Locke essays concerning human understanding summary

Other considerations concerning innate principles, both speculative and practical. Of ideas in general, and their original. Of simple ideas ; of simple ideas of sense ; idea of solidity. Of simple ideas of divers senses ; Of simple ideas of reflection; Of simple ideas of both sensation and reflection. Some further considerations concerning our simple ideas of sensation.

Of perception.

Of retention. Of discerning, and other operations of the mind.

Aims and Methods

Of complex ideas. Of simple modes:—and first, of the simple modes of the idea of space Part I. Of simple modes:—and first, of the simple modes of the idea of space Part II. Idea of duration and its simple modes Part I. Idea of duration and its simple modes Part II. Ideas of duration and expansion, considered together.

An Essay Concerning Human Understanding by John Locke l Summary & Study Guide

Idea of number and its simple modes. Of the idea of infinity Part I. Of the idea of infinity Part II. Of other simple modes; of the modes of thinking ; of modes of pleasure and pain.


  1. Aims and Methods.
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Of the idea of power Part I. Of the idea of power Part II.

An Essay Concerning Human Understanding Background | GradeSaver

Of the idea of power Part III. Of the idea of power Part IV. Of mixed modes. Of our complex ideas of substances Part I. Of our complex ideas of substances Part II. How short soever their Knowledge may come of an universal, or perfect Comprehension of whatsoever is, it yet secures their great Concernments, that they have Light enough to lead them to the Knowledge of their Maker, and the sight of their own Duties.

Even with respect to such vital matters, Locke supposed, our knowledge is often limited. The testimony of our senses, together with a natural inclination to seek pleasure and avoid pain, guides much of our daily conduct even though sensitive knowledge cannot offer demonstrative certainty about the existence of an external world. Divine provision for the practical needs of human life is expressed more economically:. Although speculative knowledge of the essences of God, human beings, and material things exceeds the capacity of our cognitive faculties, according to Locke, we have no grounds for complaint.

What is more, evaluation of our moral conduct in the light of our accountability to God for the actions we perform provides amply for our hope of a better existence beyond this life. Limited though it may be, Locke supposed, the human capacity for knowledge is sufficient for our happiness here and hereafter, and since that is that is our primary concern, it would be pointless to demand that our faculties reach any further.

Essay Concerning Human Understanding Book III - John Locke - Modern - Speaking Book - English - 2/4

This presentation of the central themes indicates what Locke himself regarded as his most significant contributions to the subject. Then he outlined the account of our formation of crucial complex ideas, including those of substances, mixed modes, and relations. Noting his own belated discovery of the vital importance of language, Locke offered a basic statement of his own theory of language, with special attention to the relation between general terms and abstract ideas.

Drawing the distinction between civil and philosophical uses of language, he pointed out that difficulties in communication result both from the natural imperfections of language and from its deliberate misuse.

Finally, Locke defined knowledge and distinguished its several types, each of which is subject to strict limitations. Arguing in some detail against the common inclination to rely upon supposedly self-evident principles, Locke proposed that genuine advances in human knowledge depend instead upon the proper exercise of good judgment in assenting to opinions suitable to the ideas with which they are concerned.


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  • An Essay Concerning Human Understanding – Book IV: OF KNOWLEDGE AND PROBABILITY.
  • LOCKE: An Essay Concerning Human Understanding [Book III, Ch. 1-3, 9-11];
  • Locke rarely commented explicitly on the relation of his own work with that of other thinkers. Although he sometimes presupposed a dualistic account of human nature, Locke disputed many of its Cartesian corrolaries, including the continual thinking of the soul and the absence of thought in animals, and he notoriously suggested the possibility that matter might have the power to think.

    In general, Locke disavowed the over-reliance on mathematical reasoning at the expense of sensory observation in the pursuit of human knowledge.