John Locke pp 42-50 | Cite as

Abstract General Ideas

  • J. D. Mabbott
Part of the Philosophers in Perspective book series


Locke notes that words hardly ever stand for particular objects or particular ideas. If every idea which occurred had a name, names would be endless.1 Only proper names indicate particular objects. ‘The white horse threw the groom.’ What kind of idea do these words (white, horse, throw, groom) indicate and how do we come by them? ‘The senses … let in particular ideas and the mind by degrees growing familiar with some of them they are lodged in the memory and names got to them. Afterwards the mind proceeding further abstracts them and by degrees learns the use of general names.’2


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  1. 19.
    Stillingfleet, Vindication of the Trinity. Works, 1710, Vol. III, p. 511Google Scholar

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© J. D. Mabbott 1973

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  • J. D. Mabbott

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