An Essay Concerning Humane Understanding, Volume I: Book II, Chapter XXXI.by@johnlocke

An Essay Concerning Humane Understanding, Volume I: Book II, Chapter XXXI.

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1. Adequate Ideas are such as perfectly represent their Archetypes. Of our real ideas, some are adequate, and some are inadequate. Those I call ADEQUATE, which perfectly represent those archetypes which the mind supposes them taken from: which it intends them to stand for, and to which it refers them. INADEQUATE IDEAS are such, which are but a partial or incomplete representation of those archetypes to which they are referred. Upon which account it is plain, 2. Adequate Ideas are such as perfectly represent their Archetypes. Simple Ideas all adequate. First, that ALL OUR SIMPLE IDEAS ARE ADEQUATE. Because, being nothing but the effects of certain powers in things, fitted and ordained by God to produce such sensations in us, they cannot but be correspondent and adequate to those powers: and we are sure they agree to the reality of things. For, if sugar produce in us the ideas which we call whiteness and sweetness, we are sure there is a power in sugar to produce those ideas in our minds, or else they could not have been produced by it. And so each sensation answering the power that operates on any of our senses, the idea so produced is a real idea, (and not a fiction of the mind, which has no power to produce any simple idea); and cannot but be adequate, since it ought only to answer that power: and so all simple ideas are adequate. It is true, the things producing in us these simple ideas are but few of them denominated by us, as if they were only the CAUSES of them; but as if those ideas were real beings IN them. For, though fire be called painful to the touch, whereby is signified the power of producing in us the idea of pain, yet it is denominated also light and hot; as if light and heat were really something in the fire, more than a power to excite these ideas in us; and therefore are called qualities in or of the fire. But these being nothing, in truth, but powers to excite such ideas in us, I must in that sense be understood, when I speak of secondary qualities as being in things; or of their ideas as being the objects that excite them in us. Such ways of speaking, though accommodated to the vulgar notions, without which one cannot be well understood, yet truly signify nothing but those powers which are in things to excite certain sensations or ideas in us. Since were there no fit organs to receive the impressions fire makes on the sight and touch, nor a mind joined to those organs to receive the ideas of light and heat by those impressions from the fire or sun, there would yet be no more light or heat in the world than there would be pain if there were no sensible creature to feel it, though the sun should continue just as it is now, and Mount AEtna flame higher than ever it did. Solidity and extension, and the termination of it, figure, with motion and rest, whereof we have the ideas, would be really in the world as they are, whether there were any sensible being to perceive them or no: and therefore we have reason to look on those as the real modifications of matter, and such as are the exciting causes of all our various sensations from bodies. But this being an inquiry not belonging to this place, I shall enter no further into it, but proceed to show what complex ideas are adequate, and what not.

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by John Locke @johnlocke.English philosopher and physician, widely regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers
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