Obrazy na stronie

idea, and giving the name animal to it; one has a more general term, that comprehends with man several other creatures. Leave out of thie idea of animal, sense and spontaneous motion; and the remaining complex idea, made up of the remaining simple ones of body, life, and nourishment, becomes a more general one, under the more comprehensive term vivens. And not to dwell longer upon this particular, so evident in itself, by the same way the mind proceeds to body, substance, and at last to being, thing, and such universal terms, which stand for any of our ideas whatsoever. To conclude, this whole mystery of genera and species, which make such a noise in the schools, and are with justice so little regarded out of them, is nothing else but abstract ideas, more or less compreliensive, with pames annexed to them. In all which this is constant and unvariable, that every more general term stands for such an idea, and is but a part of any of those con tained under it.

$. 10. This may show us the reason, why, Why the genus is ordi. in the defining of words, which is nothing narily made

but declaring their significations, we make use of in de

use of the genus, or next general word that finitions.

comprehends it. Which is not out of necessity, but only to save the labour of enumerating the several simple ideas, which the next general word or genus stands for; or, perhaps, sometimes the shame of not being able to do it. But though defining by genus and differentia (I crave leave to use these terms of art, though originally Latin, since they most properly suit those notions they are applied to) I say, though defining by the genus be the shortest way, yet I think it may be doubted whether it be the best. This I am sure, it is not the only, and so not absolutely necessary. For definition being nothing but making another understand by words what idea the term defined stands for, a definition is best made by enumerating those simple ideas that are combined in the signification of the term defined : and if instead of such an enumeration, men have accustomed themselves to use the next general term; it has not been out of necessity, or for greater clearness, but for quickness and dispatch sake. For, I think, that to one who desired to know what idea the word man stood for, if it should be said, that man was a solid extended substance, having life, sense, sponaneous motion, and the faculty of reasoning : I doubt not but the meaning of the term man would be as well understood, and the idea it stands for be at least as clearly made known, as when it is defined to be a rational animal: which by the several definitions of animal, vivens, and corpus, resolves itself into those enumerated ideas. I have, in explaining the term man, followed here the ordinary definition of the schools : which though, perhaps, not the most exact, yet serves well enough to my present purpose.


And one may, in this instance, see what gave occasion to the rule, that a definition must consist of genus and differentia : and it suffices to show us the little necessity there is of such a rule, or advantage in the strict observing of it. For definitions, as has been said, being only the explaining of one word by several others, so that the meaning or idea it stands for may be certainly known; languages are not alawys so inade according to the rules of logic, that every term can have its signification exactly and clearly expressed by two others. Experience sufficiently satisfies us to the contrary: or else those who have made this rule have done ill, that they have given us so few definitions conformable to it. But of defini tions more in the next chapter. g. 11. To return to general words, it is

General and plain by what has been said, that general universal are and anniversal belong not to the real exist- creatures of ence of things; but are the inventions and the undercreatures of the understanding, made by it standing. for its own use, and concern only signs, whether words or ideas. Words are general as has been said, when used for signs of general ideas, and so are applicable indifferently to many particular things: and ideas are general, when they are set up as the representatives of many particular things: but universality belongs not to things themselves, which are all of them particular in their existence; even those words and ideas, which in their signification are general. When therefore we quit particulars, the generals that rest are only creatures of our own making; their general nature being nothing but the capacity they are put into by the understanding, of signifying or representing many particulars. For the signification they have is nothing but a relation, that by the mind of man is added to them (1).

§. 12.

[ocr errors]


(1) Against this the bishop of Worcester objects, and our author * answers as followeth: 'however, saith the bishop, the abstracted ideas are

the work of the mind, yet they are not mere creatures of the mind; as appears by an instance produced of the essence of the sun being in one single individual : in which case it is granted, That the idea may be so abstracted, that more suns might agree in it, and it is as much a sort,

if there were as many suns as there are stars. So that here we have a • real essence subsisting in one individual, but capable of being multiplied • into more, and the same essence remaining. But in this one sun there is

a real


essence, and not a mere nominal, or abstracted essence: but suppose there were more suns; would not each of them have the real essence • of the sun? For what is it makes the second sun, but having the same • real essence with the first? If it were but a nominal essence, then the • second would have nothing but the name.'

This, as I understand it, replies Mr. Locke, is to prove that the abstract general essence of any sort of things, or things of the same denomi. nation, v. g. of man or marigold, hath a real being out of the understanding ? which, I confess, I am not able to conceive. Your lordship's proof here brought out of my essay, concerning the sun, I humbly conceive, will not reach it; because what is said there, does not at all concern the real but nominal essence, as is evident from hence, that the idea I speak of there, is a complex idea; but we have no complex idea of the internal constitution or real essence of the sun. Besides, I say, expressly, That our distinguishing substances into species, by names, is not at all founded on their real essences. So that the sun being one of these substances, I cannot, in the place quoted by your lordship, be supposed mean by essence of the sun, the real essence of the sun unless I had so expressed it. But all this argument will be at an end, when your lordship shall have explained what you mean by these words, true sun.' In my sense of them, any thing will be a true sun to which the name sun may be truly and properly applied, and to that substance or thing the name sun may

be truly and properly applied, which has united in it that combination of sensible qualities by which any thing else, that is called sun, is distinguished from other substances, i. e. by the nominal essence : and thus our sun is denominated and distinguished from a fixed star, not by a real essence that we do not know (for if we did, it is possible we should find the real essence or constitution of one of the fixed stars to be the same

