Locke lived at a time of heightened religious sensibility, and religious motives and theological beliefs were fundamental to his philosophical outlook. Here, Victor Nuovo brings together the first comprehensive collection of Locke's writings on religion and theology. These writings illustrate the deep religious motivation in Locke's thought.
One of the major works of John Locke (1632-1704), this detailed and comprehensive guide is mainly concerned with moral education. While concentrating on its role in creating a responsible adult and on the importance of virtue as a transmitter of culture, it also ranges over such practical topics as the effectiveness of physical punishment, how best to teach foreign languages, table manners, and varieties of crying. -/- This critical edition is based on the third (1695) edition, and includes variants (...) from the first five editions, from the Harvard University Library and the British Library drafts, and from Locke's correspondence to Edward Clarke and his wife. (shrink)
In 1695 John Locke published The Reasonableness of Christianity, an enquiry into the foundations of Christian belief. He did so anonymously, to avoid public involvement in the fiercely partisan religious controversies of the day. In the Reasonableness Locke considered what it was to which all Christians must assent in faith; he argued that the answer could be found by anyone for themselves in the divine revelation of Scripture alone. He maintained that the requirements of Scripture were few and (...) simple, and therefore offered a basis for tolerant agreement among all Christians, and the promise of peace, stability, and security through toleration. -/- This is the first critical edition of the Reasonableness: for the first time an authoritative annotated text is presented, with full information about sources, variants, amendments, and the publishing history of the work. Also provided in the editorial notes are cross-references, references to other works by Locke, definitions of terms, and other information conducive to an understanding of the text. -/- Though modern interest has focused particularly on Locke's philosophy and political theory, increasing attention is being paid to his religious thought. These different strands cannot be understood properly in isolation from each other: so the broader aim of this edition is to help towards an improved understanding of his religious thought in the context of his work as a philosopher, political theorist, and exponent of religious toleration. In his editorial introduction John Higgins-Biddle investigates how Locke's ideas developed, and offers a critical assessment of the three main contemporary and subsequent interpretations of Locke's religious thought, all of which are shown to be unsatisfactory. (shrink)
This is the first of three volumes which will contain all of Locke's extant philosophical writings relating to An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, not included in other Clarendon editions like the Correspondence. It contains the earliest known drafts of the Essay, Drafts A and B, both written in 1671, and provides for the first time an accurate version of Locke's text. Virtually all his changes are recorded in footnotes on each page. -/- Peter Nidditch, whose highly acclaimed edition (...) of An Essay Concerning Human Understanding was published in this series in 1975, used pioneering editorial techniques in his compilation of Volume 1. Most of the work was completed before his tragically early death in 1983. -/- Volumes 2 and 3, almost wholly the work of G. A. J. Rogers will contain the third extant draft of the Essay (Draft C), the Epitome and the Conduct of the Understanding. They will also include a History of the Writing of the Essay, together with other shorter writings by Locke. (shrink)
Locke's posthumously published work on Galatians, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Romans and Ephesians, provides important evidence of his thought during the final years of his life, ad gives insights into his theology which are not available in his other writings. This critical edition of the work is based as far as possible on Locke's manuscript, and includes an editorial introduction, textual, manuscript, and explanatory notes, as well as transcriptions of hitherto unpublished papers by Locke.
The Reasonableness of Christianity is a major work by one of the greatest modern philosophers. Published anonymously in 1695, it entered a world upset by fierce theological conflict and immediately became a subject of controversy. At issue were the author’s intentions. John Edwards labelled it a Socinian work and charged that it was subversive not only of Christianity but of religion itself others praised it as a sure preservative of both. Few understood Locke’s intentions, and perhaps no one fully. (...) This new collection describes the background to Locke’s book and documents the disputes that followed its publication. Providing an invaluable insight into the context of its conception and reception, it includes contributions by Samuel Bold, John Edwards, Charles Blount, and Daniel Waterland, bringing the discussion up to the eighteenth century. Also included is a review of the Reasonableness found among Locke’s unpublished papers and published here for the first time. The volume will be of interest to philosophers of religion and theologians as well as historians. (shrink)
Self-portrait -- The early Washington, D.C. Baha'i community -- Conversion -- Race amity -- Pilgrimage -- Harlem Renaissance and Baha'i service -- Estrangement and rededication -- Baha'i essays -- AlainLocke's philosophy of democracy : America, race, and world peace.
