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which, in the first general yiew I had of this subject, was all that I thought I should have to do: but, upon a nearer approach, I find that there is so close a connexion between ideas and words; and our abstract ideas, and general words, have so constant a relation one to another, that it is impossible to speak clearly and distinctly of our knowledge, which all consists in propositions, without considering, first the nature, use, and signification of language; which therefore must be the business of the next book.
9. 1. M OD having designed man for a
Manfitted to U sociable creature, made him not
form articu. only with an inclination, and under a ne- late sound cessity to have fellowship with those of his own kind; but furnished him also with language, which was to be the great instrument and common tie of society. Man therefore had by nature his organs so fashioned, as to be fit to frame articulate sounds, which we call words. But this was not enough to produce language; for parrots, and several other birds, will be taught to make articulate sounds distinct enough, which yet, by no means, are capable of language.
$. 2. Besides articulate sounds therefore, it was farther necessary, that he should be
i them signs able to use these sounds as signs of internal of ide conceptions; and to make them stand as marks for the ideas within his own mind, whereby they might be made known to others, and the thoughts of men's minds be conveyed from one to another.
I. 3. But neither was this sufficient to To make ge. make words so useful as they ought to be. neral signs.
It is not enough for the perfection of language, that sounds can be made signs of ideas, unless those signs can be so made use of as to comprehend several particular things: for the multiplication of words would have perplexed their use, had every particular thing need of a distinct name to be signified by. To remedy this incon. venience, language had yet a farther improvement in . the use of general terms, whereby one word was made to mark a multitude of particular existences: which advantageous use of sounds was obtained only by the difference of the ideas they were made signs of': those names becoming general, which are made to stand for general ideas, and those remaining particular, where the ideas they are used for are particular.
1. 4. Besides these names which stand for ideas, there be other words which men make use of, not to signify any idca, but the want or absence of some ideas simple or complex, or all ideas together; such as are nihil in Latin, and in English, ignorance and barrenness. All which negative or privative words cannot be said properly to belong to, or signify no ideas: for' then they would be perfectly insignificant sounds; but they relate to positive ideas, and signify their absence. Wonde hai $. 5. It may also lead us a little towards mately de the original of all our notions and knowrived from ledge, if we remark how great a dependence such as sig. our words have on common sensible ideas: rity sensible
and how those, which are made use of to ideas.
stand for actions and notions quite removed from sense, have their rise from thence, and from ubvious sensible ideas are transferred to more abstruse significations; and made to stand for ideas that come mot under the cognizance of our senses : v. g. to imagine, apprehend, comprehend, adhere, conceive, instil, disgust, disturbance, tranquillity, &c. are all words taken from the operations of sensible things, and applied to certain modes of thinking. Spirit, in its primary signitication, is breath: angel a messenger: and I doubt not, but if we could trace them to their sources, we should find, in all languages, the names, which stand for things that fall not under our senses, to have
had their first rise from sensible ideas. By which we may give some kind of guess what kind of notions they were, and whence derived, which filled their minds who were the first beginners of languages: and how nature, even in the naming of things, unawares suggested to men the originals and principles of all their knowledge : whilst, to give names that might make known to others any operations they felt in themselves, or any other ideas that came not under their senses, they were fain to borrow words from ordinary known ideas of sensation, by that means to make others the more easily to conceive those operations they experimented in themselves, which made no outward sensible appearances : and then when they had got known and agreed names, to signify those internal operations
of their own minds, they were sufficiently furnished to me make known by words all their other ideas; since they
could consist of nothing, but either of outward sensible als een perceptions, or of the inward operations of their minds
about them: we having, as lias been proved, no ideas at all, but what originally come either from sensible objects
without, or what we feel within ourselves, from the inin die ward workings of our own spirits, of which we are con
scious to ourselves within.
§. 6. But to understand better the use Dict and force of language, as subservient to instruction and knowledge, it will be convenient to consider,
First, To what it is that names, in the use of language, are immediately applied.
Secondly, Sinee all (except proper) names are general, and so stand not particularly for this or that single thing, but for sorts and ranks of things; it will be necessary to consider, in the next place, what the sort: and kinds, or, if you rather like the Latin names, what the species and genera of things are; wherсin they consist, and how they come to be made. These being (as they ought) well looked into, we shall the better come to find the right use of words, the natural advantages and defects of language, and the remealies that ought to be used, to avoid the inconveniences of
obscurity or uncertainty in the signification of words,
These considerations therefore shall be the matter of
CHA P. II.
§. 1. M
A N, though he has great va.
riety of thoughts, and such, necessary, for from which others, as well as himself, might communica- . receive profit and delight; yet they are all tion.
within his own breast, invisible and hidden from others, nor can of themselves be made appear. The comfort and advantage of society not being to be had without communication of thoughts, it was necessary that man should find out some external sensible signs, whereof those invisible ideas, which his thoughts are made up for, might be made known to others. For this purpose nothing was so fit, either for plenty, or quickness, as those articulate sounds, which with so much ease and variety he found himself able to make.
Thus we may conceive how words, which were by na:ture so well adapted to that purpose, come to be made use of by men, as the signs of their ideas; not by alry natural connexion that there is between particular articulate sounds and certain ideas, for then there would be but one language amongst all men : but by a voluntary imposition, whereby such a word is made arbitrarily the mark of such an idea. The use then of words is to be sensible marks of ideas; and the ideas they stand for are their proper and immediate signification.
. 6. 2. The use men have of these marks Words are being either to record, their own thoughts the sensible for the assistance of their own memory, or signs of his as it were to bring out their ideas, and lay
uses them. them before the view of others; words in their primary or immediate signification stand for nothing but the ideas in the mind of him that uses them, how imperfectly soever or carelessly those ideas are collected from the things which they are supposed to representa When a man, speaks to another, it is that he may be understood; and the end of speech is, that those sounds, as marks, may make known his ideas to the hearer. That then which words are the marks of are the ideas of the speaker: nor can any one apply them, as marks, immediately to any thing else, but the ideas that he himself hath. For this would be to make them signs of his own conceptions, and yet apply them to other ideas; which would be to make them signs, and not signs, of his ideas at the same time ; and so in effect to have no signification at all. Words being voluntary signs, they cannot be voluntary signs imposed by him on things he knows not. That would be to make them signs of nothing, sounds without signification. · A man cannot make his words the signs either of qualities, in things, or of conceptions in the mind of another, whereof he has none in his own. Till he has some ideas of his own, he cannot suppose them to correspond with the conceptions of another man; nor can he use any signs for them: for thus they would be the signs of he knows not what, which is in truth to be the signs of nothing. But when he represents to himself other men's ideas by some of his own, it he consent to
give them the same names that other men do, it is still to tas; In his own ideas; to ideas that he has, and not to ideas that por ti y he has not.
. 3. This is so necessary in the use of language, that :15. in this respect the knowing and the ignorant, the learned 400 ? and unlearned, use the words they speak (with, any Tize and meaning) all alike. They, in every man's mouth,
. stand for the ideas he has, and which he would express er by them. A child having taken notice of nothing in