Locke Essay Concerning Human Understanding Outline

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After disputing nativism in Book I, Locke proceeds, in Book II, to the difficult task of providing an empiricist account of the origin of all our ideas.But why should these principles' not being known to us imply that they serve no purpose for us?In fact, in a famous passage where Descartes discusses the innateness of the idea of a triangle in an exchange with Gassendi, he argues that the latent presence of the idea of the triangle allows us to recognize triangular shapes in the physical world although we may never be aware of the true idea of the triangle.The essays in this volume share two common features. In "The Intellectual Setting and Aims of the As Rickless notes, "a proper understanding of Locke's polemic serves to deepen one's understanding of the whole book" (66) since, for example, the anti-nativist arguments of Book I lead to the detailed discussion of the origin of every idea in Book II.First, most (with some variation in emphasis) start with an explanation of the topics at hand, offer a survey of the various exegetical and theoretical problems raised by these topics, present various solutions from the literature and propose their own conclusions on how to solve or dissolve these problems. Rickless begins by identifying the type of nativism (dispositional nativism) that Locke's polemic is directed against and its supporters.The discussion of the metaphysics of primary and secondary qualities, his reflection on identity, the distinction between nominal and real essences, and his theory of language were not only grounded in seventeenth century debates, but are still the starting point of speculation for current theories about the metaphysics of color properties, personal identity and the problem of meaning and signification..It contains, in order of appearance, two essays on Book I, six on Book II, two on Book III and five on Book IV.Finally, Bolton shows, convincingly in my view, that a detailed analysis of Locke's account of simple ideas of sensation and of complex ideas of relation and substance reveals possible limitations of Locke's anti-nativism (73, 78, 89, 99).In Book II, Locke draws the famous distinction between primary and secondary qualities.One of the greatest merits of the essay is Jacovides's insightful analysis of the various arguments that Locke provides in favor of such distinctions.The longest chapter of the is chapter XXI of Book II, the chapter on power.


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