John Locke: A Presentation Essay
John Locke: A Presentation
John Locke wrote on many subjects. ‘An Essay Concerning Human Understanding’ is mostly about knowledge, reality and mind in philosophy, and is a major classic in all those fields. He also wrote a major classic of political philosophy, ‘Essay on Civil Government’, along with major works on religion, education and economics. Friday, December 3, 2010 CHARLES II OF ENGLAND (1630-1685) CLAIMED ABSOLUTE POWERS, BUT WAS RESTRAINED IN USING THEM. THE TEXT BELOW THE PICTURE REFERS TO CHARLES’ WORK AS PATRON OF THE SCIENCES.
LOCKE’S POLITICAL THOUGHT WAS DIRECTED AGAINST ABSOLUTISM AND HIS ETHICAL THOUGHT HAS A RELATED INDIVIDUALISM. Friday, December 3, 2010 He had a great knowledge of the science of the time, as he met the leading scientists as a student and fellow of the University of Oxford: Isaac Newton, Robert Boyle, Robert Hooke. His philosophical approach reflected a desire to provide a suitable philosophical framework for the experimental sciences. His approach followed a British Empiricist tradition, which puts experience at the centre of philosophy, a tradition which previously included Francis Bacon and Thomas Hobbes.
Friday, December 3, 2010 JAMES II OF ENGLAND (1633-1701). REIGNED FROM 1685-1688 JAMES UNDERMINED HIS POSITION IN THREE YEARS BY TAKING HIS CLAIMS TO ABSOLUTE POWERS TOO FAR AND TRYING TO GIVE THE CATHOLIC CHURCH MORE RIGHTS AND POWERS IN BRITAIN. LEADING TO THE PARLIAMENTARY ‘GLORIOUS REVOLUTION’ Friday, December 3, 2010 Locke had teaching positions at Oxford in Greek and Rhetoric, but preferred to be a doctor, as the university atmosphere at that time was not the best for new ideas in philosophy, or related ideas in religion and politics.
His life as a doctor led him towards (or reinforced) the other interests he developed, as he became a doctor to Anthony Ashley Cooper, who later became the first Earl of Shaftesbury. Friday, December 3, 2010 THE RIGHT TO RESIST AN OPPRESSIVE EXECUTIVE WILLIAM OF ORANGE (DUTCH PRINCE MARRIED TO THE HEIR TO THE ENGLISH MONARCHY) SETS SAILS FOR ENGLAND AT THE INVITATION OF THE ENGLISH PARLIAMENT WHICH WANTED ASSISTANCE IN RESISTING THE RULE OF JAMES II Friday, December 3, 2010 Shaftesbury was a prominent figure in Whig politics of the time.
The Whig party was one of two political currents in Parliament at that time, the other was the Tories. The Whigs were more supportive of parliament, less supportive to the power of the monarchy, and closer to the major economic enterprises of the time. Friday, December 3, 2010 THIS PAINTING SHOWS WILLIAM III AND MARY BEING CROWNED JOINT MONARCHS OF ENGLAND AFTER THE FLIGHT OF JAMES II IN 1688. THE TEXT REFERS TO THE BILL OF RIGHTS OF 1689 WHICH ENSURED THAT ONLY PARLIAMENT COULD PASS LAWS AND RAISE TAXES. LOCKE’S POLITICAL THOUGHT IS CLOSELY ASSOCIATED WITH THIS REVOLUTION, MAKING HIS ETHICS CONNECTED.
