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Locke, John

Locke, John

Major contributions

Locke’s originality and influence

WORKS BY LOCKE

SUPPLEMENTARY BIBLIOGRAPHY

John Locke made important contributions in the areas of epistemology, political theory, education, toleration theory, and theology; he also wrote on natural law and on various economic topics.

Born in 1632 in a Somerset village, he was the eldest and ultimately the only surviving child of a family of tradesmen and small landholders. His grandfather had been a tanner and clothier; his father was a notary with landholdings later inherited by his son. He kept his connections with his ramified west-country family and friends, most of whom were Whigs throughout the turbulent years of the later Stuart rule. After living for many years at Oxford and on the Continent, Locke made his headquarters in Essex in 1691 with his friend Lady Masham; in 1704 he was buried among the Mashams in the village church at High Laver.

Intellectual development . Locke studied at the Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford, where in 1658 he was elected senior student (the equivalent of a fellow in other colleges) and taught moral philosophy. His academic duties were always light, and he consistently sought to lighten them still more, especially after 1666, when he met Lord Ashley (later Lord Shaftesbury), the great Whig leader; thenceforth Locke spent more time in London than at Oxford.

The political parliamentarianism of Locke’s father may have influenced Locke’s own ultimate Whiggery, which was strengthened by his association with Shaftesbury. Many west-country families, like Locke himself, became part of the “Shaftes-bury connection” of Whigs, later supporting William of Orange in his successful coup. By all odds the most influential connection of Locke’s life was with Shaftesbury, who quickened his early, though latent, interest in questions of political philosophy and practice. During his Shaftesbury years Locke sat on the Council of Trade and Plantations, an overseeing body for crown colonies, Ireland, and proprietary holdings in the New World. His interest in economic problems can be dated from that experience. Although he had been only on the fringes of the complicated politics of the late reign of Charles n, in 1683 Locke had to leave Oxford for good, a political refugee in Shaftesbury’s wake.

Locke’s intellectual development was marked by autonomy and autodidacticism. Evidently bored by his studies, he independently followed the medical curriculum at Oxford; though he never took his doctor’s degree, he was qualified to practice medicine and did so, largely for the Shaftesbury family. He also studied chemistry in Robert Boyle’s laboratory; in this way he came to know Boyle and eventually became an executor of his will. Other scientific friends were Richard Lower, Thomas Willis, and David Thomas; in 1688 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society. Locke’s “corpuscularianism,” or atomic theory of matter, had much in common with Boyle’s; his general curiosity and interest in “things” rather than in their names, as well as his experimental approach to social and scientific matters, can all be connected with his serious interest in the biological sciences. His medical empiricism was much like that of his associate Thomas Sydenham, one of the major experimental physicians of his day, who was especially interested in public health; both Sydenham and Locke voiced their awareness of the “unknowing,” the “probabilism” involved in medical practice, notions which later influenced Locke’s epistemology.

Locke’s fear of Catholicism and absolutism had its roots in the English political scene and was deepened by several journeys to France, where persecution of the Huguenots was then intense. His Dutch sojourn, from 1683 to 1689, was voluntarily undertaken as a prudential flight from a government increasingly hostile to men of his political association and views: he was deprived of his studentship at Christ Church and even put on a proscription list of James II’s real and supposed enemies hidden in Holland. During that time, Locke met many congenial thinkers who in different ways reflected his own biases and concerns: among others, Arminian broad-church theologians, all theorists of toleration; medical men interested in experiment and learned in a tradition other than his own, that of Cartesian medicine; publicists dedicated to the diffusion of both learning and information.

When Locke returned to England in 1689, it was to a government of which he could approve; by that time he himself had become an honored man and was recognized as a major thinker. Thenceforward, he devoted himself to studying and writing, while holding minor government offices and occasionally conferring with political leaders

Writings . From the early 1660s Locke had written many short essays, evidently for his own clarification, on natural law, on the civil magistrate, on toleration. In 1669 these preoccupations fed into Lord Shaftesbury’s Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina, written with the aid of Locke. (Although this item appears in Locke’s collected works—see The Works..., vol. 10, pp. 175-199—it has been established that Shaftesbury was the principal author.) Locke’s Two Treatises (1690a) were written, as we now know, at the time of the Exclusion crisis of 1679–1681, when Shaftesbury unsuccessfully attempted to exclude the duke of York from succession to the throne because he was a Catholic.

While Locke was in Holland, one of his publicist friends, Jean Le Clerc, persuaded him to write for his periodical: thus, in the Bibliothéque universelle et historique, a fortnightly review of issues and books of international interest, Locke published some book reviews—among others, one of Newton’s Principia —as well as original works of his own, the chief of which was his abridgment of the then unpublished Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690b).

In 1689–1690 Locke began his serious publishing career: A Letter Concerning Toleration, Being the Translation of the “Epistola de tolerantia” appeared in 1689 (The Works..., vol. 6, pp. 1-58); the Two Treatises of Government in 1689, bearing the date 1690; the Essay Concerning Human Understanding in the same year. From then on, Locke never ceased publishing: he continually revised and republished his Essay, also supervising its translation into French; between 1690 and 1704 he wrote three more letters on toleration (The Works..., vol. 6, pp. 59-574); in 1690, Some Thoughts on Education (ibid., vol. 9, pp. 1-210); in 1695, The Reasonableness of Christianity (ibid., vol. 7, pp. 1-158); various defenses of the Essay; economic tracts; and paraphrases of Paul’s Epistles. Much of the immediate stimulus to this work was topical: his study of education grew out of private letters to his friend Edward Clarke; the economic tracts all sprang from fiscal and commercial problems of the government; the later writings on toleration were called forth by attacks on his ideas and on William’s efforts to solve the problem of dissent in England. Characteristically, however, even his topical writings contain elements of “philosophy,” generalizations not required by the work’s immediate polemical purpose.

Major contributions

Locke has often seemed a singularly disconnected thinker, an asystematic philosopher with occasional brilliant insights. Since the acquisition by the Bodleian Library of many Locke manuscripts from the Lovelace Collection, the development of Locke’s interests and of his thinking can be more accurately traced than before; further, the ways in which his ideas, apparently so disparate, hang together has become clearer from study of the manuscripts. His earliest work was on natural law, which led him ultimately into his serious work on two branches of that large subject, political theory and human understanding. Though these two interests branched widely apart from one another and seemed far removed from his initial concern with the “covering” aspect of natural law, his friends expected, in vain, that he would eventually write a treatise about natural law, after he had completed his Essay. His early natural-law essays were written between 1660 and 1664 and deal with both the epistemological problem of knowing in natural law and with the natural law as a binding moral and social force; the essays show clear signs of Locke’s later full-scale attack upon innateness and consensus gentium, as well as his incipient psychological sensationalism. As for moral natural law, Locke assumed it as a donnée from God. binding upon man’s reason; this view remains rudimentary both in the Second Treatise ([1690a] 1960, pp. 283-446) and in Locke’s other writings. In his manuscript treatises on the civil magistrate and on toleration, dating from the early years of the Restoration, Locke moved from a restrictive position to a more tolerant one, at first insisting on public order as a primary value and then stressing the irenic power of the civil magistrate, particularly in the regulation of religious practices. From these early works Locke’s philosophical investigations emerged. They will be treated under several headings, with stress laid upon those elements of his thought most significant for the development of the social sciences: political theory, religious ideas, economic ideas, epistemology, psychology, educational theory.

Political thought

Locke’s major contributions to political thought are in his Second Treatise, a document notoriously lacking in system, partly because of its remnant character, partly because of its connection with contemporary events, partly because of Locke’s failure to rewrite it substantially for publication in 1689, ten years after its completion. Within its own time the work contained “dangerous” doctrines, some anathematized by decree in 1683, when Locke fled his country. By the time of its publication, however, it expressed the parliamentarian ideals of mixed government and separation of powers established in England by the political settlement reached after William’s invasion. The origins of the tract seem to have been in the Exclusion crisis; it was designed to justify constitutional change, for which Locke undertook to investigate the origins and structure of civil (political) society. His polemical aim was to diminish popular acceptance of the patriarchalism which gave authority to much of the contemporary argument for absolutism; to do so, he postulated an original, direct relation of every man to God rather than to or through any political intermediary. Each man was in some sense God’s “property”: bypassing the notion of Adam as a model ruler of the social group, Locke postulated a state of nature regulated by laws derived from God, a state of nature in which men were equal and free before the Lord and each other. Paradoxically, the rule of law (in this case, the rule of the law of nature) was requi-site for freedom; without such natural law man’s “freedom” would have been anarchy. In this sense Locke’s conception approached the anarchic state of nature postulated by Hobbes, although his insistence upon fundamental natural law saved him from Hobbes’s pessimism about the lawlessness of basic human nature. From this natural condition, Locke inferred both a “law of reason,” bye which individuals reach and assent to social consensus, and the practical laws requisite to permit, even to insure, personal freedom [see NATURAL LAW]. Originally, in the state of nature, executive power of the natural law was vested in every individual; subsequently—whether suddenly or gradually is not made clear—men consented to live in a common society regulated by the communal executive power of the law of nature. Locke divided this communal power into three—the legislative, executive, and federative powers—with judicial decision a general power of the political commonwealth.

To effect the passage from the state of nature to “civil society,” Locke developed his important variation on the idea of property, which in turn graded into his theory of labor. From the natural-law postulate that a man has property in his own life, Locke derived the view that a man has property in the things necessary to the preservation of that life, so long as those things are rightfully his (that is, taken from the commonwealth at a point when the specific acquisition harmed or deprived no one else). A man has a right in himself and thus in his own labor; in turn, he has a right to what “he hath mixed his labor with,” or a right to his property. A corollary of this is Locke’s formulation of the labor theory of value, almost incidental to his argument: the value and the price of commodities in any society reflect the labor that has gone into them.

There are two sorts of relations between men, the first a natural social contract, entered into by the exercise of rational considerations of self-preservation, the second defined by rights in property. The function and end of government are the preservation of life, liberty, and property. One corollary of this formulation is that political rights derive from property and that the propertyless are either without political rights or are slaves. Such a conception of the commonwealth permits emphasis both on the common interest and on private holdings, which in Locke’s essay (in line with seventeenth-century usage and notions of value) generally means land.

Without in any sense denying the importance and validity of a familial organization of society, Locke demonstrated that the power over children and dependents vested in the father (who shares it with the mother, interestingly enough) is simply a form of trusteeship: the guardian—father has certain obligationse toward his children, especially to educate them; when the children reach full exercise of their reason, they are free “from subjection to the will and command of the father.” The family was, for Locke, important in his theory of the origins of civil society, the conjunction of male and female being both a symbol of a wider assent and obligation and a primary stage in the voluntary community of mankind. Thus, even in families, arbitrary government is “impossible”; in common-wealths the necessary consent of each individual to enter into the bond of civil society (the social contract) eventuates in election, the choice of representatives charged to exercise legislative power. Legislative power is supreme in Locke’s mixed government of separate legislative, executive, and federative powers. His assumption is that a man with political rights (by reason of his property in himself) enters into political life, inheriting with his property his obligations to the government that represents him. In turn, the government may not touch his property (i.e., levy taxes) without his consent through his representative. One implication of this formulation is a doctrine of resistance, or revolution, as expressed in the last chapter of the Second Treatise, the chapter which, above all others, made Locke objectionable to the government before 1688 and valuable to the government thereafter. Unlike the Protestant resistance-theorists of the sixteenth century, Locke did not base his revolutionary theory upon sanctions of conscience or religion; unlike the English parliamentarians of the 1640s, he did not base it on precedents in English law; unlike Algernon Sidney, he did not base it on a metaphysical and metapsychological natural right to liberty; rather, he advocated a restrained and considered revolution for the restoration of proper balance in the body politic. [seesocial contract.]

Locke’s theory of government emphasizes process, both the hypothetical process of human development from a state of nature to civil society and the processes of self-government. He therefore limited the number of specifiable elements in the proper commonwealth and was careful to leave ample room for adjustments to changing social needs. He was, in short, indicating a successful process of representative majority rule rather than setting up an exclusive structure for one. Hence, there are large areas of his thought which seem blank, either because he was unconcerned with total consistency or because he was concerned with leaving social alternatives open, especially in “matters of indifference.”

Views on religion

His toleration theory, taken in conjunction with his religious views, demonstrates his appreciation of practical approaches. Thus, his Letter Concerning Toleration of 1689, Locke dealt with Christian toleration, “the chief characteristical mark of the true church.” Since every man appears orthodox to himself, no one in his right or his wrong mind will accept as just the persecution of himself; furthermore, since in any case persecution cannot touch a man’s inmost conviction, regardless of what he may say under stress, there is no practical merit in persecution. Locke politicized the problem of religious pluralism, assigning to the civil magistrate the protection of various rights (here defined as “life, liberty, and indolency of body”) of members of a commonwealth. The care of souls was no more committed by God to the civil magistrate than the care of one man’s conscience was committed to any other member of society. The magistrate’s power consists only in civil force, which is irrelevant to any church (defined as “a voluntary society of men”).

From the privileges of toleration, Locke excluded some—he excluded atheists from the benefits of the law, because they refuse to acknowledge its source—but he included idolators, men simply given to erroneous worship. Toleration is to be withheld from religious groups who deny it to others, a view supported by Locke’s experiences in France, where persecution of Huguenots reached extremes between 1679 and 1685. Whenever religious assemblies endanger the public peace, then the civil magistrate, on civil grounds, may intervene against them; even then, however, he is not to interfere with their belief, which remains in the category of “things indifferent” and is therefore irrelevant to questions of public order. Although in this work Locke did not justify resistance, rebellion, or revolution for religion’s sake, he made it plain that oppression of any kind naturally impels men toward sedition.

In The Reasonableness of Christianity Locke defended the Christian revelation against atheism and against natural religion without revelation, demonstrating by scriptural and historical authority the fact of Christ’s messiahship. The tract defends the necessity of revelation against the idea of a sufficient natural religion, but at the same time it treats Christ’s teachings as the fulfillment and explanation of the moral law of nature. Man’s reason cannot by itself discover the full moral law of nature, but it can confirm it. Nowhere in the tract did Locke sanction a particular form of worship, but instead he endorsed a general scriptural Christianity to which, as it were, all Christians could subscribe. (For this, he was roundly attacked as being a deist.) In ways connected with his toleration theory and his epistemology, he adduced the uncertainties of man’s perceptions and knowledge to support his minimal articles of faith, drawn from scriptural revelation and corroborated by the action of reason.[seechristianity.]

Economic ideas

Locke’s economic interests, stimulated during his early association with Shaf tes-bury, emerged long after in 1691 in Some Considerations of the Consequences of the Lowering of Interest, and Raising the Value of Money (The Works...., vol. 5, pp. 1-130) and in 1695 in Further Considerations ...(ibid., vol. 5, pp. 131-206). In these works, he advocated maintaining the interest rate and not devaluing the currency, on grounds of natural law. His economic laws were (1) that the intrinsic value of any piece of goods is not necessarily reflected in its price; (2) that its market value depends upon the proportion of supply and demand (which he called “quantity” and “vent”); (3) that price is determined by the amount of money relative to the supply and demand for a piece of goods. These laws permit prices to be set with some flexibility, according to varying conditions, and they rely upon a controlling notion in Locke’s thought, that of self-regulation toward equilibrium. When it came to practice, as in the cases of the poor and of Irish manufactures, Locke advocated government intervention in economic affairs.

Psychology

The aim of Locke’s Essay (1690b) was to determine the limits of human knowledge, so that men might address themselves to problems within their power to solve. He set out to describe the process of human understanding, to inquire into probable knowledge, and to determine the nature of ideas. He concluded, very simply, that ideas have two sources, sensation and reflection upon ideas produced by sensation. It turns out, however, in the course of the book, that knowledge can also be intuitional and demonstrative, though in the discussion intuition tends to be assimilated to sensation and demonstration to reflection. Ideas may be either simple or complex: simple ideas are the result of sensation and reflection and are compounded of simple parts which can be found byanalysis. Locke attributed reality to the external world and relied upon intuition to explain the relation between an idea and its referent in the external world. Knowledge derived by intuition (such as that of revelation) is “certain”; certain knowledge can also be derived from demonstration but less reliably than from intuition, since errors in reason and in memory may distort the result of demonstration. Locke’s ontological proof of God‖s existence, much like Descartes’s, is an example of the fusion of demonstration with intuition: that is, one’s own existence is intuited, and from one’s own existence God’s can be demonstrated. He relied upon the skeptical provisionalism inherent in empirical investigations, both in his recognition of the role probability plays in human understanding and assessment of life and in his recognition of the idiosyncratic formation of each man’s personal set of ideas. As in so much of his work, Locke took a middle position in the Essay, incorporating elements of skepticism and elements of idealism, combining what we now call behaviorism with gestalt principles. His empiricism embraced both the particular and the consensual: in the ongoing search for true knowledge individual men are required to check their ideas against those of the group, and the group does so against those of any given individual. [seegestalt theory; thinking.]

Locke’s psychological principles are a by-product of his effort to describe human understanding. His major hypothesis, that the mind is not equipped with innate ideas or principles but is at its formation a “white paper” (his translation of tabula rasa), was reached in part through his own empirical observation of children. He concluded that there are only two ways of human understanding, by sensation and by reflection on ideas derived from sensation. His whole notion of “understanding” is developmental; throughout the Essay he cited examples from his observation of the successive stages of men’s lives. From his observation of children, he demonstrated that their understanding derives from their experience of the external and social world. Approximating modern notions of “control,” Locke cited a great deal of evidence from his observation of human beings who were exceptional in that they lacked some “normal” element of apprehension or reflection—children, not yet developed to full powers; idiots; men born blind (including the famous philosophical example of a man who by an operation got his sight); men suffering from amnesia because their heads had been kicked by horses. In spite of their deficiencies, all such people entertained ideas that seemed to them as authentic as those “clear and distinct” ideas that are the hallmark of proper understanding. Madness, drunkenness, and dreaming interested Locke: the Cartesian criterion for human existence, consciousness, seemed to him too narrow to account for the existence of faultily conscious minds. His solution to the problem of identity turned on assumptions now associated with gestalt psychology: on the continuous existence of an organized body whose parts (including its intellectual store) shift over time in relation to one another. So “the night man” and “the day man,” the drunken man and the sober man, the madman and the sane man may coexist in the same person, even though their control over consciousness may be intermittent or interrupted. To this notion may be connected Locke’s idea of what are nowadays called “roles,” the multiple relations, psychological and social (father, brother, son, son-in-law, servant, master, older, younger, etc.), possible and even inevitable in every man’s experience. Memory (retention), the operation of which was never altogether accounted for in the Lockean philosophy or psychology, plays a major part in maintaining continuous personal identity. One of Locke’s major psychological insights, that arbitrary mental connections are “stamped” on men’s minds by the chance conjunctions of their experience, appears in the famous chapter on the association of ideas, an afterthought in his organization. There he demonstrated, by a kind of negative example, the supremacy of experience over rational powers: a man taught to dance in a room containing a trunk could never dance in the absence of a similar trunk; a man nearly axed in a doorway by a berserk village idiot could never go through a door without glancing behind him. So by experience, governing intellectual and emotional constellations are induced in individual minds. This doctrine and that of the tabula rasa underlie Locke’s precepts for education. [seedevelopmental psychology;learning;role;senses.]

In the sense that he postulated ideas as originating in sensation, Locke’s psychology is certainly mechanistic. His general concern, however, to establish the same organic interrelationship for the contents of the mind as for the members of the body or the state, tempers his mechanism with organic and developmental notions. Although he conceived of the body as made up of elements in a mechanistic organization, he saw that mechanism as having considerable feedback into its own individual, even idiosyncratic, development. Feedback is in turn not automatic, in his view, since the mind’s judgment, the faculty which selects and arranges ideas in relation to one another, is also constantly at work during consciousness.

Locke’s social conception of language may serve as a partial model for his ideas of how men understand as well as of how society functions: Although the designation of words is established by consensus, each man may alter it privately for himself alone, according to his individual associations of words and experience. Furthermore, though encountered as datum in each man’s life, language is not rigid but is subject to modification over time by the social needs of the group using it.

Pedagogy

Locke’s ideas of education follow from his psychology. The child inevitably grows into the man and should grow into as healthy a man as possible. Since each child is strongly individuated, no fixed regime works for all children, but Locke laid down general rules of education, chiefly applicable (as he wrote) to gentry sons whose duty was to undertake public service. Boys were to be educated at home, carefully fed, clothed, and taught to build and preserve good health. The father was to “imprint” obedience on his son but with such care and tact as to turn the child-subject naturally into his friend. Rewards and punishments were to be systematic but moderate (Locke outlawed beating, as making a child slavish). The father, tutor, and governor, charged with educating the child, were to be his moral exemplars; therefore, it was necessary for parents both to regulate them- selves and to choose their surrogates with care. Though children must learn self-denial, some cravings may be gratified, especially since “craving” is so closely allied to “curiosity,” nature’s instrument to correct ignorance. So the child must be allowed to learn whenever ready and can often be cozened into learning by means of games and toys. Children’s questions must always be answered truthfully, and conversation with them must be free of condescension. Instruction in the nature of reality —including the idea of God, excluding the idea of goblins—was to be undertaken early.

As for learning itself, Locke’s program was practical: reading, writing, French, then Latin (for use, chiefly); geography, arithmetic, astronomy, geometry, chronology, history, ethics, civil law, rhetoric and logic, natural philosophy; then Greek and Latin as cultural subjects and, last of all, method. For learning by rote Locke had no use; he also advocated learning such practical subjects as trade and accountancy as well as recreations such as music, dancing, gardening, joinery—all useful to young men of property. Finally, the young man should travel, first at home and later abroad, before settling down to matrimony and his social and political obligations at the age of one and twenty.

Locke’s originality and influence

In its day Locke’s thought seemed strikingly “new,” cast in a new language for any literate man to read; it had, naturally, many sources and analogues in ancient and contemporary thought. His skepticism and empiricism came from deep within the medical tradition; his attitude, and even the words he used, recall Sextus Empiricus and, more often, Montaigne, another essayist concerned with knowing, education, understanding, nescience, and probability. Locke had, too, a recognizably British stoicism, a preference for directness and plainness in morality and rhetoric; he often cited Seneca and the stoical writings of Cicero. His toleration theory derived from a long line of Protestant writers going back to Servetus and Erastus and exemplified by his Arminian friends; there are affinities between his view of church-state relations and the thought of Chillingworth, Falkland, and John Owen. His citations of natural law are to Hooker and Grotius, whose books he certainly knew, though he seems to have referred to them more out of piety and the need for authorities than from any desire to analyze their thought in relation to his own. Although he was a notable revisionist of the Cartesian epistemology and psychology, Locke’ cast in a new language for any literate man to read; it had, naturally, many sources and analogues in ancient and contemporary thought. His skepticism and empiricism came from deep within the medical tradition; his attitude, and even the words he used, recall Sextus Empiricus and, more often, Montaigne, another essayist concerned with knowing, education, understanding, nescience, and probability. Locke had, too, a recognizably British stoicism, a preference for directness and plainness in morality and rhetoric; he often cited Seneca and the stoical writings of Cicero. His toleration theory derived from a long line of Protestant writers going back to Servetus and Erastus and exemplified by his Arminian;s doctrine of ideas owes something to Descartes, his psychological theory of sensationalism shares elements of Carte-sian mechanism, and his ontological proof of God’ cast in a new language for any literate man to read; it had, naturally, many sources and analogues in ancient and contemporary thought. His skepticism and empiricism came from deep within the medical tradition; his attitude, and even the words he used, recall Sextus Empiricus and, more often, Montaigne, another essayist concerned with knowing, education, understanding, nescience, and probability. Locke had, too, a recognizably British stoicism, a preference for directness and plainness in morality and rhetoric; he often cited Seneca and the stoical writings of Cicero. His toleration theory derived from a long line of Protestant writers going back to Servetus and Erastus and exemplified by his Arminian;s existence is brief and efficient partly because Descartes” cast in a new language for any literate man to read; it had, naturally, many sources and analogues in ancient and contemporary thought. His skepticism and empiricism came from deep within the medical tradition; his attitude, and even the words he used, recall Sextus Empiricus and, more often, Montaigne, another essayist concerned with knowing, education, understanding, nescience, and probability. Locke had, too, a recognizably British stoicism, a preference for directness and plainness in morality and rhetoric; he often cited Seneca and the stoical writings of Cicero. His toleration theory derived from a long line of Protestant writers going back to Servetus and Erastus and exemplified by his Arminian;s similar proof was so thoroughly argued. Locke” cast in a new language for any literate man to read; it had, naturally, many sources and analogues in ancient and contemporary thought. His skepticism and empiricism came from deep within the medical tradition; his attitude, and even the words he used, recall Sextus Empiricus and, more often, Montaigne, another essayist concerned with knowing, education, understanding, nescience, and probability. Locke had, too, a recognizably British stoicism, a preference for directness and plainness in morality and rhetoric; he often cited Seneca and the stoical writings of Cicero. His toleration theory derived from a long line of Protestant writers going back to Servetus and Erastus and exemplified by his Arminian;s nominalism had many sources: Greek empiricism, the Scotist tradition in scholasticism, and chiefly Francis Bacon and his followers in contemporary England.

However connected to other strands in the history of thought, Locke was characteristically original in pattern and device. His empirically argued rejection of innate ideas and principles, for example, in the first book of the Essay ran counter to traditional epistemologies ancient and modern. Among his contemporaries, both Cartesians and Cambridge Platonists, as well as most divines, postulated innateness as the basis of human knowing, relying on both Platonic and Stoical authorities. In psychology and epistemology a major contribution was his concept of the association of ideas, an involuntary experiential formation in the thought of individual men caused by the linkage of their simultaneous experiences. In economic thought his is the first full argument for the labor theory of value; his notions of property, revolution, and the social contract, though deriving from natural-law theory and resistance theory, are combined in a new interrelation and based upon assumptions of the rule of law that are neither narrowly legalistic nor generally metaphysical.

Across the range of Locke’ cast in a new language for any literate man to read; it had, naturally, many sources and analogues in ancient and contemporary thought. His skepticism and empiricism came from deep within the medical tradition; his attitude, and even the words he used, recall Sextus Empiricus and, more often, Montaigne, another essayist concerned with knowing, education, understanding, nescience, and probability. Locke had, too, a recognizably British stoicism, a preference for directness and plainness in morality and rhetoric; he often cited Seneca and the stoical writings of Cicero. His toleration theory derived from a long line of Protestant writers going back to Servetus and Erastus and exemplified by his Arminian;s topics of investigation his preoccupations are clear: his constant interest in the relation of thought to behavior, his concern for the balance of individual right and social obligation, his provisional attitudes to solutions, his distrust of dogmatism, his emphasis on equilibrium and self-stabilization. The last emphasis governs his notion of ’ cast in a new language for any literate man to read; it had, naturally, many sources and analogues in ancient and contemporary thought. His skepticism and empiricism came from deep within the medical tradition; his attitude, and even the words he used, recall Sextus Empiricus and, more often, Montaigne, another essayist concerned with knowing, education, understanding, nescience, and probability. Locke had, too, a recognizably British stoicism, a preference for directness and plainness in morality and rhetoric; he often cited Seneca and the stoical writings of Cicero. His toleration theory derived from a long line of Protestant writers going back to Servetus and Erastus and exemplified by his Arminian;power,” cast in a new language for any literate man to read; it had, naturally, many sources and analogues in ancient and contemporary thought. His skepticism and empiricism came from deep within the medical tradition; his attitude, and even the words he used, recall Sextus Empiricus and, more often, Montaigne, another essayist concerned with knowing, education, understanding, nescience, and probability. Locke had, too, a recognizably British stoicism, a preference for directness and plainness in morality and rhetoric; he often cited Seneca and the stoical writings of Cicero. His toleration theory derived from a long line of Protestant writers going back to Servetus and Erastus and exemplified by his Arminian; according to which, even though a man is limited in his finite existence by certain conditional restraints, he is nonetheless free to exercise his mind and even his will. Notions of stabilization and equilibrium operate in his epistemology too, where individual understanding is, among other things, conceived as a constant altering of the balance and relationship between different experiences and ideas. Connected with this, one of Locke’s personal behavior patterns makes some sense: from the 1650s until the 1690s Locke, wherever he was, joined or organized discussion groups in which ideas could be cooperatively investigated and idiosyncrasies modulated into a permissive consensus.

