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mining whether all the simple ideas, to which, combined together, they both give the name bird, bë all to be found in a bat: but this is a question only of inquirers (not disputers) who neither affirm, nor deny, but examine. Or, 2. It is a question between disputants, whereof the one affirms, and the other denies, that a bat is a bird. And then the question is barely about the signification of one or both these words; in that they not having both the same complex ideas, to which they give these two names, one holds, and the other denies, that these two names may be affirmed one of another. Were they agreed in the signification of these two names, it were impossible they should dispute: about them for they would presently and clearly see (were that adjusted between them) whether all the simple ideas, of the more general name bird, were found in the complex idea of a bat, or no; and so there could be no doubt, whether a bat were a bird or no. And here I desire it may be considered, and carefully examined, whether the greatest part of the disputes in the world are not merely verbal, and about the signification of words; and whether if the terms they are made in were defined, and reduced in their signification (as they must be where they signify any thing) to determined collections of the simple ideas they do or should stand for, those disputes would not end of themselves, and immediately vanish. I leave it then to be considered, what the learning of disputation is, and how well they are employed for the advantage of themselves or others, whose business is only the vain ostentation of sounds; i. e. those who spend their lives in disputes and controversies. When I shall see any of those combatants strip all his terms of ambiguity and obscurity (which every one may do in the words he uses himself) I shall think him a champion for knowledge, truth and peace, and not the slave of vain-glory, ambition, or a party.
§. 8. To remedy the defects of speech before-mentioned to some degree, and to prevent the inconveniencies that follow from them, I imagine the observation of these following rules may be of use, till somebody better able shall judge it worth his while to think more VOL. II. maturely
maturely on this matter, and oblige the world with his thoughts on it. 1. Remedy,
to use no
word with. out an idea.
First, a man shall take care to use no word without a signification, no name without an idea for which he makes it stand. This rule will not scem altogether needless, to any one who shall take the pains to recollect how often he has met with such words, as instinct, sympathy and antipathy, &c. in the discourse of others, so made use of, as he might easily conclude, that those that used them had no ideas in their minds to which they applied them; but spoke them only as sounds, which usually served instead of reasons on the like occasions. Not but that these words, and the like, have very proper significations in which they may be used; but there being no natural connexion between any words and any ideas, these, and any other, may be learned by rote, and pronounced or writ by men, who have no ideas in their minds, to which they have annexed them, and for which they make them stand; which is necessary they should, if men would speak intelligibly even to themselves alone.
2. To have distinct ideas annexed to them in modes.
§. 9. Secondly, it is not enough a man uses his words as signs of some ideas: those he annexes them to, if they be simple, must be clear and distinct; if complex, must be determinate, i. e. the precise collection of simple ideas settled in the mind, with that sound annexed to it, as the sign of that precise determined collection, and no other. This is very necessary in names of modes, and especially moral words; which having no settled objects in nature, from whence their ideas are taken, as from their original, are apt to be very confused. Justice is a word in every man's mouth, but most commonly with a very undetermined loose signification which will always be so, unless a man has in his nind a distinct comprehension of the component parts, that complex idea consists of: and if it be decompounded, must be able to resolve it still on, till he at last comes to the simple ideas that make it up and unless this be done, a man makes an ill use of the word, let it be justice, for example, or any other. I do not say, a man
need stand to recollect and make this analysis at large, every time the word justice comes in his way: but this at least is necessary, that he have so examined the signification of that name, and settled the idea of all its parts in his mind, that he can do it when he pleases. If one, who makes his complex idea of justice to be such a treatment of the person or goods of another, as is according to law, hath not a clear and distinct idea what law is, which makes a part of his complex idea of justice; it is plain his idea of justice itself will be confused and imperfect. This exactness will, perhaps, be judged very troublesome; and therefore most men will think they may be excused from settling the complex ideas of mixed modes so precisely in their minds. But But yet I must say, till this be done, it must not be wondered that they have a great deal of obscurity and confusion in their own minds, and a great deal of wrangling in their discourse with others.
mable in substances.
