Archive for April 5th, 2013


John Locke (1632-1704) Philosopher
Any examination of philosophy leading to Kantian critique of reason will need to know this philosopher. Enlightenment is the age of Voltaire where the irrepressible skeptic tilted his barbed lance at the Church. The Church was running personal lives of men as though it held a monopoly on their religious faith. Faith in reason gave encyclopaedia which in France was to give the Age of Reason an elbow room for man to think for himself without fear of damnation. It fortified men to resist from being muzzled by superstitious fears. Prior to this Spinoza in Holland had created an universe by geometry and logic ( his works are still on the proscribed list of the Church). But Spinoza could survive with no such fears of hell and damnation. Later David Hume during the Enlightenment would launch an assault against superstitious belief saying,’when reason is against man,’he would turn against reason itself. If the age old belief,- faith and hope which had made society into some semblance of working order, were to come down what will replace them made many thinking men dread. Their chief cause for complaint was in the nature of reason. ‘Reason, what stuff is that?’
How would man respond to such confusion and perplexity? John Locke’s work is an important milestone in the advancement of human thought. He took up Franis Bacon’s inductive methods to give it a psychological basis. For the first time here was a philosopher trying to make sense of the instrument itself that stood for reason. How does knowledge arise? He compared the mind as a clean slate tabula rasa on which sense-experience writes in a thousand ways till sensation begets memory and it can play with ideas. Think of it as music is made in the manner scale ladder is used creating infinite combinations. It led to a controversy since he stated that sensations owe to material warp and woof of universe, it was all materialism since according to his argument we may know nothing but matter.
His greatest work is Essay on Human Understanding(1689).


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