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some of them to be of the species which you call * man,' and so to be
'true and real men:' which when your lordship has determined, it is
plain you did it by that which is only the nominal essence, as not
knowing the real one. But ?our lordship farther asks, ' What is it
makes Peter, James, and John real men ? Is it the attributing the
general name to them? No, certainly; but that the true and real
essence of a man is in every one of them.'

" If, when yonr lordship asks, ' What makes them men ? ' your lord-
ship used the word * making * in the proper sense for the efficient cause,
and in that sense it were true, th^i the essence of a man, i e., the
specific essence of that species made a man, it would undoubtedly
follow that this specific essence had a reality beyond that of being
only a general, abstract idea in the mind. But when it is said, that it
18 ' the true and real essence of a man in every one of them that makes
Peter, James, and John true and real men,' the true and real meaning
of these words is no more but that the essence of that species, i. e., the
properties answering the complex, abstract idea to which the specific


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838 BOOK m. CHAP. in.

name u giveo, being found in them, that makes them be properly and
truly called men, or is the reason whj they are called men. Yonr
lordskp adds, 'And we must be as certain of this, as we are that
they are men.'

** How, I beseech yonr lordship, are we certain that they are men,
but only by onr senses flndinff those properties in them which answer*
the abstract, complex idea which is in onr minds of the specific idea,
to which we have annexed the snecific name man ? ' This I take to b<i
the true meaning of what yonr lordship says in the next words, Tiz.,
* They take their denomination of being men from that common nature
or essence which is in them ; * and I am apt to think these words will
not hold true in any other sense.

*< Your lordship's fourth inference begins thus : * That the genera]
Idea is not made from the simple ideas by the mere act of the mind
abstracting from circumstances, but from reason and consideration ol
tliC nature of things.'

" I thought, my lord, that * reason and consideration ' had been * acts
of the mind, mere acts of the mind,' when any thing was done by them.
Tour lordship gires a reason for it, yiz., * For when we see several indi-
Tidnals that have the same powers and properties, we thence infer,
thia there must be something common to all, which makes them of
one kind.'

" I grant the inference to be true ; but must beg leave to deny that
this proves, that the general idea the name is annexed to is not made
by the mind. I have said (and it agrees with what your lordship here
savs), that * the mind, in making its complex ideas of substances, only
follows nature, and puts no ideas together which are not supposed to
have an union in nature : nobody joins the voice of a sheep with the
shape of an horse, nor the colour of lead with the weight and fixed-
ness of gold, to be the complex ideas of any real substances, unless he
has a mind to fill his head with chimeras, and his discourse with
unintelligible words. Men,, observing certain qualities always Joined
and existing together, therein copied nature, and of ideas so united
made their complex ones of substances,' &c.* Which is very little
different from what your lordship here sayg, that it is from our obser-
vation of individuals that we come to infer that *■ there is something
common to them idL' But I do not see how it will thence follow, that
the general or specific idea is not made by the mere act of the mind.
No, says your lordship, ' there is something common to them all,
which makes them of one kind ; and if the difference of kinds be real,
that which makes them all of one kind must not be a nominal but
real essence.'

^This may be some objection to the name of 'nominal essence;*
but is, as I humbly conceive, none to the thing designed by it. There
is an internal constitution of things, on which their properties depend.
This your lordship and I are agreed of, and this we call the ' real
essence.' There are also certain complex ideas, or combinations of
these properties in men's minds, to which they commonly annex
specific names, or names of sorts or kinds of things. This, I believe,
vour lordship does not deny. These complex ideas, for want of a
better name, I have called * nominal essences:* how properly, I will
• Book m. ehap. vl. wet. S8. ».

