By John Locke
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I know nobody that ever denied the certainty of such real essences or internal constitutions, in things that do exist, if it be that that your lordship means by certainty of such essences. If it be any other certainty that your lordship inquires after, relating to such essences, I confess I know not what it is, since your lordship acknowledges, " we are ignorant of those real essences, those internal constitutions, and are like to be so ;"and seem to think it the incurable cause of uncertainty in philosophical speculations.
But we do not see that internal constitution from whence those powers flow. Suppose we be ignorant of this (as we are like to be for any discoveries that have been yet made) that is a good argument, to show how short our philosophical speculations are about the real, internal constitu- 76 Mr. Locke's Letter t o the 7s tions of things ; but is no prejudice to us, who by those simple ideas search out, find, and distinguish things for our uses. For though, by those ideas which are not resemblances, we cannot comprehend the internal frame or constitution of things, nor in what manner these ideas are produced in us, by those powers ; yet by them we certainly know, that th&e are such essences or constitutions of these substances, that have those powers, whereby they regularly produce those ideas in us ; and that they are distinguished from each other by those powers.
The remaining words of this sentence, I must beg your lordship's pardon, if I profess I do not understand: they are these; " but the effects they have 77 f i r . Loclce's Letter fo the Bishop Qf Worcester. " And then your lordship's words import thus much, " so that really we can understand nothing cert'zinly by simple ideas, but the effects simple ideas have upon us :" which I cannot understand to be what your lordship intended to infer from the preceding words taken to be mine. For I suppose your lordship argues, from my opinion concerning the simple ideas of secondary qualities, the little real knowledge we should receive from them, if it be true, that they are not representations or images of anything in bodies, but only effects of certain powers in bodies to produce them in us; and in that sense I take the liberty to read your lordship's words thus : so that we can really understand nothing certainly but [these ideas] by the effects [those powers] have upon us.