صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

ther than the

also shows

12. Conformable also to what has been said, concerning the essences of the species of mixed modes, that they are the creatures of the understanding, rather than the works of nature: conformable, mind, which I say, to this, we find that their names lead our thoughts to the mind, and no them to be farther. When we speak of justice, or the workmanship of gratitude, we frame to ourselves no imathe undergination of any thing existing, which standing. we would conceive; but our thoughts terminate in the abstract ideas of those virtues, and look not farther: as they do, when we speak of a horse, or iron, whose specific ideas we consider not, as barely in the mind, but as in things themselves, which afford the original patterns of those ideas. But in mixed modes, at least the most considerable parts of them, which are moral beings, we consider the original patterns as being in the mind; and to those we refer for the distinguishing of particular beings under names. And hence I think it is, that these essences of the species of mixed modes are by a more particular name called notions, as, by a peculiar right, appertaining to the understanding. § 13. Hence likewise we may learn, why the complex ideas of mixed modes are commonly more compounded and decompounded than those of natural substances. Because they being the workmanship of the understanding, pursuing only its own ends, and the conveniency of expressing in short those ideas it would make known to another, it does with great liberty unite often into one abstract idea things that in their nature have no coherence; and so, under one term, bundle together a great variety of compounded and decompounded ideas. Thus the name of procession, what a great mixture of independent

For the originals of mixed modes, we look no far

Their being made by the

understanding without


shows the

reason why they are so compounded.

ideas of persons, habits, tapers, orders, motions, sounds, does it contain in that complex one, which the mind of man has arbitrarily put together, to express by that one name! Whereas the complex ideas of the sorts of substances are usually made up of only a small number of simple ones; and in the species of animals, these two, viz. shape and voice, commonly make the whole nominal essence.

§ 14. Another thing we may observe from what has been said is, that the names of mixed modes always signify (when they have any determined signification) the real essences of their species. For these abstract ideas being the workmanship of the mind, and not referred to the real existence of things, there is no supposition of any thing more signified by that name, but barely that complex idea the mind itself has formed, which is all it would have expressed by it and is that on which all the properties of the species depend, and from which alone they all flow: and so in these the real and nominal essence is the same; which of what concernment it is to the certain knowledge of general truth, we shall see hereafter. § 15. This also may show us the reason, why for the most part the names of mixed modes are got before the ideas they stand for are perfectly known. Because there being no species of these ordinarily taken notice of, but what have names; and those species, or rather their essences, being abstract complex ideas made arbitrarily by the mind; it is convenient, if not necessary, to know the names, before one endeavour to frame these complex ideas: unless a man will fill his head with a company of abstract complex ideas, which others having no names for, he has nothing to do with, but to lay by and forget again. I confess, that in the beginning of languages it was necessary to have the idea, before one gave it the name: and so it is still, where making a new complex idea, one also, by

Names of mixed modes

stand always for their real


Why their

names are

usually got before their


giving it a new name, makes a new word. But this concerns not languages made, which have generally pretty well provided for ideas, which men have frequent occasion to have and communicate: and in such, I ask, whether it be not the ordinary method, that children learn the names of mixed modes, before they have their ideas? What one of a thousand ever frames the abstract ideas of glory and ambition, before he has heard the names of them? In simple ideas and substances I grant it is otherwise; which being such ideas as have a real existence and union in nature, the ideas and names are got one before the other, as it happens.

§ 16. What has been said here of mixed Reason of my being so modes, is with very little difference applilarge on this cable also to relations; which, since every subject. man himself may observe, I may spare myself the pains to enlarge on: especially, since what I have here said concerning words in this third book, will possibly be thought by some to be much more than what so slight a subject required. I allow it might be brought into a narrower compass; but I was willing to stay my reader on an argument that appears to me new, and a little out of the way (I am sure it is one I thought not of when I began to write), that by searching it to the bottom, and turning it on every side, some part or other might meet with every one's thoughts, and give occasion to the most averse or negligent to reflect on a general miscarriage, which, though of great consequence, is little taken notice of. When it is considered what a pudder is made about essences, and how much all sorts of knowledge, discourse, and conversation are pestered and disordered by the careless and confused use and application of words, it will perhaps be thought worth while thoroughly to lay it open.. And I shall be pardoned if I have dwelt long on an argument which I think therefore needs to be inculcated; because the faults, men are usually guilty of in this kind, are not

only the greatest hindrances of true knowledge, but are so well thought of as to pass for it. Men would often see what a small pittance of reason and truth, or possibly none at all, is mixed with those huffing opinions they are swelled with, if they would but look beyond fashionable sounds, and observe what ideas are, or are not comprehended under those words with which they are so armed at all points, and with which they so confidently lay about them. I shall imagine I have done some service to truth, peace, and learning, if, by any enlargement on this subject, I can make men reflect on their own use of language; and give them reason to suspect, that since it is frequent for others, it may also be possible for them to have sometimes very good and approved words in their mouths and writings, with very uncertain, little, or no signification. And therefore it is not unreasonable for them to be wary herein themselves, and not to be unwilling to have them examined by others. With this design, therefore, I shall go on with what I have farther to say concerning this matter.

[ocr errors]


Of the Names of Substances.

The com

mon names

stand for sorts.

$1. THE Common names of substances, as well as other general terms, stand for sorts; which is nothing else but the being of substances made signs of such complex ideas, wherein several particular substances do, or might agree, by virtue of which they are capable of being comprehended in one common conception, and signified by one name. I say, do or might agree: for though there be but one sun existing in the world, yet the idea of it being abstracted, so that more substances (if there were several) might each agree in it; it is as much a sort, as if there were as many suns as there

are stars. They want not their reasons who think there are, and that each fixed star would answer the idea the name sun stands for, to one who was placed in a due distance; which, by the way, may show us how much the sorts, or, if you please, genera and species of things (for those Latin terms signify to me no more than the English word sort) depend on such collections of ideas as men have made, and not on the real nature of things; since it is not impossible but that, in propriety of speech, that might be a sun to one, which is a star to another.

§ 2. The measure and boundary of each sort, or species, whereby it is constituted that particular sort, and distinguished from others, is that we call its essence, which is nothing but that abstract idea to which the name is annexed: so that every thing contained in that idea is essential to that sort. This, though it be all the essence of natural substances that we know, or by which we distinguish them into sorts; yet I call it by a peculiar name, the nominal essence, to distinguish it from the real constitution of substances, upon which depends this nominal essence, and all the properties of that sort; which therefore, as has been said, may be called the real essence: v. g. the nominal essence of gold is that complex idea the word gold stands for, let it be, for instance, a body yellow, of a certain weight, malleable, fusible, and fixed. But the real essence is the constitution of the insensible parts of that body, on which those qualities and all the other properties of gold depend. How far these two are different, though they are both called essence, is obvious at first sight to discover.

The nominal

§ 3. For though perhaps voluntary moand real es- tion, with sense and reason, joined to a body of a certain shape, be the complex idea to which I, and others, annex the name man, and so be the nominal essence of the species so called; yet nobody will say that complex idea

The essence of each sort is the abstract idea.

sence different.

« السابقةمتابعة »