Friday, December 3, 2010 As a radically minded Whig, Cooper was close to the most anti-monarchist circles at a time, when English kings were trying to establish absolute royal power. In an atmosphere of conspiracy and accusation, Cooper spent time in prison before the 1688 Glorious Revolution, which established parliamentary power under a new king. Locke shared Cooper’s politics, and had to spend time in exile in the Netherlands, where he had the opportunity to extend his knowledge of new philosophical, scientific, and political ideas. Friday, December 3, 2010
LOCKE THOUGHT THERE SHOULD BE AN INDEPENDENT LEGISLATIVE BODY IN A CIVIL GOVERNMENT. HIS BELIEF IN A POLITICS OF A STATE UNDER LAW REFLECTS A BELIEF IN INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS, AND THE INDIVIDUAL FOUNDATION OF ETHICS ENGLISH PARLIAMENT (1610) Friday, December 3, 2010 Locke went beyond a position as Cooper’s doctor and worked with Cooper in all his interests. This included a government Board to promote colonisation and trade in the Carolinas (what are now the US states of North and South Carolina). Locke served as the Secretary, and his role included writing, or at least participating in, the writing of the Constitution of the Carolinas.
Friday, December 3, 2010 LOCKE’S PLACE OF BIRTH WRINGTON, SOMERSET, ENGLAND A VILLAGE IN RURAL SOUTH-WEST ENGLAND Friday, December 3, 2010 Locke’s philosophy in ‘An Essay Concerning Human Understanding’ is empiricist (based on experience). Locke defines the simplest possible experiences, which he thinks is what enters our mind before the mind creates complex and abstract ideas. What we experience, before the mind transforms simple experience into all that we find in the mind, is simple ideas. Friday, December 3, 2010.
MAP OF 17TH CENTURY ENGLAND LOCKE’S HOME COUNTY OF SOMERSET IS IN THE SOUTHWEST BELOW WALES. THE MAP REFERS TO THE MID-CENTURY CIVIL WAR BETWEEN MONARCH AND PARLIAMENT. LOCKE IS ASSOCIATED WITH THE LATER TRIUMPH OF PARLIAMENT IN 1689. Friday, December 3, 2010 Simple ideas come both from sensation and from the reflection of the mind on itself. These ideas are the starting point for knowledge for Locke, and for everything else in the mind, including our sense of good and evil. Our ideas of good and evil come from simple ideas of pleasure and pain.
That is ideas which come from sensations, which we cannot describe, or define, in any way, other than to say that they are painful or pleasurable. Friday, December 3, 2010 PENSFORD A LARGER TOWN IN RURAL SOMERSET, WHERE LOCKE’S FAMILY MOVED SOON AFTER HIS BIRTH Friday, December 3, 2010 Our passions depend completely on pleasure and pain. When we reflect on how pleasure or pain modifies our mind, we have the ideas of our passions. Reflection on delight produces love; the thought of pain produces hatred. Friday, December 3, 2010 JUST OUTSIDE PENSFORD WHERE LOCKE WAS BROUGHT UP.
BELLUTON Friday, December 3, 2010 Absence of something, which is the source of something, which gives us pleasures causes us an uneasiness. That uneasiness is the source of desire. Uneasiness, and the desire it creates, are good things because they lead us to act and work in order to get our objects of desire. Friday, December 3, 2010 WESTMINISTER SCHOOL, LONDON LOCKE ATTENDED THIS FAMOUS HIGH SCHOOL Friday, December 3, 2010 Joy is the delight of the mind from considering a present good, or a good that we are certain of having.
A man who is starving has joy from food even before he eats it, which is an example of joy in its second aspect. The father who has delight in the well-being of his children, has this delight all the time that his children are in that state, by reflecting on that state (which seems to be part of the second aspect of joy for Locke). Friday, December 3, 2010 17TH CENTURY VIEW OF LONDON PAINTED BY NICOLAES JANSZ VISSCHER Friday, December 3, 2010 Sorrow is the uneasiness, which comes from thinking of a good we have lost, but might have enjoyed for longer.
Sorrow also comes from the sense of an evil present to us. Again the passion comes from either the presence of something, or something in the mind, but in this case from remembering what is lost, not anticipating something that will happen. Friday, December 3, 2010 CHRIST CHURCH COLLEGE WHERE LOCKE WAS STUDENT, EVENTUALLY QUALIFYING AS A DOCTOR UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD Friday, December 3, 2010 Hope is a passion completely tied to expectation. It is the pleasure, which comes from expecting something that gives us delight. Fear is also directed to expectation, but expectation of an expected evil.
