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This Abuse contains two false suppositions.
      §21. But however preposterous and absurd it be, to make our
names stand for Ideas we have not, or (which is all one) Essences
that we know not, it being in effect to make our Words the signs of
nothing; yet ’tis evident to any one, whoever so little reflects on the
use Men make of their Words, that there is nothing more familiar.
When a Man asks, whether this or that thing he sees, let it be a
Drill, or a monstrous Foetus, be a Man, or no; ’tis evident, the
Question is not, Whether that particular thing agree to his com-
plex Idea, expressed by the name Man: But whether it has in it the
real Essence of a Species of Things, which he supposes his name Man
to stand for. In which way of using the names of Substances, there
are these false suppositions contained.
      First, That there are certain precise Essences, according to which
Nature makes all particular Things, and by which they are distin-
guished into Species. That every Thing has a real Constitution,
whereby it is what it is, and on which its sensible Qualities depend,
is past doubt: But I think it has been proved, that this makes not
the distinction of Species, as we rank them; nor the boundaries of
their names.
      Secondly, This tacitly also insinuates, as if we had Ideas of these
proposed Essences. For to what purpose else is it, to enquire
whether this or that thing have the real Essence of the Species Man,
if we did not suppose that there were such a specifick Essence
known? Which yet is utterly false: And therefore such Application
of names, as would make them stand for Ideas which we have not,
— 503 —
must needs cause great Disorder in Discourses and Reasonings
about them, and be a great inconvenience in our Communication
by Words.
Locke Hum III, 10, §21, pp. 502-503