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7th Observ. The perfect Definition of any Being always includes the Definition of the Name whereby it 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 Names 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 fame.
And here I think it necessary to take Notice of one general Sentiment that seems to run thro' that excellent Performance, Mr. Locke's Essay of human Understandings and that is, "That "the Essences of Things are utterly unknown "to us, and therefore all our Pretences to distin"guifh the Essences of Things can reach no far"ther than mere nominal Essences j or a Collecti"on 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 Be"ings 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 Descriptions 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 os simple Ideas, and to the Essence of Substances, as appears evident in the fourth and sixth Chapters of his H 4 Third Third Book: for he allows the Names of mixed Modes always to signify the real Essences of their Species, Chap. V. and he acknowledges 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. Sett. 40, 41. 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 his Discourse decries the Knowledge of Essences in such general Terms as may 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, Metallick, or Liquid World of Things. See Philosoph. Essays. Ess. xi. Sec. 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 indeed 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 with the Matters of Religion, that they maybe prepared 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 unknown to us, we may yet be good Philosophers, good Artists, good Neighbours, good Subjects and good Christians without that Knowledge, and we have just Reason to be content.
Now that the Essences of some of the modal Appearances and Changes in Nature, as well as Things ofArt, 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 and Darkness, or it is the Duration of twenty four Hours. An Eclipse of the Sun is a Defect in the Sun's Transmission 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 sorter is a Man who carries Burdens for Hire. A
• Note, Island, Hill, Grove, are not designed here in their more rtmtteani substantial Natures, (if I may so express it) or as the Matter of them is Earth i for in this Sense we know not their Essence, but only as consider'd intheir modal Appearances, whereby one part ofEartbis distinpu'Thf r-om (pother. The fame may be said of 8mm, Hail, &c.
King 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 unlawful killing of a Man. Rhetorick 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 Logick is the Art of using our Reason well, &c.
Thus you fee the essential Differences of various Beings may be known, and are borrowed from their Qualities and Properties, their Causes, Effects, Objects, Adjuncts, Ends, &c. and indeed as infinitely various as 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 fort 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 schoJastick Niceties of Genus and Difference.
. .. Sect.
Of a complete Conception of Things.
HAVING dwelt so long upon the first Rule to direct our Conceptions, and given an Account of the Definition both of Names and Things in order to gain clear and distinct Ideas, we make haste now to the second Rule to guide our Conceptions, and that is, Conceive of Things completely in all 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 just 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, which being joined together make up a Definition. This has been the Subject of the foregoing Sections.
2. There is a mathematical Whole which 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 Logick. This Sort of Parts goes to make up the Completeness of any Subject, and this is the chief and most direct Matter of our Discourse in this Section,