Two Intellectual Worlds of John Locke: Man, Person, and Spirits in the Essay

Overview

Using his intimate knowledge of John Locke's writings, John W. Yolton shows that Locke comprehends "human understanding" as a subset of a larger understanding of other intelligent Beings—angels, spirits, and an omniscient God. Locke's books on Christianity (The Reasonableness of Christianity and Paraphrases of St. Paul's Epistles) have received extensive analysis and commentary, but little attention has been given to the place of his Essay concerning Human Understanding in his religious and theological beliefs. ...
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Overview

Using his intimate knowledge of John Locke's writings, John W. Yolton shows that Locke comprehends "human understanding" as a subset of a larger understanding of other intelligent Beings—angels, spirits, and an omniscient God. Locke's books on Christianity (The Reasonableness of Christianity and Paraphrases of St. Paul's Epistles) have received extensive analysis and commentary, but little attention has been given to the place of his Essay concerning Human Understanding in his religious and theological beliefs. Yolton shows that Locke's account of what it is to be human in that work is profoundly religious.Yolton's book opens with an attempt to sort out several important terms basic to Locke's account of identity: man, self, person, and soul. A number of rarely examined components of Locke's thought emerge: the nature of man, the nature of a human being, and the place of man in the universe among the other creatures. Some will be surprised to learn that the domain of God, angels, and spirits is a part of Locke's universe, where it is considered the hoped-for destination of the just.The Two Intellectual Worlds of John Locke also includes Yolton's exploration of Locke's commitment to immaterial principles for understanding the world; his obsession with happiness; the dialectical tensions between man, person, and soul; several interesting conjectures about spirits; and the notion of natural philosophy that includes speculation about spirits as well as bodies.
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Editorial Reviews

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"Traditionally, Locke has been portrayed as a founding father of modern scientific empiricism, based on his critique of the 'doctrine of innate ideas' in Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Yolton offers a topnotch analysis of the essay that should help considerably in disassociating Locke from that pantheon."—Choice 42:10, June 2005

"It is plain that for any future investigations into Locke's thoughts about immaterial spirits, John Yolton's The Two Intellectual Worlds of John Locke will be a standard source."—Udo Thiel, Times Literary Supplement, 6 January 2006

"This is the most refreshing book on Locke that I have come across in many years. It brings out vividly and comprehensively a grossly neglected dimension of Locke's thinking. John W. Yolton very convincingly manages to demonstrate that the world of spiritual beings is central to Locke's philosophy and that his speculations about such beings and their powers fitted in seamlessly with his attempt to portray the capacities and limits of the human mind."—E. J. Lowe, author of the Routledge Philosophy Guidebook to Locke on Human Understanding

"This is a fascinating and provocative new book by the long-standing dean of Locke scholars worldwide. John W. Yolton explores some unfamiliar topics, including Locke's views of angels, souls, and spirits, and uses his findings to enrich our understanding of the nature of men and persons and the limitations of human knowledge."—Vere Chappell, Professor of Philosophy, University of Massachusetts, and Editor, Cambridge Companion to Locke

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801442902
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/2004
  • Pages: 208
  • Product dimensions: 6.26 (w) x 9.06 (h) x 0.74 (d)

Table of Contents

Locke texts cited
Ch. 1 Locke's man 9
1 Body-mind, man-person 10
2 Action and agency 14
3 Secular self, moral self 18
4 Physical man, rational man, moral man 23
5 Definitions of man 25
6 The fundamental constitution of man 27
7 Man as proprietor 34
Ch. 2 The universe and our world 38
1 The universe 40
2 The intellectual world as our world 45
3 A second intellectual world 59
Ch. 3 The world of God, angels, and spirits 64
1 Creatures, beings and spirits 65
2 Locke's extravagant conjecture 74
3 Two properties of that world 77
Ch. 4 Spirits and our ideas of them 90
1 Ideas of spirits 91
2 Conceivable, intelligible 98
3 Two other accounts of spirits 105
Ch. 5 Souls that become spirits 114
1 Soul as spirit 117
2 The relation of man, soul, and body 121
3 Immortality and bodily shape 130
Ch. 6 General conclusion 136
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