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himself the trouble to consider them so far as to know what he himself, or
others precisely mean by them; I have therefore in most places chose to put

determinate or determined, instead of clear and distinct, as more
likely to direct Men’s thoughts to my meaning in this matter. By those
denominations, I mean some object in the Mind, and consequently
mined, i.e. such as it is there seen and perceived to be. This I think may fitly
be called a
determinate or determin’d Idea, when such as it is at any time
objectively in the Mind, and so
determined there, it is annex’d and without
determined to a name or articulate sound, which is to be
steadily the sign of that very same object of the Mind, or
determinate Idea.
      To explain this a little more particularly. By
determinate, when applied
to a
simple Idea, I mean that simple appearance, which the Mind has in its
view, or perceives in it self, when that Idea is said to be in it: By
when applied to a complex Idea, I mean such an one as consists of a deter-
minate number of certain simple or less complex Ideas, joyn’d in such a pro-
portion and situation, as the Mind has before its view, and sees in it self when
that Idea is present in it, or should be present in it, when a Man gives a name
to it. I say should be: because it is not every one, nor perhaps any one, who
so careful of his language, as to use no Word, till he views in his Mind the
determined Idea, which he resolves to make it the sign of. The want
of this is the cause of no small obscurity and confusion in Men’s thoughts and
      I know there are not Words enough in any Language to answer all the
variety of Ideas, that enter into Men’s discourses and reasonings. But this
hinders not, but that when any one uses any term, he may have in his Mind a

determined Idea, which he makes it the sign of, and to which he should
keep it steadily annex’d during that present discourse. Where he does not, or
cannot do this, he in vain pretends to
clear or distinct Ideas: ’Tis plain his
are not so: and therefore there can be expected nothing but obscurity and
confusion, where such terms are made use of, which have not such a precise
      Upon this Ground I have thought
determined Ideas a way of speaking less
liable to mistake, than
clear and distinct: and where Men have got such
determined Ideas of all, that they reason, enquire, or argue about, they
will find a great part of their Doubts and Disputes at an end. The greatest
part of the Questions and Controversies that perplex Mankind depending on
the doubtful and uncertain use of Words, or (which is the same)
mined Ideas, which they are made to stand for. I have made choice of these
Locke Hum EpR, p. 13