledge at all. For if I have a clear idea of sweetness, light or extension, I have too of equal, or more or less, of each of these: if I know what it is for one man to be born of a woman, viz. Sempronia, I know what it is for another man to be born of the same woman Sempronia; and so have as clear a notion of brothers as of births, and perhaps clearer. For if I believed that Sempronia dug Titus out of the parsley-bed (as they used to tell children) and thereby became his mother; and that afterwards, in the same manner, she dug Caius out of the parsley-bed; I had as clear a notion of the relation of brothers between them, as if I had all the skill of a midwife: the notion that the same woman contributed, as mother, equally to their births (though I were ignorant or mistaken in the manner of it), being that on which I grounded the relation, and that they agreed in that circumstance of birth, let it be what it will. The comparing them, then, in their descent from the same person, without knowing the particular circumstances of that descent, is enough to found my notion of their having or not having the relation of brothers. But though the ideas of particular relations are capable of being as clear and distinct in the minds of those who will duly consider them as those of mixed modes, and more determinate than those of substances; yet the

We have ordinarily as clear (or

clearer) a

notion of the relation, as of its foundation.

objects, or else a weakness in the memory not able to retain them as received. For to return again to visible objects, to help us to apprehend this matter: if the organs or faculties of perception, like wax overhardened with cold, will not receive the impression of the seal, from the usual impulse wont to imprint it; or, like wax of a temper too soft, will not hold it well when well imprinted; or else supposing the wax of a temper fit, but the seal not applied with a sufficient force to make a clear impression: in any of these cases, the print left by the seal will be obscure. This, I suppose, needs no application to make it plainer. 4. As a clear idea is that whereof the mind has such a full and evident perception, as it does receive from an outward object operating duly on a well-disposed organ; so a distinct idea is that wherein the mind perceives a difference from all other; and a confused idea is such an one as is not sufficiently distinguishable from another, from which it ought to be different.

5. If no idea be confused but such Objection. as is not sufficiently distinguishable from another, from which it should be different; it will be hard, may any one say, to find any where a confused idea. For let any idea be as it will, it can be no other but such as the mind perceives it to be; and that very perception sufficiently distinguishes it from all other ideas, which cannot be other, i. e. different, without being perceived to be so. No idea therefore can be undistinguishable from another, from which it ought to be different, unless you would have it different from itself: for from all other it is evidently different. § 6. To remove this difficulty, and to help us to conceive aright what it is that makes the confusion ideas are at any time chargeable with, we must consider, that things ranked under distinct names are supposed different enough to be distinguished, that so each sort by its peculiar name may be marked, and discoursed

Confusion of ideas is in reference to their names.

Distinct and confused,


of apart upon any occasion: and there is nothing more evident, than that the greatest part of different names are supposed to stand for different things. Now every idea a man has being visibly what it is, and distinct from all other ideas but itself, that which makes it confused is, when it is such, that it may as well be called by another name as that which it is expressed by the difference which keeps the things (to be ranked under those two different names) distinct, and makes some of them belong rather to the one, and some of them to the other of those names, being left out; and so the distinction, which was intended to be kept up by those different names is quite lost. 87. The defaults which usually occasion this confusion, I think, are chiefly these following:

First, When any complex idea (for it is complex ideas that are most liable to confusion) is made up of too small a number of simple ideas, and such only as are common to other things, whereby the differences, that make it deserve a different name are left out. Thus he that has an idea made up of barely the simple ones of a beast with spots, has but a confused idea of a leopard; it not being thereby sufficiently distinguished from a lynx, and several other sorts of beasts that are spotted. So that such an idea, though it hath the peculiar name leopard, is not distinguishable from those designed by the names lynx or panther, and may as well come under the name lynx as leopard. How much the custom of defining of words by general terms contributes to make the ideas we would express by them confused and undetermined, I leave others to consider. This is evident, that confused ideas are such as render the use of words uncertain, and take away the benefit of distinct names. When the ideas, for which we use different terms, have not a difference answerable to their distinct names,




which make


First, complex ideas made up of too few simple ones.

and so cannot be distinguished by them, there it is that they are truly confused.

Secondly, or its simple ones jumbled disorderly

§ 8. Secondly, Another fault which makes our ideas confused is, when though the particulars that make up any idea are in number enough; yet they are so together. jumbled together, that it is not easily

discernible whether it more belongs to the name that is given it than to any other. There is nothing properer to make us conceive this confusion, than a sort of pictures usually shown as surprising pieces of art, wherein the colours, as they are laid by the pencil on the table itself, mark out very odd and unusual figures, and have no discernible order in their position. This draught, thus made up of parts wherein no symmetry nor order appears, is in itself no more a confused thing than the picture of a cloudy sky; wherein though there be as little order of colours or figures to be found, yet nobody thinks it a confused picture. What is it then that makes it be thought confused, since the want of symmetry does not? as it is plain it does not; for another draught made, barely in imitation of this, could not be called confused. I answer, that which makes it be thought confused is the applying it to some name to which it does no more discernibly belong than to some other: v. g. when it is said to be the picture of a man, or Cæsar, then any one with reason counts it confused: because it is not discernible in that state to belong more to the name man, or Cæsar, than to the name baboon, or Pompey; which are supposed to stand for different ideas from those signified by man or Cæsar. But when a cylindrical mirror, placed right, hath reduced those irregular lines on the table into their due order and proportion, then the confusion ceases, and the eye presently sees that it is a man, or Cæsar, i. e. that it belongs to those names; and that it is sufficiently distinguishable from a baboon, or Pompey, i. e. from

the ideas signified by those names. Just thus it is with our ideas, which are as it were the pictures of things. No one of these mental draughts, however the parts are put together, can be called confused (for they are plainly discernible as they are) till it be ranked under some ordinary name to which it cannot be discerned to belong, any more than it does to some other name of an allowed different signification. § 9. Thirdly, A third defect that frequently gives the name of confused to our ideas, is when any one of them is uncertain and undetermined. Thus we may observe men, who not forbearing to use the ordinary words of their language till they have learned their precise signification, change the idea they make this or that term stand for, almost as often as they use it. He that does this, out of uncertainty of what he should leave out, or put into his idea of church or idolatry, every time he thinks of either, and holds not steady to any one precise combination of ideas that makes it up, is said to have a confused idea of idolatry or the church: though this be still for the same reason as the former, viz. because a mutable idea (if we will allow it to be one idea) cannot belong to one name rather than another; and so loses the distinction that distinct names are designed for.

§ 10. By what has been said, we may observe how much names, as supposed steady signs of things, and by their difference to stand for and keep things distinct that in themselves are different, are the occasion of denominating ideas distinct or confused, by a secret and unobserved reference the mind makes of its ideas to such names. This perhaps will be fuller understood after what I say of words, in the third book, has been read and considered. But without taking notice of such a reference of ideas to distinct names, as the signs of distinct things, it will be hard to say what a confused idea is. And there

Thirdly, or

are mutable and undetermined.

Confusion, without reference to

names, hardly conceiva


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