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horse we call old at twenty, and a dog at seven years ; because in each of these, we compare their age to different ideas of duration, wbich are settled in our minds, as belonging to these several sorts of animals, in the ordinary course of nature. But the sun and stars, though they have out-lasted several generations of men, we call not old, because we do not know what period God hath set to that sort of beings. This term belonging properly to those things, which we can observe in the ordi. nary course of things, by a natural decay, to come to an end in a certain period of time; and so have in our minds, as it were, a standard to which we can compare the several parts of their duration; and, by the relation they bear thereunto, call them young or old : which we cannot therefore do to a ruby or diamond, things whose usual periods we know not.
9. 5. The relation also that things have Relations of
to one another in their places and disextension. tances, is very obvious to observe; as
above, below, a mile distant from Charing-cross, in England, and in London. But as in duration, so in extension and bulk, there are some ideas that are relative, which we signity by names that are thought positive; as great and little are truly relations. For here also having, by observation, settled in our minds the ideas of the bigness of several species of things from those we have been most accustomed to, we make them as it were the standards whereby to denominate the bulk of others. Thus we call a great apple, such a one as is bigger than the ordinary sort of those we have been used to; and a little horse, such a one as comes not up to the size of that idea, which we have in our minds, to belong ordinarily to horses : and that will be a great horse to a Welshman, which is but a little one to a Fleming; they two having, from the different breed of their countries, taken several-sized ideas to which they compare, and in relation to which they denominate their great and their little.
3.6. So likewise weak and strong are Absolute terms often
but relative denominations of power, como stand for re. pared to some ideas we have at that time lations. of greater or less power. Thus when we
say a weak man, we mean one that has not so much strength or power to move, as usually men have, or usually those of his size have: which is a comparing his strength to the idea we have of the usual strength of men, or men of such a size. The like, when we say the creatures are all weak things; weak, there, is but a relative term, signifying the disproportion there is in the power of God and the creatures. And so abundance of words, in ordinary speech, stand only for relations (and perhaps the greatest part) which at first sight seem to have no such signification : v. g. the ship has necessary stores. Necessary and stores are both relative words ; one having a relation to the accomplishing the voyage intended, and the other to future use. All which relations, how they are confined to and terminate in ideas derived from sensation or reflection, is too obvious to need any explication.
$. 1. ANOTHER occasion the mind
CH A P. XXVII.
often takes of comparing, is the identity convery being of things; when considering sists. any thing as existing at any determined time and place, we compare it with itself existing at another time, and thereon form the ideas of identity and diversity. When we see any thing to be in any place in any instant of time, we are sure (be it what it will) that it is that very thing, and not another, which at that same time exists in another place, how like and undistinguishable soever it may be in all other respects : and in this consists identity, when the idea it is attributed to, vary not at all from what they were that moment wherein we consider their forner existence, and to which we compare the present. For we never finding, nor conceiving it possible, that two things of the same kind should exist in the same place at the same time, we rightly conclude, that whatever exists any where at any time, excludes all of the same kind, and is there itself alone. When therefore we demand, whether any thing Y 3
be the same or no; it refers always to something that existed such a time in such a place, which it was certain at that instant was the same with itself, and no other. From whence it follows, that one thing cannot have two beginnings of existence, nor two things one beginning; it being impossible for two things of the same kind to be or exist in the same instant, in the very same place, or one and the same thing in different places. That therefore that had one beginning, is the same thing; and that which had a different beginning in time and place from that, is not the sanie, but diverse. That which has made the difficulty about this relation, has been the little care and attention used in having precise notions of the things to which it is attributed.
§. 2. We have the ideas but of three Identity of
sorts of substances; 1. God. 2. Finite in, substances.
telligences. 3. Bodies. First, God is without beginning, eternal, unalterable, and everywhere; and therefore concerning his identity, there can be no doubt.
