Imágenes de página
PDF
ePub

to the Reader.
angry, and rail at it, he may
all find some better way of
2 such kind of conversation.
tisfaction to have aimed sin-
ulness, though in one of the
monwealth of learning is not
aster-builders, whose mighty

e sciences, will leave lasting
ration of posterity; but every

Boyle, or a Sydenham; and such masters, as the greatomparable Mr. Newton, with n; it is ambition enough to be abourer in clearing the ground ne of the rubbish that lies in Chich certainly had been very

the world, if the endeavours sous men had not been much I but frivolous use of uncouth, e terms, introduced into the le an art of, to that degree,

nothing but the true know.

terateness of the mischief, nor the prevalence of the fashion, shall be any excuse for those, who will not take care about the meaning of their own words, and will not suffer the significancy of their expressions to be inquired into.

I have been told, that a short epitome of this treatise, which was printed 1688, was by some condemned without reading, because innate ideas were denied in it; they too hastily concluding, that if innate ideas were not supposed, there would be little left, either of the notion or proof of spirits. If any one take the like offence at the entrance of this treatise, I shall desire bim to read it through; and then I hope he will be convinced, that the taking away false foundations, is not to the prejudice, but advantage of truth ; which is never injured or endangered so much, as when mixed with, or built on falshood. In the second edition, I added as followeth :

The bookseller will not forgive me, if I say nothing of this second edition, which he has promised, by the correctness of it, shall make amends for the many faults committed in the former. He desires too, that It should be known, that it has one whole new chapter concerning identity, and many additions and amendments in other places. These I must inform my reader are not all new matter, but most of them either farther confirmations of what I had said, or explications, to prevent others being mistaken in the sense of what was formerly printed, and not any variation in me froin Ht; I must only except the alterations I have made in Book II. Chap. 21.

What I had there writ concerning liberty and the Will, I thought deserved as accurate a view, as I was capable of; those subjects having in all ages exercised the learned part of the world, with questions and difficulties, that have not a little perplexed morality and divinity; those parts of knowledge, that men are most concerned to be clear in. Upon a closer inspeclon into the working of men's minds, and a stricter examination of those motives and views they are turned by, I have found reason somewhat to alter the thoughts

I formerly

ought unfit, or uncapable to d company, and polite connsignificant forms of speech, ave so long passed for myshard and misapplied words, ; have, by prescription, such for deep learning and height ill not be easy to persuade, or those who hear them, that

of ignorance, and hindrance break in upon the sanctuary will be, I suppose, some ser ding: though so few are apt r are deceived in the use of age of the sect they are of ch ought to be examined or shall be pardoned, if I have t long on this subject, and > plain, that neither the inve

terateness

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

I formerly had concerning that, which gives the last determination to the will in all voluntary actions. This I cannot forbear to acknowledge to the world with as much freedom and readiness, as I at first published what then seemed to me to be right; thinking myself more concerned to quit and renounce any opinion of my own, than oppose that of another, when truth appears against it. For it is truth alone I seek, and that will always be welcome to me, when or from whence soever it comes.

But what forwardness soever I have to resign any opinion I have, or to recede from any thing I have writ, upon the first evidence of any errour in it; yet this I must own, that I have not had the good luck to receive any light from those exceptions I have met with in print against any part of my book; nor have, from any thing that has been urged against it, found reason to alter my sense, in any of the points have been questioned. Whether the subject I have in hand requires often more thought and attention, than cursory readers, at least such as are prepossessed, are willing to allow : or, whether any obscurity in my expressions casts a cloud over it, and these notions are made difficult to others apprehensions in my way of treating them: so it is, that my meaning, I find, is often mistaken, and I have not the good luck to be every where rightly understood. There are so many instances of this, that I think it justice to my reader and myself, to conclude, that either my book is plainly enough written to be rightly understood by those who peruse it with that attention and indifferency, which every one, who will give himself the pains to read, ought to employ in reading; or else, that I have writ nine so obscurely, that it is in vain to go about to mend it. Which ever of these be the truth, it is myself only am affected thereby, and therefore I shall be far from troubling my reader with what I think might be said, in answer to those several objections I have met with, to passages here and there of my book: since I persuade myself, that he who thinks them of moment enough to be concerned whether they are true or false, will be able to

see,

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors]

that, which gives the last in all voluntary actions. acknowledge to the world readiness, as I at first pubto me to be right; thinking

to quit and renounce any oppose that of another, when

For it is truth alone I seek, elcome to me, when or from

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

soever I have to resign any le from any thing I have writ, -f any errour in it; yet this I not had the good luck to rese exceptions I have met with of my book; nor have, from urged against it, found reason - of the points have been ques. bject I have in hand requires ttention, than cursory readers, ossessed, are willing to allow: ity in my expressions casts a 2 notions are made difficult to my way of treating them: 80 I find, is often mistaken, and ick to be every where rightly so many instances of this, that y reader and myself, to con ok is plainly enough written to · those who peruse it with that cy, which every one, who will to read, ought to employ in

have writ mine so obscurely, about to mend it. Which erer it is myself only am atiected

shall be far from troubling my ik might be said, in answer to

I have met with, to passages jook: since I persuade miselt.

see, that what is said, is either not well founded, or else
not contrary to my doctrine, when I and my opposer,
coine both to be well understood.

