1902 Encyclopedia > John Locke

John Locke
English philosopher
(1632-1704)




LOCKE, JOHN (1632-1704). Some idea of the man and his surroundings is more needed for the interpretation of what Locke has written than in the case of most philosophers. His youth was spent amidst the war of principles of which England was the scene in the middle of the 17th century. In later life he mixed much with the chief actors in the political drama that followed the Restoration. In his advanced years he was the intellectual representative of tendencies which at the Revolution settlement inaugurated the tranquil material progress and tolerant but more prosaic sprit of the 18th century in England. It is instructive to see how the foundation of belief and the constitution of knowledge are investigated by an English gentleman, who was no recluse mediaeval monk or pedantic modern professor, but a man of the world, practically conversant with affairs, in tone calm and rational, and now justly regarded as the typical English philosopher.

Locke was born in the county of Somerset, on the 29th of August 1632, six years after the death of Bacon, and three months before the birth of Spinoza. His father was a small landowner and attorney at Pensford, near the northern boundary of the county, to which neighbourhood the family had migrated from Dorsetshire early in the century. The elder Locke, a strict but genial Puritan, by whom the son was carefully educated at home, was engaged in the military service of the popular party when the son was a boy, Bristol being one of the centres of the war. "From the time that I knew anything," Locke wrote in 1660, "I found myself in a storm which has continued to this time." For fourteen years his education was going on at home, in the Puritan family. The house at Beluton, on his father’s little estate, in which these years were spent, may still be seen on the side of one of the orchard-clad vales of Somerset, half a mile from the market-town of Pensford, and 6 miles from Bristol. The actual place of Locke’s birth was at Wrington, 10 miles westward, in a house which still exists, where his mother chanced to be on a visit.

In 1646 he entered Westminster School, then of course under Puritan control, and at the headquarters of the parliamentary movement. The six following years were mostly spent there. He does not seem to have liked Westminster, and its memories perhaps produced the bias against public schools which afterwards almost disturbed his philosophic impartiality in his Thoughts on Education.

In 1652 Locke passed from Westminster to Oxford. He there found himself at Christ Church, in charge of John Owen, the newly appointed Puritan dean, and vicechancellor of the university. Christ Church was more or less Locked’s home for thirty years. For eighty years after he entered Oxford was ruled by the Independents, who, through Owen and Goodwin, unlike the Presbyterians, were among the first in England to promulgate the principles of genuine religious liberty. Locke’s hereditary sympathy with the Puritans was gradually lessened by what he saw of the intolerance of the Presbyterians and the fanaticism of the Independents. He found, he says characteristically, that "what was called general freedom was general bondage, and that the popular assertors of liberty were the greatest engrossers of it too, and not unfitly called its keepers." The influenced of the liberal divines of the Church of England became apparent afterwards in the progress of his mental history.

Oxford had suffered a s seat of learning during the civil war. Under Owen the scholastic studies and disputations were maintained with a formality unsuited to Locke’s free inquisitive temper. The reaction against them which he expressed showed thus early a strong disposition to rebel against empty verbal reasonings. He was not, according to his own account of himself to Lady Masham, a very hard student at first. He sought the company of pleasant and witty, men with whom he likewise took great delight in corresponding by letter ; and in conversation and in these correspondences he spent much of his time. He took his bachelor’s degree in 1656, and that of master in 1658, the latter on the same day with Joseph Glanvill, the author of Scepsis Scientifica. In December 1660 he was made tutor of Christ Church, and lectured in Greek, rhetoric and philosophy in the following year.

At Oxford Locke was within reach of distinctive intellectual influences, then of great strength, and particularly fitted to promote self-education in a strong character. The metaphysical works of Descartes had appeared a few years before he entered Christ Church, and the Human Nature and Leviathan of Hobbes during his undergraduate years. It does not seem that Locke read extensively, but he was soon drawn to Descartes. The first books, he told Lady Masham, which gave him a relish for philosophical things were those of Descartes. He was delighted in reading them, though he very often differed in opinion from the writer, for he found that what he said was very intelligible. After the Restoration he lived amidst the influences which were then drawing Oxford and England into experimental research. Experiments in physics became the fashion after 1660. The Royal Society was that year founded at Oxford. Wallis and Wilkins, and afterwards Boyle and Wren, at Oxford, and Barrow and Newton at Cambridge, helped to make chemistry, meteorology, and mechanics take the place of verbal disputes. We find him, accordingly, at work in chemistry about 1663, and also in the meteorological observations which always interested him.

The restraints of professional life were not well suited to Locke. There is a surname that he once contemplated taking orders in the Church of England. His religious disposition attracted him to theological studies. His revulsion from the severe dogmatism of Presbyterians and the unreasoning fanaticism of Independents favoured that connexion with liberal Anglican churchman which he maintained in later life. Whichcote was his favourite preacher, and latterly his closest intimacy was with the Cudworth family. But, though he has a place among the lay theologians of England, his dislike to ecclesiastical impediments to free research, as well as his taste for experimental investigations, led him in the to turn to medicine when he had to think about a profession. This was soon after the Restoration, and before 1666 he seems to have been practising medicine in Oxford. But, though afterwards known among his friends as "Doctor Locke," he graduated as a physician. His health was uncertain, for the suffered all his life from chronic consumption and asthma, and besides that an event soon occurred which withdraw him from medical practice. To the end, however, he was fond of the science, and also ready on occasion to give friendly advice.

Locke had early shown an inclination to politics as well as to theology and to medicine. In 1665 he diverged from medical study at Oxford to diplomacy, and was engaged for a few months in this sort of business, as secretary to Sir Walter Vane on his embassy to Cleves. It was soon after his return from Germany in the following year that the incident occurred which determined his career in the direction of politics. Lord Ashley, afterwards first earl of Shaftesbury, the most truly historical figure among the statesmen of Charles II’s reign, had come to Oxford for health. There Locke was accidentally introduced to him. This meeting was the beginning of a lasting friendship, sustained by a common sympathy with liberty—civil, religious, and philosophical. In 1667 Locke removed from Christ Church to Exeter House, Lord Ashley’s London residence, to become his private secretary, and in 1673 secretary of the Board of Trade. Although he retained his studentship at Christ Church, and occasionally visited Oxford, and also his patrimony at Beluton, lately inherited from his father, he found a home and shared fortune with the great statesman during the fifteen years which followed his removal to Exeter House.

The manuscripts of Locke which belong to this Oxford period throw welcome light on the growth of his mind in early life. Among them is an essay on the "Roman Commonwealth," which expresses convictions as to religious liberty and the relations of religion to the state which were only strengthened and deepened in the progress of his life. Objections to the sacerdotal conception of Christianity are strongly stated in another paper ; short work is made of human claims to infallibility in the interpretation of Scripture in a third ; a scheme of utilitarian ethics, wider in its conception than that of Hobbes, is offered in a fourth. But the most significant of those early revelations is an "Essay concerning Toleration," dated in 1666, which anticipates many of the positions maintained nearly thirty yeas later in his famous Letters on the subject.

The Shaftesbury connexion helped to save Locke from those idols of the den to which professional in every form is exposed. It brought him much in contact with public men, with the springs of political action, and with the details of office. The place he held as confidential adviser of the greatest statesman of his age is indeed the most remarkable feature in his middle life. Exeter House afforded every opportunity for society, and of this Locke, according to his disposition, availed himself. He became one of the intimates among others of the illustrious Sydenham. But though he joined the Royal Society he seldom went to its meetings, for his custom all his life was to encourage small reunions of intimate friends. One of these at Exeter House was the occasion of the enterprise which has made his name memorable in history ; for it was there that "five or six friends" met one evening in his rooms, about 1671, and discussed "principles of morality and religion" which seemed remote from questions about "human understanding." They "found themselves quickly at a stand by the difficulties that arose on every side." Locke suggested a careful examination of the exact limits of man’s power to know the universe as the proper way out of their difficulties. The results of the reflexion to which these difficulties thus gave rise, he thought, when he set to work, might be contained on "one sheet of paper." But what was thus "begun by chance was continued by entreaty, written by incoherent parcels, and after long intervals of neglects resumed again as humour and ocassions permitted," till at last, at the end of nearly twenty years, it was given to the world as the Essays on Human Understanding. This work gave intellectual unity and a purpose to his life as a man of letters and philosophy.

The fall of Shaftesbury in 1675 enabled Locked to escape for four years from the centre of English politics to a retreat in France, where he could unite the study of "human understanding" with attention to health. He spent three years partly at Montpellier and partly in Paris. His journals and commonplace books of this period show the Essay in process of commonplace books of this period show the Essay in process of construction. The visits to Paris were times of meeting with men of letters and science, among others Guenellon, the well-known Amsterdam physician ; Römer, the Danish astronmer ; Thoynard, the critic ; Thevenot, the traveller ; Justel, the jurist ; and Bernier, the expositor of Gassendi. There is no mention of Malebranche, whose Recherche de la Vérité had appeared three years before, and who was then at the Oratoire, nor of Arnauld, his illustrious rival at the Sorbonne.

Locke returned to London in 1679. A reaction against the court party had for a time restored Shaftesbury to power. Locke resumed his old confidential relations. A period of much-interrupted leisure followed. It was a time of plots and counterplots, when England seemed on the brink of another civil war. In the end Shaftesbury was committed to the Tower, tried, and acquitted. More insurrectionary plots followed in the summer of 1682, after which, isolated at home, he escaped to Holland, and died at Amsterdam in January 1683. In these two years Locke was much at Oxford or at Beluton. The last movements of Shaftesbury did not recommend themselves to the sage caution of his secretary. Yet the officials of Government kept their eyes on him. John Locke lives a very cunning unintelligible life here," Prideaux reported from Oxford in 1682. "I may confidently affirm," the dean of Christ Church afterwards wrote to Lord Sunderland, "there is not any one in the college who has heard him speak a word against, or so much as censuring, the Government ; and, although very frequently, both in public and private, discourses have been purposely introduced to the disparagement of his master, the earl of Shaftesbury, he could never be provoked to take any notice, or discover in word or look the least concern ; so that I believe there is not in the world such a master of taciturnity and passion." Some unpublished correspondence with his Somerset friend, Edward Clarke of Chipley, describes his daily life in these troubled years, and refers to intercourse with the Cudworth family, who were intimate with the Clarkes. The commonplace books and letters about the same time allude to toleration in the state and comprehension, in the church, and show an indifference to questions on which theological disputers lay stress, hardly consistent with a strict connexion with any organized body of Christians, notwithstanding his gravitation towards the Church of England as the most liberal community.

