Transcription of LocHum,484[3]et485[1]
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Instance Liquor.
      §16. This is a natural, and almost unavoidable Imperfection in
almost all the names of Substances, in all Languages whatsoever,
which Men will easily find, when once passing from confused or
loose Notions, they come to more strict and close Enquiries. For
then they will be convinced, how doubtful and obscure those
Words are in their Signification, which in ordinary use appeared
very clear and determined. I was once in a Meeting of very learned
and ingenious Physicians, where by chance there arose a Question,
whether any Liquor passed through the Filaments of the Nerves.
The Debate having been managed a good while, by variety of
Arguments on both sides, I (who had been used to suspect, that the
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greatest part of Disputes were more about the signification of
Words, than a real difference in the Conception of Things) desired,
That before they went any farther on in this Dispute, they would
first examine, and establish amongst them, what the Word Liquor
signified. They at first were a little surprised at the Proposal; and
had they been Persons less ingenuous, they might perhaps have
taken it for a very frivolous or extravagant one: Since there was no
one there, that thought not himself to understand very perfectly,
what the Word Liquor stood for; which, I think too, none of the
most perplexed names of Substances. However, they were pleased
to comply with my Motion, and upon Examination found, that the
signification of that Word, was not so settled and certain, as they
had all imagined; but that each of them made it a sign of a different
complex Idea. This made them perceive, that the Main of their
Dispute was about the signification of that Term; and that they
differed very little in their Opinions, concerning some fluid and
subtile Matter, passing through the Conduits of the Nerves; though
it was not so easy to agree whether it was to be called Liquor, or no,
a thing which when each considered, he thought it not worth the
contending about.
Locke Hum III, 9, §16, pp. 484-485