In his first letter,

essences of

s. 12. The next thing therefore to be

Abstract considered, is, what kind of signification it ideas are the is, that general words have. For as it is evident, that they do not signify barely one

and species. particular thing; for then they would not be general terms, but proper names; so on the other side it is as evident, they do not signify a plurality;


the genera

with that of our sun) but by a complex idea of sensible qualities co-existing, which, wherever they are found, make a true sun. And thus I crave leave to answer your lordship’s question: "for what is it makes the second 'sun to be a true sun, but having the same real essence with the first? If

it were but a nominal essence, then the second would have nothing but " the name.'

I humbly conceive, if it had the nominal essence, it would have something besides the name, viz. That nominal essence which is sufficient to denominate it truly a sun, or to make it be a true sun, though we know nothing of that real essence whereon that nominal one depends. Your lord. ship will then argue, that that real essence is in the second sun, and makes the second sun. I grant it, when the second sun comes to exist, so as to be perceived by us to have all the ideas contained in our complex idea, i. e. in our nominal essence of a sun. For should it be true, (as is now believed by astronomers) that the real essence of the sun were in any of the fixed stars, yet such a star could not for that be by us called a sun, whilst it answers not our complex idea, or nominal essence of a sun, But how far that will prove, that the essences of things, as they are knowable by us, have a reality in them distinct from that of abstract ideas in the mind, which are merely creatures of the mind, I do not see; and we shall fara ther inquire, in considering your. lordship’s following words. « There. fore,' say you, there must be a real essence in every individual of the same kind. Yes, and I beg leave of your lordship to say, of a different

For that alone is it which makes it to be what it is. That every

individual substance has real, internal, individual constitution, i. e, a real essence, that makes it to be what it is, I readily grant. Upon this your lordship says, 'Peter, James and John, are all true and real men.' Answ. Without doubt, supposing them to be men, they are true and real men, i.e. supposing the name of that species belongs to them. And so three bobaques are all true and real bobaques, supposing the name of that species of animals belongs to them.

For I beseech your lordship to consider, whether in your way of arguing, by naming them, Peter, James and John, names familiar to us, as appropriated to individuals of the species man, your lordship does not first

suppose them men, and then very safely ask, whether they be not all true and real men? But if I should ask your lordship, whether Weweena, Chuckery and Cousheda, were true and real men or no ? Your lordship would not be able to tell me, till, I having pointed out to your lordship the individuals called by those names, your

lordship, by examining wheVOL. II. M


kind too.

for man and men would then signify the same, and the distinction of numbers (as the grammarians call them) would be superfluous and useless. That then which general words signify is a sort of things ; and each of them does that, by being a sign of an abstract idea in the mind, to which idea, as things existing are found to agree, so they come to be ranked under that name;


ther they had in them those sensible qualities which your lordship has combined into that complex idea to which you give the specific name man, determined them all, or some of them, to be the species which you

call man, and so to be true and real man; which when you lordship has de. termined, it is plain you did it by that which is only the nominal essence, as not knowing the real one. But your lordship farther asks, What is

it makes Peter, James and John real men? Is it the attributing the gene ral name to them? No, certainly; but that the true and real essence of a man is in every one of them.

If, when your lordship asks, What makes them men ?' your lordship used the word making in the proper sense for the efficient cause, and in that sense it were true, that the essence of a man, i.e. the specific essence of that species made a man; it would undoubtedly follow, that this specific essence had a reality beyond that of being only a general abstract idea in the mind. But when it is said, that it is the true and real essence of a man in every one of them that makes Peter, James and John true and real men, the true and real meaning of these words is no more, but that the essence of that species, i.e. the properties answering the complex abstract idea to which the specific name is given, being found in them, that makes them be properly and truly called men, or is the reason why they are called

Your lordship adds, “and we must be as certain of this, as we are • that they are men.' How, I beseech your lordship, are we certain that they are men,

but only by our senses, finding those properties in them which answer the abstract complex idea, which is in our minds, of the specific idea to which we have annexed the specific name man? This I take to be the true meaning of what your lordship says in the next words, viz. "They take

their denomination of being men from that common nature or essence 'which is in them ;' and I am apt to think, these words will not hold true in any other sense.

Your lordship's fourth inference begins thus ; ' That the general idea is not made from the simple ideas by the mere act of the mind abstracting from circumstances, but from reason and consideration of the nature of things.'

I thought, my lord, that reason and confideration had been acts of the mind, mere acts of the mind, when any thing was done by them. Your lordship gives a reason for it, viz. • For, when we see several individuals

that have the same powers and properties, we thence infer, that there 'must be something common to all, which makes them of one kind.'

I grant



« PoprzedniaDalej »