Page images
PDF
EPUB

ing

ment, and its loss, from the idea of the child return

to her memory, all representations, though ever so reasonable, arc in vain; and therefore some in whom the union between these ideas is never dissolved, spend their lives in mourning, and carry an incurable corrow to their graves.

6. 14. A friend of mine knew one perFarther in stances of the fectly cured of madness by a very harth effect of the and offensive operation. The gentleman, 35:0 iation or who was thus recovered, with great sense Ideas.

of gratitude and acknowledgment, owned the cure all his life aiter, as the greatest obligation he could have received ; but whatever gratitude and reason sucrested to hin, he could never bear the sight of the operator: that image brought back with it the idea of that agony which he suffered from his hands, which was too mighty and intolerable for bim to endure.

9. 15. Many children imputing the pain they endured at school to their books they were corrected for, so join those ideas together, that a book becomes their aversion, and they are never reconciled to the study and use of them all their lives after ; and thus reading becoures a torment to them, which otherwise possibly they might have made the great pleasure of their lives. There are rooms convenient enough, that some men cannot study in, and fashions of vessels, which though ever so clean and commodious, they cannot drink out of, and that by reason of some accidental ideas which are annexed to them, and make them offensive : and who is there that hath not observed some man to flag at the appearance, or in the company of some certain person not otherwise superior to him, but because having once on some occasion got the ascendant, the idea of authority and distance goes along with that of the person, and he that has been thus subjected, is not able to separate them?

$. 16. İnstances of this kind are so plentiful everywhere, that if I add one more, it is only for the pleasant oddness of it. It is of a young gentleman, who having learnt to dance, and that to great perfection, there happened to stand an old trunk in the room where he learnt. The'idea of this remarkable piece of houshold-stuff had so mixed itself with the turns and steps of all his dances, that though in that chamber he could dance excellently well, yet it was only wliilst that trunk was there ; nor could he perform well in any other place, unless that or some such other trunk had its due position in the room. If this story shall be suspected to be dressed up with some comical circumstances, a little beyond precise nature; I answer for myself that I had it some years since from a very sober and worthy man, upon his own knowledge, as I report it : and I dare say, there are very few inquisitive persons, - who read this, who have not met with accounts, if not examples of this nature, that may parallel, or at least justify this. 9. 17. Intellectual habits and defects this

where tain

Its influence way contracted, are not less frequent and

on intellecpowerful, though less observed." Let the

tual habits. ideas of being and matter be strongly joined either by education or much thought, whilst these are still combined in the mind, what notions, what reasonings will there be about separate spirits ? Let custom from the very childhood have joined figure and shape to the idea of God, and what absurdities will that mind be liable to about the Deity ?

Let the idea of infallibility be inseparably joined to any person, and these two constantly together possess the inind; and then one body, in two places at once, shall unexamined be swallowed for a certain truth, by an implicit faith, whenever that imagined infallible person dictates and demands assent without inquiry. 6. 18. Some such wrong and unnatural

Observable combinations of ideas will be found to esta

in different blish the irreconcilable opposition between different sects of philosophy and religion ; for we cannot imagine every one of their followers to impose wilfully on bimself

, and knowingly refuse truth offered by plain reason. Interest, though it does a great deal in the case, yet cannot be thought to work whole societies of men to so universal a perverseness, as that every one of them to a man should knowingly main

sects.

