The monistic feature of metaphysical systems, arising out of a kind of human intrinsic feeling, has occupied the minds of thinkers since long ago. In fact, such systems have always sought for a constant and subsistent thing beyond all existing differnces and restlessness.Plato's philosophy is based on the following ideas: sensible objects are appearances rather than realities; they are merely the subject of conjecture rather than knowledge; and the subject of knowledge is the world of intelligibles.The specific theory of the (...) Ideas is closely related to Plato's theory of the quality of man's knowledge and, considerning the fact that it views the world merely as appearance and seeks the truth in a higher and intelligible world, provides the essence for gnostic thought.In the process of the development of this idea, Mulla Sadra presents a new interpretation of the Ideas on the basis of the gradation of existence and the difference in perfection and imperfection. His interpretation could also be considered a natural outcome of his theory of the principiality of existence. (shrink)
This paper aims to clarify Locke’s distinction between simple and complex ideas. I argue that Locke accepts what I call the “compositional criterion of simplicity.” According to this criterion, an idea is simple just in case it does not have another idea as a proper part. This criterion is prima facie inconsistent with Locke’s view that there are simple ideas of extension. This objection was presented to Locke by his French translator, Pierre Coste, on behalf of Jean Barbeyrac. Locke responded (...) to Barbeyrac’s objection, but his response, along with a passage from Chapter XV of Book II of the Essay, “Of Duration and Expansion, considered together,” has been taken to show that he did not accept the compositional criterion. I examine these passages and argue that they are not in tension with but rather affirm that criterion. (shrink)
In this paper, I will argue that Locke is a substance dualist in the general sense, in that he holds that there are, independent of our classificatory schema, two distinct kinds of substances: wholly material ones and wholly immaterial ones. On Locke’s view, the difference between the two lies in whether they are solid or not, thereby differentiating him from Descartes. My way of establishing Locke as a general substance dualist is to be as minimally committal as possible at the (...) outset, especially with respect to the classic debates on Locke’s positions in this domain, including those concerning substrata, real essences, and the like. Nonetheless, I show that minimal commitments about Locke’s primary/secondary quality distinction are sufficient to derive some substantive conclusions about his positions on these issues, as well as that he is a general substance dualist. (shrink)
Malebranche argues that ideas are representative beings existing in God. He defends this thesis by an inference to the best explanation of human perception. It is well known that Malebranche’s theory of vision in God was forcefully rejected by philosophers such as Arnauld, Locke, and Berkeley. However, the notion that ideas exist in God was not the only controversial aspect of Malebranche’s approach. Another controversy centered around Malebranche’s view that ideas are to be understood as posits in an explanatory theory. (...) Opponents of this approach, including Arnauld and Locke, held that our talk about ideas was not explanatory but instead merely descriptive: we use the word ‘idea’ to describe phenomena that we observe by reflecting on our own minds. This controversy has not received much attention from scholars, but in the present paper I will show that it was an explicit and important subject of concern for Malebranche, Arnauld, Locke, and Berkeley and that attention to this controversy can illuminate several aspects of these philosophers’ work. (shrink)
Locke seems to have conflicting commitments: we know individual ideas and all knowledge is propositional. This paper shows the conflict to be only apparent. Looking at Locke’s philosophy of language in relation to the Port Royal logic, I argue, first, that Locke allows that we have non-ideational mental content that is signified only at the linguistic level. Second, I argue that this non-ideational content plays a role in what we know when we know an idea. As a result, we can (...) see our knowledge of an idea as a form of knowledge by acquaintance: there is a direct epistemic relation between a mental object and a knowing subject. But owing to Locke’s logic, that knowledge has a tacit propositional structure expressing the truth of the idea, which gains full signification only linguistically. (shrink)
I argue that Locke’s distinction between ‘determined’ and ‘undetermined’ ideas incorporates an account of semantic indeterminacy: if the complex idea to which a general term is annexed is ‘undetermined’, the term lacks a determinate extension. I propose that a closer look at this account of semantic indeterminacy illuminates various charges of confusion, misuse and abuse of language Locke levels against his philosophical contemporaries.
