John Locke distinguished, in his Essay, “real essence” from “nominal essence.” Nominal essence, according to Locke, is the “abstract Idea to which the Name is annexed (III.vi.2).” Thus, the nominal essence of the name ‘gold’, Locke said, “is that complex Idea the word Gold stands for, let it be, for instance, a Body yellow, of a certain weight, malleable, fusible, and fixed.” In contrast, the real essence of gold is “the constitution of the insensible parts of that Body, on which those Qualities [mentioned in the nominal essence] and all other Properties of Gold depend (III.vi.2).” A rough way of marking the distinction between real and nominal definitions is to say, following Locke, that the former states real essence, while the latter states nominal essence. The chemist aims at real definition, whereas the lexicographer aims at nominal definition. This characterization of the distinction is rough because a zoologist's definition of “tiger” should count as a real definition, even though it may fail to provide “the constitution of the insensible parts” of the tiger. Moreover, an account of the meaning of a word should count as a nominal definition, even though it may not take the Lockean form of setting out “the abstract idea to which the name is annexed.” Perhaps it is helpful to indicate the distinction between real and nominal definitions thus: to discover the real definition of a term X one needs to investigate the thing or things denoted by X; to discover the nominal definition, one needs to investigate the meaning and use of X. Whether the search for an answer to the Socratic question “What is virtue?” is a search for real definition or one for nominal definition depends upon one's conception of this particular philosophical activity. When we pursue the Socratic question, are we trying to gain a clearer view of our uses of the word ‘virtue’, or are we trying to give an account of an ideal that is to some extent independent of these uses? Under the former conception, we are aiming at a nominal definition; under the latter, at a real definition. cogito, ergo sum, (Latin: “I think, therefore I am”), dictum coined in 1637 by René Descartes as a first step in demonstrating the attainability of certain knowledge. It is the only statement to survive the test of his methodic doubt. The statement is indubitable, Descartes argued, because even if an all-powerful demon were to try to deceive me into thinking that I exist when I do not, I would have to exist for the demon to deceive me. Therefore, whenever I think, I exist. Furthermore, he argued, the statement “I am” (sum) expresses an immediate intuition, not the conclusion of dubious reasoning, ... (100 of 131 words)
"There are four classes of Idols which beset men's minds. To these for distinction's sake I have assigned names — calling the first class, Idols of the Tribe ; the second, Idols of the Cave; the third, Idols of the Market-Place; the fourth, Idols of the Theater." "The Idols of Tribe have their foundation in human nature itself, and in the tribe or race of men. For it is a false assertion that the sense of man is the measure of things. On the contrary, all perceptions as well of the sense as of the mind are according to the measure of the individual and not according to the measure of the universe. And the human understanding is like a false mirror, which, receiving rays irregularly, distorts and discolors the nature of things by mingling its own nature with it." "The Idols of the Cave are the idols of the individual man. For everyone (besides the errors common to human nature in general) has a cave or den of his own, which refracts and discolors the light of nature, owing either to his own proper and peculiar nature; or to his education and conversation with others; or to the reading of books, and the authority of those whom he esteems and admires; or to the differences of impressions, accordingly as they take place in a mind preoccupied and predisposed or in a...
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