§. 10. in the names of substances, for a right use of them, something more is required than barely determined ideas. In these the names must also be conformable to things as they exist: but of this I shall have occasion to speak more at large by and by. This exactness is absolutely necessary in inquiries after philosophical knowledge, and in controversies about truth. And though it would be well too, if it extended itself to common conversation, and the ordinary affairs of life; yet I think that is scarce to be expected. Vulgar notions suit vulgar discourses; and both, though confused enough, yet serve pretty well the market and the wake. Merchants and lovers, cooks and taylors, have words wherewithal to dispatch their ordinary affairs; and so, I think, might philosophers and disputants too, if they had a mind to understand, and to be clearly understood. §. 11. Thirdly, it is not enough that men have ideas, determined ideas, for which they 3. Propriety. make these signs stand; but they must also take care to apply their words, as near as may be, to such ideas as common use has annexed them to. For words, especially of languages already framed, being no man's pri
vate possession, but the common measure of commerce and communication, it is not for any one, at pleasure, to change the stamp they are current in, nor alter the ideas they are affixed to; or at least when there is a necessity to do so, he is bound to give notice of it. Men's intentions in speaking are, or at least should be, to be understood; which cannot be without frequent explanations, demands and other the like incommodious interruptions, where men do not follow common use. Propriety of speech is that which gives our thoughts entrance into other men's minds with the greatest ease and advantage; and therefore deserves some part of our care and study, especially in the names of moral words. The proper signification and use of terms is best to be learned from those, who in their writings and discourses appear to have had the clearest notions, and applied to them their terms with the exactest choice and fitness. This way of using a man's words, according to the propriety of the language, though it have not always the good fortune to be understood; yet most commonly leaves the blame of it on him, who is so unskilful in the language he speaks, as not to understand it, when made use of as it ought to be.
4. To make known their meaning.
§. 12. Fourthly, but because common use has not so visibly annexed any signification to words, as to make men know always certainly what they precisely stand for; and because men, in the improvement of their knowledge, come to have ideas different from the vulgar and ordinary received ones, for which they must either make new words (which men seldom venture to do, for fear of being thought guilty of affectation or novelty) or else must use old ones, in a new signification: therefore after the observation of the foregoing rules, it is sometimes necessary, for the ascertaining the signification of words, to declare their meaning; where either common use has left it uncertain and loose (as it has in most names of very complex ideas) or where the term, being very ma terial in the discourse, and that upon which it chiefly turns, is liable to any doubtfulness or mistake.
And that three ways.
§. 13. As the ideas, men's words stand for, are of different sorts; so the way of making known the ideas, they stand for, when there is occasion, is also different. For though defining be thought the proper way to make known the proper signification of words; yet there are some words that will not be defined, as there are others, whose precise meaning cannot be made known, but by definition; and perhaps a third, which partakes somewhat of both the other, as we shall see in the names of simple ideas, modes, and substances.
1. In simple ideas, by sy
§. 14. First, when a man makes use of the name of any simple idea, which he perceives is not understood, or is in danger to be mistaken, he is obliged by the laws of terms, or ingenuity, and the end of speech, to declare showing. his meaning, and make known what idea he makes it stand for. This, as has been shown, cannot be done by definition; and therefore, when a synonymous word fails to do it, there is but one of these ways left. First, sometimes the naming the subject, wherein that simple idea is to be found, will make its name to be understood by those who are acquainted with that subject, and know it by that name. So to make a countryman understand what "feuillemorte" colour signifies, it may suffice to tell him, it is the colour of withered leaves falling in autumn. Secondly, but the only sure way of making known the signification of the name of any simple idea is by presenting to his senses that subject, which may produce it in his mind, and make him actually have the idea that word stands for.
2. In mixed modes, by definition.
§. 15. Secondly, mixed modes, especially those belonging to morality, being most of them such combinations of ideas, as the mind puts together of its own choice, and whereof there are not always standing patterns to be found existing; the signification of their names cannot be made known, as those of simple ideas, by any showing; but, in re compence thereof, may be perfectly and exactly defined. For they being combinations of several ideas, that the mind of man has arbitrarily put together, without re