Lockes view on human nature

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lockes view on human nature

An Essay Concerning Human Understanding by John Locke

The Essay Concerning Human Understanding is sectioned into four books. Taken together, they comprise an extremely long and detailed theory of knowledge starting from the very basics and building up. Book I, Of Innate Ideas, is an attack on the Cartesian view of knowledge, which holds that human beings are born with certain ideas already in their mind. Of Innate Ideas begins with an argument against the possibility of innate propositional knowledge (that is, innate knowledge of fact, such as the fact that whatever is, is), and then moves on to an argument against the possibility of innate ideas (such as the idea of God).

Once he feels secure that he has sufficiently argued the Cartesian position, Locke begins to construct his own theory of the origins of knowledge. The short answer is: from experience. The long answer is Book II. Book II lays out Lockes theory of ideas. He argues that everything in our mind is an idea, and that all ideas take one of two routes to arrive in our mind: either they come in through the senses, or else they come in through the minds reflection on its own operation. He also classifies our ideas into two basic types, simple and complex (with simple ideas being the building blocks of complex ideas), and then further classifies these basic types into more specific subcategories. The vast majority of this book is spent analyzing the specific subcategories of our ideas.

Though Book II is primarily an attempt to account for the origin of all our ideas, it also includes two other very important discussions, only tangentially related to the subject of the origin of ideas. Chapter VIII contains Lockes argument for a distinction between primary and secondary qualities. He attempts to show that there are two very different sorts of relations that can hold between the qualities of the outside world and our ideas about those qualities. The relation between primary qualities (e.g. size and shape) and our ideas of them is one of resemblance; what we sense is roughly what is out there. In contrast, the relation between secondary qualities (e.g. color and odor) and our ideas of them is one of mismatch; there is nothing out in the world that resembles our sensations. In chapter XXIII, Locke tries to give an account of substance that allows most of our intuitions without conceding anything objectionable.

In Of Words, Locke turns from philosophy of mind to philosophy of language. Ideas, however, are still an important part of the picture. According to the theory of meaning that Locke presents, words do not refer to things in the external world but to the ideas in our heads. Locke, relying heavily on his theory of ideas, attempts to give an account of how we form general terms from a world of particular objects, which leads him into a lengthy discussion of the ontology of types (that is, the question of whether there are any natural kinds out in the world or whether all classifications are purely conventional).

Of Knowledge and Opinion, finally gives us the long awaited theory of knowledge. Locke begins with a strict definition of knowledge, one which renders most sciences (all but mathematics and morality) ineligible. Knowledge, according to Locke, is the perception of strong internal relations that hold among the ideas themselves, without any reference to the external world. He lists four sorts of relations between ideas that would count as knowledge (identity/diversity, relation, coexistence, actual existence), and then distinguishes between three grades of knowledge (intuition as the highest, demonstration as a middling level, and sensitive knowledge as a sort of pseudo- knowledge). The remainder of the book is spent discussing opinion or belief, which is the best we can hope for from nearly all our intellectual endeavors.

Locke is very careful to refrain from speaking as if opinion is mere opinion; he is not a skeptic and does not believe that science is futile. On the contrary, he is very eager to claim in the last chapters of the Essay, that we should be satisfied with this level of certitude and that we should continue collecting scientific data with gusto. Gaining a better and better opinion of the world is a worthy goal, and one that he shares. He does ask, however, that we be aware that as good as our opinions become, they are never going to reach the level of knowledge.
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John Locke

John Locke 's Views On Human Nature

One reason for these different conclusions lies in their opposing understanding of human nature, with, in the most crude sense, Hobbes seeing man as a creature of desire and Locke as one of reason. A second explanation for their conclusions is their understanding of the nature of rights. Locke saw certain rights as independent of government or the state, whereas Hobbes, in a sense, saw them as coming from the state. This position of Hobbes is arrived at in a systematic way that perhaps makes him the father of political science. In terms of human agency Hobbes viewed motion as producing delight or displeasure within us.

His work greatly affected the development of epistemology and political philosophy. His writings influenced Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau , many Scottish Enlightenment thinkers, as well as the American revolutionaries. His contributions to classical republicanism and liberal theory are reflected in the United States Declaration of Independence. Locke's theory of mind is often cited as the origin of modern conceptions of identity and the self , figuring prominently in the work of later philosophers such as David Hume , Rousseau, and Immanuel Kant. Locke was the first to define the self through a continuity of consciousness.

John Locke - and Thomas Hobbes - were both known as English, social contract theorists as well as natural law theorists. However, they are both completely different in terms of their stand and conclusions in several laws of nature. Thomas Hobbes was an English philosopher from Malmesbury, England. Hobbes garnered recognition as the champion of absolutism for the sovereign. John Locke, on the other hand, has been hailed as the father of liberalism. John Locke obtained his education at a prestigious institution in London — Westminster School and studied medicine at Oxford.

Hobbes Account

Locke's greatest philosophical work, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding , is generally seen as a defining work of seventeenth-century empiricist epistemology and metaphysics. The moral philosophy developed in this work is rarely taken up for critical analysis, considered by many scholars of Locke's thought to be too obscure and confusing to be taken too seriously. The view is not only seen by many commentators as incomplete, but it carries a degree of rationalism that cannot be made consistent with our picture of Locke as the arch-empiricist of his period. While it is true that Locke's discussion of morality in the Essay is not as well-developed as many of his other views, there is reason to think that morality was the driving concern of this great work. For Locke, morality is the one area apart from mathematics wherein human reasoning can attain a level of rational certitude.

Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Plato are among some of the many philosophers that have covered this topic in detail. John Locke expressed a generous view of human behavior. This quote refers to human nature, which is heavily discussed by John Locke. Locke is not the. Whereas Locke saw a civilization that can be ruled in a democracy and every individual had a say in how the civilization can be ruled.

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  3. Maria F. says:

    Free Essay: James Madison and John Locke each created similar but somewhat different ideas about human nature. Whereas John Locke put.

  4. Lucero H. says:

    John Locke FRS was an English philosopher and physician, widely .. founded on social contract theory. Unlike Thomas Hobbes, Locke believed that human nature is characterised by reason and tolerance.

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