Locke’s influence can hardly be overestimated; nor can it be accurately measured. His idealism, his concentration upon the autonomy of inward life found an extreme, though corrective, disciple in Berkeley; his skepticism, in Hume. At first his Essay was fiercely attacked. Later, except for such idealists as Leibniz and his own pupil, the third earl of Shaftesbury, for most educated people the book seemed to provide as comprehensive a description and explanation of the mind’s workings as Newton’s of the workings of the cosmos. Locke’s influence on deist thought, perceptible in his lifetime and deplored by him, was considerable both in England and in France; his notions of private education were often cited by eighteenth-century English gentlemen at home and in the colonies; his psychological principles were gradually absorbed into accepted belief and can be traced particularly in the work of eighteenth-century novelists (e.g., Richardson, Sterne, and Diderot). Voltaire’s enthusiasm for Locke’s ideas had considerable effect in popularizing them in prerevolutionary France. As for political thought, the American and French revolutions have been laid at his door: un-questionably his work was widely read in both countries by men concerned for their political rights, but how deeply they read it remains an open question. His epistemology inaugurated a “new way of ideas,” his psychology certainly bore fruit in nineteenth- and twentieth-century psychological theory. Locke’s works turn up in many auction lists of eighteenth-century private libraries and are found in the libraries of ancient educational institutions in England and America: Trinity College, Dublin, incorporated the doctrines of the Essay into its basic curriculum at an early stage, and Locke’s influence at colonial Harvard has also been attested.

Rosalie L. Colie

[see alsocivil disobedience;consensus;conservatism;constitutions and constitutionalism;legitimacy;natural law;politicaltheory;social contract;and the biographies ofbacon;burke;hartley;hobbes;hume.]

WORKS BY LOCKE

(1690a) 1960 Two Treatises of Government. Edited by Peter Laslett. Cambridge Univ. Press.

(1690ib) 1959 An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. 2 vols. Edited by Alexander C. Eraser. New York: Dover.

Essays on the Law of Nature. Edited by Wolfgang von Leyden. Oxford: Clarendon, 1954.→ Contains the Latin text with a translation.

The Works of John Locke. 10 vols. Aalen (Germany): Scientia Verlag, 1963. → A reprint of the 1823 edition.

SUPPLEMENTARY BIBLIOGRAPHY

Aaron, Richard I. (1937) 1955 John Locke. 2d ed. Oxford: Clarendon. Bourne, Henry R. Fox 1876 The Life of John Locke. 2 vols. London: King; New York: Harper.

Christophersen, Hans O. 1930 A Bibliographical Introduction to the Study of John Locke. Norske-videnskaps-akademi i Oslo, Historisk-filosofisk Klasse, Skrifter, 1930: no. 8. Oslo: Dybwad.

Cranston, Maurice W. 1957 John Locke: A Biography. New York: Macmillan.

Dewhurst, Kenneth 1963 John Locke (1632–1704), Physician and Philosopher: A Medical Biography. London: Wellcome Historical Medical Library.

Gibson, James (1917) 1960 Locke’s Theory of Knowledge and Its Historical Relations. Cambridge Univ. Press.

Givner, David A. 1962 Scientific Preconceptions in Locke’s Philosophy of Language. Journal of the history of Ideas 23:340–354.

King, Peter (1829) 1884 Life and Letters of John Locke, With Extracts From His Journals and Common-place Books. London: Bell.

Larkin, Paschal 1930 Property in the Eighteenth Century: With Special Reference to England and Locke. London and New York: Longmans.

Locke, John 1965 The Library of John Locke. Edited by John Harrison and Peter Laslett. Oxford Univ. Press.

Macpherson, Crawford B. 1962 The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism: Hobbes to Locke. Oxford: Clarendon.

Mandelbaum, Maurice 1964 Philosophy, Science, and Sense Perception: Historical and Critical Studies. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press. → See especially Chapters 1 and 2 on John Locke.

Oxford University, Bodleian Library 1959 A Summary Catalogue of The Lovelace Collection of the Papers of John Locke in the Bodleian library, by P. Long. Oxford Bibliographical Society, Publications, New Series, Vol. 8. Oxford Univ. Press.

Polin, Raymond 1960 La politique morale de John Locke. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

Simon, Walter M. 1951 John Locke, Philosophy, and Political Theory. American Political Science Review 45:386–399.

Tuveson, Ernest L. 1955 Locke and the Dissolution of the Ego. Modern Philology 52:159–174.

Viano, Carlo A. 1960 John Locke: Dal razionalismo all’ illuminismo. Turin (Italy): Einaudi.

Yolton, John W. 1956 John Locke and the Way of Ideas. Oxford Univ. Press.

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Locke, John

Locke, John

(b. Wrington, Somersetshire, England, 29 August 1632;d. Oates, Essex, England, 28 October 1704)

philosophy.

John Locke was the most important British philosopher of the Age of Reason, If the modern Western world has been shaped by scientists, merchants, statesmen, and industrialists, Locke was the first philosopher to expound their view of life, articulate their aspirations, and justify their deeds. No philosopher has exercised a greater influence. Yet it could be said that Locke was not a philosopher at all; he was certainly not a metaphysician in the same sense as his contemporaries Leibniz or Spinoza. Locke offered no all-embracing system to explain the nature of the universe. On the contrary, he tried to show that human understanding is so limited that such comprehensive knowledge is beyond man’s reach. Although he did not have the answers to the philosophical problems he formulated, Locke was able to establish the importance of science as an object of philosophical analysis.

Two powerful streams in seventeenth-century thought, the semiskeptical rational theorizing of Descartes and the ad hoc scientific experimentation of Bacon and the Royal Society, merged in Locke. Because the streams were so different, their union was imperfect, but his mind was the meeting point that marked a new beginning, not only in theoretical philosophy, but in man’s approach to the problems of practical life. Locke, one might almost say, had the first modern mind. Descartes was still in many ways a medieval thinker, with his philosophy bound to theology; and even Gassendi, who anticipated much of Locke, did not free himself completely from its hold. By divorcing philosophy from theology, Locke placed the study of philosophy within the boundaries of man’s experience: “Our portion,” he wrote, “lies only here in this little spot of earth, where we and all our concernments are shut up.”

Yet Locke was not an atheist, and in his capacity as theologian he expounded his own thoughts about God. He quarreled with bishops and with the orthodox of most denominations. He maintained that a Christian need believe no more than the single proposition “that Christ is the Messiah”; but to that minimal creed he clung with the firmest assurance. He had a quiet and steady faith in the immortality of the soul and in the prospect of happiness in the life to come. He had no belief in miracles and no patience with people who had mystical experiences or visions of God. He detested religious enthusiasm, but in an unemotional way he was, like Newton, a deeply religious man.

Locke was born at Wrington, Somersetshire, in western England. His grandfather, Nicholas Locke, was a successful clothier in that county. His father, also named John Locke, was a less prosperous lawyer and clerk to the local magistrates. Baptized by Samuel Crook, a leading Calvinist intellectual, Locke was brought up in an atmosphere of austerity and discipline. He was ten when the Civil War broke out, and his father was mounted as a captain of Parliamentary horse by Alexander Popham, a rich local magistrate-turned-colonel. Apart from demolishing some images in Wells Cathedral, the two officers saw little action, but a grateful Popham became the patron of his captain’s eldest son. A few years later, when Westminster School was taken over by the Parliament, Popham found a place for his protégé in what was then the best boarding school in the country.

At Westminster, Locke came under the influence of the Royalist headmaster Richard Busby, whom the Parliamentary governors had imprudently allowed to remain in charge of the school. Locke left Westminster in 1652 to become an undergraduate at Christ Church, Oxford, where he once again came under Puritan influence. Although he did not wholly enjoy the university, he received the M.A. degree and was appointed to a teaching position, lecturing on such subjects as natural law, although he was more interested in medicine.

In the summer of 1666 Locke became friends with Anthony Ashley Cooper, then Lord Ashley and later the first earl of Shaftesbury. Although not yet the leader of a party, Shaftesbury was already the outstanding politician of liberalism and the most forceful champion of religious toleration. In 1667, at the age of thirty-four, Locke went to live at Shaftesbury’s house in London. His Oxford career had not been particularly distinguished: he had been a temporary lecturer and a censor at Christ Church; he had become friends with Robert Boyle, one of the founders of the Royal Society, and helped him by collecting scientific data; and he had studied medicine. But he had done no important laboratory work and had failed to get a medical degree. Even so, it was as a domestic physician that Locke entered Shaftesbury’s household, and he soon proved himself an able doctor by saving his patron’s life (as Shaftesbury believed) when it was threatened by a suppurating cyst of the liver. Convinced that Locke was far too great a genius to be spending his time on medicine alone, Shaftesbury encouraged other pursuits, and under his patronage Locke discovered his own capabilities.

Locke first became a philosopher. At Oxford he had been, like Hobbes before him, bored and dissatisfied with the medieval Aristotelian philosophy that was taught there. Through Descartes, Locke became acquainted with the “new philosophy,” and discussions with Shaftesbury and other London friends led him to write, in his fourth year under Shaftesbury’s roof, the earliest drafts of his masterpiece, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. In London, Locke also met the physician Thomas Sydenham, who introduced him to the new clinical method that he had learned at Montpellier. Shaftesbury himself introduced Locke to the study of economics and gave him his earliest experience in political administration.

Locke stayed with Shaftesbury intermittently until the latter’s death in 1683. In those fifteen years Shaftesbury’s Protestant zeal carried him to the point of organizing a rebellion over the Catholic James’s legitimate right of succession. But the plot was nipped, and Shaftesbury withdrew to Holland, where he died a month later. Locke followed the example of Shaftesbury and fled to Holland, remaining in exile until William of Orange invaded England in 1688 and reclaimed the country for Protestantism and liberty. Locke returned to England in 1689 and devoted his remaining fifteen years to scholarship and public service.

While in Holland, Locke had completed An Essay Concerning Human Understanding and his first Letter for Toleration and may have done some work on his Civil Government. The Letter for Toleration was published in Locke’s original Latin at Gouda in 1689 and an English translation made by the Socinian William Popple—“without my privity” Locke later said—was published in London a few months later. The Essay and the Civil Government were also brought out by various London booksellers in the winter of 1689-1690. Only the Essay bore Locke’s name, but its success was so great that he became famous throughout Europe.

In the “Epistle to the Reader,” which begins the Essay, Locke says that in an age of such “master builders” as Boyle, Sydenham, Huygens, and “the incomparable Mr. Newton” it is, for him, “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 of knowledge.” Despite this modest explanation of purpose Locke provided, among other things, the first modern philosophy of science, in which the Cartesian “idea” was a recurrent theme, Locke says that we have ideas in our minds not only when we think but when we see, hear, smell, taste, and feel as well. The core of his epistemology is the notion that the objects of perception are not things but ideas derived in part from things in the external world and dependent, to some extent, on our own minds for their existence. Locke defines an “idea” as the “object of the understanding,” whether it is a notion, an entity, or an illusion; perception is for him a “species of understanding.”

Locke continues his Essay with an attack on the currently established opinion that certain ideas are innate. He claims that they have been considered innate only because people cannot remember first having learned them. Locke believed that we are born in total ignorance and that even our theoretical ideas of identity, quantity, and substance are derived from experience. He says that a child gets ideas of black and white, of sweet and bitter before he gets an idea of abstract principles such as identity or impossibility. “The senses at first let in particular ideas, and furnish the yet empty cabinet….” The mind later abstracts these theoretical ideas and so “comes to be furnished with ideas and language, the materials about which to exercise the discursive faculty,” In the child’s development “the use of reason becomes daily more visible as these materials that give it employment increase.”

Locke had thus to defend the assumption that everything which he calls an idea is derived from sensation, although he admits that an idea may also be produced by reflection—“remembering, considering, reasoning.” He classifies ideas as simple (those which the mind receives passively) and complex (those produced by the exercise of the mind’s own powers). ln the chapters on simple ideas he sets out the main lines of his theory of perception. Most people, if asked what it is that they see, smell, hear, taste, or touch, would answer “things,” although they might add “but sometimes illusions, chimeras, mirages, which are not real things.” They would probably maintain that there are two elements in an act of perception: the observer and the object. Locke differs from this view in two respects. First, he claims that what we perceive is always an idea, as distinct from a thing; second, that there are not two but three elements in perception: the observer, the idea, and the object that the idea represents.

The reasoning that led Locke to this conclusion is not difficult to appreciate. We look at a penny. We are asked to describe it. It is round, brown, and of modest dimensions. But do we really see just this? We think again and realize that more often than not what we see is elliptical, not circular; in some lights it is golden, in others black; close to the eye it is large, seen from afar it is tiny. The actual penny, we are certain, cannot be both circular and elliptical, both golden all over and black all over. So we may be led to agree that there must be something which is the one and something which is the other, something which changes and something which does not change, the elliptical “penny” we see and the real circular penny, or, in Locke’s words, the “idea” in the mind of the observer and the material “body“itself.

Today Locke’s theory of perception is defended on the basis of the physicist’s description of the structure of the universe and the physiologist’s description of the mechanism of perception. To a child a penny is something that looks brown, feels warm, and tastes sharp; to the scientist it is a congeries of electrons and protons. The scientist speaks of certain light waves striking the retina of the observer’s eye while waves of other kinds strike different nerve terminals, producing those modifications of the nervous system that are called “seeing.” “feeling,” or “tasting” a penny. Neither the electrons nor the protons, neither the external waves nor the internal modifications are brown or warm or astringent. The scientist then, in a certain sense, differentiates what Locke called the secondary qualities—color, taste, sound—which Locke said depended on the observer’s mind for their existence, At the same time science seems to accept the objective existence of the qualities that Locke called primary and that he thought belonged to material bodies themselves—impenetrability, extension, figure, mobility, and number. Although the language of primary and secondary qualities was used by earlier theorists, it is Locke’s analysis of the distinction which makes it of significance both to science and to common sense. Most people would probably agree that they could imagine an object divested one by one of its qualities of taste, smell, and so forth; but they could not imagine a body divested of impenetrability, shape, size, or position in space. A body without primary qualities would not exist at all.

While there is much to be said for Locke’s epistemology, it is not without its faults. If we are aware in our perceptual experience only of ideas (which represent objects) and never of objects themselves, there can be no means of knowing what, if anything, is represented by those ideas. The human predicament, according to Locke’s account, is that of a man permanently imprisoned in a sort of diving bell, receiving some signals from without and some from within his apparatus but having no means of knowing which, if any, signals come from outside; hence he has no means of testing their authenticity. Man, therefore, cannot have any definite knowledge whatever of the external world.

In later chapters of the Essay Locke places an even heavier emphasis on human ignorance. Our knowledge, he says, “is not only limited to the paucity and imperfections of the ideas we have, and which we employ about it,” but is still more circumscribed. Our knowledge of identity and diversity in ideas extends only as far as our ideas themselves; our knowledge of their coexistence extends only a little way, because knowledge of any necessary connection between primary and secondary qualities is unattainable. However, with the area of certainty thus diminished, Locke does not deny the possibility of an assurance which falls short of perfect knowledge. We can have probable knowledge, even though we cannot have certain knowledge. Moreover, unlike most of his successors in empiricist philosophy, Locke admits the existence of substance, which he says is somehow present in all objects even though we do not see or feel it. What we see and feel are the primary and secondary qualities, which are propped up by substance. Beyond that the subject must necessarily remain a mystery:

It seems probable to me that the simple ideas we receive from sensation and reflection are the boundaries of our thoughts; beyond which the mind, whatever efforts it would make, is not able to advance one jot, nor can it make any discoveries, when it would pry into the nature and hidden causes of those ideas.

The tone of the Essay is at once moral and pragmatic. Its style is homely rather than elegant, its construction informal and even amateurish. The “pursuit of Truth,” Locke says, “is a duty we owe to God … and a duty we owe also to ourselves”; here utility is at one with piety. Truth, as Locke defines it, is the “proper riches and furniture of the mind” and he does not claim to have added to that stock, but rather to have shown the conditions under which the mind could acquire truth:

We have no reason to complain that we do not know the nature of the sun or the stars, that the consideration of light itself leaves us in the dark and a thousand other speculations in nature, since, if we knew them, they would be of no solid advantage, nor help to make our lives the happier, they being but the useless employment of idle or over-curious brains. …

Locke’s theory of knowledge has obvious implications for a theory of morals. The traditional view in Locke’s time was that some sort of moral knowledge was innate in the human person. Locke thought otherwise. What God or Nature had given man was a faculty of reason and a sentiment of self-love. Reason in combination with self-love produced morality and could discern the general principles of ethics, or natural law; and self-love should lead men to obey those principles.

For Locke, Christian ethics was natural ethics. The teaching of the New Testament was a means to an end, happiness in this life and in the life to come. Loving one’s neighbor and otherwise obeying the precepts of the Saviour was a way to that end. The reason for doing what Christ said was not simply that He had said it, but that by doing it one promoted one’s happiness. There was no need to ask why anyone should desire happiness, because all men were impelled by their natural self-love to desire it.

Wrongdoing was thus for Locke a sign of ignorance. People did not always realize that long-term happiness could usually be bought only at the cost of short-term pleasures. Folly drove them to destroy their own well-being. If people were enlightened, if they used their own powers of reason, they would be good; if they were prudent, reflective, calculating, instead of moved by the transitory winds of impulse and emotion, they would have what they most desired. There is perhaps in this system of morals something rather naïve and commonplace; but Locke was in many ways a very ordinary thinker, inspired by a prophetic common sense,

BIBLIOGRAPHY

I. Original Works. See H. O. Christopherson, A Bibliographical Introduction to the Study of John Locke (Oslo, 1930). Collected editions and selections of Locke’s work are The Works, 3 vols. (London, 1714), repr. throughout the eighteenth century; The Works, Edmund Law, ed., 4 vols. (London, 1777), the best collected ed.; The Philosophical Works, J. A. St. John, ed. (1843); and Locke on Politics, Religion and Education, M. Cranston, ed. (1965).

Separate works include Epistola de tolerantia ad clarissinnun virrun… (Gouda, 1689), English trans. (London, 1689); Two Treatises of Government (London, 1690); P. Laslett, ed. (Cambridge, I960), a critical ed. with original text, intro., and commentary; An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (London, 1690), enl. (1694, 1700); A. C. Fraser, ed., 2 vols. (Oxford, 1894), prepared from a collation of 4 eds. published in Locke’s lifetime; John W. Yolton, ed. (London-New York, 1961), the best recent text; see also An Early Draft of Locke’s Essay, R.J. Aaron and J. Gibbs, eds. (Oxford, 1936), prepared from one of three surviving MSS; A Second Letter Concerning Toleration (London, 1690); Some Considerations of the Consequences of the Lowering of Interest, and Raising the Value of Money (London, 1692); A Third Letter For Toleration (London, 1692)—the letters on toleration have been reprinted together several times, see the eds. by A. Millar (London, 1765) and A. Murray (London, 1870); Some Thoughts Concerning Education (London, 1693), enl. (London, 1695); R. H. Quick, ed. (London, 1880); the most useful ed. is in James L. Ax tell, ed., Educational Writings(Cambridge, 1968); Locke’s Travels in France 1675–1679, J. Lough, ed. (Cambridge, 1953), Locke’s French travel diaries published for the first time; Essays on the Laws of Nature, W, von Leyden, ed, (Oxford, 1954), an early Latin text found among the Lovelace papers by the editor, who includes a trans, and an intro, of exceptional interest; and Two Tracts on Government, Philip Abrams, ed, (Cambridge, 1965), drawn from early MSS.

For Locke’s correspondence, see T. Forster, ed., Original Letters of John Locke, Algernon Sydney and Lord Shaftesbury (London, 1830); H. OIlion,ed., Lettres inédites de John Locke (The Hague, 1912); and B. Rand, ed., The Correspondence of John Locke and Edward Clarke (London, 1927). A definitive ed. of Locke’s letters is being prepared by E. S. De Beer.

II. Secondary Literature. Some bibliographical and critical studies (in chronological order) are Lord King, The Life of John Locke With Extracts From His Correspondence, Journals and Commonplace Books, 2 vols, (London, 1829); H. R. F. Bourne, The Life of John Locke, 2 vols. (London, 1876), a substantial Victorian work that has not lost its utility despite later discoveries; J. Gibson, Locke’s Theory of Knowledge (Cambridge, 1917), a useful guide to the Essay; S. Lamprecht, The Moral and Political Philosophy of John Locke (London, 1918); A. I. Aaron, John Locke (Oxford, 1937), the best-known modern commentary on Locke’s philosophy; Willmoore Kendall, John Locke and the Doctrine of Majority Rule (New Haven, 1941), which depicts Locke as a forerunner of modern progressive democratic ideas; J. W. Gough, John Locke’s Political Philosophy: Eight Studies (Oxford, 1952), a well-arranged commentary; M. Cranston, John Locke: A Biography (London, 1957), largely based on the earl of Lovelace’s inherited collection of Locke’s MSS acquired by the Bodleian Library, Oxford, in 1948; R. H. Cox, Locke on War and Peace (Oxford, 1961), a distinctive reinterpretation that stresses Locke’s affinity with Hobbes; C. B. MacPherson, The Political Theory of Progressive Individualism (Oxford, 1962), a critique of Marxian inspiration; Martin Seliger, The Liberal Politics of John Locke (London, 1968), a defense of the liberal interpretation of Locke’s politics; and John W. Yolton, ed., John Locke: Problems and Perspectives (Cambridge, 1969), a series of critical essays by English and American scholars.

Maurice Cranston

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John Locke

John Locke

The English philosopher and political theorist John Locke (1632-1704) began the empiricist tradition and thus initiated the greatest age of British philosophy. He attempted to center philosophy on an analysis of the extent and capabilities of the human mind.

John Locke was born on Aug. 29, 1632, in Wrington, in Somerset, where his mother's family resided. She died during his infancy, and Locke was raised by his father, who was an attorney in the small town of Pensford near Bristol. John was tutored at home because of his always delicate health and the outbreak of civil war in 1642. When he was 14, he entered Westminster School, where he remained for 6 years. He then went to Christ Church, Oxford. In 1658 he was elected a senior student at his college. In this capacity he taught Greek and moral philosophy. Under conditions at the time he would have had to be ordained to retain his fellowship. Instead he changed to another faculty, medicine, and eventually received a license to practice. During the same period Locke made the acquaintance of Robert Boyle, the distinguished scientist and one of the founders of the Royal Society, and, under Boyle's direction, took up study of natural science. Finally, in 1668, Locke was made a fellow of the Royal Society.

In 1665 Locke traveled to the Continent as secretary to the English ambassador to the Brandenburg court. Upon his return to England he chanced to medically attend Lord Ashley, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury, and later lord chancellor of England. Their friendship and lifelong association drew Locke into political affairs. He attended Shaftesbury as physician and adviser, and in this latter capacity Locke drafted The Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina and served as secretary to the Board of Trade. In 1676 Locke went to France for his health. An inheritance from his father made him financially independent, and he remained in Montpellier for 3 years.

Locke rejoined Shaftesbury's service, and when the latter fled to Holland, the philosopher followed. He remained in exile from 1683 to 1689, and during these years he was deprived of his studentship by express order of Charles III. Most of his important writings were composed during this period. After the Glorious Revolution of 1689 Locke returned to England and later served with distinction as a commissioner of trade until 1700. He spent his retirement at Oates in Essex as the guest of the Mashams. Lady Masham was the daughter of Ralph Cudworth, the philosopher. Locke died there on Oct. 28, 1704.

Major Works

Locke, by virtue of his temperament and mode of existence, was a man of great circumspection. None of his major writings was published until he was nearly 60. In 1690 he brought out his major works: Two Treatises and the Essay Concerning Human Understanding. But the four books of the Essay were the culmination of 20 years of intellectual labor. He relates that, together with a few friends, probably in 1670, a discussion arose concerning the basis of morality and religion. The conclusion was that they were unable to resolve the question until an investigation had been made to see "what objects our understandings were or were not fitted to deal with." Thus the aim of this work is "to inquire into the origin, certainty, and extent of human knowledge, together with the grounds of belief, opinion, and assent."

The procedure employed is what he called the "historical, plain method, " which consists of observations derived from external sensations and the internal processes of reflection or introspection. This psychological definition of experience as sensation and reflection shifted the focus of philosophy from an analysis of reality to an exploration of the mind. The new perspective was Locke's major contribution, and it dominated European thought for at least 2 centuries. But if knowledge consists entirely of experience, then the objects of cognition are ideas. The term "idea" was ambiguously defined by Locke as "whatsoever is the object of the understanding when a man thinks." This broad use means that sensations, memories, imaginings, and feelings as well as concepts are ideas insofar as they are mental. The danger of Locke's epistemology is the inherent skepticism contained in a technique which describes what is "in" the mind. For if everything is an idea, then it is difficult to distinguish between true and false, real and imaginary, impressed sensations and expressed concepts. Thus Locke, and the subsequent history of philosophy, had to wrestle with the dilemma that a psychological description of the origin of ideas seriously undermines the extent of their objective validity.

Nonetheless the intention of the Essay was positive in that Locke wished to establish the dependence of all human knowledge upon everyday experience or sensation. The alternative theory of innate ideas is vigorously attacked. Although it is not historically certain whether anyone seriously maintained such a doctrine, Locke's general criticism lends indirect support to an experiential view of knowledge. Innatism can be understood in a naive way to mean that there are ideas of which we are fully conscious at birth or which are universally acknowledged, so that the mind possesses a disposition to think in terms of certain ideas. The first position is refuted by observation of children, and the second by the fact that there are no acknowledged universal ideas to which everyone agrees. The sophisticated version falls into contradiction by maintaining that we are conscious of an unconscious disposition.

Theory of Knowledge

Having refuted the a priori, or nonexperiential, account of knowledge, Locke devotes the first two books of the Essay to developing a deceptively simple empirical theory of knowledge. Knowing originates in external and internal sources of sensation and reflection. The objects or ideas present to consciousness are divided into simple and complex. Simple ideas are primitive sense data, which the mind passively receives and cannot alter, delivered by one sense (seeing blue), by several senses (eating an orange as a synthesis of taste, touch, and smell), by reflection (hunger), or by a combination of sensation and reflection (pleasure and pain). The objective orientation of simple ideas follows from the fact that we cannot add or subtract from their appearance or conception in the mind. In relation to simple ideas, at least, the mind is passive, a "blank" or "white" tablet upon which sensations are impressed. Complex ideas are formed by actively combining, comparing, or abstracting simple ideas to yield "modes, substances, and relations." Modes are class concepts or ideas that do not exist independently, such as beauty. Substance is a complex idea of the unity of substrate of the simple qualities we perceive. And relations are the powers in objects capable of causing minds to make comparisons, for example, identity and cause and effect. The difficulty is that complex ideas do not relate to perceivable existents, but hopefully, complex ideas do express elements or characteristics of the real world.

Locke is faced with an acute dilemma. If the immediate object of knowledge is an idea, then man possesses only a derivative knowledge of the physical world. To know the real world adequately requires a complex idea which expresses the relation between the qualities that we perceive subjectively and the unperceived existent. The substance which unites the common perceived qualities of figure, bulk, and color into this one existing brown table is, in Locke's terms, an "I don't know what." His honesty almost brought Locke to a modern relational definition of substance instead of the traditional notion of a thing characterized by its properties. But the conclusion drawn in the Essay is that knowledge is relational; that is, it consists in the perception "of the agreement or disagreement among ideas." For if Locke had argued that knowledge expresses an adequation between the complex idea in the mind and the real object, then man would have the power to go beyond ideas to the object itself. But this is impossible, since every object is, by definition, an idea, and thus ironically, experiential knowledge is not about real objects but only about the perceived relations of ideas.

