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tions and dictionaries are supposed to answer one another, yet there is scarce one of ten amongst the names of complex ideas, especially of mixed modes, that stands for the same precise idea, which the word does that in dictionaries it is rendered by. There are no ideas more common, and less compounded, than the measures of time, extension, and weight, and the Latin names, hora, pes, libra, are without difficulty rendered by the English names, hour, foot, and pound: but yet there is nothing more evident, than that the ideas a Roman annexed to these Latin names were very far different from those which an Englishman expresses by those English ones. And if either of these should make use of the measures that those of the other language designed by their names, he would be quite out in his account. These are too sensible proofs to be doubted; and we shall find this much more so, in the names of more abstract and compounded ideas, such as are the greatest part of those which make up moral discourses: whose names, when men come curiously to compare with those they are translated into, in other languages, they will find very few of them exactly to correspond in the whole extent of their significations.
$9. The reason why I take so particular notice of this is, that we may not be mistaken about genera and species, and their essences, as if they were things regularly and constantly made by nature, and had a real existence in things; when they appear, upon a more wary survey, to be nothing else but an artifice of the understanding, for the easier signifying such collections of ideas as it should often have occasion to communicate by one general term; under which divers particulars, as far forth as they agreed to that abstract idea, might be comprehended. And if the doubtful signification of the word species may make it sound harsh to some, that I say the species of mixed
This shows species to be made for communica
modes are made by the understanding; yet, I think, it can by nobody be denied, that it is the mind makes those abstract complex ideas, to which specific names are given. And if it be true, as it is, that the mind makes the patterns for sorting and naming of things, I leave it to be considered who makes the boundaries of the sort or species; since with me species and sort have no other difference than that of a Latin and English idiom.
modes it is the name that ties the combination
§ 10. The near relation that there is between species, essences, and their general name, at least in mixed modes, will farther appear, when we consider that it together, is the name that seems to preserve those and makes it essences, and give them their lasting dua species. ration. For the connexion between the loose parts of those complex ideas being made by the mind, this union, which has no particular foundation in nature, would cease again, were there not something that did, as it were, hold it together, and keep the parts from scattering. Though therefore it be the mind that makes the collection, it is the name which is as it were the knot that ties them fast together. What a vast variety of different ideas does the word triumphus hold together, and deliver to us as one species! Had this name been never made, or quite lost, we might, no doubt, have had descriptions of what passed in that solemnity: but yet, I think, that which holds those different parts together, in the unity of one complex idea, is that very word annexed to it; without which the several parts of that would no more be thought to make one thing, than any other show, which, having never been made but once, had never been united into one complex idea, under one denomination. How much therefore, in mixed modes, the unity necessary to any essence depends on the mind, and how much the continuation and fixing of that unity depends on the name in common use
annexed to it, I leave to be considered by those who look upon essences and species as real established things in nature.
§ 11. Suitable to this, we find, that men speaking of mixed modes, seldom imagine or take any other for species of them, but such as are set out by name: because they being of man's making only, in order to naming, no such species are taken notice of, or supposed to be, unless a name be joined to it, as the sign of man's having combined into one idea several loose ones; and by that name giving a lasting union to the parts, which could otherwise cease to have any, as soon as the mind laid by that abstract idea, and ceased actually to think on it. But when a name is once annexed to it, wherein the parts of that complex idea have a settled and permanent union; then is the essence as it were established, and the species looked on as complete. For to what purpose should the memory charge itself with such compositions, unless it were by abstraction to make them general? And to what purpose make them general, un ess it were that they might have general names, for the convenience of discourse and communication? Thus we see, that killing a man with a sword or a hatchet, are looked on as no distinct species of action: but if the point of the sword first enter the body, it passes for a distinct species, where it has a distinct name; as in England, in whose language it is called stabbing: but in another country, where it has not happened to be specified under a peculiar name, it passes not fɔr a distinct species. But in the species of corporeal substances, though it be the mind that makes the nominal essence; yet since those ideas which are combined in it are supposed to have an union in nature, whether the mind joins them or no, therefore those are looked on as distinct names, without any operation of the mind, either abstracting or giving a name to that complex idea.
stood. In such collections of ideas, passing under one name, definition, or the teaching the signification of one word by several others, has place, and may make us understand the names of things which never came within the reach of our senses; and frame ideas suitable to those in other men's minds, when they use those names: provided that none of the terms of the definition stand for any such simple ideas, which he to whom the explication is made has never yet had in his thought. Thus the word statue may be explained to a blind man by other words, when picture cannot; his senses having given him the idea of figure, but not of colours, which therefore words cannot excite in him. This gained the prize to the painter against the statuary: each of which contending for the excellency of his art, and the statuary bragging that his was to be preferred, because it reached farther, and even those who had lost their eyes could yet perceive the excellency of it, the painter agreed to refer himself to the judgment of a blind man; who being brought where there was a statue, made by the one, and a picture drawn by the other, he was first led to the statue, in which he traced with his hands all the lineaments of the face and body, and with great admiration applauded the skill of the workman. But being led to the picture, and having his hands laid upon it, was told that now he touched the head, and then the forehead, eyes, nose, &c. as his hands moved over the parts of the picture on the cloth, without finding any the least distinction: whereupon he cried out, that certainly that must needs be a very admirable and divine piece of workmanship which could represent to them all those parts, where he could neither feel nor perceive any thing.
§ 13. He that should use the word rainbow to one who knew all those colours, but yet had never seen that phænomenon, would, by enumerating the figure, largeness, position, and order of the colours, so well define that word, that it might be perfectly under
stood. But yet that definition, how exact and perfect soever, would never make a blind man understand it; because several of the simple ideas that make that complex one, being such as he never received by sensation and experience, no words are able to excite them in his mind.
§14. Simple ideas, as has been showed, can only be got by experience, from those objects which are proper to produce in us those perceptions. When by this means we have our minds stored with them, and know the names for them, then we are in a condition to define, and by definition to understand the names of complex ideas, that are made up of them. But when any term stands for a simple idea, that a man has never yet had in his mind, it is impossible by any words to make known its meaning to him. When any term stands for an idea a man is acquainted with, but is ignorant that that term is the sign of it; there another name, of the same idea which he has been accustomed to, may make him understand its meaning. But in no case whatsoever is any name, of any simple idea, capable of a definition.
§ 15. Fourthly, But though the names of simple ideas have not the help of definition to determine their signification, yet that hinders not but that they are generally less doubtful and uncertain than those of mixed modes and substances; because they standing only for one simple perception, men, for the most part, easily and perfectly agree in their signification; and there is little room for mistake and wrangling about their meaning. He that knows once that whiteness is the name of that colour he has observed in snow or milk, will not be apt to misapply that word, as long as he retains that idea; which when he has quite lost, he is not apt to mistake the meaning of it, but perceives he understands it not. There is neither a multiplicity of simple ideas to be put together, which makes the
The same of complex ideas when
to be made intelligible by words.
4. Names of
simple ideas least doubt