Locke among the ‘Philosophes’

John W. Yolton


Published in print January 1991 | ISBN: 9780198242741
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191680557 | DOI:
Locke among the ‘Philosophes’

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This chapter explores some of the writings of the better-known French writers, many of whom were associated with Diderot and d'Alembert in the great Encyclopédie; others, such as La Mettrie and d'Holbach, contributed to what is usually thought of as ‘French Materialism’. Locke's name is found in some of these writings, especially in Diderot's ‘defence of the Abbé de Prades and in his Encyclopédie entry ‘Locke’. The chapter is not only concerned with Locke's name and doctrines among the French ‘philosophes’. It seeks to fill in from these sources the continued debate over the three systems of mind and body; the active concept of matter, especially biological matter; and the concept of materialism. It determines whether this French materialism—the materialism of the ‘philosophes’—differs in significant ways from the materialism and automatism feared by British writers who attacked Locke.

Keywords: Locke; Diderot; d'Alembert; Encyclopédie; La Mettrie; d'Holbach; French materialism

Chapter.  10596 words. 

Subjects: History of Western Philosophy

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