What Are the Types of Our Ideas?June 27, 2021
Simple Ideas: Some of our ideas are simple and some are complex.
Simple ideas also differentiate among themselves as ideas of external sensation and ideas of internal sensation (reflection). The simple ideas of external sensation are simple ideas such as light perceived by the eye, hardness perceived by touch. These are derived from a single sensation. Locke also speaks of simple external sense ideas such as space, extension, form and motion, which are formed by several senses. These are the ideas that reach the brain with both eye and touch.
Simple ideas form the first and simple material of our knowledge. Our mind creates them directly because it acquires them passively through receptivity in its nature. The acts of the mind, such as perception and desire, are simple ideas obtained through inner sensation, that is, reflection. Pleasure and pain come first among the simple ideas of both external and internal sensation. In ideas such as power, existence and unity, sensation and reflection are at work together. When ideas are processed in the mind and become the subject of reflection, they lose their simplicity to a great extent and turn into complex (or compound) ideas.
Ideas are divided into two as simple and complex. Simple ideas are also divided into two as the ideas of external sensation and internal sensation.
Complex Ideas: These ideas are not passively received by the mind.
The mind creates these from simple ideas by its own activity, and this activity is of three types: combining ideas, bringing them together without fusing them, and abstracting them. Thus (1) Combines many simple ideas into one composite idea. For example, he combines the ideas of whiteness, hardness, sweetness and form to form the idea of sugar cubes. (2) “It takes two ideas, simple or complex, and brings them together in such a way as to obtain one aspect, without combining them into one. The mind acquires all the ideas of relation in this way” (Locke, 1998: 123). For example, causality is formed in this way; something is the cause or effect of something (3) With the act of abstraction, some qualities of the objects are extracted from them, that is, they are abstracted and the abstracted are combined to form universal concepts such as ‘human’, ‘plant’. The operations of the mind on simple ideas in these ways form different groups of ideas. Locke groups them into modes, bodies-substances, and relations.
Ideas of Body and Substance: As a result of the unifying act, simple ideas combine with each other to reveal a body idea. For example, the ideas of whiteness, solidity, roundness, coldness and motion combine to form the snowball idea. The ideas that reveal the snowball idea are actually the qualities of this object. Locke divides these qualities that lead to the formation of the idea of body into primary and secondary. Primary qualities are the qualities that always exist in the object despite all the metamorphoses it has undergone. For example, no matter how many pieces a grain of wheat is divided into, it will have a solidity, elongation, shape, size and mobility. These are primary qualities. (Locke, 1996: 105-106). Secondary qualities are not found in the objects themselves. Sensations such as color, sound and taste, which are formed in us as a result of the movements of the primary qualities of the objects, are secondary qualities. In terms of secondary qualities, there is nothing in the bodies themselves that resembles our ideas. What they have is only the forces that produce the sensations in us. According to what we produce, the flame is warm and bright; sugar cubes were determined as white and sweet. These qualities are often thought of as analogous to the ideas they produce in us. However, these are nothing but the impressions formed in the mind as a result of the primary qualities of the objects and the power relations in the object, which affect our brain.
The simple ideas come together through the unifying act and form the idea of the body. Simple ideas thus become qualities of the body, and Locke divides these qualities into primary and secondary.
At this point, it is important to explain the idea of substance. The idea of substance is something unknowable, supposed to have qualities which we see as existing and which we believe cannot exist without something bearing them. To signify this carrier quality, it is called a substance. Substance, which is the carrier of primary and secondary qualities, cannot be reduced to them. Since solidity and covering are also primary qualities, they cannot be reduced to them either. So what is substance, where is its place? Locke says that substance is ‘something unknown’. After we have a vague and relative idea of substance, we get ideas of special types of substance. This is done by collecting the simple combinations of ideas, which have been found together by experiment and observation of human sensations, and therefore supposed to come from the inner structure and unknown essence of matter. This is how we arrive at ideas such as man, horse and water. That is, it is argued that although a substance that is the carrier of qualities is accepted, full knowledge of it cannot be obtained. This unknowability led to a complete rejection of material substance by some later thinkers.
Apart from corporeal substances, Locke accepts the idea of spirit as well as the idea of the body. Actions of the mind such as thinking, reasoning, fear