Christian apologists argue that the testimony of the miracles of Jesus provide evidence for Christianity. Hume tries to undermine this argument by pointing out that miracles are said to occur in other religious traditions and so miracles do not give us reason to believe in Christianity over the alternatives. Thus, competing miracles act as an undercutting defeater for the argument from miracles for Christianity. Yet, before Hume, Locke responds to this kind of objection, and in this paper I explain and (...) defend his response. In short, Locke argues that God will ensure that there is more evidence for Christianity (if true) and this greater evidence is an undercutting defeater for Hume’s competing miracles defeater (i.e., it is a defeater-defeater). If so, then, as Locke argues, competing miracles do not weaken the evidence from miracles for Christianity. (shrink)
In this paper, I argue that, despite Locke’s explicitly subjectivist definition of miracle, he in fact employs an objectivist understanding of the concept. This contrast between his official definition and his employment of an objectivist understanding of what it is for an event to be a miracle is a result of his confusing the epistemological issue of how to recognize a miracle with the ontological issue of what a miracle is.
John Locke's religious interests and concerns permeate his philosophical production and are best expressed in his later writings on religion, which represent the culmination of his studies. In this volume, Diego Lucci offers a thorough analysis and reassessment of Locke's unique, heterodox, internally coherent version of Protestant Christianity, which emerges from The Reasonableness of Christianity and other public as well as private texts. In order to clarify Locke's views on morality, salvation, and the afterlife, Lucci critically examines Locke's theistic ethics, (...) biblical hermeneutics, reflection on natural and revealed law, mortalism, theory of personal identity, Christology, and tolerationism. While emphasizing the originality of Locke's scripture-based religion, this book calls attention to his influences and explores the reception of his unorthodox theological ideas. Moreover, the book highlights the impact of Locke's natural and biblical theology on other areas of his thought, thus enabling a better understanding of the unity of his work. (shrink)
This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it. This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and distribute this work, as no entity (individual or corporate) has a copyright on the body of the work. Scholars believe, and we concur, that this work is important enough to be (...) preserved, reproduced, and made generally available to the public. To ensure a quality reading experience, this work has been proofread and republished using a format that seamlessly blends the original graphical elements with text in an easy-to-read typeface. We appreciate your support of the preservation process, and thank you for being an important part of keeping this knowledge alive and relevant. (shrink)
Locke scholarship has been flourishing in Japan for several decades, but its output is largely unknown to the West. This collection makes available in English for the first time the fruits of recent Japanese research, opening up the possibility of advancing Locke studies on an international scale. Covering three important areas of Locke's philosophical thought – knowledge and experimental method, law and politics, and religion and toleration – this volume criticizes established interpretations and replaces them with novel alternatives, breaking away (...) from standard narratives and providing fresh ways of looking at Locke's relationship with philosophers such as Boyle, Berkeley and Hume. The specific topics that have been selected are ones that continue to have important contemporary moral and political implications, from constitutionalism and toleration to marriage and the death penalty. Applying Locke's views to 21st-century questions, this collection presents provocative readings of the defining aspects of Locke's philosophical thought, stimulating current debates and heralding a new era of collaborative work for Locke scholars around the world. (shrink)
in their famous correspondence, Stillingfleet objects that Locke's definition of knowledge, by limiting certainty to the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas, lessens the credibility of faith. Locke replies that his definition of knowledge does not affect the credibility of an article of faith at all, for faith and knowledge are entirely different cognitive acts: The truth of the matter of fact is in short this, that I have placed knowledge in the perception of the agreement or disagreement (...) of ideas. This definition of knowledge, your lordship said, "might be of dangerous consequence to that article of faith, which you have endeavored to defend." This I denied, and gave this reason for it, viz.... (shrink)
In late October 1688 John Locke wrote, as part of a continuing and lengthy correspondence, to his friend the French biblical critic, Nicholas Toinard. Replying to enquiries about Richard Simon’s recent work the Histoire Critique he noted, “as soon as I get hold of this new critique I shall read it through carefully to see what it is made of, though the columnar book that I should compare it with is not here. That book is carefully put away: for it (...) is the one out of all I possess that I am most anxious to preserve safe and sound.” The other book Locke was concerned to preserve was a critical harmony of the Scripture, possibly written by Toinard himself. His intention was to cross reference Simon’s philological criticisms of Scripture with the scholarly edition to verify the claims of the Frenchman’s scholarship. This process of reading shaped Locke’s convictions about religious truth. Even a casual trawl through Locke’s private letters would throw up many more examples of similar exchanges with learned men concerning the accuracy and authenticity of received Scripture. It is this picture of John Locke poring over the text of the New Testament and comparing the most up to date works of biblical criticism with the private critical researches of friends like Toinard, Le Clerc, and Newton, that should frame this contribution. Biblical criticism was an ambivalent enterprise, easily degenerating from piety to desecration. (shrink)
John Locke's treatises on government make frequent reference to the Hebrew Bible, while references to the New Testament are almost completely absent. To date, scholarship has not addressed this surprising characteristic of the treatises. In this book, Yechiel Leiter offers a Hebraic reading of Locke's fundamental political text. In doing so, he formulates a new school of thought in Lockean political interpretation and challenges existing ones. He shows how a grasp of the Hebraic underpinnings of Locke's political theory resolves many (...) of the problems, as well as scholarly debates, that are inherent in reading Locke. More than a book about the political theory of John Locke, this volume is about the foundational ideas of western civilization. While focused on Locke's Hebraism, it demonstrates the persistent relevance of the biblical political narrative to modernity. It will generate interest among students of Locke and political theory; philosophy and early modern history; and within Bible study communities. (shrink)
If the laws of nature are metaphysically necessary, then it appears that miracles are metaphysically impossible. Yet Locke accepts both Essentialism, which takes the laws to be metaphysically necessary, and the possibility of miracles. I argue that the apparent conflict here can be resolved if the laws are by themselves insufficient for guaranteeing the outcome of a particular event. This suggests that, on Locke’s view, the laws of nature entail how an object would behave absent divine intervention. While other views (...) of laws also make miracles counterfactually dependent on God’s will, I show how this view is consistent with the Essentialist commitment to the view that the laws are metaphysically necessary. Further, I argue Locke’s view is a relatively attractive version of Essentialism, in part, because it allows for the possibility of miracles. (shrink)
Victor Nuovo represents the philosophical thought of John Locke as the work of a Christian virtuoso: an empirical natural philosopher, who was also a practising Christian. Locke believed that the two vocations were not only compatible, but mutually sustaining, and he aspired to unite them in producing a system of Christian philosophy.
