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Of Simple Ideas.
§. I.the better to understand the nature, Uncommanner, and extent of our knowledge, one poundedapthing is carefully to be observed concerning pearances. the ideas we have; and that is, that some of them are simple, and some complex.
Though the qualities that affect our senses are, in the things themselves, so united and blended, that there is no separation, no distance between them; yet it is plain, the ideas they produce in the mind enter by the senses simple and unmixed. For though the sight and touch often take in from the same object, at the same time, different ideas ; as a man sees at once motion and colour; the hand feels softness and warmth in the same piece of wax: yet the simple ideas, thus united in the same subject, are as perfectly distinct as those that come in by different senses : the coldness and hardness which a man feels in a piece of ice being as distinct ideas in the mind, as the smell and whiteness of a lily; or as the taste of sugar, and smell of a rose. And there is nothing can be plainer to a man, than the clear and distinct perception he has of those simple ideas; which, being each in itself uncompounded, contains in it nothing but one uniform appearance, or conception in the mind, and is not distinguishable into different ideas.
§; c2. These simple ideas, the materials of The 'nd all our knowledge, are suggested and fur- canneither nished to the mind only by those two ways make nor above-mentioned, viz. sensation and reflection, destroy (1) When the understanding is once stored em
(1) Against this, that the materials of all our knowledge are suggested and furnished to the mind only by sensation and reflection, the bishop of Worcester makes use of the idea of substance in these words: "If the idea of substance be grounded upon plain and evident reason, then we must with these simple ideas, it has the power to repeat, compare, and unite them, even to an almost infinite variety; and so can make at pleasure new complex ideas. But it is not in the power of the most exalted wit, or enlarged understanding, by any quickness or variety of thought, to invent or frame one new simple idea in the mind, not taken in by the ways aforementioned: nor can any force of the understanding destroy those that are there. The dominion of man, in this little world of his own understanding, being much-what the same as it is in the great world of visible things; wherein his power, however managed by art and skill, reaches no farther than to compound and divide the materials that are
allow an idea of substance, which comes not in by sensation or reflection; and so we may becertain of something which we have not by these ideas."
To which our author * answers: These words of your lordship's contain nothing as I see in them against me: for I never said that the general idea of substance comes in by sensation and reflection, or that it is a simple idea of sensation or reflection, though it be ultimately founded in them; for it is a complex idea, made up of the general idea of something, or being, with the relation of a support to accidents. For general ideas come not into the mind by sensation or reflection, but are the creatures or inventions of the understanding, as I think I have shown f; and also how the mind makes them from ideas which it has got by sensation and reflection; and as to the ideas of relation, how the mind forms them, and how they are derived from, and ultimately terminate in ideas of sensation and reflection, I have likewise shown.
But that I may not be mistaken what I mean, when I speak of ideas of sensation and reflection, as the materials of all our knowledge; give me leave, my lord, to set down here a place or two, out of my book, to explain myself; as I thus speak of ideas of sensation and reflection:
'That these, when we have taken a full survey of them, and their 'several modes, and the compositions made out of them, we shall find 'to contain all our whole stock of ideas, and we have nothing in our 'minds, which did not come in one of these two ways %.' This thought, in another place, I express thus. - ,.
'These are the most considerable of those simple ideas which the 'mind has, and out of which is made all its other knowledge.; all
•which it receives by the two forementioned ways of sensation and
• reflection And,
'Thus I have, in a short draught, given a view of our original ideas, 'from whence all the rest are derived, and of which they are madeup||.'
* In his first letter to the bishop of Worcester. f B. 3. c. 3. B. 2. c. 25.&C. 28. §.18. tB.2. C. 1. §5. § 8. % C. f. § 10. || B. 2. C.St. $.73.
made to his hand; but can do nothing towards the making the least particle of new matter, or destroying one atom of what is already in being. The same inability will every one find in himself, who shall go about to fashion in his understanding anysimple idea, not received in by his senses from external objects, or by reflection from the operations of his own mind about them. I would have any one try to fancy any taste, which had never affected his palate; or frame the idea of a scent he had never smelt: and when he can do this, I will also conclude that a blind man hath ideas of colours, and a deaf man true distinct notions of sounds.
This, and the like, said in other places, is what I have thought concerning ideas of sensation and reflection, as the foundation and materials of all our ideas, and consequently of all our knowledge: I have set down these particulars out of my book, that the reader having a full view of my opinion herein, may the better see what in it is liable to your lordship's reprehension. For that your lordship is not very well satisfied with it, appears not only by the words under consideration, but by these also: "But we are still told, that our understanding can have no other ideas, but either from sensation or reflection."