In his fifty-second year, in the gloomy autumn of 1683, Locke retired to Holland in voluntary exile. It was then the asylum of eminent person who were elsewhere denied civil and religious liberty. Descartes and Spinoza had meditated there ; it had been the home of Erasmus and Grotius ; it was now the refuge of Bayle. Holland was Locke’s sanctuary for more than five years ; but it was hardly a voluntary retreat. His (unpublished) letters from thence represent a man of tender feelings, on whom exile sat heavily. Amsterdam was his first Dutch home. For a time he was in danger of arrest at the instance of the English Government. After anxious months of concealment in the houses of friends, he escaped ; he was, however, deprived of his studentship at Christ Church, and Oxford was finally closed against him by order of the king. But Holland introduced him to new friends. One of these, ever after a intimate correspondent, was Philip van Limborch, the successor of Episcopius as Remonstrant professor of theology, lucid, learned, and tolerant, the friend of Cudworth, Whichcote, and More. Limborch attached him to Le Clerc, then the youthful representative of letters and philosophy in Limborch’s college, who had escaped from Geneva and Calvinism to the milder atmosphere of Holland. The Bibliothèque Universelle of Le Clerc, commenced in 1686, soon became the chief organ in Europe of men of letters. Locke was at once united with him in the work, and contributed several articles. It was his first appearance as an author, although he was now more than fifty-four years of age, and afterwards produced so many volumes. This tardiness in authorship is a significant fact in Locke’s mental history, in harmony with the tempered wisdom and massive common sense which reign throughout his works. The next fourteen years those in which the world received the thought which observation of affairs and reflexion had so long been forming in his mind. They were taking shape for publication while he was in Holland. The Essay was finished there, and a French epitome of it appeared in 1688, in Le Clerc’s journal. Locke was then at Rotterdam, where he lived for more than a year in the house of a Quaker friend, Benjamin Furley, a wealthy merchant and collector of books. The course of affairs in England at last opened a way for his return to his native country. At Rotterdam he was the confident of the political exiles, including Burnet and Mordaunt, afterwards the famous earl of Peterborough, as well as of the prince of Orange. William landed in England in November 1688; Locke followed in February 1689, in the same ship with the princess of Orange and Lady Mordaunt.

It was after his return to England that through authorship Locke emerged into European fame. Within a month he had declined the embassy to Brandenburg, and taken instead the modest office of commissioner of appeals with its almost nominal duties. The two years, 1689 and 1690, during which he lived at Dorset Court, in London, were memorable for the publication of this two chief works in social polity, and also of the most popular and widely influential book in modern philosophy, which expresses in a generalized form the principles that lie a the root of all his political and other writings. The first of the three to appears was the defence of religious liberty in the state, in the Epistola de Tolerantia, addressed to Limborch. It was published at Gouda in the spring of 1689, and translated into English in autumn by William Popple, a Unitarian merchant in London. The Two Treatises on Government, in defence of the sovereignty of the people, followed a month or two after. The Essay concerning Human received £30 for the copyright, which was nearly the same as Kant afterwards got for the first edition of his Kritik der reinen Vernunft. He had carried the manuscript from Holland, ready for the press except a few last touches. It was the first book in which his name appeared, for the other two were published anonymously. Locke’s asthma and other ailments had increased in the latter part of 1690. The air of London always aggravated them. The course of public affairs also disappointed him, for the settlement at the Revolution in many ways fells short of his ideal. It was then that the home of his old age, the brightest of all his homes, opened to received him. This was the manor houses of Oates in Essex, pleasantly situated midway Onger and Harlow, the country seat of Sir Francis Masham. Lady Masham was the accomplished daughter of Cudworth, and Locke had known her before he went to Holland. In the course of the two years after his return, she told Le Clerc, "by some considerably long visits Mr Locke’s made trial of the air of this place, which is some 20 miles from London, and he thought that none would be so suitable for him. Has company cold not but be very desirable for us, and he had all the assurances we could give him of being always welcome ; but, make him easy in living with us, it was necessary he should do so on his own terms, which Sir Francis at last assenting to, he then believed himself at home with us, and resolved, if it pleased God, here to end his days—as he did." It was in the spring of 1691 that this idyllic life at Oates began. There, among the green lanes of rural England, he enjoyed for fourteen years as much domestic peace and literary leisure as was consistent with broken health and sometimes anxious visits to London on public affairs. Oates was in every way his home. In his letters and otherwise we have charming pictures of its inmates and its internal economy, as well as of occasional visits of friends who went there to see him, among others Lord Petersborough and the Lord Shaftesbury who wrote the Characteristics, Isaac Newton, William Molyneux, and Anthony Collins.

At Oates he was always busy with his pen. The Letter on Toleration had already involved him in controversy. The Answer of a certain Jonas Proast of Queen’s College, Oxford, had draw forth in 1690 his Second Letter on Toleration. A rejoinder in 1691 was followed by Locke’s Third Letter in the summer of the following year. And other questions divided his interest with this one. In 1691 those of currency and finance were much in his thoughts ; in the year he addressed a letter to Sir John Somers on the Consequences of the Lowering of Interest and Raising the Value of Money. It happened too that when he was in Holland he has written letters to his friend Clarke of Chipley about the education of his children. These letters the substance of the little volume that appeared in 1693, entitled Thoughts on Education, which still holds its place among the classics in that department. Nor were the "principles of revealed religion" forgotten, which a quarter of a century before were partly the occasion of the Essay. The circumstances of the time now made him desire to show how few and simple all the essential points held in common by the religious community of England were, and to bring men if possible to agree to differ as individuals regarding all beyond. The issue was an anonymous essay on the Reasonableness of Christianity as delivered in the Scriptures, which appeared in 1695, in which Locke tried to separate the divine essene of Christianity from accidental accretions of dogma, and verbal reasoning of professional theologians, ignorant of the limits within the conclusions of human being on such subjects must be confined. This irenicon involved him in controversies that lasted for years A host of angry polemics assailed the book. A now forgotten John Edwards was conspicuous among them. Locke produced a Vindication which added fuel to the fire, and was followed by a Second Vindication in 1697. Notes of opposition to the Essay too had been heard almost as soon as it appeared. John Norris, the methaphysical rector of Bemerton, an English disciple of Malebranche, criticized it in certain Cursory Reflexions in 1690. Locke took no notice of this at the time, but his second winter at Oates was partly employed in writing what appeared after his death as an Examination of Malebranche’s Opinion of Seeing all Things in God, and as Remarks upon some of Mr Norris’s Books,—tracts which throw important light upon his own theory, or rather want of theory, or rather want of theory, as to perception through the senses. When he was examining Malebranche he was also preparing the Essay for a second edition, and corresponding in it. This edition, with a chapter added on "Personal Identity," and numerous alterations in the chapter on "Power," appeared in 1695. It was followed by a third, which was only a reprint, latter in the same year. Wynne’s well-known abridgment in that year helped to make the book known in Oxford, and Molyneux had years before introduced it in Dublin. In 1695 a return to questions about the currency diverted Locke’s attention for a little from metaphysics and theology. Circumstances in that year gave occasion to his tract entitled Observations on Silver Money and also to his Further Considerations on Raising the Value of Money.





In 1696 Locke was induced to accept a commissionership on the Board of Trade, which made frequent visits to London needful in the four following years, and involved him considerably in the cares of office. Meantime the Essay on Human Understanding and te Reasonableness of Christianity were both becoming more involved in the wordy warface between dogmatists and latitudinarians, trinitarians and unitarians, of which England was the scene in the last decade of the 17th century. The controversy with Edwards was followed by another with Stillingfleet, bishop of Worcester, which takes its place among the memorable philosophical controversies of the modern world. It arose in this way. John Toland, an Irishman, in his Christianity not Mysterious, had exaggerated some passage in the Essay, and then adopted the opinions as his own. In the autumn of 1696, Stillingfleet, who was a learned and argumentative ecclesiastic more than a religious philosopher, in a Vindication of the Doctrine of the Trinity wrote some pages on Locke, condemning him especially for eliminating mystery from human knowledge in his account of what is meant by "subtance" Locke replied in a Letter dated January 1697. Stillingfleet’s rejoinder appeared in May, followed by a Second Letter from Locke in August, to which the bishop replied in the following year. Locke’s elaborate Third Letter, in which the ramifications of the controversy are pursued with tedious expenditure of acute reasoning and polished irony, was delayed till 1699. The death of Stillingflee in that year brought this famous trial of strength to an end. (The interesting episode of Molyneux’s visit to Oastes, followed by his death a few days after his return to Dublin, occurred in 1698, when the Stillingfleet controversy was at its height.) Other critics were now entering the lists against the Essay. One of the ablest was John Sergeant, a Catholic priest, in his Solid Philosophy Asserted Against the Fancies of the Ideists, in 1697. He was followed by Thomas Burnet and Dean Sherlock. Henry Lee, rector of Tichmarch, produced in 1702 a folio volume of notes on each chapter in the Essay, under the title of Anti-Scepticism ; John Broughton dealt another blow in his Psychologia Norris returned to the attack, in various passages in his Theory of the Ideal or Intelligible World. Locke was defended with vigour by Samuel Bolde, a Dorsetshire clergyman. The Essay was all the while spreading over Europe, impelled by the great name of its author as the chief friend and phisophical defender of civil and religious liberty. The fourth edition (the last while Locke was alive) appeared in 1700. It contained two important new chapters on "Association of Ideas" and "Enthusiasm," What was originally meant for a third chapter was prepared but withheld. It appeared among Locke’s posthumous writings, under the now well-known title of Conduct of the Understanding, in some respects the most characteristic of his works. The French translation of the Essay by Pierre Coste, Locke’s amanuensis at Oates, was almost simultaneous with the fourth edition. The Latin version by Burridge of Dublin appeared the year after, reprinted in due time at Amsterdam and at Leipsic.

