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512 HISTORY OF PHILOSOPHY the Bible (an example of the written word whose language is subject to the customs and figures of speech of a previous age), Locke was not urging us to accept what previous authors have said. Following his exegetical rules does not entail agreeing with explicated authors. Locke freely rejected what he took to be "learned gibberish" in the various sects of philosophy. Those who talked of substantial forms, vegetative souls, abhorrence of a vacuum, intentional species, a soul of the world, an endeavour towards motion in atoms at rest: they use words without ideas (3.10.14,31). Locke held to philosophical doctrines which led him also to reject certain concepts as empty, certain theories as false, and some talk as meaningless. I do not want to reinstate those doctrines Locke discarded any more than I wish to advocate Locke's views. The first task of the historian of philosophy is to uncover the signification of the words of the philosopher he is studying by going through the customs , ornaments, and figures of speech used at the time and as evidenced in the author 's work. Some problems of philosophy have carried over from one author or age to another, but that we can for all time delineate the problem of generality or classification is, I think, very doubtful. What Locke took to be the problems he was discussing cannot accurately be determined by first formulating problems in a language foreign and unknown to Locke. Jont~ W. YO~.TON York University A REPLY TO PROFFESSOR YOLTON* Professor Yolton raises the question whether my procedure "helps us to understand Locke and his century" (p. 511). His question is a little unfair if it supposes that my aim necessarily was "to understand Locke and his century" in the sense of that phrase that would be arrived at by reading his own works on Locke. If we are seeking for different things in studying Locke the question might arise as to which i~ the more worthwhile; and here I am inclined to think it a matter of deep-rooted taste and preference . This difference perhaps comes out where he says "I do not think Locke was writing about identification or re-identification" (p. 509) and when he speaks elsewhere of my being led away from Locke's "intention" (p. 505). Surely there is room for an interest which does not necessarily focus on Locke's own explicit interests and intentions, but possibly also on what he unwittingly commits himself to in speaking to these. The difference certainly comes out in the report that I see "Locke obsessed with Rationalism" (p. 510). In fact the only obsession I see is mine with Locke's Rationalism and not Locke's with Rationalism--for I explicitly say that his thought on this matter is "often rather tentative and unemphatic" (Locke's Philosophy of Science and Knowledge, p. 25; see also p. 141). And I do not see that the first obsession is out of place in the absence of the second. Yolton himself does not deny that "Locke did have a notion of non-observational knowledge of nature" (p. 510). Is it not possible to agree, as I did (Science and Knowledge, p. x) that Locke insisted "that the proper science of nature for * I am grateful to all concerned for the opportunity of making this reply. NOTES AND DISCUSSION 513 man must be builit upon careful observation of coexisting qualities" (pp. 510-511) while finding point in dwelling at greater length than might have interested Locke on that other of his ideas? Also, Professor Yolton complains of the "translation of issues and concepts in Locke's Essay into contemporary terms" (p. 507) and hopes to "show how . . . misreadings arise as a direct result of" (p. 507) this translation. As I understand it, the worry expressed here is not one, which I would share, about the anachronistical attribution of later distinctions and ideas. It is rather one of the legitimacy of using these ideas in talking about a person who did not have them himself. With this and the possibility of a divergence of interest in mind, I should like to consider...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1538-4586
Print ISSN
0022-5053
Pages
pp. 512-515
Launched on MUSE
2008-01-01
Open Access
No
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