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in the agreement or disagreement with those patterns prescribed by some law.
§. 15. To conceive rightly of moral actions, we must take notice of them under this two-fold consideration. First, as they are in themselves each made up of such a collection of simple ideas. Thus drunkenness, or lying, signify such or such a collection of simple ideas, which I call mixed modes : and in this sense they are as much positive absolute ideas, as the drinking of a horse, or speaking of a parrot. Secondly, our actions are considered as good, bad, or indifferent; and in this respect they are relative, it being their conformity to, or disagreement with some rule that makes them to be regular or irregular, good or bad ; and so, as far as they are compared with a rule, and thereupon denominated, they come under relation. Thus the challenging and fighting with a man, as it is a certain positive mode, or particular sort of action, by particular ideas, distinguished from all others, is called duelling: which, when considered in relation to the law of God, will deserve the name sin; to the law of fashion, in some countries, valour and virtue; and to the municipal laws of some governments, a capital crime. In this case, when the positive mode has one name, and another name as it stands in relation to the law, the distinction may as easily be observed, as it is in substances, where one name, v. g. man, is used to signify the thing; another, v. g. father, to signify the relation. The denomi. §. 16. But because very frequently the nations of positive idea of the action, and its moral actions often relation, are comprehended together under mislead us.
one name, and the same word made use of to express both the mode or action, and its moral rectitude or obliquity; therefore the relation itself is less taken notice of, and there is often no distinction made between the positive idea of the action, and the reference it has to a rule. By which confusion of these two distinct considerations under one term, those who yield too easily to the impressions of sounds, and are forward to take names for things, are often misled in their judgment of actions. Thus the taking from ano
ther what is his, without his knowledge or allowance, is properly called stealing; but that name being commonly understood to signify also the moral pravity of the action, and to denote its contrariety to the law, men are apt to condemn whatever they hear called stealing as an ill action, disagreeing with the rule of right. And yet the private taking away · his sword from a madman, to prevent his doing mischief, though it be properly denominated stealing, as the name of such a mixed mode; yet when compared to the law of God, and considered in its relation to that supreme rule, it is no sin or transgression, though the name stealing ordinarily carries such an intimation with it. §. 17. And thus much for the relation of
Relations in human actions to a law, which therefore I
numerable. call moral relation.
It would make a volume to go over all sorts of relations : it is not therefore to be expected, that I should here mention them all. It suffices to our present purpose to show by these, what the ideas are we have of this comprehensive consideration, called relation : which is so various, and the occasions of it so many as many as there can be of comparing things one to another) that it is not very easy to reduce it to rules, or under just heads. Those I have mentioned, I think, are some of the most considerable, and such as may serve to let us see from whence we get our ideas of relations, and wherein they are founded. But before I quit this argument, from what has been said, give me leave to observe;
§. 18. First, That it is evident, that all All relations relation terminates in, and is ultimately terminate in founded on those simple ideas we have got simple ideas, from sensation or reflection: so that all that we have in our thoughts ourselves (if we think of any thing, or have any meaning) or would signify to others, when we use words standing for relations, is nothing but some simple ideas, or collections of simple ideas, compared one with another. This is so manifest in that sort called
proportional, that nothing can be more: for when a man says, honey is sweeter than wax, it is plain that his
thoughts in this relation terminate in this simple idea, sweetness, which is equally true of all the rest ; though where they are compounded or decompounded, the simple ideas they are made up of are, perhaps, seldom taken notice of. V. g. when the word father is mentioned ; first, there is meant that particular species, or collective idea, signified by the word man. Secondly, those sensible simple ideas, signified by the word ration: and thirdly, the effects of it, and all the simple ideas signified by the word child. So the word friend being taken for a man, who loves, and is ready to do good to another, has all these following ideas to the making of it up : first, all the simple ideas, comprehended in the word man, or intelligent being. Secondly, the idea of love. Thirdly, the idea of readiness or disposition. Fourthly, the idea of action, which is in any kind of thought or motion. Fifthly, the idea of good, which signifies any thing that may advance his happiness, and terminates at last, if examined, in particular simple ideas; of which the word good in general signifies any one, but, if removed from all simple ideas quite, it signifies nothing at all. And thus also all moral words terminate at last, though perhaps more remotely in a collection of simple ideas : the immediate signification of relative words, being very often other supposed known relations; which, if traced one to another, still end in simple ideas. We have or. ģ. 19. Secondly, That in relations we dinarily as have for the most part, if not always, as clear (or clear a notion of the relation, as we have clearer) a no tion of the