Locke consistently argues for the importance of cosmopolitan identity, i.e., cultural-citizenship. Paradoxically, he also argues for the importance of particular, local, and racial/ethnic identities. People have a natural instinct that Locke terms a consciousness of kind, to bond with persons in relatively closed communities. Communities are not natural social groups for Locke, but historical social constructions. I argue that Locke''s ethical and conceptual paradox is revolved by considering the relationship between instincts and particular social groups as (...) asymmetrical; that groups are inherently constructed, and thus require continual revaluation. Particular communities are, at best, Gemeinschaft. (shrink)
I defend an interpretation of Locke’s remarks on substratum according to which substrata not only have sensible qualities but are just familiar things and stuffs: horses, stones, gold, wax, and snow. The supporting relation that holds between substrata and the qualities that they support is simply the familiar relation of having, or instantiating, which holds between a particular substance and its qualities. I address the obvious objection to the interpretation -- namely, that it cannot be reconciled with Locke’s (...) claim that the idea substratum is an obscure, confused idea of we know not what -- and I identify numerous textual parallels between Locke's discussions of substrata and particular substances which strongly support the deflationary interpretation. (shrink)
Locke’s conception of substance in general or substratum has two relatively widespread interpretations. According to one, substance in general is the bearer of properties, a pure subject, something which sustains properties but itself has no properties. I will call this interpretation traditional, because it has already been formulated by Leibniz. According to the other interpretation, substance is general is something like real essence: an underlying structure which is responsible for the fact that certain observable properties form stable, recurrent clusters. (...) I will argue that both interpretation are partly right, and what is good in them can be reconciled. The traditional interpretation captures the purpose and signficanc of the idea of substance in general, i.e. the reason why Locke says we have this idea. The real essence view is right about the real world counterpart of the idea, i.e. what sort of entity the idea corresponds to. The paper starts with a review of the strengths and weaknesses of the rival interpretations (I, II). Then I examine which part of the traditional interpretation can be sustained in light of the problems it faces (III). Thereafter I will show that the part of the traditional interpretation which can be sustained cannot stand on its own and needs to be supplemented at one point, and the real essence view can provide what is needed. This, as it were, mixed interpretation will be supported by sketching an argument which is plausible within the context of Locke’s teachings and which explains how Locke could have arrived from the view which the traditional interpretation correctly attributes to him to the view which the real essence interpretation takes him to espouse (IV). The two problematic points in this argument will be taken up in the following two sections. (V, VI). Finally, I will provide some evidence from the Drafts for Locke’s identification of substance and essence (VII). (shrink)
This paper argues that there is a conflict between two principles informing Locke’s political philosophy, namely his waste restriction and his strong voluntarism. Locke’s waste restriction is proposed as a necessary, enforceable restriction upon rightful private property holdings and it yields arguments to preserve and redistribute natural resources. Locke’s strong voluntarism is proposed as the liberal ideal of political obligations. It expresses Locke’s view that each individual has a natural political power, which can only be transferred (...) to a political body through the individual’s voluntary, actual consent. On this view, the legitimacy of a political power is dependent upon its subjects’ actual consent to its authority. After briefly outlining these two ideas informing Locke’s conception, I argue that we cannot maintain both at the same time. Therefore, contemporary Lockeans must either derive restrictions upon private property concerned with preserving natural resources from other aspects of Locke’s theory or they must accept weak voluntarism as the ideal of political obligations. I argue that both alternatives pose significant problems for the Lockean project. (shrink)
Locke’s conception of substance in general or substratum has two relatively widespread interpretations. According to the traditional one, substance in general is the bearer of properties, a pure subject, something which sustains properties but itself has no properties. According to the other interpretation, substance is general is something like real essence: an underlying structure which is responsible for the fact that certain observable properties form stable, recurrent clusters. I will argue that both interpretation are partly right, and what is (...) good in them can be reconciled. The traditional interpretation captures the purpose and signficanc of the idea of substance in general, i.e. the reason why Locke says we have this idea. The real essence view is right about the real world counterpart of the idea, i.e. what sort of entity the idea corresponds to. The paper starts with a review of the strengths and weaknesses of the rival interpretations (I, II). Then I examine which part of the traditional interpretation can be sustained in light of the problems it faces (III). Thereafter I will show that the part of the traditional interpretation which can be sustained cannot stand on its own and needs to be supplemented at one point, and the real essence view can provide what is needed. This, as it were, mixed interpretation will be supported by sketching an argument which is plausible within the context of Locke’s teachings and which explains how Locke could have arrived from the view which the traditional interpretation correctly attributes to him to the view which the real essence interpretation takes him to espouse (IV). The two problematic points in this argument will be taken up in the following two sections. (V, VI). Finally, I will provide some evidence from the Drafts for Locke’s identification of substance and essence (VII). (shrink)
