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On the one hand there is a combination of ideas of the familiar sort, such as the ‘idea of a dull, whitish colour, with certain degrees of weight, hardness, ductility and fusibility’. Added to this, then, is ‘the supposed or confused idea of substance’, and the result is ‘the idea of lead’ (E:II, xii, 6). Similarly, a combination of the ideas of a certain sort of figure, with the powers of motion, thought, and reasoning, joined to substance, make the ordinary idea of a man. ) Mode-ideas are different, in that they ‘contain not in them the supposition of subsisting by themselves, but are considered as dependencies on, or affections of substances’ (E:II, xii, 4).
This also, then, is the real essence of matricide, its ‘being…whereby it is what it is’. The two kinds of essence come apart in the case of substances, however, since there is supposed to be ‘more’ to being lead than simply answering the definition and thus having the nominal essence. htm Page 37 Being lead also involves having the appropriate inner constitution, but this, being unknown (in Locke’s day), is obviously not specified by the definition, so is not the nominal essence. It is a distinct real essence.
But Locke’s blindness to this point is understandable if we attribute to him the doctrine that the mind is self-contained with respect to the body and the surrounding environment. For then other people’s mental characteristics would not show up as such in the observable movements of their bodies, and it would seem that a person’s only access to the essential nature of mental characteristics would be by reflecting on their own. htm Page 28 alism (recall that neither entails the other). Some issues raised by ideas of reflection will be considered in chapter VI.