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A brief discussion of the life and works of John Locke, with links to electronic texts and additional information.

Empiricism – From Locke to Hume – Del∆ney by Def∆ult

John Locke: Political Philosophy

John Locke - mind as a tabula rasa - his Essay concerning Human Understanding empiricism
An empiricist response to this general line of argument is given byLocke (1690, Book I, Chapter IV, Sections 1–25, pp.91–107). First, there is the problem of explaining what it isfor someone to have an innate concept. If having an innate conceptentails consciously entertaining it at present or in the past, thenDescartes’s position is open to obvious counterexamples. Youngchildren and people from other cultures do not consciously entertainthe concept of God and have not done so. Second, there is theobjection that we have no need to appeal to innate concepts in thefirst place. Contrary to Descartes’ argument, we can explain howexperience provides all our ideas, including those the rationaliststake to be innate, and with just the content that the rationalistsattribute to them.

John Locke > By Individual Philosopher > Philosophy

John Locke: John Locke, English philosopher whose works lie at the foundation of modern philosophical empiricism and political liberalism.
Locke was born in Wrington to Puritan parents of modest means. Hisfather was a country lawyer who served in a cavalry company on thePuritan side in the early stages of the English civil war. Hisfather’s commander, Alexander Popham, became the local MP, and it washis patronage which allowed the young John Locke to gain an excellenteducation. In 1647 Locke went to Westminster School in London.


John Locke - New World Encyclopedia

John Locke (1632—1704) John Locke was among the most famous philosophers and political theorists of the 17 th century
John Locke (1632–1704) was one of the greatest philosophers inEurope at the end of the seventeenth century. Locke grew up and livedthrough one of the most extraordinary centuries of English politicaland intellectual history. It was a century in which conflicts betweenCrown and Parliament and the overlapping conflicts betweenProtestants, Anglicans and Catholics swirled into civil war in the1640s. With the defeat and death of Charles I, there began a greatexperiment in governmental institutions including the abolishment ofthe monarchy, the House of Lords and the Anglican church, and theestablishment of Oliver Cromwell’s Protectorate in the 1650s. Thecollapse of the Protectorate after the death of Cromwell was followedby the Restoration of Charles II—the return of the monarchy,the House of Lords and the Anglican Church. This period lasted from1660 to 1688. It was marked by continued conflicts between King andParliament and debates over religious toleration for Protestantdissenters and Catholics. This period ends with the GloriousRevolution of 1688 in which James II was driven from England andreplaced by William of Orange and his wife Mary. The final periodduring which Locke lived involved the consolidation of power byWilliam and Mary, and the beginning of William’s efforts to oppose thedomination of Europe by the France of Louis XIV, which laterculminated in the military victories of John Churchill—theDuke of Marlborough.

Recommended Reading: The Empiricists (Anchor, 1961); The Empiricists: Critical Essays on Locke, Berkeley, and Hume, ed
In Book I Locke says little about who holds the doctrine of innateprinciples that he is attacking. For this reason he has sometimes beenaccused of attacking straw men. John Yolton has persuasively argued(Yolton, 1956) that the view that innate ideas and principles werenecessary for the stability of religion, morality and natural law waswidespread in England in the seventeenth century, and that inattacking both the naive and the dispositional account of innate ideasand innate principles, Locke is attacking positions which were widelyheld and continued to be held after the publication of theEssay. Thus, the charge that Locke’s account of innateprinciples is made of straw, is not a just criticism. But there arealso some important connections with particular philosophers andschools that are worth noting and some points about innate ideas andinquiry.

John Locke (1632-1704) - Friesian School

At the beginning of An Essay Concerning Human UnderstandingLocke says that since his purpose is “to enquire into theOriginal, Certainty and Extant of human knowledge, together with thegrounds and degrees of Belief, Opinion and Assent” he is goingto begin with ideas—the materials out of which knowledge isconstructed. His first task is to “enquire into the Original ofthese Ideas…and the ways whereby the Understanding comes to befurnished with them” (I. 1. 3. p. 44). The role of Book I of theEssay is to make the case that being innate is not a way inwhich the understanding is furnished with principles and ideas. Locketreats innateness as an empirical hypothesis and argues that there isno good evidence to support it.

John Locke - mind as a tabula rasa - Age of the Sage

Locke, indeed, founds the tradition of British Empiricism and also, for some time, a discipline of philosophical psychology, which thus transitions from a metaphysical theory of the soul to an empirical study of the mind.

Empiricism - Simple English Wikipedia, the free …

Locke has an atomic or perhaps more accurately a corpuscular theory of ideas.[] There is, that is to say, an analogy between the way atoms orcorpuscles combine into complexes to form physical objects and the wayideas combine. Ideas are either simple or complex. We cannot createsimple ideas, we can only get them from experience. In this respectthe mind is passive. Once the mind has a store of simple ideas, it cancombine them into complex ideas of a variety of kinds. In this respectthe mind is active. Thus, Locke subscribes to a version of theempiricist axiom that there is nothing in the intellect that was notpreviously in the senses—where the senses are broadened toinclude reflection. Book III deals with the nature of language, itsconnections with ideas and its role in knowledge. Book IV, theculmination of the previous reflections, explains the nature andlimits of knowledge, probability, and the relation of reason andfaith. Let us now consider the Essay in some detail.