In a letter to William Molyneux John Locke states that in reviewing his chapter 'Of Power' for the second edition of An Essay Concerning Human Understanding he noticed that he had made one mistake which, now corrected, has put him "into a new view of things" which will clarify his account of human freedom. Locke says the mistake was putting “things for actions” on p.123 of the first edition, a page on which the word 'things' does not appear (...) (The Correspondence of John Locke. E.S. de Beer, ed. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1976), Vol.4, no.1643, 15 July, 1693.) It is the aim of this paper to (1) elucidate where the correction occurs, (2) give an analysis of why the correction is needed, and (3) give an explanation of why Locke believed replacing 'things' with 'actions' was an important change. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that Book II, Chapter viii of Locke' Essay is a unified, self-consistent whole, and that the appearance of inconsistency is due largely to anachronistic misreadings and misunderstandings. The key to the distinction between primary and secondary qualities is that the former are, while the latter are not, real properties, i.e., properties that exist in bodies independently of being perceived. Once the distinction is properly understood, it becomes clear that Locke's arguments for it are (...) simple, valid and (in one case) persuasive as well. (shrink)
Locke’s account of personal identity has been highly influential because of its emphasis on a psychological criterion. The same consciousness is required for being the same person. It is not so clear, however, exactly what Locke meant by ‘consciousness’ or by ‘having the same consciousness’. Interpretations vary: consciousness is seen as identical to memory, as identical to a first personal appropriation of mental states, and as identical to a first personal distinctive experience of the qualitative features of one’s (...) own thinking. There is wide agreement, however, that Locke’s theory of personal identity is meant to complement his moral and theological commitments to a system of divine punishment and reward in an afterlife. But these commitments seem to require also a metaphysical criterion, and Locke is insistent that it cannot be substance. The difficulty reconciling the psychological and metaphysical requirements of the theory has led, at worst, to charges of incoherence and, at best, to a slew of interpretations, none of which is widely accepted. (shrink)
On a currently popular reading of Locke, an idea represents its cause, or what God intended to be its cause. Against Martha Bolton and my former self (among others), I argue that Locke cannot hold such a view, since it sins against his epistemology and theory of abstraction. I argue that Locke is committed to a resemblance theory of representation, with the result that ideas of secondary qualities are not representations.
Locke’s theory of personal identity was philosophically groundbreaking for its attempt to establish a non-substantial identity condition. Locke states, “For the same consciousness being preserv’d, whether in the same or different Substances, the personal Identity is preserv’d” (II.xxvii.13). Many have interpreted Locke to think that consciousness identifies a self both synchronically and diachronically by attributing thoughts and actions to a self. Thus, many have attributed to Locke either a memory theory or an appropriation theory of personal (...) identity. But the former stumble on circularity and the latter is insufficient for Locke’s moral theory insofar as he is committed to a theory of divine rectification. The common problem is that Locke’s theory seems to demand an objective, or metaphysical, fact of a continuing consciousness that does not appeal to a traditional notion of substance for the continuity. I’m suggesting something new. In II.xxvii of the Essay, we see an ambiguity in Locke’s use of the term ‘consciousness’. Locke seems to see consciousness as both a mental state by means of which we are aware of ourselves as perceiving and as the ongoing self we are aware of in these conscious states. First, I make the textual argument why we should read Locke as having a conception of a metaphysical fact of a continuing consciousness that does not appeal to thinking or bodily substance to establish its continuity. I then argue that the metaphysical fact of an enduring consciousness is revealed to us as a phenomenological fact of experience. Due to the nature of certain kinds of perceptual situations we have an experience of ourselves as temporally extended. Although the text bears out that Locke seemed to think there is a fact of an ongoing consciousness, I argue that it is consistent with his reluctance elsewhere that he makes no further epistemological or ontological claims about it. Finally, I provide an account of Locke’s understanding of memory and its relation to consciousness that supports the claim that consciousness is something ontologically distinct from either thinking or bodily substance. (shrink)
In this paper, I compare John Locke’s “memory theory” of personal identity and Memento (directed by Christopher Nolan). I argue that the plot of Memento is ambiguous, in that the main character (Leonard Shelby, played by Guy Pearce) seems to have two histories. As such, Memento is but a series of puzzle cases that intend to illustrate that, although our memories may not be chronologically related to one another, and may even be fused with the memories of other persons, (...) those memories still constitute personal identity. Just as Derek Parfit argues, perhaps there is no personal identity as such, since only survival (in some degree) matters to us. In Memento, Leonard Shelby is not identity to his former self, but survives to some extent. (shrink)
The aim of this paper is to derive a perfectly general criterion of identity through time from Locke’s Principle, which says that two things of the same kind cannot occupy the same space at the same time. In this way, the paper pursues a suggestion made by Peter F. Strawson almost thirty years ago in an article called ‘Entity and Identity’. The reason why the potential of this suggestion has so far remained unrealized is twofold: firstly, the suggestion was (...) never properly developed by Strawson, and secondly, it seemed vulnerable to an objection that he himself raised against it. Consequently, the paper’s aim is to further develop Strawson’s suggestion, and to show that the result is not vulnerable to the objection that seemed fatal to its underdeveloped predecessor. In addition, the paper aims to defend Locke’s Principle against alleged counterexamples such as those produced by Leibniz, Fine and Hughes. (shrink)
Locke has been accused of failing to have a coherent understanding of consciousness, since it can be identical neither to reflection nor to ordinary perception without contradicting other important commitments. I argue that the account of consciousness is coherent once we see that, for Locke, perceptions of ideas are complex mental acts and that consciousness can be seen as a special kind of self-referential mental state internal to any perception of an idea.