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Dot dispute. Bat if anj one will help me to a better name for them, I
am readj to receive it : till then I mnst, to express myself, use this.
Kow, m^ lord, body, life, and the power of reasoning being not the
real essence of a man, as I belieye joor loi-dship will agree, will jour
lordship saj, that thej are not enough to make the thing wherein they
are fonnd, of the kind- called *■ man,' and not of ^e kind called ' baboon,*
because the difference of these kinds is real? If this be not real
enough to make the thing of one kind and not of another, I do not
see how ammai rafiojuxfe can be enough reallj to distinguish a man
from an horse ; for that is but the nominal, not real, essence of that
kind designed bj the name 'man.' And jet, I suppose, ererj one
thinks it real enough to make a real difference between that and other
kinds. And if nothing will serve the turn to maJoB things of one kind
and not of another (which as I hare showed, signifies no more but
ranking of them under different specific names) but their real, unknown
constitutions, which are the real essences we are speaking o^ I fear it
would be a long while before we should hare reallj different kinds of
substances, or distinct names for them, unless we could distinguish
them bj these differences, of which we have no distinct conceptions.
For I think it would not be readilj answered me, if I should demand,
wherein lies the real difference in the internal constitution of a stag
from that of a buck, which are each of them verj well known to be of
one kind, and not of the other ; and nobodj questions but that the
kinds whereof each of them is, are reallj different.

'* Your lordship farther sajs, ' And this difference doth not depend
upon the complex ideas of substances, wherebj men arbitrarilj join
modes together in their minds.' I confess, mj lord, I know not what
to saj to this, because I do not know what these ' complex ideas of
subsunces' are 'wherebj men arbitrarilj join modes together in their
minds.' But I am apt to think there is a mistake in the matter, bj
the words that follow, which are these : *For, let them mistake in their
complication of ideas, either in leaving out or putting in what doth not
belong to them ; and let their ideas be what thej please ; the real
essence of a man, and a horse, and a tree, are just what thej were.'

^The mistake I spoke of, I humbj suppose, is this: That things are
here taken to be distinguished bj their real essences ; when, bj the
verj waj of speaking of them, it is clear that thej are alreadj dis-
tinguished bj their nominal essences, and are so taken to be. For
what, I beseech jour lordship, does jour lordship mean when jou saj,
* The real essence of a man, and a horse, and a tree,' but that there
are such kinds alreadj set out bj the signification of these names,
'man, horse, tree? ' And what, I beseech jour lordship, is the signi-
fication of each of these specific names but the complex idea it stands
for ? And that complex idea is the nominal essence, and nothing else.
80 that, taking ' man,' as jour lordship does Uere, to stand for a kind
or sort of individuals, all which agree in that common, complex idea,
which that specific name stands for, it is certain that the real essence
of sll the individuals, comprehended under the specific name ' man,*
in jour use of it, would be just the same, let others leave out or put
into their complex idea of ' man ' what thej please ; because the real
essence on which that unaltered complex idea, i, e., those properties
depend, must necessarilj be concluded to be the same.

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340 BOOK m. GRAP. m.

** For, I take it for granted, that in using the name 'man' in this
place, Toor lordship uses it for that complex idea which is in jonr
lordship's mind of that species. So that jowr lordship, by patting it for,
or Bubstitnting it in the place o( that complex idea where yon say the
real essence of it is just as it was, or the very same it was, does suppose
the idea it stands for to be steadily* the same. For if I change the
signijBcation of the word * man,' whereby it may not comprehend jnst
the same indiyiduals which in your lordship's sense it doe*, bat shat
oat some of those that to yoar lordship are men in your signification
of the word ' man,' or take in others to which yoor lordship does not
allow the name ' man ;' I do not think yon will say, that the roal essence
of man, in both these senses, is the same ; and yet yoor lordship seems
to say so when yon say, * Let men mistake in the complication of their
ideas, either in leaving oat or patting in what does not belons to them ;
and let their ideas be what tney please ; the real essence of the indi-
ytdaals comprehended under the names annexed to these ideas will be
the same :' tor so, I humbly conceiye, it must be put, to make out what
your lordship aims at. For as your lordship puts it by the name of
« man,' or any other specific name, your lordship seems to me to sup-
pose that that name stands for, and not for, the same idea, at the
same time.

