Billeder på siden

Imaginary ideas, which are also called fantastical or chimerical, are such as are made by enlarging, diminishing, unitive, dividing real ideas in the miod, in such a manuer, as no objects, or examples, did or ever will exist, according to the present course of nature, though the several parts of these ideas are borrowed from real objects ; such are the conceptions we have of a centaur, a satyr, a golden mountain, a flying horse, a dog without a head, a buil less than a mouse, or a mouse as big as a bull, and a man twenty feet high.

Some of these fantastical ideas are possible, that is, they are not utterly. inconsistent in the nature of things ; and therefore it is within the reach of divine power to make such objects ; such are most of the instances already given ; but impossible carry an utter inconsistence in the ideas which are joined ; such are selfaclive matter, and infinite or eternal men, a pious man without honesty, or heaven without holiness. Section IV.-The Division of Ideas, with regard to their

Qualities. IDEAS, with regard to their qualities afford us these seve, ral divisions of them. 1. They are either clear and distinct, or obscure and confused. 2. They are vulgar or learned. 3. They are perfect or imperfect. 4. They are true or false.

I. Our ideas are either clear and distinct, or obscure and confused.

Several writers have distinguished the clear ideas from those that are distinct ; and the confused ideas from those that are obscure; and it must be acknowledged, there may be some difference between thein ; for it is the clearness of ideas for the most part makes them distinct : and obscurity of ideas is one thing that will always bring a sort of confusion into them. Yet when these writers come to talk largely upon this subject, and to explain and adjust their meaning with great nicety, I have generally found that they did not keep up the distinction they first designed, but they confound the one with the other. I shall therefore treat of clear or distinct ideaș, as one and the same sort, and obscure or confused ideas, as another.

A clear and distinct idea is that which represents the object of the mind with full evidence and strength, and plainly distinguishes it from all other objects whatsoever.

An obscure and confused idea represents the object either so faintly, so imperfectly, or so mingled with other ideas, that the object of it doth not appear plain to the mind, nor purely in its own nature, nor sufficiently distinguished froin other things. When we see the

sea, and sky nearer at hand, we have a clear and distinct idea of each ; but when we look far toward the horizon, especially in a misty day, our ideas of both are but. obscure and confused; for we know not which is sea and which

is sky. So when we look at the colours of the rajo-bow, we have a clear idea of the red, the blue, the green in the middle of their several arches, and a distinct idea too, wbile the eye fixes there ; but wben we consider the border of those colours, they so run into ove another, that it renders their ideas confused and obscure. So the idea which we have of our brother, or our friend, whom we see daily, is clear and distinct ; but when the absence of many years has injured the idea, it becomes obscure and confused.

Note here, that some of our ideas may be very clear and T distinct in one respect, and very obscure and confused in another. So when we speak of a chiliagonum, or figure of a thousand angles, we have a clear and distinct rational idea of the pumber one thousand angles; for we can demonstrate various properties concerning it by reason : but the image or sensible idea, which we have of the figure is but confused and obscure ; for we cannot precisely distinguish it by fancy from the image of a figure that, has nine hundred angles, or nine hundred and ninety. So when we speak of the infinite divisibility of matter, we always keep in our minds a very clear and distinct idea of division and divisibility. But after we have made a little progress in dividing, and come to parts that are far too small for the reach of our senses, then our ideas, or sensible images of these little bodies, become obscure and indistinct, and the idea of infinite is very obscure, imperfect, and confused.

II. Ideas are either vulgar or learned. A vulgar idea 1 represents to as the most obvious and sensible appearances that! are contained in the object of them ; but a leurned idea pener 10 trates further into the nature, properties, reasons, causes, and ! effects of things. This is best illustrated by some example., 12.5

It is a rulgar idea that we have of a rainbow, when we con-1 ceive a large arch in the clouds, made up of various colours, parallel to cach other : but it is a learned idea which a philosopher has wlien he considers it as the various reflections and refractions i of sun-beams, in drops of falling rain. So it is a vulgar-ideas which we have of the colours of solid bodies, when we perceive them to be, as it were, a red, or blue, or green tincture of the ? surface of those bodies : but it is a philosopicul idea when weco 197 sider the various colours to be nothing else but different sensations" excited in us by the variously refracted rays of light, reflected on our eyes, in a different manner, according to the different sizejo;! or shape, or situation of the particles of which the surfaces of those bodies are composed. It is a vulgar idea which we have d of a watch or clock, when we conceive of it as a pretty instrips")" ment, made to shew us the hour of the day : --but it is a learned a idea which the watchmaker has of it who knows all the several to parts of it, the spriog, the balance, the chain, the wheels, eleito 11

194 axles, &c. together with the various connexions and adjustments of each part, whence the exact and uniform motion of the index is derived, which points to the minute or the hour. So, when a common understanding reads Virgil's Æneid, he has but a rulgar idea of that poem, yet his mind is naturally entertained with the story, and his ears with the verse : but when a critic, or a man who has skill in poesy, reads it, he has a learned idea of its peculiar beauties, he tastes and relishes a superior pleasure; he admires the Roman poet, and wishes he had known the Christian Theology, wbich would have furnished bim with nobler materials and machines than all the heathen idols.

It is with a vulgar idea that the world beholds the cartoons of Raphael at Hampton-court, and every one feels his share of pleasure and entertainment: but a painter contemplates the won, ders of that Italian pencil, and sees a thousand beauties in them which the vulgar eye neglected : his learned ideas, give him a transcendent delight, and yet, at the same time, discover the blemishes which the common gazer never observed.

III. Ideas are either perfect or imperfect, which are otherwise called adequate or indequate.

Those are adequate ideas which perfectly represent, their archetypes or objects. Inadequate ideas are but a partial, or incomplete representation of those archetypes to which they are referred.

