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under that name; or, which is all one, be of that sort. Whereby it is evident, that the essences of the sorts, or (if the Latin word pleases better) species of things, are nothing else but these abstract ideas. For the having the essence of any species being that which makes any thing to be of that species, and the conformity to the idea to which the name is annexed be
i. e. the specific essence of that species, made a man; it would undoubtedly follow, that this specific essence had a reality beyond that of being only a general abstract idea in the mind. But when it is said, that it is the true and real essence of a man in every one of them that makes Peter, James, and John true and real men, the true and real meaning of these words is no more, but that the essence of that species, i. e. the properties answering the complex abstract idea to which the specific name is given, being found in them, that makes them be properly and truly called men, or is the reason why they are called men. Your lordship adds, "And we must be as certain of this, as we are that they are men."
How, I beseech your lordship, are we certain that they are men, but only by our senses, finding those properties in them which answer the abstract complex idea, which is in our minds, of the specific idea to which we have annexed the specific name man? This I take to be the true meaning of what your lordship says in the next words, viz. “They take their denomination of being men from that common nature or essence which is in them ;" and I am apt to think these words will not hold true in any other sense.
Your lordship's fourth inference begins thus-"That the general idea is not made from the simple ideas by the mere act of the mind abstracting from circumstances, but from reason and consideration of the nature of things."
I thought, my lord, that reason and consideration had been acts of the mind, mere acts of the mind, when any thing was done by them. Your lordship gives a reason for it, viz. "For, when we see several individuals that have the same powers and properties, we thence infer, that there must be something common to all, which makes them of one kind."
I grant the inference to be true; but must beg leave to deny that this proves, that the general idea the name is annexed to, is not made by the mind. I have said, and it agrees with what your lordship here says, That the mind, in making its complex ideas of substances, only follows nature, and puts no ideas together, which are not supposed to have an union in nature. Nobody joins the voice of a sheep with the shape of a horse; nor the colour of lead with the weight and fixedness of gold, to be the complex
*B. iii. c. 6. § 28, 29.
ing that which gives a right to that name; the having the essence, and the having that conformity, must needs be the same thing; since to be of any species, and to have a right to the name of that species, is all As, for example, to be a man, or of the species man, and to have right to the name man, is the same thing. Again, to be a man, or of the species man,
ideas of any real substances; unless he has a mind to fill his head with chimeras, and his discourses with unintelligible words. Men observing certain qualities always joined and existing together, therein copied nature, and of ideas so united, made their complex ones of substance," &c. Which is very little different from what your lordship here says, that it is from our observation of individuals, that we come to infer, "that there is something common to them all." But I do not see how it will thence follow, that the general or specific idea is not made by the mere act of the mind.
No," says your lordship, "there is something common to them all, which makes them of one kind; and if the difference of kinds be real, that which makes them all of one kind must not be a nominal but real essence."
This may be some objection to the name of nominal essence; but is, as I humbly conceive, none to the thing designed by it. There is an internal constitution of things, on which their properties depend. This your lordship and I are agreed of, and this we call the real essence. There are also certain complex ideas, or combinations of these properties in men's minds, to which they commonly annex specific names, or names of sorts or kinds of things. This, I believe, your lordship does not deny. These complex ideas, for want of a better name, I have called nominal essences; how properly, I will not dispute. But if any one will help me to a better name for them, I am ready to receive it; till then, I must, to express myself, use this. Now, my lord, body, life, and the power reasoning, being not the real essence of a man, as I believe your lordship will agree, will your lordship say, that they are not enough to make the thing wherein they are found, of the kind called man, and not of the kind called baboon, because the difference of these kinds is real? If this be not real enough to make the thing of one kind and not of another, I do not see how animal rationale can be enough really to distinguish a man from a horse; for that is but the nominal, not real essence of that kind, designed by the name man and yet I suppose every one thinks it real enough to make a real difference between that and other kinds. And if nothing will serve the turn, to MAKE things of one kind and not of another (which, as I have showed, signifies no more but ranking of them under different specific names) but their real unknown constitutions, which are the real essences we are speaking
and have the essence of a man is, the same thing Now since nothing can be a man, or have a right to the name man, but what has a conformity to the abstract idea the name man stands for; nor any thing be a man, or have a right to the species man, but what has the essence of that species; it follows, that the abstract idea for which the name stands, and the es
of, I fear it would be a long while before we should have really different kind of substances, or distinct names for them, unless we could distinguish them by these differences, of which we have no distinct conceptions. For I think it would not be readily answered me, if I should demand, wherein lies the real difference in the internal constitution of a stag from that of a buck, which are each of them very well known to be of one kind, and not of the other; and nobody questions but that the kinds, whereof each of them is, are really different.
Your lordship farther says, "And this difference doth not depend upon the complex ideas of substances, whereby men arbitrarily join modes together in their minds." I confess, my lord, I know not what to say to this, because I do not know what these complex ideas of substances are, whereby men arbitrarily join modes together in their minds. But I am apt to think there is a mistake in the matter, by the words that follow, which are these: "For let them mistake in their complication of ideas, either in leaving out or putting in what doth not belong to them; and let their ideas be what they please, the real essence of a man, and a horse, and a tree, are just what they were."
