Sunday, May 10, 2009

38 John Locke

I am inclined to say that John Lock e was a kind of common sense philosopher. What I mean is, he just what was going on in his mind and try to describe it.

He knew men like Newton and Boyle, observed their scientific approach of nature and I guess, Locke was impressed by what these men achieved by plain observation only.

Just observation, as Newton said, his knowledge was inductive. Locke was a physician so instead of nature he took the body and mind as his field of observation and analysis.

Locke was 57 when the first edition was published of his "Essay Concerning Human Understanding" in 1689. And all those years he had been observing the workings of his mind and making notes.

His goal was "to inquire into the original, certainty, and extend of human knowledge, together with the grounds and degrees of belief, opinion and assent".
Here we see the important dichotomy: on the one hand certainty of knowledge, on the other hand belief.

He explicitely said that he was not interested in the physical workings of the mind. His subject was knowledge....the epistemological question who we can obtain knowledge, how does the knowledge proces work.

In fact he starts with a common sense postulate by claiming that there exists a physical world outside our mind. And then he comes to his key term: idea. he defined it as "....whatever is the object of the understanding when a man thinks.."

Any object of awarenes or consciousness must be an idea. Now the question is where do we get our ideas from? And here we see the big change in relation to rationalism.

You could say that rationalism tried to understand the world from inside mind out, while Locke tried to understand the world by letting the outside in, because on the inside, in our mind, is nothing in the beginning. All empty....a tabula rasa a clean slate. So no innate ideas.

Locke suggested that the doctrine of innate ideas lends itself for a certain authoritarianism and encourages laziness of thought, sothat the foundations of knowledge are not likely to be examined.

The origine of the ideas is experience. When there wouldnt be experience the mind would have nothing to do at all. A man is aware of two that he thinks and two: of ideas. and what the mind does, is reflecting on these ideas.

So we have sensation and reflection as the main activities of the mind. Our senses are affected by external objects (bodies) and afford us ideas, such as yellow, hard, heat, cold and so on.

Perceiving the operations of our minds when we reflect, we are furnished with ideas of perception, thinking, doubting, reasoning, knowing and willing.

Locke proceeded to distinguish between simple and complex ideas. A simple idea is for instance a color. You can not distinguish seperate ideas in it. Complex ideas are found when the mind finds combinations of simple ideas together.

Examples are ideas like space, duration and time, motion, pleasure , pain, cause and effect. They are more abstract and universal than the simple ideas of sensation ansd reflection.

Locke undertook to show how the mind actively contructs these complex ideas, abstract and conceptual though they may be, out of the materials of knowledge, the simple ideas of sensation and reflection.

And here we witness the early beginnings of analytical philosophy: the attempt to start with the senses and then the analysis of all that constitutes knowledge in its smallest parts. No big metaphysical theories...just staying close to reality.

Locke's theory of knowledge wasnt a consistent theoretical system. Many things are vague or lead to theoretical problems, even such that you recognize rationalistic arguments in his reasoning.

Locke made history with another publication: "Two Treatises on Government". It is important to mention here too, for it paved the way for may political philosophies.

Contrary to Hobbes, who said that man was a wolf, Locke claimed that in the state of nature men are bound to preserve peace, preserve makind and refrain from hurting eachother.

There are certain inconveniences in this state of nature, such as man's partiality and the inclination on the part of some men to violate the rights of others. The remedy for this is civil government, wherein men by common consent for a social contract and create a political union. This is not a contract between ruler and people, but a contract between equal and free men.

We will see this idea return on the Continent in Rousseau. But first we'll pay attention to David Hume in our next class., the man Hume continued in Locke's footsteps

