An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Knowledge and by John Locke PDF

By John Locke

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We can see at a glance that these appear to contain no instruction in them - ·to give us no news·. For a proposition that affirms a term of itself tells us only what we must certainly have known already, before the proposition was put to us; and this is so whether the proposition Ÿcontains any clear and real idea or rather is Ÿmerely verbal - ·that is, is a mere construct of words with no backing in ideas. ) Indeed that most general proposition What is, is may serve sometimes to show a man the absurdity he is guilty of when he ·implicitly· denies something of itself.

So he can never be in doubt, when some idea is in his mind, that it is there and is the idea that it is; and when two different ideas are in his mind, he cannot doubt that they are there and are not one and the same idea. All such affirmations and negations are made without any 233 possibility of doubt, uncertainty, or hesitation, and must necessarily be assented to as soon as understood - that is, as soon as we have in our minds determined ideas which the terms in the proposition stand for. [The remainder of this long section elaborates the account already given, emphasizing that an idea’s identity with itself, and its distinctness from every other idea, don’t depend on how general or particular the idea is.

And if we look a little more closely into the state of Ÿanimals we shall find that they depend - for life, motion, and the main qualities to be observed in them - wholly on outer causes and qualities of other bodies - so much so that they can’t survive for a moment without them. Yet we ignore those other bodies, and don’t bring them into the complex ideas we form of those animals. Take the air for just a minute from the most living creatures and they quickly lose sense, life, and motion. Our knowledge of this has been forced on us by our need to breathe.

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An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Knowledge and Opinion by John Locke


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