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is called, for it informs us of the sense or meaning of that word, and shews us what idea that word is affixed to: but the definition of the name does by no means include a perfect definition of the thing; for, as we have said before, a mere synonymous word, a negation of the contrary, or the mention of any one or two distinguishing properties of the thing may be a sufficient definition of the name. Yet in those cases where the essential difference or essence of a thing is unknown, there a definition of the name by the chief properties, and a description of the thing, are much the same.
And here I think it necessary to take notice of one general sentiment that seems to run through that excellent performance, Mr. Locke's Essay of Human Understanding, and that is, “ That the essences of “ things are utterly unknown to us, and therefore all
our pretences to distinguish the essences of things can reach no farther than mere nominal essences; or a collection of such properties as we know; to
some of which we affix particular names, and “ others we bundle up, several together, under one “ name: and that all our attempts to rank beings « into different kinds of species can reach no farther “ than to make mere nominal species: and therefore
our definitions of things are but mere nominal de. " scriptions or definitions of the name."
Now, that we may do justice to this great author, we ought to consider that he confines this sort of discourse only to the essence of simple ideas, and to the essence of substances, as appears evident in the fourth and sixth chapters of his third book ; for he allows the names of mixed modes always to signify the real essences of their species, chap. v. and he ackuowledges artificial things to have real distinct species; and that in the distinction of their essences, there is generally less confusion and uncertainty than in natural, chap. vi. sect. 40, 4 i. though it must be Confessed that he scarce makes any distinction between the definition of the name and the definition of the thing, as chap. iv, and sometimes the current of bis discourse decries the knowledge of essences in
such general terms, as my justly give occasion to mistake.
It must be granted, that the essence of most of our simple ideas, and the greatest part of particular natural substances are much unknown to us; and therefore the essential difference of sensible qualities,, and of the various kinds of bodies (as I have said before) lie beyond the reach of our understandings: we know not what makes the primary real inward distinctions between red, green, sweet, sour, &c. between wood, iron, oil, stone, fire, water, flesh, clay, in their general natures, nor do we know what are the inward and prime distinctions between all the particular kinds or species in the vegetable, animal, mineral, metallic, or liquid world of things. See Philosophical Essays, essay xi. sect. 1.
But still there is a very large field for the knowledge of the essences of things, and for the use of perfect definitions amongst our complex ideas, the modal appearances and changes of nature, the works of art, the matters of science, and all the affairs of the civil, the moral, and the religious life: and in. deed it is of much more importance to all mankind to have a better acquaintance with the works of art, for their own livelihood and daily use; with the affairs of morality, for their behaviour in this world; and witd the matters of religion, that they may be prepareh for the world to come, than to be able to give a perfect definition of the works of nature.
If the particular essences of natural bodies are un. known to us, we may yet be good philosophers, good artists, good neighbours, good subjects, and good Christians, without that knowledge; and we brave jast reason to be content.
Now that the essences of some of the modal appearances and changes in nature, as well as things of art, science, and morality, are sufficiently known to us to make perfect definitions of them, will appear by the specimen of a few definitions of these things.
Motion is a change of place. Swiftness is the passing over a long space in a short time. A natural day is the time of one alternate revolution of light agd
darkness, or it is the duration of twenty-four hours. An eclipse of the sun is a defect in the snu's traps. mission of light to us by the moon interposing. * Snow is congealed vapour. * Hail is congealed rain. * An island is a piece of land rising above the surrounding water. An * hill is an elevated part of the earth, and a * grove is a piece of ground thick set with trees. An house is a building made to dwell in, A cottage is a mean house in the country. A supper is that meal which we make in the evening. A triangle is a figure composed of three sides. A gallon is a measure containing eight pints. A porter is a man who carries burdens for hire. A king is the chief ruler in a kingdom. Veracity is the conformity of our words to our thoughts. Covetousness is an excessive love of money, or other possessions. Killing is the taking away the life of an animal. Murder is the un. lawful killing of a man. Rhetoric is the art of speaking in a manner fit to persuade. Natural philosophy is the knowledge of the properties of bodies, and the various effects of them, or it is the knowledge of the various appearances in nature, and their causes; and logic is the art of using our reason well, &c.
