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Simple Ideas the Materials of all our Knowledge.       §10. These, if they are not all, are at least (as I think) the most
considerable of those simple Ideas which the Mind has, and out of
which is made all its other knowledge; all which it receives only by
the two forementioned ways of Sensation and Reflection.
      Nor let any one think these too narrow bounds for the capacious
Mind of Man to expatiate in, which takes its flight farther than the
Stars, and cannot be confined by the limits of the World; that
extends its thoughts often, even beyond the utmost expansion of
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Matter, and makes excursions into that incomprehensible Inane.
I grant all this, but desire any one to assign any simple Idea, which is
not received from one of those Inlets before-mentioned, or any complex
Idea not made out of those simple ones. Nor will it be so strange, to
think these few simple Ideas sufficient to employ the quickest
Thought, or largest Capacity; and to furnish the Materials of all
that various Knowledge, and more various Fancies and Opinions of
all Mankind, if we consider how many Words may be made out of
the various composition of 24 Letters; or if going one step farther,
we will but reflect on the variety of combinations may be made,
with barely one of the above-mentioned Ideas, viz. Number, whose
stock is inexhaustible, and truly infinite: And what a large and
immense field, doth Extension alone afford the Mathematicians?
Locke Hum II, 7, §10, pp. 131-132