The Discussion

[13:16] Herman Bergson: Sofar on Locke..
[13:16] Herman Bergson: If you have any questions or remarks, feel free...:-)
[13:17] Herman Bergson: Maybe I can show you a few difficulties Locke had ...
[13:17] Herman Bergson: One was the concept of substance...
[13:18] Herman Bergson: you can perceive something yellow, all kinds of properties, like it melts in fire and that it is heavy..and we say it is gold...
[13:19] Herman Bergson: so what do we know here..all these properties or is there an underlying substance that carries these properties....?
[13:19] Herman Bergson: but we dont have sensations of that how do we know that there exists a substance , the carrier of these properties...
[13:20] itsme Frederix: Did Locke use a concept like Ding-anSich?
[13:20] Herman Bergson: this is hard to answer.....we'll see an answer with Kant, but Locke couldnt give the answer...
[13:21] Herman Bergson: How does the mind conclude that there exists a substance...?
[13:21] itsme Frederix: That is a pre-know catagory
[13:21] Herman Bergson: yes....but that isnt empirical..
[13:21] Osrum Sands: surly through induction from the 5 senses !
[13:22] itsme Frederix: Sure, but the world is not empirical
[13:22] AristotleVon Doobie: to Locke it was
[13:22] itsme Frederix: mmm Osrum we are taking opposite positions here
[13:22] Herman Bergson: For Locke there simply was an outide reality that causes our sensations
[13:23] Herman Bergson: another problem arises when you have two sensations and you say: A resembles B.
[13:23] Osrum Sands: is that to suggest that just because we see and hear a tree fall, it does not necessarily mean that a tree exists ?
[13:23] Herman Bergson: It means there is a new idea in your mind: the idea of resemblance...
[13:24] Herman Bergson: where does it come from?
[13:24] AristotleVon Doobie: his formula for the construction of complex ideas begs the question as to whether all minds are equally qualified in construction
[13:25] Herman Bergson: yes...and that all minds come to the same complex ideas....
[13:25] Herman Bergson: on the same sensations
[13:25] AristotleVon Doobie: exactly
[13:26] Herman Bergson: we might refer here to the possibility of consensus...a social process of a learning community
[13:27] Herman Bergson: But when all complex ideas, like freedom, property, plesure, right, wrong are only the product of consensus we may face a serious relativism
[13:27] Osrum Sands: seen
[13:27] itsme Frederix: Sure consensus does not mean truth (whatever that may be)
[13:28] AristotleVon Doobie: yes democracy is not all what right
[13:28] Herman Bergson: so I think we still have to keep our eyes and ears open to see how the next philosophers will solve such problems.
[13:28] Herman Bergson: A concept of truth is something else as consensus.
[13:28] itsme Frederix: @Herman, one thing can be stated (I hardly dare to say it ..
[13:29] Herman Bergson: go ahead..:-)
[13:29] itsme Frederix: in this empirical class religion did not pop up - !!
[13:30] itsme Frederix: so my conclusion there might be no empirical reason for rilegion
[13:30] Herman Bergson: Well that isnt strange....for Locke doesnt use a god to solve his epistemological problems
[13:30] Osrum Sands: stirer
[13:30] Herman Bergson: He was religious..
[13:30] Osrum Sands: duty to God in mans natural state and all that stuff
[13:31] AristotleVon Doobie: and was tolerant with every one but the papal and the athiest
[13:31] Herman Bergson: No...his social contract was an only human thing...
[13:32] AristotleVon Doobie: yes which I admire, would you call him anti-authoritarian?
[13:32] itsme Frederix: wasn't Lock also advising the King or was that another one
[13:32] Herman Bergson: I guess so....he followed the old English traditon of the Magna Carta.
[13:33] Herman Bergson: He was advisor of the Earl of Shaftesbury..
[13:33] Herman Bergson: and his physician
[13:33] itsme Frederix: oke so he was recognized
[13:33] hope63 Shepherd: "human"might be a bit exagerated herman. ots politics f the time in britain..
[13:33] Osrum Sands: His second Treatise addresses duty to the king
[13:33] AristotleVon Doobie: he wa an indivualist
[13:33] Herman Bergson: Ah..I got the definition Locke gave of truth,,:-)
[13:34] hope63 Shepherd: social cannot be considered in the ters of today..
[13:34] Alarice Beaumont: oh.. let's hear it Herman
[13:34] hope63 Shepherd: terms
[13:34] Herman Bergson: the joining or separating of signs, as the things signified by them do agree or disagree one with another
[13:34] Gemma Cleanslate: oh boy
[13:35] itsme Frederix: a really "socialized" definition
[13:35] Cailleach Shan: Would you extrapiate that in your own words Herman..
[13:35] Herman Bergson: Well...the way you come to knowledge is by reflecting on the agreement or disagreement of ideas..
[13:35] Cailleach Shan: extrapilate..
