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prehenfion, when we speak of our knowledge of God, who can never be comprehended by his creatures.
Note 2. Though there are a multitude of ideas which may be called perfect or adequate, in a vulgar sense, get there are scarce any ideas which are adequate, comprehensive, and complete in a philosophical sense ; for there is scarce any thing in the world that we know, as to all the parts, and powers, and properties of it, in perfection. Even so plain an idea as that of a triangle, has perhaps infinite properties belonging to it, of which we know but a few. Who can tell what are the shapes and positions of those particles, which cause all the va. riety 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, iron, gold, wood, stone, hyssop, and rosemary, have an infinite variety of hidden mysteries contained in the shape, fize, motion, and position of the little particles of which they are composed; and perhaps allo 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 knowJedge 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 refolye.
IV, Our ideas are eithe. true or false ; for an 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 conformable 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 coDurs, I have a true idea ; but when a man under the jaundice fees all bodies yellow, he has a false idea of them. . So if we see the sun or moon riling or setting, our idea represents them bigger than what they are on the meridian ; and in this sense it is a false idea, because those heavenly bodies are all day and all night of the fame bigness. Or when I see a straight staff appear crooked while it is half under 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. So when I hear a protestant use the words church and sacraments, if I understand by these words a congregation of faithful men who profels christianity, and the two ordinances, baptism and the Lord's supper, I have a true idea of those words in the common fenfe 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, a's spoken by him, for he has a different tense and meaning; and in general, whensoever I mistake the sense of any speaker or writer, I may be said to have a false idea of it..
Some think that truth or falfhood properly belongs only to propositions, which shall be the subject of dilcourse in the second part of logic; for if we consider ideas as mere impressions upon the mind, made by out. ward 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 ge. nerally, where there is falfhood in ideas, there feems. to be fome fecret or latent proposition, whereby we judge falsely of things. This is more obvious where we take up the words of a writer or speaker in a mila taken senle'; for we join his words to our own ideas, which are different from his. But after all, since ideas are pictures of things, it can never be very improper to pronounce them to be true or false, according to their conformity or non-conformity to their examplars.
OF WORDS, AND THEIR SEVERAL DIVISIONS, TOGETHER
WITH THE ADVANTAGE AND DANGER OF THEM.
Of Words in General, and their Use.
THOUGH our ideas are first acquired by the perI ception of objects, or by various sensations and reflections, yet we convey them 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 improvement in knowledge, it is necessary to acquaint ourselves a little with words and terms. We thall begin with these observations.
Obferv. 1., WORDS (whether they are spoken or written) have no natural connection with the ideas they are designed to fignify, nor with the things which are represented in those ideas. There is no manner of difference between the sounds white in English, or black in French, and that colour which we represent by that name; nor have the letters of which these words are composed, any natural aptness to signify that colour than red or green. Words and names therefore are mere arbitrary signs invented by men to communicate their thoughts or ideas to one another.
Observ, 2. If one single word were appointed to ex
press but one simple idea, and nothing else, as white, black, weet, four, harp, bitter, extension, duration, there would be scarce any mistake about them.
But, alas! it is a common unhappiness in language, that different simple ideas are sometimes expressed by the same word ; so the words sweet and sharp are apa; plied 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 arising from words:
Observ. 3. In communicating our complex ideas to one another, if we could join as many peculiar and appropriated words together in one found; as we join simple ideas to make one complex one, we should seldom be in danger of mistaking: When I express the. taste of an apple, which we call the bitter fweet; none can mistake what I mean.
Yet this sort of composition would make all lane guage a most tedious and unweildy thing, since most of our ideas are complex, and many of them have. eight or ten simple ideas in them; so that the remedy would be worse than the disease ; for: what is now expressed in one short word, as month or year, would require two lines to express it. It is necessary, there... fore, that single words-be invented to express complex ideas, in order to make language short and useful
But here is our great infelicity, that when single words signify complex. ideas, one word can never dia. stinctly manifest all the parts of a complex idea ;, and thereby it will often happen, that one man includes more or less in his idea, than another does, while he affixes the same word to it. In this case there will be danger of mistake between them, for they do not mean the same object, though they use the same name.. So if one person or nation, by the word year mean twelve months of thirty days each, that is, three hundred and sixty-five days, another intend a solar. year of three hundred and sixty days, and a third mean a lunar? year, or twelve lunar months, that is, three hundred and fifty-four days, there will be a great variation and error in their account of things, unless they are well apprised of each other's meanings before hand. This:
is supposed to be the reason why some ancient histories and prophecies, and accounts of chronology, are so hard to be adjusted. And this is the true reason of so furious and endless debates on many points in divinity; the words church, Wurship, idolatry, repentance, faith, election, merit, grace, and many others which signify very complex ideas, are not applied to include just the same simple ideas, and the same number of them, by the various contending parties : Thence arise confusion and contest.
Obferv. 4. Though a single name does not certainly manifest to us all the parts of a complex idea, yet it must be acknowledged, that in many of our complex ideas, the single name may point out to us some chief property which belongs to the thing the word signifies; especially when the word or name is traced up to its original, through several languages from whence it is borrowed. So an apostle signifies one that is fent forth.
But this tracing of a word to its original, (which is called etymology), is sometimes a very precarious and uncertain thing; and, after all, we have made but little progress towards the attainment of the full meaning of a complex idea, by knowing some one chief property of it. We know but a smail part of the notion of an apostle by knowing barely that he is sent forth. . · Observ. 5. Many (if not most of our words which are applied to moral and intellectual ideas, when traced up to the original in the learned languages, will be found to signify fenGble and corporeal things: Thus the words apprehension, understanding, abstraction, invention, idea, inference, prudence, religion, church, adoration, &c. have all a corporeal signification in their original. The name fpirit itself signifies breath or air, in Latin, Greek, and Hebrew : Such is the poverty of all languages, they are forced to use these names for incorporeal ideas, which thing has a tendency to error and confusion.
Observ. 6. The last thing I shall mention that leads. us into many a mistake is, the multitude of objects that one name fometimes signifies : There is almost an infinite variety of things and ideas both simple and