Page images
PDF
EPUB

men do rarely put into their complex idea of any substance, all the simple ideas they do know to exist in it. Because endeavouring to make the signification of their names as clear, and as little cumbersome as they can, they make their specific ideas of the sorts of substance, for the most part, of a few of those simple ideas which are to be found in them: but these having no original precedency, or right to be put in, and make the specific idea, more than others that are left out, it is plain that both these ways our ideas of substances are deficient and inadequate. The simple ideas, whereof we make our complex ones of substances, are all of them (bating only the figure and bulk of some sorts) powers, which being relations to other substances, we can never be sure that we know all the powers that are in any one body, till we have tried what changes it is fitted to give to, or receive from other substances, in their several ways of application : which being impossible to be tried upon any one body, much less upon all, it is impossible we should have adequate ideas of any substance, made up of a collection of all its properties.

$. 9. Whosoever first lighted on a parcel of that sort of substance we denote by the word gold, could not rationally take the bulk and figure he observed in that lump to depend on its real essence or internal constitution. Therefore those never went into his idea of that species of body; but its peculiar colour, perhaps, and weight, were the first he abstracted from it, to make the complex idea of that species. Which both are but powers; the one to affect our eyes after such a manner, and to produce in us that idea we call yellow; and the other to force upwards any other body of equal bulk; they being put into a pair of equal scales, one against another, Another perhaps added to these the ideas of fusibility and fixedness, two other passive powers, in relation to the operation of fire upon it; another, its ductility and solubility in aq. regia, two other powers relating to the operation of other bodies, in changing its outward figure, or separation of it into insensible parts. These, or part of these, put together, usually make the complex idea in men's minds of that sort of body we call gold.

ther,

5. 10. But no one, who hath considered the proper. ties of bodies in general, or this sort in particular, can doubt that this called gold has infinite other properties not contained in that complex idea. Some who have examined this species more accurately, could I believe, enumerate ten times as many properties in gold, all of them as inseparable from its internal constitution, as its colour or weight: and it is probable, if any one knew all the properties that are by divers men known of this metal, there would be an hundred times as many ideas go to the complex idea of gold, as any one man yet has in his; and yet perhaps that not be the thousandth part of what is to be discovered in it. The changes which that one body is apt to receive, and make in other bodies, upon a due application, exceeding far not only what we know, but what we are apt to imagine. Which will not appear so much a paradox to any one, who will but consider how far men are yét from knowing all the properties of that one, no very compound figure, a triangle ; though it be no small number that are already by mathematicians discovered of it. $. 11. So that all our complex ideas of

Ideas of sub. substances are imperfect and inadequate. stances, as Which would be so also in mathematical collections of figures, if we were to have our complex their quali. ideas of them, only by collecting their pro- inadequate. perties in reference to other figures. How uncertain and imperfect would our ideas be of an ellipsis, if we had no other idea of it, but some few of its properties ? Whereas having in our plain idea the whole essence of that figure, we from thence discover those properties, and demonstratively see how they flow, and are inseparable from it.

$. 19. Thus the mind has three sorts of Simple ideas, abstract ideas or nominal essences :

έκτυπα, and First, simple ideas, which are ixtura, or adequate, copies; but yet certainly adequate. Because being intended to express nothing but the power in things to

Dd3

produce

stances are

produce in the mind such a sensation, that sensation, when it is produced, cannot but be the effect of that power. So the paper I write on, having the power, in the light (I speak according to the common notion of light) to produce in men the sensation which I call white, it cannot but be the effect of such a power, in something without the mind; since the inind has not the power to produce any such idea in itself, and being meant for nothing else but the effect of such a power, that simple idea is real and adequate; the sensation of white, in my mind, being the effect of that power, which is in the paper to produce it, is perfectly adequate to that power; or else, that power would produce a different idea. Ideas of sub.