Friday, December 3, 2010 JOHN LOCKE Friday, December 3, 2010 Anger and envy have a particular place in the passions caused by pleasure and pain, because they involve reference to ourselves, and to others, which is lacking in other passions. In anger, I want revenge against someone who caused me pain; in envy I want something that someone else has. Not all people feel anger and envy, because though everyone feels pleasure and pain, not everyone has this reaction to other people. Friday, December 3, 2010 FIRST EARL OF SHAFTESBURY LOCKE’S PATRON ANTHONY ASHLEY COOPER Friday, December 3, 2010
Pleasure and pain, delight and uneasiness, do not just come from the bodily pain and pleasure. They also come the delight, or uneasiness, that come from welcome and unwelcome sensation, or reflection. Locke thinks it is necessary to emphasise that pain and pleasure are not just in the body, and goes on to emphasise that pain comes from lessening of pleasure, and that pleasure comes from lessening of pain. Friday, December 3, 2010 THOMAS SYDENHAM (1624-1689) THE FATHER OF ENGLISH MEDICINE/ THE ENGLISH HIPPOCRATES TAUGHT MEDICINE TO LOCKE DID MAJOR WORK ON THE ‘BLACK PLAGUE’ AND THE GENERAL METHODS OF MEDICINE.
A MAJOR INFLUENCE ON LOCKE. Friday, December 3, 2010 There is a simple idea of power, which comes from the way that things bring about changes or are changed by other things. Where we see that some thing brings about some regular change in some other thing, we have the idea of an active power; and where we see that some thing regularly has changes brought out by some other thing, we have the idea of passive power. The idea of power does not come clearly from a source outside ourselves, since the power is something we infer from out sensations, it is not something we sense directly.
Friday, December 3, 2010 REPUBLICANS AND SUPPORTERS OF PARLIAMENTARY POWER CONSPIRED TO KILL KING CHARLES II AND HIS BROTHER JAMES, DUKE OF YORK (THE FUTURE JAMES II) ON THEIR WAY BACK TO LONDON, IN 1683. THE DISCOVERY OF THE PLOT LED TO SEVERE REPRESSION OF OPPONENTS OF ABSOLUTISM. COOPER WAS ARRESTED, LOCKE FLED TO THE NETHERLANDS RYE HOUSE, HODDESON, HERTFORSHIRE Friday, December 3, 2010 We get the idea of power most directly from reflection on our minds. We can observe a power, which controls the order of our ideas and our actions, inside the mind. That power is the will. Friday, December 3, 2010.
MAJOR ENGLISH REPUBLICAN THINKER AND ACTIVIST, ARRESTED AND EXECUTED AFTER THE RYE HOUSE PLOT ALGERNON SYDNEY (1623-1683) Friday, December 3, 2010 The performance of an action, or our forbearance (putting up with) of action from outside, which comes from a command of the mind, is where we have the voluntary. Where such a command is lacking, the action/ forbearance is involuntary as the will was not doing anything. Locke is now moving into questions of free will and determinism in human action, which itself brings up questions of how much moral responsibility, and choice, we have.
Friday, December 3, 2010 SAYS GOOD BYE TO HIS FAMILY JUST BEFORE HIS EXECUTION IN CONNECTION WITH THE RYE HOUSE PLOT. MAY HAVE BEEN EXECUTED AS A POLITICAL MEASURE RATHER THAN FOR ANY GENUINE CONNECTION WITH THE PLOT. A LEADER OF THE COUNTRY PARTY, LATER KNOWN AS WHIGS WILLIAM RUSSELL, LORD RUSSELL (1639-83) Friday, December 3, 2010 The will is a faculty, or power, of the mind, which comes under another faculty. That is the faculty of understanding, which is the power of perception. The power of perception is how we perceive: ideas, signs, relations between ideas.
