An essay concerning human understanding book 2 chapter 27

early modern texts locke

In like manner, if two or more atoms be joined together into the same mass, every one of those atoms will be the same, by the foregoing rule: and whilst they exist united together, the mass, consisting of the same atoms, must be the same mass, or the same body, let the parts be ever so differently jumbled.

Consciousness alone unites actions into the same person. Just as much the same person as a man that walks, and does other things in his sleep, is the same person, and is answerable for any mischief he shall do in it.

An essay concerning human understanding introduction pdf

It is from this activity that we derive the ideas of relationship, such as greater than, less than, to the right of, more costly than. Nobody can imagine that his soul can think, or move a body at Oxford, whilst he is at London. This type of activity is illustrated in such ideas as beauty, gratitude, mankind, army, or the universe. Since I think I may be confident, that, whoever should see a creature of his own shape or make, though it had no more reason all its life than a cat or a parrot, would call him still a man; or whoever should hear a cat or a parrot discourse, reason, and philosophize, would call or think it nothing but a cat or a parrot; and say, the one was a dull irrational man, and the other a very intelligent rational parrot. This type of analysis necessarily had implications for the field of psychology, and it can be said that the psychological approach to philosophical problems which became dominant during the two centuries that followed Locke was due in no small measure to his influence. No idea of abstract substance either in body or spirit. That which has made the difficulty about this relation has been the little care and attention used in having precise notions of the things to which it is attributed. Infinity of duration, or that which goes beyond any definite limits, is what is meant by eternity. The same is true of our ideas. All which is founded in a concern for happiness, the unavoidable concomitant of consciousness; that which is conscious of pleasure and pain, desiring that that self that is conscious should be happy. The question being what makes the same person; and not whether it be the same identical substance, which always thinks in the same person, which, in this case, matters not at all: different substances, by the same consciousness where they do partake in it being united into one person, as well as different bodies by the same life are united into one animal, whose identity is preserved in that change of substances by the unity of one continued life. Personality in change of substance.

This is not what happens in the case of complex ideas, for here the mind exerts its power over simple ideas and produces whatever content it takes in order to complete all that is contained in one's store of knowledge.

So that, however we consider motion, and its communication, either from body or spirit, the idea which belongs to spirit is at least as clear as that which belongs to body.

For, though these three sorts of substances, as we term them, do not exclude one another out of the same place, yet we cannot conceive but that they must necessarily each of them exclude any of the same kind out of the same place: or else the notions and names of identity and diversity would be in vain, and there could be no such distinctions of substances, or anything else one from another.

an essay concerning human understanding chapter 4

Our ideas of particular sorts of substances. To be sure, Locke has a kind of explanation to account for continuity of experiences that are included in one's life as a whole.

That, therefore, that had one beginning, is the same thing; and that which had a different beginning in time and place from that, is not the same, but diverse.

Essay concerning human understanding hernnstein & murray 1994 p 311

Our ideas of spiritual substances, as clear as of bodily substances. For the powers that are severally in them are necessary to be considered, if we will have true distinct notions of the several sorts of substances. The reason whereof is, that, in these two cases — a mass of matter and a living body — identity is not applied to the same thing. For as to this point of being the same self, it matters not whether this present self be made up of the same or other substances — I being as much concerned, and as justly accountable for any action that was done a thousand years since, appropriated to me now by this self-consciousness, as I am for what I did the last moment. This can be seen in the analysis that Locke makes of the ideas of space and time. And if the pressure of the aether, or any subtiler matter than the air, may unite, and hold fast together, the parts of a particle of air, as well as other bodies, yet it cannot make bonds for itself, and hold together the parts that make up every the least corpuscle of that materia subtilis. Same man. For, whatever be the composition whereof the complex idea is made, whenever existence makes it one particular thing under any denomination the same existence continued preserves it the same individual under the same denomination.

Nobody can imagine that his soul can think, or move a body at Oxford, whilst he is at London. Thirdly, The same will hold of every particle of matter, to which no addition or subtraction of matter being made, it is the same.

