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BOOK REVIEWS 127 Presenting his case with great erudition and excellent illustrations, Webster suggests that much more study of these so-called irrational lines--prophecy and magic-needs to be done in order to correct the sweeping generalizations that have come to be accepted as to how modern science began and how we became so enlightened. We will have to appreciate the contributions of religious and magical ideas as well as rational philosophical and empirical ones. And we shall have to take account of many of the fathers of modern though t we are currently hiding in closets (and take account of Newton's alchemic and religious interests as part of his world view). As one who genrally agrees with Webster, I think these lectures present, in brief fashion, much of the data that has to be considered along with the achievements of Galileo, Descartes, Leibniz and others outside this tradition from Paracelsus to Newton , if we are to have a clear and worthwhile understanding of the making of the modern mind. In the compass of 1oo pages not all significant lines could be dealt with, but it is to be regretted that the impact of Jacob Boehme's mystical and alchemical writings and that of the Kabbala are omitted. Webster, as a historian of medicine, has stressed material coming from that side, perhaps overlooking other important sources. But, as a brief survey of why we can no longer accept the simple history of modern science we have usually been given, this work is a fine corrective. For those who want more detail, they can turn to some of the revisionist historians of science including Webster himself in his The GreatInstauration and other works, and those of his late mentor, Dr. Walter Pagel. RICHARD H. POPKIN Washington University John Colman. John Locke'sMoral Philosophy. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1983. Pp. viii + 28a. $~7.5o. In his introduction, Colman states that "as a moral philosopher Locke does not belong in the front rank" (8) and that he "did not produce a science of morals" (7)Colman brings together from Locke's writings on diverse subjects the points he makes about ethics, both to establish what Locke would have said had he produced a science of morals and to demonstrate that this hypothetical science is not inconsistent. On this latter point Colman disagrees with the majority of Locke scholars, who have generally argued that Locke held a number of different views on the nature of morality, not all of which were mutually consistent. Colman quotes Richard Aaron: "[it] is in vain that we search in his pages for a consistent moral theory" (235). The author in contrast attempts to demonstrate that the diverse strands can be brought together into a coherent whole, and that Locke's moral theory, thus constructed, although not of major significance, and certainly not of great contemporary relevance , is nevertheless a respectable theory in the historical context. His major justification for doing so is that "Locke's significance in the history of philosophy is a sufficient reason for a study of the relationship between his general epistemology and the ethical views expressed in the Essayand other of his writings" (5). The book 128 JOURNAL OF THE HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY 2 4" 1 JANUARY ~986 increases our knowledge of Locke's philosophy in general; it does not reveal an important ethical theory which has been hitherto ignored. Colman's defense of Locke's theory is that it is consistent, not that it is good. One must then ask whether Colman has satisfactorily established this consistency, and about this question there must be some doubts. The question of consistency must be considered at two levels. The first is that of the possibility of holding simultaneously a number of different major theses, including a theory of natural law, a theory of morality as demonstrable by some form of logical deduction, and a theory of language which includes the claim that moral concepts are created, not discovered, by the human mind. The second level is that of the consistency of each of these major theses. The second level is most easily dealt with. If Colman does not often accuse him of straightforward...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 127-129
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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