Friday, December 3, 2010 HOBBES WAS AN EARLIER ENGISH EMPIRICIST. HE IS BEST KNOWN FOR HIS IDEAS ABOUT POLITICS WHICH CONTAIN LIBERAL INDIVIDUALISTIC AND LAW GOVERNED ELEMENTS AS IN LOCKE, BUT ALSO A STRONGER NOTION OF STATE AUTHORITY AND A PREFERENCE FOR MONARCHY. THOMAS HOBBES (1588-1679) Friday, December 3, 2010 The ideas of liberty and necessity (free will and determinism) comes from perceiving our power to act or forbear. In this case, Locke is making free will/liberty primary in relation to necessity/determinism.
Liberty is the power of the will over ideas and actions, and we have liberty where we have complete command; there is necessity where we lack such complete power, and this can be case even where we have thought, volition, will. Friday, December 3, 2010 THE FRONT PAGE OF HOBBES’ MOST INFLUENTIAL THE GIANT REPRESENTS THE POWER OF THE STATE BOOK LEVIATHAN (1660) NECESSARY TO DEFEND INDIVIDUAL RIGHTS AND LAW. Friday, December 3, 2010 The term voluntary is to be opposed to the term involuntary, not to necessity. It maybe that we are in a place we want to be, but we are not able to leave.
The fact that we are there is voluntary, because we want to be there, but it is a situation in which we lack liberty to change the situation. There are situations which are both voluntary and necessary (determined, lacking in free will). Friday, December 3, 2010 NATHANIEL CULVERWELL (1619-1651) THEOLOGIAN AND PHILOSOPHER. A LEADING EARLY 17TH CENTURY ETHICAL THINKER, WHO INFLUENCED LOCKE THOUGH FROM A DIFFERENT POINT OF VIEW, THE NATURAL LAW TRADITION GOING BACK TO ARISTOTLE IN WHICH ETHICAL LAWS CAN BE FOUND IN OUR NATURE Friday, December 3, 2010 We are lacking in liberty (free will), where we cannot control our thought and ideas.
Examples of this include: waking up in the morning when we find our ideas do not follow our will, and the person being tortured who cannot escape from the idea of pain. An individual is a free agent only when freed of such constraints on ideas in the mind. Friday, December 3, 2010 RICHARD CUMBERLAND (1631-1718) PHILOSOPHER AND BISHOP. ONE OF THE MAJOR ETHICAL THINKERS OF LOCKE’S TIME, THOUGH NOT WIDELY READ NOW. AM STRONG ADVOCATE OF NATURAL LAW, WHO INFLUENCED CONTINENTAL THINKING. HE ALSO INFLUENCED UTILITARIANISM WITH HIS BELIEF THAT NATURAL LAW SHOULD BE FOLLOWED BECAUSE IT MAXIMISES BENEFITS TO HUMANITY
Friday, December 3, 2010 We should not say that the will has freedom (though since Locke it has become normal to talk about ‘free will’). Freedom is an attribute, or property, as is will. Attributes or properties, belong to a substance which in thus case is an agent (the individual person). Freedom and will are two attributes/properties of an agent. Friday, December 3, 2010 Friday, December 3, 2010 Will is the ability to prefer, or choose, and that is something that characterises what is voluntary, and is not a characteristic of freedom.
The will and the understanding to not act on each other, the power of thinking is not the same thing as the power of choice. Friday, December 3, 2010 CUMBERLAND’S EUROPEAN INFLUENCE IS CONFIRMED BY 1744 THIS TRANSLATION OF ‘ON NATURAL LAW’. THE TRANSLATOR IS JEAN BARBEYRAC (1674-1744), HIMSELF A MAJOR FIGURE IN NATURAL LAW. Friday, December 3, 2010 Willing/volition is an action, freedom is a power of acting or not acting. Willing follows upon a thought, a preference, in our mind, and it is that thought which is free, not the act which follows from it. Freedom is where we can act on our preference. Friday, December 3, 2010.