[13:36] Herman Bergson: so you reflectt on ideas that are signs for real things
[13:36] itsme Frederix: that's Plato
[13:36] itsme Frederix: or maybe the way around
[13:36] Herman Bergson: so you can conclude that A resembles B so both objects are gold..
[13:36] Herman Bergson: no Plato....
[13:36] AristotleVon Doobie: through comtemplation and abstraction
[13:37] Herman Bergson: Locke used the general term IDEA for what is in the mind caused by sensation
[13:37] Alarice Beaumont: oh
[13:37] itsme Frederix: oke thats totally diff from Plato
[13:38] Herman Bergson: According to Plato we have ideas innate in our mind by which we learn by resemblance to recognize things in reality
[13:38] Herman Bergson: yes it is the opposite
[13:38] Herman Bergson: but the same word
[13:38] AristotleVon Doobie: of course Locke is correct
[13:38] itsme Frederix: It is idealistic
[13:39] Herman Bergson: That it could become Itsme
[13:39] itsme Frederix: Off course Lock is correct in within his "sensations", but he leaves out a lot
[13:39] Herman Bergson: oh I do myself here...:-)
[13:39] AristotleVon Doobie: he seems to ignore the body
[13:39] itsme Frederix: what about Lock did not experience, no sensations off, what about that world
[13:40] Kenny Hubble is Offline
[13:40] Herman Bergson: no experience = no knowledge = an empty mind..:-)
[13:40] itsme Frederix: no comment on that
[13:41] Herman Bergson: I think an interesting issue to keep in mind is the concept of resemblance...
[13:41] Herman Bergson: In fact Locke takes it for granted..
[13:41] Herman Bergson: for in his theory it is hard to explain
[13:42] itsme Frederix: Herman thats the easy way and not very analytic/logic
[13:42] Herman Bergson: we run in the same problems as with universals, that we encountered in the Middle Ages...
[13:42] Herman Bergson: Is resemblance an innate idea?
[13:43] Herman Bergson: or is it a property of objects in reality...but how can we see that property
[13:43] Herman Bergson: how do we deduce resemblance from two ideas?
[13:43] anibrm Jung is Online
[13:43] Othella Gagliano is Online
[13:44] hope63 Shepherd: i don't understand the concept of resemblance herman..
[13:44] Ze Novikov: in the his understanding of civil relations/
[13:44] Ze Novikov: ?
[13:44] Herman Bergson: hmmm...
[13:44] Ze Novikov: is that here resemblence appears
[13:44] hope63 Shepherd: may be4 a language problem..
[13:44] Ze Novikov: where truth is found
[13:45] Herman Bergson: Well the issue is that we are so used to say that two things look identical...
[13:45] Herman Bergson: they resemble eachother, Hope..
[13:46] Ze Novikov: so we know by civil discourse?
[13:46] hope63 Shepherd: like a man and a woman --both resemble to a human being?
[13:46] Herman Bergson: Well civil discourse....
[13:46] Ze Novikov: we check our selves through the experince of others ?
[13:46] itsme Frederix: I did a wiki on resemblance - gave a direct hit to Wittgenstein and analitical language phil - remarkable
[13:46] Herman Bergson: Yes Ze...that might be a solution....
[13:47] Herman Bergson: two people look at an object and give it the same name...
[13:47] Herman Bergson: so giving something the same name is a definition for resemblance then
[13:47] AristotleVon Doobie: or decide on the sqame name for it
[13:47] Herman Bergson: a kind of convetionalism..
[13:48] Herman Bergson: conventionalism
[13:48] Osrum Sands: thats an issue inits self there Prof
[13:48] hope63 Shepherd: ooops.. herman.. if for example and indian calls a buffalo a buffalo and bil cody calls it a buffalo too the don't have the sanme definition..
[13:48] Herman Bergson: yes Osrum I understand, but I guess that Locke would accept such a kind of interpretation
[13:49] Osrum Sands: sure
[13:49] Herman Bergson: it is not about definition is about complex ideas that are composed of simple ideas to Locke
[13:50] AristotleVon Doobie: Hope there is a lot of depth to your example
[13:50] Osrum Sands: the conventionalization process of the modern Nation state are very much part of the Social controll processes
[13:50] Rodney Handrick: I agree Osrum
[13:50] hope63 Shepherd: but you said give it the same name.. both use the same name for an object..
[13:50] Herman Bergson: Sure Osrum the Social Contract is too...
[13:50] Ze Novikov: yes and to acknowledge that locke them assumes the two makining the compaison are equal or the comparison has no validity
[13:50] Osrum Sands: yes
[13:51] Rodney Handrick: hmm...
[13:51] Osrum Sands: point for contemplation there Ze
[13:51] hope63 Shepherd: ari. i think so too.. but its two different concepts.. two differnet cultures.. two different reasonibng.. we are with our western philosophers at the time..
[13:52] itsme Frederix: Herman if you say ... .it is about complex ideas that are composed of simple ideas to Locke ... is there a basic/fundamental/prime idea for Lock? (you might say that's the sensation)
