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Index for Chapter IX

Of the Imperfection of Words

1. Words are used for recording and communicating our thoughts.
2. Any words will serve for recording.
3. Communication by words either for civil or philosophical purposes.
4. The imperfection of words is the doubtfulness or ambiguity of their signification, which is caused by the sort of ideas they stand for.
5. Natural causes of their imperfection, especially in those that stand for mixed modes, and for our ideas of substances.
6. The names of mixed modes doubtful.
7. Secondly, because they have no standards in nature.
8. Common use, or propriety not a sufficient remedy.
9. The way of learning these names contributes also to their doubtfulness.
10. Hence unavoidable obscurity in ancient authors.
11. Names of substances of doubtful signification, because the ideas they stand for relate to the reality of things.
12. Names of substances referred, to real essences that cannot be known.
13. To co-existing qualities, which are known but imperfectly.
14. Thirdly, to co-existing qualities which are known but imperfectly.
15. With this imperfection, they may serve for civil, but not well for philosophical use.
16. Instance, liquor.
17. Instance, gold.
18. The names of simple ideas the least doubtful.
19. And next to them, simple modes.
20. The most doubtful are the names of very compounded mixed modes and substances.
21. Why this imperfection charged upon words.
22. This should teach us moderation in imposing our own sense of old authors.
23. Especially of the Old and New Testament Scriptures.


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