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Chapter

Simple Ideas.docx


Department
Philosophy
Course Code
PHIL 2203E
Professor
Charles Middleton

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READINGS THREE
OF SIMPLE IDEAS
Though the qualities that affect our senses are so united and blended that there is no separation
no distance between them
There is nothing can be plainer to a man than the clear and distinct perception he has of those
simple ideas
Simple ideas, the materials of all our knowledge are suggested and furnished to the mind only
by those two ways above mentioned viz sensation and reflection
When the understanding is once stored with these simple ideas it has the power to repeat
compare and unite them even to an almost infinite variety and so can make at pleasure new
complex ideas
Nor can any force of he understanding destroy those that are there
But can do nothing towards the making the least particle of new matter or destroying one atom
of what is already being
That a blind man hath ideas of colours and a deaf man true distinct notions of sounds
Yet I think it is not possible for any man to imagine any other qualities in bodies whereby they
can be taken notice of visible and tangible qualities
FUTHER CONSIDERATIONS
Concerning the simple ideas of sensation it is to be considered that whatsoever is so constituted
in nature as to be able by affecting our senses to cause any perception in the mind doth thereby
produce in the understanding a simple idea
Thus the ideas of heat and cold are equally clear and positive ideas in the mind some of the
causes which produce them are barely privations in those subjects from whence our senses
derive those ideas
But to the nature of the things existing without us, it being one thing to perceive and know the
idea of white or black and quite another to examine what kind of particles they must be
We may have the ideas when we are ignorant of their physical causes
All sensation being produced in us only by different degrees and modes of motion in our animal
spirits variously agitated by external objects
Negative names need not be meaningless
We have negative names to which there be no positive ideas but they consist wholly in negation
of some certain ideas, as silence, invisible but these signify not any ideas in the mind but their
absence
The privative causes i have here assigned of positive ideas are according to the common opinion
but in truth it will be hard to determine whether there be really any ideas from a privative case
whether the rest be any more a privation than motion
Ideas or perceptions in our minds as they are modifications of matter in the bodies that cause
such perceptions in us
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