All our simple ideas are, in some sense, adequate or perfect, because simple ideas, considered merely as our first perceptions, have to parts in them : 'so we may be said to have a perfect idea of white, black, sweet, sour, length, light, motion, rest, &c. We have also a perfect idea of various figures, as a triangle, a square, a cylinder, a cube, a sphere, which are complex ideas : but our idca ot image of a thousand sides, our idea of the city of London, or the powers of a loadstone, are very imperfect, as well as all our ideas of infinite length or breadth, infinite power," wisdown on duration : for the idea of infinite is endless and everti: growing, and can never be coinpleted.

a Note 1. When we have a perfect idea of any thing in all its parts, it is callod a complete ideu ; when in all its properties, it is called comprehensive. But when we have but an inadequate and imperfect idea, we are only said to apprehend it; therefore wel. use the terın apprehension, when we speak of our knowledge of God, who can never be comprehended by his creatures. IV !!

to Note 2. Though there are a multirude of ideas which may 19 be called perfect, or adequate, in a vulgar sense : yet there are scarce any ideas which are adequate, compreseasive, and coinplete ? in a philosophical sense : (for there is scarce any thing in the world. that we know, ás to all the parts, and powers, and properties of : it, in perfection. Even so plain an idea as that of a triangle bas, 1 perbaps, infinite properties belonging to it, of which we know


VOL. vil,,

but a few. Who can tell what are the shapes and positions of those particles, whichi caitse all the variety of colours that appear on the surface of things? Who knows what are the figures of the little corpuscles that compose and distinguish" different bodies ? The ideas of brass, ironi, gold, wood, stone, hyssop, and roseinury, have an infinite variety of hidden mysteries contained in the shape, size, motion, and position, of the little particles, of which they are composed ; and perhaps also, infinite unknown properties and powers, that may be derived from them. And if we arise to the animal world, or the world of spirits, our knowledge of them must be amazingly imperfect : when there is not the least grain of sand or empty space, but has too many questions and difficulties belonging to it, for the wisest philosopher upon earth to answer and resolve.

IV. Our ideas are either true or false ; for au idea being the representation of a thing in the mind, it must be either a true or a false representation of it. If the idea be conforınable to the object or archetype of it, it is a true idea ; if not, it is a false one. Sometimes our ideas are referred to things really existing without us as their archetypes. If I see bodies in their proper colours ! hiave a true idea ; but when a man under the jaundice sees all bodies yellow, he has a false idea of them. So if we see the sun or moon' rising or setting, our idea represents them bigger than when they are on the ineridian ; and in this sense it is a false idea, because those heavenly bodies are all day and all night of the same bigness. Or when I see a straight staff appear crooked while it is half under the water, I say, the water gives me a false idea of it. Sometimes our ideas refer to the ideas of other men, denoted by such a particular word, as their archetypes : 50 when I hear a protestant use the words church and sacraments, if I understand by these words, a congregation of faithful men who profess christianity, and the two ordinances, baptism and the Lord's-supper, I have a true idea of those words in the common sepse of protestants : but if the man who speaks of them be a papist, he means the church of Rome and the seven sacraments, and then I have a mistaken idea of those words, as spoken by hiun, for he has a different sense and meaning : and in general, whéusoever I mistake the sense of any speaker or writer, f may be said to have a false idea of it:

Some think that truth or falsehood properly belongs only to propositions, which shall be the subject of discourse in the second part of Logic; for if we consider ideas as mere impressions upon the mind, made by outward objects, those impressions will ever be conformable to the laws of nature in such a case; the water will make a stick appear crooked, and the horizontal air will make the sun and moon appear bigger. And generally where there is falschood in ideas, there seems to be some secret or latent proposition, wherevy we judge falsely of things: this is more obvious where we take up the words of a writer or speaker in a mistaken sense, for we join his words to our own ideas, which are different from bis. But after all, since ideas are pictures of things, it cannot be very improper to pronounce them to be true or false, according to their conformity or nonconformity to their examplars.

CHAP. IV.Of Words and their several Divisions, together

with the Advantage and Danger of them. Sect. I.-Of Words in general, and their Use. THOUGH our ideas are first acquired by the perceptions of objects, or by various sensations and reflections, yet we convey then to each other by the means of certain sounds, or written marks, which we call words; and a great part of our knowledge is both obtained and communicated by these means, which are called speech or language.

But as we are led into the knowledge of things by words, so we are oftentimes led into error, or mistake, by the use or abuse of words also. And in order to guard against such mistakes, as well as to promote our improvements in knowledge, it is necessary to acquaiot ourselves a little with words and terms. We shall begin with these observations:

1. Words (whether they are spoken or written) have no natural connexion with the ideas they are designed to signify, nor with the things which are represented in those ideas. There is no manner of affinity between the sounds white in English, or blanc in French, and that colour which we call by that name; por have the letters, of which these words are composed, any natural aptness to signify that colour rather than red or green. Words and names therefore are mere arbitrary signs invented by men to communicate their thoughts or ideas to one another.

2. If one single word were appointed to express but one simple idea, and nothing else, as white, black, sweet, sour, sharp, bitter, extension, duration, there would be searcë any mistake about them.

But alas ! it is a common uphappiness in language, that different simple ideas are sometimes expressed by the same word; so the words sweet and sharp are applied both to the objects of hearing and tasting, as we shall see hereafter; and this, perhaps, may be one cause or foundation of obscurity and error arisiog from words.

3. In communicating our complex ideas to one another, if we could join as many peculiar and appropriated words together in one sound, as we join simple ideas to make one complex one,

« ForrigeFortsæt »