Locke's Theory of Ideas

Wayne Waxman

in Kant and the Empiricists

Published in print July 2005 | ISBN: 9780195177398
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780199786176 | DOI:
 Locke's Theory of Ideas

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This chapter examines Locke’s theory of ideas. He believes that the infallible “knowledge” of ideas is the same as the thinking of them, and has nothing to do with their use as grounds of cognition, much less their serving as a foundation for further cognition. The case of sensitive knowledge is no exception because it is not an instance of the knowledge we have of our ideas, but a special case of the kind of cognition we can have through them. For here we apply, and do not simply conceive, ideas such as body, the externality of one body with respect to another, the cognitive recognition of one body as mine, and the powers that body equips me with to sense and to imagine.

Keywords: John Locke; ideas; mind; understanding; perception

Chapter.  18355 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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