After 1700 Locke was gathering himself up for the end, in the rural repose of family life at Oates. The commission at the Board of Trade was resigned, and the visits to London ceased. Scriptural studies and religious meditation engaged most of his available strength in the four years that remained. The Gospels had been much searched by him when he worked in theology years before. He now turned to the Epistles of St Paul, and applied the spirit of the Essay, and the rules of critical interpretation which apply to other books, to interpret a literature which he still venerated with the submissiveness of the pious Puritans who surrounded his youth. The results of these studies were ready for the printer when he died, and were published about two years afterwards. A few pages on Miracles , written in 1702, in connexion with Fleetwood’s essay, also appeared posthumously. More adverse criticism was now reported to him, and the Essay was formally condemned by the authorities at Oxford. "I take what has been done rather as was recommendation of the book," he wrote to his young friend Anthony Collins, a neighbouring Essex squire, then a frequent visitor at Oates, and afterwards a leader of free thought, "and when you and I next we shall be merry on the subject." One attack only moved him. In 1704 his adversary Jonas Proast unexpectedly revived their old controversy. Locke in consequence began a Fourth Letter on Toleration. The few pages in the posthumous volume, ending in an unfinished sentences, seem to have exhausted his remaining strength in the weeks before he died. Thus the theme which had employed him at Oxford more than forty years before, and had been his ruling idea throughout the long interval, was still dominant in the last days of his life. All that summer of 1704 he continued to decline, tenderly nursed by Lady Masham and her step-daughter. On the 28th of October he passed away, as he declared, "in perfect charity with all men, and in sincere communion with the whole church of Christ, by whatever names Christs followers call themselves." The tomb of Locke may be seen on the south side of the parish church of High Laver, in which he often worshipped, near the tombs of the Mashams, and of Damaris, the widow of Cudworth, bearing a Latin inscription prepared by his own hand. At the distance of a mile are the garden and park where the manor house of Oates once stood, surrounded by a green undulating country, in the lanes of which the slender figure, with the refined reflective countenance made familiar to us by Kneller, was so often seen in the last year of the 17th century.

Locke’s history, combined with his writings, has made his intellectual and moral features not less familiar. The reasonableness of taking probability for our ultimate guide in all the really important concerns of life was the essence of his philosophy. The desire to see for himself what is really true in the light only of its reasonable evidence, and that others should do the like, was his ruling passion, if the term can be applied to one so calm and judicial. "I can no more know anything by another man’s understanding," he would say, "when I can see another man’s eyes." The knowledge with one man possesses is "a treasure which cannot be lent or made over to another." This repugnance to believe blindly what rested on authority, as distinguished from what was seen to be sustained by self-evident reason or by demonstration or by good probable evidence, runs through his life. He is typically English in his reverence for facts, whether facts of sense or of rational consciousness, in his tendency to turn away from purely abstract speculation and merely verbal reasonings, in his suspicion of mysticism, in his calm reasonings, in his suspicion of mysticism, in his calm reasonableness, and in his ready submission to truth, even when the truth was incapable of being reduced to system, provided only that it served a human purpose. The delight he took in making use of his reason in everything he did, and a wise use of it too, was what his friend Pierre Coste found most prominent in Lockes’ daily life at Oates. "He went about the most trifling thing always with some good reason. Above all things he loved order, and he had got the way of observing it in everything with wonderful exactness. As he always kept the useful in his eye in all his disquisitions, he esteemed the employment of men only in proportion to the good they were capable of producing ; for which cause he had no great value for the critics who waste their lives in composing words and phrases, and in coming to the choice of a various reading in a passage that has after all nothing important in it. He cared yet less for those professed disputants who, being taken up with the desire of coming off with victory, justify themselves behind the ambiguity of a word, to give their adversaries the more trouble. And whenever he had to deal with this sort of folks, if he did not beforehand take a strong resolution of keeping his temper, he quickly fell into a passion, for he was naturally choleric, but his anger never lasted long. If he retained any resentment it was against himself, for having given way to so ridiculous a passion, which, as he used to say, may do a great deal of harm, but never yet did any one the least good." Large, "round-about," even prosaic common sense, with intellectual strength solidly directed by a virtuous purpose, much more than subtle or daring speculation sustained by an idealizing faculty, in which he was deficient, is what we find conspicuous in Locke’s conduct, correspondence, and books. A defect in speculative imagination undoubtedly appears when he encounters the vast and complex problem of human knowledge in its organic unity, and when he is obliged to recognize the need for philosophy as an additional inquiry to that within the scope of any one, or all, of the special sciences.

In the inscription on his tomb Locke refers to his printed works as the true representation of what he really was. They are concerned with SOCIAL POLITY, CHRISTIANITY, EDUCATION, and PHILOSOPHY. It may be convenient to arrange them under these four heads, in the order in which were published, and then to give some account of his opinions under each head.

I. SOCIAL POLITY.—(1) Epistola de Tolerantia, 1689 (translated into English in the same year). (2) Two Treatises on Government, 1690 (the Patriarcha of Filmer, to which the First Treatise was a reply, appeared in 1680). (3) A Second Letter concerning Toleration, 1690. (4) Some Considerations on the Consequnce of Lowering the Rate of Interest and Raising the Value of Money, 1691. (5) A Third Letter for Toleration, 1692. (6) Short Observations on a printed paper entitled, "For Encouraging the Coining of Silver Money in England, and after for Keeping it here," 1695. (7) Further (this was occasioned by a Report containing an "Essay for the Amendment of Silver Coins," published that year by William Lowndes, a secretary for the Treasury ; Locke anticipates some later views in political economy). (8) A Fourth Letter for Toleration, 1706 (postumous).

II. CHRISTIANITY.—1. The Reasonableness of Christianity as delivered in the Scriptures, 1695. (2) A Vindication of the Reasonableness of Christianity from Mr Edwards’s Reflexions, 1695. (3) A Second Vindication of the Reasonableness of Christianity, 1697. (4) A Parapharase and Notes on the Epistles of St Paul to the Galatians, First and Second Corinthians, Romans, and Ephesians. To which is prefixed an Essay for the understanding of St Paul’s Epistles by consulting St Paul himself, 1705-7 (posthumous).

III. EDUCATION.—(1) Some Thoughts concerning Education, 1693. (2) The Conduct of the Understanding, 1706 (posthumous). (3) Some Thoughts concerning Reading and Study for a Gentleman, 1706 (posthumous). (5) Of Study (written in France in Locke’s journal, and published in L. King’s Life of Locke in 1830).

IV. PHILOSOPHY.—(1) An Essay concerning Human Understanding, in four books 1690. (2) A Letter to the Bishop of Worcester concerning some passages some passages relating to Mr Locke’s Essay of Human Understanding in a late Discourse of his Lordship’s in Vindication of the Trinity, 1697. (3) Mr Locke’s Reply to the Bishop of Worcester’s Answer to his Letters, 1697. (4) Mr Locke’s Reply to the Bishop of Worcester’s Answer to his Second Latter, 1699. (5) A Discourse of Miracles, 1706 (posthumous). (6) An Examination of Father Malebranche’s opinions of Seeing all Things in God, 1706 (posthumous). (7) Remarks upon Some of Mr Norris’s Books, wherein he asserts Father Malebranche’s opinion of Seeing all Things in God, 1720 (posthumous).

The following are Miscellaneous Tracts:—(1) A New Method of a Common Place Book, 1686 (this was Locke’s first article in the Bibliothèque of Le Clerc ; his other contributions to it are uncertain, except the Epitome of the Essay, in 1688). (2) The fundamental Constitutions of Carolina (prepared when Locke was Lord Shaftesbury’s secretary at Exeter House about 1673 ; remarkable for its recognition of the principle of toleration, and (published in 1706, in the posthumous collection). (3) Memoirs relationg to the Life of Anthony, First Earl of Shaftesbury, 1706. (4) Elements of Natural Philosophy, 1706. (5) Observations upon the Growth and Culture of Vines and Olives, 1706. (6) Rules of a Society which met once a Week, for their improvement in Useful Knowledge, and for the promotion of Truth and Christian Charity, 1706. (7) A Letter from a Person of Quality to is Friend in the Country, published in 1875 (included by Des Maizeaux in his Collection of Several Pices of Mr John Locke’s 1720), and soon afterwards burned by the common hangman by orders from the House of Lords, was disavowed by Locke himself. It may have been dictated by Shaftesbury.

There are also various writings of Locke first published in the biographies of Lord Haig and of Mr Fox Bourne.

Locke’s numerous Letters to Thoynard, Limborch, Le Clerc, Guenellon, Molyneux, Collins, Sir Isaac Newton, the first and the third Lord Shaftesbury, Lords Peterborough and Pembroke. Clarke of Chipley, and others, many of them unpublished, are models in their kind. They express the courtesy and humour which were natural to him, and his varied interests in human life. Those to Molyneux and Limborch in particular throw light on the Essay, and his works on Toleration and Christianity.

