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hath been debated, whether it were or were not to be nourished and baptized : which could not be, if the abstract idea or essence, to which the name man belonged, were of nature's making; and were not the uncertain and various collection of simple ideas, which the understanding put together, and, then abstracting it, affixed a name to it. So that in truth every distinct abstract idea is a distinct essence; and the names that stand for such distinct ideas are the names of things essentially different. Thus a circle is as essentially different from an oval, as a sheep from a goat: and rain is as essentially different from snow, as water from earth; that abstract idea which is the essence of one being impossible to be communicated to the other. And thus any two abstract ideas, that in any part vary one from another, with two distinct names annexed to them, constitute two distinct sorts, or, if you please, species, as essentially different as any two of the most remote, or opposite in the world. Real and $. 15. But since the essences of things nominal es- are thought, by some, (and not without rea
son) to be wholly unknown; it may not be amiss to consider the several significations of the word
First, essence may be taken for the being of any thing, whereby it is what it is. . And thus the real internal, but generally, in substances, unknown constitution of things, whereon their discoverable qualities depend, may be called their essence.
This is the proper original signification of the word, as is evident from the formation of it; essentia, in its primary notation, signifying properly being. And in this sense it is still used, when we speak of the essence of particular things, without giving them any name.
Secondly, the learning and disputes of the schools having been much busied about genus and species, the word essence has almost lost its primary signification; and instead of the real constitution of things, has been almost wholly applied to the artificial constitution of genus and species. It is true, there is ordinarily supposed a real constitution of the sorts of things; and it is past doubt, there must be some real constitution, on which any collection of simple ideas co-existing must depend. But it being evident, that things are ranked under names into sorts or species, only as they agree to certain abstract ideas, to which we have annexed those names: the essence of each genus, or sort, comes to be nothing but that abstract idea, which the general, or sortal (if I may have leave so to call it from sort, as I do general from genus) name stands for. And this we shall find to be that which the word essence imports in its most familiar use. These two sorts of essences, I suppose, may not unfitly be termed, the one the real, the other nominal essence.
§. 16. Between the nominal essence and Constant the name, there is so near a connexion, that connexion the name of any sort of things cannot be between the
name and attributed to any particular being but what
nominal eshas this essence, whereby it answers that sence. abstract idea, whereof that name is the sign.
§. 17. Concerning the real essences of cor- Supposition, poreal substances, (to mention these only)
are distinthere are, if I mistake not, two opinions. guished by The one is of those, who using the word their real essence for they know not what, suppose a certain number of those essences, according useless. to which all natural things are made, and wherein they do exactly every one of them partake, and so become of this or that species. The other and more rational opinion, is of those who look on all natural things to have a real but unknown constitution of their insensible parts; from which flow those sensible qualities, which serve us to distinguish them one from another, according as we have occasion to rank them into sorts under common denominations. The former of these opinions, which supposes these essences, as a certain number of forms or moulds, wherein all natural things, that exist are cast, and do equally partake, has, I imagine, very much perplexed the knowledge of natural things. The frequent productions of monsters, in all the species of animals, and of changelings, and other
strange issues of human birth, carry with them difficulties, not possible to consist with this hypothesis : since it is as impossible, that' two things, partaking exactly of the same real essence, should have different properties, as that two figures partaking of the same real essence of a circle should have different properties. But were there no other reason against it, yet the supposition of essences that cannot be known, and the making of them nevertheless to be that which distinguishes the species of things, is so wholly useless, and unserviceable to any part of our knowledge, that that alone were sufficient to make us lay it by, and content ourselves with such essences of the sorts or species of things as come within the reach of our knowledge: which, when seriously considered, will be found, as I have said, to be nothing else but those abstract complex ideas, to which we have annexed distinct general Real and no.
§. 18. Essences being thus distinguished minal essence into nominal and real, we may farther obthe same in
serve, that in the species of simple ideas simple ideas
and modes, they are always the same; but and modes, different in in substances always quite different. Thus substances. a figure including a space between three lines, is the real as well as nominal essence of a triangle; it being not only the abstract idea to which the general name is annexed, but the very essentia or being of the thing itself, that foundation from which all its properties flow, and to which they are all inseparably annexed. But it is far otherwise concerning that parcel of matter, which makes the ring on my finger, wherein these two essences are apparently different. For it is the real constitution of its sensible parts, on which depend all those properties of colour, weight, fusibility, fixedness, &c. which are to be found in it, which constitution we know not, and so having no particular idea of, have no fame that is the sign of it. it is its colour, weight, fusibility, fixedness, &c. which makes it to be gold, or gives it'a right to that name, which is therefore its nominal essence: since nothing can be called gold but what has a conformity of quali
ties to that abstract complex idea, to which that name is annexed. But this distinction of essences belonging particularly to substances, we shall, when we come to consider their names, have an occasion to treat of more fully. §. 19. That such abstract ideas, with
Essences in names to them, as we have been speaking generable of, are essences, may farther appear by and incorwhat we are told concerning essences, viz. ruptible. that they are all ingenerable and corruptible. Which cannot be true of the real constitutions of things which begin and perish with them. All things that exist, besides their author, are all liable to change; especially those things we are acquainted with, and have ranked into bands under distinct names or ensigns. Thus that which was grass to-day, is to-morrow the flesh of a sheep; and within a few days after becomes part of a man : in all which, and the like changes, it is evident their real essence, i. e. that constitution, whereon the properties of these several things depended, is destroyed, and perishes with them. But essences being taken for ideas, established in the mind, with names annexed to them, they are supposed to remain steadily the same, whatever mutations the particular substances are liable
For whatever becomes of Alexander and Bucephalus, the idea to which man and horse are annexed, are supposed nevertheless to remain the same; and so the essences of those species are preserved whole and undestroyed, whatever changes happen to any, or all of the individuals of those species. By this means the essence of a species rests safe and entire, without the existence of so much as one individual of that kind. For were there now no circle existing any where in the world, (as perhaps that figure exists not any where exactly marked out) yet the idea annexed to that name would not cease to be what it is; nor cease to be as a pattern to determine which of the particular figures we meet with have or have not a right to the name circle, and so to show which of them by having that essence, was of that species. And though there neither were ñor had been in nature such a beast as an unicorn, or such a fish as a mermaid; yet supposing those names to stand for complex abstract ideas that contained no inconsistency in them, the essence of a mermaid is as intelligible as that of a man; and the idea of an unicorn as certain, steady, and permanent as that of a horse. From what has been said it is evident, that the doctrine of the immutability of essences proves them to be only abstract ideas; and is founded on the relation established between them and certain sounds as signs of them; and will always be true as long as the same name can have the same signification. Recapitula
ģ. 20. To conclude, this is that which in tion. short I would say, viz. that all the great
business of genera and species, and their essences, amounts to no more but this, That men making abstract ideas, and settling them in their minds with names annexed to them, do thereby enable themselves to consider things, and discourse of them as it were in bundles, for the easier and readier improvement and communication of their knowledge; which would advance but slowly, were their words and thoughts confined only to particulars.
HOUGH all words, as I have simple ideas,
shown, signify nothing immemodes, and substances,
diately but the ideas in the mind of the have each speaker ; yet upon a nearer survey me shall something find that the names of simple ideas, mixed peculiar.
modes, (under which I comprise relations too) and natural substances, have each of them something peculiar and different from the other. For example: 1. Names of
§. 2. First, The names of simple ideas simple ideas
and substances, with the abstract ideas in and sub- the mind, which they immediately signify,