An essay concerning human understanding book 3

This may show us wherein personal identity consists: not in the identity of substance, but, as I have said, in the identity of consciousness, wherein if Socrates and the present mayor of Queinborough agree, they are the same person: if the same Socrates waking and sleeping do not partake of the same consciousness, Socrates waking and sleeping is not the same person. For, as body cannot but communicate its motion by impulse to another body, which it meets with at rest, so the mind can put bodies into motion, or forbear to do so, as it pleases. It is plain it is nothing but a fit organization or construction of parts to a certain end, which, when a sufficient force is added to it, it is capable to attain. This being premised, to find wherein personal identity consists, we must consider what person stands for; — which, I think, is a thinking intelligent being, that has reason and reflection, and can consider itself as itself, the same thinking thing, in different times and places; which it does only by that consciousness which is inseparable from thinking, and, as it seems to me, essential to it: it being impossible for any one to perceive without perceiving that he does perceive. Those who believe in an immortal soul that remains always the same while inhabiting changing bodies would seem to have a solution for this problem, but Locke sees plenty of difficulties involved in this conception. Of the sorts of substances. For more free audio books or to become a volunteer reader, visit LibriVox. He says, "moral good and evil is the conformity or disagreement of our voluntary actions to some law where by good or evil is drawn on us, from the will and power of the lawmaker. Every one finds in himself that his soul can think, will, and operate on his body in the place where that is, but cannot operate on a body, or in a place, an hundred miles distant from it. Which, however reasonable or unreasonable, concerns not personal identity at all. Finite intelligences. They asked it, what it thought that man was, pointing to the prince. For this organization, being at any one instant in any one collection of matter, is in that particular concrete distinguished from all other, and is that individual life, which existing constantly from that moment both forwards and backwards, in the same continuity of insensibly succeeding parts united to the living body of the plant, it has that identity which makes the same plant, and all the parts of it, parts of the same plant, during all the time that they exist united in that continued organization, which is fit to convey that common life to all the parts so united. In like manner it will be in reference to any immaterial substance, which is void of that consciousness whereby I am myself to myself: if there be any part of its existence which I cannot upon recollection join with that present consciousness whereby I am now myself, it is, in that part of its existence, no more myself than any other immaterial being. But yet, I think they are such as are pardonable, in this ignorance we are in of the nature of that thinking thing that is in us, and which we look on as ourselves.

Identity of vegetables. It is complex only insofar as it is combined with the idea of substance. So that perhaps, how clear an idea soever we think we have of the extension of body, which is nothing but the cohesion of solid parts, he that shall well consider it in his mind, may have reason to conclude, That it is as easy for him to have a clear idea how the soul thinks as how body is extended.

An essay concerning human understanding book 2 chapter 1 summary

The same is true of our ideas. But yet, I think they are such as are pardonable, in this ignorance we are in of the nature of that thinking thing that is in us, and which we look on as ourselves. And therefore whatever past actions it cannot reconcile or appropriate to that present self by consciousness, it can be no more concerned in than if they had never been done: and to receive pleasure or pain, i. Most of the confusion, he tells us, has been due to the fact that people have not been clear in their own minds about what it is that remains identical with itself and what it is that changes from time to time. But it is further inquired, whether it be the same identical substance. But yet, to return to the question before us, it must be allowed, that, if the same consciousness which, as has been shown, is quite a different thing from the same numerical figure or motion in body can be transferred from one thinking substance to another, it will be possible that two thinking substances may make but one person. In contrast with them, it was believed that the ideas derived from sense perceptions can be called real only insofar as the universal ideas are present in them. Our complex idea of God. Whereby it appears that this primary and supposed obvious quality of body will be found, when examined, to be as incomprehensible as anything belonging to our minds, and a solid extended substance as hard to be conceived as a thinking immaterial one, whatever difficulties some would raise against it. Our complex idea of an immaterial spirit and our complex idea of body compared. A few of his examples will be sufficient to make clear the essential elements that are involved in his theory of knowledge. For, whether their supposition be true or no, it is plain they conceive personal identity preserved in something else than identity of substance; as animal identity is preserved in identity of life, and not of substance.
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SparkNotes: Essay Concerning Human Understanding