In this paper I criticize arguments by Pauline Phemister and Matthew Stuart that John Locke's position in his An Essay Concerning Human Understanding allows for natural kinds based on similarities among real essences. On my reading of Locke, not only are similarities among real essences irrelevant to species, but natural kind theories based on them are unintelligible.
In this paper we suggest a revisionist perspective on two significant figures in early modern life science and philosophy: William Harvey and John Locke. Harvey, the discoverer of the circulation of the blood, is often named as one of the rare representatives of the ‘life sciences’ who was a major figure in the Scientific Revolution. While this status itself is problematic, we would like to call attention to a different kind of problem: Harvey dislikes abstraction and controlled experiments (aside (...) from the ligature experiment in De Motu Cordis), tends to dismiss the value of instruments such as the microscope, and emphasizes instead the privileged status of ‘observed experience’. To use a contemporary term, Harvey appears to rely on, and chiefly value, ‘tacit knowledge’. Secondly, Locke’s project is often explained with reference to the image he uses in the Epistle to the Reader of his Essay, that he was an “underlabourer” of the sciences. In fact, despite the significant medical phase of his career, Locke’s ‘empiricism’ turns out to be above all a practical (i.e. ‘moral’) project, which focuses on the delimitation of our powers in order to achieve happiness, and rejects the possibility of naturalizing knowledge. When combined, these two cases suggest a different view of some canonical moments in early modern natural philosophy. (shrink)
Locke’s theory of consciousness is often appropriated as a forerunner of present-day Higher-Order Perception (HOP) theories, but not much is said about it beyond that. We offer an interpretation of Locke’s account of consciousness that portrays it as crucially different from current-day HOP theory, both in detail and in spirit. In this paper, it is argued that there are good historical and philosophical reasons to attribute to Locke the view not that conscious states are accompanied by higher-order (...) perceptions, but rather that conscious states constitute perceptions of themselves. (shrink)
Leibniz's correspondence with Thomas Burnett of Kemnay is probably best known for Leibniz's attempts to communicate with Locke via Burnett. But Burnett was also, more generally a source of English intellectual news for Leibniz. As such, Burnett provided an important part of the context in which Locke was presented to and understood by Leibniz. -/- This paper examines the Leibniz-Burnett correspondence, and argues against Jolley's suggestion that "the context in which Leibniz learned about Locke was primarily a (...) theological one". That said, in thinking about Locke's Reasonableness of Christianity, and his subsequent defenses of it, Leibniz does offer an argument against Locke's book -- but not one that's closely related to Locke's theological views, or to any accusation of Socinianism. -/- The paper also considers, by way of contrast, the way Leibniz and Burnett talk about the more obviously controversial figure John Toland. (shrink)
Introduction in chapter viii of book ii of An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, John Locke provides various putative lists of primary qualities. Insofar as they have considered the variation across Locke's lists at all, commentators have usually been content simply either to consider a self-consciously abbreviated list (e.g., "Size, Shape, etc.") or a composite list as the list of Lockean primary qualities, truncating such a composite list only by omitting supposedly co-referential terms. Doing the latter with minimal judgment (...) about what terms are co-referential gives us the following list of eleven qualities (in the order in which they appear in this chapter of the Essay): solidity, extension, figure, mobility, motion or rest, number, bulk, texture, motion, size, and situation. Perhaps surprisingly given the attention to the primary/secondary distinction since Locke, Locke's primary qualities themselves have received little more than passing mention in the bulk of the subsequent literature. In particular, no discussion both offers an interpretation of Locke's conception of primary qualities and makes sense of Locke's various lists as lists of primary qualities. A central motivation for this paper is the idea that these two tasks are not independent. (shrink)
Ideas play at least two roles in Locke's theory of the understanding. They are constituents of ‘propositions,’ and some of them ‘represent’ the qualities and sorts of surrounding bodies. I argue that each role involves a distinct kind of intentional directedness. The same idea will in general be an ‘idea of’ two different objects, in different senses of the expression. Identifying Locke's scheme of twofold ‘ofness’ reveals a common structure to his accounts of simple ideas and complex ideas (...) of substances. A consequence is a distinction among substance sorts parallel to one of his distinctions between primary and secondary qualities. (shrink)
