Michael Jacovides
Purdue University
The intelligibility of our artifacts suggests to many seventeenth century thinkers that nature works along analogous lines, that the same principles that explain the operations of artifacts explain the operations of natural bodies.1 We may call this belief ‘corpuscularianism’ when conjoined with the premise that the details of the analogy depend upon the sub-microscopic textures of ordinary bodies and upon the rapidly moving, imperceptibly tiny corpuscles that surround these bodies.2 Locke’s sympathy for corpuscularianism comes out clearly where he describes the implications of our inability to perceive the sub-microscopic world. If we could, he conjectures, various perplexities would be unknotted. We would solve mysteries of pharmacology, since did we know the Mechanical affections of the Particles of Rhubarb, Hemlock, Opium, and a Man, as a Watchmaker does those of a Watch, whereby it performs its Operations, and of a File which by rubbing on them will alter the Figure of any of the Wheels, we should be able to tell before Hand, that Rhubarb will purge, Hemlock kill, and Opium make a man sleep; as well as a Watch-maker can, that a little piece of Paper, laid on the Balance, will keep the Watch from going, till it be removed; or that some small part of it, being rubb’d by a file, the Machin would quite lose its Motion, and the Watch go no more3 (4.3.25).
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DOI 10.1515/agph.2002.008
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Locke on Individuation and the Corpuscular Basis of Kinds.Dan Kaufman - 2007 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 75 (3):499–534.
Lockean Superaddition and Lockean Humility.Patrick J. Connolly - 2015 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 51:53-61.
Locke on the Propria of Body.Michael Jacovides - 2007 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 15 (3):485 – 511.
Locke’s Construction of the Idea of Power.Michael Jacovides - 2003 - Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part A 34 (2):329-350.

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