How much is given in perceptual experience, and how much must be constructed? John Locke's answer to this question contains two prima facie incompatible strands. On the one hand, he claims that ideas of primary qualities come to us passively, through multiple senses: the idea of a sphere can be received either by sight or touch. On the other hand, Locke seemingly thinks that a faculty he calls “judgment” is needed to create visual ideas of three‐dimensional shapes. How can these (...) accounts be made consistent? The problem comes to a head in the discussion of Molyneux's problem: can a person born blind and then made to see identify a sphere and a cube, when he had only touched them in the past? Locke's answer is no, but, as George Berkeley points out, it is hard to see why: if the ideas of shapes come to us through sight as well as touch, nothing should stop Molyneux man from instantly recognizing sphere and cube. Pace much of the existing literature, I argue that although Locke does think we receive visual ideas of primary qualities, the faculty of judgment is required to “inflate” those ideas into three dimensions and to correct for other perspectival distortions. I then show how this answer is consistent with the rest of his theory of perception. (shrink)
Locke's account of the idea of power is thought to be seriously problematic. Commentators allege that the idea of power causes problems for Locke's taxonomy of ideas, that it is defined circularly, and that, contrary to Locke's claims, it cannot be acquired in experience. This paper defends Locke's account. Previous commentators have assumed that there is only one idea of power. But close attention to Locke's text, combined with background features of his theory of ideas, supports the drawing of a (...) distinction between four different ideas of power. The paper describes each idea and its role in the Essay. It then argues that this distinction can help Locke to avoid the traditional criticisms. (shrink)
Locke defines knowledge as the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas. Nevertheless, he claims that we know particular things: the identity of our ideas, our own existence, and the existence of external objects. Although much has been done to reconcile the definition of knowledge with our knowledge of external objects, there is virtually nothing in the scholarship when it comes to knowing ideas or our own existence. I fill in this gap by arguing that perceptions of ideas are (...) complex mental states that convey propositional knowledge due to agreeing elements therein. (shrink)
In the wake of Wilfrid Sellars’ philosophy, John Locke’s theory of ideas is often taken to fall prey to the so-called Myth of the Given. The main charge is that Locke appeals to passively received sense impressions to justify knowledge claims and ultimately confuses natural processes with normative conceptual activity. In this paper, I will argue that the accusations are founded on a faulty reading and that Locke’s account does indeed circumvent Givenism without having to abandon the foundationalist ambitions that (...) drive his theory of ideas. I will begin by exploring the attractions and pitfalls of the Myth. Secondly, I will show how the Sellarsian objections can be launched against Locke’s theory of ideas. Thirdly, I will present my interpretation of Locke’s take on ideas and show how they fare in relation to the crucial features involved in the discussion of the Myth. By way of conclusion, I will discuss whether Locke’s way of avoiding the Myth limits his foundationalist approach. (shrink)
At least since Locke, philosophers and psychologists have usually held that concepts arise out of sensory perceptions, thoughts are built from concepts, and language enables speakers to convey their thoughts to hearers. Christopher Gauker holds that this tradition is mistaken about both concepts and language. The mind cannot abstract the building blocks of thoughts from perceptual representations. More generally, we have no account of the origin of concepts that grants them the requisite independence from language. Gauker's alternative is to show (...) that much of cognition consists in thinking by means of mental imagery, without the help of concepts, and that language is a tool by which interlocutors coordinate their actions in pursuit of shared goals. Imagistic cognition supports the acquisition and use of this tool, and when the use of this tool is internalized, it becomes the very medium of conceptual thought. (shrink)
As Locke claims that consciousness of our being is involved in all thought and perception, he treats all consciousness as some type of self-consciousness. I examine how consciousness relates to what it is about by inquiring into the intimate relations between consciousness and mental acts and consciousness and the self.