If any, careful that none of their good thoughts should
'be lost, have published their censures of my Essay, with
this honour done to it, that they will not suffer it to
be an Essay; I leave it to the public to value the obliga-
tion they have to their critical pens, and shall not
waste my reader's time in so idle or ill-natured an
employment of mine, as to lessen the satisfaction any
one has in himself, or gives to others, in so hasty a
confutation of what I have written.

The booksellers preparing for the fourth edition of my Essay, gave me notice of it, that I might, if I had leisure, make any additions or alterations I should think fit. Whereupon I thought it convenient to ad. vertise the reader, that besides several corrections I had made here and there, there was one alteration which it was necessary to mention, because it ran through the whole book, and is of consequence to be rightly understood. What I thereupon said was this :

Clear and distinct ideas are terms, which, though familiar and frequent in men's mouths, I have reason to think every one, who uses, does not perfectly understand. And possibly it is but here and there one, who gives himself the trouble to consider them so far as to know what he himself or others precisely, mean by thein: I have therefore in most places chose to put determinate or determined, instead of clear and distinct, as more likely to direct men's thoughts to my meaning in this matter. By those denominations, I mean some object in the mind, and consequently determined, i. e. such as it is there seen and perceived to be. This, 1 think, may fitly be called a determinate or determined Tea, when such as it is at any time objectively in the mind, and so determined there, it is annexed, and without variation determined to a name or articulate sound, Which is to be steadily the sign of that very same object of the mind, or determinate idea.

To explain this a little more particularly. By determinate, when applied to a simple idea, I mean that

simple

m of moment enough to be are true or false, will be able to

[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

siinple appearance which the mind has in its view, or perceives in itself, when that idea is said to be in it: by determinate, when applied to a complex idea, I mean such an one as consists of a determinate number of certain simple or less complex ideas, joined in such a proportion and situation, as the mind has before its view, and sees in itself, when that idea is present in it, or should be present in it, when a man gives a name to it: I say should be; because it is not every one, not perhaps any one, who is so careful of his language, as to use no word, till he views in his mind the precise determined idea, which he resolves to make it the sign of. The want of this is the cause of no small obscurity and confusion in men's thoughts and discourses.

I know there are not words enough in any language, to answer all the variety of ideas that enter into men's discourses and reasonings. But this hinders not, but that when any one uses any term, he may have in his mind a determined idea, which he makes it the sign of, and to which he should keep it steadily annexed, during that present discourse. Where he does not, or cannot do this, he in vain pretends to clear or distinct ideas: it is plain his are not so; and therefore there can be expected nothing but obscurity and confusion, where such terms are made use of, which have not such a precise determination.

Upon this ground I have thought determined ideas a way of speaking less liable to mistakes, than clear and distinct: and where men have got such determined ideas of all that they reason, inguire, or argue about, they will find a great part of their doubts and disputes at an end. The greatest part of the questions and controversies that perplex mankind, depending on the doubtful and uncertain use of words, or (which is the same) indetermined ideas, which they are made to stand for; I have made choice of these terms to signify, 1. Some immediate objcct of the mind, which it perceives and has before it, distinct from the sound it: Lises as a sign of it. 2. That this idea, thus determined, j. e. which the mind has in itself, and knows, and sees there,

[ocr errors]

be

mind has in its view, or
idea is said to be in it:

a complex idea, I mean
terminate number of cer-
cas, joined in such a pro-
mind has before its view,
- idea is present in it, or
n a man gives a name to
e it is not every one, not

careful of his language, e views in his mind the nich he resolves to make of this is the cause of no on in men's thoughts and

The Epistle to the Reader. be determined without any change to that name, and that name determined to that precise idea. If men had, such deterinined ideas in their inquiries and discourses, they would both discern how far their own inquiries and discourses went, and avoid the greatest part of the disputes and wranglings they have with others. *

Besides this, the bookseller will think it necessary I should advertise the reader, that there is an addition of two chapters wholly new; the one of the association of ideas, the other of enthusiasm. These, with some other larger additions never before printed, he has engaged to print by themselves after the same manner, and for the same purpose, as was done when this essay had the second impression.

In the sixth edition, there is very little added or al. tered; the greatest part of what is new, is contained in the 21st chapter of the second book, which any one, If he thinks it worth while, may, with a very little labour, transcribe into the margin of the former edition.

ds enough in any language,
ideas that enter into men's

But this hinders not, but uny term, he may have in his which he makes it the sigu ld keep it steadily annexed, se. Where he does not, or

pretends to clear or distinct 100 so; and therefore there but obscurity and confusion, e use of, which have not such

ive thought determined ideas liable to mistakes, than clear jen have got such determined son, inquire, or argue about, t of their doubts and disputes st part of the questions and i mankind, depending on the e of words, or (which is the , which they are made to stand e of these terms to signity; it of the mind, which it perdistinct from the sound it uses this idea, thus determined, j. e. elf, and knows, and sees there,

Por. I. .

Vol. 1

[blocks in formation]
« AnteriorContinuar »