BRITISH EMPIRICISM (LOCKE-BERKELEY-HUME)
JOHN LOCKE (1632-1704)
Essay Concerning Human Understanding 1690
Two Treatises on Government 1690
Some Thoughts concerning Education 1693
The Reasonableness of Christianity 1695.
Locke attempted a synthesis of Bacon and Descartes. Locke was not able to agree with Descartes' rationalism and demand for the absolute validity of knowledge, while Locke agreed with Bacon's empiricism particularly as to the requirement for the increase of our knowledge about the universe and supplemented Bacon's empiricism by his psychological explanation of the origin of our ideas.
1. The Origin of Ideas
Ideas are acquired, learned and obtained from our experience.
In other words, in general
there is no innate ideas.
Locke held that the claim for the universal validity of knowledge does not justify the existence of the innate ideas.
Such ideas as logical principles (i.e., the principle of identity, that of contradiction and that of the excluded middle), moral laws, God, can be developed by gradual use of human reason, not innate ideas.
The only exception to the rule is:
the desire for happiness which is inborn to the human.
2. The theory of tabula rasa
When we are born, our mind is blank.
All the knowledge comes from experience and learning.
All the experience is either external which is called sensation (=external perception)
or internal which is called reflection (=inner perception)
the ideas are either ideas of sensation---which is given first early
or ideas of reflection---which derived from the above
these dualistic understanding of the faculties of perception (sensation and reflection) derives from the Cartesian influences of the dualistic dichotomy of material and spiritual substance
While Descartes held that the inner knowledge (ideas of reflection) is immediately known, therefore, is "prior" known and the knowledge of the external world is vicarious, thus "less well Known,"
Locke maintained that the ideas of sensation is "prior" in the sense that the ideas of reflection depends upon the ideas of sensation. The significance and emphasis was reversed. Condillac followed Locke's direction further.
The sensualism is not complete yet in Locke's philosophy.
Locke held that reflection (=inner perception) is awaken by sensation, but did not maintain that reflection is produced from sensation.
(Condillac held that sensation produces inner perception.)
Simple ideas = the ideas which comes through sensation or reflection
1) ideas which come through one sense organ = color, sound, smell, warm, or hard.
2) ideas which come through more than one sense-organs = extension, shape and motion.
3) ideas which come from a inner faculty: thinking or volition = will & thinking (= memory, judgment, knowledge, faith)
4) ideas which come from both external and internal faculties =
pleasure, pain, being, power, unity and succession.
Among simple ideas, there are
A) those which copy the facts
B) those which do not.
1) the ideas from inner faculties portray facts themselves
2) the ideas from more than one sense-organ portray facts =
extension, motion, rest, number, shape and solidity
Locke held that the essence of matter is solidity,
while Descartes held that the essence of matter is extension,
which, according to Locke, is only one of the necessary conditions for matter.
For solidity is inseparable from matter, while space (=extension) is not.
Locke called the primary qualities
those ideas which come from more than one sense-organ (=solidity, extension, motion, rest, number, shape)
the secondary qualities
those ideas that are from one sense organ and
are the ways in which facts affect us
(=color, smell, sound, warm or hard.) by motion
they are states of sensation
the distinction between the primary qualities and the secondary qualities was made
first by the Ancient atomists (Leucippus & Democritus) and
was revived by Galilei and by Descartes and
was made extensively by Locke.
This viewpoint stands between that of the common sense and Kant's.
a) Understanding is receptive (=passive) in simple ideas,
b) Understanding can be also active in combining several simple ideas,
though understanding does not create ideas, but simply combine them.
Complex ideas = those ideas combined by understanding
1) modes = those ideas which cannot exist by themselves, but are represented by others.
simple modes = ideas combined of simple ideas of the same kind (space, time, unity and power)
modes of space (distance, shape, place, length, infinite extension)
modes of time (duration, instance, temporal unit, eternity)
modes of power ( active & passive power)
matter cannot produce power, but simply transmit it.
spirit can initiate power, possesses active power = will (Locke used this to explain the freedom of will)
mixed modes = ideas combined of simple ideas of various kinds (running, strife, abstinence, printing, theft, murder of parent) the customs of the people influence the formation of mixed modes (e.g. sacrilege, ostracism)
the concepts most frequently exploited for formation of mixed modes are those of thinking, motion and power.
the existence of modes presupposes that of substance.
2) substances = the substratum as the cause for the unity of modes.
We do not know what the substance is,
but a substance has its attributes (essential characters)
produces in us the ideas of those attributes
Understanding combines those ideas of sensation
to produce the idea of matter
Understanding combines those ideas of reflection
to produce the ideas of spirit.
the idea of matter and that of spirit are same regarding clarity and obscurity.
We only know their effects and sensory qualities.
We know nothing about the nature of spirit and matter.
Locke called matter incogitative substances
spirit cogitative substances
According to Locke,
the idea of God = the combination of the ideas of
being, power, wisdom, happiness, infinity
God does not possess passivity, therefore, immaterial.