<* For example, my lord, let your lordship's idea, to which you annex
the sign ' man,' be a rational animal ; let another man's idea be a
rational animal of such a shape ; let a third man's idea be of an animal
of such a size and shape, leaving out rationality ; let a fourth's be an
animal with a body of such a shape, and an immaterial substance, with
a power of reasoning; let a fifth leave out of his idea an immaterial
substance : it is plain every one of these will call his a ' man,' as well
as your lordship ; and yet it is as plain Uiat ' man,' as standing for all
these distinct, complex ideas, cannot be supposed to have ue same
internal constitution, u e., the same real essence. The truth is, eveir
distinct, abstract idea, with a name to it, makes a real, distinct kind,
whatever the real essence f which we know not of any of them) be.

"^ And therefore I grant it true what your lordship says in the next
words : ' And let the nominal essences difier never so much, the real,
common essences or nature of the several kinds are not at all altered by
them :' t. e.. That our thoughts or ideas cannot alter the real constita*
tions that are in things that exist, there is nothing more certain. But
yet it is true, that the change of ideas to which we annex them, can and
does alter the signification of their names, and thereby alter the kinds
which by these names we rank and sort them into. Your lordship
farther adds, * And these real essences are unchanaeable,' i, «., the in-
ternal constitutions ' are unchangeable.' Of what, 1 beseech your lord-
ship, are the * internal constitutions unchangeable ? ' Not of any thing
that exists, but of Grod alone ; for they may be changed all as easily
by that hand that made them, as the internal frame of a watch. What,
then, is it that is unchangeable? The internal constitution or real
essence of a species ; which, in plain English, is no more but this :
Whilst the same specific name, v. g., of *■ man, horse, or tree,' is annexed
to or made the sign of the same abstract, complex idea under which I
rank several individuals, it is impossible but the real constitution on
• lUs Uth« reading of tbe fourth sditUm In folio; those In octavo have MMll|r«^fiOR.

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whicb that unaltered, complex idea or nominal essence depends, most
be the same : i e., in other words : Where we find all the same proper-
ties, we have reason to conclude there is the same real, internal con«
stitution from which those properties flow.

** But yonr lordship proTCS the real essences to be unchangeable,
because God makes them, in these following words: 'For howeyer
there may happen some yariety in individuals by particular accidents,
yet the essences of men, and horses, and trees, remiun always the same;
because they do not depend on the ideas of men, but on the will of the
Creator, who hath made seyeral sorts of beings/

'^ It is true, the real constitutions or essences of particular thingr
ezitting, ' do not depend on the ideas of men, but on the will of the
Creator ;' but their being ranked into sorts, under such and such namei
does depend, and wholly depend, on the ideas of men."


1. Namn of dmpU ideas, modes, and substaneei, have eoA
eomtMng peeidiair. — Thongh all words, as I have shown, signify
nothing immediately but the ideas in the mind of the speaker,
jret, upon a nearer surrey, we shall find that the names oi simple
ideas, mixed modes (under which I oomprise relations too), and
natural substances, haye each of them something peculiar, and
difiTerent firom the other. For example : —

2. First, Names of simple ideas and substances intimate real
existence. — ^First, The names of simple ideas and substances, with IT
the abstract ideas in the mind which they immediately signify, \
intimate also some real existence, from which was deriyed their \
original pattern. But the names of mixed modes terminate in I
the idea that is in the mind, and lead not the thoughts any &r- I
ther, as we shall see more at large in the following chapter.

3. Secondly, Names of simple ideas and mode^ signxfy always
both real aw nominal essmce.-*Secondly, The names of simple
ideas and modes signify always the real as well as nominsd
essence of their spedes. But the names of natural substances
signify rarely, if eyer, any thing but barely the nominal essences
of those species, as we shall show in the chapter that treats of
the names of substances in particular.

