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The Poet Juvenal has long ago given us a Hint of this Accuracy and Distinction, when he fays of Brutes and Men,
Indulfit mundi communis Conditor illis
Sat. xvi. v. 134.
Exception. There is one Cafe, wherein some of these last Rules concerning the Definition of Words, may be in some Measure dispensed with; and that is, when strong and rooted Prejudice hath establish'd some favourite "Word or Phrase, and long used it to express some mistaken Notion, or to unite some inconsistent Ideas; for then it is sometimes much easier to lead the World into Truth by indulging their Fondness for a Phrase, and by assigning and applying new Ideas and Notions to their Favourite Word; and this is much safer also than to awaken all their Passions by rejecting both their old Words, and Phrases, and Notions, and introducing all new at once: Therefore we continue to fay, There is Heat in the Fire,there is Coldness in Ice, rather than invent new Words to express the Powers which are in Fire or Ice, to excite the Sensations of Heat or Cold in us. For the fame Reason some Words and Phrases which are less proper, may be continued in Theology, while People are led into clearer Ideas with much more Ease and Success, than if an Attempt were made to change all their beloved Forms of Speech.
In other Cafes, these logical Directions should generally be observed, and different Names affixed to different Ideas.
Here I cannot but take occasion to remark, that it is a considerable Advantage to any Language to have a Variety of new Words introduced into it, that when in Course of Time new Objects and new Ideas arise, there may be new Words and Names assign'd to them: And also where one single Name has sustain'd two or three Ideas in Time past, these new Words may remove the Ambiguity by being affixt to some of those Ideas. This Practice would by Degrees take away Part of the Uncertainty of Language. And for this Reason I cannot but congratulate our Engli/h Tongue, that it has been abundantly enrich'd with the Translation of Words from all our Neighbour Nations, as well as from ancient Languages, and these Words have been as it were enfranchised amongst us; for French, Latin, Greek and German Names will signify English Ideas, as well as Words that are anciently and intirely English,
It may not be amiss to mention in this Place, that as the Determination of the particular Sense in which any Word is used, is called the Definition ps the Name, so the Enumeration of the various Senses of an equivocal Word, is sometimes called the Division or Distinction of the Name; and for this Purpose good Dictionaries are of excellent Use. This Distinction of the Name or Word is greatly necessary in Argumentation or Dispute; when a fallacious Argument is used, he that answers it distinguishes the several Senses of some Word or Phrase in it, and shews in what Sense it is true, and in what Sense it is as evidently false.
Sict. IV. Of the Definition of Things.AS there is much Confusion introduced into our Ideas, by the Means of those Words to which they are affixed 5 so the mingling our Ideas with each other without Caution, is a farther Occasion whereby they become confused. A Court Lady, born and bred up amongst Pomp and Equipage, and the vain Notions of Birth and Quality, constantly joins and mixes all these with the Idea of her self, and she imagines these to be essential to her Nature, and as it were necessary to her Being; thence she is tempted to look upon menial Servants, and the lowest Rank of Mankind, as another Species of Beings quite distinct from her self. A Plough Boy that has never travelled beyond his own Village, and has seen nothing but thatctfd Houses and his Parish-Church, is naturally led to imagine that Thatch belongs to the very Nature of a House, and that that must be a Church which is built of Stone, and especially if it has a Spire upon it. A Child whose Uncle has been excessive fond, and his School-master very severe, easily believes that Fondness always belongs to Uncles, and that Severity is essential to Masters or Instructors, He has seen also Soldiers with red Coats, or Ministers with long black Gowns, and therefore he persuades himself that these Garbs are essential to the Characters, and that he is not a Minister who has not a long black Gown, nor can he be a Soldier who is not dressed in red. It would be well if all such Mistakes ended with Childhood.
It might be also subjoined, that our complex Ideas become confused, not only by uniting or blending together more simple or single Ideas than really belong to them, as in the Instances just mentions; but Obscurity and Confusion sometimes come upon our Ideas also, for want of uniting a sufficient Number of single Ideas to make the complex one: So if I conceive of a Leopard only as a spotted Beast, this does not distinguish it from a Tyger or a Lynx, nor from many Dogsor Horses, which are spotted too; and therefore a Leopard must have some more Ideas added to complete and distinguish it.
I grant that it is a large and free Acquaintance with the World, a watchful Observation and diligent Search into the Nature of Things that must fully correct this kind of Errors: The Rules of Logick are not sufficient to do it: But yet the Rules of Logick may instruct us by what means to distinguish one thing from another, and how to search and mark out as far as may be, the Contents and Limits of the Nature of distinct Beings, and thus may give us great Assistance towards the Remedy of these Mistakes.
As the Definition of Names frees us from that Confusion which Words introduce, so the Definition of Things will in some Measure guard us against that Confusion which mingled Ideas have introduced: For as a Definition of the Name explains what any Word means, so a Definition ofthe Thing explains what is the Nature of that thing.
In order to form a Definition of any Thing we must put forth these three Acts of the Mind.
First, Compare the Thing to be defined with
Other things that are most like to itself, and see
4 whereia wherein its Essence or Nature agrees with them j and this is call'd the general Nature or Genus in a Definition: So if you would define what Wine is, first compare it with other Things like itself, as Cyder, Perry,&c. and you will find it agrees essentially with them in this, that it is 2. fort of 'Juice.
2d,y, Consider the most remarkable and primary Attribute, Property, or Idea wherein this Thing differs from those other Things that are most like it i and that is its essential or specific Difference: So Wine differs from Cyder and Perry, and all other Juices, in that it is pressed from a Grape. This may be called its special Nature, which distinguishes it from other Juices.
2d'y, Join the general and special Nature together, or (which is all one) the Genus and the Difference, and these make up a Definition. So the Juice of a Grape, or Juice pressed from Grapes, is the Definition of Wine.
So if I would define what Winter is, I consider first wherein it agrees with other Things which are most like it (viz.) Summer, Spring, Autumn, and I find they are all Seasons of the Tear; therefore a Season of the Tear is the Genus. Then I observe wherein it differs from these, and that is in the Shortness of the Days; for it is this which does primarily distinguish it from other Seasons; therefore this may be called itsspecial Nature or its Difference. Then by joining these together I make a Definition. Winter is that Season of the Tear wherein the Days are shortest. I confess indeed this is but a ruder Definition of it, for to define it as an accurate Astronomer I must limit the Days, Hours and Minutes.
After the fame manner if we would explain or define what the Picture of a Man is, we consider