. 13. Secondly,

ndly, the complex ideas of substances are ectypes, copies too; but not slura, ina. perfect ones, not adequate : which is very dequate. evident to the mind, in that it plainly perceives that whatever collection of simple ideas it makes of any substance that exists, it cannot be sure that it exactly answers all that are in that substance: since not having tried all the operations of all other substances upon it, and found all the alterations it would receive from, or cause in, other substances, it cannot have an exact adequate collection of all its active and passive capacities; and so not have an adequate complex idea of the powers of any substance existing, and its relations, which is that sort of complex idea of substances we have. And after all, if we would have, and actually had, in our complex idea, an exact collection of all the secondary qualities or powers of any substance, we should not yet thereby have an idea of the essence of that thing. For since the powers or qualities that are observable by us, are not the real essence of that substance, but depend on it, and flow from it, any collection whatsoever of these qualities cannot be the real essence of that thing. Whereby it is plain, that our ideas of substances are not adequate; are not what the mind intends them to be. Besides, a man has no idea of substance in general, nor knows what substance is in itself.

§. 14. §. 14. Thirdly, complex ideas of modes and Ideas of relations are originals, and archetypes; are

modes and not copies, nor made after the pattern of relations are any real existence, to which the mind in- and cannot tends them to be conformable, and exactly but be ade. to answer. These being such collections of quate. simple ideas, that the mind itself puts together, and such collections, that each of them contains in it precisely all that the mind intends that it should, they are archetypes and essences of modes that may exist; and so are designed only for, and belong only to, such modes as, when they do exist, have an exact conformity with those complex ideas. The ideas therefore of modes and relations cannot but be adequate.

CH A P. XXXII.

Of true and

false Ideas.

'

Truth and only to propositions ; yet ideas are often- perly belong times termed true or false (as what words to proposi.

tions. are there, that are not used with great latitude, and with some deviation from their strict and proper significations :) Though, I think, that, when ideas themselves are termed true or false, there is still some secret or tacit proposition, which is the foundation of that denomination : as we shall see, if we examine the particular occasions wherein they come to be called true or false. In all which, we shall find some kind of affirmation or negation, which is the reason of that denomination. For our ideas, being nothing but bare appearances or perceptions in our minds, cannot properly and simply in themselves be said to be true or false, no more than a single name of any thing can be said to be true or false.

D d .

§. 2.

ance in the

an appearmind, true

§. 2. Indeed both ideas and words may Metaphysical truth con: be said to be true in a metaphysical sense tains a tacit of the word truth, as all other things, that proposition.

any way exist, are said to be true ; i. e. really to be such as they exist. Though in things called true, even in that sense, there is perhaps a secret reference to our ideas, looked upon as the standards of that truth, which amounts to a mental proposition, though it be usually not taken notice of. No idea, as

$. 3. But it is not in that metaphysical sense of truth which we inquire here, when we examine whether our ideas are capable

of being true or false ; but in the more oror false.

dinary acceptation of those words : and so I say, that the ideas in our minds being only so many perceptions, or appearances there, none of them are false : the idea of a centaur having no more falshood in it, when it appears in our minds, that the name centaur has falshood in it, when it is pronounced by our mouths, or written on paper. For truth or falsehood lying always in some affirmation, or negation, mental or verbal, our ideas are not capable, any of them, of being false, till the mind passes some judgment on them; that is, affirms or denies something of them.

6. 4. Whenever the mind refers any of Ideas refer

its ideas to any thing extraneous to them, thing may

they are then capable to be called true or

false. Because the mind in such a reference false.

makes a tacit supposition of their conformity to that thing: which supposition, as it happens to be true or false, so the ideas themselves come to be denominated. The most usual cases wherein this happens, are these following: Other men's

§. 5. First, when the mind supposes any ideas, real idea it has conformable to that in other existence,

men's minds, called by the same common and supposed real essences,

name; v. g. when the mind intends or are wha: men judges its ideas of justice, temperance, reusually refer ligion, to be the same with what other men theirideas to. give those names to.

Secondly,

red to any

be true or

« PreviousContinue »