4. Thirdly^ Nomas of simple ideas unda/hMhU— Thirdly, The ^
names of simple ideas are not capable of any definitions ; the ^
names of all complex ideas are. It has not, that I know, hither-
to been taken notice of by any body, what words are, and what
are not, capable of being defined : the want whereof is (as I am
apt to think) not seldom the occasion of ffreat wrangling and
obscurity in men's discourses, whilst some demand de£iitions of
terms that cannot be defined ; and others think they ought to

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342 BOOK ni, CHAP. iv. bbop. v. — X.

rest aatiafied io an explication made bja more general word and
its restriction (or, to speak in terms of art, by a genus and
difference), when even after such definition made according to
rule, those who hear it have often no more a dear conception of
the meaning of the word than thej had before. This, at least, I
think, that the showing what words are, and what are not,
capable of definitions, and wherein consists a good definition, is
not wholly besides our present purpose ; and perhaps will afford
so much light to the nature of these signs and our ide as, as to
deserve a more particular consideration.

b,IfaU wer€ defmaJble, it would be a proceus in infinitum^ — ^I
will not here trouble myself to prove that all terms are not defin-
able, from that progress, m ir^mtun^ which it will yisibly lead
us into if we should allow that all names could be defined For
if the terms of one definition were still to be defined by another,
where at last should we stop ? But I shall, from the nature of
our ideas, and the signification of our woids, show why some
names can, and others cannot, be defined, and which they are.

6. What a definition is. — I think it is agreed, that a definition
lis nothing else but ''the showing the meaning of one word by
\seYeral other not synonymous terms." The meaning of words

being only the ideas they are made to stand for by him that uses
them, the meaning of any term is then showed, or the word is
defined, when by other words the idea it is made the sign of and
annexed to in the mind of the speaker is, as it were, represented
or set before the view of another ; and thus its signification
ascertained. This is the only use and end of definitions ; and
therefore the only measure of what is or is not a good definition.

7. Simple ideas, why undefinable, — ^This beinff premised, I say,
that *' the names of simple ideas,** and those only, '' are incapable

I of being defined.** The reason whereof is this, that the several
t terms of a definition signifying several ideas, they can all to-
\ gether by no means represent an idea which has no composition v
I at all : and therefore a definition (which is properly nothing but
the showing the meaning of one word by several others not 8i^»
nifying each the same thing) can in the names of simple ideas |
have no place.

8. Instances: TKction The not observing this difference in

our ideas and their names, has produced that eminent trifling in
the schools, which is so easy to be observed in the definitions
they give us of some few of these simple ideas. For, as to the
gi*eatest part of them, even those masters of definitions were fain
to leave them untouched, merely by the impossibility they found
in it. What more exquisite jargon could the wit of man invent
than this definition ? — ^' The act of a being in power, as fiur forth,
as in power ; ** which would puzzle any rational man, to whom
It was not already known by its famous absurdity, to fneaa what
word it could ever be supposed to be the explication of. If

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Tallj, asking a Dutchman what heweeginge waa, should have
receiyed this explication in his own langaaffe, that it was ctctui
entis in potentid quaiemu in potenHd ; 1 ask whether any ono
can imagine he could thereby have understood what the word
heweeginae siffnified^ or have flniessed what idea a Dutchman
ordinarily had in his mind, and would signify to another, when
he used that sound 1

0. Nor have the modem philosophers, who have endeavoured
to throw off the jargon of the schools, and speak intelligibly,
much better succeed^ in defining simple ideas, whether by ex-
plaining their causes, or any oUierwise. The atomists, who
define motion to be ''a passage from one place to another : "
what do they more than put one synonymous word for another?
For what is '' passage " other than motion ? And if they were
asked what *' passage " was, how would they better define it than
by ^ motion ? For is it not at least as proper and significant to
say, *^ Passage is a motion from one place to another,'" as to say,
" Motion is a passage I " &c. This is to tra nslate, and not to
define, when w e change t^^o miar^ of the same signification one
for anoth erj which, when one is better understood than the
other, may serve to discover what idea the unknown stands for ;
but is very far from a definition, unless we will say, every
English word in the dictionary is the definition of the Latin
worn it answers, and that ** motion " is a definition of tnotus.
Nor will the successive application of the parts of the superficies
of one body to those of another, which the Cartesians give us,
prove a much better definition of motion, when well examined.