I. It has been truly said that all Locke’s writing, even the Essay on Human Understanding itself, were "occasional, an intended directly to counteract the enemies of reason and freedom in his own age." This is obviously true of his works on Social Polity, written in an age when the principles of democracy and toleration were struggling with passive obedience and divine right of kings, and when even "the popular assertors of public liberty were the greatest engrossers of it too." The state with Locke was the issue of free contract, and was not a natural organism. That the people, in the exercise of their sovereignty, have the right to govern themselves in the way they judge expedient for the common good, and that the civil government, whatever form it assumes, has no right to interfere with religious beliefs not expressed in actions inconsistent with civil society, is the essence of his political philosphy. He based the ultimate sovereignty of the people on a virtual consent or contract on the part of the people themselves to be so governed. The precise terms of contract, he allowed, might and should be modified by the sovereign people from time to time, in accomodation to ever changing circumstances. He saw that things in this world were in so constant a flux that no society long remained in the same state, and that "the grossest absurdities" must be the issue of "following custom when reason has left the custom." With an English love of compromise in the working of political affairs, he was always disposed towards liberal ecclesiastical concessions for the sake of religious unity and peace, and recommended obedience to the civil magistrate in all indifferent things in worship and government, not otherwise expressly determined by supernatural revelation. His attack of Sir Robert Filmer in the First Treatise on Government was an anachronism, even when it was published ; in the democratic principle argued for in the Second Treatise, while in advance of the practice of his age, he was anticipated by Aquinas and Bodin, as well as by Grotius and Hooker. His philosophical defence of the social rights of relgious beliefs was the most original and important of his contribution to polity, and the most far-reaching in its ultimate assumptions. Locke had a more modest estimate of human resources, natural and supernatural, for forming true judgments in religion, and a less pronounced judgment of the immorality of religious error, than either the Catholic or the Puritan. The toleration which he spent his life in arguing for meant a revolution from the absolute to a relative point of veiw in the theory of knowledge. It was protest against those who in theology "peremptorily require demonstration, and demand certainty where probability only is to b had." The practice of universal toleration amidst increasing religious differences was the most important application to the circumstances of his own age of the theory about human knowledge which pervaded his Essay. This paradox is now a commonplace, and the superabundant argument and irony in the Letters on Toleration fatigue the modern reader. The change of opinion is more due to Locke himself than to any one else. The rights of free thought and liberty of conscience had indeed been pleaded for, on various grounds, throughout the century in which he lived. Chillingworth, Jeremy Taylor, Cudworth, Glanvill, and other philosophical thinkers in the Church of England urged toleration in the state, in conjunction with a wide comprehension in the church, on grounds which implied intellectual limitation and even uncertainty in religious matters. Puritan Independents and Baptists, like Owen, Goodwin, and Richardson, whose idea of ecclesiastical comprehension was dogmatic and narrow, were ready to accept sectarian variety within the state, on the ground that it was possible to have many religious in the land, but only their own form within their sect. The existence of separate Christian nationalities, on the other hand, was the only justification of separate religious societies to the latitudinarian churchmen with whom Locke associated ; in each nationality they would have a comprehensive church coextensive with the nation. Locke went far to unite in a higher principle what was best in the broad Anglican and in the Puritan theories, while he recognized the individual liberty which has ever distinguished the national church of England (a) In his reasonings for toleration he insists on the fact that all human theologies must consist more of beliefs determined on presumptions of probability than of knowledge founded on what is either self-evident or demonstrable in the light of reason. A profound sense of the limits of human reason was at the bottom of his arguments for a tolerant comprehension by the state and also by the church. He had no objections to a national establishment of some form of religion, provided it was comprehensive enough, and was really the nation organized to promote goodness, and not to protect the metaphysical subtleties by which professional theologians spoil the original simplicity of Christianity. The recall of the national religion to this primitive simplicity, he hoped, would make toleration of nonconformists unnecessary, as few would then remain to ask for it. (b) The speculative, and therefore individually and socially harmless, nature of most persecuted beliefs and forms of worship is another point on which he insists. "No man is hurt because his neighbour is of a different religion from his own, and no civil society is hurt because its members are of different religions from one another." The more various our beliefs are, the more probable it becomes that a complete view of truth may by degrees be reached at last by the human race. In the meantime beliefs in religion concern the individual only and not society. To the atheist alone Locke absolutely refuses toleration, on the ground that the social bonds can have no hold over him, for "the taking away of God dissolves all." If atheism means hat denial that reason is the ultimate regulative principle in the universe, then the consistent atheist without doubt "dissolves all," and must reject physical science even, as well as morality, in an absolute nescience, so that he is incapable of citizenship as one who is insane. In Locke’s own philosophy, as we shall see, the existence of God is represented as demonstrable, but the distinctive articles of Christianity are founded only on presumptions of probability. He argued too against full toleration to the Church of Rome, at least in the circumstances of the age in which the Toleration Act was passed, on the ground of its allegiance to a foreign sovereign. (c) The unfitness of fore as a means of sending the light of truth into a human mind is a third argument urged by Locke, founded on the psychology of human understanding. Persecution can only transform a man into a hypocrite ; belief must be formed by individual discernment of evidence. Apart from evidence, a man cannot command his own understanding ; he determine arbitrarily what opinions he is to hold. Thus all Locke’s pleas for a universal toleration resolve at last into a philosophical view of limits and origin of knowledge.

II. The principles which determined Locke’s social polity largely determined his way of looking at Christianity. His "latitudinarianism" was really the result of an extraordinary reverence for truth, and of his perception that in matters of religion knowledge may be sufficient for practice while it falls far short of perfection and demonstration. He insists on referring questions in religion to the reasoning individual, and never loses sight of the essential reasonableness of Christianity as the only ground on which it can rest. Locke accepted the Scripture as infallible with the reverence of a Puritan, but the he did not, like so many Puritans, mean only Scripture as interpreted by himself. Confidence in Biblicl infallibility was also combined in Locke with a distrust in the pretensions of "enthusiasm," which predisposed him to regard miracles as a criterion needed for distinguishing reasonable religious convictions from mere "inclinations, fancies, and strong assurances." Assent in religion as in every thing else he could only justify on the grounds of its evident rationality ; "illumination without search, and certainty without proof and without examination," was to him a sign of the absence of the divine spirit. Fanatical confidence that we are right, he would say, is no proof that we are right ; when God makes us assent to the truth of a proposition in religion, he either discovers to us its intrinsic rationality by the ordinary means of scientific insight, or offers miraculous signs, of the existence of which we must have sufficiently probably presumption. Reasonableness somehow must at last be our guide. His own faith in Christianity rested on its moral excellence it is rightly understood in its primitive simplicity, and on the extraordinary signs in nature which he believed to have accompanied its first promulgation. "Even in those books which have the greatest proof of revelation from God, and the attestation of miracles to confirm their being so, the miracles," he says, "are to be judged by the doctrine, and not the doctrine by the miracles." All this sort of argument became commonplace in books about the "evidences" in the 18th century. The Reasonableness of Christianity was an attempt to recall religion from verbal reasonings of theological schools, destructive of peace among Christians, to its original simplicity, but it no doubt involved an abatement of its transcendent mystery and ultimate incomprehensibility. The book was probably written to promote a comprehension of the dissenters. All who practically acknowledge the supremacy of Jesus as the Messiah accept all that is essential to the Christianity of Locke, whatever other theological opinions they may individually or collectively add to this only catholic one.

Christian teachers and apologists in the succeeding age, as well as the assailants of Christianity, alike appealed to the Essay on Human Understanding, and the catholic tradition of Anglican theology was thus interrupted in the church for more than a hundred years. His own Christian belief, sincere and earnest, was more the outcome of the sort of common sagacity which through him moulded the prudential theology of England in the 18th century, than of the nobler elements present in More, Cudworth, and other religious philosophers of the preceding age, or afterwards in Law and Berkeley, Coleridge and Schleiermacher.

III. Locke takes his place in the succession of great writers on the theory and art of Education. His education writings might be regarded either as an immediate introduction to or as an application of the Essay on Human Understanding. In his Thoughts on Education imaginative sentiment is never allowed to weigh against prudential utilitarianism ; information and mere learning are subordinated to the formation of character and practical wisdom ; the part which habit plays, in individuals is always kept in view ; the dependence of conscious mind, which it is the purpose of education to improve, upon the health of the corporeal organism is steadily inculcated ; to make those happy who are undergoing education is a favourite precept; accumulating facts in the memory without using the power to think, and withou accustoming the youthful mind to apply reason to the evidence by which individual thoughts must be tested, is always referred to as the cardinal vice in teaching. Wisdom more than learning is what he requires in the teacher. In the knowledge to be communicated he gives the first place to "that which may direct us to heaven," and the second to "the study of prudence, or discreet conduct and management of ourselves in the several occurrences of our lives," which most assists our "quiet prosperous passage through this present life." The infinity of knowable existence in contrast with the narrowness of human understanding and experience is always in his thoughts. This "disproportionateness" is one reason given for due deliberation in the choice of studies, and for declining those which lie out of the way of a really wise man, however much they may have been favoured by custom. Among these last he warns especially against "that maze of words and phrases which have been employed only to instruct and amuse people in the art of disputing, and which will be found perhaps, when looked into, to have little or no meaning,…words being of no value nor use, but as they are the signs of things ; when they stand for nothing they are less than ciphers, for, instead of augmenting the value of those they are joined with, they lessen it and make it nothing." Knowledge of what the opinions of other men have been is another study which Locke depreciates. "Truth needs no recommendation, and error is not mended by it ; in our inquiry after knowledge it little concerns us what other men have thought…It is an idle and useless thing to make it one’s business to study what have been other men’s sentiments in matters where reason is only to be judge." Realism and individual rationality are two essential education principles with Locke. In his Conduct of the Understanding the pupil is to be led to the point at which "a full view of all that relates to a question" is to be had, and at which alone a rational discernment of the truth is possible. The uneducated mass of mankind, on the contrary, either "seldom reason at all," or else "put passion in the place of reason," or "for want of large, sound round-about sense" they direct minds only to one part of the evidene, "converse with one sort of men, read but one sort of books, and will not come in the hearing of but one sort of notions, and so carve out to themselves a little Goshen in the intellectual world, where light shines, and, as they conclude, day blesses them ; but the rest of the vast expansion they give up to night and darkness, and avoid coming near it." It is a treatise on the wisdom needed for the management of the individual mind, so as that it may overcome the idola or common tendencies to error against which Bacon had warned mankind. Hasty judgment, bias, or want of an a priori "indifference" to what evidence may requre us to conclude, undue for authority or love for custom and antiquity, indolence and antiquity, indolence and sceptical despair, are among the states of mind marked by him as most apt to interfere with the formation of our individual thoughts in harmony with the Universal Thought that is latent in nature. The development of vigorous intellect in each person is the aim of this admirable tract.

IV. The Essay Concerning Human Understanding contains Lockes Metaphysical. It was the first attempt, on a great scale, and in the Baconian spirit, to show the certainty and inadequacy of human knowledge. This enterprise seemed to Locke to hold out the most reasonable hope of a solution of some sort for the perplexities which encompassed every department of inquiry.

