Transcription of LocHum,440[2]et441[1]
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Nothing essential to Individuals.       §4. That Essence, in the ordinary use of the word, relates to Sorts,
and that it is considered in particular Beings, no farther than as
they are ranked into Sorts, appears from hence: That take but away
the abstract Ideas, by which we sort Individuals, and rank them
under common Names, and then the thought of any thing essential
to any of them, instantly vanishes: we have no notion of the one,
without the other: which plainly shews their relation. ’Tis neces-
sary for me to be as I am; GOD and Nature has made me so: But
there is nothing I have, is essential to me. An Accident, or Disease,
may very much alter my Colour, or Shape; a Fever, or Fall, may
take away my Reason, or Memory, or both; and an Apoplexy
leave neither Sense, nor Understanding, no nor Life. Other Crea-
tures of my shape, may be made with more, and better, or fewer,
and worse Faculties than I have: and others may have Reason, and
Sense, in a shape and body very different from mine. None of these
are essential to the one, or the other, or to any Individual whatso-
ever, till the Mind refers it to some Sort or Species of things; and
then presently, according to the abstract Idea of that sort, some-
thing is found essential. Let any one examine his own Thoughts, and
he will find, that as soon as he supposes or speaks of Essential, the
consideration of some Species, or the complex Idea, signified by some
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general name, comes into his Mind: And ’tis in reference to that,
that this or that Quality is said to be essential. So that if it be asked,
whether it be essential to me, or any other particular corporeal
Being to have Reason? I say no; no more than it is essential to this
white thing I write on, to have words in it. But if that particular
Being, be to be counted of the sort Man, and to have the name Man
given it, then Reason is essential to it, supposing Reason to be a part
of the complex Idea the name Man stands for: as it is essential to this
thing I write on, to contain words, if I will give it the name Treatise,
and rank it under that Species. So that essential, and not essential, relate
only to our abstract Ideas, and the names annexed to them; which amounts
to no more but this, That whatever particular Thing, has not in it
those Qualities, which are contained in the abstract Idea, which any
general Term stands for, cannot be ranked under that Species, nor be
called by that name, since that abstract Idea is the very Essence of
that Species.
Locke Hum III, 6, §4, pp. 440-441