10. LighL — ''The act of perspicuous, as far forth as per-
spicuous," is another peripatetic definition of a simple idea ;
which, though not more absurd than the former of motion, yet
betrays its uselessness and insignificancy more plainly, because
experience will easily convince any one that it cannot make the
meaning of the wora '' light " (which it pretends to define) at all
understood by a blind man : but the definition of motion appears
not at first sight so useless, because it escapes this way of trial
For, this simple idea entering by the touch as well as sight, it is
impossible to show an example of any one. who has no other
way to get the idea of motion but barely oy the definition of
that name. Those who tell us, that light is a great number of
little globules striking briskly on the bottom of the eye, speak
more intelligibly than the schools : but yet these words, ever fo
well understood, would make the idea tne word *' light " stands
for, no more known to a man that imderstands it not before,
than if one should tell him that light was nothing but a compuiy
of little tennis-balls, which fairies all day long struck with
rackets against some men*s foreheads, whilst tney passed by
others. For, granting this explication of the thing to be true ;
f et the idea of the cause of light, if we had it ever so exao^

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344 BOOK m. CHAP. it. sect. XI. — zm.

would no more give us the idea of light itself as it is such a par-
ticalar perception in us, than the idea of the fiffore and motion
of a sharp piece of steel would give us the idea of that paia

I which it is aole to cause in us. For the cause of any sensation,
and the sensation itself, in all the simple ideas of one sense, are
two ideas; and two ideas so different and distant one from
another, that no two can be more so. And therefore should Dea
Cartes*s globules strike ever so long on the retina of a man who
was blind by a fftUta aerefia^ he would thereby never have any
idea of light, or anv thing approaching to it, though he under-
stood what little globules were, and what striking on another
body was, ever so welL And therefore the Cartesians very well
distinguish between that light which is the cause of that sensa-
tion in us, and the idea which is produced in us by it, and is ^lat
which is properly light.

11. Simple ideae why und^malley farther eaplainecL — Simple y
ideas, as has been shown, are only to be got by those impressions
objects themselves make on our minds by the proper inlets ap-
pomted to each sort. If they are not received this way, all the
words in the world made use of to explain or define any of their
names, will never be able to produce m us the idea it stands for.
For words, being sounds, can produce in us no other simple ideas
than of those very sounds ; nor excite any in us but by that
voluntary connexion which is known to be between them and
those simple ideas which common use has made them signs of.
He that thinks otherwise, let him try if any words can give him
the taste of a pineapple, and make him have the true idea of
the relish of that celebrated delicious fruit So far as he is lold
it has a resemblance with any tastes whereof he has the ideaa
already in his memory, imprinted there by sensible objects not
strangers to his palate, so far may he approach that resemblance
in his mind. But this is not giving us tnat idea by a definition,
but exciting in us other simple ideas by their known 'names ;
which will be still very different from the true taste of that fruit
itself. In light and colours, and all other simple ideas, it is the
same thing: for the signification of sounds is not natural, but
only imposed and arbitrary. And no definition of *' light,** or
I* redness," is more fitted or able to produce either of those ideas
in us, than the sound '' light " or ''red " by itself. For to hope
to produce an idea of light or colour by a sound, however form^,
is to expect that sounds should be visible, or colours audible ;
and to make the ears do the office of all the other senses. Which
18 all one as to say, that we might taste, smell, and see by the
ears : a sort of philosophy worthy only of Sancho Pan^a, who
had the faculty to see Dulcinea by hearsav. And therefore he
that has not before receive<l into his mind, by the proper inlet,
the simple idea which any word stands for, can never come to
know tne signification of that word by any other wcoxb or


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ioimds whatsoever, pat together according to any rules of defi-
nition. The only way is by applying to his senses the proper
object ; and so prodadnff that idea in him for which he nas
learned the name already. A stndions bhnd man, who had
mightily beat his head about Tisible-objects, and made use of the
explication of his books and firiends to understand those names
of light and colours which often came in his way, bragged one
day, that he now understood what '* scarlet" signified Upon
which his friend demanding, what scarlet was ? the blind man
answered, It was like the sound of a trumpet. Just such an un-
derstanding of the name of any other simple idea will he have

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