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§ 13. Hence likewise we may learn, why the complex ideas of mixed modes are commonly more compounded and decompounded, than those of natural substances. Because they being the workmanship of the understanding, pursuing only its own ends, and the conveniency of expressing in short those ideas it would make known to another, it does with great liberty unite often into one abstract idea things that in their nature have no coherence; and so, under one term, bundle together a great variety of compounded and decompounded ideas. Thus the name of procession, what a great mixture of independent ideas of persons, habits, tapers, orders, motions, sounds, does it contain in that complex one, which the mind of man has arbitrarily put together, to express by that one name? Whereas the complex ideas of the sorts of substances are usually made up of only a small number of simple ones; and in the species of animals, these two, viz. shape and voice, commonly make the whole nominal essence.
In the Heat of the Night Essay - 390 Words
§ 7. But though these complex ideas, or essences of mixed modes, depend on the mind, and are made by it with great liberty; yet they are not made at random, and jumbled together without any reason at all. Though these complex ideas be not always copied from nature, yet they are always suited to the end for which abstract ideas are made: and though they be combinations made of ideas that are loose enough, and have as little union in themselves, as several other to which the mind never gives a connexion that combines them into one idea; yet they are always made for the convenience of communication, which is the chief end of language. The use of language is by short sounds to signify with ease and dispatch general conceptions: wherein not only abundance of particulars may be contained, but also a great variety of independent ideas collected into one complex one. In the making therefore of the species of mixed modes, men have had regard only to such combinations as they had occasion to mention one to another. Those they have combined into distinct complex ideas, and given names to; whilst others, that in nature have as near an union, are left loose and unregarded. For to go no farther than human actions themselves, if they would make distinct abstract ideas of all the varieties might be observed in them, the number must be infinite, and the memory confounded with the plenty, as well as overcharged to little purpose. It suffices that men make and name so many complex ideas of these mixed modes, as they find they have occasion to have names for, in the ordinary occurrence of their affairs. If they join to the idea of killing the idea of father, or mother, and so make a distinct species from killing a man’s son or neighbour, it is because of the different heinousness of the crime, and the distinct punishment is due to the murdering a man’s father and mother, different from what ought to be inflicted on the murder of a son or neighbour; and therefore they find it necessary to mention it by a distinct name, which is the end of making that distinct combination. But though the ideas of mother and daughter are so differently treated, in reference to the idea of killing, that the one is joined with it, to make a distinct abstract idea with a name, and so a distinct species, and the other not; yet in respect of carnal knowledge, they are both taken in under incest: and that still for the same convenience of expressing under one name, and reckoning of one species, such unclean mixtures as have a peculiar turpitude beyond others; and this to avoid circumlocutions and tedious descriptions.