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ligible noise; and therefore he trifles with words, who makes such a propofition, which when it is made, contains no more than one of the terms does, and which a man was supposed to know before ; v. g. a triangle hath three furles, or faffron is yellow. And this is no farther intolerable than where a man goes to explain his terms to one who is supposed, or declares himself not to understand him ; and then it teaches only the fignification of that word, and the use of that fign.
$ 8. But no real Knowledge. We can know then the truth of two sorts of propofitions with perfect certainty; the one is, of those trifling propofitions which have a certainty in them, but it is only a verbal certainty, not instructive. And, fecondly, we can know the truth, and so may be certain in propositions which affirm something of another, which is a necessary consequence of its precise complex idea, but not contained in it; as that the external angle of all triangles is bigger than either of the opposite internal angles; which relation of the outward angle to either of the opposite internal angles, making no part of the complex idea fignified by the name triangle, this is a real truth, and conveys with it instructive real knowledge. ý 9. General Propositions concerning Substances are
often trifling. We have little or no knowledge of what combinations there be of simple ideas existing together in substances, but by our senses; we cannot make any universal certain propofitions concerning them, any farther than our nominal essences lead us, which being to a very few and inconsiderable truths, in respect of those which depend on the real constitutions, the general propositions that are made about substances, if they are certain, are for the most part but trifling, and if they are instructive are uncertain, and such as we can have no knowledge of their real truth, how much (oever constant observation and analogy may allift our judgments in guefling. Hence it comes to pass, that
hoft real time from an onay, with and pro
one may often meet with very clear and coherent discourses, that amount yet to nothing. For it is plain, that names of subftantial beings, as well as others, as far as they have relative fignilications affixed to them, may, with great truth, be joined negatively and affirmatively in propositions, as their relative definitions make them fit to be so joined ; and propositions conifting of such terms, may, with the same clearness, be deduced one from another, as those that convey the most real truths; and all this, without any knowledge of the nature or reali:y of things existing without us. By this method one may make demonstrations and undoubted propositions in words, and yet thereby advance not one jot in the knowledge of the truth of things; v. g. he that having learnt these following words, with their ordinary mutual relative acceptations annexed to them ; v. g. substance, man, animal, form, Soul, vegetative, sensitive, rational, may make reveral undoubted propolitions about the soul, without knowing at all what the soul really is; and of this fort, a man may find an infinite number of propofitions, reasonings, and conclusions, in books of metaphysics, school-divinity, and some forts of natural philofophy, and, after all, know as little of GOD, lie rits, or bouies, as he did before he set out.
$ 10. And why. He that hath liberty to define, i. e. determine the fignification of his names of substances (as certainly every one does in effect, who makes them stand for his own ideas), and makes their significations at a venture, taking them from his own or other mens fancies, and not from an examination or inquiry into the nature of things themselves, may, with little trouble, demonstrate them one of another, according to those fee veral respects and mutual relations he has given them. one to another ;, wherein,, however things agree or disagree in their own nature, he needs mind nothing. but his own notions, with the names he hath bestowed upon them; but thereby no more increases his own: knowledge, than he does his riches, who taking a. bag. of counters, calls one in a certain place a pound, another in another place a Willing, and a third in a third place a penny; and so proceeding, may undoubtedly reckon right, and cast up a great sum, according to his counters so placed, and standing for more or less as he pleases, without being one jot the richer, or without even knowing how much a pound, shilling, or penny is, but only that one is contained in the other twenty times, and contains the other twelve ; which a man may also do in the signification of words, by making them, in respect of one another, more or less, or equally comprehensive. § 11. Thirdly, Using Words variously is trifling with
them. THOUGH yet concerning moft words used in discourses, especially argumentative and controversial, there is this more to be complained of, which is the worst sort of trifling, and which sets us yet farther from the certainty of knowledge we hope to attain by them, or find in them, viz. that most writers are so far from instructing us in the nature and knowledge of things, that they use their words loosely and uncertainly, and do not, by using them constantly and steadily in the same significations, make plain and clear deductions of words one from another, and make their discourses coherent and clear (how little foever it were instructive), which were not difficult to do, did they not find it convenient to shelter their ignorance or obftinacy under the obscurity and perplexedness of their terms; to which, perhaps, inadvertency and ill custom do in many men much contribute.
$ 12. Marks of verbal Propositions. To conclude ; barely verbal propositions may be known by these following marks :
1. Predication in abstract. FIRST, All propositions, wherein two abstract terms are affirmed one of another, are barely about the fige nification of sounds. For fince no abftract idea can be the same with any other but itself, when its abstract name is allirmed of any other term, it can Ggnify no
more but this, that it may or ought to be called by that name, or that these two names signify the same idea. Thus should any one say that parfimony is frue gality, that gratitude is justice, that this or that adtion is or is not temperance, however specious these and the like propositions may at first fight feem, yet when we come to press them, and examine nicely what they contain, we ihall find that it all amounts to nothing. but the signification of those terms. Ø 13. 2. A part of the Definition predicated of any
Term. SECONDLY, All propositions wherein a part of the complex idea which any term stands for, is predicated of that term, are only verbal, v. g. to say that gold is a metal or heavy. And thus all propositions, wherein more comprehensive words, called generu, are affirmed of subordinate or less comprehensive, called Species, or individuals, are barely verbal.
When, by these two rules, we have examined the propofitions that make up the discourses we ordinarily meet with both in and out of books, we shall, perhaps, find that a greater part of them than is usually sula pected, are purely about the signification of words, and contain nothing in them but the use and application of these figns.
This, I think, I may lay down for an infallible rule, that wherever the distinct idea any word stands for iz not known and considered, and something not contained in the idea is not affirmed or denied of it, there our thoughts stick wholly in sounds, and are able to attain no real truth or falsehood. This, perhaps, if well heeded, might fave us a great deal of uselels amusement and dispute, and very much shorten. our trouble and wandering, in the search of real and true knowledge.
OF OUR KNOWLEDGE OF EXISTENCE.
"$1. General certain Propositions concern not Exiff
ence. I TITHERTO we have only considered the efseno ces of things, which being only abstract ideas, and thereby removed in our thoughts from particular existence (that being the proper operations of the mind, in abstraction, to consider an idea under no other existence but what it has in the understanding), gives us no knowledge of real existence at all. Where, by the way, we may take notice, that univerfal propofitions, of whose truth or falsehood we can have certain knowledge, concern not existence ; and farther, that all particular affirmations or negations, that would not be certain if they were made general, are only concerning existence ; they declaring only the accidental union or separation of ideas in things existing, which in their abstract natures, have no known neceffary union or repugnancy.
$ 2. A threefold Knowledge of Existence. But leaving the nature of propositions, and different ways of predication, to be considered more at large in another place, let us proceed now to inquire concern. ing our knowledge of the existence of things, and how we come by it. I say then, that we have the knowjedge of our own existence by intuition ; of the exiftence of God by demonftration; and of other things by sensation. : Ø 3Our K 110wledge of our own Existence is intui.
tive. As for our own existence, we perceive it so plainly, and so certainly, that it neither needs, nor is capable of any proof; for nothing can be more evident to us than our own existence. I think, I reason, I feel pleaJure and pain ; can any of these be more evident to