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The Qualities which make our complex Ideas of Substances, depend mostly on external, remote, and unperceived Causes.
      §11. Had we such Ideas of Substances, as to know what real Con-
stitutions produce those sensible Qualities we find in them, and
how those Qualities flowed from thence, we could, by the specifick
Ideas of their real Essences in our own Minds, more certainly find
out their Properties, and discover what Qualities they had, or had
not, than we can now by our Senses: and to know the Properties of
Gold, it would be no more necessary, that Gold should exist, and
that we should make Experiments upon it, than it is necessary for
the knowing the Properties of a Triangle, that a Triangle should
exist in any Matter, the Idea in our Minds would serve for the one,
as well as the other. But we are so far from being admitted into the
Secrets of Nature, that we scarce so much as ever approach the
first entrance towards them. For we are wont to consider the Sub-
stances we meet with, each of them, as an entire thing by it self,
having all its Qualities in it self, and independent of other Things;
overlooking, for the most part, the Operations of those invisible
Fluids, they are encompassed with; and upon whose Motions and
operations depend the greatest part of those qualities which are
taken notice of in them, and are made by us the inherent marks of
Distinction, whereby we know and denominate them. Put a piece
of Gold any where by it self, separate from the reach and influence
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of all other bodies, it will immediately lose all its Colour and Weight,
and perhaps Malleableness too; which, for ought I know, would be
changed into a perfect Friability. Water, in which to us Fluidity is
an essential Quality, left to it self, would cease to be fluid. But if
inanimate Bodies owe so much of their present state to other
Bodies without them, that they would not be what they appear to
us, were those Bodies that environ them removed, it is yet more
so in Vegetables, which are nourished, grow, and produce Leaves,
Flowers, and Seeds, in a constant Succession. And if we look a little
nearer into the state of Animals, we shall find, that their Dependence,
as to Life, Motion, and the most considerable Qualities to be
observed in them, is so wholly on extrinsecal Causes and Qualities
of other Bodies, that make no part of them, that they cannot sub-
sist a moment without them: though yet those Bodies on which
they depend, are little taken notice of, and make no part of the
complex Ideas, we frame of those Animals. Take the Air but a minute
from the greatest part of Living Creatures, and they presently lose
Sense, Life, and Motion. This the necessity of breathing has forced
into our Knowledge. But how many other extrinsecal, and possibly
very remote Bodies, do the Springs of those admirable Machines
depend on, which are not vulgarly observed, or so much as thought
on; and how many are there, which the severest Enquiry can never
discover? The Inhabitants of this spot of the Universe, though
removed so many millions of Miles from the Sun, yet depend so
much on the duly tempered motion of Particles coming from, or
agitated by it, that were this Earth removed, but a small part of
that distance, out of its present situation, and placed a little farther
or nearer that Source of Heat, ’tis more than probable, that the
greatest part of the Animals in it, would immediately perish: since
we find them so often destroyed by an excess or defect of the Sun’s
warmth, which an accidental position, in some parts of this our little
Globe, exposes them to. The Qualities observed in a Load-stone, must
needs have their Source far beyond the Confines of that Body; and
the ravage made often on several sorts of Animals, by invisible
Causes, the certain death (as we are told) of some of them, by
barely passing the Line, or, as ’tis certain of others, by being
removed into a Neighbouring Country, evidently shew, that the
Concurrence and Operation of several Bodies, with which, they are
seldom thought, to have any thing to do, is absolutely necessary to
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make them be, what they appear to us, and to preserve those
Qualities, by which we know, and distinguish them. We are then
quite out of the way, when we think, that Things contain within
themselves the Qualities, that appear to us in them: And we in
vain search for that Constitution within the Body of a Fly, or an
Elephant, upon which depend those Qualities and Powers we observe
in them. For which, perhaps, to understand them aright, we ought
to look, not only beyond this our Earth and Atmosphere, but even
beyond the Sun, or remotest Star our Eyes have yet discovered.
For how much the Being and Operation of particular Substances in
this our Globe, depend on Causes utterly beyond our view, is
impossible for us to determine. We see and perceive some of the
Motions and grosser Operations of Things here about us; but whence
the Streams come that keep all these curious Machines in motion
and repair, how conveyed and modified, is beyond our notice and
apprehension; and the great Parts and Wheels, as I may so say, of
this stupendious Structure of the Universe, may, for ought we
know, have such a connexion and dependence in their Influences
and Operations one upon another, that, perhaps, Things in this our
Mansion, would put on quite another face, and cease to be what
they are, if some one of the Stars, or great Bodies incomprehensibly
remote from us, should cease to be, or move as it does. This is cer-
tain, Things, however absolute and entire they seem in themselves,
are but Retainers to other parts of Nature, for that which they are
most taken notice of by us. Their observable Qualities, Actions,
and Powers, are owing to something without them; and there is
not so complete and perfect a part, that we know, of Nature,
which does not owe the Being it has, and the Excellencies of it, to
its Neighbours; and we must not confine our thoughts within the
surface of any body, but look a great deal farther, to comprehend
Locke Hum IV, 6, §11, pp. 585-586-587