[13:52] Osrum Sands: or does one use power to convince the othere of his truth Ze ?
[13:52] Osrum Sands: or her
[13:52] Rodney Handrick: I think power is the key...
[13:53] Herman Bergson: yes...Locke says...
[13:53] Herman Bergson: a simple idea is nothing but one uniform appearance or conception in the mind
[13:54] Herman Bergson: and is not distiguishable in to different ideas
[13:54] Ze Novikov: Ze nods
[13:54] itsme Frederix: So if there are uniform appearances, we might share these and in that way find "the thruth" or convincibility i.s.o. power
[13:54] Ze Novikov: hmm
[13:55] Herman Bergson: power would be an option..
[13:55] itsme Frederix: oke sounds idealistic ;)
[13:55] AristotleVon Doobie: but not so in complex ideas
[13:55] Osrum Sands: Bacon ' Knowledge is power '!
[13:55] Herman Bergson: but indeed Itsme we need to postulate the fact that all minds of all men in a way function in the same way
[13:56] hope63 Shepherd: power.. how does the idea of power fit into a philosophical concept..apart from going back to god..
[13:56] itsme Frederix: a complex idea is not a idea on it self (according to Locke) so could be deconstructed [13:56] Ze Novikov: hence a presuposition then of equality?
[13:56] AristotleVon Doobie: but there analytical capabilititeis may differ
[13:56] Herman Bergson: yes..the idea of equality..
[13:57] Herman Bergson: yes Itsme...
[13:57] Osrum Sands: Lock was thinking of man in his natural alone state - is that right ?
[13:57] AristotleVon Doobie: it seems that it contruction of complex ideas would be dependent upon education
[13:57] Ze Novikov: yes
[13:57] Rodney Handrick: yes
[13:59] Herman Bergson: yes it has to....for the mind itself has only the ability to think , reason, analyse ...that is has to work with the objects of the mind: the experiences (ideas)
[13:59] Rodney Handrick: true
[13:59] AristotleVon Doobie: more experience results in better construction
[13:59] Alarice Beaumont: well.. we have an encyclopedia nowadays to look up things and widden our experience
[13:59] Herman Bergson: Well I think here we have a fine example of philosophical discourse on something that looks so simple and obvious: the fact that two objects are alike...
[14:00] itsme Frederix: Aristo. not better maybe more complete
[14:00] Rasana Destiny: Got to go bye good talk
[14:00] Herman Bergson: Bye rasana
[14:00] Alarice Beaumont: bye Rasana
[14:00] Gemma Cleanslate: i have to excuse myself also
[14:00] Gemma Cleanslate: A;SP
[14:00] Ze Novikov: bb
[14:00] Gemma Cleanslate: ALSO1
[14:00] Rodney Handrick: bye
[14:00] Rodney Handrick: bye
[14:00] oola Neruda: baiee
[14:00] Herman Bergson: it is time indeed..:-)
[14:00] AristotleVon Doobie: well thank you Herman
[14:01] Alarice Beaumont: yeah.. very complex today.. time flew by
[14:01] Rodney Handrick: yes, thank you Herman
[14:01] Herman Bergson: yes indeed Alarice...
[14:01] AristotleVon Doobie: very enjoyable
[14:01] Alarice Beaumont: thank yu herman
[14:01] itsme Frederix: THX Herman, and it's always nice to have a horizon to limit the problems
[14:01] Ze Novikov: yes ty!!
[14:02] Herman Bergson: And the nicest thing is that we are not looking for THE answer, but we can see a lot of complicating things to any answer we find
[14:02] Ze Novikov: yes
[14:02] Cailleach Shan: Thanks Herman
[14:02] itsme Frederix: this class was a perfect example taht only a dispute can make it clear that things are NOT clear
[14:02] Herman Bergson: Bye Caileach
[14:02] Herman Bergson: very true Itsme...
[14:02] Qwark Allen is Offline
[14:03] Osrum Sands: must away folks 1L calls]
[14:03] itsme Frederix: .. and things mght look the same but are not
[14:03] Alarice Beaumont: well.. bye everybody.. see you mmhh.. think the time is tuesday :-)
[14:03] Osrum Sands: cheers till we meet again
[14:03] Ze Novikov: bb all ty
[14:03] AristotleVon Doobie: bye
[14:03] Herman Bergson: And what is even more interesting now: try to do some reading on the concept of resemblance
[14:03] itsme Frederix: so we did not illustrate Lock
[14:03] itsme Frederix: oke
[14:03] oola Neruda: baiee
[14:03] AristotleVon Doobie: I will
[14:03] itsme Frederix: Herman thx, looking forward to all the other classes
[14:04] AristotleVon Doobie: Time for me to go, goodbye all
[14:04] Cailleach Shan is Offline
[14:04] Qwark Allen is Online
[14:04] jaynine Scarborough is Online
[14:04] Anuska Loon is Offline
[14:04] oola Neruda: baiee
[14:04] Herman Bergson: Bye Aristotle
[14:05] itsme Frederix: mily_resemblances
[14:05] Herman Bergson: Nice you could make it Rodney..:-)
[14:05] Rodney Handrick: Thanks Herman...see you later
[14:05] Herman Bergson: bye..:-)

Posted by herman_bergson on 2008-01-22 18:34:53

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