The Essay Concerning Human Understanding Text

The Essay Concerning Human Understanding Text-36
Substances are “nothing but the assumption of an unknown support for a group of qualities that produce simple ideas in us”.Despite his explanation, the existence of substances is still questionable as they cannot necessarily be “perceived” by themselves and can only be sensed through the qualities.Locke followed the Port-Royal Logique (1662) in numbering among the abuses of language those that he calls "affected obscurity" in chapter 10.

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One of Locke's fundamental arguments against innate ideas is the very fact that there is no truth to which all people attest.

He took the time to argue against a number of propositions that rationalists offer as universally accepted truth, for instance the principle of identity, pointing out that at the very least children and idiots are often unaware of these propositions.

Leibniz thought that Locke's commitment to ideas of reflection in the Essay ultimately made him incapable of escaping the nativist position or being consistent in his empiricist doctrines of the mind's passivity.

The empiricist George Berkeley was equally critical of Locke's views in the Essay.

Locke also distinguishes between the truly existing primary qualities of bodies, like shape, motion and the arrangement of minute particles, and the secondary qualities that are "powers to produce various sensations in us" such as "red" and "sweet." These secondary qualities, Locke claims, are dependent on the primary qualities.

The Essay Concerning Human Understanding Text

He also offers a theory of personal identity, offering a largely psychological criterion.

It matters now that Mens Fancies are, 'tis the Knowledge of Things that is only to be priz'd; 'tis this alone gives a Value to our Reasonings, and Preference to one Man's Knowledge over another's, that is of Things as they really are, and of Dreams and Fancies." In the last chapter of the book, Locke introduces the major classification of sciences into physics, semiotics, and ethics.

Many of Locke's views were sharply criticized by rationalists and empiricists alike.

An Essay Concerning Human Understanding is a work by John Locke concerning the foundation of human knowledge and understanding.

It first appeared in 1689 (although dated 1690) with the printed title An Essay Concerning Humane Understanding.


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