Thus you see the essential differences of various beings may be known, and are borrowed from their qualities and properties, their causes, effects, objects, adjunct, ends, &c. and indeed as infinitely various to the essences of things are, their definitions must needs have very various forms.
After all it must be confessed that many logicians and philosophers in the former ages, have made too great a bustle about the exactness of their definitions of things, and entered into long fruitless controversies and very ridiculous debates in the several sciences about adjusting the logical formalities of every definition: whereas that sort of wrangling is now grown very justly contemptible, since it is agreed that true learning, and the knowledge of things, depends much more upon a large acquaintance with their various properties, causes, effects, subject, object, ends, and designs, than it does upon the formal and scholastic niceties of genus and difference.
Note, Island, hill, grove, are not designed here in their more remote and substantial natures (if I may so express it) or as the matter of them is earth; for in this sense we know not their essence, but only as considered in their modal appear. ances, whereby one part of earth is distinguished from another, The same may be said of snow, hail, &c.
Sect. VII.-Of a complete Conception of Things. Having dwelt so long upon the first rule to direct our conceptions, and given an account of the defini. tion both of naines and things, in order to gain clear and distinct ideas, we make haste now to the second rule to guide your conceptions, and that is, conceive of things completely in their parts.
All parts have a reference to some whole: now there is an old distinction which logical writers make of a whole and its parts into four several kinds, and it may be proper jast to mention them here.
1. There is a metaphysical whole, when the essence of a thing is said to consist of two parts, the genus and the difference, i. e. the general and the special nature, wbich being joined together make up a definition. This has been the subject of the foregoing sections.
2. There is a mathematical whole, wbich is better called integral, when the several parts, which go to make up the whole, are really distinct from one another, and each of them may subsist apart. So the head, the limbs, and the trunk, are the integral parts of an animal body; so units are the integral parts of any large number; so these discourses which I have written concerning perception, judgment, reasoning, and disposition, are the four integral parts of logic. This sort of part goes to make up the completeness of any subject, and this is the chief and most direct matter of our discourse in this section.
3. There is a physical or essential whole, which is usually made to signify and include only the two essential parts of man, body and soul: but I think the sense of it may be better altered, or at least enlarged, and so include all the essential modes, attributes, or properties, which are contained in the comprehension of any idea. This shall be the subject of discourse under the third rule to direct our conceptions.
4. There is a logical whole, which is also called an universal; and the parts of it are all the particular ideas to which this universal nature extends. So a genus is a whole in respect of the several species which are its parts. So the species is a whole, and all the individuals are the parts of it. This shall be treated of in the fourth rule to guide our conceptions.
At present we onsider an idea as an integral whole, and our second rule directs us to contemplate it in all its parts; but this can only refer to complex ideas, for simple ideas have no parts.
Sect. VIII.- Of Definition and the Rules of it. Since our minds are varrow in their capacities, and cannot survey the several parts of any complex being with one single view, as God sees all things at once; therefore we must, as it were, take it to pieces, and consider of the parts separately, that we may have a more complete conception of the whole. So if I would learn the nature of a watch, the workman takes it to pieces, and shews me the spring, the wheels, the axles, the pinions, the balance, the dial-plate, the pointer, the case, &c. and describes each of these things to me apart, together with their figures and their uses. If I would know what an animal is, the anatomist considers the head, the trunk, the limbs, the bowels, apart from each other, and gives me distinct lectures upon each of them. So a kingdora is divided into its several provinces; a book into its several chapters; and any science is divided according to the several subjects of which it treats.
This is what we properly call the division of an idea, which is an explication of the whole by its several parts, or on enumeration of its several parts, that go to compose any whole idea, and to render it complete. And I think when man is divided into body and soul, it properly connes under this part of the doctrine of in. tegral division, as well as when the mere body is divided into head, trunk, and limbs: this division is sometimes called partition,