The Introduction to the Essay is the keynote to the whole. The ill fortune of mankind in their endeavours to comprehend themselves and their surroundings is there attributed to their disposition to extend their inquiries into mattes beyond the reach of our intelligence, letting their thoughts wander into depths where we can have no footing. "Whereas, were the capacities of our understandings well considered, the extent of our knowledge once discovered, and the horizon found which sets the bounds between the enlightened and the dark parts of things, between what is and what is not comprehensible by us, men would perhaps with less scruple acquiesce in the avowed ignorance of the one, and employ their thoughts and discourse with more advantage and satisfaction on the other." To inquire into "the original, certainty, and extent of human knowledge, together with the grounds and degrees of belief, opinion, and assent," is Locke’s own account of the design of his Essay. He expressly excludes from his inquiry " the physical consideration of the mind,"—the natural causes (and, one might add, the transcendental reason) for our conscious experience being what in his own "plain historical method" he might find it to be. He wanted to be able to make a faithful report, based on what he actually found, as to how far a merely human understanding of the universe can extend, to what extent human beings can share in pure knowledge, and "in what cases they can only judge and guess" on grounds or probability. Although his report might show that the knowledge attainable by the individual must be "narrow," and far short of a "universal or perfect comprehension of whatsoever is," it might also convince us that it is "sufficient," because "suited to our individual state." The "light of reason," the "candle of the Lord" that is set up in us, "shines bright enough for all our purposes. If we still disbelieve everything because we cannot certainly know all things, we shall do much as wisely as he who would not use his legs, but sit still and perish because he had no wings to fly." Locke thus opens his Essay in a tone which, with a more homely cheerfulness, reminds one in parts of the sublime conceptions of Pascal, and in other of the wise moderation of Bishop Butler. The outcome is that, if it should turn out on investigation that human understanding cannot solve the metaphysical problem of the universe, we may at least find that at no stage of our individual existence are we the sport of change or of an evil power,—that there is a way by which we can secure our final wellbeing, even within the inexorable casual connexions, conditioned by space and time, with their imperfectly calculable issues, by which we are environed.

The fourth book alone is concerned directly with the professed design of the Essay. It has been suggested by Stewart than Locke may have commenced with this book, expecially as it contains few references to preceding parts of the Essay, so that "it might have been published separately without being less intelligible than it is." The inquiries in preceeding books are of a more abstract ad scholastic nature, which probably opened gradually on his mind as to studied his subject more closely. The second and third books both relate to our individual ideas or thoughts. That each person has thought, and that without thoughts or consciousness there could be no knowledge for him, is Locke’s postulate. This, he of ideas in himself, and men’s words and actions will satisfy him that they are in others." Questions about knowledge and its extent therefore presuppose questions about ideas or thoughts. But our mere ideas are, as Locke reminds, us, "neither true nor false, being nothing but bare appearances in our own minds." Truth and falsehood belong only to the assertions or denials of the mind. The idea of a center has no more falsehood in it, when it appears in our minds, than the name centaur has falsehood in it when it is pronounced by our months, or written on paper. Truth and falsehood lie always in affirmations or negations, and the mere thoughts of which as individual we happen to be conscious are not per se either true of false. They do not become either real knowledge or error "till mind affirms or denies something of them."

That none of our knowledge is "innate "is the conclusion argued for in the first Book. But the drift of this famous argument has been overlooked by Locke’s critics. It has been criticized as if it was metaphysical discussion about the existence of transcendental elements in human knowledge, like that at issue in the present day between empiricism and intellectualism. If it were so it would be an example of the fallacy of irrelevant conclusion. For this Locke himself is not doubt partly responsible. It is not essay to determined who or what he had in view in this polemic. Lord Herbert alone is made prominent as the defender of innateness, and Locke was perhaps too little read in the literature of ancient and modern philosophy to do full justice to those who, from Plato downwards, have recognized the intuitions of reason as well as the phenomena of same in the constitution of knowledge. The positions which he assails would have been disclaimed by the most eminent defenders of the transcendental elements. "Innate," as Lord Shaftesbury says, "is a word Mr Locke poorly plays on,"—at least if he is to be understood as engaged in an intellectual struggle against Plato or Descartes. " The right word, though less used, is connatural. For what has birth, or the progress of the foetus, to do in this case?" The real question, as Shaftesbury adds, is not about the time when the supposed inmate knowledge entered, but "whether the constitution of man be such that, being adult and grown up, the ideas of (rational) order and administration of a God will not infallibly and necessarily spring up in him." But this Locke himself does not deny. "That there are certain propositions," we find him saying, "which, though the soul from the beginning, or when a man is born, does not know, yet, by assistance from the outward senses, and the help of some previous cultivation, it may afterwards come certainly to know the truth of, is no more than what I have affirmed in my first book" (see "Epistle to Reader," in second edition). This further appears from the fact that, although the Essay opens with an attack on innateness in human knowledge, yet the self-evidence, in the light of educated reason, of much that we know is asserted elsewhere not less strenuously. Much of our knowledge he reports in the fourth book to be reached by purely rational insight and demonstration. What he really argues against in the first book is that any of it should be supposed to have a claim to protection against a free criticism of its reasonableness. He argues there against the innateness of our knowledge of God and of morality; yet in the fourth book he reports, as a result of his search into our rational consciousness, in the "plain historical method," that the existence of God is a demonstrable rational conclusion, involved in that causal necessity without which there could be no knowledge at all ; and he maintained in various places that morality may be found to be as demonstrably necessary as mathematics. The two positions are quite consistent. The demonstrable rational necessity of thee and other sorts of knowledge often remains latent, he might say, in the shared of reason that is potentially present in individuals, and therefore cannot be called "innate" knowledge; but, for all that, such truths "carry their own evidence along with them" in every mind that is rationally awake. Even in the first book he appeals to what might be called common reason, which he calls "common sense." "He would be thought void of common sense who asked, on the one side, or, on the other, went to give a reason, why ‘it is impossible for the same thing to be and not to be.’ It carries its own light and evidence with it, and needs no other proof ; he that understands the terms assents to it for its own sake, or else nothing else will ever be able to prevail with him to do it" (bk. i. chap. 3, §4). The truth is neither Locke nor the intellectualists of the 17th century expressed their meaning with enough of precision ; if they had, Locke’s first book would probably have taken a form more consistent with its true intention. It is really to be read as an energetic argumentative protest against anything in human knowledge being supposed to be independent of rational criticism. Locke believed that in attacking innate principles he was really conscious self-evidence and rational demonstration instead of blind repose on authority, and was thus, as he says himself, not "pulling up the foundations of knowledge," but "laying those foundations surer." Truth is to be found in "the contemplation of things themselves," that is, by actual rational insight on the part of each individual. But when men heard of "some general propositions that could not be doubted as soon as understood," it was a short and easy way to conclude that such propositions are "innate," and that a personal perception of their rational self-evidence is unnecessary. This being once received, "it eased the lazy from the pains of search, and stopped the inquiry of the doubtful concerning all that was once style innate." Dogmas became protected against rational criticism. "It was no small advantage to those who affected to be masters and teachers to make this the principle of principles—that principles must not be questioned." The more assumption that they are "innate" was enough "to take men off the use of their own reason and judgment, and to put them upon believing and taking upon trust without further examination…Nor is it a small power it gives a man over another to have the authority to make a man swallow that for an innate principle which may serve his purpose who teacheth them" (bk. i. chap. 4, § 24). Locke’s examination of the way in which the rational consciousness of self-evident truths is actually reached refers them to "the being of things themselves duly considered, and to the application of those faculties that are fitted to receive and judge of them when duly employed." Thus the reasoning which runs through the first book is a return, in a more general and therefore more philosophical way, to that defence of individual rational insight against blind dependence on authority which was offered in the Letters on Toleration.

The Second Book open with the suggestion of a general proposition regarding the genesis and constitution of ideas or thoughts; it closes after a laboured endeavour to verify it. This hypothetical proposition is that all human thoughts, even the most complex and abstract, are due to "experience," If so, the significance of all abstract words, and the objective truth of all individual thoughts, must be tested by the elements of which "experience" consists, and cannot in any instance claim protection against this test.

The important point is what "experience" consists of. Locke says that it all comes either from external sources or from the mind itself ; and he promises to show that even our most abstract thoughts, which seem to reach to infinity, may be traced to one or other or both of these constituents. In his own words, our most "complex ideas" are all made up of "simple ideas," either from without or from the mind ; they are due to phenomena of which we are percipient in the five senses, or else due to reflexion upon "the operations of mind." The "verification" of this position, in the central chapters of the second book, is to the effect that even those thoughts which are "most abstruse, how remote soever they may seem from sense, or from any operations of our minds, are yet only such as the understanding frames to itself by repeating and joining together ideas that it had either from objects of sense, or from its own operations about objects of sense,"—so that, even large and abstract ideas are derived from one or other of the two sources (bk. ii. chap. 12, § 8). For this purpose our thought of space, time, infinity, power, substance, personal identity, causality, and several others which, "seem most remote from the supposed original," are examined one after another, in the "historical plain method," and their complex constitution is resolved into (a) perceptions of things external, thought the five sense, or into (b) perceptions of operations of our own minds. The source of experience with depends upon the five senses Locke call sensation ; the other, though which mind is reflectively aware of its own operations, he calls reflexion. This last, "though it be no sense, as having nothing to do with external objects," is yet, he says, "very like it, and might properly enough be called internal sense." The suggestion that "sense" might designate both the springs of experiences is misleading, when we find in the sequel how much Locke tacitly credits "reflexion" with,—in the way of rational tendencies and intellectual obligations ; it may be objected to on grounds like those on which the something analogous employment by Reid and others of "common sense" for common reason has been condemned. They both mean to say that we may call that "sense" in which reason at once carries the light of its own evidence, and does not even admit of external proof. Reason in its own evidence is thus analogous to what sense is popularly assumed to be. The elasticity of Locke’s language in explaining his thesis make the most opposite interpretations of the Essay possible, and all we can do is to compare one part with another, and in doubtful cases to give him the benefit of the doubt. His vacillation in the use of words is unfortunate. It was partly caused by a determination to avoid rigid technically and pedantry. "Sensation" for instance is, in one definition, confined to "impression or motions made in some part of the body which produce perceptions in the understanding" (bk. ii. 1, § 23) ; yet, when treated as one of the two springs of experience, it is made equivalent to what philosophers now call sense-perception, while "reflexion" turns out to be another name for self-consciousness. Accordingly, although the second book is professedly limited to the examination of our ideas or thoughts only, it by implication makes the (provisional) assumption that the "ideas" of which we are conscious in "sensation" are at the same time to be regarded as "qualities" of sensible things which in some sort of way exist "without us," and also that the successive "operations" presented in "reflexion" are those of an individual mind, presumed to exist somehow independently of them. Locke thus starts as a common sense perceptionist and likewise relives himself of the difficulty of having at the outset to show how the date abstracted by each sense are untied in real things and persons. In order to make his theory work, he begins by assuming a hypothetical duality beneath phenomena,—some phenomena referable to external things, others referable to the conscious self,—and in fact confesses that this dual experience is the ultimate fact, the denial of which would make it impossible to speak about the growth and constitution of our thoughts.





