British Journal for the History of Philosophy 16 (1):25 – 63 (2008)
Those concerned with Locke’s Essay have largely ignored his account of reflection. I present and defend an interpretation of Locke’s theory of reflection on which reflection is not a variety of introspection; rather, for Locke, we acquire ideas of our mental operations indirectly. Furthermore, reflection is involuntary and distinct from consciousness. The interpretation I present also explains reflection’s role in the acquisition of non-sensory ideas (e.g., ideas of pleasure, existence, succession, etc.). I situate this reading within the secondary literature on reflection and discuss its consequences for interpretations of Locke’s views on empiricism, knowledge, and personal identity.
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