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one has any other clear idea, farther than of certain simple ideas co-existent together, I appeal to every one's own experience. It is the ordinary qualities observable in iron, or a diamond, put together, that make
paragraph by that reverend prelate, viz. The repetition of the story of the Indian philosopher, and the talking like children about substance to which our author replies:
Your lordship, I must own, with great reason, takes notice, that I paralleled more than once our idea of substance with the Indian philosopher's he-knew-not-what, which supported the tortoise, &c.
This repetition is, I confess, a fault in exact writing: but I have acknowledged and excused it in these words in my preface: "I am not ignorant how little I herein consult my own reputation, when I knowingly let my essay go with a fault so apt to disgust the most judicious, who are always the nicest readers." And there farther add, "That I did not publish my essay for such great masters of knowledge as your lordship; but fitted it to men of my own size, to whom repetitions might be sometimes useful." It would not therefore have been beside your lordship's generosity (who were not intended to be provoked by this repetition) to have passed by such a fault as this, in one who pretends not beyond the lower rank of writers. But I see your lordship would have me exact, and without any faults; and I wish I could be so, the better to deserve your lordship's approbation.
My saying, "That when we talk of substance, we talk like children; who being asked a question about something which they know not, readily give this satisfactory answer, "That it is something;" your lordship seems mightily to lay to heart in these words that follow. If this be the truth of the case, we must still talk like children, and I know not how it can be remedied. For if we cannot come at a rational idea of substance, we can have no principle of certainty to go upon in this debate.
If your lordship has any better and distincter idea of substance than mine is, which I have given an account of, your lordship is not at all concerned in what I have there said., But those whose idea of substance, whether a rational or not rational idea, is like mine, something, they know not what, must in that, with me, talk like children, when they speak of something, they know not what. For a philosopher that says, That which supports accidents, is something, he knows not what; and a countryman that says, the foundation of the great church at Harlem is supported by something, he knows not what; and a child that stands in the dark upon his mother's muff, and says he stands upon something, he knows not what, in this respect talk all three alike. But if the countryman knows, that the foundation of the church of Harlem is supported by a rock, as the houses about Bristol are; or by gravel, as the houses about London are; or by wooden piles, as the houses in Amsterdam are; it is plain,
the true complex idea of those substances, which a smith or a jeweller commonly knows better than a philosopher; who, whatever substantial forms he may talk of, has no other idea of those substances, than
that then having a clear and distinct idea of the thing that supports the church, he does not talk of this matter as a child; nor will he of the support of accidents, when he has a clearer and more distinct idea of it, than that it is barely something. But as long as we think like children, in cases where our ideas are no clearer nor distincter than theirs, I agree with your lordship, that I know not how it can be remedied, but that we must talk like them.
Farther, the bishop asks, Whether there be no difference between the bare being of a thing, and its subsistence by itself? To which our author answers, Yes*. But what will that do to prove, that upon my principles we can come to no certainty of reason, that there is any such thing as substance? You seem by this question to conclude, That the idea of a thing that subsists by itself, is a clear and distinct idea of substance: but I beg leave to ask, Is the idea of the manner of subsistence of a thing, the idea of the thing itself? If it be not, we may have a clear and distinct idea of the manner, and yet have none but a very obscure and confused one of the thing. For example; I tell your lordship, that I know a thing that cannot subsist without a support, and I know another thing that does subsist without a support, and say no more of them: can you, by having the clear and distinct ideas of having a support, and not having a support, say, that you have a clear and distinct idea of the thing that I know which has, and of the thing that I know which has not a support? If your lordship can, I beseech you to give me the clear and distinct ideas of these, which I only call by the general name, things, that have or have not supports: for such there are, and such I shall give your lordship clear and distinct ideas of, when you shall please to call upon me for them; though I think your lordship will scarce find them by the general and confused idea of things, nor in the clearer and more distinct idea of having or not having a support.
To show a blind man, that he has no clear and distinct idea of scarlet, I tell him, that his notion of it, that it is a thing or being, does not prove he has any clear or distinct idea of it; but barely that he takes it to be something, he knows not what. He replies, That he knows more than that, v. g. he knows that it subsists, or inheres in another thing: and is there no difference, says he, in your lordship's words, between the bare being of a thing, and its subsistence in another? Yes, say I to him, a great deal: they are very different ideas. But for all that, you have no clear and distinct idea of scarlet, nor such a one as I have, who see and know it, and have another kind of idea of it, besides that of inherence.