In this paper I argue against the received view that the anti-nativist arguments of Book I of Locke’s Essay conclusively challenge nativism. I begin by reconstructing the chief argument of Book I and its corollary arguments. I call attention to their dependence on (what I label) “the Awareness Principle”, viz., the view that there are no ideas in the mind of which the mind either isn’t currently aware or hasn’t been aware in the past. I then argue that the (...) arguments’ dependence on this principle is question begging on two counts. Unless this principle is defended, Locke’s arguments beg the question against Descartes and Leibniz because their nativism implies the denial of the Awareness Principle. And even when Locke defended the principle, his arguments remain question begging because they presuppose the empiricism they aim to prove. The disclosure of the question-begging status of these arguments debunks a seemingly powerful way of attacking nativism. (shrink)
While the tradition of Locke scholarship holds that both Locke and Boyle are species anti-realists, there is evidence that this interpretation is false. Specifically, there has been some recent work on Boyle showing that he is, unlike Locke, a species realist. In this paper I argue that once we see Boyle as a realist about natural species, it is plausible to read some of Locke’s most formidable anti-realist arguments as directed specifically at Boyle’s account of natural (...) species. This is a break from the tradition because no one in the literature has yet suggested that some of Locke’s arguments in Book III of the Essay include a criticism of Boyle’s doctrine of species. Moreover, identifying Boyle as Locke’s intended target illuminates some of the more vexing passages in the Essay concerning real essences. (shrink)
This article examines questions connected with the two features of Locke's intellectual landscape that are most salient for understanding his philosophy of science: (1) the profound shift underway in disciplinary boundaries, in methodological approaches to understanding the natural world, and in conceptions of induction and scientific knowledge; and (2) the dominant scientific theory of his day, the corpuscular hypothesis. Following the introduction, section 2 addresses questions connected to changing conceptions of scientific knowledge. What does Locke take science (scientia) (...) and scientific knowledge to be generally, why does he think that scientia in natural philosophy is beyond the reach of human beings, and what characterizes the conception of human knowledge in natural philosophy that he develops? Section 3 addresses the question provoked by Locke's apparently conflicting treatments of the corpuscular hypothesis. Does he accept or defend the corpuscular hypothesis? If not, what is its role in his thought, and what explains its close connection to key theses of the Essay? Since a scholarly debate has arisen about the status of the corpuscular hypothesis for Locke, Section 3 reviews some main positions in that debate. Section 4 considers the relationship between Locke's thought and that of a figure instrumental to the changing conceptions of scientific knowledge, Isaac Newton. (shrink)
In Book II, chapter xxi of the Essay Concerning Human Understanding, on ‘Power’, Locke presents a radical critique of free will. This is the longest chapter in the Essay, and it is a difficult one, not least since Locke revised it four times without always taking care to ensure that every part cohered with the rest. My interest is to work out a coherent statement of what would today be termed ‘compatibilism’ from this text – namely, a doctrine (...) which seeks to render free will and determinism compatible. By emphasizing the hedonistic dimension of his argument, according to which we are determined by “the most pressing uneasiness” we feel, I show how a deterministic reading is possible. This was seen by Locke’s favorite and also most radical disciple, the deist Anthony Collins, whose treatise A Philosophical Inquiry Concerning Human Liberty (1717) is both a critique of Essay II.xxi and a radicalization of its contents. I argue that Collins articulated a form of determinism which recognizes the specificity of action, thanks in large part to the uniquely ‘volitional’ determinism suggested by Locke. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that Locke is not in fact agnostic about the ultimate nature of the mind. In particular, he produces an argument, much like Jaegwon Kim's exclusion argument, to show that any materialist view that takes mental states to supervene on physical states is committed to epiphenomenalism. This result helps illuminate Locke's otherwise puzzling notion of 'superaddition.'.