Locke thought that finite spirits are matter with the power of thinking.
In Locke's mind,
matter as a substance is a model for its notion.
3) relations = the products of inner freedom of understanding
the relations are not copies of substance, but reveal the self.
i.e., the self itself is a model.
it is not questioned about whether the relation agrees with the substance,
but whether the substance agrees with the relation.
When spirit compares one thing with another, it obtains the idea of relation.
Thus, we obtain the relation of cause and effect.
the relation of causality is the most comprehensive of all relations.
Cause is that which makes others to exist.
effect is that which has its origin in the other.
Change is that which brings about a new quality.
It is called production that brings about a new product,
It is called propagation that brings about a new living organism.
It is called creation that brings about a new matter.
b) Identity and difference
That which is in a certain time and in a certain space (=place) is identified with itself
the principle of individuation enables us to recognize the identical individual
i) inorganic individual by the number of atoms
ii) organic individual by continuous organic structure
iii) person by unity of self-consciousness
c) Moral relation
Comparison of the human will with the three moral principles
i) Divine principle of morality
ii) Civil principle of morality
iii) Principle of opinion or reputation
(=philosophical principle) universal recognition
When we relate an unreal idea or an inadequate idea to an object,
we make an error.
Truth or falsity consists in affirming and negating, i.e., in judgment.
they are the agreement and disagreement between ideas
Reality and Irreality (e.g. triangular square) is the agreement and disagreement between ideas and their objects (=things).
The objects of knowledge is the relation of ideas
neither that of ideas to their objects,
nor that of among objects.
The Human Spirit by nature desires to know, the cognition of "things."
but it can only know their ideas, not the objects themselves.
Locke, too, considered the mathematical knowledge as the paradigm for knowledge in general
1) Complex ideas except those of material substance do not stand for things.
e.g. mathematics and ethics
without 'actualization" or interpretation (related to reality),
they are true eternally, but they are not innate ideas.
2) The idea of substance and simple ideas stands for "things."
a) simple ideas - the identity (or agreement) of the idea with its object
is certain and real
since spirit can and does not arbitrarily produce it,
it is a "natural object."
b) The Idea of substance - the identity in ascertainment
by experience such that their accidents are so combined and constituted
All perceptions (=sensations) have their "external causes"
i) various sensations mutually verify
ii) actual "pains" of senses
iii) sensation is always distinguishable from memory
It is not absolutely certain,
but certain enough for our practical life!
3) Three degrees of knowledge
i) knowledge by intuition = indubitable knowledge,
knowledge without the mediating middle term
(math. axioms, his existence, nominal essences, etc.)
ii) knowledge by demonstration = knowledge with mediation or ground
(math proof, God's existence, ethical propositions)
iii) sensitive knowledge = knowledge of natural sciences
4) The Limits of Knowledge
Knowledge of the world is distinguished from faith which is based on revelation (equally certain),
while knowledge is opinion, belief, assertion (based on reason or logical ground), the latter of which alone are highly probable
they have more reason to be true
Locke abandoned "empiricism" by recognizing the universally and objectively valid relations among ideas.
Locke's epistemology is a combination of
i) the psychological description of the origin of ideas
ii) the logical determination of the possibility and scope of knowledge
(= the validity of knowledge)
However, these two elements are mutually inconsistent, although Locke believed that they may be compatible.
The validity land limits of knowledge Locke admits can not be deducible from a posteriori origin of ideas.
Morality is capable of demonstration (just like mathematics)
Freedom is our faculty to prevent, continue, start or stop our action.
Locke denies the Freedom of Will, for
Will is determined by our desire (thus, is not free).
Decision is determined by rational judgment
It is our freedom to deliberate or direct our deliberation to a certain idea.
According to Locke,
Even though our thought may not be free,
our person is Free!
Physical good is that which produces pleasure and diminishes pain
which is distinguished from
Moral Good is the conformity of our will to moral Laws and to its sanction.
Locke's idea of morality is in conformity with that of Christianity
Against Hobbes thesis of Absolute Monarchy,
John Locke advocated Liberal Constitutional Democracy
Locke developed the social contract theory with the similar three States to those of Hobbes (and Rousseau)
The State of Nature
the Law of Nature (=reason) governs and
people enjoys the Natural Rights endowed by God = the preservation of "property"
Pursuit of Happiness
it is also the natural duties to protect those natural rights
however, in the State of nature
there is no common authority to settle disputes except one's own self and power
thus we enter into
The State of War
in this state, only destruction of life and natural rights follows, even if one is most powerful
in order to pursue happiness and peace with these natural rights
people enter into covenant, social contract
The Civil State
by surrender the freedom and the power (of authority) to settle the dispute to the State
this is accomplished by the people's own freedom
Political freedom = submission of oneself to the agreed Laws
to the common will
This social contract is neither monarchical, nor divine, but
Rational Agreement on our own freedom
we retain the right to recall the government
The government consists of independent three (four) branches
His theory of government gave a great impact on the constitutional structure of our government.