Sensitive Knowledge: Locke on Sensation and Skepticism

In Matthew Stuart (ed.), Blackwell Companion to Locke. Malden, MA, USA: Wiley Blackwell. pp. 313-333 (2016)

Abstract

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.

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Jennifer Nagel
University of Toronto, Mississauga

References found in this work

Knowledge and Its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2000 - Philosophy 76 (297):460-464.
Knowledge and Its Limits.Timothy Williamson - 2005 - Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 70 (2):452-458.

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Citations of this work

Knowledge and Sensory Knowledge in Hume's Treatise.Graham Clay - 2021 - Oxford Studies in Early Modern Philosophy 10:195-229.
Locke's Externalism About 'Sensitive Knowledge'.Aaron Bruce Wilson - 2014 - British Journal for the History of Philosophy 22 (3):425-445.
Locke on Empirical Knowledge.Nathan Rockwood - 2018 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 35 (4).
Locke, Hume, and Reid on the Objects of Belief.Lewis Powell - 2018 - History of Philosophy Quarterly 35 (1):21-38.

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