This is a review of Peter Anstey's John Locke and Natural Philosophy, which is a masterful and well-argued study of Locke's philosophy of science that shall become both the standard and starting place, for scholars and students alike, for decades to come. Anstey's meticulous and thorough research, combined with his comprehensive knowledge of the history of natural philosophy, make this work a must-read for all who are interested in Locke, early modern philosophy, the history of the philosophy (...) of science, or early modern philosophy of science. His characteristically rigorous analysis and argumentation coupled with his easy and clear prose make this a highly readable and accessible work of scholarship. (shrink)
In this paper I focus on John Locke as a representative figure of English Enlightenment theorizing about the legitimacy of cognitive authority and examine the way in which a greater attention to the cultural milieu in which Locke worked can lead to a profound reexamination of his writings on cognitive authority. In particular, I suggest that an inattention to the rise of a culture of reading and the growing availability of books in Early Modern England has led historians (...) of philosophy largely to misrepresent Locke's theory of testimonial justification. At the core of my paper are two interrelated claims. First, with respect to the history of ideas, I argue that the Locke's interest in testimony as a source of justification was in fact greater than that of his Scholastic forebears, and that this fact has a simple, if as yet unacknowledged, cultural cause -- viz., the rise of the book as a mass commodity in the late 17th century. Second, with respect to the history of philosophy more particularly, I argue that this failure to acknowledge the cultural movements that led to a consideration of testimony as a topic of interest to epistemologists in the Modern era has led to a misreading of Locke's work on the subject. Indeed, Locke, though usually read as having attempted to denigrate testimony as a legitimate source of justification, in fact sought to devise an epistemology that would do justice to the centrality of testimony in the intellectual lives of growing numbers of his contemporaries in 17th and 18th century England and Scotland. (shrink)
Philosophical discussions of Molyneux's problem within contemporary philosophy of mind tend to characterize the problem as primarily concerned with the role innately known principles, amodal spatial concepts, and rational cognitive faculties play in our perceptual lives. Indeed, for broadly similar reasons, rationalists have generally advocated an affirmative answer, while empiricists have generally advocated a negative one, to the question Molyneux posed after presenting his famous thought experiment. This historical characterization of the dialectic, however, somewhat obscures the role Molyneux's problem has (...) played in spawning debates within the empiricist tradition. Fortunately, the differences between various empiricist accounts have been widely recognized and discussed among historians of philosophy working on the topic. The focus of the present essay is to develop an interpretation of John Locke's views on Molyneux's problem that best coheres with his other views on human understanding as well as with the predominant scientific opinion about the nature of perception during the period in which he lived. (shrink)
This article aims to defend Locke against Quine’s charge, made in his famous “two dogmas” paper, that Locke’s theory of knowledge is badly flawed, not only for assuming the dogmas, but also for adopting an “intolerably restrictive” version of the dogma of reductionism. It is shown here that, in his analysis of the epistemological status of scientific laws, Locke has effectively transcended the narrow idea-empiricism which underlies this version of reductionism. First, in order to escape idealism, he (...) introduced the notion of “sensitive knowledge of the particular existence of finite beings without us,” broadening thus his initial definition of knowledge in terms of the “perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas” — a definition compatible with Quine’s interpretation. Secondly, after showing that we can have virtually no a priori knowledge of universal truths about substances, Locke extended the notion of “sensitive knowledge” to the particular propositions of “coexistence” in substances, appealing to the notion of “probability” for treating their inductive generalizations and, in particular, the phenomenological laws of science. Finally, acknowledging the essential presence of hypothetical, nonphenomenological laws in science, he anticipated much of the contemporary views on their role and nature, including, remarkably, a mild version of the epistemological holism championed by Quine. (shrink)
Susanna Goodin, in her article “Locke and Leibniz and the Debate over Species” , argues that Leibniz’s criticisms of Locke’s species conventionalism are inadequate as a refutation of Locke’s arguments, and if Leibniz were to buttress his criticisms by appeal to his own metaphysical commitments, he could do so only at the expense of so radically altering the nature of the debate that Locke’s original concerns would not even arise. I argue, however, that Leibniz has an (...) argument within the Nouveaux Essais which provides him with a mechanistically respectable counterproposal to Locke’s conventionalism and which demonstrates the explanatory superiority of natural kind realism. (shrink)