Your lordship's argument, in the passage we are upon, stands thus: If the general idea of substance be grounded upon plain and evident reason, then we must allow an idea of substance, which comes not in by sensation or reflection. This is a consequence which, with submission, I think will not hold, viz. That reason and ideas are inconsistent; for if that supposition be not true, then the general idea of substance may be grounded on plain and evident reason; and yet it will not follow from thence, that it is not ultimately grounded on and derived from ideas which come in by sensation or reflection, and so cannot be said to come in by sensation or reflection.
To explain myself, and clear my meaning in this matter. All the ideas of all the sensible qualities of a cherry come into my mind by sensation; the ideas of perceiving, thinking, reasoning, knowing, &c. come into my mind by reflection. The ideas of these qualities and actions, or powers, are perceived by the mind, to be by themselves inconsistent with existence; or, as your lordship well expresses it, we find that we can have no true conception of any modes or accidents, but we must conceive a substratum, or subject, wherein they are, i. e. That they cannot exist or subsist of themselves. Hence the mind perceives their necessary connexion with inherence or being supported; which being a relative idea, superadded to the red colour in a cherry, or to thinking in a man, the mind frames the correlative idea of a support. For I never denied, that the mind could frame to itself ideas of relation, but have showed the quite contrary in my chapters about relation. But because a relation cannot be founded in nothing, or be the relation of nothing, and the thing
§. 3. This is the reason why, though we cannot believe it impossible to God to make a creature with other organs, and more ways to convey into the understanding the notice of corporeal things than those five, as they are usually counted, which he has given to man: yet I think, it is not possible for any one to imagine any other qualities in bodies, howsoever constituted, whereby they can be taken notice of, besides sounds, tastes, smells, visible and tangible qualities. And had mankind been made but with four senses, the qualities then, which are the object of the fifth sense, had been as far from our notice, imagination, and conception, as now any belonging to a sixth, seventh, or eighth sense, can
here related as a supporter, or a support, is not represented to the mind, by any clear and distinct idea; therefore the obscure and indistinct,vague idea of thing, or something, is all that is left to be the positive idea, which has the relation of a support, or substratum, to modes or accidents j and that general, indetermined idea of something is, by the abstraction of the mind, derived also from the simple ideas of sensation and reflection; and thus the mind, from the positive, simple ideas got by sensation and reflection, comes to the general, relative idea of substance, which, without these positive, simple ideas, it would never have.
This your lordship (without giving by detail all the particular steps of the mind in this business) has well expressed in this more familiar way: "We find we can have no true conception of any modes or accidents, but we must conceive a substratum, or subject, wherein they are; since it is a repugnancy to our conceptions of things, that modes or accidents should subsist by themselves."
Hence your lordship calls it the rational idea of substance; and says, "I grant that by sensation and reflection we come to know the powers and properties of things; but our reason is satisfied that there must be something beyond these, because it is impossible that they should subsist by themselves;" so that if this be that which your lordship means by the rational idea of substance, I see nothing there is in it against what I have said, that it is founded on simple ideas of sensation or reflection, and that it is a very obscure idea.
Your lordship's conclusion from your foregoing words is, "and so we may be certain of some things which we have not by those ideas;" which is a proposition, whose precise meaning, your lordship will forgive me, if I profess, as it stands there, I do not understand. For it is uncertain to me, whether your lordship means, we may certainly know the existence of something, which we have not by those ideas ; or certainly know the distinct properties of something, which we have not by those ideas; or certainly know the truth of some proposition, which we have not by those ideas: for to be certain of something may signify either of these. But in which soever of these it be meant, I do not see how11 am concerned in it.
possibly be: which, whether yet some other creatures, in some other parts of this vast and stupendous universe, may not have, will be a greater presumption to deny. He that will not set himself proudly at the top of all things, but will consider the immensity of this fabric, and the great variety that is to be found in this little and inconsiderable part of it which he has to do with, may be apt to think, that in other mansions of it i here may be other and different intelligent beings, of whose faculties he has as little knowledge or apprehension, as a worm shut up in one drawer of a cabinet hath of the senses or understanding of a man: such variety and excellency being suitable to the wisdom and power of the maker. I have here followed the common opinion of man's having but five senses; though, perhaps, there may be justly counted more: but either supposition serves equally to my present purpose.
Of Ideas of one Sense.
§. 1. THE better to conceive the ideas Division of we receive from sensation, it may not be. ?,mple amiss for us to consider them, in reference 1 eas' to the different ways whereby they make their approaches to our minds, and make themselves perceivable by us.
First, Then, there are some which come into our minds by one sense only.
Secondly, There are others that convey themselves into the mind by more senses than one.
Thirdly, Others that are had from reflection only.
Fourthly, There are some that make themselves way, and are suggested to the mind by all the ways of sensation and reflection.
We shall consider them apart under their several heads.
VOL. i. H