The third book of the Essay deals with words, and it is a pioneer contribution to the philosophy of language. Locke is a consistent nominalist in that for him language is an arbitrary convention and words are things which "stand for nothing but the ideas in the mind of the man that has them." Each man's understanding can be confirmed by other minds insofar as they share the same linguistic conventions, although one of the singular abuses of language results from the fact that we learn names or words before understanding their use.

The purpose of Locke's analysis is to account for generalization, abstraction, and universals in terms of language. Generalizations are the result of drawing, or abstracting, what is common to many. In this sense, generalizations and universals are inventions of the mind which concern only signs. But they have a foundation in the similitude of things. And those class concepts which have a fixed meaning and definition can be understood as essences, but they are only nominal and not real. The difference between our knowledge and reality is like that between seeing the exterior of Big Ben and understanding how the clock works.

The final section of the Essay deals with the extent, types, and divisions of knowledge. This work seems to have been written earlier than the others, and many of its conclusions are qualified by preceding material. The agreement or disagreement of ideas, which constitutes knowledge, consists of identity and diversity, perceived relations, coexistence or real existence known by way of intuition, and demonstration or sensation of a given existent.

In this view the actual extent of man's knowledge is less than his ideas because he does not know the real connections between simple ideas, or primary and secondary qualities. Also, an intuitive knowledge of existence is limited to the self, and the only demonstrable existence is that of God as an eternal, omnipotent being. With the exception of the self and God, all knowledge of existing things is dependent upon sensation, whose cognitive status is "a little bit better than probability." The poverty of real knowledge is compensated to some extent by human judgment, which presumes things to be true without actually perceiving the connections. And, according to Locke's commonsense attitude, the severe restrictions placed upon knowledge merely reflect that man's mental capacity is suitable for his nature and condition.

Further Reading

The best modern editions of Locke are An Essay concerning Human Understanding (2 vols., 1961; rev. ed. 1965), edited by John W. Yolton, and Two Treatises of Government (1960), edited by Peter Laslett. There are various editions of Some Thoughts concerning Education, A Letter concerning Toleration, and The Reasonableness of Christianity. Maurice Cranston, John Locke: A Biography (1957), is the best study. Excellent studies of his philosophy include James Gibson, Locke's Theory of Knowledge and Its Historical Relations (1917), Richard I. Aaron, John Locke (1937; 2d ed. 1955), and John W. Yolton, John Locke and the Way of Ideas (1956). Other useful studies of Locke and his thought are Willmoore

Kendall, John Locke and the Doctrine of Majority Rule (1959); Crawford B. Macpherson, The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism: Hobbes to Locke (1962); James D. Collins, The British Empiricists: Locke, Berkeley, Hume (1967); Charles B. Martin and D. M. Armstrong, eds., Locke and Berkeley: A Collection of Critical Essays (1968); and John W. Yolton, John Locke: Problems and Perspectives: A Collection of New Essays (1969). For general background see George N. Clark, The Seventeenth Century (1929; 2d ed. 1947), and Basil Willey, The Seventeenth-century Background: Studies in the Thought of the Age in Relation to Poetry and Religion (1934). □

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Locke, John

John Locke

1632-1704
English philosopher and political theorist who attempted to center philosophy on an analysis of the extent and capabilities of the human mind.

John Locke was born on August 29, 1632, in Wrington, in Somerset, where his mother's family resided. She died during his infancy, and Locke was raised by his father, who was an attorney in the small town of Pensford near Bristol. John was tutored at home because of his always-delicate health and the outbreak of civil war in 1642. When he was 14, he entered Westminster School, where he remained for six years. He then went to Christ Church, Oxford. In 1658 he was elected a senior student at his college. In this capacity he taught Greek and moral philosophy. Under conditions at the time he would have had to be ordained to retain his fellowship. Instead he changed to another faculty, medicine, and eventually received a license to practice. During the same period Locke made the acquaintance of Robert Boyle, the distinguished scientist and one of the founders of the Royal Society, and, under Boyle's direction, took up study of natural science. Finally, in 1668, Locke was made a fellow of the Royal Society.

In 1665, Locke traveled to the Continent as secretary to the English ambassador to the Brandenburg court. Upon his return to England he chanced to medically attend Lord Ashley, First Earl of Shaftesbury, and later lord chancellor of England. Their friendship and lifelong association drew Locke into political affairs. He attended Shaftesbury as physician and adviser, and in this latter capacity Locke drafted The Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina and served as secretary to the Board of Trade. In 1676 Locke went to France for his health. An inheritance from his father made him financially independent, and he remained in Montpellier for three years.

Locke rejoined Shaftesbury's service, and when the latter fled to Holland, the philosopher followed. He remained in exile from 1683 to 1689, and during these years he was deprived of his studentship by express order of Charles III. Most of his important writings were composed during this period. After the Glorious Revolution of 1689 Locke returned to England and later served with distinction as a commissioner of trade until 1700. He spent his retirement at Oates in Essex as the guest of the Mashams. Lady Masham was the daughter of Ralph Cudworth, the philosopher. Locke died there on October 28, 1704.

Major works

Locke, by virtue of his temperament and mode of existence, was a man of great circumspection. None of his major writings was published until he was nearly 60. In 1690 he brought out his major works: Two Treatises and the Essay Concerning Human Understanding . But the four books of the Essay were the culmination of 20 years of intellectual labor. He relates that, together with a few friends, probably in 1670, a discussion arose concerning the basis of morality and religion. The conclusion was that they were unable to resolve the question until an investigation had been made to see "what objects our understandings were or were not fitted to deal with." Thus the aim of this work is "to inquire into the origin, certainty, and extent of human knowledge, together with the grounds of belief, opinion, and assent."

The procedure employed is what he called the "historical, plain method," which consists of observations derived from external sensations and the internal processes of reflection or introspection. This psychological definition of experience as sensation and reflection shifted the focus of philosophy from an analysis of reality to an exploration of the mind. The new perspective was Locke's major contribution, and it dominated European thought for at least two centuries. But if knowledge consists entirely of experience, then the objects of cognition are ideas. The term "idea" was ambiguously defined by Locke as "whatsoever is the object of the understanding when a man thinks." This broad use means that sensations, memories, imaginings, and feelings as well as concepts are ideas insofar as they are mental. The danger of Locke's epistemology is the inherent skepticism contained in a technique which describes what is "in" the mind. For if everything is an idea, then it is difficult to distinguish between true and false, real and imaginary, impressed sensations and expressed concepts. Thus Locke, and the subsequent history of philosophy, had to wrestle with the dilemma that a psychological description of the origin of ideas seriously undermines the extent of their objective validity.

Nonetheless the intention of the Essay was positive in that Locke wished to establish the dependence of all human knowledge upon everyday experience or sensation. The alternative theory of innate ideas is vigorously attacked. Although it is not historically certain whether anyone seriously maintained such a doctrine, Locke's general criticism lends indirect support to an experiential view of knowledge. Innatism can be understood in a naive way to mean that there are ideas of which we are fully conscious at birth or which are universally acknowledged, so that the mind possesses a disposition to think in terms of certain ideas. The first position is refuted by observation of children, and the second by the fact that there are no acknowledged universal ideas to which everyone agrees. The sophisticated version falls into contradiction by maintaining that we are conscious of an unconscious disposition.

Theory of knowledge

Having refuted the a priori, or nonexperiential, account of knowledge, Locke devotes the first two books of the Essay to developing a deceptively simple empirical theory of knowledge. Knowing originates in external and internal sources of sensation and reflection. The objects or ideas present to consciousness are divided into simple and complex. Simple ideas are primitive sense data, which the mind passively receives and cannot alter, delivered by one sense (seeing blue), by several senses (eating an orange as a synthesis of taste , touch , and smell ), by reflection (hunger), or by a combination of sensation and reflection (pleasure and pain ). The objective orientation of simple ideas follows from the fact that we cannot add or subtract from their appearance or conception in the mind. In relation to simple ideas, at least, the mind is passive, a "blank" or "white" tablet upon which sensations are impressed. Complex ideas are formed by actively combining, comparing, or abstracting simple ideas to yield "modes, substances, and relations." Modes are class concepts or ideas that do not exist independently, such as beauty. Substance is a complex idea

of the unity of substrate of the simple qualities we perceive. And relations are the powers in objects capable of causing minds to make comparisons, for example, identity and cause and effect. The difficulty is that complex ideas do not relate to perceivable existents, but hopefully, complex ideas do express elements or characteristics of the real world.

Locke is faced with an acute dilemma. If the immediate object of knowledge is an idea, then man possesses only a derivative knowledge of the physical world. To know the real world adequately requires a complex idea which expresses the relation between the qualities that we perceive subjectively and the unperceived existent. The substance which unites the common perceived qualities of figure, bulk, and color into this one existing brown table is, in Locke's terms, an "I don't know what." His honesty almost brought Locke to a modern relational definition of substance instead of the traditional notion of a thing characterized by its properties. But the conclusion drawn in the Essay is that knowledge is relational; that is, it consists in the perception "of the agreement or disagreement among ideas." For if Locke had argued that knowledge expresses an adequation between the complex idea in the mind and the real object, then man would have the power to go beyond ideas to the object itself. But this is impossible, since every object is, by definition, an idea, and thus ironically, experiential knowledge is not about real objects but only about the perceived relations of ideas.

The third book of the Essay deals with words, and it is a pioneer contribution to the philosophy of language. Locke is a consistent nominalist in that for him language is an arbitrary convention and words are things which "stand for nothing but the ideas in the mind of the man that has them." Each man's understanding can be confirmed by other minds insofar as they share the same linguistic conventions, although one of the singular abuses of language results from the fact that we learn names or words before understanding their use.

The purpose of Locke's analysis is to account for generalization, abstraction, and universals in terms of language. Generalizations are the result of drawing, or abstracting, what is common to many. In this sense, generalizations and universals are inventions of the mind which concern only signs. But they have a foundation in the similitude of things. And those class concepts which have a fixed meaning and definition can be understood as essences, but they are only nominal and not real. The difference between our knowledge and reality is like that between seeing the exterior of Big Ben and understanding how the clock works.

The final section of the Essay deals with the extent, types, and divisions of knowledge. This work seems to have been written earlier than the others, and many of its conclusions are qualified by preceding material. The agreement or disagreement of ideas, which constitutes knowledge, consists of identity and diversity, perceived relations, coexistence or real existence known by way of intuition, and demonstration or sensation of a given existent.

In this view the actual extent of man's knowledge is less than his ideas because he does not know the real connections between simple ideas, or primary and secondary qualities. Also, an intuitive knowledge of existence is limited to the self, and the only demonstrable existence is that of God as an eternal, omnipotent being. With the exception of the self and God, all knowledge of existing things is dependent upon sensation, whose cognitive status is "a little bit better than probability." The poverty of real knowledge is compensated to some extent by human judgment, which presumes things to be true without actually perceiving the connections. And, according to Locke's commonsense attitude, the severe restrictions placed upon knowledge merely reflect that man's mental capacity is suitable for his nature and condition.

Further Reading

Yolton, John W., ed. An essay concerning human understanding. 2 vols. 1961. rev. ed. 1965.

Laslett, Peter, ed. Two treatises of government. 1960.

Cranston, Maurice. John Locke: a biography. 1957.

Yolton, John W. John Locke and the way of ideas. 1956.

Kendall, Willmoore. John Locke and the doctrine of majority rule. 1959.

Martin, Charles B. and D.M. Armstrong, eds. Locke and Berkeley: a collection of critical essays. 1968.

Yolton, John W. John Locke: problems and perspectives: a collection of new essays. 1969.

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Locke, John (1632–1704)

LOCKE, JOHN (16321704)

LOCKE, JOHN (16321704), English philosopher, political and educational theorist, political economist, scholar, statesman, and sometime physician. John Locke, one of the leading figures in the history of English letters, was born on 29 August 1632 in the village of Wrington, Somerset, and was immediately surrounded by the political and religious controversies that were always to be at the center of his life. His parents were Puritans, and his father later fought on the Parliamentary side in the Civil War. Locke attended Westminster School from 1646 to 1652, when he was elected to a studentship at Christ Church, Oxford, from which he graduated in 1656. During this period, he wrote but did not publish a pair of essays criticizing the extensive conceptions of religious indifference and toleration advocated by Edward Bagshawe's The Great Question concerning Things Indifferent in Religious Worship (1660), and he delivered a series of lectures on natural law.

At Oxford, Locke was a friend of the scientist Robert Boyle and other original members of the Royal Society, to which Locke himself was elected in 1668. Rather than take religious orders, he changed his studies to medicine and was trained and influenced by the physician Thomas Sydenham. On a diplomatic mission to Cleves in Brandenburg in 1665, Locke experienced an unanticipated degree of toleration, which seems to have had a major impact on his philosophical and political thinking. In 1666 he had met Anthony Ashley Cooper, subsequently the Earl of Shaftesbury, into whose household he moved in 1667 as the earl's personal physician and advisor, political aide, and author of political documents.

Shaftesbury, who fell into and out of grace with the king, was at the center of Restoration politics, and Locke was invariably at his side. For Shaftesbury Locke wrote a tract defending toleration in 1667, a draft constitution for the Carolina colony of which Shaftesbury was a proprietor, a defense of the king's prerogative power to issue a declaration of religious toleration in 1669, andmost importantthe Two Treatises of Government. It was also while he was a member of the Shaftesbury household that Locke's interest in philosophy deepened, and he completed various drafts of his Essay concerning Human Understanding.

Locke returned to Oxford in 1675, but like Shaftesbury he later went into political exile in the Netherlands, where he remained until 1689. There he enjoyed the friendship and support of Jean Leclerc, to whose Bibliothèque universelle et historique (16861693) he made several contributions, and Phillip Limborch, to whom he would dedicate the Epistola de tolerantia, published anonymously in the Netherlands in 1689 and translated into English (also anonymously) the next year as the Letter concerning Toleration. During his exile, Locke completed much of the final version of the Essay, an abstract of which was published by Leclerc in 1688.

While in the Netherlands, Locke presumably was involved in Monmouth's Rebellion in 1685 and in the politics of the Glorious Revolution of 1688, which brought the Dutch sovereign William of Orange and his wife Mary, daughter of James II, to the English throne. Locke himself returned to England in 1689 and began his public literary career, publishing the works that would establish his status in the pantheon of western philosophy and political theory. The Essay concerning Human Understanding appeared in December 1689 (dated 1690), and the Two Treatises were published anonymously in 1690.

The Essay is regarded as one of the foundational works of modern empirical, or rather "experiential," philosophy. It opens with an extensive attack on the notion that some ideas are "innate," arguing, on the contrary, that the human mind at birth is a "blank slate" (tabula rasa) but has the capacity to perceive and reason. Locke went on to claim that all ideas and knowledge are acquired from experience, which can be either sensationalist or rational, and that they bear direct relationships to a real, external world. The Essay also deals with language, its relationship to ideas, and its imperfections and abuses, and with reason and its role in the acquisition and assessment of knowledge. This "rationalism," albeit less extreme than that of René Descartes (15961650), is sometimes seen as conflicting with the rest of the Essay, but the apparent contradiction between the two positions can be found throughout the work. In a move that would be anathema to modern empiricists, Locke occasionally sidestepped difficult philosophical issues by referring to their resolution in the ultimately unknowable mind of God, for faith, as the acceptance of revelation, was one of the cardinal supports of Locke's entire system.

The Two Treatises are equally foundational for subsequent political philosophy as is the Essay for empirical philosophy, and their reliance upon divine will is even more overt. Written in the early 1680s as part of Shaftesbury's exclusion campaign, the work was not published until 1690, when it was issued as a theoretical support of the successful Glorious Revolution. The Two Treatises were directed against the patriarchal theory of Sir Robert Filmer (c. 15881653); the First Treatise, in particular, was a detailed and sometimes page-by-page attack on patriarchalism. In the Second Treatise Locke developed his own political theory, which was also an implicit assault on Thomas Hobbes (15881679), whom Locke never identified. Locke replaced Filmer's divine right sovereignty, derived from the paternity of Adam, with a conception of government and politics based on vaguely articulated notions of natural law and natural rights. He posited a pre-political state of nature characterized by human equality and freedom, the ownership of the world in common by God's grant, and legitimacy based on consent. Personal property was acquired by the mixing of one's labor with that which was common.

The most important part of Locke's criticism of Filmer was his insistence that fatherhood and political government are distinct forms of authority. Filmer had asserted their identity. Locke, however, was at pains to argue that while political or civil society had emerged historically and anthropologically from the household, paternal and political dominion were altogether distinct. The act of consent transformed fatherhood into government and undergirded all subsequent legitimacy.

The Two Treatises are perhaps best known for their theories of property and revolution. Government, according to Locke, is a human contrivance made necessary by the growing complexities of the state of nature and especially by the increasing insecurity of personal property. Locke had two conceptions of "property." In the state of nature (through chapter V of the Second Treatise ), "property" meant land and goods, including money; in civil society, however, it almost always meant "life, liberty, and estate," which was the more widely accepted meaning in seventeenth-century England. Locke's initial reliance upon the former definitionand the subsequent importance of the Two Treatises undoubtedly played a large role in popularizing that narrower understanding among modern English speakers, but his shift back to the more conventional and broader meaning was the source of some ambiguities in his political theory.

The purpose of government according to Locke is to protect property, and it is in return for that protection that people agree to transfer to the government their individual rights to interpret and enforce the law of nature. When the government no longer provides that protection, or if it becomes an enemy to property, the duty to obey is superseded by a right of revolution, whereby the power and authority conveyed to the government revert to the people (or their representatives) who may then establish a new government.

The Letter concerning Toleration is a specific application of the principles of the Two Treatises. What was innovative and radical about the Letter was the argument that religious imposition went so far beyond the legitimate competence of the magistrate as to be a ground for resistance. Locke drew a firm distinction between the secular ends of magistracy and the religious ends of churches. In doing so, he made a bolder move toward genuine religious liberty than had any of his contemporaries. But Locke excluded Roman Catholics from this toleration, alleging, like many of his contemporaries, that they owed their primary political loyalty to the pope rather than to civil rulers. He was confident, however, that Protestant Christians could live at peace within one civil society despite their diverse religious beliefs.

Locke spent the rest of life in public service and writing. He was a member of the Board of Trade and published revisions of the Essay, replies to criticisms of the Letter concerning Toleration, and tracts on education, religion, and money, some of which were published after his death. Locke died on 28 October 1704 at Oates, Essex, at the home of Sir Francis and Lady Masham (the daughter of the Cambridge Platonist Ralph Cudworth), where he had been living since 1691. He is buried in High Laver Church in Essex. Much of his massive collection of personal manuscriptsincluding journals, diaries, letters he received, and copies of those he sentand a substantial part of his library have survived and are now in the Bodleian Library at Oxford.

See also Constitutionalism ; Empiricism ; Epistemology ; Glorious Revolution (Britain) ; Natural Law ; Philosophy ; Political Philosophy ; Rights, Natural ; Toleration .

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Primary Sources

Locke, John. An Essay concerning Human Understanding. Edited by Peter Niddich. Oxford, 1975.

. Two Treatises of Government. Edited by Peter Laslett. 2nd edition. Cambridge, U.K., 1988.

Secondary Sources

Ayers, Michael. Locke. New York, 1991.

Franklin, Julian H. John Locke and the Theory of Sovereignty: Mixed Monarchy and the Right of Resistance in the Political Thought of the English Revolution. Cambridge, U.K., and New York, 1978.

Marshall, John. John Locke: Resistance, Religion, and Responsibility. Cambridge, U.K., and New York, 1994.

Yolton, John W. Locke: An Introduction. Oxford and New York, 1985.

. Locke and French Materialism. Oxford and New York, 1991.

Gordon Schochet

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Locke, John (1632–1704)

Locke, John (16321704)


English thinker John Locke insisted both that children are potentially free and rational beings, and that the realization of these crucial human qualities tends to be thwarted through imposition of the sort of prejudice that perpetuates oppression and superstition. It was, Locke believed, upbringing and education that stymied development of children's humanity when the older generation, itself enmeshed in prejudice, preferred to maintain the status quo rather than to examine whether their lives qualified as truly human through the rational and free action characteristic of autonomous individuals. Locke argued that when an older generation imposes unquestioned beliefs and ways of action on its youth, the outcome is bondage rather than actualization of freedom.

The problem of the actualization and preservation of human freedom and rationality occupied Locke in all of his major works, from the Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690) and the Two Treatises of Government (1690), through his four letters Concerning Toleration (1689, 1690, 1692, 1704), The Reasonableness of Christianity (1695), Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693), and the posthumous Of the Conduct of the Understanding (1706). Both the promise of and danger to childhood emerged in each of these influential writings on philosophy, politics, religion, and education.

The Tabula Rasa

Locke characterized a newborn child's mind as a blank sheet of paper, a clean slate, a tabula rasa. Implicit is a doctrine of egalitarianism, well-known from the fourth paragraph of the Second Treatise of Government : There is "nothing more evident, than that Creatures of the same speciesborn to all the same advantages of Nature, and the use of the same faculties, should also be equal amongst one another without Subordination or Subjection. " This egalitarianism isone of the aspects of the modern view of human nature, so different from the Platonic or medieval outlooks with their inborn inequalities foundational to nature-or God-ordained hierarchies in society, church, and state. For Locke, there are no natural obstructions that would block development of children's native potential for acting freely and rationally. True, some possess more agile intellects or stronger wills than others; but all are innately equipped to become persons capable of freely following their own reason's pronouncements, that is, to become autonomous beings.

Egalitarianism is one of two consequences of the doctrine of the tabula rasa. The second is vulnerability. Young children are at risk because through their senses their environment inscribes on their minds all sorts of beliefs and practices. Reason would disapprove of most of these. But even if the inscriptions are rational, the young child's mind is still incapable of discerning them to be so; for all the child knows these so-called truths may be falsehoods. Hence their presence saddles the child with prejudice, and action based on prejudice will tend to be confining instead of liberating. So when he proclaimed all human beings equal from birth, Locke also had in mind the precarious position of children, their equal vulnerability to being habituated to wrong patterns of thought and behavior. Locke viewed prejudice as the root of evil. It is contracted especially through children's forced exposure to myopic parents or teachers and the self-serving powers of church and state. Thus early upbringing and education, guided by prevailing custom rather than by reason, can be disastrous as it rivets to the mind that which has the appearance of truth or goodness but which, once believed or enacted, blocks development of one's humanity.

For Locke, the only natural disposition all children and adults share is that which makes them pursue pleasure and avoid pain. In this pursuit or avoidance they are not naturally inclined to either good or evil. Originally, human beings occupy a position of neutrality: Children are born neither "trailing clouds of glory" (as Wordsworth would have it a century later) nor burdened with original sin (as Augustine proclaimed before the dawn of medieval times). To be human, children must acquire the inclination to act on what is true and good, and each must acquire it for herself or himself. Because there is neither original depravity nor original inclination to knowledge or goodness, the egalitarianism of the tabula rasa has moral import: to be human, each must personally stake her or his claim to truth and goodness. But because they cannot do so during the years of early childhood, this thorough egalitarianism remains coupled with thorough vulnerability. Each generation, itself imposed upon by the one that preceded it, tends to be more than willing to impose on children such principles and practices as will enhance their own power. And so each new generation is vulnerable to the bondage of prejudice, as custom habituates children into compliance with prevailing beliefs and practices.

The Role of Mathematics

How to escape the bondage of prejudice and develop childhood potential? Though central to these acts, children depend for their instigation on sensitive adults for whom life itself militates against prejudice. Oppressive social, religious, and political structures chafe and irritate these adults, forcing them to examine their legitimacy, which in turn reveals their irrational and hence immoral principles. During such examinations, sensitive persons will introspect and become aware of the workings of their rational minds and recognize that rational procedures are most clearly revealed in mathematics where prejudiceunlike in religion or politicshas no purchase. When such enlightened persons guide children, actualization of childhood potential becomes possible. As Locke writes in the sixth and seventh paragraphs of the Conduct of the Understanding, "mathematics should be taught not so much to make them mathematicians, as to make them reasonable creatures," for "having got the way of reasoning, which that study necessarily brings the mind to, they might be able to transfer it to other parts of knowledge."

Early upbringing guided by the prevailing custom of overprotecting and spoiling children will not equip them with the habit of self-discipline needed to give mathematical studies the focused attention they demand. Hence, in the early parts of Some Thoughts Concerning Education, Locke propounds a regimen that will make for strong and disciplined children. His instructions are very specific: children's winter clothes should be as light as their summer clothes; their shoes should be thin to let in water, and their feet should be washed daily in cold water; they must spend much time in the open air without a hat whether in wind, sun, or rain and little time by the heat of the hearth; they must not overeat, and their diet should be very plain with little sugar, salt, or spices, no wine, and lots of dry brown bread; they should get plenty of sleep on a hard bed, but rise early. With this routine "there will not be so much need of beating children as is generally made use of"; their growing self-discipline will tend to make the rod superfluous. For "the principle of all virtue and excellency lies in a power of denying ourselves the satisfaction of our own desires where reason does not authorize them," a power "to be got and improved by custom, made easy and familiar by an early practice" (para. 38).

Mastery in mathematics allows children to recognize and use the procedures of reason, to discern and reject prejudice where it occurs (so cleaning the slate of its irrational inscriptions), and to develop a life in which their own will and reason begin to determine them. It allows children to develop into autonomous, useful individuals who will understand "the natural rights of man," "will seek the true measures of right and wrong," and will apply themselves "to that wherein [they] may be serviceable to [their] country" (para. 186187).

See also: Child Development, History of the Concept of; Education, Europe; Enlightenment, The.

bibliography

Gutman, Amy. 1987. Democratic Education. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Locke, John. 1960 [1690]. Two Treatises of Government, ed. Peter Laslett. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Locke, John. 1975 [1690]. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, ed. P. H. Nidditch. Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press.

Locke, John. 1989 [1693]. Some Thoughts Concerning Education, ed. John W. Yolton and Jean S. Yolton. Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press; New York: Oxford University Press.

Locke, John. 1996. Some Thoughts Concerning Education; and Of the Conduct of the Understanding, ed. Ruth W. Grant and Nathan Tarcov. Indianapolis: Hacket Publishing Company.

Schouls, Peter A. 1992. Reasoned Freedom: John Locke and Enlightenment. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Peter Schouls

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Locke, John

LOCKE, JOHN

John Locke was a seventeenth-century English philosopher whose writings on political theory and government profoundly affected U.S. law and society. It is chiefly from Locke's Two Treatises of Government (1690) that U.S. politics takes its core premises of the ultimate sovereignty of the people, the necessity of restraints on the exercise of arbitrary power by the executive or the legislature, and the ability of the people to revoke their social contract with the government when power has been arbitrarily used against them. The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution are testaments to many of Locke's central ideas.

Locke was born in Wrington, Somerset, England, on August 29, 1632. His father, also John Locke, was an attorney, and a Calvinist with Puritan sympathies who supported the parliamentary side in England's struggle against King Charles I and fought on that side in the English Civil War of 1642. Despite this background Locke developed monarchist leanings while attending boarding school, which remained with him throughout his life.

In 1652 Locke entered Oxford University, where he became interested in medicine and the newly developed discipline of experimental science. He collaborated with Robert Boyle, a founder of modern chemistry. Locke studied natural science and philosophy, concentrating on the principles of moral, social, and political laws. Following graduation in 1656, he earned a master of arts degree and was appointed a tutor at Oxford. He left teaching in 1662 and in 1666 decided to pursue medicine. In 1668 Locke was elected to the Royal Society.