Talk of “essences” has, since Saul Kripke and Hilary Putnam, gained significant currency in contemporary philosophy. It is no longer unfashionable to talk about the essence of this or that (natural) kind, and as such we now find a variety of brands of essentialism on the market including B.D. Ellis’s scientific essentialism, David Oderberg’s real Essentialism, Alexander Bird’s dispositional essentialism, and the contemporary essentialism of Kripke and Putnam. -/- Almost all these brands of essentialism share a particular gloss on (...) class='Hi'>Locke’s famous objection to Aristotle that natural kinds are demarcated by nominal essences not real essences. Thus Oderberg claims that ‘Empiricists take [real] essences to be paradigmatically unobservable’ and that this ‘objection goes back at least to John Locke’ (Oderberg 2007: 21). Bird, presenting his dispositional essentialism, defines a notion of “being” as ‘the reverse of Locke’s definition of essence’ which he takes to be ‘the being of any thing, whereby it is what it is’ (Bird 2007: 100). Joseph LaPorte, discussing nominal and real essences, claims that ‘Kripke and Putnam seem to affirm something more substantive: that biological kinds have “real essences” in Locke’s terminology’ (LaPorte 2004: 49). Even avowed anti-essentialists such as John Dupré sanction the standard criticism of Locke that his scepticism about the knowability of real essences was ‘premature’, and claim that ‘genuine natural kinds provide the extensions of many terms of natural language, where these natural kinds are determined by true Lockean real essences’ (Dupré 1993: 22). -/- All of these essentialisms (even Dupré’s anti-essentialism) are wrong about Locke. Oderberg is wrong to claim that Locke thought that real essences were paradigmatically unobservable; Bird is wrong to think that Locke’s notion of essence is the being of anything whereby it is what it is; LaPorte is wrong to think that Kripke and Putnam are talking about Lockean real essences (although so are Kripke and Putnam); and Dupré is wrong to think that genuine natural kinds (if by genuine he means objective or mind-independent) are determined but true Lockean real essences . -/- The mistake stems from a standard, but ultimately incorrect, interpretation of Locke’s discussion of essences in An Essay Concerning Human Understanding . This mistaken interpretation (Lowe 1995, 2006, Von Leyden 1973, Wiggins 1974) takes Locke to mean, by “real essence”, the Aristotelian notion i.e. ‘the very being of anything, whereby it is what it is’ (Essay III.iii.15), and interprets his objection as epistemological: we cannot come to know what real essences are, and therefore they cannot figure in our classifications of things into kinds. -/- This paper will present and defend the following two claims: i) that Locke’s notion of “real essence” is not the Aristotelian notion, and ii) that Locke’s objection to the Aristotelian notion was not merely epistemological. The first claim can be defended by presenting and applying Vienne’s (1993) terminological revision. Vienne argues that Locke did not introduce a dichotomy between real and nominal essence, but a trichotomy between real essence, nominal essence and real constitution. This terminological revision will be employed to highlight where ambiguous uses of the phrase “real essence” have caused some serious misunderstandings of Locke’s philosophy. The second claim (steering Locke around what is the classic objection to his thesis) can be defended by presenting a novel way of splitting up Locke’s objections to the Aristotelian notion of essence. The analysis will show that Locke’s anti-essentialism is still in good shape, and of contemporary significance. (shrink)
The resercher Ann Talbot presents in this book one of the more complex and in-depth studies ever written about the influence of travel literature on the work of the British philospher John Locke (1632-1704). At the end of the 18th century the study of travel literature was an alternative to academic studies. The philosopher John Locke recommended with enthousiasm these books as a way to comprehend human understanding. Several members of the Royal Society like John Harris (1966-1719) affirmed (...) that the learning that could be obtained through these books was different from the one that provided the educative system of that time. Travel literature could make see the source of the ignorance of the ancients; it stressed the curiosities and extraordinary facts and led to a revision of beliefs and scientific theories of the ancient world. Besides the account of a broad diversity of sujects contributed to the creation of matters of fact, and this was important in order to put rational limits to the descriptions of the world that were commonly accepted. (shrink)
John Locke’s account of personal identity is usually thought to have been proved false by Thomas Reid’s simple ‘Gallant Officer’ argument. Locke is traditionally interpreted as holding that your having memories of a past person’s thoughts or actions is necessary and sufficient for your being identical to that person. This paper argues that the traditional memory interpretation of Locke’s account is mistaken and defends a memory continuity view according to which a sequence of overlapping memories is necessary (...) and sufficient for personal identity. On this view Locke is not vulnerable to the Gallant Officer argument. (shrink)
In the Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Locke insists that all knowledge consists in perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas. However, he also insists that knowledge extends to outer reality, claiming that perception yields ‘sensitive knowledge’ of the existence of outer objects. Some scholars have argued that Locke did not really mean to restrict knowledge to perceptions of relations within the realm of ideas; others have argued that sensitive knowledge is not strictly speaking a form of knowledge (...) for Locke. This chapter argues that Locke’s conception of sensitive knowledge is in fact compatible with his official definition of knowledge, and discusses his treatment of the problem of skepticism, both in the Essay and in the correspondence with Stillingfleet. (shrink)
Michael Jacovides For Locke, the first step in inquiring into perception should be reflection: “What Perception is, every one will know better by reflecting on what he does himself, when he sees, hears, feels, etc. or thinks, than by any discourse of mine” (2.9.2). As a second step, I say, we may learn from reading him. Locke’s use of the term ‘perception’ is somewhat broad. At one point, he tells us that “having Ideas and Perception” are “the same (...) thing” (2.1.9). Elsewhere, he includes the perceiving the agreement of ideas and perceiving the meaning of signs among the varieties of perception (2.21.5). What I have to say will be about perception as psychologists classify it nowadays. I will first discuss sensation in general and then elucidate some of the subtleties of Locke’s account of the visual perception of shape. I’ll close with some remarks on Locke account of time perception. (shrink)
