Locke, God, and Materialism

Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy 10:101-31 (2021)
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This paper investigates Locke’s views about materialism, by looking at the discussion in Essay IV.x. There Locke---after giving a cosmological argument for the existence of God---argues that God could not be material, and that matter alone could never produce thought. In discussing the chapter, I pay particular attention to some comparisons between Locke’s position and those of two other seventeenth-century philosophers, René Descartes and Ralph Cudworth. Making use of those comparisons, I argue for two main claims. The first is that the important argument of Essay IV.x.10 is fundamentally an argument about the causation of perfections. Indeed, Locke gives multiple such arguments in the chapter. My second main claim is that my proposed reading of IV.x is not merely consistent with what Locke says elsewhere about superaddition, but also provides reasons to favor a particular understanding of what superaddition is.



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Stewart Duncan
University at Buffalo

Citations of this work

The Contours of Locke’s General Substance Dualism.Graham Clay - 2022 - Journal of Modern Philosophy 4 (1):1-20.

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References found in this work

Leviathan.Thomas Hobbes - 1904 - Harmondsworth,: Penguin Books. Edited by C. B. Macpherson.
The philosophical writings of Descartes.René Descartes - 1984 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Metaphysical Themes 1274–1671.Robert Pasnau - 2011 - New York: Oxford University Press.
A Study of Spinoza's Ethics.Jonathan Bennett - 1984 - Cambridge University Press.
A Study of Spinoza's Ethics.Jonathan Bennett - 1984 - Critica 16 (48):110-112.

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