In 1675, plagued with the symptoms of consumption, Locke moved to France in the hope of improving his health. He studied philosophy while abroad, then returned to England in 1679. His friendship with the duke of Shaftsbury made his stay in England a short one. Shaftsbury had been discovered as having been involved in a conspiracy to overthrow the king. Though Shaftsbury was acquitted of the charges, he fled to Holland in 1683. The king became suspicious of Locke and other friends of Shaftsbury, and had Locke closely watched. Knowing that his personal safety was at risk, Locke also chose exile in Holland in 1683. In 1684 his name appeared with eighty-three others on a list sent to The Hague by the English government, with the accusation that those named had committed treason and a demand for their extradition by the Dutch government. Locke went into hiding for a while, but soon returned to public life when the Dutch refused the extradition request.

While in Holland, Locke wrote Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690) and Two Treatises. Essay set forth Locke's theory that all human knowledge comes from experience. It stated that people are born without ideas—that is, with a blank mind—directly challenging the belief that people are born with certain knowledge already implanted. It further stated that as a result people must formulate their ideas based on experience. This theory became the basis for the school of English philosophy called empiricism.

Two Treatises was written when England was divided over the rule of King James II. The Protestants wished to remove the king, who was a Roman Catholic. In the Glorious Revolution of 1688, James abdicated the throne and Parliament offered the crown to the Dutch prince William of Orange and his wife, Mary. The revolution reformed government along the lines outlined by Locke in Two Treatises, which was published in 1690. England became a constitutional monarchy, controlled by Parliament, and greater measures of religious toleration and freedom of expression and thought were permitted.

Two Treatises was a blow to political absolutism. The first treatise was a refutation of the theory of the divine right of kings, which posits that monarchs derive their authority from God. The second treatise had the most lasting effect, for it set out a theory of politics that found its way into U.S. law.

In this second treatise, Locke maintained that people are naturally tolerant and reasonable, but that without a governing force, a certain amount of chaos and other inconvenience will occur. In his view people are basically pacific, communitarian, and good-natured. This belief contrasts with that of philosopher thomas hobbes, which is that if left to their own devices, people will live in violent, selfish anarchy.

For Locke all people are inherently equal and free to pursue "life, liberty, health, and property." To do this they engage in a social contract in which they consent to give up a certain amount of power to a government dedicated to maintaining

the well-being of the whole. They also give up one right, the right to judge and punish other persons, which is permitted in the state of nature. Apart from that concession to government, Locke argued, a person's individual right to freedom of thought, speech, and worship must be preserved. In addition, a person's private property must be preserved by the government. This compact between the people and their rulers legitimizes the government and explains the source of the rulers' power.

Locke believed that the people's consent to give up some power is the essential element of the social contract. Government is the trustee of

the people's power, and any exercise of power by government is specifically for the purpose of serving the people. By extending the trust analogy, Locke legitimized the concept of revolution. If their trust is abused by their governors, the people—the grantors of the trust—have a right to revoke the trust. Once the trust has been revoked, the people can assume the reins of government themselves or place them in new hands.

Locke attempted to soften this justification for revolution by claiming that revolution is appropriate only as a last resort and only in extreme circumstances. But he gave no real guidance as to how the people can be trusted to distinguish between inevitable temporary aberrations, which are to be endured, and a long series of abuses that justifies rebellion.

Two Treatises was well received in England, making Locke a respected figure once more and the intellectual leader of the whig party. He returned to England in 1689, following the Glorious Revolution. He lived in semiretirement in Essex, in the company of friends such as the scientist Sir Isaac Newton. He died October 28, 1704, in Oates, Essex.

Two Treatises commanded great interest in the eighteenth century, providing justification for the American Revolution in 1776 and the French Revolution in 1789. The U.S. Declaration of Independence uses Locke's ideas of the law of nature, popular sovereignty, and the sanctity of the right of private property to set forth the premises of U.S. political thought. The U.S. Constitution, with its separation of church and state and its guarantee of personal freedoms, draws on Locke's work.

"It is one thing to show a man thatheisin error, and another to put him in possession of truth."
—John Locke

In the United States, Lockean thought continues to justify resistance to executive tyranny, such as the despotism that was exhibited by President richard m. nixon in the watergate affair in the early 1970s and led to his resignation in 1974. Locke's second treatise provides support for U.S. constitutional ideals of inalienable rights and personal liberty. The first amendment would be unthinkable without Locke's philosophical foundation.

further readings

Damstedt, Benjamin G. 2003. "Limiting Locke: A Natural Law Justification for the Fair Use Doctrine." Yale Law Journal 112 (March): 1179.

Heyman, Steven J. 2000. "Natural Rights and the Second Amendment. Chicago-Kent Law Review 76, (fall): 237–90.

Richards, Peter Judson. 2002. "The Law Written in their Hearts?: Rutherford and Locke on Nature, Government and Resistance." The Journal of Law and Religion 18 (winter): 151–89.

cross-references

Constitution of the United States; Natural Law; "Second Treatise on Government" (Appendix, Primary Document).

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Locke, John

John Locke

Born: August 29, 1632
Wrington, England
Died: October 28, 1704
Oates, England

English philosopher and political theorist

The English philosopher and political theorist (a person who forms an explanation based upon studying and observing politics and politicians) John Locke began the empiricist tradition (the source of knowledge comes from experience and the senses) and thus started the greatest age of British philosophy (the study of knowledge). He attempted to center philosophy based on the study of importance and capabilities of the human mind.

Early years and school

John Locke was born on August 29, 1632, in Wrington, in Somerset, England, to Agnes Keene and John Locke, the elder. His mother died during his infancy, and Locke and his only brother, Thomas, were raised by their father, who was an attorney in the small town of Pensford near Bristol, England. John was tutored at home because of his delicate health and the outbreak of civil war in 1642. When he was fourteen, he entered Westminster School, where he remained for six years. He then went to Christ Church, Oxford. In 1658 he was elected a senior student at his college. As such he taught Greek and moral philosophy. In order to continue his work at the school he would have to have been ordained (officially consecrated) a minister. Instead he changed to another study, medicine, and eventually received a license to practice. During the same period Locke met Robert Boyle (16271691), the distinguished scientist and one of the founders of the Royal Society, and, under Boyle's direction, took up study of natural science. Finally, in 1668, Locke was made a member of the Royal Society.

Political affairs

In 1665 Locke traveled to Europe as secretary to the English ambassador to the Brandenburg court. Upon his return to England he happened to medically treat Lord Ashley, Earl of Shaftesbury, and later lord chancellor of England. Their friendship and lifelong association drew Locke into political affairs. He attended Shaftesbury as physician and adviser, and Locke drafted The Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina and served as secretary to the Board of Trade. In 1676 Locke went to France for his health. An inheritance from his father made him financially independent, and he remained in Montpellier for three years.

Locke rejoined Shaftesbury's service, and when Lord Ashley fled to Holland, he followed. He remained in exile from 1683 to 1689. Most of his important writings were composed during this period. After the Glorious Revolution of 1688 (a revolution that overthrew King James II [16331701]) Locke returned to England and later served as a commissioner of trade until 1700. He spent his retirement at Oates, in Essex, and died there on October 28, 1704.

Major works

None of Locke's major writings were published until he was nearly sixty. In 1690 he brought out his major works: Two Treatises and the Essay Concerning Human Understanding. The four books of the Essay were the result of twenty years of intellectual work. The aim of this work was "to inquire into the origin, certainty, and extent of human knowledge, together with the grounds of belief, opinion, and assent."

The procedure used was what Locke called the "historical, plain method," which consists of observations of external (outside of a person's body) sensations and the internal (within a person's mind) processes of thinking. This psychological definition of experience as sensation and reflection shifted the focus of philosophy from an analysis of reality to an exploration of the mind. The new perspective was Locke's major contribution, and it dominated European thought for at least two centuries.

Theory of knowledge

Locke devoted the first two books of the Essay to developing a seemingly simple empirical theory of knowledge. Knowledge begins in the external and internal sources of sensation (use of the five senses) and careful thinking. The conclusion drawn in the Essay was that knowledge is relational; that is, it consists in the understanding "of the agreement or disagreement among ideas."

The third book of the Essay deals with words, and it was a pioneering contribution to the philosophy of language. Locke was a consistent nominalist in that for him language was a custom that was subject to judgement and words were things which "stand for nothing but the ideas in the mind of the man that has them."

The final section of the Essay deals with the sections of knowledge. In this view, with the exception of the self and God, all knowledge of existing things is dependent upon sensation. The shortage of real knowledge is fulfilled to some extent by human judgment, which assumes things to be true without actually being aware of the connections. And, according to Locke's commonsense attitude, the major limitations placed upon knowledge reflect that man's mental capacity is appropriate for his character and situation.

For More Information

Cope, Kevin Lee. John Locke Revisited. New York: Twayne, 1999.

Cranston, Maurice. John Locke: A Biography. London: Longmans, 1957.

Romanell, Patrick. John Locke and Medicine: A New Key to Locke. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1984.

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Locke, John

John Locke (lŏk), 1632–1704, English philosopher, founder of British empiricism. Locke summed up the Enlightenment in his belief in the middle class and its right to freedom of conscience and right to property, in his faith in science, and in his confidence in the goodness of humanity. His influence upon philosophy and political theory has been incalculable.

Life and Work

Educated at Christ Church College, Oxford, he became (1660) a lecturer there in Greek, rhetoric, and philosophy. He studied medicine, and his acquaintance with scientific practice had a strong influence upon his philosophical thought and method. In 1666, Locke met Anthony Ashley Cooper, the future 1st earl of Shaftesbury, and soon became his friend, physician, and adviser. After 1667, Locke had minor diplomatic and civil posts, most of them through Shaftesbury. In 1675, after Shaftesbury had lost his offices, Locke left England for France, where he met French leaders in science and philosophy.

Returning to England in 1679, he soon retired to Oxford, where he stayed quietly until, suspected of radicalism by the government, he went to Holland and remained there several years (1683–89). In Holland he completed the famous Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690), which was published in complete form after his return to England at the accession of William and Mary to the English throne. In the same year he published his Two Treatises on Civil Government; part of this work justifies the Glorious Revolution of 1688, but much of it was written earlier. His fame increased, and he became known in England and on the Continent as the leading philosopher of freedom.

Philosophy

In the Essay Concerning Human Understanding Locke examines the nature of the human mind and the process by which it knows the world. Repudiating the traditional doctrine of innate ideas, Locke believed that the mind is born blank, a tabula rasa upon which the world describes itself through the experience of the five senses. Knowledge arising from sensation is perfected by reflection, thus enabling humans to arrive at such ideas as space, time, and infinity.

Locke distinguished the primary qualities of things (e.g., solidity, extension, number) from their secondary qualities (e.g., color, sound). These latter qualities he held to be produced by the impact of the world on the sense organs. Behind this curtain of sensation the world itself is colorless and silent. Science is possible, Locke maintained, because the primary world affects the sense organs mechanically, thus producing ideas that faithfully represent reality. The clear, common-sense style of the Essay concealed many unexplored assumptions that the later empiricists George Berkeley and David Hume would contest, but the problems that Locke set forth have occupied philosophy in one way or another ever since.

Political Theory

Locke is most renowned for his political theory. Contradicting Thomas Hobbes, Locke believed that the original state of nature was happy and characterized by reason and tolerance. In that state all people were equal and independent, and none had a right to harm another's "life, health, liberty, or possessions." The state was formed by social contract because in the state of nature each was his own judge, and there was no protection against those who lived outside the law of nature. The state should be guided by natural law.

Rights of property are very important, because each person has a right to the product of his or her labor. Locke forecast the labor theory of value. The policy of governmental checks and balances, as delineated in the Constitution of the United States, was set down by Locke, as was the doctrine that revolution in some circumstances is not only a right but an obligation. At Shaftesbury's behest, he contributed to the Fundamental Constitutions for the Carolinas; the colony's proprietors, however, never implemented the document.

Ethical Theory

Locke based his ethical theories upon belief in the natural goodness of humanity. The inevitable pursuit of happiness and pleasure, when conducted rationally, leads to cooperation, and in the long run private happiness and the general welfare coincide. Immediate pleasures must give way to a prudent regard for ultimate good, including reward in the afterlife. He argued for broad religious freedom in three separate essays on toleration but excepted atheism and Roman Catholicism, which he felt should be legislated against as inimical to religion and the state. In his essay The Reasonableness of Christianity (1695), he emphasized the ethical aspect of Christianity against dogma.

Bibliography

See biographies by M. W. Cranston (1957) and R. Aaron (3d ed. 1971); R. S. Woolhouse, Locke's Philosophy of Science and Knowledge (1971); J. W. Gough, ed., John Locke's Political Philosophy; Eight Essays (2d ed. 1973); E. Tagart, Locke's Writings and Philosophy Historically Considered (1977); R. W. Grant, John Locke's Liberalism (1987).

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Locke, John

Locke, John 1632-1704

BIBLIOGRAPHY

John Locke was an English philosopher who is often seen as the founder of liberalism and a major source of inspiration for the American founding. Born into a Parliamentarian family near Bristol, Locke attended the prestigious Westminster school in London and then Christ Church College at Oxford. In 1666 he became a friend and secretary of Anthony Ashley Cooper (16211683), later the first earl of Shaftesbury, a prominent Whig politician. After the arrest of Shaftesbury and a number of other Whigs for their opposition to royalism and Catholicism, Locke fled to Holland in 1683, returning to England only after the Glorious Revolution of 1688 expelled James II (16331701) and installed William of Orange (16501702) on the throne. While he had been working on what were to become his major writings for several decades, it was not until this time that they were published: A Letter Concerning Toleration, which advocated religious toleration and a separation of church and state, the Two Treatises of Government, which argued for limited government and private property, and An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, which advanced an empiricist view of human knowledge, were all published in 1689. While the former two works appeared anonymously, the latter was published under Lockes name and quickly made him famous. Other important works of his later life included Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693) and The Reasonableness of Christianity (1695). By the time he died in 1704, Locke had become one of the most prominent and influential philosophers of his time.

The second of Lockes Two Treatises of Government is often regarded as the founding text of liberalism. In this work, he posits that there is no natural or divine source of legitimate political power and thus that government must be based on consent. In the state of nature that exists when there is no political authority, he claims, the law of nature (which obliges people not to harm others) tends to be inadequately obeyed and enforced, and so people agree to create a government through a social contract. The purpose of the contract and hence of government is to protect peoples lives, liberties, and property, and to achieve this end Locke advocates a limited government with institutional safeguards such as separate legislative and executive branches, common judges, and standing laws that apply equally to everyone. Locke puts a special emphasis on the protection of property rights, as he claims this will encourage people to be industrious and thus to increase productivity and raise the societys standard of living. While people are understood to have tacitly consented to the government under which they live even if they were not a part of the original social contract, the people always remain supreme, and thus when the government violates its trust the people can and should exercise their right to revolution. With his arguments for natural rights, government by consent, constitutionalism, private property, and religious toleration, Locke is one of the major sources of the ideology of the American founding and indeed of the modern world.

SEE ALSO Enlightenment; Hobbes, Thomas; Labor Theory of Value; Natural Rights; Property; Rousseau, Jean-Jacques; Social Contract; State of Nature

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Dunn, John. 1969. The Political Thought of John Locke: An Historical Account of the Argument of the Two Treatises of Government. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press.

Grant, Ruth. 1987. John Lockes Liberalism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Locke, John. [1689] 1988. Two Treatises of Government. Ed Peter Laslett. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press.

Zuckert, Michael P. 2002. Launching Liberalism: On Lockean Political Philosophy. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas.

Dennis C. Rasmussen

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Locke, John

Locke, John (1632–1702) An English philosopher and political theorist. The seventeenth-century revolution in physical science found in Locke one of its principal philosophical advocates. With dubious consistency, Locke combined together the leading doctrines of the empiricist theory of knowledge (that there are no ‘innate ideas’ and that all of our substantive knowledge is derived from experience) with a commitment to the prevailing mechanical view of the nature of reality and our perception of it. Some properties (colours and tastes for example) were held to be ‘secondary’, and functions of the effects of external bodies upon our senses, whereas others, the ‘primary qualities’ (solidity, shape, state of motion, and so on) were held to be ‘really in’ things themselves. However, at the same time Locke also held that all we are directly acquainted with in perception are our own ideas, so it is difficult to see how this distinction could be sustained. Nevertheless, Locke remains important as one of the founding figures of the enduring alliance between modern science and the empiricist tradition in epistemology.

Locke's poltical philosophy is also of continuing importance as an early rational justification for modern constitutional monarchy. As was characteristic for his time, Locke's argument takes the form of a hypothetical state of nature in which humans were supposed to live together without benefit of law or sovereign power. The disadvantages of such a state, though not approaching the catastrophic vision offered by Thomas Hobbes, would be sufficient to provide good reasons for individuals to enter into a voluntary contract to put themselves under the rule of law and government. However, the state of nature is not so dire that unlimited or absolute power on the part of the sovereign should be tolerated. The citizenry pool their powers in the person of the sovereign on trust that it will be used for their good, and so retain their right to rebellion. Of particular interest in Locke's political philosophy is his analysis of the sources and limits of private property rights, in a world initially held in common by humankind. Since all individuals are held to be owners of their own persons, the mixing of their labour with some part of the material world gives them property rights in what they produce.

However, this is so only on condition that what they take does not go to waste, and that enough remains for others. The institution of money (whose establishment, like governmental power, Locke takes to have been a matter of voluntary agreement) allows for the transfer of property rights, and for the potentially limitless accumulation of wealth. See also LIBERALISM.

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Locke, John

Locke, John (1632–1704). Perhaps the most influential English-language philosopher and political theorist, Locke is regarded as the founding thinker of liberalism. However, his influence on contemporaries was restricted by the political conditions of Charles II's last years. Locke lived in the household of Shaftesbury the Whig leader and like him had to go into exile. Locke's important works could not be published until after 1688, although written earlier. He advocated religious toleration, including it in the constitution he drafted for Shaftesbury's Carolina colony. His Letter Concerning Toleration (1689) contains two fundamental assumptions: that religion is a matter for each individual, and that churches are voluntary associations. These rule out religious coercion and uniformity, but political considerations led Locke to deny toleration to the intolerant (catholics, he argued) and atheists. His arguments lead logically to the principle and practice of separation of church and state. The Two Treatises of Government bases government on the consent of the governed, who need an authority to defend their property. A ruler who turns himself into a tyrant, as Charles II and James II had been doing, forfeits his authority and may be resisted. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Locke's main philosophical work, appeared in 1690. It and The Reasonableness of Christianity (1695) provoked more controversy than the political works.

J. R. Jones

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Locke, John

Locke, John (1632–1704). English philosopher who became a major source for British empiricism and for liberal democracy, and who applied his thought to the support of Christian theistic belief. In addition to his Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690), The Letter on Toleration and (anonymously) Two Treatises on Government, he wrote Thoughts on Education (1693), Reasonableness of Christianity (1695), and works which appeared later, The Conduct of the Understanding (1706) and Miracles (1716).

That things are ‘well-ordered’ was important for Locke. Far from being ‘a blind, fortuitous concourse of atoms’, we are able to make sense, from our senses, of the universe, in which ‘Nature never makes excellent things for mean or no uses’. From this, the existence of God is able to be demonstrated; and given that demonstrable truth, Locke was able to argue that certain rights which humans possess by nature are God-given and cannot be taken away: toleration becomes a primary virtue, to be exercised everywhere except where the rights of others are threatened. Locke's views were thus influential in forming the attitudes of the founders of the USA.

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Locke, John

Locke, John (1632–1704) English philosopher and exponent of empiricism. In 1679 his friendship with the Earl of Shaftesbury, accused of conspiracy against Charles II, made him a target of suspicion and he went into exile in the Netherlands (1683–89). He returned to England only after the Glorious Revolution. Locke rejected the concept of ‘innate ideas’, arguing that all ideas are placed in the mind by experience. In 1690, he published Two Treatises on Civil Government, in which he advocated the social contract, the right to freedom of conscience, and the right to property.

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Locke, John

LOCKE, JOHN

LOCKE, JOHN (16321704), English Christian writer on religious toleration, epistemology, political theory, theology, education, and economics. Locke was admitted to Westminster School, London, upon the recommendation of a Puritan family friend and proceeded as a King's Scholar to Christ Church, Oxford, where in 1658 he was chosen as a senior student (fellow) to teach moral philosophy. He studied chemistry and medicine, the practice of which contributed to his friendship with Anthony Ashley Cooper, earl of Shaftesbury and leader of the Whig Party. This political association led to Locke's self-imposed exile in Holland and the loss of his Oxford studentship in 1684. With the "Glorious Revolution" of 1689, he returned to England, where he devoted the remainder of his life largely to writing.

Locke's earliest extant writings of substance (not published until the twentieth century) set the course, though not the content, of his later, most influential works. After the restoration of Charles II to the throne in 1660, Locke conformed to the Church of England and wrote two essays defending the right of the civil magistrate to determine and enforce adiaphora, indifferent matters of religious worship. He believed that such authoritarianism was the only means to religious and political peace after the conflicts of the interregnum. In 1661 he reiterated this position in an essay on infallibility, which subject perhaps initiated his interest in the relationship between issues of knowledge and religious policy. By 1667, after his association with Shaftesbury, Locke changed his position and defended religious toleration in An Essay concerning Toleration, which foreshadowed the liberal views of his Epistola de tolerantia (1689), his classic defense of religious liberty. There he argued that religious opinions, even in "matters indifferent," could not and ought not be imposed upon subjects since a government magistrate had no more certain or infallible knowledge than anyone else.

From his consideration of religious toleration, Locke turned his attention to two fundamental attendant issues: the nature of government and the nature of knowledge. His Two Treatises of Government (1689) sets forth both a biblical interpretation attacking the basis of traditional patriarchal political theory and a model of human society in which every person has a direct relation to God under natural law. In accord with his views on toleration, Locke's theory of government does not require a uniformity of religion but is instead based on the right and need of individuals to preserve their lives, liberty, and property under natural law, even to the point of revolution.

His Essay concerning Human Understanding (1690) addresses issues of epistemology with an eye toward their religious and political implications. He attacks the theory of "innate principles," charging that its proponents (Hobbesians, Enthusiasts, and Roman Catholics) used it to impose their opinions on others as infallible so that they might govern by demanding unquestioning faith in their judgments. He seeks to show how little proper knowledge, that is, certainty, is available and asserts that religion rests primarily upon faith, not on knowledge. By "faith" Locke meant an assent to revelation; such an assent is essentially a judgment of probability, however great an assurance or confidence it carries. Thus, his epistemology supports his claim, with regard to toleration, that the leaders of society have no basis for imposing religion on subjects. However, he firmly believed that each individual could determine what was essential to his or her own salvation and moral life.

In The Reasonableness of Christianity (1695), Locke sets forth his own understanding of true religion, which he describes as a simple, intelligible Christianity derived from scripture alone. Drawing on an old tradition, he argues that the fundamental articles of Christian faith had been clearly designated by Jesus and the apostles, and that they are evident to anyone who reads the Bible. Focusing on the Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles, he attempts to reconstruct the life and teachings of Jesus and the apostles so as to show that they required for salvation belief only that Jesus was the Messiah, which presupposes belief in the existence of God and carries with it certain "concomitant articles" (such as Jesus' miracles, resurrection, and ascension) that proved him to be the Messiah. He admits that other scriptural doctrines must be believed as one comes to know them and emphasizes that moral obedience must accompany faith. Locke seems to have hoped that such a vision of Christianity, founded on a simple article of faith and clear morality set forth plainly in scripture, could provide a basis for social and political unity in which secondary matters of difference would be tolerated.

Locke's method in Reasonableness was also influential in the history of biblical criticism. His attempt to reconstruct the earliest teachings of Christianity led him to write a virtual "life of Jesus," including attention to what would later be called the "messianic secret." He emphasized what he thought were the more historical portions of the New Testament over the more doctrinal letters. His later Paraphrases and Notes on the Pauline Epistles, published posthumously (17051707), also contributed to the perspective and style of subsequent biblical interpretation.

Locke's views on religion have been labeled as Hobbesian, Socinian or Unitarian, and deistic. The thesis of Reasonableness is nearly identical to that of Hobbes, and modern Marxist interpreters have revived the charges of Hobbesian inclination made by a few of Locke's contemporaries. However, non-Marxist historians have countered with alternative interpretations of Locke's meaning and broad intentions. Locke's ownership of numerous Socinian books, his several Unitarian friends, and manuscript records of antitrinitarian sentiments have often been cited as evidence of his secret sympathies. Yet such claims depend largely on silence and association, and recent analyses of manuscript sources have revealed that nearly all of Locke's "Unitarian" manuscript writings were not his own opinions but notes taken from his readings. His epistemology became a standard foundation of eighteenth-century Deism, but Reasonableness may well have been directed in part against the Deists and was used as a source of anti-Deist polemics. Locke strongly denied that his religious opinions were either the same as or influenced by Hobbes, the Socinians, or the Deists. If he is to be classed with any group or party, he might best be labeled as an independent thinker of the English Latitudinarian tradition.

Bibliography

Maurice Cranston's John Locke: A Biography (London, 1957) is more comprehensive in its biographical detail than compelling in its interpretations of Locke's thought. Peter Laslett's edition of Two Treatises of Government, 2d ed. (Cambridge, 1964), provides the best critical text, as well as a revolutionary interpretation that has been widely accepted. The best work on the religious influence of Locke's epistemology is John W. Yolton's John Locke and the Way of Ideas (Oxford, 1956).

New Sources

Anstey, Peter R., ed. The Philosophy of John Locke: New Perspectives. New York, 2003.

Jolley, Nicholas. Locke: His Philosophical Thought. New York, 1999.

Marshall, John. John Locke: Resistance, Religion, and Responsibility. New York, 1994.

Simmons, A. John. The Lockean Theory of Rights. Princeton, N.J., 1992.

Wollerstorff, Nicholas. John Locke and the Ethics of Belief. New York, 1996.

John C. Higgins-Biddle (1987 and 2005)

Revised Bibliography

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Locke, John

LOCKE, JOHN

British philosopher, generally regarded as the founder of empiricism; b. Wrington, near Bristol, Aug. 29, 1632; d. Oates, Essex, Oct. 28, 1704. Locke was educated at home until he attended Westminster school in 1646. He later went to Oxford, where he received the B.A. and M.A. degrees. At Oxford he read philosophy, became interested in physics and chemistry, and took his medical degree (1674); he never practiced medicine, however, turning his attention to public affairs instead. In 1665 he took a position as secretary to Sir Walter Vane and two years later entered the service of Lord Ashley, afterward the first Earl of Shaftesbury. Because of his involvement in political intrigue with Shaftesbury, Locke was forced to flee to Holland. He did not return until 1688, when William of Orange became king of England.

Locke's is a plain historical method by which he hoped to achieve an empirical analysis of knowledge based on experience and devoid of the pretensions of rationalism. He applies this analysis to ethics, politics, and religion.

Theory of Knowledge. As his main work, The Essay concerning Human Understanding (1690), indicates, Locke is no radical empiricist. The Essay is characterized by a plain, commonsense approach and its rational reflection on ordinary experience. In it, Locke rejects all innate ideas and insists that the sources of knowledge are experiential, viz., sensation and reflection. From sensation the mind derives ideas, while from reflection it becomes aware of such internal operations as thinking, willing, and desiring. Locke divides ideas into two different classes: simple and complex. Simple ideas are produced in the mind in various ways: (1) some are formed by an external object acting on one or more of the external senses, for example, the idea of hardness or sweetness; (2) others are caused by the internal actions of thinking and willing; (3) still others are produced by a combination of internal and external activity, such as the ideas of pain and pleasure. Complex ideas are combinations of simple ideas, and of these Locke lists three different classes: (1) ideas of modes, which are collections of simple ideas conceived of as modifications of substance; (2) ideas of substances; and (3) ideas of relations.

Ideas and Understanding. Whatever the nature of the idea, simple or complex, it is the idea that the mind understands. Man knows ideas, and knowledge is nothing else but an apprehension of the agreement or disagreement of ideas (Essay, bk. 4, ch. 1). This conception leads Locke into an almost complete subjectivism, against which he struggles in vain throughout the various parts of the Essay. The agreement or disagreement of ideas can take various forms: (1) identity and diversity, (2) relation between ideas, (3) coexistence of ideas, and (4) ideas of real existence (Essay, bk. 4, ch. 3). It is in examining the different kinds of ideas composing knowledge that Locke discerns the meaning and structure of reality.