What, according to Locke, are ideas? I argue that Locke does not give an account of the nature of ideas. In the Essay, the question is simply set to one side, as recommended by the “Historical, plain Method” that Locke employs. This is exemplified by his characterization of ‘ideas’ in E I.i.8, and the discussion of the inverted spectrum hypothesis in E II.xxxii. In this respect, Locke's attitude towards the nature of ideas in the Essay is reminiscent of Boyle's diffident (...) attitude towards the nature of matter. In posthumously published work, however, Locke suggests that the enquiry into the nature of ideas is one of the things that the enquiry into the extent of human knowledge undertaken in the Essay actually shows to lie beyond the “compass of human understanding”. In this respect, Locke's attitude towards the nature of ideas is reminiscent of Sydenham's attitude towards the nature of diseases. (shrink)
Marc A. Hight has given us a well-researched, well-written, analytically rigorous and thoughtprovoking book about the development of idea ontology in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. The book covers a great deal of material, some in significant depth, some not. The figures discussed include Descartes, Malebranche, Arnauld, Locke, Leibniz, Berkeley, and Hume. Some might think it a tall order for anyone to grapple with the central works of these figures on a subject as fundamental as the nature of ideas. (...) And while reading the book, I must admit to having had this thought a few times. Seventeen pages on Descartes’ theory of ideas, covering the development of his ontology of ideas, the distinction between formal reality and objective reality, the nature of mental representation, the contagion theory of causation, the doctrine of innate ideas as ungrounded dispositions, and the interactionism/occasionalism controversy? Wow. And yet Hight has done his homework. He knows the figures and the relevant interpretive controversies well, he focuses on many of the passages that are relevant to the book’s central thesis, and in the end offers us a compelling narrative as an alternative to what he identifies as “the traditional view of what transpired in the early modern period” (2). (shrink)
Our understanding of Locke’s theory of ideas is stymied by his reticence about what he means by ‘idea’. I attempt to work around the problem by focusing on some neglected questions that afford us a better picture of his theory. I ask not what his ideas are, but what kinds of states or episodes he counts as someone’s having an idea, and what is involved in having simple and complex ideas. I argue that although we can make sense of much (...) of what he says about having simple and complex ideas, he is muddled about simplicity and complexity. (shrink)
I try to show that Berkeley's theory of ideas is not a variant of Locke's. We can find such an interpretation of Berkeley in Thomas Reid. So, we could call this interpretation a 'traditional interpretation'. This traditional interpretation has an influence still now, for example, Tomida interprets Berkeley in this line (Tomida2002). We will see that this traditional interpretation gives a serious problem to Berkeley (section 1). And I am going to present an argument against this traditional interpretation (section 2).
Locke endorses a distinction between passive reflection and voluntary attentive reflection, which he occasionally labels contemplation. Failure to recognize this distinction properly has had an effect on interpretations of Locke’s theory of reflection, and caused puzzlement about the relation between reflection and consciousness. In particular, the function of reflection as a passive internal sense that produces simple ideas of mental operations has been downplayed in favour of the view that reflection in one manner or another involves attention and/or presupposes consciousness (...) of mental operations. This has led a number of scholars to maintain, implicitly or explicitly, that Locke in fact abandons either his doctrine of sensation and reflection as the two exclusive sources of ideas or his doctrine of ideas as the only immediate objects of experience. -/- With the help of a distinction between reflection as a source of ideas and reflection as an operation about ideas I aim to show how Locke can hold to his empiricist maxim about the two sources of ideas and also endorse ideas as the only immediate objects of experience. A proper understanding of Locke’s theory of reflection requires that reflection and consciousness be delineated with respect to one another. I will show how Locke’s notion of consciousness differs from both types of reflection. (shrink)
How are we to understand philosophical claims about sense perception being direct versus indirect? There are multiple relevant notions of perceptual directness, so I argue. Perception of external objects may be direct on some notions, while indirect on others. My interest is with the sense in which ideas count as perceptual mediators in the philosophy of Descartes and Locke. This paper has two broader aims. The first is to clarify four main notions of perceptual directness. The second is to support (...) my contention that in the texts characterizing ideas as immediate objects of perception, Descartes and Locke are invoking the notion of directness I call 'objectual'. This notion is modeled on the way a picture mediates perception of the pictured object. The upshot of my account is that – with respect to the objectual notion of directness – Descartes and Locke each hold an indirect theory of perception. (shrink)
This book traces a deep misunderstanding about the relation of concepts and reality in the history of philosophy. It exposes the influence of the mistake in the thought of Locke, Berkeley, Kant, Nietzche and Bradley, and suggests that the solution can be found in Hegelian thought. Ellis argues that the treatment proposed exemplifies Hegel's dialectical method. This is an important contribution to this area of philosophy.