In the early chapters of the second book, the "simple" thoughts into which he promises to resolve all possible "complex" ones are arranged in classes. Some of them, he reports, are conditioned "by one sense only," as colours by sight, or heat, cold, and solidity by touch ; others "by more senses than one," as space or extension and motion, which are perceivable both by the eyes and by touch; a third class are got from reflexion only, when "the mind turns its view inward upon itself," and by this means we get our ideas of perception or thinking itself, and also of willing, as well as the "modes of these two," such as remembrance, discerning, reasoning knowledge, faith, &c.; lastly, there are simple ideas which we have both from sensation an reflexion, for instance, our thoughts of bodily and mental pleasure and pains, as well as thoughts of existence, unity, power, and succession. Such, according to Locke, are the elements of the sublimest human thoughts. While the mind is becoming gradually stored with simple ideas like these (which are, however, somehow complex for us, when we "are conscious of them"), we find a growing power to elaborate them for ourselves at pleasure in an almost infinite variety ; we are in fact obliged to do this in our tentative endeavours inductively to bring the thoughts of our individual minds into harmony with the actual complexity of thought that is presented to us in the order of nature. "But it is not in the power of the most exalted wit or enlarged understanding to invert or frame any new simple idea not taken in one or other of these two ways,"—in proof of which Locke would have any one try to fancy any taste which had never affected his palate, or to frame the thoughts of scent he had never smelt ; and when he can do this he is really to concede that a born blind man has ideas of colours, and a born deaf man notions of sounds.

The contrast and correlation of these two fountains of individual experience is suggested in the eighth chapter of this book, on the "qualities" of matter, in which we are introduced to a noteworthy vein of speculation running through the Essay. A chapter on "qualities of things" looks like an interpolation in an examination of our individual thoughts ; its relevancy appears when we remember Locke’s provisional hypothesis, according to which simple ideas of sense may also be viewed as qualities of things. Now, our original sense-thoughts are, we find, partly revelations of external things themselves in their essential externality or extension, and partly sensations, boundless in their variety, which are somehow raised in us through contact with the things. Locke calls the former primary, original, or essential qualities of matter, and the others its secondary or derived qualities. The primary, which involved mathematical relations, and might be called quantities rather than qualities, are inseparable from matter as matter, and somehow exactly correspond, he reports, to he thoughts we have of them. On the other hand, there is nothing in the mathematical relations of space-occupying body which in the least resembles our ideas or thoughts of the secondary qualities ; they are qualities of bodies at all, rather than sensations in us, only in so far as our different secondary sensations somehow correlate with (unknown) sizes, shapes, and motions of the primary particles, with which they are thus in an established harmony. Therefore, if there were no sentient and intelligent beings in existence, the secondary qualities would cease to exist,—except perhaps as unknown modes of the primary, or, if not, as "something still more obscure." On the other hand, "solidity, extension, figure, motion, and rest would be really in the world as they are, whether there were any sensible being to perceive them or not" (bk. ii. chap. 21, § 2). The outcome of what Locke teaches about the mutual relations of matter (a) known as occupied-space and (b) known in and though the sensations caused by secondary or relative qualities, is that it is something capable of being expressed at once in terms of mathematical quantity or extension, and also in terms of sense-consciousness. A further step would have led to the conception of the correlative dependence of all the so-called qualities of bodies upon "the bulk, figures number, situation, and motions of the solid parts of which they consists," and which "exist as we think of them whether or not they are perceived." The true conception of an individual body would be a conception of the actual mathematical relations of the atoms of which it consists, regarded as the established "occasions" of the sensations of colour, resistance, sound, taste, or smell which we refer to it as qualities ; and also of the changes that it occasions in the atoms of which other individual bodies consists, which are followed by their operating on sentient beings differently from what they did before, as when the sun melts wax. But Locke only suggests in a hesitating way that the powers of bodies which are manifested in sensible changes may be conditioned by unknown changes in the mathematical relations of their insensible atoms, or, if not thus dependent upon them, conditioned by "something yet more remote from our comprehension." For, not knowing what size, figure, and texture of parts they are on which depend and from which result those qualities which make our complex idea, for example, of gold, "it is impossible we should known what other qualities result from, or are incompatible with, the same constitution of the insensible parts of gold, and so consequently must always consists with that complex idea we have of it, or else are inconsistent with it."

Some of the most remarkable chapters in the second book are those which relate to the verification of its initial proposition. They carry us towards the metaphysical mysteries which so attract meditative minds. The hypothesis that our most complex thoughts are all resolvable into "experience" is tested in these chapters by the modes or modifications, and substantiati us, and relations which, in various degrees of complexity, we find ourselves somehow obliged to make the simple phenomenal thoughts of sense and reflexion udergo. Such, for instance, are the thoughts of finite quantity in space and time and number, in which Lock reports that we find ourselves mentally impelled towards immensity, eternity, and the innumerable, that is to say, towards Infinity, which transcends quantity ; the complex thought of Substance, towards which he reports that we find ourselves impelled in another of the "operations of our minds," when the simple phenomena of the senses have to be regarded as powers or qualities of "something"; the thought of the Identity of individuals, involved in the apparently inconsistent idea of their constant phenomenal changes ; and, above all, the mental tendency we find we somehow have to suppose what we call a "Cause" whenever we observed a change. Let us see how Locke deals with these crucial instances.

He dwells much on our ideas of Space, Succession, and Number. The first he says begins to appear when we use our senses of sight and touch ; the second he finds "suggested" by all the phenomena of sense, but still more by "what passes in our minds" ; the third is
"suggested by every object of our senses, and every thought of our minds, by everything that either doth exist or can be imagined." The modifications of which these three sorts of simple ideas are susceptible he reports to be "inexhaustible and truly infinite, extension alone affording a boundless field to the mathematicians." In his own patient judicial way, he finds many curious analogies between space and time. Neither is limited by the world of individual things. We can imagine space without bodies, but we cannot perceive or imagine bodies without space. Places and periods are all relative to objects and events, but both space and time are absolutely indivisible. A trinal space extends in all directions, while time has only one dimension. All things exists in the same present time, while no two things occupy the same space. The parts of time cannot be thoughts to coexist ; the parts of space cannot be thought to succeed one another. Whether the thought of unoccupied space is the thought of a substance or of an attribute Locke professes that he cannot tell, at least till they that ask show him " a clear distinct idea of substance."—But the real mystery which he has to report of these thoughts of space and time is that" something in the mind" hinders us from imagining any limit to either. We find ourselves, when we try, obliged to lose our positive thought of space in the negative thought of Immensity, and out positive thought of time in the negative thought of Eternity. We have never seen, and we cannot mentally imagine, an object whose extent is boundless. Yet we find when we reflect that there is an "operation of the mind" which somehow forces us to think that space and time have no limits. "I would fain meet with that thinking man that can in his thoughts set any bounds to space more than he can to duration" (§ 21). Thus Locke by implication acknowledges something added by the mind to the originally presented "simple ideas" of extension and succession, though he explains that what is added is not positively imaginable. When we reflect on our thoughts of immensity and eternity, we find them to be thoughts, yet negations of all imaginable thought; and that whether we proceed by addition or by division. He characteristically accepts the fact ; he does not inquire why mind should find itself thus obliged to all without limit, and to divide without limit. He simply reports that immensity and eternity are inevitable negative ideas, and that every endeavour to transform them into positive or imaginable ones only issues in the contradictory attempt to represent as a bounded quantity what is really infinite or beyond quantity. The idea of the infinite, or unquantitiable in extent and in succession, has so far, he finds, "something that is resolvable into the simple positive ideas of space and time." For, when we try to think of the infinite in space or duration, we at first usually make some very large idea (imaginable in itself, though by men unimaginable), as perhaps of millions of miles or ages, which possibly we multiply millions of times. All that we thus amass in our thoughts is positive (i.e., imaginable in its nature, although not imaginable by a human mind) But at the end of this we are as far from the infinite reality as we were at the beginning, so that what lies beyond imaginable idea towards the infinite lies "in obscurity, and has the indeterminate confusion of a negative idea"—irresistible and incomprehensible.

Locke, with all his aversion to what is unrepresentable in forms of coexistence and succession, is too faithful to rational facts to overlook these mysterious elements of our rational experience. His integrity is also illustrated in his acknowledgment of the unimaginable, and in this sense incognizable, in our thought of Substance. He tries to phenomenalize it ; but he finds that it cannot be phenomenalized, and yet that we cannot dispense with it. An unsubstantiol succession of phenomena, without a centre of unity to which they are referable, is unintelligible ; we could not have a language consisting only of adjectives. Locke had an obscure apprehension of this intellectual obligation as a fact of rational consciousness. According to his report, "the operations of the mind" oblige us to suppose something beyond phenomena, to which as qualities phenomena must belong ; but he was honestly preplexed by the "confused negative" thought of this "something," which was all that he could reach, and of which he says we "neither have nor can have any positive idea either by sensation or reflexion." The word substance thus means "only an uncertain supposition of we know not what " (i. 4, § 18). All attempt to realize it is like the attempt to realize immensity or eternity, and we are involved in an endless—inevitable yet incomprehensible—regress. If one were to ask what the substance is in which this they belong to the solid and extended parts, or primary qualities, of the thing, he must again ask what their substance is, and so on for ever. "He would be in a difficulty like the Indian, who, after saying that the world rested on an elephant, and the elephant on a broad-backed tortoise, could only suppose the tortoise to rest on ‘something, I know not what,’" We must fail, in short, when we try either to phenomenalize our thought of substance or to dispense with it. He finds that our only positive complex ideas of substances are these in which we imagine an aggregate of attributes ; it is only thus that we can rise to any positive thought even of God, in "the power we have of enlarging indefinitely some of the ideas we receive from sensation and reflexion" (ii. 23 § 33). Why we must be in this strange mental predicament with regard to our thought of substance, Locke characteristically did not inquire. He reported the fact in is own "plain historical way."

He struggle bravely to be faithful to facts in his report of the not unlike mental predicament in which we find ourselves when reflexion awakens in us the conviction of our own Individuality and continued personal sameness. The paradoxes of expression in which he gets involved in the chapter on "personal identity" are evidence of this. He mixes the thought of our actual individual personality, given in our consciousness of something external to self, and above all in our moral experience of responsible agency, with the negative thought of the transcendental relation of substance, which, when we try to phenomenalize it, becomes "an uncertain supposition of we know not what."

