— 486 —
The Names of simple Ideas the least doubtful.
      §18. From what has been said, it is easy to observe, what has
been before remarked, viz. That the Names of simple Ideas are, of all
others the least liable to Mistakes, and that for these reasons. First,
— 487 —
Because the Ideas they stand for, being each but one single percep-
tion, are much easier got, and more clearly retain’d, than the more
complex ones, and therefore are not liable to the uncertainty, which
usually attends those compounded ones of Substances and mixed
Modes, in which the precise number of simple Ideas, that make them
up, are not easily agreed, nor so readily kept in mind. And Secondly,
because they are never referr’d to any other Essence, but barely that
Perception they immediately signify: Which reference is that, which
renders the signification of the names of Substances naturally so
perplexed, and gives occasion to so many Disputes. Men that do not
perversly use their Words, or on purpose set themselves to cavil,
seldom mistake in any Language, which they are acquainted with,
the Use and Signification of the names of simple Ideas, White and
Sweet, Yellow and Bitter, carry a very obvious meaning with them,
which every one precisely comprehends, or easily perceives he is
ignorant of, and seeks to be informed. But what precise Collection
of simple Ideas, Modesty or Frugality stand for in another’s use, is not
so certainly known. And however we are apt to think, we well
enough know, what is meant by Gold or Iron; yet the precise com-
plex Idea, others make them the signs of, is not so certain: And I
believe it is very seldom that in Speaker and Hearer, they stand for
exactly the same Collection. Which must needs produce Mistakes
and Disputes, when they are made use of in Discourses, wherein
Men have to do with universal Propositions, and would settle in
their Minds universal Truths, and consider the Consequences, that
follow from them.
Locke Hum III, 9, §18, pp. 486-487