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The comprehension of an idea regards all the effential modes and properties of it: so body in its comprehension takes in solidity, figure, quantity, mobility, &c. So a bowl in its comprehension includes round, ness, volubility, &c. .. ,
The extension of an universal idea regards all the particular kinds and fingle beings that are contained under it. So a body in its extension includes sun, moon, star, wood, iron, plant, animal, &c. which are several species, or individuals, under the general name of body. So a bowl, in its extension, includes a wooden bowl, a brass bowl, a white and black bowl, a heavy bowl, c. and all kinds of bowls, together with all the particular individual bowls in the world.
Note. The comprehension of an idea is sometimes taken in so large a sense, as not only to include the essential attributes, but all the properties, modes, and relations whatsoever, that belong to any being, as will appear, Chap. VI.
This account of genus and species is part of that fa.. mous doctrine of universals, which is taught in the schools, with divers other formalities belonging to it; for it is in this place that they introduce difference, which is the primary effential mode, and property, or the secondary essential mode, and accident, or the accidental mode; and these they call the five predicables, because every thing that is affirmed concerning any being must be either the genus, the species, the difference, fome property, some accident, but what farther is necessary to be said concerning these things will be mentioned when we treat of definition.
Having finished the doctine of universal and particu. lar ideas, I should take notice of another divifion of them, which also hath respect to their objects, and that is, they are either real or imaginary.
Real ideas are such as have a just foundation in na. ture, and have real objects, or examplars, which did, or do, or may actually exist, according to the present state and nature of things; such are all our ideas of long, broad, swift, flow, wood, iron, men, horses, thoughts,
fpirits, a cruel master, a proud beggar, a man seven feet high.
Imaginary ideas, which are also called fantastical, or chimerical, are such as are made by enlarging, diminithing, uniting, dividing real ideas in the mind, in fuch a manner as no objects or exemplars did or ever will exist, according to the prefent course of nature, though the several parts of these ideas are borrowed from real objects ; such are these conceptions we have of a centaur, a satyr, a golden mountain, a flying horse, a dog without a head, a bull less than a moule, 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 impossibles carry an utter inconsists ence in the ideas which are joined : such are self-active matter, and infinite or eternal men, a pious man with out honesty, or heaven without holiness.
The Division of Ideas, with regard to their qualities:
TDEAS, with regard to their qualities, afford us
I there several divisions of them. 1. They are eis. ther, clear and distinct, or obscure and confused..ai They are vulgar or learned. 3. They are perfect or imperfect. 4. They are true or false.
I. Our ideas are either clear and diftinet, or obscurs and confused
Several writers have distinguished the clear ideas from those that are distinct; and the confused ideas from those that are obfcure; and it must be ackrowledged, there may be some difference between them; for it is the clearness of ideas for the most part makes
them distinct.; and the obfcurity 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 ideas, 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 what. foever.
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, not purely in its own nature, nor sufficiently distinguished from 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 obfcure and.confused ; for we know not which is sea and which is sky. So when we look at the colours of the rainbow, we have a clear idea of the red, the blue, the green in the middle of their several arches; and a distinct idea too, while the eye fixes there ; but when we consider the border of those.colours, they sorun into one another, that it renders their ideas confused and obscure. So the idea which we have of our brother, or .our friend, whom we Lee 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 distinct in one respect, and very obscure and confused in another. So when we speak of a chiliagonum, or a figure of a thousand angles, we may have a clear .and distinct rational idea of the number one thousand angles; for we can demonstrate various properties con.cerning it by reason; but the image, or sensible idea, which we have of the figure is but confused and obcute; 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 fpeak of the infinite divisibility of matter, we always keep in our minds a very clear and distinct idea of divifion 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 represents to us the most obvious and sensible appear. ances that are contained in the object of them ; but a learned idea penetrates farther into the nature, proper. ties, reafons, causes and effects of things. This is best illustrated by some examples.
It is a vulgar idea that we have of a rainbow, when we conceive a large arch in the clouds, made up of various colours parallel to each other; but it is a learned idea which a philosopher haş when he confiders it as the various reflections and refractions of sun-beams in drops of falling rain. So it is a vulgar idea which we have of the colours of folid 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 philosophical idea when we consider 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 fize, or shape, or situation of the particles of which the surfaces of those bodies are composed. It is a vulgar idea, which we have of a watch or clock, when we conceive of it as a pretty instrument made to shew us the hour of the day; but it is a learned idea which the watchmaker has of it, who knows all the several parts of it, the spring, the balance, the chain, the wheels, their axles, &c. together with the various connections 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 vulgar
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, which would have furnished him 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 wonders 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 ailequate or inadequate.
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, confidered merely as our first perceptions, have no parts in them; so we may be said to have a perfect idea of white, black, sweet, four, 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 coinplex ideas; but our idea or image of a figure 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, wisdom, or duration ; for the idea of infinite is endless and ever growing, and can never be completed.
Note 1. When we have a perfect idea of any thing in all its parts, it is called a complete idea ; 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 use the term as.