But we must pass on to his report about our thoughts of Causality and Power, especially as his theory of real knowledge in the fourth book is very much an application of the principle of causality. The intellectual demand for the cause of an event is what we find we cannot help having, and yet it is a demand for what in the end we cannot grasp in a phenomenal representation. The causal thought in the form of power very much perplexed Locke, in his famed chapter on the idea (21) ; the perplexity is not so obvious in the sections on "cause and effect, in another chapter (26), where he consider only the circumstances in which this relational thought arises.

Locke traces the thought of "cause and effect" back to our "constant observation" that "qualities and finite substance begin to exist, and receive their existence" from other being which produce them. Seeing, for instance, that, "in the substance which we call wax, fluidity is constantly produced by the application of a certain degree of heat, we somehow come to think of heat at the cause and fluidity as the effect." This it to report what happens in our minds when we observe a particular example of that causal connexion which gives intelligibility to successive phenomena, converting them into the concatenated system which we call the universe. Through calculated observation we, in this way, learn that this is the cause of that, and that such as this is the cause of such as that. But Locke’s words, in the 26th chapter do not explain the rational need for this canal expectation. Anything, as far as "constant observation" tells us, might have been the cause of anything ; no time number of instances of an "observed" sequence—in the strict meaning of the term "observation"—can guarantee its universality. Elsewhere, indeed, he adds to this meagre account the important statement that "our clearest idea of power is got through our consciousness of our own voluntary agency, and therefore through reflexion" (chap. 21). Bodily phenomena he there reports to be incapable of presenting originative agency, this being an idea which cannot be phenomenalized in external sense. In changes among bodies we observe no origination, but only phenomenal order—significant and therefore interpretable phenomena. The thought of the "production" of motions is connected what we are conscious of when we exert volition. Locke here approaches the view of power afterwards taken by Berkeley, which was the constructive principle of Berkeleyan philosophy. But neither Locke nor Berkeley explains the transformation of our moral consciousness of ourselves, as free or originative, and therefore, to this extent, responsible agents, into the universal rational principle, on which both proceed in explaining our knowledge of the real existence of God and of the sensible world. Locke’s language sometimes suggests that the transformation is made through an induction that is either instinctive or produced by custom. Now, not to say that every inductive generalization presupposes causal connexion, the particular fact that this, that, or the other person, through his moral experience, finds himself a free cause, does not, consistently with inductive rules, warrant the universal conclusion that the phenomenal changes of the universe must all be referred to power like our own personal power. That we are somehow obliged to think a caused or phenomenal cause, and ultimately an uncaused or of free agent, of every change—that we are obliged to view changes as events or issues from adequate productive causes into which they may be refunded—is vaguely accepted in the Essay as a fact of rational consciousness ; but no explanation is given of its origin, only of the circumstances in which it arises in the individual mind. The inquisitive reader still still asks why the individual mind is obliged to think back all changes into sufficient causes of which they are the issues, and why each set of antecedent phenomena, who into which we thus refund new phenomena, themselves occasion a fresh intellectual demand for a preceding cause, while, after all, the mind is still left dissatisfied until it rests in a truly originative or unconditioned cause. And yet if the intellectual need for a phenomenal cause were withdrawn there could be no rationality in, and therefore no reasoning possible about, Nature ; for all the physical government of the universe depends upon it ; and again, if uncaused or unconditioned power were withdrawn there could be no moral responsibility or moral government. This sort of reductio ad absurdum of every merely empirical analysis of the causal thought into what is strictly observable was foreign to Locke. His aversion from mysticism may have made him pass slightly over the mystery of an experience that like ours is conditioned by relations of place, which lead to the unimaginable of Immensity, of succession, which lead to the unimaginable thought of Eternity, and of change, which lead to the unimaginable thoughts of Substance and Power.

Locke’s book about our individual ideas or thoughts leads naturally to his Third Book, which is especially about those of them that are general and abstract, and their connexion with language. It is here that he describes "abstract ideas"; here also he illustrates the confusion apt to be produced in our thoughts by the imperfections of language.

But we must pass on to the Fourth Book, about knowledge, which closes the Essay. Knowledge, he says, is perception or discernment of relations among our thoughts ; real knowledge is discernment of their relations to what is objectively real. In his book about our "ideas" he had dealt with "simple apprehensions" ; here he is concerned with "judgments" and "reasoning," and largely with judgements and reasoning about matters of fact. At the end of the long and patient research among our mere thoughts or simple apprehensions, he suppose his reader apt to complain that he has been "all this white only building a castle in the air," and to ask what the purpose is of all this stir about our thoughts, or our knowledge either, if we are not thereby carried beyond our own individual thoughts, and must accordingly regard our own fancies as the universe. "If it be true that knowledge lies only in the agreement or disagreement of our own ideas, the visions of an enthusiast and the reasonings of a sober man will be equally certain. It is no matter how things themselves are" (iv. 4, § 1). This is the keynote of the fourth book. It does not, however carry him into an analysis of the rational constitution of knowledge as knowledge, as it would carry a transcendentalist of the 19th century, or even an associative philosopher. Transcendental analysis is too remote from human affairs to interest Locke. Hume, moreover, had not yet shown the difficulties which sceptical ingenuity could suggest against those facts of rational consciousness which Locke accepted without analysis. The sceptic who doubted the very constitution of reason and experience, because it could not be supported by external proof, was less in his view than minds blindly resting on authority or on irrational instincts. Universal scepticism like Hume’s he would at any rate probably have regarded as a frivolous amusement, into which no human mind could permanently subside, and therefore unworthy of the serious attention of a wise man. What he wanted was to awaken a conscious conviction of principles apt to be dormant in the individual, but to which he believed a response must be given when reflexion was called forth. He was careless as to how far these principles might be developed into a reasoned system of speculative philosophy. "Where we perceive the agreement or disagreement philosophy. "Where we perceive the agreement or disagreement of any of our ideas there is certain knowledge ; and disagreement of any of our ideas there is certain knowledge ; and wherever we are sure these ideas agree with the reality of things, there is certain real knowledge" (chap. 4, § 18). He is anxious throughout to show that a great deal of commonly supposed real knowledge is not entitled to be called "knowledge," and that it is merely presumption more or less probable. Instead of the immediate or the demonstrable insight, which alone is what he intends by knowledge, it is only "assent," "opinion," "probability."

Locke’s report about human knowledge and the narrow extent of it is contained in the first thirteen chapters of the fourth book. The remainder of the book is concerned for the most part with what he found when he examined instances of "assent" or reasonable presumption, so liable to error, but on which human life really turns, as he and Butler are fond of reminding all transcendentalists. He takes for granted that "all the knowledge we have or are capable of" must be discernment of one or other of four sorts of agreement or disagreement among our thoughts themselves, or between our individual thoughts and the reality that it independent of them. All that can be conceivably known must be either (a) relations of identity and difference in what we are conscious of, that instance, "blue is not yellow" ; or (b) this thought being mathematically related to that, as, for instance, that "two triangles upon equal bases between two parallels must be equal"; or (c) that one quality does or does not coexist with another in the same substance, as that "iron is susceptible of magnetical impressions" ; or (d) that a thought has a real objective existence, independent of our individual mind, as that "God exists," or the "earth exists." What would now be called merely analytical knowledge exemplifies the first sort ; mathematical (Locke would add moral) knowledge represents the second ; physical and natural science, if this can become knowledge proper at all, would come under the third head ; metaphysical knowledge forms the fourth. The third and several following chapters of this concluding book of the Essay are really an inquiry, under these four heads, how far knowledge is possible for man in mathematics, and in morality ; about nature or natural phenomena in relations of coexistence and succession ; and about the hyperphenomenal reality of our own existence, the existence of God, and the existence of matter.

Locke found a difference among the examples of what "knowledge is that were offered in his natural experience. In some instances the known relation was at once evident, as when he judged that a circle was not a triangle, or three more than two and equal to one and two. In other cases the known relation was perceived only through the medium of something else, as in a mathematical conclusion, in which each step is taken by a rational intuition. The former is rationally intuited and the latter rationally demonstrated knowledge. In strictness all knowledge or rational certainty, he would have it, is in one or other of these two kinds. There is, however, a third sort of certainty which rather puzzled him. He found that "our perceptions of the particular existence of finite being without us" go beyond mere probability, although they are not examples of rational necessity. There is nothing contradictory to reason in the supposition that our sense-perceptions are illusory, although we are, in fact, incapable of doubting their reality. We find ourselves "inwardly conscious of a different sort of perception," when we look on the sun by day and only imagine the sun at night. This, which is Locke’s third sort of knowledge, might be called sense-perception. The difficulty that a "sense-perception" only of the present moment, divorced from the past and the future, can be other than "blind," or irrational, does not occur to him.

Locke next inquired to what extent a human knowledge—in the way either of intuitive or demonstrative rationality, or of sense perception—is possible in regard to each of the four (already mentioned) sorts of knowable relation in which must be contained all knowledge we can be supposed capable of. Our knowledge must of course be confined within our "ideas" ; for it is self-evident that we cannot have knowledge of a thing if consciousness is dormant. But there is only one of the four sorts of knowable relation in regard to which our knowledge is coextensive with our thoughts. The only knowable relation which he finds to be coextensive with his thoughts is that of "identity and diversity" ; we cannot be conscious at all without distinguishing, and very affirmation implies negation. The second sort of knowable relation—purely implies negation. The second sort of knowable relation—purely rational concatenation among our thoughts—is intuitively and also demonstrably discernible in thoughts about quantities, in forms of space, time, and number ; it is through this discernment that the mathematical sciences are constructed. Morality too, Locke thinks as well as quantity, is capable of being thus rationalized. "Where there is no property there is no injustice, "he offers as an example of a proposition "as certain as any demonstration in Euclid." Only we are more apt to be biassed, and thus to have reason withdrawn from us, in dealing with problems of morality than in dealing with those of mathematics. Mankind might in consequence, in questions of morals, "with Egyptian darkness expect Egyptian bondage, were not the candle of the Lord set up by himself in theirs" (ch. 4, § 20). It is not easy to say whether the mathematics and morality which Locke finds thus demonstrable would be, us understood by him, sciences of what Kantists call analytical judgment founded on arbitrary definitions, or sciences consisting of synthetical judgement a priori.