The mistake I spoke of, I humbly suppose, is this, that things are here taken to be distinguished by their real essences; when, by the very way of speaking of them, it is clear, that they are already distinguished by their nominal essences, and are so taken to be. For what, I beseech your lordship, does your lordship mean, when you say, "The real essence of a man, and a horse, and a tree," but that there are such kinds already set out by the signification of these names, man, horse, tree? And what, I beseech your lordship, is the signification of each of these specific names, but the complex idea it stands for? And that complex idea is the nominal essence, and nothing else. So that taking man, as your lordship does here, to stand for a kind or sort of individuals, all which agree in that common complex idea, which that specific name stands for, it is certain that the real essence of all the individuals comprehended under the specific name man, in your use of it, would be just the same; let others leave out or put into their complex idea of man what they please; because the real essence on which that unaltered complex idea, i. e. those properties, depend, must necessarily be concluded to be the same.
sence of the species, is one and the same. whence it is easy to observe, that the essences of the sorts of things, and consequently the sorting of this, is the workmanship of the understanding, that abstracts and makes those general ideas.
They are the workman
§ 13. I would not here be thought to forget, much less to deny, that nature in
For I take it for granted, that in using the name man, in this place, your lordship uses it for that complex idea which is in your lordship's mind of that species. So that your lordship, by putting it for, or substituting it in the place of that complex idea where you say the real essence of it is just as it was, or the very same as it was, does suppose the idea it stands for to be steadily the same. For, if I change the signification of the word man, whereby it may not comprehend just the same individuals which in your lordship's sense it does, but shut out some of those that to your lordship are men in your signification of the word man, or take in others to which your lordship does not allow the name man; I do not think you will say, that the real essence of man in both these senses is the same. And yet your lordship seems to say so, when you say, "Let men mistake in the complication of their ideas, either in leaving out or putting in what doth not belong to them;" and let their ideas be what they please, the real essence of the individuals comprehended under the names annexed to these ideas, will be the same: for so, I humbly conceive, it must be put, to make out what your lordship aims at. For, as your lordship puts it, by the name of man, or any other specific name, your lordship seems to me to suppose, that that name stands for and not for the same idea, at the same time.
For example, my lord, let your lordship's idea, to which you annex the sign man, be a rational animal: let another man's idea be a rational animal of such a shape; let a third man's idea be of an animal of such a size and shape, leaving out rationality; let a fourth's be an animal with a body of such a shape, and an immaterial substance, with a power of reasoning; let a fifth leave out of his idea an immaterial substance. It is plain every one of these will call his a man, as well as your lordship; and yet it is as plain that men, as standing for all these distinct, complex ideas, cannot be supposed to have the same internal constitution, i. e. the same real essence. The truth is, every distinct abstract idea with a name to it, makes a real distinct kind, whatever the real essence (which we know not of any of them) be.
And therefore I grant it true what your lordship says in the next words, "And let the nominal essences differ never so much, the real common essence or nature of the several kinds are not at all altered by them," i. e. That our thoughts or ideas cannot alter the
the production of things makes several of them alike: there is nothing more obvious, especially in the races of animals, and all things propagated by seed. But yet, I think, we may say the sorting of them under names is the workmanship of the understanding, taking occasion from the observes amongst them to make abstract general ideas, and set them up in the mind, with names annexed to them as patterns or forms (for in that sense the word form has a very proper signification), to which as particular things existing are found to agree, so they come to be of that species, have that denomination, or are put into that classis. For when we say, this is a man,
ship of the understanding, but have
dation in the similitude of things. similitude it
real constitutions that are in things that exist, there is nothing more certain. But yet it is true, that the change of ideas to which we annex them, can and does alter the signification of their names, and thereby alter the kinds, which by these names we rank and sort them into. Your lordship farther adds, "And these real essences are unchangeable," i. e. the internal constitutions are unchangeable. Of what, I beseech your lordship, are the internal constitutions unchangeable? Not of any thing that exists, but of God alone; for they may be changed all as easily by that hand that made them, as the internal frame of a watch. What then is it that is unchangeable? The internal constitution, or real essence of a species; which, in plain English, is no more but this, whilst the same specific name, v. g. of man, horse, or tree, is annexed to, or made the sign of, the same abstract complex idea, under which I rank several individuals; it is impossible but the real constitution on which that unaltered, complex idea, or nominal essence depends, must be the same, i. e. in other words, where we find all the same properties, we have reason to conclude there is the same real, internal constitution from which those properties flow.
But your lordship proves the real essences to be unchangeable, because God makes them, in these following words: "For, however there may happen some variety in individuals by particular accidents, yet the essences of men, and horses, and trees, remain always the same; because they do not depend on the ideas of men, but on the will of the Creator, who hath made several sorts of beings."
It is true, the real constitutions or essences of particular things existing do not depend on the ideas of men, but on the will of the Creator: but their being ranked into sorts, under such and such names, does depend, and wholly depend, on the ideas of men.