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5/1/2015 Modern Philosophy PHIL320 1 Locke – Essay I Charles Manekin.

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Presentation on theme: "5/1/2015 Modern Philosophy PHIL320 1 Locke – Essay I Charles Manekin."— Presentation transcript:

1 5/1/2015 Modern Philosophy PHIL320 1 Locke – Essay I Charles Manekin

2 5/1/2015 Modern Philosophy PHIL320 2 Topics of Discussion Life and Works Life and Works God God Pre-Established Harmony Pre-Established Harmony “All’s for the Best in This Best of All Possible Worlds” “All’s for the Best in This Best of All Possible Worlds”

3 5/1/2015 Modern Philosophy PHIL320 3 Life Born 1629 (3 years before Spinoza) Born 1629 (3 years before Spinoza) Entered Christ Church College in 1652; ba in 1656, ma in 1658, graduated as a bachelor of medicine only in Entered Christ Church College in 1652; ba in 1656, ma in 1658, graduated as a bachelor of medicine only in Became attached to Earl of Shaftesbury, later the Lord Chancellor, in After 1675, he traveled quite a bit. Fled to Holland Became attached to Earl of Shaftesbury, later the Lord Chancellor, in After 1675, he traveled quite a bit. Fled to Holland Returned to England (1689) after the Glorious Revolution Returned to England (1689) after the Glorious Revolution Serious of government jobs, lived mostly in the country (Essex) till death in Serious of government jobs, lived mostly in the country (Essex) till death in 1704.

4 5/1/2015 Modern Philosophy PHIL320 4 Works Two Treatises on Government, much of it written in 1672, revised and published after the return to England. It is considered to be the founding document of modern liberalism and was quite influential; parts are cited verbatim in the Declaration of Independence. Two Treatises on Government, much of it written in 1672, revised and published after the return to England. It is considered to be the founding document of modern liberalism and was quite influential; parts are cited verbatim in the Declaration of Independence. Letter Concerning Toleration, written during Holland stay. Letter Concerning Toleration, written during Holland stay. Essay Concerning Human Understanding Essay Concerning Human Understanding

5 5/1/2015 Modern Philosophy PHIL320 5 Setting the Limits of Human Understanding For I thought that the first Step towards satisfying the several Enquiries, the Mind of Man was apt to run into, was, to take a Survey of our own Understandings, examine our own Powers, and see to what Things they were adapted. Till that was done, I suspected that we began at the wrong end, and in vain sought for Satisfaction in a quiet and secure Possession of Truths, that most concern'd us whilst we let loose our Thoughts into the vast Ocean of Being,as if all the boundless Extent, were the natural and undoubted Possessions of our Understandings, wherein there was nothing that escaped its Decisions, or that escaped its Comprehension.

6 5/1/2015 Modern Philosophy PHIL320 6 Setting the Limits of Human Understanding Thus Men, extending their Enquiries beyond their Capacities, and letting their Thoughts wander into those depths where they can find no sure Footing; ‘tis no Wonder, that they raise Questions and multiply Disputes, which never coming to any clear Resolution, are proper to only continue and increase their Doubts, and to confirm them at last in a perfect Skepticism.

7 5/1/2015 Modern Philosophy PHIL320 7 Setting the Limits of Human Understanding Whereas were the Capacities of our Understanding well considered, the Extent of our Knowledge once discovered, and the Horizon found, which sets the boundary between the enlightened and the dark Parts of Things; between what is and what is not comprehensible by us, Men would perhaps with less scruple acquiesce in the avow'd Ignorance of the one; and employ their Thoughts and Discourse, with more Advantage and Satisfaction in the other.

8 5/1/2015 Modern Philosophy PHIL320 8 The Purpose of the Essay This, therefore, being my purpose- to inquire into the original, certainty, and extent of human knowledge, together with the grounds and degrees of belief, opinion, and assent;- I shall not at present meddle with the physical consideration of the mind; or trouble myself to examine wherein its essence consists; or by what motions of our spirits or alterations of our bodies we come to have any sensation by our organs, or any ideas in our understandings; and whether those ideas do in their formation, any or all of them, depend on matter or not. These are speculations which, however curious and entertaining, I shall decline, as lying out of my way in the design I am now upon.

9 5/1/2015 Modern Philosophy PHIL320 9 The Task of the Essay The commonwealth of learning is not at this time without master-builders, whose mighty designs, in advancing the sciences, will leave lasting monuments to the admiration of posterity: but every one must not hope to be a Boyle or a Sydenham; and in an age that produces such masters as the great Huygenius and the incomparable Mr. Newton, with some others of that strain, it is ambition enough to be employed as an under-labourer in clearing the ground a little, and removing some of the rubbish that lies in the way to knowledge

10 5/1/2015 Modern Philosophy PHIL The Character of the Essay A “Natural History” of the Mind. A “Natural History” of the Mind. A Work on A Work on Logic.Logic. The Psychologistic Turn in Logic The Psychologistic Turn in Logic Psychology (but not dealing with morality much)Psychology (but not dealing with morality much) EpistemologyEpistemology

11 5/1/2015 Modern Philosophy PHIL Book One – Against Innate Ideas Innate ideas: “some primary notions...Characters as it were stamped upon the Mind of Man, which the Soul receives in its very first Being; and brings into the world with it. Innate ideas: “some primary notions...Characters as it were stamped upon the Mind of Man, which the Soul receives in its very first Being; and brings into the world with it.” No innate speculative principles, moral principles, or innate ideas

12 5/1/2015 Modern Philosophy PHIL No Innate Speculative Principles “The Whole is Greater than the Part”; “Whatever is, is.” “It is Impossible for the Same thing to Be and Not to Be.” They are neither immediately perceived. Nor dispositional – How would we distinguish between innate and newly discovered truths.

13 5/1/2015 Modern Philosophy PHIL No Innate Moral Principles “Repay a gift with gratitude” These principles are not self-evident, nor are they exempt from the previous objections against innate speculative principles Even thieves know that they should obey contracts. How do they know this. Much disagreement on morality.

14 5/1/2015 Modern Philosophy PHIL No Innate Ideas For Principles to be Innate, their Ideas must be Innate. For Principles to be Innate, their Ideas must be Innate. Is “Impossibility” Innate? The “Whole” or the “Part”? Is “Impossibility” Innate? The “Whole” or the “Part”? What about the idea of God? What about the idea of God?


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