Essay Concerning Human Understanding John Locke

He wants us to proportion assent to propositions to the evidence for them.

On the level of institutions it becomes important to distinguish the legitimate from the illegitimate functions of institutions and to make the corresponding distinction for the uses of force by these institutions.

The Society saw its aims in contrast with the Scholastic/Aristotelian traditions that dominated the universities. Many of Wilkins associates were people interested in pursuing medicine by observation rather than the reading of classic texts. His career at Oxford, however, continued beyond his undergraduate days.

Bacon’s interest in careful experimentation and the systematic collection of facts from which generalizations could be made was characteristic of this group. In June of 1658 Locke qualified as a Master of Arts and was elected a Senior Student of Christ Church College.

In writing Locke adopted Descartes’ ‘way of ideas’; though it is transformed so as to become an organic part of Locke’s philosophy.

Still, while admiring Descartes, Locke’s involvement with the Oxford scientists gave him a perspective which made him critical of the rationalist elements in Descartes’ philosophy.

Thus, there was good reason for Locke to become a clergyman. John Wilkins had left Oxford with the Restoration of Charles II.

The new leader of the Oxford scientific group was Robert Boyle. Boyle (with the help of his astonishing assistant Robert Hooke) built an air pump which led to the formulation of Boyle’s law and devised a barometer as a weather indicator.

Boyle was, however, most influential as a theorist.

He was a mechanical philosopher who treated the world as reducible to matter in motion. When he did read Descartes, he saw the great French philosopher as providing a viable alternative to the sterile Aristotelianism he had been taught at Oxford.


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