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is past doubt, there must be some real conftitution, on which any collection of fimple ideas co-exifting must depend. But it being evident, that things are ranked under names into forts or fpecies, only as they agree to certain abstract ideas, to which we have annexed those names: the effence of each genus, or fort, comes to be nothing but that abstract idea, which the general, or fortal (if I may have leave so to call it from fort, as I do general from genus) name ftands for. And this we fhall find to be that which the word effence imports in its most familiar use. These two forts of effences, I fuppofe, may not unfitly be termed, the one the real, the other nominal effence.

Conftant connexion between the name and nominal effence.

fign. Suppofition, that fpecies are diftin

guished by their real

effences, ufe


§. 16. Between the nominal effence and the name, there is so near a connexion, that the name of any fort of things cannot be attributed to any particular being but what has this effence, whereby it answers that abstract idea, whereof that name is the

§. 17. Concerning the real effences of corporeal fubftances, (to mention these only) there are, if I mistake not, two opinions. The one is of those, who using the word effence for they know not what, fuppofe a certain number of thofe effences, according to which all natural things are made, and wherein they do exactly every one of them partake, and fo become of this or that fpecies. The other, and more rational opinion, is of those who look on all natural things to have a real, but unknown conftitution of their infenfible parts; from which flow thofe fenfible qualities, which ferve us to diftinguish them one from another, according as we have occafion to rank them into forts under common denominations. The former of these opinions, which fuppofes thefe effences, as a certain number of forms or moulds, wherein all natural things, that exift, are caft, and do equally partake, has, I imagine, very much perplexed the knowledge of natural things. The frequent productions of monsters, in all the fpccies of animals, and of changelings, and other Arange (


ftrange iffues of human birth, carry with them difficulties, not poffible to confift with this hypothefis : fince it is as impoffible, that two things, partaking exactly of the fame real effence, fhould have different properties, as that two figures partaking of the fame real effence of a circle fhould have different properties. But were there no other reafon against it, yet the fuppofition of effences that cannot be known, and the making of them nevertheless to be that which diftinguishes the fpecies of things, is fo wholly useless, and unferviceable to any part of our knowledge, that that alone were fufficient to make us lay it by, and content ourselves with fuch effences of the forts or species of things as come within the reach of our knowledge: which, when feriously confidered, will be found, as I have said, to be nothing else but those abstract com- ! plex ideas, to which we have annexed distinct general



Real and no

minal effence the fame in

fimple ideas and modes, different in fubftances.

§. 18. Effences being thus diftinguished into nominal and real, we may farther observe, that in the fpecies of fimple ideas and modes, they are always the fame; but in fubftances always quite different. Thus a figure including a space between three lines, is the real as well as nominal effence of a triangle; it being not only the abftract idea to which the general name is annexed, but the very effentia or being of the thing itself, that foundation from which all its properties flow, and to which they are all infeparably annexed. But it is far otherwise concerning that parcel of matter, which makes the ring on my finger, wherein thefe two effences are apparently different. For it is the real conftitution of its infenfible parts, on which depend all thofe properties of colour, weight, fufibility, fixedness, &c. which are to be found in it, which conftitution we know not, and fo having no particular idea of, have no name that is the fign of it. But yet it is its colour, weight, fufibility, fixednefs, &c. which makes it to be gold, or gives it a right to that name, which is therefore its nominal effence: fince nothing can be called gold but what has a conformity of qualiGg 2


ties to that abstract complex idea, to which that name is annexed. But this diftinction of effences belonging particularly to fubftances, we fhall, when we come to confider their names, have an occafion to treat of more fully.


