Locke Essay Concerning Human Understanding Outline

The discussion of the metaphysics of primary and secondary qualities, his reflection on identity, the distinction between nominal and real essences, and his theory of language were not only grounded in seventeenth century debates, but are still the starting point of speculation for current theories about the metaphysics of color properties, personal identity and the problem of meaning and signification..It contains, in order of appearance, two essays on Book I, six on Book II, two on Book III and five on Book IV.I particularly agree with Rickless that Locke's appeal to memory in the argument that Rickless calls "The Argument from Lack of Universal Consent" "gives solace to the dispositional nativist" (61). II.x.2) allows for the possibility that an idea can be in the mind without being brought to consciousness.

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In Book II, Locke draws the famous distinction between primary and secondary qualities.Book II of Locke's and, in particular, for what Locke will argue about the reality of ideas in Book IV.Moreover, it is in this context that Locke lays the foundation of his empiricist epistemology and completes his attack on nativism by providing an empiricist story of the origin of all ideas.But unlike Rickless I do not see the force of Locke's argument that it would be pointless for God to give us innate latent principles."If Men can be ignorant or doubtful of what is innate, innate Principles are insisted on, and urged to no purpose" (13), argues Locke.This essay format promotes not only understanding but also critical reflection on key themes of the Unfortunately, I will not be able to devote to each article the attention it deserves. This part of the essay is useful inasmuch as it allows Rickless to dismiss the widespread view that Locke was addressing a straw man in his polemic (59).I will present the content of some essays and comment more extensively on others. But the most impressive part of the essay consists in identifying and analyzing in detail the various arguments Locke provides against nativism.Martha Bolton's essay, "The Taxonomy of Ideas in Locke's " (chapter three), is the first of six articles dedicated to Book II.Bolton presents Locke's classification of ideas and points out difficulties with which such a prima facie neat taxonomy is fraught.But why should these principles' not being known to us imply that they serve no purpose for us?In fact, in a famous passage where Descartes discusses the innateness of the idea of a triangle in an exchange with Gassendi, he argues that the latent presence of the idea of the triangle allows us to recognize triangular shapes in the physical world although we may never be aware of the true idea of the triangle.


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