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§ 2. It is by no means to be supposed that all Verbal Questions are trifling and frivolous. It is often of the highest importance to settle correctly the meaning of a word, either according to ordinary use, or according to the meaning of any particular writer or class of men: but when Verbal Questions are mistaken for Real, much confusion of thought and unprofitable wrangling will be generally the result. Nor is it always so easy and simple a task, as might at first sight appear, to distinguish them from each other : for several objects to which one common name is applied will often have many points of difference, and yet that name may perhaps be applied to them all in the same sense, and may be fairly regarded as the genus they come under, if it
that they all agree in what is designated by that name, and that the differences between them are in points not essential to the character of the genus.
A cow and a horse differ in many respects, but agree in all that is implied by
the term “ quadruped,” which is therefore ✓ applicable to both in the same sense. * So
* Yet the charge of equivocation is sometimes unjustly brought against a writer, in consequence of a gratuitous assumption of our own. An Eastern writer, e.g. may be speaking of “ beasts of burden;" and the reader may
also the houses of the ancients differed in many respects from ours, and their ships still more; yet no one would contend that the terms “ house” and “
ship,” as applied to both, are ambiguous, or that oikos might not fairly be rendered house, and vaûs ship; because the essential characteristic of a house is, not its being of this or that form or materials, but its being a dwelling for men; these therefore would be called two different kinds of houses; and consequently the term “ house” would be applied to each, without any equivocation, in the same sense : and so in the other instances. On the other hand, two or more things may bear the same name, and may also have a resemblance in many points, and may from that resemblance have come to bear the same name, and yet if the circumstance which is essential to each be wanting in the other, the term may be
pronounced ambiguous. E. G. The word “Plan
is the name of a common herb in
chance to have the idea occur to his mind of Horses and Mules ; he thence, takes for granted that these were meant; and if it afterwards come out that it was Camels, he perhaps complains of the writer for misleading him by not expressly mentioning the species ; saying, “I could not know that he meant Camels." He did not mean Camels, in particular ; he meant, as he said, “ beasts of burden ;' and Camels are such, as well as Horses and Mules. He is not accountable for your suppositions.
Europe, and of an Indian fruit-tree : both are vegetables ; yet the term is ambiguous, because it does not denote them so far forth as they agree. Again, the word “ Priest” is applied to the Ministers of the Jewish and of the Pagan religions, and also to those of the Christian; and doubtless the term is so used in consequence of their being both ministers (in some sort) of religion. Nor would every difference that might be found between the Priests of different religions constitute the term ambiguous, provided such differences were non-essential to the idea suggested by the word Priest; as e. g. the Jewish Priest served the true God, and the Pagan, false Gods: this is a most important difference, but does not constitute the term ambiguous, because neither of these circumstances is implied and suggested by the term ‘Iepeùs; which accordingly was applied both to Jewish and Pagan Priests. But the term ‘Iepeùs does seem to have implied the office of offering sacrifice, atoning for the sins of the people, and acting as mediator between man and the object of his worship; and accordingly that term is never applied to any one under the Christian system, except to the ONE great Mediator. The Christian ministers not having that office which was implied as essential in the term 'Iepeùs, were
never called by that name, but by that of πρεσβύτερος.* It may be concluded, therefore, that the term Priest is ambiguous, as corresponding to the terms 'Iepeùs and peoßútepos respectively, notwithstanding that there are points in which these two agree.
These therefore should be reckoned, not two different kinds of Priests, but Priests in two different senses ; since (to adopt the phraseology of Aristotle) the definition of them, so far forth as they are Priests, would be different.
It is evidently of much importance to keep in mind the above distinctions, in order to avoid, on the one hand, stigmatizing as Verbal controversies, what in reality are not such, merely because the Question turns on the applicability of a certain Predicate to a certain
subject; or, on the other hand, falling into the Sopposite error of mistaking words for things,
and judging of men's agreement or disagreement in opinion in every case, merely from their agreement or disagreement in the terms employed.
* From which our word Priest is derived, but which (it is remarkable) is never translated “ Priest version of the Scriptures, but " Elder."
Nothing has a greater tendency to lead to the mistake just noticed, and thus to produce
undetected Verbal Questions and fruitless Lo✓ gomachy, than the prevalence of the notion
of the Realists,* that genus and species are some real Things, existing independently of our conceptions and expressions; and that, as in the case of singular terms there is some real individual corresponding to each, so in common terms, also, there is something corresponding to each, which is the object of our thoughts when we employ any such term.t
* It is well known what a long and furious controversy long existed in all the universities of Europe between the sects of the Realists and the Nominalists; the heat of which was allayed by the Reformation, which withdrew men's attention to a more important question.
† A doctrine commonly, but falsely attributed to Aristotle, who expressly contradicts it. He calls individuals "primary Substances” (TPūral ovolai), Genus and Species “secondary," as not denoting (róde te) a
really-existing thing,” Πάσα δε ουσία δοκεί τόδε τι σημαίνειν. 'Επί μεν ούν των πρώτων ουσιών αναμφισβήτητος και αληθές εστιν, ότι τόδε τι σημαίνει άτομον γάρ και εν αριθμώ το δηλούμενον εστιν. Επί δε των δευτήρων ουσιών, ΦΑΙΝΕΤΑΙ μεν ομοίως τα σχήματι της προσηγορίας