Category: reflection


I’ve done a little summarising of the Locke we’ve done this week, but I’m going to save the primary & secondary ideas stuff until you’ve done the homework!

John Locke ‘Primary & Secondary Qualities
  • Explain Locke’s distinction between ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ qualities. 
  • Why does Locke feel it is necessary to distinguish between primary & secondary qualities?
  • Can you think of any problems or flaws in the idea of primary & secondary qualities?
  • Why does this distinction make Locke a realist? 
  • Could he justify or ground his ‘realism’ – if so how? if not why not?
  • What are the implications of Locke’s view in terms of constructing an epistemological theory?  
Have a good think about these things and say as much as you can. 
Due Wednesday 21st October
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We read from ‘Book 2, Chapter 1’ of Locke’s  An Essay Concerning Human Understanding’ and saw how he believed our minds come to be filled with ideas.  We saw that,  for Locke all ideas come from two sources: 

1. experience of ‘external objects’ received through our senses 
(SENSATION)

  2. experience of the workings of our own minds. 
(REFLECTION)

As he puts it: 

Our understandings derive all the materials of thinking from [1] observations that we make of external objects that can be perceived through the senses, and [2] of the internal operations of our minds, which we perceive by looking in at ourselves. 

For Locke, those are the only ways that we ideas. He says, ‘These two are the fountains of knowledge, from which arise all the ideas we have or can naturally have.’
 (‘Essay’ Bk ii Ch.1)