RALPH CUDWORTH (1617-88) CUDWORTH WAS A PHILOSOPHER AND CHURCH MINISTER, WHO PREACHED SERMONS AT THE HOUSE OF COMMONS. HE WAS CONNECTED WITH THE INFLUENTIAL CAMBRIDGE PLATONISTS, AND HAD A RATIONALIST BASIS FOR ETHICS. LIKE THE OTHER ETHICISTS OF THE TIME, HE WAS A ‘LATITUDINARIAN’, THAT IS HE ADVOCATED A STATE CHURCH OF TOLERANCE AND CHARITY Friday, December 3, 2010 The will is moved by desire, and desire is moved by unease. Unease is the result of the lack of an object that brings about pleasure. It is lack which brings about desire, because the pain of not having something outweighs the positive good of having something.
Friday, December 3, 2010 Friday, December 3, 2010 It is desire which determines the will, not good or evil. Most of our life is determined by desire reacting to the unease of lack, which has much more influence on us that good and evil, though these are sometimes present in the mind. Misery and happiness are the extreme states of pain and pleasure. Friday, December 3, 2010 LADY DAMARIS (CUDWORTH) MASHAM (1658-1708) LOCKE FORMED A ROMANTIC ATTACHMENT WITH THE DAUGHTER OF RALPH CUDWORTH IN 1682. THIS WAS INTERRUPTED BY LOCKE’S EXILE IN THE NETHERLANDS.
SHE MARRIED SIR FRANCIS MASHAM AND LOCKE BECAME A CLOSE FRIEND OF BOTH ON HIS RETURN. SHE IS THE FIRST PUBLISHED WOMAN PHILOSOPHER IN BRITAIN, WITH VIEWS CLOSE TO HER FATHER Friday, December 3, 2010 Our desires are mostly controlled by comparisons between pleasure and pain, in which we try to minimise pain. This has more influence over us than the positive idea of the good of reward in the afterlife, or of ideas of good and evil. Our life is dominated by the desire to avoid unease: some unease comes from natural sources, like hunger and thirst, and is then multiplied by the education and fashions of human life.
Friday, December 3, 2010 Friday, December 3, 2010 Someone who is completely satisfied with the condition of life has no uneasiness, is not disturbed by anything. Everyone can see that this must be the case, and that in these circumstances we have no will towards anything, except to remain in that state. Locke suggests that only pain makes us do anything. Friday, December 3, 2010 Friday, December 3, 2010 It is God, the ‘all-wise maker’ the pain of hunger, thirst and other natural desires. Te pain, and the desire to end the pain, is what makes us do things.
The actions that follow from this, protect the lives of he individuals who act, and the human species as a whole. Thinking about good ends, for individuals and humanity, does not make us act, on its own. Friday, December 3, 2010 Friday, December 3, 2010 If just thinking about good ends made us do anything, we would not need pain. So it looks like God gave us pain to make us improve ourselves, and humanity as a whole. Locke quotes St Paul (originally Saul of Tarsus), whose letters form part of the ‘New Testament’ of the Bible, and who was one of the main shapers of early Christianity. Friday, December 3, 2010 Friday, December 3, 2010.
Locke quotes one of Paul’s most famous sayings (in Letters to Corinthians, Book 7, Verse 9), ‘it is better to marry than burn’. That is, it is better to marry than to be obsessed with desire. Locke’s suggestion is that God moves us to the morally desirable state of marriage which also ensures the continuation of the human race, through desires which are painful if not satisfied. Avoiding the pain is a bigger influence on our actions than the idea of marriage. Friday, December 3, 2010 ROYAL ACADEMY LONDON Friday, December 3, 2010 Trying to avoid a current pain is a much bigger motive for us than the hope of a future pleasure.
People only try to escape from poverty when they are disturbed by the situation, and not because they think it might be more pleasurable than the pleasure they already have in their lives. Friday, December 3, 2010 Friday, December 3, 2010 Locke looks at moral motivation itself. We are not motived to virtue because we think about it and see it as good. We act from virtue, when we are full with the desire to be righteous, and feel uncomfortable at lacking a high state of righteousness. This is religious language, or being righteous in the eyes of God, which Locke translates into moral reasoning.