Cause of Ideas. Having rejected the doctrine of innate ideas, Locke is forced to posit something as the cause of simple ideas. Hence he argues that things or substances that affect man in certain ways must exist. Since what man knows is the effect on him, substance must remain an unknown that is supposed to exist as a substratum for the various qualities and powers through which the thing is able to act. Here, however, a distinction must be made. Since man experiences certain affections that are consistently the same in relation to all material things, such things must really possess these qualities. All bodies, for example, appear as solid, as having some shape and magnitude, and as being in motion or at rest. These are primary qualities and are real modifications of bodies. There are, however, other affections that differ from individual to individual, such as sweet and bitter, hot and cold. These subjective affections, corresponding to the sensations of the external senses traditionally affirmed color, taste, odor, touch, and soundLocke calls secondary qualities. The only objective references such qualities have are the powers bodies have to cause such affections in a sensing subject. From this viewpoint substance is merely a name given to a collection of secondary sense qualities. Gold, for example, means merely a combination of the simple ideas of yellow, hard, shiny, etc. This name is the nominal essence, as distinguished from the real essence, which is supposed to exist beneath the primary qualities and powers, but which can never be known (Essay, bk. 2, ch. 23; bk. 3, ch. 6).

Locke, however, always remains a realistif an inconsistent onebecause he never denies the existence of this unknown substratum. He holds, too, the reality of primary qualities and their real power to affect man. He also makes use of several so-called commonsense arguments to establish the reality of a material world distinct from the knowing subject. He refers to the idea of cause as an idea with a foundation in real existence, and he appeals to the real idea of fire as opposed to the imaginary idea of fire. Let one put his hand into a real fire, Locke notes, and he straightway understands the difference (Essay, bk. 4, ch. 11).

Divisions of Knowledge. Locke divides the mind's knowledge of ideas on the basis of degrees of intensity. First is intuitive knowledge, which is an immediate apprehension of the agreement or disagreement between ideas; e.g., the idea of bitter is not the same as that of yellow. Then there is knowledge of ideas attained through the mediation of other ideas apprehended intuitively; this is demonstrative knowledge, although Locke is careful to point out that intuition must accompany each step in the demonstrative process. Mathematical knowledge is of this sort. On the level of the natural sciences, however, Locke does not think that necessary connections can be established between ideas. He sees only a de facto connection in this area; hence, he does not regard the conclusions of the natural sciences as demonstrable, but only as enjoying high degrees of probability.

Existence of God. Under demonstrative knowledge Locke includes also the knowledge of God's existence. His proof begins with an intuition of one's own existence. Since nothing cannot produce something and since man is aware that he had a beginning, he must have been produced by something else. If there is not some eternal being, the problem simply regresses indefinitely. Therefore, something eternal must exist, and this is God. Furthermore, not only does God produce that which has a beginning, but He also produces it as the kind of being that it is. Again, there are created beings that have intelligence and the capacity to love. Hence, God must also be intelligent and loving and, therefore, a personal being.

Ethical Theory. Locke continues his empiricism in his ethical theory. For Locke, all moral ideas are grounded in experience, but these ideas can be clearly grasped and just as clearly related to one another. They can then serve as norms for judging the morality of activity. Moral good consists in the conformity of voluntary actions to these established norms. From this viewpoint Locke sees no reason why ethics cannot be as clear and certain a science as mathematics.

Norms are of different kinds, and Locke enumerates them as divine law, civil law, and the law of opinion or reputation. In relation to the divine law, actions are judged to be duties or sins. In relation to the civil law, actions are called innocent or criminal. In relation to the law of opinion, actions are judged as praiseworthy or blameful, depending on the manners or customs of the place. Since it is obvious that these laws can and do conflict with each other, Locke holds that the divine law must be the ultimate norm of moral activity. He maintains that this divine law can be known by human reason, and to this extent he seems to hold for the existence of a basic moral absolute, to which man has the obligation to conform.

Political Theory. In his political philosophy Locke attacks both the theory of the divine right of kings and of the nature of the state as understood by T. hobbes. According to Locke, the original state of nature was not a state of war and license but one of peace, in which natural rights and obligations prevailed. However, because such a situation could not adequately supply man's needs or protect him from abuses, he entered into a political state, by either explicit or tacit consent; such a state could then make laws for him, as the public good or society required. Hence, sovereignty resides in the people and is delegated by them to their authorities. For him, as for Hobbes, authority in the state is supreme; but, unlike Hobbes, Locke insists that governing authorities are bound by both civil and "natural law." Hence, such authority is validly exercised only as long as it respects the "common good." There is therefore an authority superior to civil authority.

One of the chief goods to be achieved in the state is the right to the acquisition of private property. Locke sees this right as founded in labor. The laborer, in working on the land or on some natural product, contributes something of himself and thus acquires a title to it. Such a right, however, is not unlimited; it is restricted to as much property as a man can reasonably put to use.

Approach to Religion. In his approach to religion Locke gives the impression of being a sincere Christian who sees no discrepancy between reason and Christianity. In bk. 4, ch. 17, of the Essay, Locke distinguishes truths according to reason, those above reason, and those contrary to reason. Christianity deals with truths that are above reason, and it is to these that the Christian makes an assent of faith. Such truths must be proposed by God for man's belief, and it is here that Locke encounters difficulty. How is one to know that God is really the author of such truths? Locke's answer refers to the outward signs that accompany them, i.e., miracles. But how is one to know that such signs are really miraculous? It seems that Locke must either settle for some sort of probability here or else have recourse to an intuition of the connection between a given sign and the proposition of faith that it is supposed to justify. In neither case is the solution satisfactory, since it makes faith in the first instance only a probable proposition or, in the second, makes reason itself the criterion of Christian faith. Locke's approach is at best naturalistic and at worst rationalistic, in the sense that it makes reason the ultimate criterion even of truths that are above reason (Essay, bk. 4, ch. 19).

Influence. Locke has had a lasting influence on modern philosophy. Berkeley's empirical idealism is a direct outgrowth of Locke's epistemology, as is Hume's later skepticism. Locke himself attempted to hold a commonsense middle position between these two extremes, but both Berkeley and Hume represent the logical consequences of the position. The systems of D. Hartley and J. S. mill are clearly indebted to Locke. And through Hume, the Kantian doctrines of the unknown thing-initself, the nature of substance, the intellectual categories reveal either Kant's acceptance of Locke or his attempt to overcome what he considered an extreme empiricism.

There is good reason to believe that Locke's theory of government influenced the founders of the American Constitution, and Thomas Jefferson especially. The American people were establishing a government after their successful Revolution, and Locke had sought to justify the Glorious Revolution in England. Some of Locke's idease.g., on natural rights, the rule of the majority, property rights, and the obligation of government to secure and preserve these rightsappear in the Constitution, at times exactly in Locke's phrasing. And 19th-century American laissez-faire individualism was rooted in the Lockean notion of natural rights, indirectly by way of constitutional interpretation.

In contemporary philosophy most systems of naturalism, logical positivism, and analytical philosophy are sympathetic to Locke. They generally accept his position on the object of knowledge, the nature of substance, the lack of innate ideas, and the nominalistic interpretation of the function of the idea.

Critique. The basic difficulty with Locke's experiential approach is the assumption from which it begins: what is known is only an affection of the knowing subject. This subjectivism puts Locke into a position where he is forced to prove the reality of an external world and God. He himself recognized the difficulty and strove in vain to overcome it. Berkeley showed him the impossibility of demonstrating the existence of material reality, and Kant made clear the inadequacy of his proof for the existence of God. Such a subjectivism had to end where it beganin the mind. The ease with which such an approach slips into a complete idealism and even into solipsism is only too apparent in the history of philosophy. Man's basic experience is of things, not of ideas. Any theory of knowledge denying that basic experience is bound to lead to the bankruptcy of all knowledge.

See Also: knowledge, theories of.

Bibliography: Works, 10 v. (rev. ed. London 1823); The Philosophical Works of John Locke, ed. j. a. st. john, 2 v. (London 1854); An Essay concerning Human Understanding, ed. a. c. fraser, 2 v. (Oxford 1894); The Reasonableness of Christianity, ed. i. j. ramsey (Stanford 1958); Two Treatises of Government, ed. t.i. cook (New York 1947); The Correspondence of John Locke and Edward Clarke, ed. b. rand (London 1927); Selections, ed. s. p. lamprecht (New York 1928). Literature. f. c. copleston, History of Philosophy (Westminster, Md. 1959) v.5. a. carlini, Enciclopedia filosofica, 4 v. (Venice-Rome 1957) 3:96112. p. k. king, The Life of John Locke, 2 v. (London 1830). r. i. aaron, John Locke (2d ed. Oxford 1955). d. j. o'connor, John Locke (Baltimore 1952). j. d. collins, A History of Modern European Philosophy (Milwaukee 1954).

[h. r. klocker]

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Locke, John

John Locke

1632–1704

Political philosopher

Early Years.

Although John Locke was born in a quiet corner of the English county of Somerset, his youth was shaped by the calamitous events of the English Civil Wars. His father was a solicitor who served in the Parliamentary Army. In 1652, during the chaotic years of the Puritan Commonwealth, Locke entered Oxford, where he appears to have been a diffident student. He was drawn at the time to the exciting ideas of René Descartes, but the traditionalism of the English university of his day meant that Oxford's curriculum was still largely taught in the mold of Aristotelian scholasticism of previous centuries. As a result, Locke drifted, although he indulged his curiosity by undertaking medical and scientific studies outside his course of study, an endeavor that paved the way for his eventual election to the Royal Society in 1668. He may have considered a clerical career, but in 1659 he began to serve as a tutor in his college at Oxford. Despite this honor, Locke did not take an Oxford degree until 1674, when he was finally awarded a Bachelor of Medicine. In 1661, his father died, and Locke now had a small inheritance that provided him with the resources to continue his studies. In the years that followed he also made the acquaintance of Lord Ashley, who was later to become the earl of Shaftesbury and Locke's primary patron. By 1665, Locke had given up his post as a tutor at Oxford, and he began service on an ambassadorial mission to Germany. Although he might have continued in this career, he returned to scientific study and reading of philosophy. During these years he also worked with his close friends Robert Boyle and Thomas Sydenham on a number of scientific experiments.

Shaftesbury.

Locke's association in these years with Lord Ashley also deepened, primarily as a result of a successful operation Locke performed to remove a liver cyst in 1668. Locke became a member of Ashley's household in London, where he fulfilled a number of roles, eventually advising him on matters of all kinds. As Ashley rose to become the earl of Shaftesbury in 1672, his political visibility increased. He was soon appointed Lord Chancellor, although his unpopular politics soon led to his downfall. Shaftesbury supported a strong Parliament as a counter to royal authority, a Protestant succession, and the economic expansion of England's colonies, all programs that were not favored by Charles II or his Royalist circle. Locke's association with Shaftesbury in these years largely freed him from the responsibilities of working, and he continued to devote a great deal of his time in the late 1660s and early 1670s to his private studies. He was also an enthusiastic participant in the activities of the Royal Society, an affiliation that kept him up to date on the most recent scientific advances that were occurring in the country. Eventually, Locke found that London's damp air worsened his asthma, and he returned to Oxford in 1675; a few months later, he set off on a four-year journey to France, where he lived for most of this period in Montpellier and Paris. In his years in France, Locke made the acquaintance of Pierre Gassendi, who at the time was developing a Christianized form of Epicureanism that might be a counter to René Descartes' rationalism. Eventually, his work provided one of the foundations for Locke's own empirical philosophy.

Return to England and Exile.

When Locke returned to England, he found that the political situation in the country had deteriorated as a result of the controversies over the succession. James, the duke of York, had in recent years made public his Catholicism, and the quarrels over the possibility of a Catholic king had resulted in the earl of Shaftesbury's imprisonment. Eventually, he was rehabilitated, but not without spending a year in the Tower of London. Shaftesbury's fortunes rose again, only to take a meteoric plunge in 1681, when he was unsuccessful in mediating the various conflicts between England's parliamentary factions. He was tried but set free, and soon fled the country for exile in Holland, dying there two years later. Because of his close association with Shaftesbury, Locke followed him into exile, and he remained there until the Glorious Revolution (1688) removed the Catholic James II from the throne and installed his daughter Mary and her husband William as co-regents.

Writings.

While in Holland, Locke had time to complete a number of important works that established his reputation as England's foremost political theorist. Before leaving Holland in 1689, Locke published his Letter Concerning Toleration, a work that argued for religious toleration of England's Protestant dissenters. He did not advocate the extension of toleration to Catholics or to Jews, although his program for Protestant nonconformists was essentially established in the early years of William and Mary's reign. Even as the Letter Concerning Toleration was appearing, though, Locke was preparing the way for his return to England, and in February 1689 he crossed in the same vessel that brought William and Mary to the country. In the years that followed he continued to publish a number of works that contributed to the political and intellectual ferment of the early Enlightenment in England. Later, their influence spread to Continental Europe, where in France particularly they encouraged the development of a vigorous tradition of political philosophy. In 1690, his Two Treatises on Government appeared. It set out a theory of limited constitutional monarchy—a theory that was, in large part, being realized in England at the time because of Parliament's triumph in the Glorious Revolution. Around this same time his Essay Concerning Human Understanding also appeared. In this, perhaps his most famous work, Locke outlined his theories concerning human knowledge and psychology by recourse to his theory of the mind as a "blank slate" at birth upon which experience writes impressions. His later years were spent in a kind of quiet country isolation at Oates, where he was the guest of an English noblewoman, Lady Masham. Although he had largely retired from public involvement, his ideas were causing considerable ferment at the time, inspiring Deists like John Toland in his Christianity Not Mysterious to apply Locke's psychological insights to fashion a non-doctrinal religion. Locke, though, remained fundamentally orthodox and conservative in his own religious opinions. In the decades that followed continued debate of Locke's theories gave rise to a large school of English empirical philosophers, and some of these figures, men like George Berkeley and David Hume, refined Locke's initial observations. Locke continued to remain required reading, though, for any Englishman anxious to protect parliamentary prerogatives in the eighteenth century. His influence continued to resonate throughout the Enlightenment, helping to inspire the revolutionary developments and political settlements formulated during the French and American Revolutions.

sources

M. W. Cranston, John Locke; A Biography (London: Longmans, 1966).

G. Fuller, R. Stecker, and J. P. Wright, eds., John Locke: An Essay Concerning Human Understanding in Focus (London: Routledge, 2000).

T. M. Lennon, The Battle of the Gods and Giants: The Legacies of Descartes and Gassendi, 1655–1715 (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1993).

J. W. Yolton, Locke; An Introduction (Oxford: Blackwell, 1985).

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Locke, John

LOCKE, JOHN

John Locke (1632–1704), was an English philosopher, Oxford academic, and occasional bureaucrat. He was born at Wrington, Somerset, on August 29 and died at Oates, Essex on October 28. Locke's fame as a philosopher rests chiefly on two works: An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689) and Two Treatises of Government (1689). The former became a chief textbook of the European enlightenment and subsequent philosophy. The latter deeply influenced both the Declaration of Independence (1776) and the Constitution of the United States (1787), a document that made promoting the "progress of science and useful arts" one of its distinguishing features (Article I, section 8). These facts establish his reputation as one of the most influential modern philosophers and signal his importance in issues related to science, technology, and ethics.

Locke's strategy in his two most influential works is characteristic of early modern thought. First he sets out to clear away errors and conceits left over from classical and medieval science. Next he reduces the subject to its most basic natural constituents, as yet unmodified by culture. Only then does he set about reconstructing new systems of epistemology and political philosophy.


The Essay

Part One of the Essay is devoted to a refutation of the doctrine of innate ideas, according to which all human beings are born with certain principles already stamped upon their minds. It might seem doubtful that the importance of this doctrine justifies the attention that Locke devotes to it; however, its demolition whets the appetite for a more satisfactory account of the mind.

Locke holds to the view that all human ideas are reducible to experiences, a doctrine known as empiricism. An idea here means anything in the contents of the mind that is definite enough to have a name. Impressions, such as hot and red, received from the external world are the primary source of ideas. But unlike more uncompromising empiricists, such as David Hume, Locke admits of a second source of ideas: reflection upon the operations of human minds. One may observe what the mind does with the material provided by sensation and so acquire ideas of thinking, willing, and the like. So, though there are no innate ideas, there are innate sources of information.

Some ideas, such as hard or perception are indivisible. These are received passively by the mind. But the mind can also act on elementary ideas in three ways: by combining several into one complex idea; by comparing one with another; and by abstracting some idea from the setting in which it actually occurs. By such operations the mind can furnish itself with a potentially unlimited stock of complex ideas. These in turn fall into three categories: relations between ideas, substances that may exist on their own; and modes that exist only in something else. Thus the sun is a substance; it is bright in relation to terrestrial fire; and its brilliance is one of its modes.

Though all complex ideas are products of the mind, they can be anchored in the real world. A substance is known only by its qualities, which are the impressions it makes on the senses. Its primary qualities belong to it independently of observation, so a stone has weight and shape whether anyone perceives it or not. Secondary qualities depend on an observer. The stone is brown only in the right light, and in the eyes of some beholder. One cannot conceive but that these qualities subsist in some underlying thing, but has no idea of what that thing is. Locke subscribes, however, to the corpuscular or atomic theory of matter and supposes that the substratum consists of invisibly small particles.

Locke's philosophy of mind narrows the distance between speculation and technology. Chemistry, once it has purged itself of any alchemical conceits and has arrived at knowledge of the elements, not only understands the world better but provides human beings with means to manipulate it. Similarly Locke offers both a better account of human knowing and a set of useful instruments both for scientific and philosophical investigation.

This raises the question of the rank of philosophy with respect to science and technology. In one respect Locke's view of this matter seems closer to the medieval than to the classical conception. For the Greeks, philosophy was more elevated and more complete than any science, if indeed it did not incorporate all the sciences. In medieval scholarship, philosophy is famously regarded as the handmaiden of theology, usually in so far as it supports and clarifies faith. For Locke, philosophy seems to become the handmaiden of the sciences.

In the Epistle to the Essay Locke distinguishes between the Master-Builders and the Under-Labourers of the sciences. Among the former are Robert Boyle, Thomas Sydenham, Christiaan Huygens, and Isaac Newton, whose works stand as monuments to posterity. Locke counts himself among the latter, whose job it is merely to clear the ground and remove the rubbish that obstructs the advance of science. If this is Locke's view, he has reduced philosophy to a preparatory exercise, much of which is necessary only because of the abuses of language committed by psuedophilosophers. Locke's Essay is certainly similar to contemporary academic philosophy, which understands itself as clarifying questions up to the point that science can get a grip on them.

The scientists named by Locke are conspicuous for both theoretical and technological achievements. Boyle constructed an air pump; Newton and Huygens built advanced telescopes; Sydenham pioneered new medical treatments. But it is clear that for Locke their greatness lay more in their theoretical work than in any useful devices they may have contrived. He shows no inclination to subordinate the sciences to technology. A few lines after mentioning Newton, he identifies philosophy as "nothing but a true knowledge of the nature of things" (Locke 1975, p. 10). Whatever Locke's view of his business in the "Essay," he had a view of philosophy broad enough to encompass the sciences. It is closer to the classical view than is often supposed.


The Two Treatises

In his First Treatise, Locke demolishes Robert Filmer's argument in favor of the divine right of kings. This sets the stage for the Second Treatise: If political authority does not originate in God's appointment of Adam, then its origin must be sought in human nature.

Typically Locke identifies and isolates the elementary building block of political societies: This is the human being in the state of nature. The latter indicates a condition of perfect freedom and equality, with no one having any authority over another. But it is not, as Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679) supposed, a state of license. For there is a natural law available to all human beings, directing them to respect one another's life, liberty, and property.

Oddly enough, it is not viciousness that requires the formation of governments, but the human capacity for righteous indignation. In the state of nature, each person is entitled to punish any transgression of rights. But as each person judges primarily in his or her own favor, one person's enforcement of natural law is another's transgression of the same. Thus the universal distribution of the executive power can lead to endless cycles of revenge. The way to avoid this is for all to surrender their portions of the executive power to some common judge, to whom appeal may be made in case of conflict.

Human beings thus leave the state of nature in order to more securely enjoy those rights that they possessed while still in it. Universal consent is the foundation of political authority, which may be invested in such forms (for example, kings and parliaments) as the subjects think fit. However that grant of authority is always conditional rather than absolute. When the government forfeits the consent of its subjects, or by aggression or neglect fails to protect their liberties, it effectively abdicates. The people are then entitled to abolish it and form a new one.


Property Rights

Locke's theory of property, set forth in Chapter 5 of the Second Treatise, is among the greatest achievements of seventeenth-century political and economic thought. Here Locke cuts to the original position immediately: In the beginning all things belonged equally to all human beings, and each had leave to take from the earth whatever he or she needed. What then is the origin of any private rights to property?

Each person has ownership of his or her own body and labor. In order for some external good such as food to be enjoyed it must sooner or later be appropriated. After an apple is consumed it joins with the perfect privacy of the flesh. Locke argues that the moment of appropriation comes when someone's labor is mixed with the bounty of nature. When acorns are first gathered from the wild, they become private property. The right of appropriation is universal, the only limit is that one may gather only what one can use.

Locke weds this account with a theory of economic progress, which includes in turn a labor theory of value and a theory of money. The greater part of the value of any product originates in the labor required to produce it. Invested in a loaf of bread, for example, is a plowed and cultivated field, harvested and milled wheat, a bricked and furnished bakery. All this labor represents a vast increase in the wealth available to humankind over what unimproved nature provides.

But how is it possible to encourage people to labor beyond what their needs require or the durability of their produce allows? The answer lies in money, the exchange of the products of one's labor for some durable medium of nominal rather than real value. When someone settles and improves a piece of land, it is taken out of the common stock; however, in return for money, the settler gives back more value than he or she took away. Locke understood that this process, repeated across a wide range of industries, was an engine of unprecedented economic growth. For that reason, one of the most important ends of government was the protection of private property.

Locke's theory of property may be set comfortably in the context of a fundamental modern project: the conquest of nature. The natural world is not charitable to human beings. It provides little of what they need in advance of their labor. But the potential wealth that exists in nature is vast beyond calculation. Thus the aboriginal inhabitants of America who, Locke says, "are rich in land but poor in the comforts of life" exemplify the situation of human beings in the state of nature (Locke 1988, p. 296). By encouraging labor, a system of money and property rights will result in the most thorough cultivation of nature, for the comfort of all humankind.

It is clear that Locke's approach to all three topics elevates the products of human invention far above the natural materials from which they are fashioned. Complex ideas are more interesting and useful than simple ones. There is both more security and more freedom under government than out from under it. If a government acts to protect property rights, human beings will then make whatever they need to relieve the poverty into which the species was born. Nature will be reduced to a storehouse of useful materials.


KENNETH C. BLANCHARD JR.

SEE ALSO Hume, David; Liberalism; Libertarianism; Mill, John Stuart; Skepticism.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

Goldwin, Robert. (1987). "John Locke." In History of Political Philosophy, 3rd edition, ed. Leo Strauss and Joseph Cropsey. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 1st edition, 1963; 2nd edition, 1972. One of the most thorough essays on Locke's place within the larger context of modern thought.

Locke, John. (1975). An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, ed. Peter H. Nidditch. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Locke, John. (1988). Two Treatises of Government, ed. Peter Laslett. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. A very useful edition of Locke's most important political work, including a very extensive introductory essay on the historical context of the works.

Locke, John. (1997). Political Essays, ed. Mark Goldie. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. A thorough collection of Locke's major and minor essays, including his essays on the Law of Nature.

Mackie, John L. (1976). Problems from Locke. Oxford: Oxford University Press. A consideration of Locke's essay in light of contemporary science and analytical philosophy.

Walmsley, Jonathan. (2004). "Locke's Natural Philosophy in Draft A of the Essay." Journal of the History of Ideas 65(1): 15–37. A treatment of Locke's early views and of his collaboration with Sydenham.

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Locke, John (1632–1704)

LOCKE, JOHN
(16321704)

John Locke, English empiricist and moral and political philosopher, was born in Wrington, Somerset. Locke's father, an attorney and for a time a clerk to the justices of the peace in Somerset, fought on the parliamentary side in the first rebellion against Charles I. Locke was reared in a liberal Puritan family and early learned the virtues of temperance, simplicity, and aversion to display. Though his father was severe and remote from him in early youth, as Locke matured they became close friends.

In 1646 Locke entered Westminster School, where he studied the classics, Hebrew, and Arabic. Little time was given at Westminster to science and other studies, and its harsh discipline, rote learning, and excessive emphasis on grammar and languages were later condemned by Locke.

In 1652 Locke was elected to a studentship at Christ's Church, Oxford. He received his BA in 1656 and remained in residence for the master's degree. He was not happy with the study of Scholastic philosophy and managed to inform himself of many new areas of thought. As a master, Locke lectured in Latin and Greek and in 1664 was appointed censor of moral philosophy.

His father's death in 1661 left Locke with a small inheritance and some independence. During these years he became acquainted with many men who were to have a profound influence upon his life. From Robert Boyle, Locke learned about the new sciences and the corpuscular theory, as well as the experimental and empirical methods. Confronted with the choice of taking holy orders, continuing as a don, or entering another faculty, Locke chose medicine. Though well trained, he never practiced medicine, nor was he permitted to take the medical degree, which would have permitted him to teach the profession, until 1674, although in 1667 he began to collaborate with the great physician Thomas Sydenham.

In 1665 Locke was sent on a diplomatic mission accompanying Sir Walter Vane to the elector of Brandenburg at Cleves. He subsequently rejected a secretaryship under the earl of Sandwich, ambassador to Spain, and returned to Oxford. It was at this time that his interests began to turn seriously to philosophy. Descartes was the first philosopher whom Locke enjoyed reading and the first to show him the possibility of viable alternatives to the Schoolmen.

Locke had met Lord Ashley, earl of Shaftesbury, in 1662 at Oxford. They found much pleasure in each other's company, and the astute Shaftesbury quickly recognized Locke's talents. In 1667 he invited Locke to live with him in London as his personal physician. Later Locke served him well in many other capacities. Under Shaftesbury Locke found himself in the center of the political and practical affairs of the day. He assisted Shaftesbury in the framing of a constitution for the colony of Carolina. For a time he was secretary for the presentation of benefices and then secretary to the Council of Trade and Plantations. Locke was always at home in the world of practical affairs, and many of his philosophical attitudes reflect this interest. At the same time he became a fellow in the Royal Society, where he continued to be in touch with learning.

Locke, never robust in health, in 1675 went on a prolonged visit to France, where he made many friends and came into contact with the foremost minds of his day. His studies and criticisms of Descartes were deepened under the influence of various Gassendists.

In 1679 Locke returned to an England torn by intense political conflicts. Shaftesbury, who had become the leader of the parliamentary opposition to the Stuarts, alternated between political power and impotence. The close association with Shaftesbury brought Locke under suspicion; he was kept under surveillance. Shaftesbury was tried for treason in 1681, but acquitted. He subsequently fled England for Holland, where he died in 1683. Locke, at Oxford, uncertain of his position and fearing persecution, also fled England, arriving in Holland in September 1683. The king had demanded that Locke be deprived of his studentship at Oxford, and news of this demand caused Locke to prolong his stay. After the death of Charles II and the ascension of James II to the throne, the duke of Monmouth attempted a rebellion, which failed. Locke was denounced as a traitor, and the crown demanded of the Dutch that he be returned to England. No great effort was made to comply with the demand, and Locke remained in Holland.

During his stay in Holland, Locke again acquired a wide circle of distinguished friends and wrote extensively. He contributed an article as well as reviews to the Bibliothèque universelle of Jean Leclerc; these were his first published works. He wrote in Latin the Epistola de Tolerantia, which was published anonymously in 1689 and translated as the First Letter concerning Toleration. He also worked assiduously on An Essay concerning Human Understanding, which he had been writing off and on since 1671. In 1688 the Bibliothèque universelle published an abstract of the Essay.

