Just Supposing: Locke's Essay concerning Human Understanding


in Scepticism and Literature

Published in print October 2003 | ISBN: 9780199253180
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191719189 | DOI:
Just Supposing: Locke's Essay concerning Human Understanding

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This chapter expounds the double attitude toward scepticism — both hostile and hospitable — carried by the empirical epistemology of Locke's Essay. Contemporary responses (by Swift, Berkeley, Prior, and Stillingfleet, among others) intelligently doubted whether Locke's account of the understanding did not subvert, rather than support, his broadly wholesome, pragmatic, recuperative conclusions. Locke himself was deliberately reticent or equivocal on this, but bridged this gap, at crucial moments, by invoking what the mind supposes — a move that illuminates the role of later imaginative literature or literary writing, which can be seen as responding to this apparent inconsistency or gap in Lockean thought as its paradoxically fruitful legacy.

Keywords: Locke; empirical; scepticism; Essay; epistemology; Prior

Chapter.  13393 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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