In turning from mathematical and moral relations to those of coexistence and succession among phenomena,—Locke’s third sort of knowable relation,—he finds the light of pure reason disappear, although the relations in question are those in which "the greatest and most important of what we desire to know" consists. Of relations of this third kind, with which all the physical and natural sciences are concerned, he reports that "our knowable is very short, if indeed we have any at all," and are not wholly thrown on presumption of greater or less probability, or even left in ignorance. According to the philosophy of the Essay "there can be no science of bodies." All physical and natural science depends on a knowledge of the relations between the secondary qualities and other powers of bodies on the one hand, and the primary or mathematical qualities of their atoms on the other, or else "on something yet more remote from our comprehension." Now, as rational insight of these relations, either intuitively or through demonstration, is beyond our reach, we must be satisfied with inductive presumptions, which the completest "verification" leaves, after all, only presumptions that more facts might prove to be unwarranted. Our inductive generalizations about particular things must always involve an element of possible error, or at least inadequacy, and therefore of probability only. Arbitrariness of connexion, and not rational necessity, reigns over the whole realm of physical government, with its relations of constant coexistence and succession; we only presume, as reasonable as we can, what it actually established laws are, and we can only presume that these laws are sustained in a steady and uniform government. The presumption is "sufficient for our purposes." The amount of our knowledge under Locke’s fourt category of knowable relations—those of real metaphysical or metaphenomenal our own individual existence as conscious persons ;(b) the demonstrable rationality of the existence of God or Supreme Mind ; and (c) sense-perception of the existence of particular object—as long as, but only as long as, they are actually present in sense. That each individual person exists is manifested to himself in memory, and no certainty beyond that of each passing thoughts while it passes can be greater than this. "If I doubt all other things," says Locke, after Descartes, "that very doubt makes me perceive my own existence, and will not suffer me to doubt of that" (iv. 9, 3). The eternal existence of God or Supreme Reason is with Locke only another way of expressing the principle of causality and sufficient reason in its universality, as suggested by our conviction that our own personal existence had a beginning. Each individual person knows that he now exists, and is convinced that he once had a beginning ; with not less intuitive certainty of reason he knows that "nothing can no more produce any real being than it can be equal to two right angles." The final rational conclusion is that there must be eternally "a most powerful and most knowing Being, in which, as the origin of all, must be contained all the perfections that can ever after exists," and out of which can come only what it has itself, so that, as the adquate cause, it must involve mind. There is thus a rational necessity for Eternal Reason, or what we call God. He cautiously adds elsewhere, "Thought I call the thinking faculty in me ‘mind,’ yet I cannot, because of that name, equal it in any thing to that infinite and incomprehensible Being which, for want of right and distinct conceptions, is called ‘mind’ also, or the eternal mind."

Turning from the metaphysics of religion to the metaphysics of matter, nearly—but perhaps not quite—all that one can affirm or deny about things eternal to us is, according to Locke, not knowledge but only presumptive trust. We have on the whole no knowledge of the real existence of anything other than our own individual existence, that of Universal Reason, and that of particular objects sense—while, but only while, they are present to our senses. "When I see an external object at a distance, a man for instance, I cannot but be satisfied of his existence while I am looking at him. (Locke might have added that when one thus "sees a man" it is only his visible qualities that are perceived for his other qualities are as little ‘actual present sensations’ as if he was out of the range of the senses altogether.) But when the man leaves me alone, I cannot be certain that he still exists. There is no necessary connexion between his existence a minute since (when he was present to my sense of sight) and his existence now (when he is absent from all my senses) ; by a thousand ways he may have ceased to be. I have not that certainty of his continued existence which we call knowledge ; though the great likelihood of it puts it past doubt. But this is but probability and not knowledge" (chap. 11, § 9). Either a rationally intuitive or a rationally demonstrative science of Nature is thus, according to Locke, impossible. A conception of the co-existences and succession of phenomena which form the external world being essentially the natural expression of the Universal Mind, and therefore capable of being reasoned about by our individual minds, in our gradual scientific progress towards agreement between the objective thought in nature and our subjective thoughts, was too speculative and mystical for Locke. He prefers to urge the matter-of-fact consideration that all our interpretations of nature can be only presumed probabilities—not purely rational certainties. For him the vast region of reality—beyond our immediate sense-perceptions, memory, and the demonstrably necessary causal connexion with Universal Mind—is either presumed probability, grounded on faith, or faith, it is within that veil which separates what is behind it from reasonable belief as well as from knowledge. And he even fails to explain how anything at all above the world of sense can be "known" in a sense-perception that is restricted to the transitory "actual present sensation" of each moment. No past events and no future events can be known in the strict meaning of "knowledge." It is unreasonable to demand a knowledge of more than abstract proportions and present momentary experiences. For the rest, we can only gradually convert beliefs into certainties that are absolute for all practical purposes. Such is the outcome of the Essay.

We might expect to learn from Locke something as to the rationale of the probable presumptions by which, as supplementary to our limited knowledge or real existence, we pass beyond the narrow sphere within which that knowledge is confined, according to his report of it, and posses ourselves so far of the unperceived past, distant, and future, in our experimental reasonings. He does little to satisfy us here. The concluding chapters of the fourth book contain judicious advice for human beings, whose lives are passed in a world of probabilities and presumptions, for avoiding the consequent risks of error or misinterpretation in their reasonings about what they see,—with or without the help of syllogism, the function of which, as an organ of discovery, he criticizes in the seventeenth chapter. Nothing is done to connect "probable’ interpretations of the contingent phenomena of existence with the rational relations involved in the knowable part of its constitution, with which the preceding chapters were occupied.

This subject was resumed by Hume, very much at the point where Locke left it. With a still humbler view of the possible extent of human knowledge than Locke’s Hume proposed as a subject "worthy of curiosity," to inquire what is "the nature of that evidence which assures us of any real existence and matter of fact, beyond the present testimony of our senses and the records of our memory," remarking that "this part of philosophy has been little cultivated either by the ancients or the moderns." The result of the inquiry was his announcement that Custom and the associate tendencies are a sufficient practical explanation of the formation of our experience. All beyond each present transitory "impression" is impression is connected with it, through "ideas," by means of Custom and Association. Hume’s solvent, in the form either of individual or of inherited associative tendency, has since been made the philosophical explanation of all human experience in the Empirical Philosophy to which his Inquiry conducted. As for Locke, the "association of ideas"—either in the individual or as inherited—was not alluded to in the first edition of the Essay. The short chapter on the subject—now found at the end of the second book—was introduced in the second edition, not as in any way philosophically explanatory either of the thoughts or of the knowledge and probable beliefs of men, but as the chief source of human prejudices—as a cause of human errors against which men, dependent largely on probable presumptions, need in an especial manner to be warned. This useful was an afterthought cavat, regarding a tendency which Locke saw was apt to spoil the "quality" of our individual thoughts,—apt, if one may put it so, to make them inconsistent wit the Universal Thought latent in nature, by which our personal thought about what the laws in nature are must be tested.

On the other hand, an analysis like Kant’s of what is abstractly implied in knowledge is even more foreign to the design of Locke, and to the tone of his philosophy, than the attempts of 18th and 19th century associationists and evolutionists to account for knowledge as if it were a fact of physical science. To show, in the case of any self-evident conception or judgment, that without it knowledge could not exist at all, would be to show what locke took for granted, for all the purposes he had in view. His aim was to determined to what extent experience, presumed to be rationally constituted, could come within the individual consciousness of man. On the one hand, to analyse in the rational constitution of knowledge, into which he found that man is able only very partially to subdue the universe, or, on the other hand, to seek for the physical causes of its (partial) realization in the human individual, were neither of them inquires properly including in his enterprise.

Locke’s function was to present to the philosophical mind of the modern world, in his own "historical plain method," the largest assortment ever made by any individual of the actual facts of senses consciousness and rational consciousness in man. The further investigation of these facts, in Germany on the Transcendental Method in England and France on the Empirical Method, as well as, by Butler and Reid, in Locke’ own Common Sense Method—all under the stimulus of Hume’s skeptical analysis—has employed philosophers since the Essay on Human Understanding collected materials for speculation.

Literature.—The concerning Human Understanding, which was thus the philosophy of Locke’s own life, and also of the century which followed, has passed through editions than any similar book of ancient or modern times. Before the middle of the 18th century it had reached a thirteenth, and it has now passed through some forty editions, besides being translated into Latin, French. Dutch, German, and modern Greek, in various version. There are also several abridgments, in which the attempt is made to remove some of its innumerable repetitions. A considerable philosophical liberty might be formed our of the criticisms and comments to which it has given rise in the last hundred and ninety years. In addition to those which appeared when Locke was alive, some of which are mentioned above, among the most important are Leibnitz’s Nouveaux Essais surl’Enterdement HUmain—written about 1700 and published in 1765, in which each chapter of the Essay of Locke, is examined in a corresponding chapter ; Cousin’s "Ecole Sensualiste: Système de Locke," in his Histoire de la Philosophie au XVIII. Siècle, 1829 ; and the recent criticisms in Professor Green’s Introduction to the Philosophical Works of Hume, 1874. The Letters on Toleration, Thoughts on Education and Reasonableness of Christianity have also gone through many editions, and been translated into different languages. The first collected edition of Locke’s Works was in 1714 in three folio volumes. The best edition is that by Bishop Law, in four quartos, 1777. The one most commonly known is in ten volumes 1812. The Essay, as well as the other treatise, needs textual revision and critical annotation.

The Éloge of Le Clerc (Bibliothèque Choisie, 1705) has been the basis of the memoirs of Locke prefixed to the successive editions of his Works, and contained in the biographical dictionaries. In 1830 a Life of Locke, in two volumes, was published by his descendant Lord King, This adds a good to what was previously known, as Lord King was able to draw from the mass of correspondence, journals, and commonplace books of Locke in his possession. In the same year Dr Thomas Foster published some interesting letters from Locke to Benjamin Furley. The most copious account of the details of Locke’s life is contained in the two volumes by Mr Fox Bourne (1876), which are the results of laborious and faithful research in the Shaftesbury Papers, Locke MSS. in the British Museum, the Public Record Office, the Lambeth, Christ Church, and Bodleian libraries, and in the Remonstrants’ liberty at Amsterdam. (A. C. F.)



The above article was written by A. C. Fraser, LL.D., Professor of Logic and Political Economy, Owens College, Manchester.



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