Locke was a libertarian: he believed in human freedom. To be sure, his conception of freedom was different from that of many philosophers who call themselves libertarians. Some such philosophers maintain that an agent is free only if her action is uncaused; whereas Locke thought that all actions have causes, including the free ones. Some libertarians hold that no action is free unless it proceeds from a volition that is itself free; whereas Locke argued that free volition, (...) as opposed to free action, is an impossibility. On the other hand, Locke agrees with the typical professed libertarian that free actions depend on volitions - or, as he often puts it, that an agent is free only with respect to the actions she wills, to those that are voluntary. And he also refuses to make voluntariness sufficient for freedom, whereby a free action is merely one that is willed. The free agent, Locke insists, must also be able or have been able to do something other than she does or did. Thus both Locke and the libertarian professor require indifference as well as spontaneity for freedom. But Locke’s freedom is not contra-causal; and he denies that it extends to volition. In this paper I want to focus on just this last component of Locke’s view of freedom: that freedom in willing, far from being required for free agency, is not even possible. I call this ‘the thesis of volitional determinism’. Locke presents an argument for this thesis in the Essay, but scholars have never paid much attention to it: I want to examine it. (shrink)
In the 17th century, there was a lively debate in the intellectual circles with which Locke was familiar, revolving around the question whether the human mind is furnished with innate ideas. Although a few scholars declared that there is no good reason to believe, and good reason not to believe, in the existence of innate ideas, the vast majority took for granted that God, in his infinite goodness and wisdom, has inscribed in human minds innate principles that constitute the (...) foundation of knowledge, as well in practical as in theoretical matters. It was in opposition to the latter group, which included Descartes, leading Anglican divines, and the Cambridge Platonists, that Locke directed his attack upon innate ideas in the first book of the Essay.1 In the minds of those who weighed in on one side or the other, the importance of the controversy related to epistemological, moral, and religious doctrines. At the epistemological level, innatists (or, as I will also call them, nativists) held that all knowledge of the natural and supernatural world available to humans is based on fundamental “speculative” axioms, theoretical principles that neither require nor are capable of proof. These principles, such as the causal principle – that nothing comes from nothing – or the principle of non-contradiction – that nothing can both be and not be at the same time, were taken to be both universal and necessary, and hence impossible to derive from experience. To the mind of an innatist, if these principles are not based on experience and are not (as chimerical ideas were thought to be) constructed out.. (shrink)
The primary aim of this essay is to explain the central elements of Locke's theory of knowledge. A secondary aim arises from the official definition of knowledge introduced in the opening lines of book IV. Though Locke's repeated statements of the definition are consistent with the initial formulation, the consensus view among commentators is that that official definition is in tension with other book IV doctrines. My broader interpretation involves an effort to render the various doctrines consistent with (...) the official definition. The order of discussion: Section 1 explicates the definition of knowledge. Section 2 explains two main divisions of knowledge – namely, its three degrees, and the four sorts of knowable truths. In Section 3, I consider whether Locke understands knowable truths on a model of analyticity. Section 4 addresses potential problems about the objectivity of knowledge, given Locke's account. Section 5 focuses on external world knowledge – Locke calls this "sensitive knowledge" and it poses special difficulties for the official definition of knowledge. (shrink)
Locke usually uses the term “judgment” in a rather narrow but not unusual sense, as referring to the faculty that produces probable opinion or assent.2 His account is explicitly developed in analogy with knowledge, and like knowledge, it is developed in terms of the relation various ideas bear to one another. Whereas knowledge is the perception of the agreement or disagreement of any of our ideas, judgment is the presumption of their agreement or disagreement. Intuitive knowledge is the immediate (...) perception of the agreement or disagreement of two ideas, e.g., white is not black. If we perceive the idea of white, and the idea of black, nothing more is needed to perceive that white and black disagree with respect to identity. We just see or intuit it. Demonstrative knowledge is more complicated. Suppose we have or perceive the idea of the internal angles of a triangle, and also the idea of two right angles. Unless one is a prodigy, we can’t just “see” that these two ideas agree with respect to equality; we require a demonstration. For Locke, such a demonstration requires that we find another idea, such as 180 degrees, so that we can intuit that this idea stands in the relation of equality both to the internal angles of a triangle, and to two right angles. Thus a demonstration, for Locke, is a chain of ideas. (shrink)
One of the deepest tensions in Locke’s Essay, a work full of profound and productive conflicts, is one between Locke’s metaphysical tendencies—his inclination to presuppose or even to argue for substantive metaphysical positions—and his devout epistemic modesty, which seems to urge agnosticism about major metaphysical issues. Both tendencies are deeply rooted in the Essay. Locke is a theorist of substance, essence, quality. Yet, his favorite conclusions are epistemically pessimistic, even skeptical; when it comes to questions about how (...) the world is constituted, our understandings cannot penetrate very far. Locke seems torn between metaphysics and modesty, between dogmatism and skepticism. This chapter will consider two specific examples of this sort of tension. The first involves the ontology of body, and the second, the ontology of mind. The conflict concerning bodily natures looks like this: As is well-known, Locke typically describes bodies in the terms of the corpuscularian science of his day, as exemplified especially by the natural philosopher Robert Boyle. Locke’s characterizations of the real essences of bodies are mechanist. He envisions them as corpuscularian textures-- spatial arrangements of particles possessing size. (shrink)