It is an old charge against Locke that his commitment to a common substratum for the observable qualities of particular objects and his empiricist theory about the origin of ideas are inconsistent with one another. How could we have an idea of something in which observable qualities inhere if all our ideas are constructed from ideas of observable qualities? In this paper, I propose an interpretation of the crucial passages in Locke, according to which the idea of substratum is formed (...) through an elaborate mental process which he calls “supposition.” It is the same process we use when we form the idea of infinity − another problematic idea for an empiricist. In the end, Locke was more liberal than most empiricists in subscribing to the existence of ideas far removed from experience, because he accepted supposition as a legitimate way of constructing new ideas. (shrink)
This book is a general introduction to the philosophy of John Locke, one of the most influential thinkers in modern times. Nicholas Jolley aims to show the fundamental unity of Locke's thought in his masterpiece, the Essay Concerning Human Understanding. In this work Locke advances a coherent theory of knowledge; as against Descartes he argues that knowledge is possible to the extent that it concerns essences which are constructions of the human mind.
Gottfried Leibniz was a remarkable thinker who made fundamental contributions not only to philosophy, but also to the development of modern mathematics and science. At the centre of Leibniz's philosophy stands his metaphysics, an ambitious attempt to discover the nature of reality through the use of unaided reason. This volume provides a systematic and comprehensive account of the full range of Leibniz's thought, exploring the metaphysics in detail and showing its subtle and complex relationship to his views on logic, language, (...) physics, and theology. Other chapters examine the intellectual context of his thought and its reception in the eighteenth century. New readers and nonspecialists will find this the most accessible and comprehensive guide to Leibniz currently available. Advanced students and specialists will find a conspectus of recent developments in the interpretation of Leibniz. (shrink)
The concept of an "idea" played a central role in 17th-century theories of mind and knowledge, but philosophers were divided over the nature of ideas. This book examines an important, but little-known, debate on this question in the work of Leibniz, Malebranche, and Descartes. Looking closely at the issues involved, as well as the particular context in which the debate took place, Jolley demonstrates that the debate has serious implications for a number of major topics in 17th-century philosophy.
Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (1646-1716) was hailed by Bertrand Russell as "one of the supreme intellects of all time." A towering figure in Seventeenth century philosophy, his complex thought has been championed and satirized in equal measure, most famously in Voltaire's Candide. In this outstanding introduction to his philosophy, Nicholas Jolley introduces and assesses the whole of Leibniz's philosophy. Beginning with an introduction to Leibniz's life and work, he carefully introduces the core elements of Leibniz's metaphysics: his theories of substance, identity (...) and individuation; monads and space and time; and his important debate over the nature of space and time with Newton's champion, Samuel Clarke. He then introduces Leibniz's theories of mind, knowledge, and innate ideas, showing how Lenin anticipated the distinction between conscious and unconscious states, before examining his theory of free will and the problem of evil. An important feature of the book is its introduction to Leibniz'smoral and political philosophy, an overlooked aspect of his work. The final chapter assesses legacy and the impact of his philosophy on philosophy as a whole, particularly on the work of Immanuel Kant. Throughout, Nicholas Jolley places Lenin in relation to some of the other great philosophers, such as Descartes, Spinoza and Locke, and discusses Leibniz's key works, such as the Monadology and Discourse on Metaphysics. (shrink)
This is the first modern interpretation of Leibniz's comprehensive critique of Locke, the New Essays on Human Understanding. Arguing that the New Essays is controlled by the overriding purpose of refuting Locke's alleged materialism, Jolley establishes the metaphysical and theological motivation of the work on the basis of unpublished correspondence and manuscript material. He also shows the relevance of Leibniz's views to contemporary debates over innate ideas, personal identity, and natural kinds.