Problems from Locke

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Not registered? Sign up. Publications Pages Publications Pages. Search my Subject Specializations: Select Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Problems from Locke J. Authors Affiliations are at time of print publication. Print Save Cite Email Share. Show Summary Details. Jolley claims that as a theologian Locke deals with with issues in both natural, and perhaps more surprisingly, revealed religion.

In the passage from Book IV quoted above, Locke is telling us that both possibilities, thinking matter and immaterial thinking substance, are beyond our comprehension and requires in either case God to add the powers of perception and thought to matter or to the immaterial substance—which is then joined to the fitly disposed matter.

PROBLEMS FROM LOCKE by J. L. Mackie - Ayers - - Philosophical Books - Wiley Online Library

This is because, as the dualist claimed, from motion all you get is motion, from figure only other figures. Let us call this the Homogeneity Principle. Since perception and thought are not motions or figures, they cannot be caused by matter. Indeed, it would seem that his suggestion in IV. Locke, however, explicitly denies this.

In another part of the discussion of thinking matter, he writes:. For I see no contradiction in it, that the first Eternal Thinking Being, should, if he pleased, give to certain systems of created, senseless matter, put together as he thinks fit, some degree of sense, perception and thought: Though I think as I have prove, Lib IV c.

J. L. Mackie

What Certainty of knowledge can anyone have that some perceptions, such as v. For since we must allow that he has annexed Effects to Motion, which we can no way conceive Motion able to produce, what reason have we to conclude, that he could not order them as well as to be produced in a Subject we cannot conceive capable of them, as well as in a Subject we cannot conceive the motion of Matter can any way operate upon? Locke claims that it was no farther beyond our comprehension that motions of the body could give rise to pleasure and pain, colors and sounds, than that an immaterial soul could feel pain or see colors after the occurrence of some motions in the body.

Plainly, he is using the mind body problem to suggest that their are features of substance dualism that are just as puzzling as the fact that the standard corpuscularian mechanism cannot explain thinking matter. Locke is putting the dualist and materialist positions on the same footing. He immediately draws the theological conclusion that follows from the two hypotheses being equally plausible:. In this passage about the great ends of morality and religion Locke is claiming that the issue of whether the soul is material or immaterial is of no great importance for morality or the ends of religion.

There will be a resurrection of the dead, judgment and just rewards and punishments will be meted out, whether the thing that thinks in us is material or immaterial. By showing that on either account the ends and purposes of morality and religion will be served, Locke is reconciling the contestants on either side by showing that what is at stake will be gained either way.

The idea of matter is an extended solid substance; wherever there is such a substance, there is matter; and the essence of matter, whatever other qualities, not contained in that essence, it shall please God to superadd to it. Hitherto it is not doubted but the power of God may go, and that the properties of a rose, a peach, or an elephant, superadded to matter, change not the properties of matter; but matter is in these things matter still. Locke, , Vol. III: ; quoted in Jolley It would appear from this account that, in respect to material bodies, superadded properties are those God adds to matter to create certain kinds of things beyond the essence of matter, that yet leaves the essence of matter unaffected.

So, the addition of motion to some parts of matter previously at rest is a superaddition. So too is the organization of matter into vegetative life such as roses and peach trees. The organization which produces the sense and spontaneous motion of animals, such as the elephant is also superaddition. It is but a further step to perception and thought.

So, why object to the last step, Locke says, when everything leading up to it is unproblematic?

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It suggests that God creates matter fitly disposed, and then adds something to it to make it perceive and think. This model of superaddition makes one wonder what exactly it is that God is adding to the matter fitly disposed. It seems that there are no very good answers. This should lead us to try to hang on to the model that says God creates the organization of a rose, and elephant and a man and the creation of these are the superadditions with no further addition necessary.

But if something in addition is required we might think of putting the machine in motion. The simplest case is, perhaps, motion. Here, presumably, all God has to do is give certain parts of matter a push and they move. With peach trees and elephants, there is more of a puzzle. Locke holds that all of vegetative life can be explained mechanically.

Still, the starting of the plant machine comes from within. Perhaps whatever it is that sets the peach tree machine going is that thing superadded. Perhaps the organization and the push are both superadditions.