tain falshood: some at least must be allowed to do what all pretend to, i. é. to pursue truth sincerely; and therefore there must be something that blinds their un.' derstandings, and makes them not see the falshood of what they embrace for real truth. That which thus captivates their reasons, and leads men of sincerity blindfold from common sense, will, when examined, be found to be what we are speaking of: some independent ideas, of no alliance to one another, are by education, custom, and the constant din of their party, so coupled in their minds, that they always appear there together; and they can no more separate them in their thoughts, than if there were but one idea, and they operate as if they were so. This gives sense to jargon, demonstration to absurdities, and consistency to nonsense, and is the foundation of the greatest, I had almost said of all the errours in the world; or if it does not reach so far, it is at least the most dangerous one, since so far as it obtains, it hinders men from seeing and examining. When two things in themselves disjoined, appear to the sight constantly united; if the eye sees these things riveted, which are loose, where will you begin to rectify the mistakes that follow in two ideas, that they have been accustomed so to join in their minds, as to substitute one for the other, and, as I am apt to think, often without perceiving it themselves ? This, whilst they are under the deceit of it, makes them incapable of conviction, and they applaud themselves as zealous champions for truth, when indeed they are contending for errour; and the confusion of two different ideas, which a customary connexion of them in their minds hath to them made in effect but one, fills their heads with false views, and their reasonings with false consequences. Conclusion.

§. 19. Having thus given an account of

the original, sorts, and extent of our ideas, with several other considerations, about these (I know not whether I may say) instruments or materials of our knowledge; the method I at first proposed to myself would now require, that I should immediately proceed to show what use the understanding makes of them, and what knowledge we have by them. This was that

which, in the first general view I had of this subject, was all that I thought I should have to do: but, upon a nearer approach, I find that there is so close a connexjon between ideas and words; and our abstract ideas, and general words, have so constant a relation one to another, that it is impossible to speak clearly and dis-, tinctly of our knowledge, which all consists in propositions, without considering, first the nature, use, and signification of language ; which therefore must be the business of the next book.

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

. 1.
GODO
OD having designed man for a

Manfitted to sociable creature, made him not

form articu. only with an inclination, and under a ne- late sounds. cessity to have fellowship with those of his own kind; but furnished him also with language, which was to be the great instrument and common tie of society. Man therefore had by nature his organs so fashioned, as to be fit to frame articulate sounds, which we call words. But this was not enough to produce language; for parrots, and several other birds, will be taught to make articulate sounds distinct enough, which yet, by no means, are capable of language. $. 2. Besides articulate sounds therefore,

To make it was farther necessary, that he should be

them signs able to use these sounds as signs of internal of ideas. conceptions; and to make them stand as marks for the ideas within his own mind, whereby they might be made known to others, and the thoughts of men's minds be conveyed from one to another.

$. 3. But neither was this sufficient to make words -so useful as they ought to be.

neral signs.

It

To make ge

It is not enough for the perfection of language, that sounds can be made signs of idcas, unless those signs can be so made use of as to comprehend several particular things: for the multiplication of words would have perplexed their use, had every particular thing need of a distinct name to be signified by. To remedy this inconvenience, language had yet a farther improvement in . the use of general terms, whereby one word was made to mark a multitude of particular existences: which advantageous use of sounds was obtained only by the difference of the ideas they were made signs of: those names becoming general, which are made to stand for general ideas, and those remaining particular, where the ideas they are used for are particular.

9. 4. Besides these names which stand for ideas, there be other words which men make use of, not to signify any idea, but the want or absence of some ideas simple or complex, or all ideas together; such as are nihil in Latin, and in English, ignorance and barrenness. All which negative or privative words cannot be said properly to belong to, or signify no ideas: for then they would be perfectly insignificant sounds; but they relate to positive ideas, and signity their absence. Words ulti.

9. 5. It may also lead us a little towards mately de. the original of all our notions and knowrived from ledge, if we remark how great a dependence such as sig.

our words have on common sensible ideas: rity sensible and how those, which are made use of to ideas.

stand for actions and notions quite removed from sense, have their rise from thence, and from ubvious sensible ideas are transferred to more abstruse significations; and made to stand for ideas that come not runder the cognizance of our senses: v. g. to imagine, apprehend, comprehend, adhere, conceive, instil, disgust, disturbance, tranquillity, &c. are all words taken from the operations of sensible things, and applied to certain modes of thinking. Spirit, in iis primary signitication, is breath: angel a messenger: and I doubt not, but if we could trace them to their sources, we should find, in all languages, the names, which stand for things that fall not under our senses, to have

had

« PreviousContinue »