Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

seen nor heard of ice, coming into England in the winter, find the water he put in his bason at night, in a great part frozen in the morning, and not knowing any peculiar name it had, should call it hardened water ; I ask, whether this would be a new species to him different from water? And, I think, it would be answered here, it would not be to him a new species, no more than congealed jelly, when it is cold, is a distinct species from the same jelly fluid and warm; or than liquid gold, in the furnace, is a distinct species from hard gold in the hands of a workman. And if this be so, it is plain, that our distinct species are nothing but distinct complex ideas, with distinct names annexed to them. It is true, every substance that exists has its peculiar constitution, whereon depend those sensible qualities and powers we observe in it; but the ranking of things into species, which is nothing but sorting them under several titles, is done by us according to the ideas that we have of them: which though sufficient to distinguish them by names, so that we may be able to discourse of them, when we have them not present before us; yet if we suppose it to be done by their real internal constitutions, and that things existing are distinguished by nature into species, by real essences, according as we distinguish them into species by names, we shall be liable to great mistakes.

$. 14. To distinguish substantial beings Difficulties into species, according to the usual suppo- against a cerę sition, that there are certain precise essences tain number or forms of things, whereby all the individuals existing are by nature distinguished into species, these things are necessary.

g. 15. First, To be assured that nature, in the production of things, always designs them to partake of certain regulated established essences, which are to be the models of all things to be produced. This, in that crude sense it is usually proposed, would need some better explication before it can fully be assented to.

f. 16. Secondly, It would be necessary to know whether nature always attains that essence it designs in the production of things. The irregular and monstrous

births,

of real essences.

births, that in divers sorts of animals have been observed, will always give us reason to doubt of one or both of these.

§. 17. Thirdly, It ought to be determined whether those we call monsters be really a distinct species, according to the scholastic notion of the word species; since it is certain, that every thing that exists has its particular constitution : and yet we find that some of these monstrous productions have few or none of those qualities, which are supposed to result from, and accompany the essence of that species, from whence they derive their originals, and to which, by their descent, they seem to belong. Our nominal

§. 18. Fourthly, The real essences of essences of those things, which we distinguish into spesubstances cies, and as so distinguished we name, ought not perfect to be known ; i. e. we ought to have ideas collections of

of them. But since we are ignorant in properties.

these four points, the supposed real essences of things stand us not in stead for the distinguishing substances into species.

§. 19. . Fifthly, The only imaginable help in this case would be, that having framed perfect complex ideas of the properties of things, flowing from their different real essences, we should thereby distinguish them into species. But neither can this be done ; for being ignorant of the real essence itself, it is impossible to know all those properties that flow from it, and are so annexed to it, that any one of them being away, we may certainly conclude, that that essence is not there, and so the thing is not of that species. We can never know what is the precise number of properties depending on the real essence of gold, any one of which failing, the real essence of gold, and consequently gold, would not be there, unless we knew the real essence of gold itself, and by that determined that species. By the word gold here, I must be understood to design a particular piece of matter; v. g. the last guinea that was coined. For if it should stand here in its ordinary signification for that complex idea, which I or any one else calls gold; i. e. for the nominal essence of gold, it

would

our name

would be jargon : so hard is it to show the various meaning and imperfection of words, when we have nothing else but words to do it by.

9. 20. By all which it is clear, that our distinguishing substances into species by names, is not at all founded on their real essences ; nor can we pretend to range and determine them exactly into species, according to internal essential differences.