Perhaps one can say the same of the elephant and man. Given all this, how does Locke avoid the contradiction between his adoption of the principle of Homogeneity and his assertion that thinking matter is possible? There is a clue in the passage from his correspondence with Stillingfleet quoted above. It is this claim that the dualist Principle of Homogeneity is aimed to counter. Let matter be eternally in motion, it will still never produce anything other than motion.

So, Locke uses the Principle of Homogeneity in its strong dualist form to block the creation of a material God. But once God is recognized to be necessarily immaterial, Locke has a different account of the essence of matter than the ancient materialists. As we have seen in the passage of the correspondence with Stillingfleet, motion is not an essential feature of matter, it is superadded.

God can and does make things which are quite different from one another cause one another. Motions in the body cause pleasure and pain and the ideas of secondary qualities such as color and sound. So motion can cause perception and thought.

The problem is just that the banging together of pieces of matter cannot explain perception and thought. So, God must employ some other means which go beyond our ideas to make this happen—and thus it is incomprehensible to us. Locke also claims that the God and perhaps the angels know how the apparent qualities of man arise from atoms III. This is because on a corpuscularian mechanist basis, the connections between motions and colors, for example, are arbitrary.

But, given that God is using some other way to connect motions and colors, it does not follow that the connections are arbitrary, though they seem so to us. So, a divine understanding of nature might still be possible. Instead of the reconciling conclusions about immaterial versus material substance that Locke is arguing for, his remarks were sometimes treated as proposing that matter can and does think.

It hardly matters however.

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Clarke sought to show that from our ideas alone it would be possible to show that matter thinking would involve a contradiction. If Clarke is right, Locke even on the weaker interpretation explored here would be wrong. There was an explosion of refutations of the claim that for all we know matter can think and the discussion of this issue lasted at least three quarters of the way through the eighteenth century. For accounts of this debate see Yolton and Martin and Baresi His account of personal identity is embedded in a general account of identity.

McCann 54—7 But the general account is linked in important ways with the main topic of the chapter, which is personal identity. When we see anything in any place in one instant of time, we are sure, be it what it will that it is that very thing and not another, which at that time exists in another place, how like an undistinguishable it may be in other respects.

And in this consists identity when the ideas it is attributed to vary not at all from what they were that moment, wherein we consider their former existence, to which we compare the present.

Problems from Locke

Locke then goes on to state that two things of the same kind cannot be in the same place at the same time and to draw a corollary from this principle:. For we never finding nor conceiving it possible, that two things of the same kind should exist at the same place at the same time, we rightly conclude that anything that exists anywhere at any time, excludes all of the same kind, and is there itself alone.

Not moral philosophy, for sure, but examinations of what we know, how we think, what there is, what a person is. It is astounding that Locke should have had this power.

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It is no surprise that philosophers are reread: Plato captivates his readers in any language, and most of the memorable philosophers can get us high on a phrase, a chapter, a book. Hobbes and Descartes had a great deal to do with forming the distinct prose styles of their respective languages, and hence, I imagine, formed our several ideas of what an argument is.

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But Locke — Locke plods. Fewer, perhaps, than would like to admit it. But Locke rules. No matter how briefly he is skimmed or how conveniently abridged, he set an agenda which after three centuries shows no signs of fading. It is partly a matter of tone. Locke could have described himself in exactly the same way. At home, however his fortunes may have gone up or down, the topics that he discussed came to constitute philosophy. English-language philosophy has been sceptical ever since. And that, too, is remarkable. For here is a Locke who collaborated with Robert Boyle, the man on whose premises and in the hands of Robert Hooke laboratory science arguably began.

Here is the Locke who had significant if ill-understood relationships with Newton, our greatest theoretician. Snow so deplored. Locke is honoured for his pleas for toleration in religion, but he knows the danger of dogma in all things. And in our day, when that most influential of philosophers, W.

Three Problems in Locke’s Ontology of Substance and Mode

Quine, teaches us that we must naturalise epistemology, and take what the scientists tell us as the core of all our knowing, Locke would be a wonderful prophylactic, if only he or Ayers were a little more lively. He chose our topics. Ayers divides his study into two halves, which he intends to be largely independent of each other. Around William James, G. That way of seeing philosophy has stuck. Advance notices and early dust-jackets for the series implied a lack of interest in the historical context of argument. Arguments are arguments, good or bad, no matter when invented and no matter for whom they were intended.

And that undoubtedly is one possible way of reading many of the philosophers — as timeless, speaking directly to you.