of those simple ideas, wherein it is founded. relation, as Agreement or disagreement, whereon relaof its foun. tion depends, being things whereof we dation,
have commonly as clear ideas, as of any other whatsoever; it being but the distinguishing simple ideas, or their degrees one from another, without which we could have no distinct knowledge at all. For if I have a clear idea of sweetness, light or extension, I have too, of equal, or more or less of each of these: if I know what it is for one man to be born of a woman, viz. Sempronia, I know what it is for another
man to be born of the same woman Sempronia ; and so have as clear a notion of brothers, as of births, and perhaps clearer. For if I believed that Sempronia dug Titus out of the parsley-bed (as they used to tell children) and thereby became his mother; and that afterwards, in the same manner, she dug Caius out of the parsley-bed; I had as clear a notion of the relation of brothers between them, as if I had all the skill of a midwife: the notion that the same woman contributed, as mother, equally to their births, (though I were ignorant or mistaken in the manner of it,) being that on which I grounded the relation, and that they agreed in that circumstance of birth, let it be what it will. The comparing them then in their descent from the same person, without knowing the particular circumstances of that descent, is enough to found my notion of their having or not having the relation of brothers. But though the ideas of particular relations are capable of being as clear and distinct in the minds of those, who will duly consider them, as those of mixed modes, and more detrminate than those of substances; yet the names belonging to relation are often of as doubtful and uncertain signification, as those of substances or mixed modes, and much more than those of simple ideas : because relative words being the marks of this comparison, which is made only by men's thoughts, and is an idea only irr men's minds, men frequently apply them to different comparisons of things, according to their own imaginations, which do not always correspond with those of others using the same name.
s. 20. Thirdly, That in these I call moral relations, I have a true notion of rela- of the rela. tion, by comparing the action with the rule, whether the rule be true or false. For if I
same, whe. measure any thing by a yard, I know whe
any action is ther the thing I measure be longer or shorter compared to than that supposed yard, though perhaps be true or the yard I measure by be not exactly the standard ; which indeed is another inquiry. For though the rule be erroneous, and I mistaken in it; yet the agreement or disagreement observable in that which I H 3
The notion tion is the
ther the rule
compare with, makes me perceive the relation. Though measuring by a wrong rule, I shall thereby be brought to judge amiss of its moral rectitude, because I have tried it by that which is not the true rule; yet I am not mistaken in the relation which that action bears to that rule I compare it to, which is agreement or disagreement.
Of Clear and Obscure, Distinct and Confused Ideas. Ideas some
$. AVING clear and
our , distinct, their several sorts; considered the differothers ob
ence between the simple and the complex, scure and confused.
and observed how the complex ones are di
vided into those of modes, substances, and relations; all which, I think, is necessary to be done by any one, who would acquaint himself thoroughly with the progress of the mind in its apprehension and knowledge of things: it will, perhaps, be thought I have dwelt long enough upon the examination of ideas. I must, nevertheless, crave leave to offer some few other considerations concerning them.
The first is, that some are clear, and others obscure; some distinct, and others confused. Clear and
§. 2. The perception of the mind being obscure ex.
most aptly explained by words relating to plained by the sight, we shall best understand what is sight, meant by clear and obscure in our ideas, by reflecting on what we call clear and obscure in the objects of sight. Light being that which discovers to us visible objects, we give the name of obscure tą that which is not placed in a light sufficient to discover minutely to us the figure and colours, which are obseryable in it, and which, in a better light, would be discernible. In like manner our simple ideas are clear, when they are such as the objects themselves