Effences in- §. 19. That fuch abstract ideas, with $. generable names to them, as we have been speaking and incorof, are effences, may farther appear by what we are told concerning effences, viz. that they are all ingenerable and incorruptible. Which cannot be true of the real conftitutions of things which begin and perish with them. All things that exift, befides their author, are all liable to change; especially those things we are acquainted with, and have ranked into bands under diftinct names or enfigns. Thus that which was grafs to-day, is to-morrow the flesh of a fheep; and within a few days after becomes part of a man in all which, and the like changes, it is evident their real effence, i. e. that conftitution, whereon the properties of these feveral things depended, is deftroyed and perishes with them. But effences being taken for ideas, established in the mind, with names annexed to them, they are fuppofed to remain fteadily the fame, whatever mutations the particular fubftances are liable to. For whatever becomes of Alexander and Bucephalus, the ideas to which man and horse are annexed, are fuppofed neverthelefs to remain the fame; and fo the effences of thofe fpecies are preferved whole and undeftroyed, whatever changes happen to any, or all of the individuals of thofe fpecies. By this means the effence of a fpecies refts fafe and entire, without the exiftence of fo much as one individual of that kind. For were there now no circle exifting any where in the world, (as perhaps that figure exifts not any where exactly marked out) yet the idea annexed to that name would not ceafe to be what it is; nor ceafe to be as a pattern to determine which of the particular figures we meet with have or have not a right to the name circle, and fo to show which of them by having that effence, was of that fpecies. And though there neither were nor had been in nature fuch a beaft as an unicorn, or


fuch a fish as a mermaid; yet fuppofing thofe names to ftand for complex abstract ideas that contained no inconfiftency in them, the effence of a mermaid is as intelligible as that of a man; and the idea of an unicorn as certain, fteady, and permanent as that of a horfe. From what has been faid it is evident, that the doctrine of the immutability of effences proves them to be only abstract ideas; and is founded on the relation established between them and certain founds as figns of them; and will always be true as long as the fame name can have the fame fignification.

Recapitula tion.

§. 20. To conclude, this is that which in fhort I would fay, viz. that all the great business of genera and fpecies, and their effences, amounts to no more but this, That men making abstract ideas, and fettling them in their minds with names annexed to them, do thereby enable themselves to confider things, and difcourfe of them as it were in bundles, for the eafier and readier improvement and communication of their knowledge; which would advance but flowly, were their words and thoughts confined only to particulars.

§. I.



Of the Names of Simple Ideas.

Names of fimple ideas,

modes, and fubftances, have each fomething peculiar.

HOUGH all words, as I have fhown, fignify nothing immediately but the ideas in the mind of the fpeaker; yet upon a nearer furvey we fhall find that the names of fimple ideas, mixed modes, (under which I comprise relations too) and natural fubftances, have each of them fomething peculiar and different from the other. ample:

§. 2. First, The names of fimple ideas and fubftances, with the abftract ideas in the mind, which they immediately fignify,


For ex

1. Names of fimple ideas

and fub


ftances intimate real existence.

intimate alfo fome real exiftence, from which was derived their original pattern. But the names of mixed modes terminate in the idea that is in the mind, and lead not the thoughts any farther, as we shall fee more at large in the following chapter.

2. Names of fimple ideas and modes Signify always both real and nominal effence.

§. 3. Secondly, The names of fimple ideas and modes fignify always the real as well as nominal effence of their fpecies. But the names of natural fubftances fignify rarely, if ever, any thing but barely the nominal effences of thofe fpecies; as we shall show in the chapter that treats of the names of substances in particular.

3. Names of fimple ideas undefinable.

§. 4. Thirdly, The names of fimple ideas are not capable of any definition; the names of all complex ideas are. It has not, that I know, been yet observed 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 occafion of great wrangling and obfcurity in men's difcourfes, whilft fome demand definitions of terms that cannot be defined; and others think they ought not to reft fatisfied in an explication made by a more general word, and its restriction, (ör, to speak in terms of art, by a genus and difference) when even after fuch definition made according to rule, those who hear it have often no more a clear conception of the meaning of the word than they had before. This at least I think, that the fhowing what words are, and what are not capable of definitions, and wherein confifts a good definition, is not wholly befides our prefent purpose; and perhaps will afford fo much light to the nature of thefe figns, and our ideas, as to deferve a more particular confideration..

If all were definable, it would be a

§. 5. I will not here trouble myself to prove that all terms are not definable from that progrefs in infinitum, which it will vifibly lead us into, if we fhould allow that all names could be defined. For if the terms of one definition were ftill to be defined by

procefs in in



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