These activities did not prevent him from being deeply engaged in politics. The plot to set William of Orange on the throne of England was well advanced in 1687, and Locke was, at the very least, advising William in some capacity. The revolution was accomplished in the fall of 1688, and in February 1689 Locke returned to England, escorting the princess of Orange, who later became Queen Mary.

In 1689 and 1690 Locke's two most important works, An Essay concerning Human Understanding and Two Treatises of Government, were published. From 1689 to 1691 Locke shuttled between London and Oates, the home of Sir Francis and Lady Masham, the daughter of Ralph Cudworth. He had declined an ambassadorial post only to accept a position as commissioner on the Board of Trade and Plantations. Apparently his practical wisdom was invaluable, for when he wished in 1697 to resign because of ill health, he was not permitted to do so. He remained until 1700, serving when he could, although his health was extremely poor.

In 1691 Locke made Oates his permanent residence at the invitation of Lady Masham. It was, for the aging Locke, a place of refuge and joy; there he received visits from Newton, Samuel Clarke, and others. These were productive years for Locke. Some Thoughts concerning Education appeared in 1693. The second edition of Essay was published in 1694. In the following year The Reasonableness of Christianit y was published anonymously. He answered criticism of it in A Vindication of the Reasonableness of Christianity (London, 1695) and in a second Vindication in 1697. From 1697 to 1699 Locke engaged in an epistolary controversy with Edward Stillingfleet, bishop of Worcester.

However, Locke's health steadily failed him. After 1700, when the fourth edition of Essay appeared, he remained almost constantly at Oates. He was engaged in editing Two Treatises of Government, for no edition which pleased him had yet appeared. In his last years he wrote extensive commentaries on the epistles of St. Paul, which were published posthumously. On October 28, 1704, while Lady Masham was reading the Psalms to him, Locke died. Lady Masham wrote of him, "His death was like his life, truly pious, yet natural, easy and unaffected."

character

The Lovelace Collection of Locke's personal papers in the Bodleian Library, Oxford, shows that Locke's character and personality were more complex than had been suspected. The great affection and respect which so many men and women had for him are testimony to his charm and wisdom. That he was modest, prudent, pious, witty, and eminently practical was long known. But he was also extremely secretive and apparently given to excessive suspicion and fears. When his lifelong friend, James Tyrrell, voiced his suspicion that Locke had written Two Treatises, Locke was evasive and would not admit the fact. When he suspected that Tyrrell was spreading the report that Locke was the author, Locke angrily demanded an explanation. At the same time, Locke showed great affection for many friends and a real fondness for children. In maturity he could not abide religious intolerance or suffer tyranny. He was passionately devoted to truth and strove constantly to state the truth as he saw it, but always with a caution that distrusted all dialectic, even his own, when it appeared to go beyond common sense.

influences on locke

Locke's philosophy is grounded in medieval thought, though he, like Descartes, turned away from it as far as possible. The Cambridge Platonists, notably Ralph Cudworth and Benjamin Whichcote, influenced him greatly with respect to religious tolerance, empirical inquiry, and the theory of knowledge. Locke was indebted to Richard Hooker in his political thought. Hobbes probably influenced him somewhat, though Locke was concerned not to be classed as a Hobbist. The two most important philosophical influences upon him were Descartes and Pierre Gassendi. From Descartes he learned much that is incorporated in Essay, and in Gassendi and the Gassendists he found support to challenge the doctrine of innate ideas and the radical rationalistic realism of Descartes. Gassendi helped to convince Locke both that knowledge begins in sensation and that intellect, or reason, is essential to the attainment of truth and knowledge.

An Essay concerning Human Understanding

Locke's position in the history of Western thought rests upon An Essay concerning Human Understanding and Two Treatises of Government. He spent long years working out the thought of each, and he carefully and lovingly revised and corrected them for subsequent editions. Locke wrote two drafts of his Essay in 1671, and in 1685 he wrote a third. The first edition, though dated 1690, appeared in late 1689. During the years between 1671 and 1689, Locke revised and reorganized many of his original concepts. In response to criticisms of the first edition of Essay, he introduced a number of changes in subsequent editions. This long period of gestation and Locke's subsequent modifications of his initial public statement disclose primarily the refinement and clarification of his philosophy by way of certain important additions, but never by a radical or fundamental departure from his basic position.

From the first appearance of An Essay concerning Human Understanding Locke was criticized for being inconsistent in his theory of knowledge, vague in the presentation and development of many of his ideas, and wanting in thoroughness in developing other ideas. But these criticisms have in no way diminished either the importance or the influence of Essay on subsequent thinkers. By no means the first of the British empiricists, Locke nonetheless gave empiricism its firmest roots in British soil, where it still proudly flourishes. It must be remembered that Locke was also a rationalist, though one of quite different orientation from such Continental thinkers as Descartes, Spinoza, and Malebranche. In Locke many strands of traditional thought are rewoven into a new fabric. Subsequent thinkers, notably Berkeley, Hume, and Kant, perhaps fashioned more coherent and consistent systems, but it is doubtful whether they were more adequate to what Locke might have called the plain facts.

Locke's tendency toward inconsistency can be seen in his definition of knowledge as "the perception of the connection and agreement, or disagreement and repugnancy, of any of our ideas" (Essay, IV.i.2). This is plainly incompatible with his later contention that we have intuitive knowledge of our own existence, demonstrative knowledge of God's existence, and sensitive knowledge of the existence of particular things. Nonetheless, Locke would not abandon his position for the sake of consistency alone. He was persuaded that common sense and the facts justified his conviction and that whatever faults there were in his position lay in the difficulty of stating a coherent theory of knowledge, not in the reality of things. If this made him an easy prey to a skillful dialectician, like Berkeley, it also left him closer to the common conviction of most of us when we think about anything other than epistemology. It is this viewpoint, almost unique in philosophy, that accounts for the abiding interest in Locke's thought and the great extent of his influence despite the shortcomings of his work.

purpose of an essay

In "Epistle to the Reader" Locke related that some friends meeting in his chamber became perplexed about certain difficulties that arose in their discourse about a subject (left unnamed). He proposed that before they could inquire further, "it was necessary to examine our own abilities and see what objects our understandings were, or were not, fitted to deal with." This discussion in 1670 or 1671 first started Locke on the inquiries that were to continue intermittently for twenty years. What Locke first set down for the next meeting is not known, unless it was Draft A (1671) of An Essay concerning Human Understanding. That the initial suggestion became the abiding purpose of Essay is clear from Locke's assertion that his purpose was "to inquire into the original, certainty, and extent of human knowledge, together with the grounds and degrees of belief, opinion, and assent" (I.i.2). At the same time he disavowed any intention to examine "the physical consideration of the mind, 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 no" (I.i.2).

Locke did not, in fact, offer any detailed or explicit accounts of these matters. He would have considered that a subject for natural philosophy. Nonetheless, he did, as indeed he had to, deal with the physical considerations of the mind, as well as all the other matters mentioned.

From the outset Locke was persuaded that our understanding and knowledge fall far short of all that exists; yet he was equally certain that men have a capacity for knowledge sufficient for their purposes and matters enough to inquire into. These convictions, pragmatic and utilitarian, set Locke apart from most of the other major philosophers of the seventeenth century, who, impressed by the new developments in mathematics and the new physical sciences, boldly plunged ahead with a rationalistic realism in the belief that their new methods would enable them in large measure to grasp reality. Locke saw that the very advances made in the new sciences put reality farther from the reach of the human mind. This did not make Locke a nominalist or an idealist in any modern sense; rather, he persistently affirmed the real objective existence of things or substances. What he denied was that the human understanding could know with certainty the real essences of substances. If "ideas" stand between reality and the understanding, it is to link them, even if only under the form of appearances. It is not to obliterate any connection between them or to justify a negation of substanceGod, mind, or matter.

ideas

The key term in Locke's Essay is "idea," which he defined as " whatsoever is the object of the understanding when a man thinks, whatever is meant by phantasm, notion, species, or whatever it is which the mind can be employed about in thinking" (I.i.8). Any object of awareness or of consciousness must be an idea. But then how can we have any knowledge of anything other than ideas and their relationships? It is true that Locke spoke of ideas as the "materials of knowledge." Yet knowledge itself, when possessed and made the object of the mind, must be an idea. For example, to perceive that A is equal to B is to perceive the agreement between A and B. This agreement as perceived must be an idea, or it cannot be an object of the mind when it thinks. Despite this difficulty Locke clung tenaciously to his term "idea" in his disputes with Stillingfleet. He actually intended something other than he stated, namely, that knowledge is an operation, an activity of the mind, not initially one of its objects. It would have served his purpose better had he spoken of "knowing" rather than of "knowledge," even though this would not have entirely removed the difficulty, since to set the mind at a distance where we may look at it, in order to know what knowledge is, is still to have an idea.

Locke, however, went beyond ideas to assume the real existence of things, substances, actions, processes, and operations. Ideas, except when they are the free constructs of the mind itself, signify and represent, however imperfectly, real existences and events. So deep was Locke's conviction on this point that no argument could shake him, although he constantly tried to remove the difficulties implicit in his definitions of "ideas" and "knowledge." This conviction is evident in the first two books of Essay, in which Locke inquired into the origin of our ideas.

no innate ideas

It was Locke's central thesis, developed extensively in Book II of Essay, that we get all our ideas from experience. The whole of the first book is given to an overlong criticism, at times not germane to the subject, of the doctrine that we have innate ideas and innate knowledge.

Locke contended that there are no innate principles stamped upon the mind of man and brought into the world by the soul. In the first place, the argument that people have generally agreed that there are innate ideas, even if true, would not demonstrate the innateness of ideas. Moreover, there are no principles to which all give assent, since principles such as "Whatever is, is" and "It is impossible for the same thing to be and not to be" are not known to children, idiots, and a great part of mankind, who never heard or thought of them. Locke here assumed that innateness was equivalent to conscious perceiving and argued that to be in the mind is to be perceived or to be readily recalled to perception. Locke allowed that there is a capacity in us to know several truths but contended that this lent no support to the argument that they are innate.

To argue that all men know and assent to certain truths when they come to the use of reason proves nothing, since they will also come to know many truths that are not innate. It would appear, then, that all truth is either innate or adventitious. Again, why should the use of reason be necessary to discover truths already innately in the mind? Locke allowed that the knowledge of some truths is in the mind very early, but observation shows such truths are about particular ideas furnished by the senses; for example, a child knows the difference between the ideas of sweet and bitter before it can speak and before it knows abstract ideas. Even assent at first hearing is no proof of innateness, for many truths not innate will be assented to as soon as understood.

On the contrary, the senses first furnish us with particular ideas, which the mind by degrees becomes familiar with, remembers, and names. The mind subsequently abstracts from these particular ideas and gives names to general ideas. Thus, general ideas, general words, and the use of reason grow together, and assent to the truth of propositions depends on having clear and distinct ideas of the meaning of terms. Locke held it to be evident that particular propositions are known before the more universal and with as much certainty.

We have natural faculties or capacities to think and to reason. This is not, however, the same thing as having innate ideas, for if anyone means by innate ideas nothing but this natural capacity, he uses terms, according to Locke, in a manner plainly contrary to common usage.

In a similar fashion, Locke argued that we have no innate moral or practical principles, for there is no universal agreement about such principles; great varieties of human vice have been at one time or place considered virtues. We all have a desire for happiness and an aversion to misery, but these inclinations give us no knowledge or truth. Locke was persuaded that there are eternal principles of morality, which men may come to know through the use of reason about experience. This, however, is far from proving them innate.

In the third chapter of Book I Locke argued that no principles can be innate unless the ideas contained in them are innate, that is, unless men can be conscious of them. Impossibility and identity are hardly innate, yet without them we cannot understand the supposedly innate principle of identity, that it is impossible for the same thing both to be and not be. Similarly, the proposition that God is to be worshipped cannot be innate, for the notion of God is so diverse that men have great difficulty agreeing on it, while some men have no conception of God whatsoever.

Locke's target

Who was Locke criticizing in his long and repetitious attack on the doctrine of innate ideas? Was the position he denounced held by anyone in the form in which he presented the theory? Why did he examine the question at such length?

Since Essay was first published tradition has held that Locke's target was Descartes and the Cartesians. Certainly Leibniz thought so, as did others after him. In the late nineteenth century, critics pointed to Locke's own rationalism and noted that his recognition of men's natural faculties and innate powers to think and reason is not far from the position of Descartes, who wrote, "Innate ideas proceed from the capacity of thought itself," and "I never wrote or concluded that the mind required innate ideas which were in some sort different from its faculty of thinking." Various other possible objects of Locke's attacks were suggested, the Cambridge Platonists, certain groups in the universities, and various clergymen. Recently R. I. Aaron has argued persuasively that the older tradition, that Descartes, the Cartesians, and certain English thinkers were the targets of Locke's attack, is the correct one and that Locke was not simply striking at a straw man of his own making.

Reasons for attacking innate ideas

Locke suggested that the doctrine of innate ideas lends itself to a certain authoritarianism and encourages laziness of thought, so that the foundations of knowledge are not likely to be examined. The expression "innate ideas" is an unfortunate one and admittedly extremely vague. It carries with it the suggestion that certain ideas and knowledge are, in Locke's sense, imprinted on the mind and are in no way dependent on experience. Certainly there are passages in Descartes which strongly suggest that certain ideas are innately in the mind, and more than a few thinkers took this to be Descartes's meaning. Furthermore, Locke wished to prepare the ground for his own thesis that all ideas and all knowledge are acquired. If he overemphasized the crude sense of the theory of innate ideas, he also showed that even the refined doctrine is unnecessary in accounting for knowledge.

There is another point that Locke discussed later in Essay. Descartes asserted that the essence of the mind is to think. To Locke this meant that the mind could not both be and not think. He argued that the mind does not think always and that its real essence cannot be thinking. If the mind thinks always, either some ideas must be innate or the mind comes into being only after it has been furnished with ideas by experience. Neither alternative was acceptable to Locke.

source of ideas

Locke, in his positive thesis in Book II, valiantly and sometimes awkwardly endeavored to show that every idea we have is ultimately derived from experience, either from sensation or reflection. Locke began by asserting that a man is conscious of two things, the fact "that he thinks" and "the ideas" in the mind about which he thinks. Locke's initial concern was with the question of how a man comes by his ideas; and he made an assumption in terms of several similes. "Let us then suppose the mind to be, as we say, white paper, void of all characters, without any ideas. How comes it to be furnished? Whence has it all the materials of reason and knowledge?" (II.i.2). Locke replied to his own questions that we get all our ideas from experience, the two fountainheads of which are sensation and reflection. Our senses are affected by external objects (bodies) and afford us ideas, such as yellow, white, heat, cold, soft, hard, bitter, and sweet. Perceiving the operations of our own minds when we reflect, we are furnished with ideas of perception, thinking, doubting, believing, reasoning, knowing, and willing.

The ideas that are furnished by experience are the materials of reason and knowledge. These materials are either the immediate objects of sense, such as color, or the unexamined but direct awareness of such acts as doubting or knowing. Locke's meaning becomes explicitly clear in his account of solidity. He held that we get the idea of solidity by touch. "That which hinders the approach of two bodies, when they are moving one towards another, I call solidity" (II.iv.1). He sharply distinguished this sense from the purely mathematical use of the term. Impenetrability is an acceptable alternative name for solidity. It is clearly distinct from space and hardness. After an extensive discussion Locke stated, "If anyone asks me what this solidity is, I send him to his senses to inform him. Let him put a flint or a football between his hands and then endeavour to join them, and he will know" (II.iv.6). All philosophical and scientific discourse about solidity, however complex and sophisticated it may be, must ultimately refer back to that from which it began, namely the experience or sensation we have when we put something such as a flint or a football between our hands. Similarly, we cannot by discourse give a blind man the idea of color or make known what pain is to one who never felt it. All knowledge about the physics of light and color or sound refers back to what we perceive when we see and hear. It is in this sense, then, that we get all our ideas from sensation and reflection. Locke nowhere, however, suggested that we can or should stop there. Once the mind is furnished with ideas, it may perform various operations with them.

ideas and the real world

Throughout the first book of Essay Locke assumed the real existence of an external physical world and the substantial unity of a man in body and mind. He undoubtedly accepted the thesis that the external physical world is corpuscular and acts by bodies in motion that possess only those qualities which Locke called primary. Locke spoke of secondary qualities as powers in bodies to produce in our minds ideas that are signs of these powers but that in no way resemble the powers that produce them. Often he suggested that if we had the means of observing the minute motions of the particles making up gross bodies, we might have a clearer notion of what we mean when we call secondary qualities powers. Locke's position here is physical realism. It is not simply a manner of speaking. The ideas we have do represent real things outside of us and do constitute the links by which we know something of the external physical world.

Identity

Among the bodies that exist are those of plants, animals, and men. Existence itself constitutes the principle of individuation. Identity is not applied in the same way to a mass of matter and a living body. The identity of an oak lies in the organization of its parts, which partake of one common life. So it is with animals. Again, "the identity of the same man consists: viz. in nothing but a participation of the same continued life, by constantly fleeting particles of matter, in succession vitally united to the same organized body" (II.xxvii.6).

Origin of sensation

With these controlling hypotheses in Essay in view, we may return to Locke's invitation to consider the mind as a blank sheet of paper without any ideas. Is a mind without ideas anything but a bare capacity to receive ideas? If we ask what a man is without ideas, we can say he is an organized body existing in a world of other bodies and interacting with them. Experience is a matter of contact of the organized human body with other bodies before it is a matter of sensation or perception. Not every body impinging on our body gives rise to sensation; if it does not, we take no notice of it. However, if some external bodies strike our senses and produce the appropriate motions therein, then our senses convey into the mind several distinct perceptions. How this takes place Locke avoided considering, but that it takes place he was certain; a man, he asserted, first begins to think "when he first has any sensation" (II.i.23).

simple and complex ideas

Locke proceeded to distinguish between simple and complex ideas. A simple idea is "nothing but one uniform appearance or conception in the mind, and is not distinguishable into different ideas" (II.ii.1). A color seen, a sound heard, warmth felt, an odor smelled, are all simple ideas of sense. Once it is furnished with a number of simple ideas, the mind has the power to repeat, compare, and unite them into an almost infinite variety of combinations; but it is utterly incapable of inventing or framing a new simple idea. Thus, with respect to simple ideas the mind is mostly passive; they are simply given in experience. The ideas are given not in isolation from each other but in combinations, as when we simultaneously feel the warmth and softness of wax or the coldness and hardness of ice; nevertheless, simple ideas are distinct from each other in that the mind may mark off each from the other, however united the qualities may be in the things that cause the simple ideas in the mind. Moreover, only those qualities in things that produce ideas in us can ever be imagined at all. Thus, our knowledge of existence is limited by the ideas furnished by experience. Had we one sense less or more than we now do, our experience and knowledge would be respectively decreased or increased.

We have certain ideas, such as color or odor, from one sense only; others, like figure and number, from more than one sense. Reflection alone provides us with experience of thinking and willing. Other ideas, such as pleasure, pain, power, existence, and unity, we have from both sensation and reflection.

primary and secondary qualities

Locke made a second basic distinctionbetween primary and secondary qualities. In doing so he clearly went beyond ideas. He wrote, "Whatsoever the mind perceives in itself, or is the immediate object of perception, thought, or understanding, that I call idea; and the power to produce any idea in our mind, I call quality of the subject wherein that power is" (II.viii.8). Primary qualities, he argued, are utterly inseparable from body. They are known to be primary because sense constantly finds them there if body can be perceived at all, and the mind by critical reflection finds them inseparable from every particle of matter. Solidity, extension, figure, and mobility are all primary qualities. Our ideas of these qualities resemble the qualities themselves, and these qualities really exist in body, whether or not they are perceived. Berkeley was to show that to speak of resemblance supposes that a comparison, an observation, can be made. Locke was aware of the difficulty, as is shown in his Examination of Malebranche. Apparently he believed it was the only explanation plausible in spite of its difficulties.

Secondary qualities, in Locke's terms, were nothing but powers to produce various sensations. Bodies do so by the action of their bulk, figure, and texture, and by the motion of their insensible parts on our senses. Somehow they produce in us such ideas as color, odor, sound, warmth, and smell. These ideas in no way resemble the qualities of bodies themselves. They are but signs of events in real bodies. Locke also frequently called these ideas secondary qualities. He would have been clearer had he called them sensory ideas of secondary qualities, preserving the distinction between qualities as attributes of a subject and ideas as objects in the mind. A third class of qualities (sometimes called tertiary) is the power of a body to produce a change in another body, for example, the power of the sun to melt wax.

Nowhere is Locke's physical realism more evident than in his distinction between primary and secondary qualities. Whatever epistemological difficulties the distinction might entail, Locke was persuaded that the new physics required it. Indeed, the distinction was made by Boyle, Descartes, Galileo, and others before him and was thoroughly familiar in his day. Admittedly there is a problem in the assertion that a certain motion in body produces in us the idea of a particular color. Nevertheless, Locke was persuaded that it was so. In such difficult cases Locke fell back upon the omnipotence and wisdom of God and the fact that our knowledge is suited to our purpose.

ideas of reflection

Locke observed that perception is the first faculty of the mind and without it we know nothing else. Hence, the idea of perception is the first and simplest idea we have from reflection. What perception is, is best discovered by observing what we do when we see, hear, or think. Locke added that judgment may alter the interpretation we make of the ideas we receive from sensation. Thus, if a man born blind gains his sight, he must learn to distinguish between a sphere and a cube visually, though he can do so readily by touch. By habit the ideas of sensation are gradually integrated into the unified experience of complex ideas, and by judgment we come to expect things that look a certain way to also feel or smell a certain way. It is worth noting that Locke was persuaded that animals have perception and are not, as Descartes held, mere automatons.

Memory and contemplation

The second faculty of the mind that Locke held indispensable to knowledge is the retention manifested in both contemplation and memory. Contemplation consists in holding an idea before the mind for some time. Memory, however, gave Locke some difficulties. He asserted that "our ideas being nothing but actual perceptions in the mindthis laying up of our ideas in the repository of the memory signifies no more but this: that the mind has a power in many cases to revive perceptions which it has once had, with this additional perception annexed to them, that it has had them before" (II.x.2). The inadequacy of this statement is at once evident. It proposes no more than a kind of subjective conviction that may often be in error. Locke's analysis of memory was more psychological than philosophical. He passed over the consideration of how memory is possible at all and the criteria by which a true memory may be distinguished from a false memory. He did say, however, that attention, repetition, pleasure, and pain aid memory and are the conditions under which memory is strengthened or weakened. Again he asserted that animals have memory.

Other ideas of reflection

Other faculties of the mind are discerning and distinguishing one idea from another, comparing and compounding, naming, and abstracting. Locke considered each point also in respect to animals, holding, for example, that animals compare and compound ideas only to a slight extent and do not abstract ideas at all. At the conclusion of this chapter (II.xi.15) Locke asserted that he thought he had given a "true history of the first beginnings of human knowledge."

complex ideas

Locke next considered complex ideas. Just as the mind observes that several combinations of simple ideas are found together, so too, it can by its own action voluntarily join several simple ideas together into one complex idea. There are three categories of complex ideasmodes, substances, and relations. Modes are dependencies or affections of substances. Simple modes are variations or different combinations of one simple idea, whereas in mixed modes several distinct ideas are joined to make a complex idea. Ideas of substances represent distinct particular things subsisting in themselves. Complex ideas of relation consist in comparing one idea with another.

This classification is not entirely satisfactory because ideas of modes invariably entail relations in the broadest sense. Locke seems to have been closer to Aristotle than to modern usage in his employment of the term "relation." Under modes Locke included space, duration and time, number, infinity, motion, sense qualities, thinking, pleasure and pain, power, and certain mixed modes. Under substance he placed the idea of substance in general, the ideas of particular substances, and collective ideas of substances. In the category of relation, he considered a number of ideas, including cause and effect, relations of place and time, identity and diversity, and others that he classified as proportional, natural, instituted, and moral.

The greater number of these concepts have in other philosophies been credited with some a priori and extraempirical character. They are not direct objects of sensory experience; and they appear to have a certainty not found in the mere coexistence of sensory ideas. They are more abstract and universal than the simple ideas of sensation and reflection. Locke's broad use of the term "ideas" tends to confuse and obscure the distinction between sensory percept and concept. Nevertheless, Locke undertook to show how the mind actively constructs these complex ideas, abstract and conceptual though they may be, out of the materials of knowledge, the simple ideas of sensation and reflection. In this undertaking Locke's rationalism was most evident, for he held that while the mind constructs complex ideas, it cannot do so arbitrarily. In this sense, Locke could claim for them an objective reality.

The mode of space

Examination here will be limited to only those complex ideas that are most important and difficult. Among modes, only space, duration, number, thinking, and power will be considered. Locke contended that the modifications of a simple idea are as much distinct ideas as any two ideas can be. Space in its first manifestation is a simple idea, since in seeing and touching we immediately perceive a distance between bodies and the parts of bodies. Though the idea of space constantly accompanies other sensory ideas, it is distinguishable from them. All our modes of the idea of space derive from the initial sensory experience. Thus space considered as length is called distance, considered three-dimensionally is capacity, considered in any manner is termed extension. Each different distance, especially when measured by stated lengths, is a distinct idea, including the idea of immensity, which consists in adding distance to distance without ever reaching a terminus. So too, figure allows an endless variety of modifications of the simple idea of space. Place is distance considered relative to some particular bodies or frame of reference.

Locke disagreed with Descartes's assertion that extension is the essence of matter, although he agreed that we cannot conceive of a body that is not extended. But a body has solidity, and solidity is distinct from the notion of space; for the parts of space are inseparable in thought and in actuality and are immovable, whereas a solid body may move and its parts are separable. Descartes's argument that the physical universe is a plenum was dismissed by Locke as unsound, for there is no contradiction in the conception of a vacuum. If body is not infinite, we can conceive of reaching out beyond the physical limits of the universe to a place unoccupied by matter. The idea of pure space is necessarily infinite, for we can conceive of no limit or terminus to it. Locke professed not to know whether space was a substance or an accident and offered to answer the question when the ideas of substance and accident were clarified. He was more confident of the idea of pure space than he was of the traditional philosophical categories. Locke placed a great load on the simple idea of space, and by the activity of his reason he went beyond the bounds of possible experience.

Duration and time

The idea of duration is broader than that of time. If we consider the train of ideas that passes through our minds, we observe that one idea constantly succeeds another, and so we come by the idea of succession. By reflection we acquire the idea of duration, which we may then apply to motion and sensory ideas. Where there is no perception of the succession of ideas in our minds, there is no sense of time. Locke insisted that motion does not furnish us with the idea of duration, and he directly opposed Aristotle's definition that "time is the measure of motion with respect to before and after."

Once we have the idea of duration, we need a measure of common duration. Time is the consideration of duration marked by certain measures such as minutes, hours, and days. The most convenient measures of time must be capable of division into equal portions of constantly repeated periods. We cannot be certain of the constancy of motions or of the time spans they measure. Locke was concerned with liberating time from motion. Consequently, he argued that we must consider duration itself as "going on in one constant, equal, uniform course; but none of the measures of it which we make use of can be known to do so" (II.xiv.21). Once time is liberated from motion, Locke held, we can conceive of infinite duration even beyond creation. Thus we can expand by endless addition the idea of duration to come to the notion of eternity.

Were it not for the implicit realism of Locke's arguments, it would be possible to agree with those scholars who have seen in his arguments about duration and expansion a vague groping for a position somewhat similar to Kant's a priori aesthetic. For both men, space becomes the framework of body, and duration or time the structure of the mind, or the inner sense.