* Mr. Locke's third letter.
what is framed by a collection of those simple ideas which are to be found in them: only we must take notice, that our complex ideas of substances, besides all those simple ideas they are made up of, have always the confused idea of something to which they belong, and in which they subsist. And therefore when we speak of any sort of substance, we say it is a thing having such or such qualities; as body is a thing that is extended, figured, and capable of motion; spirit a thing capable of thinking; and so hardness, friability, and power to draw iron, we say, are qualities to be found in a loadstone. These, and the like fashions of speaking, intimate, that the substance is supposed always something besides the extension, figure, solidity, motion, thinking, or other observable ideas, though we know not what it is.
No clear idea of substance in general.
§ 4. Hence, when we talk or think of any particular sort of corporeal substances, as horse, stone, &c. though the idea we have of either of them be but the complication or collection of those several simple ideas of sensible qualities, which we used to find united in the thing called horse or stone; yet because we cannot conceive how they should subsist alone, nor one in another, we suppose them existing in and supported by some common subject; which support we denote by the name
Your lordship has the idea of subsisting by itself, and therefore you conclude, you have a clear and distinct idea of the thing that subsists by itself: which, methinks, is all one, as if your countryman should say, he hath an idea of a cedar of Lebanon, that it is a tree of a nature to need no prop to lean on for its support; therefore he hath a clear and distinct idea of a cedar of Lebanon: which clear and distinct idea, when he comes to examine, is nothing but a general one of a tree, with which his indetermined idea of a cedar is confounded. Just so is the idea of substance; which, however called clear and distinct, is confounded with the general indetermined idea of something. But suppose that the manner of subsisting by itself gives us a clear and distinct idea of substance, how does that prove, That upon my principles we can come to no certainty of reason, thạt there is any such thing as substance in the world? Which is the proposition to be proved.
As clear an
substance, though it be certain we have no clear or distinct idea of that thing we suppose a support. § 5. The same thing happens concerning the operations of the mind, viz. think- idea of spirit ing, reasoning, fearing, &c. which we con- as body. cluding not to subsist of themselves, nor apprehending how they can belong to body, or be produced by it, we are apt to think these the actions of some other substance, which we call spirit: whereby yet it is evident, that having no other idea or notion of matter, but something wherein those many sensible qualities which affect our senses do subsist; by supposing a substance, wherein thinking, knowing, doubting, and a power of moving, &c. do subsist, we have as clear a notion of the substance of spirit, as we have of body: the one being supposed to be (without knowing what it is) the substratum to those simple ideas we have from without; and the other supposed (with a like ignorance of what it is) to be the substratum to those operations we experiment in ourselves within. It is plain, then, that the idea of corporeal substance in matter is as remote from our conceptions and apprehensions, as that of spiritual substance or spirit: and therefore from our not having any notion of the substance of spirit, we can no more conclude its nonexistence, than we can for the same reason deny the existence of body; it being as rational to affirm there is no body, because we have no clear and distinct idea of the substance of matter, as to say there is no spirit, because we have no clear and distinct idea of the substance of a spirit.
Of the sorts of sub
§ 6. Whatever therefore be the secret, abstract nature of substance in general, all the ideas we have of particular distinct sorts of substances are nothing but several combinations of simple ideas co-existing in such, though unknown, cause of their union, as make the whole subsist of itself. It is by such combinations of simple ideas, and nothing else, that we represent particular sorts of
substances to ourselves; such are the ideas we have of their several species in our minds; and such only do we, by their specific names, signify to others, v. g. man, horse, sun, water, iron: upon hearing which words, every one who understands the language, frames in his mind a combination of those several simple ideas, which he has usually observed, or fancied to exist together under that denomination; all which he supposes to rest in, and be as it were adherent to that unknown common subject, which inheres not in any thing else. Though in the mean time it be manifest, and every one upon inquiry into his own thoughts will find, that he has no other idea of any substance, v. g. let it be gold, horse, iron, man, vitriol, bread, but what he has barely of those sensible qualities, which he supposes to inhere, with a supposition of such a substratum, as gives as it were, a support to those qualities or simple ideas, which he has observed to exist united together. Thus the idea of the sun, what is it but an aggregate of those several simple ideas, bright, hot, roundish, having a constant regular motion, at a certain distance from us, and perhaps some other? As he who thinks and discourses of the sun has been more or less accurate in observing those sensible qualities, ideas, or properties, which are in that thing which he calls the sun.
great part of our complex ideas of sub
§ 7. For he has the perfectest idea of any of the particular sorts of substances, who has gathered and put together most of those simple ideas which do exist in it, among which are to be reckoned its active powers, and passive capacities; which though not simple ideas, yet in this respect, for brevity sake, may conveniently enough be reckoned amongst them. Thus the power of drawing iron is one of the ideas of the complex one of that substance we call a loadstone; and a power to be so drawn is a part of the complex one we call iron: which powers pass for inherent qualities in those subjects. Because every sub