This symposium comprises five papers on Locke's theory of sense perception. The authors are John Rogers, Gideon Yaffe, Lex Newman, Tom Lennon, and Martha Bolton. There are also comments on the papers, both individually and as a group, by Vere Chappell. In addition to Locke's view of perception, the papers deal with the nature of Lockean ideas and with the question whether Locke is committed to skepticism regarding the external world. The authors (and the commentator) disagree in their readings of (...) Locke on these issues, but most maintain--and some argue--that he holds a representative theory of perception, and that he is not an external-world skeptic. (shrink)
: An attempt at defending a version of John Yolton's non‐representationalist reading of Locke's account of perception against Vere Chappell's very threatening criticisms. Concerning this version, which takes ideas to be appearances, Chappell questioned their identity criteria, their relation to what they are appearances of, and their nature in general.
: A continuation of the debate over the intelligibility, and plausibility, of Yolton's reading of Locke's account of perception. Here, the issue turns on the de‐reification of ideas and its implications for the putative axioms of symmetry and transitivity governing the identity of ideas. The issue is illustrated by what Locke says about confused ideas.
This is the first comprehensive study of the early modern logic of ideas. It is also a profound contribution to our understanding of the interaction between Aristotelianism and new philosophy and between rationalism and empiricism.
The paper seeks to give an ontological account of idea as mental content in the philosophy of John Locke. The foundation on which to place and polarise philosophical standpoints with regard to this issue is the 17th- century controversy between J. Locke and N. Malebranche with respect to the genesis of human knowledge. Showing the foundation of this controversy, as expressed in the polemic work of Locke entitled An Examination of P. Malebranche\'s Opinion of Seeing All Things in God, I (...) shall outline two possible approaches to our mental contents, namely the psychologistic and anti-psychologistic ones. In this perspective Locke is a representative of the first standpoint, whereas Malebranche of the second. In the psychologistic approach, the content of our conscious acts (or according to 17th-century Cartesian philosophy ideas) is exclusively an internalelement of this consciousness. On the contrary – in the case of the anti- psychologistic characteristation, the content of our consciousness is described as ontologically antonomous, i.e. as independent from thr knowing subject. Following the analyses of An Examination, I obtain additional arguments on behalf of the psychologistic interpretation of Locke\'s conception of idea (expressed, among others, by J. Yolton and M. Ayers), contrary to the anti-psychologistic approaches (claimed by, among others, T. Reid, R. McRae, and N. Jolley). (shrink)
This paper has a modest, but important, aim: to gain a better understanding of the relationship between John Locke's and David Hume's theories of causal power in the operations of external objects. The task is important because it focuses on an issue involving these two philosophers astonishingly not much discussed amongst commentators. (edited).
Our reading is a passage from John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding , Book III, Chapter II, § 2. When a man speaks to another, it is that he may be understood; and the end of speech is that those sounds, as marks, may make known his ideas to the hearer. … Words being voluntary signs, they cannot be voluntary signs imposed by him on things he knows not. That would be to make them signs of nothing, sounds without (...) signification. (shrink)
One might think that a healthy respect for the deliverances of experience would require us to give up any claim to nontrivial a priori knowledge. One way it might not would be if the very admission of something as an episode of experience required the use of substantive a priori knowledge -- if there were certain a priori standards that a representation had to meet in order to count as an experience, rather than as, say, a memory or daydream. This (...) paper argues that, surprisingly enough, we can find elements of this essentially Kantian line about experience even in the work of empiricists, such as John Locke and Bas van Fraassen. (shrink)
The paper argues against the claim held, e.g., by Leibniz, that Locke employs a double standard for determining whether an object before the mind (i.e., an idea) is real. Using Locke's ectype-archetype distinction it is shown that this charge is the result of confusing Locke's criterion of reality with its application. Depending on whether it applies to a simple, substance or mode idea, the criterion works out differently. Next it is argued that although Locke maintains only a single criterion, this (...) criterion is untenable, since it fails to properly distinguish real from fantastical ideas. (shrink)