Number

The idea of unity is everywhere suggested to the mind, and no idea is more simple. By repeating it we come to the complex modes of number. Once we have learned to perform this operation, we cannot stop short of the idea of infinity. Locke regarded both finite and infinite as modes of quantity. Because we are able to apply the idea of number to space and time, we are capable of conceiving of them as infinite. The idea of infinity is essentially negative, since we come to it by enlarging our ideas of number as much as we please and discover that there is no reason ever to stop. We may know that number, space, and duration are infinite, but we cannot positively know infinity itself. Locke insisted that however remote from the simple ideas of sensation and reflection these ideas may be, they have their origin in those simple ideas.

The modes of thinking

Locke gave only casual and formal attention to the modes of thinking, such as sensation, remembrance, recollection, contemplation, attention, dreaming, reasoning, judging, willing, and knowing. Equally superficial was his consideration of modes of pleasure and pain, which consisted of little more than definitions of various emotions.

Power

The chapter on power is the longest in Essay, and Locke felt obliged to rewrite portions of it time and again, for each new edition. It is evident that power is not perceived as such. Locke observed that the mind, taking note of the changes and sequences of our ideas and "concluding from what it has so constantly observed to have been, that the like changes will for the future be made in the same things, by like agents, and by the like ways comes by that idea which we call power" (II.xxi.1). From this it hardly seems that the idea of power is a simple idea, unless Locke meant no more than that the idea of power is only the observation of the regular order and connection of our ideas. But Locke wrote that "since whatever change is observed, the mind must collect a power somewhere able to make that change, as well as a possibility in the thing itself to receive it" (II.xxi.4). Here the idea of power is a necessary idea of reason, grounded in certain other experiences. Locke never made clear this distinction. He admitted that the idea of power included some kind of relation but insisted that it was a simple idea.

Power is both passive and active. Whether or not matter has any active power, Locke pointed out, we have our idea of active power from the operations of the mind itself. We find by direct observation that we have the power to begin, continue, or stop certain actions of our minds and motions of our bodies. This power we call will, and the actual exercise of this power, volition, or willing. Action is voluntary or involuntary insofar as it is or is not consequent upon the order or command of the mind.

Locke proceeded to explore the ideas of will, desire, and freedom in terms of the idea of power. "The idea of liberty is the idea of a power in any agent to do or forbear any particular action, according to the determination or thought of the mind, whereby either of them is preferred to the other" (II.xxi.8). Where this power is absent, a man is under necessity. Locke consequently dismissed as unintelligible the question of whether or not the will is free. The only intelligible question is whether or not a man is free. Freedom is one power of an agent and will is another; one power cannot be the power of another. "As far as this power reaches, of acting or not acting, by the determination of his own thought preferring either, so far is a man free" (II.xxi.21). Freedom then, for Locke, was the absence of constraint. If we distinguish will from desire, we cannot make the mistake of thinking the will is free.

What then determines the will with respect to action is some uneasiness in a man that may be called the uneasiness of desire. Good and evil work on the mind but do not determine the will to particular actions. The only thing that can overcome the uneasiness of one desire is the greater uneasiness of another. The removal of uneasiness is the first and necessary step to happiness. Since it is present desire that moves the will to action, good and evil contemplated and known in the mind can move us to action only when that knowledge is accompanied by a greater uneasiness than any other. Since we have many desires and can have knowledge of desired good in the future as well as feared evil, we can suspend the pursuit of any desire until we have judged it. Thus, government of our passions is possible whenever there is a greater uneasiness in not doing so. This power is the ground on which we hold men responsible for their actions. Good and bad are nothing but pleasure or pain, present or future. Error in choice is usually due to the greater strength of present pleasure or pain in comparison with future pleasure and pain. A true knowledge of what contributes to our happiness can influence a choice only when to deviate from that choice would give greater uneasiness than would any other action. Thus it is possible to change the pleasantness and unpleasantness of various actions by consideration, practice, application, and custom.

Locke's conception of power, like his ideas of cause and effect, was inadequate and vague. It was both a simple idea and a complex one; it was the notion of regular sequence and that of efficacious cause; and it was at once given and a priori. The rational and empirical elements in Locke were at war here. Locke was at his best in showing how the word "power" is commonly used. His analysis of the will and freedom was likewise involved in difficulties. The will is not free and thus man's actions are determined; but at the same time we can suspend the execution of any desire by our judgment. Locke was aware of these difficulties, but he saw no satisfactory alternative.

Mixed modes

Mixed modes are made by the mind and are exemplified by drunkenness, a lie, obligation, sacrilege, or murder. To a great degree we get these ideas by the explanation of the words that stand for them.

substance

Of all the ideas considered by Locke none gave him more difficulty than that of substance, and nowhere was his empiricism more in conflict with his rationalism. The diverse trends of Locke's thought concerning substance and the problems he raised prepared the ground for Berkeley, Hume, Kant, and many others who struggled with the same questions. At every opportunity throughout Essay he returned to consider particular substances and the general idea of substance. Locke held that we are conversant only with particular substances through experience; yet his rationalism and realism would not permit him to abandon the general idea of substance.

The mind is furnished with many simple ideas by the senses, and it observes by reflection that certain of them are constantly together. It then presumes that these belong to one thing and for convenience gives them one name. In this way the mind arrives at the complex idea of particular substances, such as gold, which we observe to be yellow and malleable, to dissolve in aqua regia, to melt, and not to be used up in fire. A substance so defined gives us only a nominal definition.

Locke added that "not imagining how these simple ideas can subsist by themselves, we accustom ourselves to suppose some substratum wherein they do subsist, and from which they do result; which therefore we call substance" (II.xxiii.1). This idea of a substratum is extremely vague, and Locke called it a "something we know not what." Our ideas do not reach, and we cannot have, a knowledge of the real essence of substances. Nonetheless, Locke continued to believe that real essences do exist, although our knowledge comes short of them.

Our knowledge of corporeal substances consists of ideas of the primary and secondary qualities perceived by the senses and of the powers we observe in them to affect or be affected by other things. We have as clear an idea of spirit as of body, but we are not capable of knowing the real essence of either. Locke observed that we know as little of how the parts of a body cohere as of how our spirits perceive ideas or move our bodies, since we know nothing of either except our simple ideas of them. Locke even suggested that God could if he wished, as far as we know, add to matter the power to think, just as easily as he could add to matter a separate substance with the power to think.

Even our idea of God is based on simple ideas that are enlarged with the idea of infinity. God's infinite essence is unknown to us. We can only know that he exists.

relations

The mind can consider any idea as it stands in relation to any other; and thus we come by ideas of relation, such as father, whiter, older. Frequently, the lack of a correlative term leads us to mistake a relative term for an absolute one. Locke distinguished the relation from the things related and appears to have made all relations external. Indeed, he held that many ideas of relation are clearer than ideas of substances; for example, the idea of brothers is clearer than the perfect idea of man.

Though there are many ideas and words signifying relations, they all terminate in simple ideas. There is a difficulty here. If the idea of relation is not a simple idea or a combination of simple ideas, then it is distinct from them. Like the general idea of substance, it is a concept derived from reason. No doubt the mind is capable of comparing the relation of one idea with another, but our perception of this operation must have for its object either a simple idea or the operation itself. On this point Locke was obscure and evasive and avoided the difficulties by the vague assertion that all relations terminate in simple ideas.

Causation

The relation to which Locke first turned was cause and effect. His discussion was inadequate and marked by the duality found in his consideration of other ideas. We observe the order and connection of our ideas and the coming into existence of things and qualities. In pointing this out Locke was on strictly empirical grounds. When, however, he defined cause as "that which produces any simple or complex idea," and "that which is produced, effect" (II.xxvi.1), he went beyond experience and rested his argument on reason. Locke undoubtedly saw the difficulties of his position. He was concerned, on the one hand, to show how we have the ideas of cause and effect from experience. On the other hand, he was not satisfied with a mere sequence theory. The difficulty arose, as it did with power and substance, because he was persuaded that there is a reality beyond the ideas manifest to us. It is a reality, however, about which he could say little in terms of his representationalism.

Identity and diversity

Under relation Locke also examined identity and diversity, by which he meant the relation of a thing to itself, particularly with respect to different times and places. As was stated above, the identity of a plant, an animal, or a man consists in a participation in the same continued life. To this Locke added an examination of personal identity. He argued that personal identity is consciousness of being the same thinking self at different times and places. Locke also discussed other relations, such as proportional, natural, instituted, and moral, which are not essential to the main argument of Essay and which will, therefore, not be discussed here.

The remaining chapters of Book II of Essay are devoted to "Clear and Obscure, Distinct and Confused Ideas," "Real and Fantastical Ideas," "Adequate and Inadequate Ideas," "True and False Ideas," and "The Association of Ideas." All of them have merit in clarifying other parts of Essay but add little that is new and not discussed elsewhere. Consequently, they will be passed over.

language

At the end of Book II of Essay Locke related that he had originally intended to pass on to a consideration of knowledge. He found, however, such a close connection between words and ideas, particularly between abstract ideas and general words, that he had first to examine the "nature, use, and signification" of language, since all knowledge consists of propositions. Book III, therefore, was incorporated into Essay.

The merits of Book III are the subject of some controversy. Most scholars have dismissed it as unimportant and confused. Some, such as Aaron, see many merits in it despite its manifest inadequacies.

The primary functions of language are to communicate with our fellow men, to make signs for ourselves of internal conceptions, and to stand as marks for ideas. Language is most useful when general names stand for general ideas and operations of the mind. Since all except proper names are general, a consideration of what kinds of things words stand for is in order. "Words, in their primary' or immediate signification, stand for nothing but the ideas in the mind of him that uses them" (III.ii.2). We suppose they stand for the same ideas in the minds of others. Words stand for things only indirectly. General words stand for general ideas, which become general by separation from other ideas and from particular circumstances. This process Locke called abstraction.

Definition

Definition by genus and differentia is merely a convenience by which we avoid enumerating various simple ideas for which the genus stands. (In this, Locke prepared the way for descriptive definition, which makes no pretense of defining the real essence of things.) It follows that general or universal ideas are made by the understanding for its own use. Thus the essences of so-called species are nothing but abstract ideas. Locke asserted that every distinct abstract idea is a distinct essence. This must not be taken in a Platonic sense, for it is the mind itself that makes these abstract ideas. If essences are distinguished into nominal and real, then with respect to simple ideas and modes there is no difference between nominal and real essence. In substances, they are decidedly different, in that the real essence of substance is unknowable to us.

Names

Locke asserted that the names of simple ideas are not definable. One wonders, Is blue a general idea? If so, what is this blue as against that blue? What is separated out? What retained? Locke never examined these questions, with the result that his conception of abstraction is vague and vacillating. Locke gave several distinct meanings to such terms as "general ideas" and "universal ideas," shifting from one meaning to another and never clarifying them.

Complex ideas consisting of several simple ideas are definable and intelligible provided one has experience of the simple ideas that compose them. Without experience how can a blind man understand the definition of a rainbow?

Simple ideas are "perfectly taken from the existence of things and are not arbitrary at all" (III.iv.17). Ideas of substances refer to a pattern with some latitude, whereas ideas of mixed modes are absolutely arbitrary and refer to no real existence. They are not, however, made at random or without reason. It is the name that ties these ideas together, and each such idea is its own prototype.

Since names for substances stand for complex ideas perceived regularly to go together and supposed to belong to one thing, we necessarily come short of the real essences, if there are any. One may use the word "gold" to signify the coexistence of several ideas. One man may use the term to signify the complex idea of A and B and C. Another man of more experience may add D, or add D and leave out A. Thus, these essences are of our own making without being entirely arbitrary. In any case, the boundaries of the species of substances are drawn by men.

Connective words

In a brief chapter, "Of Particles," Locke pointed out that we need words signifying the connections that the mind makes between ideas or propositions. These show what connection, restriction, distinction, opposition, or emphasis is given to the parts of discourse. These words signify, not ideas, but an action of the mind. Again a difficulty arises. If "is" and "is not" stand for the mind's act of affirming or denying, then either the mind directly apprehends its own actions in some way or we do have ideas of affirmation or denial. If we do have ideas of the mind's acts, then these words ought to signify the ideas of these acts; if we do not have ideas that these words signify, then either we do not apprehend them or something besides ideas is the object of the mind when it thinks. The remainder of Book III concerns Locke's thoughts on the imperfection of words, the abuse of words, and his suggested remedies for these imperfections and abuses.

knowledge

The first three books of Essay are largely a preparation for the fourth. Many scholars see a fundamental cleavage between Book II and Book IV. Yet Locke saw no conflict between the two books, and whatever split existed in Locke's thought runs throughout Essay, as J. W. Yolton and others have pointed out. An effort can be made to reconcile Locke's empiricism and his rationalism, his grounding of all ideas and knowledge in experience and his going beyond experience to the existence of things.

Many of Locke's difficulties stem from his definition of "idea." It is so broad that anything perceived or known must be an idea. But Locke showed, in Books I and II, that we get all our ideas from experience, not in order to claim that nothing exists except ideas, but to show that there is an alternative to the theory of innate ideas. For Locke, experience is initially a contact of bodies and subsequently a reflection of the mind. He never doubted the existence of an external physical world, the inner workings of which are unknown to us.

Sources of knowledge

There are two sources of knowledgesensation and reflection. The ideas we have from reflection are in some important ways quite different from those we have from sensation. In Book II Locke asserted that the mind "turns its view inward upon itself and observes its own actions about those ideas it has (and) takes from thence other ideas" (II.vi.1). The important point here is that in reflection the mind observes its own action. It is true that Locke spoke of modes of the simple ideas of reflection, such as remembering, discerning, reasoning, and judging. Nonetheless, if the mind does observe its own action, then something more than ideas are the object of the mind in reflection, or else ideas of reflection are somehow importantly different from the ideas of sensation. This point will show up in a consideration of Locke's theory of knowledge.

Propositions

Locke defined knowledge as "the perception of the connection and agreement, or disagreement and repugnancy, of any of our ideas" (IV.i.2). This agreement or disagreement is in respect to four types: identity and diversity, relation, coexistence or necessary connection, and real existence. Perceiving agreement or disagreement is quite different from just barely perceiving the ideas that are said to agree or disagree. Strictly speaking, this perception must be a distinct idea of either agreement or disagreement. Yet this was not Locke's meaning. Where there is knowledge, there is judgment, since there can be no knowledge without a proposition, mental or verbal. Locke defined truth as "the joining or separating of signs, as the things signified by them do agree or disagree one with another" (IV.v.2). There are two sorts of propositions: mental, "wherein the ideas in our understandings are, without the use of words, put together or separated by the mind perceiving or judging of their agreement or disagreement" (IV.v.5); and verbal, which stand for mental propositions.

Judgments

In this view, ideas are the materials of knowledge, the terms of mental propositions. They are, insofar as they are given in sensation and reflection, the subject matter of reflection. If perception of agreement or disagreement in identity and diversity is the first act of the mind, then that act is a judgment. If we infallibly know, as soon as we have it in our minds, that the idea of white is identical with itself and different from that of red, and that the idea of round is identical with itself and different from that of square, we must distinguish between the bare having of these ideas and the knowledge of their identity and diversity. The knowledge of their identity and diversity is a judgment. It is reflective, and in it the mind perceives its own action or operation. There can be no distinction between the judgment and the idea of it. This is perhaps Locke's meaning, which is unfortunately obscured by his broad use of the term "idea." This perception of its own action is quite distinct from the abstract idea of the power of judgment. We may be uncertain as to how the mind makes judgments, what determines it to judge, or in what kind of a substance this power inheres, but we may be sure that in the actual making of a true judgment the mind perceives its own act. This position may be beset with difficulties, but it makes some sense out of Locke's definition of knowledge.

Degrees of knowledge

Locke recognized two degrees of knowledge, in the strict sense of the termintuition and demonstration. Of the two, intuition is more fundamental and certain. "The mind perceives the agreement or disagreement of two ideas immediately by themselves, without the intervention of any other" (IV.ii.1). Such knowledge is irresistible and leaves no room for hesitation, doubt, or examination. Upon it depends all the certainty and evidence of all our knowledge. Here, clearly, what the mind perceives is not any third idea, but its own act. In demonstration the mind perceives agreement or disagreement, not immediately, but through other mediating ideas. Each step in demonstration rests upon an intuition. This kind of knowledge is most evident in, but is not limited to, mathematics.

A third degree of knowledge is "employed about the particular existence of finite beings without us, which going beyond bare probability and yet not reaching perfectly to either of the foregoing degrees of certainty, passes under the name of knowledge" (IV.ii.14). Locke called this sensitive knowledge. Fully aware of the dialectical difficulty entailed in this position, he grounded his reply to critics on common sense. The differences between dreaming and waking, imagining and sensing, are strong enough to justify this conviction. Hunger and thirst should bring a skeptic to his senses. For Locke, it was enough that common sense supported him, for he always took sensory ideas to be signs or representations of something beyond themselves.

Limits of knowledge

Locke asserted that knowledge extends no farther than our ideas and, specifically, no further than the perception of the agreement or disagreement of our ideas. We cannot have knowledge of all the relations of our ideas or rational knowledge of the necessary relations between many of our ideas. Sensitive knowledge goes only as far as the existence of things, not to their real essence, or reality. Two examples were given. In the first, Locke argued that though we have the ideas of circle, square, and equality, we may never find a circle equal to a square and know them to be equal. In the second, he observed that we have ideas of matter and thinking but may never know whether mere material being thinks. This has been discussed earlier.

In his controversy with Stillingfleet, Locke never abandoned this latter thesis. And throughout this section (IV.iii) Locke showed that many relations of coexistence give us no certainty that they will or must continue to be so. He seemed persuaded that the continued discovery of new knowledge suggests that there are vast horizons of reality that we may advance upon but can never reach. With respect to the relations between abstract ideas we may hope to advance very far, as in mathematics. To this he added the belief that a demonstrable science of morality is possible. On the other hand, he held that we can have no certain knowledge of bodies or of unembodied spirits.

Knowledge of existents

Locke argued that though our knowledge terminates in our ideas, our knowledge is real. "Simple ideas are not fictions of our fancies, but the natural and regular productions of things without us, really operating upon us; and so carry with them all the conformity which is intended; or which our state requires" (IV.iv.4). On the other hand, he argued: "All our complex ideas, except those of substances, being archetypes of the mind's own making, not intended to be copies of anything, nor referred to the existence of anything, as to their originals, cannot want any conformity necessary to real knowledge" (IV.iv.5).

Universal propositions, the truth of which may be known with certainty, are not concerned directly with existence. Nonetheless, Locke argued that we have intuitive knowledge of our own existence. Here the argument is much the same as Descartes's, and it is valid only if we accept the view that the mind in reflection perceives its own acts. This knowledge of our own existence has the highest degree of certainty, according to Locke.

We have a demonstrable knowledge of God's existence, Locke held. He used a form of the Cosmological Argument: Starting with the certainty of his own existence, he argued to the necessary existence of a being adequate to produce all the effects manifest in experience. The argument assumed the reality of cause, the necessity of order, and the intelligibility of existence.

Of the existence of other things, as has been shown, we have sensitive knowledge. Locke felt the inconsistency of his position on this matter, yet accepted what he believed common sense required. We know of the coexistence of certain qualities and powers, and reason and sense require that they proceed from something outside themselves. Throughout these arguments about existence Locke went beyond his own first definition of knowledge.

probability

The remaining portions of Essay are concerned with probability, degrees of assent, reason and faith, enthusiasm, error, and the division of the sciences. Though Locke's treatment of probability is inadequate, he recognized its importance. The grounds of probability lie in the apparent conformity of propositions with our experience and the testimony of others. Practical experience shows us that our knowledge is slight, and action requires that we proceed in our affairs with something less than certainty.

Faith was, for Locke, the acceptance of revelation. It must be sharply distinguished from reason, which is "the discovery of the certainty or probability of such propositions or truths, which the mind arrives at by deduction made from such ideas which it has got by the use of its natural faculties, viz. by sensation or reflection" (IV.xviii.2). Though reason is not able to discover the truth of revelation, nevertheless, something claimed to be revelation cannot be accepted against the clear evidence of the understanding. Thus, enthusiasm sets reason aside and substitutes for it bare fancies born of conceit and blind impulse.

Error

Error cannot lie in intuition. Locke found four sources of error: the want of proofs, inability to use them, unwillingness to use them, and wrong measures of probability. Locke concluded Essay with a brief division of science, or human knowledge, into three classesnatural philosophy, or ϕνσική, practical action and ethics, or πρoκτική, and σημιωτκή, or the doctrine of signs.

influence of essay

Many minds of the seventeenth century contributed to the overthrow of the School philosophies and the development of the new sciences and philosophies. Descartes and Locke between them, however, set the tone and direction for what was to follow. Certainly Locke was the most prominent figure in the early eighteenth century, the indispensable precursor of Berkeley and Hume as well as a fountainhead for the French Encyclopedists. If it is said that the two strains of Cartesian rationalism and Lockian empiricism met in Kant, it can be added that Hume built on Locke's foundation and Kant formalized much that was first a vague groping in Locke. Though Locke was not a wholly satisfactory thinker, his influence on thought in England and America has never completely abated, and even now there appears to be a revived interest in Essay.

Political Thought

Locke's earliest known political writings were Essays on the Law of Nature, written in Latin between 1660 and 1664 but not known until the Lovelace Collection was examined in 1946. They were first published in 1954 with a translation by W. von Leyden. Though much in these essays appears in An Essay concerning Human Understanding and Two Treatises of Government, there remain many points at which the early essays are in conflict with parts of both later works. This fact and the bother of translating them may have deterred Locke from publishing them, despite the urging of Tyrrell. Since von Leyden can find no evidence of direct influence of these essays on anyone other than Tyrrell and Gabriel Towerson, the student of Locke is referred to von Leyden's publication for additional information.

two treatises

Two Treatises of Government appeared anonymously in 1690, written, it is said, to justify the revolution of 1688, or, according to the preface, "to establish the Throne of Our Great Restorer, our present King William; to make good his Title, in the Consent of the People." Locke acknowledged his authorship only in a codicil in his will listing his anonymous works and giving to the Bodleian Library a corrected copy of Two Treatises. He never felt that any of the editions printed during his lifetime had satisfactorily rendered his work. Only in 1960 did Peter Laslett publish a critical edition based on the Coste master copy of Two Treatises.

the first treatise

It has long been suspected that the first treatise was written in 1683 and that the second treatise was written in 1689. Laslett has presented much evidence to show that the second treatise was the earlier work, written between 1679 and 1681. If his thesis is correct, it was a revolutionary document, whose purpose was not primarily to philosophize but to furnish a theoretical foundation for the political aims and maneuvers of Shaftesbury and his followers in their struggle with Charles II. Only further scholarly probing will resolve this question.

In his preface, Locke stated that the greater part of the original work had been lost. He was satisfied that what remained was sufficient, since he had neither the time nor the inclination to rewrite the missing sections. The evidence is clear that it was portions of the first treatise that were lost.

The first treatise is a sarcastic and harsh criticism of Sir Robert Filmer's Patriarcha, which argued for the divine right of kings. Locke's treatise is more of historical than philosophical importance. It argued that Adam was not, as Filmer claimed, divinely appointed monarch of the world and all his descendants. Neither was the power of absolute monarchy inherited from Adam. Adam had no absolute rights over Eve or over his children. Parents have authority over children who are dependent upon them and who must learn obedience as well as many other things for life. The function of the parent is to protect the child and to help him mature. When the child comes to maturity, parental authority ends. In any case, the relation of parent and child is not the same as that of sovereign and subject. Were Filmer right, one would have to conclude that every man is born a slave, a notion that was utterly repugnant to Locke. Even if Filmer were correct, it would be impossible to show that existing rulers, especially the English kings, possess legitimate claims to their sovereignty by tracing it back to lawful descent from Adam.

the second treatise

Locke began the second treatise with the proposition that all men are originally in a state of nature, "a state of perfect freedom to order their actions, and dispose of their possessions, and persons as they think fit, within the bounds of the Law of Nature, without asking leave, or depending upon the Will of any other man" (II.ii.4). Although Locke sometimes wrote as if the state of nature were some period in history, it must be taken largely as a philosophical fiction, an assumption made to show the nature and foundation of political power, a fiction at least as old as Plato's treatment of the Prometheus myth in the Protagoras. It is a state of equality but not of unbounded license. Being rational and being a creature bound by God, man must be governed by the law of nature.

Natural law

Though the concept of the law of nature is as old as antiquity, it flourished in the seventeenth century in the minds of a considerable number of ethical and political thinkers. In general it supposed that man by the use of reason could know in the main the fundamental principles of morality, which he otherwise knew through Christian revelation. Locke was extremely vague about the law of nature, but in his Essays on the Law of Nature he held that that law rests ultimately on God's will. Reason discovers it. It is not innate. When, however, Locke spoke of it as "writ in the hearts of all mankind," he suggested some kind of innateness. There are obvious difficulties here, for sense and reason may fail men, even though the law of nature is binding on all. Moreover, the various exponents of the law of nature differ on what it consists of, except that it presupposes the brotherhood of man and human benevolence.

State of nature

In a state of nature, according to Locke, all men are bound to preserve peace, preserve mankind, and refrain from hurt to one another. The execution of the law of nature is the responsibility of each individual. If any man violates this law, he thereby puts himself in a state of war with the others, who may then punish the offender. The power that one man may hold over another is neither absolute nor arbitrary and must be restrained by proportion. The state of nature was for Locke a society of men, as distinct from a state of government, or a political society.

Social contract

There are certain inconveniences in a state of nature, such as men's partiality and the inclination on the part of some men to violate the rights of others. The remedy for this is civil government, wherein men by common consent form a social contract and create a single body politic. This contract is not between ruler and ruled, but between equally free men. The aim of the contract is to preserve the lives, freedom, and property of all, as they belong to each under natural law. Whoever, therefore, attempts to gain absolute power over another puts himself at war with the other. This holds in the political state as well as the state of nature. When a ruler becomes a tyrant, he puts himself in a state of war with the people, who then, if no redress be found, may make an appeal to heaven, that is, may revolt. This power is but an extension of the right of each to punish an aggressor in the state of nature. Unlike Hobbes, Locke was persuaded that men are capable of judging whether they are cruelly subjected and unjustly treated. Since one reason for men entering into the social contract is to avoid a state of war, the contract is broken when the sovereign puts himself into a state of war with the people by becoming a tyrant.

Slavery

Curiously, Locke justified slavery on the grounds that those who became slaves were originally in a state of wrongful war with those who conquered them and, being captive, forfeited their freedom. Apart from being bad history, this argument ignores the rights of the children of slaves. Locke's inconsistency here may mercifully be passed over.

Property

Property was an idea that Locke used in both a broad and a narrow sense. Men have a right to self-preservation and therefore to such things as they need for their subsistence. Each man possesses himself absolutely, and therefore that with which he mixes his labor becomes his property. "God has given the earth to mankind in common." No man has original, exclusive rights to the fruits and beasts of the earth. Nevertheless, man must have some means with which to appropriate them. This consists of the labor of his body and the work of his hand. By labor, man removes things from a state of nature and makes them his property. Without labor, the earth and things in general have but little value. However, only so much as a man improves and can use belongs to him, nor may a man deprive another of the means of self-preservation by overextending his reach for property.

Though the right to property is grounded in nature, it is not secured therein. It is one of the primary ends of the state to preserve the rights of property, as well as to make laws governing the use, distribution, and transference of property. In communities or countries under government, there are fixed boundaries to the common territory, and there is land and property held in common which no one may appropriate to himself and to which those not members of the community have no right at all. Money, being something that does not spoil, came into use by mutual consent, serving as a useful means of exchange. At the same time it made possible the accumulation of wealth greater than warranted by need or use.

Political society

Having established several rights and duties belonging to men by nature and having shown certain inconveniences and disadvantages of the state of nature, Locke turned to political society. The first society consists of the family, whose aims are not initially or primarily those of political society, but which may be included under political society.

