By John Locke
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Extra info for The works of John Locke 3
When by these two rules we have examined the propositions that make up the discourses we ordinarily meet with both in and out of books, we shall, perhaps, find that a greater part of them, than is usually suspected, are purely about the signification of words and contain nothing in them but the use and application of these signs. This, I think, I may lay down for an infallible rule, that wherever the distinct idea any word stands for is not known and considered, and something not contained in the idea is not affirmed or denied of i t ; there our thoughts stick wholly in sounds, and are able to attain no real truth or falsehood.
W e have ground from revelation, and several other reasons, to believe with assurance that there are such creatures : but, our senses not being able to discover them, we want the means of knowing their particular existences. For we. can no more know, that there are finite spirits really existing, by the idea we have of such beings in our minds, than by the ideas any one has of fairies, or centaurs, he can come to know that things answering those ideas do really exist. And therefore concerning the existence of finite spirits, as well as several other things, we must content ourselves with the evidence of faith; but universal certain propositions concerning this matter are beyond our reach.
12. Though this discovery of the necessary existence of an eternal mind does sufficiently lead us into the knowledge of God; since it will hence follow, that a11 other knowing beings that have a beginning must depend on him, and have no other ways of knowledge, or extent of power, than what he gives them; and therefore if he made those, he made also the less excellent pieces of this universe, all inanimate beings, whereby his omniscience, power, and providence will be established, and a11 his other attributes necessarily follow: yet to clear up this a little farther, we will see what doubts can be raised against it.