Friday, December 3, 2010 Friday, December 3, 2010 Even an alcoholic, who is destroying his wealth and life through drink, is unwilling to give up the pleasures of drinking in a bar with his friends. The alcoholic knows he risks his health and money, and may even fail to enter heaven in the next life (as Locke suggests indirectly). He knows that drink and chat in the bar is a lesser good than what he is losing, but he cannot bear to lose his present pleasure. Friday, December 3, 2010 Werner Horvath: “John Locke”. Color pencils on paper, 32 x 24 cm, Crete 1999 (left) and “John Locke”, oil on canvas, 50 x 40 cm, Crete.
Friday, December 3, 2010 Mere knowledge of the good in life, and in the next live, cannot influence our actions. The same problem applies to everything to do with the next life. Knowledge that we should act in certain ways to be rewarded by God in the future, has a very weak influence on our actions. It is present conditions which influence us. Our will cannot direct us to future states, however great the good that we may win or lose in the future. Friday, December 3, 2010 Friday, December 3, 2010 Current uneasiness, that is pain, influences us much more deeply than an infinite good in the future.
We can see this in the behaviour of someone who is passionately in love. The pain of not having the person, who is loved, is a physical pain, as is the desire for revenge. It is physical pain which influences us. Friday, December 3, 2010 TWO TREATISE OF GOVERNMENT (1690) A BOOK CLOSELY ASSOCIATED WITH THE GLORIOUS REVOLUTION. THE FIRST TREATISE IS AN ATTACK ON THE MONARCHICAL ABSOLUTIST ROBERT FILMER. THE SECOND TREATISE IS AN ESSAY ON CIVIL GOVERNMENT, THE MOST INFLUENTIAL PART. HERE LOCKE SAYS WE HAVE NATURAL RIGHTS, WHICH MAY CONFLICT WITH HIS EMPIRICISM IN THE ‘ESSAY’ Friday, December 3, 2010.
One problem that is sometimes raised with Locke’s ethics and philosophy, is that there may be a contradiction between his view of the mind as determined by present sensations, and his view of natural rights in politics. In ‘The Essay Concerning Civil Government’, Locke argues that we have rights before government emerges. Friday, December 3, 2010 BOOK BY LOCKE IN THE ITU LIBRARY Friday, December 3, 2010 In a state of nature, without government, Locke suggests that we have rights to preserve our life, have liberty from other people’s interference, and keep our possessions.
Governments are formed to make those rights better protected. If Locke thinks our morality comes from reaction to sensation, there is a question of how we have rights belonging to all humans at all times regardless of context. Friday, December 3, 2010 THIS IS IN SERIES DESIGNED TO BE READ BY STUDENTS LOWE IS A PROFESSOR OF PHILOSOPHY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF DURHAM, ENGLAND BOOK IN ITU LIBRARY Friday, December 3, 2010 Related books by John Locke: Most important book related to ethics, ‘Two Treatises on Government’, particularly the ‘Second Treatise’, ‘Essay on Civil Government’. Also.
‘A Letter concerning Toleration’. Friday, December 3, 2010 BOOK IN ITU LIBRARY RELATED TO ETHICS IN LOCKE AND LATER BRITISH PHILOSOPHER. THE SHAFTESBURY REFERRED TO WAS THE GRANDSON ON LOCKE’S PATRON, THE EARL OF SHAFTESBURY. CAREY TEACHES AT THE NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF IRELAND IN GALWAY. Friday, December 3, 2010 Books on Locke (in the ITU library): Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Locke on Human Understanding, by E. J. Lowe. Routledge Philosophhy Guidebook to Locke on Government, by D. A. Lloyd Thomas. (E-version) Friday, December 3, 2010 PHOTOGRAPH ‘THE END’ RICHARD ROBERTS Friday, December 3, 2010.
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 16 November 2016
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