Secondly, finite spirits having had each its determinate time and place of beginning to exist, the relation to that time and place will always determine to each of them its identity, as long as it exists. Thirdly, the same will hold of every particle of matter, to which no addition or subtraction of matter being made, it is the same. For though these three sorts of substances, as we term them, do not exclude one another out of the same place; yet we cannot conceive but that they must necessarily each of them exclude any of the same kind out of the same place : or else the notions and names of identity and diversity would be in vain, and there could be no such distinction of substances, or any thing else one from another. For example: could two bodies be in the same place at the same time, then those two parcels of matter must be one and the same, take them great or little: nay, all bodies must be one and the same. . For by the same reason that two particles of matter may be in one place, all bodies may be in one place : which, when it can be supposed, takes away the distinction of identity and diversity of one and more, and renders it ridiculous. But it being a contradiction, that two or more should be one, identity and diversity are relations and ways of comparing well-founded, and of use to the understanding. All other things being but modes or relations ultimately terminated
modes, in substances, the identity and diversity of each particular existence of them too will be by the same way determined: only as to things whose existence is in succession, such as are the actions of finite beings, v. g. motion and thought, both which consist in a continued train of succession : concerning their diversity, there can be no question : because each perishing the moment it begins, they cannot exist in different times, or in different places, as permanent beings can at different times exist in distant places; and therefore no motion or thought, considered as at different times, can be the same, each part thereof having a different beginning of existence.
§. 3. From what has been said, it is easy Principium to discover what is so much inquired after, individuatiz the principium individuationis; and that, onis. it is plain, is existence itself, which determines a being of any sort to a particular time and place, incominunicable to two beings of the same kind. This, though it seems easier to conceive in simple substances or modes, yet when reflected on is not more difficult in compound ones, if care be taken to what it is applied: v. g. let us suppose an atom, i. e. a continued body under one immutable superficies, existing in a determined time and place; it is evident that, considered in any instant of its existence, it is in that instant the same with itself. For being at that instant what it is, and nothing else, it is the saine, and so must continue as long as its existence is continued; for so long it will be the same, and no other. In like manner, if two or more atoms be joined together into the same mass, every one of those atoms will be the same, by the foregoing rule : and wbilst they exist united together, the mass, consisting of the same atoms, must be the same mass, or the same body, let the parts be ever so differently jumbled. But if one of these atoms be
taken away, or one new one added, it is no longer thic same mass, or the same body. In the state of living creatures, their identity depends not on a mass of the same particles, but on something else. For in them the variation of great parcels of matters alter not the identity: an oak growing from a plant to a great tree, and then lopped, is still the same oak; and a colt grown up to a horse, sometimes fat, sometimes lean, is all the while the same horse : though in both these cases, there may be a manifest change of the parts; so that truly they are not neither of them the same masses of matter, though they be truly one of them the same oak, and the other the same horse. The reason whereof is, that in these two cases, a mass of matter, and a living body; identity is not applied to the same thing.
9. 4. We must therefore consider wherein Identity of
an oak differs from a mass of matter, and vegetables.
that seems to me to be in this, that the one is only the cohesion of particles of matter any how united, the other such a disposition of them as constitutes the parts of an oak; and such an organization of those parts as is fit to receive and distribute nourishment, so as to continue and frame the wood, bark, and leaves, &c. of an oak, in which consists the vegetable life. That being then one plant which has such an organization of parts in one coherent body partaking of one common life, it continues to be the same plant as long as it partakes of the same life, though that life be communicated to new Particles of matter vitally united to the living plant, in a like continued organization conformable to that sort of plants. For this organization being at any one instant in any one collection of matter, is in that particular concreto distinguished from all other, and is that individual life which existing constantly from that moment both forwards and backwards, in the same continuity-of insensibly succeeding parts united to the living body of the plant, it has that identity, which makes the same plant, and all the parts of it parts of the same plant, during all the time that they exist united in that continued orga