In political society "any number of men are so united into one Society, as to quit everyone his Executive power of the law of nature, and to resign it to the public" (II.vii.89). The legislative and executive powers are "a right of making laws with penalties of Death, and consequently all less Penalties, for the regulating and preserving of property, and of employing the force of the community, in the execution of such laws, and in the defense of the commonwealth from foreign injury, and all this only for the public good" (II.i.3). By the social contract men give up, not all their rights, but only the legislative and executive right they originally had under the law of nature. This transference of power is always subordinate to the proper and true ends of the commonwealth, which are "the mutual preservation of their lives, liberties and estates."

Each man must voluntarily consent to the compact either explicitly or implicitly. An individual who at age of discretion remains a member of the community tacitly consents to the compact.

Since the compact is made between the members of the community, sovereignty ultimately remains with the people. The sovereign, in the form of a legislative body, and executive, or both, is the agent and executor of the sovereignty of the people. The community can act only by the rule of the majority, and everyone is bound by it, because an agreement of unanimity is virtually impossible. It is the people who establish the legislative, executive, and judiciary powers. Thus, an absolute monarch is incompatible with civil society.

Locke's theories so far are compatible with either monarchy, oligarchy, or democracy so long as it is recognized that ultimate sovereignty lies with the people. He believed that a constitutional monarchy with executive power, including the judiciary, in the hands of the monarch, and legislative powers in a parliamentary assembly elected by the people was the most satisfactory form of government. The supreme power he held to be the legislative, for it makes the laws that the executive must carry out and enforce. Whenever the executive violates the trust that he holds, no obligation is owed him and he may be deposed. The legislature may also violate its trust, though Locke believed it less likely to do so. Whenever this occurs, the people have a right to dissolve it and establish a new government. For this reason a regularly elected legislative body is desirable.

Rebellion

Locke explicitly recognized, as the events during his lifetime had shown, that men may become tyrants to those whom they were bound to serve. It may be a king, an assembly, or a usurper that claims absolute power. In such cases the people have a right to rebellion if no other redress is possible. Locke was not unmindful of the fact that the executive needs latitude and prerogative so that he may govern, and that the legislative body must deliberate and make laws that they believe to be in the public good. The right to rebellion is warranted only in the most extreme conditions, where all other means fail. Locke did not believe that men would lightly avail themselves of this power, for men will suffer and endure much before they resort to rebellion.

In transferring to the government the right to make and execute law and make war and peace, men do not give up the natural light of reason, by which they judge good and evil, right and wrong, justice and injustice. In specific laws or executive decisions judgment must be allowed to the legislature and the executive. If, however, a long train of acts shows a tyrannical course, then men, judging that the sovereign has put himself into a state of war with them, may justly dethrone the tyrant. On the other hand, the legislative and executive power can never revert to the people unless there is a breach of trust.

The dissolution of government is not the dissolution of society. The aim of revolution is the establishment of a new government, not a return to a state of nature. The dissolution of a government may occur under many circumstances, but foremost among them are when the arbitrary will of a single person or prince is set in place of the law; when the prince hinders the legislature from due and lawful assembly; when there is arbitrary change in elections; when the people are delivered into subjection by a foreign power; and when the executive neglects and abandons his charge. In all such cases sovereignty reverts to the society, and the people have a right to act as the supreme power and continue the legislature in themselves, or erect a new form, or under the old form place sovereignty in new hands, whichever they think best. On the other hand, "the power that every individual gave the society, can never revert to the individuals again, as long as the society lasts" (II.xix.243). As theory, Locke's second treatise is full of inadequacies, but its magnificent sweep of ideas prepared the ground for popular and democratic government.

Education and Religion

Locke's thought on education and religion was not presented in strictly philosophical terms. It was, however, deeply rooted in the fundamental concepts of Essay and Two Treatises. His works in these areas display clearly the liberal bent of his mind as well as his love of freedom, tolerance, and truth. His attitude was pragmatic and based on considerable psychological insight into the motives, needs, passions, and follies of men. Some Thoughts concerning Education, several letters on toleration, and The Reasonableness of Christianity profoundly affected educational and religious thought in the eighteenth century and after. Two of these works, Some Thoughts concerning Education and the first Letter on Toleration, continue to be fresh and relevant.

education

When Locke was in Holland, he wrote a number of letters to Edward Clark advising him on the education of his son, a young man of no particular distinction. Locke had in mind the education of a gentleman who would one day be a squire. In 1693 Locke modified these letters somewhat and published the contents as Some Thoughts concerning Education in response to "so many, who profess themselves at a loss how to breed their children." His thought was marked by a ready understanding of, and warm sympathy with, children. Three main thoughts dominate the work. First, the individual aptitudes, capacities, and idiosyncrasies of the child should govern learning, not arbitrary curricular or rote learning taught by the rod. Second, Locke placed the health of the body and the development of a sound character ahead of intellectual learning. In the third place, he saw that play, high spirits, and the "gamesome humor" natural to children should govern the business of learning wherever possible. Compulsory learning is irksome; where there is play in learning, there will be joy in it. Throughout he placed emphasis on good example, practice, and use rather than on precepts, rules, and punishment. The work was an implicit criticism of his own education at Westminster and Oxford, which he found unpleasant and largely useless.

Writing almost as a physician, Locke advised "plenty of open air, exercise, and sleep; plain diet, no wine or strong drink, and very little or no physic; not too warm and strait clothing; especially the head and feet kept cold, and the feet often used to cold water and exposed to wet." The aim in all was to keep the body in strength and vigor, able to endure hardships.

Locke urged that early training must establish the authority of the parents so that good habits may be established. The prime purpose is the development of virtue, the principle of which is the power of denying ourselves the satisfaction of our desires. The child should be taught to submit to reason when young. Parents teach by their own example. They should avoid severe punishments and beatings as well as artificial rewards. Rules should be few when a child is young, but those few should be obeyed. Mild, firm, and rational approval or disapproval are most effective in curbing bad behavior. Children should be frequently in the company of their parents, who should in turn study the disposition of the child and endeavor to use the child's natural desire for freedom and play to make learning as much like recreation as possible. High spirits should not be curbed, but turned to creative use. Curiosity too should be encouraged, and questions should be heard and fairly answered. Cruelty must always be discouraged and courageousness approved.

As the child grows, familiarity should be increased so that the parent has a friend in the mature child. Virtue, breeding, and a free liberal spirit as well as wisdom and truthfulness were the goals set by Locke in all his advice. Affection and friendship were for him both means and ends of good education.

Learning, though important, Locke put last. First, he would have the child learn to speak and read his own language well by example and practice, not by grammar. In the study of all languages, he would put off the study of grammar until they can be spoken well. He would begin the learning of a second modern language early. Reluctantly he would allow a gentleman's son to learn Latin, but he did not recommend much time on Greek, Hebrew, Arabic, rhetoric, or logic, which constituted the curricula of the universities of his day. Rather, time should be given to the study of geography, arithmetic, astronomy, geometry, history, ethics, and civil law. Dancing he encouraged, and music as well, in moderation. He was less sympathetic to poetry. Remarkably, he urged that everyone learn at least one manual trade and make some study of accounting. Finally, travel was valuable if not done before one could profit by it.

If much of this is familiar and even trite, it must be remembered that Locke was among the first to formulate these ideas. His influence on educational thought and practice was enormous and is still very much with us in its fundamental outlook and method.

religion

Locke saw some merits in all the competing claims of various religious groups. He also saw the destructive force that was released when these claims sought exclusive public dominion at the expense of individual conscience. He looked in several directions at once. This tendency has earned for him the reputation of being timorous and compromising. Nonetheless, it is on this trait of mind that much of his great influence and reputation rests. For Locke, fidelity to the evidence at hand always outweighed cleverness, consistency, and dialectic. It is the chief testimony to his claim that truth was always his aim, even when he might have won an easy victory by dogmatic consistency.

Locke's writings on religion are voluminous. When he died he was working on extensive commentaries on the Epistles of St. Paul, as well as a draft of a fourth Letter on Toleration. Earlier he had written and published three letters on toleration, The Reasonableness of Christianity (1695), and two Vindications (1695 and 1697) of the latter work. Moreover, Locke's three letters to Stillingfleet, the bishop of Worcester, are concerned with religious questions as well as epistemological ones.

Religious tolerance

Locke's first Letter concerning Toleration stated his position clearly, and he never deviated from it substantially. It was originally written in Latin as a letter to his Dutch friend Philip van Limborch. In 1689 it was published on the Continent in Latin, and in the same year a translation of it by William Popple appeared in English.

Locke was not the first to write in advocacy of religious toleration. His was, however, a powerful, direct, and passionate plea. It was linked with Essay by its recognition of the limits of human knowledge and human fallibility, and with Two Treatises by his deep commitment to individual rights and freedom.

Locke took toleration to be the chief characteristic mark of the true church, for religious belief is primarily a relation between each man and God. True religion regulates men's lives according to virtue and piety, and without charity and love religion is false to itself. Those who persecute others in the name of Christ abjure his teachings, seeking only outward conformity, not peace and holiness. Who can believe that in torture and execution the fanatic truly seeks the salvation of the soul of his victim? Moreover, the mind cannot be forced or belief compelled. All efforts to force or compel belief breed only hypocrisy and contempt of God. Persuasion is the only lever that can truly move the mind.

A church is "a voluntary society of men, joining themselves together of their own accord in order to the public worshipping of God in such manner as they judge acceptable to Him, and effectual to the salvation of their souls." It is sharply distinct from a state, or commonwealth. The state is concerned with the public good, protecting life, liberty, and property. It has no authority in matters of the spirit. "Whatever is lawful in the commonwealth cannot be prohibited by the magistrate in the church."

It is to be doubted that any man or group of men possess the truth about the one true way to salvation. In the Scriptures we have all that may reasonably be claimed by Christians to be the word of God. The rest are the speculations and beliefs of men concerning articles of faith and forms of worship. Sincere and honest men differ in these matters, and only tolerance of these differences can bring about public peace and Christian charity. Jews, pagans, and Muslims are all equally confident in their religious faith. Mutual tolerance is essential where such diversity exists. This is most evident when we observe that it is the most powerful party that persecutes others in the name of religion. Yet in different countries and at different times power has lain in the hands of different religious groups. It is physical power, not true faith, which decides who is persecuted and who persecutes.

Throughout Locke's argument the liberty of person and the liberty of conscience are decisive. He limited this liberty only by denying to religion the right to harm directly another person or group or to practice clearly immoral rites. By a curious and probably prudential exception, he denied tolerance to atheists, because promises, covenants, and oaths would not bind them, and to any church so constituted "that all those who enter into it do thereby ipso facto deliver themselves up to the protection and service of another prince."

Despite these limitations, Locke's letter moved subsequent generations to a greater spirit of tolerance in religious matters. It is still part of the liberal democratic ideal and transcends the time of its composition.

Faith and reason

The Reasonableness of Christianity and Vindications are works more bound to Locke's own time. Locke was probably neither a Socinian nor a deist, even though certain deists and Unitarians found comfort and inspiration in his work. He was a sincere Christian, who tried to diminish the flourishing schisms and sects by proposing a return to the Scriptures and an abandonment of the interminable theological disputes of his day. He accepted the divine inspiration of the Bible. Nevertheless, he held that even revelation must be tested by reason. In the New Testament, Christianity is rational and simple. The core of Christian faith lies in the belief in the fatherhood of God, the divinity of Christ the Messiah, and the morality of charity, love, and divine mercy. Justification by faith means faith in Christ, whose essential revelation is that God is merciful and forgives the sinner who truly repents and strives to live a life of Christian morality. The Mosaic law, God's mercy, and Christian morality are all consonant with human reason. Revelation discloses to man what unaided reason could not discoverthe mysteries, the Virgin Birth, the Resurrection, the divinity of Christ. But when disclosed, these do not violate the canons of reason. Here as elsewhere, Locke's emphasis on reason was circumscribed, reason must be followed where possible, but it does not carry us far enough by itself.

Locke's influence was wide and deep. In political, religious, educational, and philosophical thought he inspired the leading minds of England, France, America, and to some extent, Germany. He disposed of the exaggerated rationalism of Descartes and Spinoza; he laid the groundwork for a new empiricism and advanced the claims for experimentalism. Voltaire, Montesquieu, and the French Encyclopedists found in Locke the philosophical, political, educational, and moral basis that enabled them to prepare and advance the ideas that eventuated in the French Revolution. In America, his influence on Jonathan Edwards, Hamilton, and Jefferson was decisive. Locke's zeal for truth as he saw it was stronger than his passion for dialectical and logical niceness, and this may account for the fact that his works prepared the ground for action as well as thought.

See also Animal Mind; Authority; Berkeley, George; Boyle, Robert; Cambridge Platonists; Clarke, Samuel; Cudworth, Ralph; Descartes, René; Edwards, Jonathan; Empiricism; Encyclopédie; Ethics, History of; Filmer, Robert; Gassendi, Pierre; Hobbes, Thomas; Hooker, Richard; Hume, David; Jefferson, Thomas; Kant, Immanuel; Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm; Malebranche, Nicolas; Montesquieu, Baron de; Natural Law; Newton, Isaac; Personal Identity; Philosophy of Education, History of; Social Contract; Spinoza, Benedict (Baruch) de; Stillingfleet, Edward; Voltaire, François-Marie Arouet de; Whichcote, Benjamin.

Bibliography

works by locke

Essays on the Law of Nature. Translated from the Latin and edited by W. von Leyden. Oxford, 1954. Also gives an account of the Lovelace Collection.

An Early Draft of Locke's Essay (Draft A). Edited by R. I. Aaron and J. Gibb. Oxford, 1936. Valuable as a study of the development of Essay.

An Essay concerning the Understanding, Knowledge, Opinion and Assent (Draft B). Edited by B. Rand. Cambridge, MA: 1931. Valuable, but superseded by manuscript in Bodleian Library.

Epistola de Tolerantia. Gouda, 1689. Translated by William Popple as A Letter concerning Toleration. London, 1689. Several defenses appeared in the 1690s and fragments of a fourth in 1706.

An Essay concerning Human Understanding. London, 1690; 2nd ed. with large additions, London, 1694; 3rd ed., London, 1695; 4th ed., with large additions, London, 1700; 5th ed., with many large additions, London, 1706. Best modern edition, from which all quotes in this article are taken, is a reprint of the fifth edition, J. W. Yolton, ed., 2 vols. New York and London, 1961.

Two Treatises of Government. London, 1690. The critical and collated edition of Locke's corrected copy by Peter Laslett (Cambridge, 1960) surpasses all previous editions.

Some Considerations of the Consequences of the Lowering of Interest and the Raising of the Value of Money. London, 1692. Two additional papers on money appeared in 1695.

Some Thoughts concerning Education. London, 1693.

The Reasonableness of Christianity. London, 1695. Defenses of this work were published in 1695 and 1697.

A Letter to the Right Rev. Edward Ld. Bishop of Worcester, concerning Some Passages relating to Mr. Locke's Essay of Humane Understanding. London, 1697. Two further letters appeared, in 1697 and 1699.

A Paraphrase and Notes on the Epistles of St. Paul to the Galatians [etc.]. London, 1705.

Posthumous Works of Mr. John Locke, 6 vols. London, 1706.

The Remains of John Locke. Edited by E. Curl. London, 1714.

Works of John Locke. 3 vols. London, 1714; 10th ed., 10 vols., London, 1801.

The Correspondence of John Locke and Edward Clarke. Edited by B. Rand. Oxford, 1927.

For the remainder of Locke's published and unpublished papers, consult the works listed below by Aaron, Christopherson, von Leyden, Long, Ollion, and Yolton. See von Leyden and Long particularly for the Lovelace Collection.

works on locke

Biographies

Bourne, H. R. Fox. Life of John Locke. 2 vols. London: H. S. King, 1876. Excellent, but inadequate since Lovelace Collection became available.

Cranston, Maurice. John Locke, a Biography. London and New York: Longmans, Green, 1957. A thorough study of the life of Locke, using all materials available at present.

King, Lord Peter. The Life and Letters of John Locke. London: H. Coburn, 1829. Not good, but contains original material.

Critical Commentaries

Aaron, R. I. "Locke's Theory of Universals." PAS, Vol. 33 (1932/1933). Useful and enlightening.

Aaron, R. I. John Locke. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1937; rev. ed., Oxford, 1955. Best general commentary.

Adamson, J. W. The Educational Writings of John Locke. Cambridge, U.K.: 1922.

Bastide, C. John Locke, ses théories politiques et leur influence en Angleterre. Paris: Leroux, 1906. Still valuable work on Locke's political philosophy.

Christopherson, H. O. A Bibliographical Introduction to the Study of John Locke. Oslo, 1930. Incomplete.

Clapp, J. G. Locke's Conception of the Mind. PhD diss., Columbia University. New York, 1937.

Cranston, Maurice. "Men and Ideas; John Locke." Encounter 7 (1956): 4654.

Czajkowski, C. J. The Theory of Private Property in Locke's Political Philosophy. Notre Dame, IN, 1941. Useful on the labor theory of value.

DeMarchi, E. "Locke's Atlantis." Political Studies 3 (1955): 164165.

Gibson, James. Locke's Theory of Knowledge. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1917. Emphasizes Locke's rationalism.

Gibson, James. John Locke. British Academy, Henriette Hertz Lecture, 1933.

Gierke, Otto von. Naturrecht und deutsches Recht. Translated and edited by Ernest Barker as Natural Law and the Theory of Society. 2 vols. Cambridge, U.K.: 1934. A major study.

Gough, J. W. John Locke's Political Philosophy. Eight Studies. Oxford, 1950. Important.

Jackson, Reginald. "Locke's Distinction Between Primary and Secondary Qualities." Mind 38 (1929): 5676.

Jackson, Reginald. "Locke's Version of the Doctrine of Representative Perception." Mind 39 (1930): 125.

James, D. G. The Life of Reason: Hobbes, Locke, Bolingbroke. London and New York: Longman, Green, 1949.

Krakowski, E. Les sources médiévales de la philosophie de Locke. Paris: Jouve, 1915. One of the few studies of influences on Locke.

Lamprecht, S. P. The Moral and Political Philosophy of John Locke. New York: Columbia University Press, 1918.

Laslett, Peter. "The English Revolution and Locke's Two Treatises of Government." Cambridge Historical Journal 12 (1956). Interesting and controversial.

Leibniz, G. W. Nouveaux essais sur l'entendement humain. Leipzig and Amsterdam, 1765. Translated by A. G. Langley as New Essays concerning Human Understanding. New York and London: Macmillan, 1896. An important critique of Locke by a contemporary.

Leyden, W. von. "John Locke and Natural Law." Philosophy 31 (1956). A useful examination.

Long, P. A Summary Catalogue of the Lovelace Collection of Papers of John Locke in the Bodleian Library. Oxford, 1959.

O'Connor, D. J. John Locke. Harmondsworth, U.K.: Penguin, 1952.

Ollion, H. Notes sur la correspondance de John Locke. Paris: A. Picard, 1908.

Polin, R. La politique de John Locke. Paris, 1960. Interesting contrast to Laslett.

Pollock, Sir Frederick. "Locke's Theory of the State." In his Essays in the Law. London: H. M. Stationery Office, 1922. Ch. 3.

Ryle, Gilbert. Locke on the Human Understanding. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1933.

Smith, N. K. John Locke. Manchester, U.K.: Manchester University Press, 1933.

Ware, C. S. "The Influence of Descartes on John Locke." Revue internationale de philosophie (1950): 210230.

Webb, T. E. The Intellectualism of Locke. An Essay. Dublin: W. McGee, 1857. Presents Locke as a precursor to Kant.

Yolton, J. W. "Locke's Unpublished Marginal Replies to John Sergeant." Journal of the History of Ideas 12 (1951): 528559.

Yolton, J. W. "Locke and the Seventeenth-Century Logic of Ideas." Journal of the History of Ideas 16 (1955): 431452.

Yolton, J. W. Locke and the Way of Ideas. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1956. A careful study.

Yolton, J. W. "Locke on the Law of Nature." Philosophical Review 67 (1958): 477498.

recent editions of locke's works

Goldie, Mark, ed. John Locke: Selected Correspondence. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.

Nuovo, Victor, ed. John Locke: Writings on Religion. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2002.

recent works on locke

Bennett, Jonathan. "Ideas and Qualities in Locke's Essay." History of Philosophy Quarterly 13 (1996): 7388.

Bolton, Martha Brandt. "Locke, Leibniz, and the Logic of Mechanism." Journal of the History of Philosophy 36 (1998): 189213.

Coventry, Angela. "Locke, Hume, and the Idea of Causal Power." Locke Studies 3 (2003): 93111.

Downing, Lisa. "The Status of Mechanism in Locke's Essay." Philosophical Review 107 (1998): 381414.

Garrett, Don. "Locke on Personal Identity, Consciousness, and 'Fatal Errors'." Philosophical Topics 31 (2003): 95125.

Jacovides, Michael. "Locke's Resemblance Theses." Philosophical Review 108 (1999): 461496.

Jacovides, Michael. "The Epistemology under Locke's Corpuscularianism." Archiv für Geschichte der Philosophie 84 (2002): 161189.

Langton, Rae. "Locke's Relations and God's Good Pleasure." Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 100 (2000): 7591.

Lowe, E. "J. Locke: Compatibilist Event-Causalist or Libertarian Substance-Causalist?" Philosophy and Phenomenological-Research 68 (2004): 688701.

Martin, Raymond. "Locke's Psychology of Personal Identity." Journal of the History of Philosophy 38 (2000): 4161.

McCann, Edwin. "Locke's Theory of Substance Under Attack!" Philosophical Studies 106 (2001): 87105.

Newman, Lex. "Locke on the Idea of Substratum." Pacific Philosophical Quarterly 81 (2000): 291324.

Ott, Walter. Locke's Philosophy of Language. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Owen, David. "Locke and Hume on Belief, Judgment and Assent." Topoi 22 (2003): 1528.

Rogers, G. A. J., ed. Locke's Philosophy: Content and Context. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996.

Rozemond, Marleen, and Gideon Yaffe. "Peach Trees, Gravity and God: Mechanism in Locke." British Journal for the History of Philosophy 12 (2004): 387412.

Stuart, Matthew. "Locke on Natural Kinds." History of Philosophy Quarterly 16 (1999): 277296.

Stuart, Matthew. "Locke's Colors." Philosophical Review 112 (2003): 5796.

Thiel, Udo, ed. Locke: Epistemology and Metaphysics. Brookfield: Ashgate: 2002.

Tuckness, Alex. Locke and the Legislative Point of View: Toleration, Contested Principles, and the Law. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2002.

Wilson, Robert A. "Locke's Primary Qualities." Journal of the History of Philosophy 40 (2002): 201228.

Wolterstorff, Nicholas. John Locke and the Ethics of Belief. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1996.

Yaffe, Gideon. Freedom Worth the Name: Locke on Free Agency. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000.

Yolton, Jean S. John Locke: A Descriptive Bibliography. Bristol: Thoemmes, 1998.

Yolton, John. "Locke's Man." Journal of the History of Ideas 62 (2001): 665683.

James Gordon Clapp (1967)

Bibliography updated by Don Garrett (2005)

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Locke, John (1632–1704)

Locke, John (1632–1704)

Locke, John (1632–1704), English philosopher and political theorist. John Locke began the empiricist tradition and thus initiated the greatest age of British philosophy. He attempted to center philosophy on an analysis of the extent and capabilities of the human mind.

John Locke was born on Aug. 29, 1632, in Wrington, in Somerset, where his mother's family resided. She died during his infancy, and Locke was raised by his father, who was an attorney in the small town of Pensford near Bristol. John was tutored at home because of his always delicate health and the outbreak of civil war in 1642. When he was 14, he entered Westminster School, where he remained for 6 years. He then went to Christ Church, Oxford. In 1658 he was elected a senior student at his college. In this capacity he taught Greek and moral philosophy. Under conditions at the time he would have had to be ordained to retain his fellowship. Instead he changed to another faculty, medicine, and eventually received a license to practice. During the same period Locke made the acquaintance of Robert Boyle, the distinguished scientist and one of the founders of the Royal Society, and, under Boyle's direction, took up study of natural science. Finally, in 1668, Locke was made a fellow of the Royal Society.

In 1665 Locke traveled to the Continent as secretary to the English ambassador to the Brandenburg court. Upon his return to England he chanced to medically attend Lord Ashley, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury, and later lord chancellor of England. Their friendship and lifelong association drew Locke into political affairs. He attended Shaftesbury as physician and adviser, and in this latter capacity Locke drafted The Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina and served as secretary to the Board of Trade. In 1676 Locke went to France for his health. An inheritance from his father made him financially independent, and he remained in Montpellier for 3 years.

Locke rejoined Shaftesbury's service, and when the latter fled to Holland, the philosopher followed. He remained in exile from 1683 to 1689, and during these years he was deprived of his studentship by express order of Charles III. Most of his important writings were composed during this period. After the Glorious Revolution of 1689 Locke returned to England and later served with distinction as a commissioner of trade until 1700. He spent his retirement at Oates in Essex as the guest of the Mashams. Lady Masham was the daughter of Ralph Cudworth, the philosopher. Locke died there on Oct. 28, 1704.


Major Works. Locke, by virtue of his temperament and mode of existence, was a man of great circumspection. None of his major writings was published until he was nearly 60. In 1690 he brought out his major works: Two Treatises and the Essay Concerning Human Understanding. But the four books of the Essay were the culmination of 20 years of intellectual labor. He relates that, together with a few friends, probably in 1670, a discussion arose concerning the basis of morality and religion. The conclusion was that they were unable to resolve the question until an investigation had been made to see "what objects our understandings were or were not fitted to deal with." Thus the aim of this work is "to inquire into the origin, certainty, and extent of human knowledge, together with the grounds of belief, opinion, and assent."

The procedure employed is what he called the "historical, plain method," which consists of observations derived from external sensations and the internal processes of reflection or introspection. This psychological definition of experience as sensation and reflection shifted the focus of philosophy from an analysis of reality to an exploration of the mind. The new perspective was Locke's major contribution, and it dominated European thought for at least 2 centuries. But if knowledge consists entirely of experience, then the objects of cognition are ideas. The term "idea" was ambiguously defined by Locke as "whatsoever is the object of the understanding when a man thinks." This broad use means that sensations, memories, imaginings, and feelings as well as concepts are ideas insofar as they are mental. The danger of Locke's epistemology is the inherent skepticism contained in a technique which describes what is "in" the mind. For if everything is an idea, then it is difficult to distinguish between true and false, real and imaginary, impressed sensations and expressed concepts. Thus Locke, and the subsequent history of philosophy, had to wrestle with the dilemma that a psychological description of the origin of ideas seriously undermines the extent of their objective validity.

Nonetheless the intention of the Essay was positive in that Locke wished to establish the dependence of all human knowledge upon everyday experience or sensation. The alternative theory of innate ideas is vigorously attacked. Although it is not historically certain whether anyone seriously maintained such a doctrine, Locke's general criticism lends indirect support to an experiential view of knowledge. Innatism can be understood in a naive way to mean that there are ideas of which we are fully conscious at birth or which are universally acknowledged, so that the mind possesses a disposition to think in terms of certain ideas. The first position is refuted by observation of children, and the second by the fact that there are no acknowledged universal ideas to which everyone agrees. The sophisticated version falls into contradiction by maintaining that we are conscious of an unconscious disposition.


Theory of Knowledge. Having refuted the a priori, or nonexperiential, account of knowledge, Locke devotes the first two books of the Essay to developing a deceptively simple empirical theory of knowledge. Knowing originates in external and internal sources of sensation and reflection. The objects or ideas present to consciousness are divided into simple and complex.

In this view the actual extent of man's knowledge is less than his ideas because he does not know the real connections between simple ideas, or primary and secondary qualities. Also, an intuitive knowledge of existence is limited to the self, and the only demonstrable existence is that of God as an eternal, omnipotent being. With the exception of the self and God, all knowledge of existing things is dependent upon sensation, whose cognitive status is "a little bit better than probability." The poverty of real knowledge is compensated to some extent by human judgment, which presumes things to be true without actually perceiving the connections. And, according to Locke's commonsense attitude, the severe restrictions placed upon knowledge merely reflect that man's mental capacity is suitable for his nature and condition.

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