صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

adequate and complete ideas; all the agreement or disagreement, which we shall find in them, will produce real knowledge, as well as in mathematical figures. Existence

$ 8. For the attaining of knowledge not required to make it

and certainty, it is requisite that we have real.

determined ideas; and, to make our knowledge real, it is requisite that the ideas answer their archetypes. Nor let it be wondered, that I place the certainty of our knowledge in the consideration of our ideas, with so little care and regard (as it may seem) to the real existence of things: since most of those discourses, which take up the thoughts, and engage the disputes of those who pretend to make it their business to inquire after truth and certainty, will, I presume, upon examination be found to be general propositions, and notions in which existence is not at all concerned. All the discourses of the mathematicians about the squaring of a circle, conic sections, or any other part of mathematics, concern not the existence of any of those figures; but their demonstrations, which depend on their ideas, are the same, whether there be any square or circle existing in the world, or no. In the same manner, the truth and certainty of moral discourses abstracts from the lives of men, and the existence of those virtues in the world whereof they treat. Nor are Tully's Offices less true, because there is nobody in the world that exactly practises his rules, and lives up to that pattern of a virtuous man which he has given us, and which existed nowhere, when he writ, but in idea. If it be true in speculation, i. e. in idea, that murder deserves death, it will also be true in reality of any action that exists conformable to that idea of murder. As for other actions, the truth of that proposition concerns them not. And thus it is of all other species of things, which have no other essences but those ideas which are in the minds of men. Nor will it

$ 9. But it will here be said, that if be less true moral knowledge be placed in the contem

[ocr errors]

plation of our own moral ideas, and those, as other modes, be of our own making, because mo

or certain, what strange notions will there be of ral ideas are justice and temperance! What confusion of our own of virtues and vices, if every one may

making and

naming make what ideas of them he pleases! No confusion or disorder in the things themselves, nor the reasonings about them; no more than (in mathematics) there would be a disturbance in the demonstration, or a change in the properties of figures, and their relations one to another, if a man should make a triangle with four corners, or a trapezium with four right angles; that is, in plain English, change the names of the figures, and call that by one name which mathematicians call ordinarily by another. For let a man make to himself the idea of a figure with three angles, whereof one is a right one, and call it, if he please, equilaterum or trapezium, or any thing else, the properties of and demonstrations about that idea will be the same, as if he called it à rectangular triangle. I confess the change of the name, by the impropriety of speech, will at first disturb him, who knows not what idea it stands for; but as soon as the figure is drawn, the consequences and demonstration are plain and clear. Just the same is it in moral knowledge, let a man have the idea of taking from others, without their consent, what their honest industry has possessed them of, and call this justice, if he please. He that takes the name here without the idea put to it, will be mistaken, by joining another idea of his own to that name: but strip the idea of that name, or take it such as it is in the speaker's mind, and the same things will agree to it as if you called it injustice. Indeed, wrong names in moral discourses breed usually more disorder, because they are not so easily rectified as in mathematics, where the figure, once drawn and seen, makes the name useless and of no force. For what need of a sign, when the thing signified is present and in view ? But in moral names that cannot be so easily and shortly done, because of the many decompositions that go to the making up the complex ideas of those modes. But yet

i 을

for all this, miscalling of any of those ideas, contrary to the usual signification of the words of that language, hinders not but that we may have certain and demonstrative knowledge of their several agreements and disagreements, if we will carefully, as in mathematics, keep to the same precise idgas, and trace them in their several relations one to another, without being led away by their names. If we but separate the idea under consideration from the sign that stands for it, our knowledge goes equally on in the discovery of real truth and certainty, whatever sounds we make use of. Misnaming

$ 10. One thing more we are to take disturbs no

notice of, that where God, or any other the certain- law-maker, hath defined any

moral names, there they have made the essence of that knowledge.

species to which that name belongs; and there it is not safe to apply or use them otherwise : but in other cases it is bare impropriety of speech to apply them contrary to the common usage of the country. But yet even this too disturbs not the certainty of that knowledge, which is still to be had by a due contemplation and comparing of those even nick-named ideas.

$ 11. Thirdly, there is another sort of stances have complex ideas, which, being referred to their arche- archetypes without us, may differ from types with

them, and so our knowledge about them

may come short of being real. Such are our ideas of substances, which consisting of a collection of simple ideas, supposed taken from the works of nature, may yet vary from them, by having more or different ideas united in them, than are to be found united in the things themselves. From whence it comes to pass, that they may, and often do fail of being exactly conformable to things themselves.

ty of the

Ideas of sub

out us.

$ 12. I say then, that to have ideas of substances, which, by being conformable So far as to things, may afford us real knowledge, with those, it is not enough, as in modes, to put to- so far our gether such ideas as have no inconsistence, knowledge

concerning though they did never before so exist :

them is real. v.g. the ideas of sacrilege or perjury, &c. were as real and true ideas before as after the ex. istence of any such fact. But our ideas of substances being supposed copies, and referred to archetypes without us, must still be taken from something that does or has existed; they must not consist of ideas put together at the pleasure of our thoughts, without any real pattern they were taken from, though we can perceive no inconsistence in such a combination. The reason whereof is, because we knowing not what real constitution it is of substances, whereon our simple ideas depend, and which really is the cause of the strict union of some of them one with another, and the exclusion of others; there are very few of them that we can be sure are, or are not, inconsistent in nature, any farther than experience and sensible observation reach. Herein therefore is founded the reality of our knowledge concerning substances, that all our complex ideas of them must be such, and such only, as are made up of such simple ones as have been discovered to co-exist in nature. And our ideas being thus true, though not, perhaps, very exact copies, are yet the subjects of real (as far as we have any) knowledge of them. Which (as has been already shown) will not be found to reach very far: but so far as it does, it will still be real knowledge. Whatever ideas we have, the agreement we find they have with others will still be knowledge. If those ideas be abstract, it will be general knowledge. But, to make it real concerning substances, the ideas must be taken from the real existence of things. Whatever simple ideas have been found to co-exist in any substance, these we may with confidence join together again, and so make abstract ideas of substances. For whatever have once had an union, in nature, may be united again. In our inqui- $ 13. This, if we rightly consider, and ries about confine not our thoughts and abstract substances,

ideas to names, as if there were or could we must consider

be no other sorts of things than what ideas, and known names had already determined, not confine and as it were set out; we should think ourthoughts of things with greater freedom and less to names, or species sup

confusion than perhaps we do. It would posed set out possibly be thought a bold paradox, if not by names.

a very dangerous falsehood, if I should say, that some changelings, who have lived forty years together without any appearance of reason, are something between a man and a beast: which prejudice is founded upon nothing else but a false supposition, that these two names, man and beast, stand for distinct species so set out by real essences, that there can come no other species between them: whereas if we will abstract from those names, and the supposition of such specific essences made by nature, wherein all things of the same denominations did exactly and equally partake,—if we would not fancy that there were a certain number of these essences, wherein all things, as in moulds, were cast and formed,,we should find that the idea of the shape, motion, and life of a man without reason, is as much a distinct idea, and makes as much a distinct sort of things from man and beast, as the idea of the shape of an ass with reason would be different from either that of man or beast, and be a species of an animal between or distinct from both. Objection

$ 14. Here every body will be ready to against a ask, If changelings may be supposed changeling something between man and beast, pray being some

what are they? I answer, changelings,

« السابقةمتابعة »