$. 21. But since, as has been remarked, But such a we have need of general words, though we collection as know not the real essences of things; all we

stands for. can do is to collect such a number of simple ideas, as by examination we find to be united together in things existing, and thereof to make one complex idea. Which though it be not the real essence of any

substance that exists, is yet the specific essence, to which our name belongs, and is convertible with it; by which we may at least try the truth of these nominal essences. For example, there be that say, that the essence of body is extension : if it be so, we can never mistake in putting the essence of any thing for the thing itself. Let us then in discourse put extension for body; and when we would say that body moves, let us say that extension moves, and see how ill it will look. He that should say that one extension by impulse moves another extension, would, by the bare expression, sufficiently show the absurdity of such a notion. The essence of any thing, in respect of us, is the whole complex idea, comprehended and marked by that name; and in substances, besides the several distinct simple ideas that make them up, the confused one of substance, or of an unknown support and cause of their union, is always a part: and therefore the essence of body is not bare extension, but an extended solid thing; and so to say an extended solid thing moves, or impels another, is all one, and as intelligible as to say, body moves or impels. Likewise to say, that a rational animal is capable of conversation, is all one as to say a man. But no one will say, that rationality is capable of conversation, because it makes not the whole essence to which we give the name man.

man.

Our abstract §. 22. There are creatures in the world ideas are to that have shapes like ours, but are hairy, us the mea. and want language and reason. There are sures of species; instance

naturals amongst us that have perfectly our in that of shape, but want reason, and some of them

language too. There are creatures, as it is said (“ sit fides penes authorem,” but there appears ng contradiction that there should be such) that, with language and reason, and a shape in other things agreeing with ours, have hairy tails; others where the males have no beards, and others where the females have. If it be asked, whether these be all men or no, all of human species ? it is plain, the question refers only to the nominal essence: for those of them to whom the definition of the word man, or the complex idea signified by that name, agrees, are men, and the other not. But if the inquiry be made concerning the supposed real essence, and whether the internal constitution and frame of these several creatures be specifically different, it is wholly impossible for us to answer, no part of that going into our specific idea; only we have reason to think, that where the faculties or outward frame so much differs, the internal constitution is not exactly the same. But what difference in the internal real constitution makes a specific difference, it is in vain to inquire; whilst our measures of species be, as they are only our abstract ideas, which we know; and not that internal constitution, which makes no part of them. Shall the difference of hair only on the skin, be a mark of a different internal specific constitution between a changeling and a drill, when they agree in shape, and want of reason and speech? And shall not the want of reason and speech be a sign to us of different real constitutions and species between a changeling and a reasonable man? And so of the rest, if we pretend that distinction of species or sorts is fixedly, established by the real frame and secret constitutions of things. Species not $. 23. Nor let any one say, that the power distinguished of propagation in animals by the mixture by generation, of male and female, and in plants by seeds,

keeps

keeps the supposed real species distinct and entire. For granting this to be true, it would help us in the distinction of the species of things no farther than the tribes of animals and vegetables. What must we do for the rest? But in those too it is not sufficient; for if history lye not, women have conceived by drills ; and what real species, by that measure, such a production will be in nature, will be a new question : and we have reason to think this is not impossible, since mules and jumarts, the one from the mixture of an ass and a mare, the other from the mixture of a bull and a mare, are so frequent in the world. I once saw a creature that was the issue of a cat and a rat, and had the plain marks of both about it; wherein nature appeared to have followed the pattern of neither sort alone, but to have jumbled them together. To which, he that shall add the monstrous productions that are so frequently to be met with in nature, will find it hard, even in the race of animals, to determine by the pedigree of what species every animal's issue is : and be at a loss about the real essence, which he thinks, certainly conveyed by generation, and has alone a right to the specific name, But farther, if the species of animals and plants are to be distinguished only by propagation, must I go to the Indies to see the sire and dam of the one, and the plant from which the seed was gathered that produced the other, to know whether this be a tyger or that tea ? Ş. 24. Upon the wliole matter, it is

Not by subevident, that it is their own collections of sensible qualities, that men make the es- forms. sences of their several sorts of substances ; and that their real internal structures are not considered by the greatest part of men, in the sorting them. Much less were any substantial forins ever thought on by any, but those who have in this one part of the world learned the language of the schools: and yet those ignorant men, who pretend not any insight into the real essences, nor trouble themselves about substantial forms, but are content with knowing things one from another by their sensible qualities,

are

stantial

« PoprzedniaDalej »