This article turns to early modern and Enlightenment advocates of tolerance in order to discover and lay bare the line of argument that informed their commitment to free speech. This line of argument will subsequently be used to assess the shift from free speech to the contemporary ideal of free self-expression. In order to take this assessment one step further, this article will finally turn to Immanuel Kant’s famous defense of the public use of reason. In the wake of Katerina (...) Deligiorgi’s readings of Kant, it will show that the idea of free speech requires a specific disposition on behalf of speakers and writers that is in danger of being neglected in the contemporary prevailing conception of free speech as freedom of self-expression. (shrink)
The author describes new interpretations of the problem of theology’s influence on John Locke’ philosophical doctrine. The main subject of the analysis is the latest publications by Victor Nuovo, the most famous contemporary researcher of mentioned problem.
El filósofo inglés John Locke es más conocido por su Ensayo sobre el entendimiento humano y por sus escritos sobre la tole-rancia, esto es, por su aportación epistemológica, psicológica y política, que por su profundo interés en la religión cristia-na; empero, como muchos de sus contemporáneos Locke tuvo especial interés en el estudio de la religión. Justamente en este artículo hago una primera aproximación a esta cues-tión, es decir, al interés lockeano por la religión que plasmó rotundamente en su obra (...) The Reasonableness of Christianity. Sus estudios sobre la Biblia y sobre algunos de los dogmas cristianos, como el de la Trinidad, influyeron decisivamente en los movimientos heterodoxos de la época, sobre todo en el llamado deísmo del siglo XVII, cuyas ideas y posturas tras-cendieron al siglo XVIII con los librepensadores; ya en ese siglo el deísmo, que para entonces también era llamado mo-vimiento del librepensamiento, fue cuestionado y criticado por muchos filósofos y pensadores, dentro de los cuales des-taca el filósofo irlandés George Berkeley, quien vio en las ideas de esos grupos el germen de la decadencia de la socie-dad de su tiempo. Berkeley y su obra Alcifrón son abordados en la segunda parte del artículo, en donde se retoma la críti-ca berkeleyana al librepensamiento porque representa y ejemplifica, mediante la actitud crítica del irlandés, la in-fluencia de Locke en los movimientos deístas y librepensa-dores de épocas posteriores. (shrink)
This article reconstructs the main arguments in John Locke’s first political writings, the highly rhetorical, and often obscure, Two Tracts on Government . The Tracts support the government’s right to impose religious ceremonies on its people, an astonishing fact given Locke’s famous defense of toleration in his later works. The reconstruction of the Tracts developed here allows us to see that rather than a pessimistic view of the prospects for peace under religious diversity, what mainly animates the young Locke is (...) a desire to defend the rule of law against an anarchical conception of religious freedom. The article also argues that the evolution of Locke’s thinking on religious freedom was in large part governed by Locke’s attempt to interpret religious freedom in a way that avoids its having anarchical implications. (shrink)
Many commentators have argued that Locke understood laws of nature as causally efficacious. On this view the laws are causally responsible for the production of natural phenomena. This paper argues that this interpretation faces serious difficulties. First, I argue that it will be very difficult to specify the ontological status of these laws. Proponents of the view suggest that these laws are divine volitions. But I argue that this will be difficult or impossible to square with Locke’s nominalism. Second, I (...) argue that it will be difficult to specify the manner in which these laws operate. The view runs the risk of collapsing into occasionalism and Locke has measured critiques of the occasionalist position. The only way to maintain that laws are causally efficacious divine volitions while avoiding occasionalism is to have God engage in what I call ‘brute fact-making’. But brute fact-making is difficult to square with Locke’s remarks on God’s action in the world and with his standards for explanation in natural philosophy. (shrink)
According to John Locke, the conditions of human happiness establish the content of natural law, but God’s commands make it morally binding. This raises two questions. First, why does moral obligation require an authority figure? Second, what gives God authority? I argue that, according to Locke, moral obligation requires an authority figure because to have an obligation is to be accountable to someone. I then argue that, according to Locke, God has a kind of parental authority inasmuch as he is (...) bound by covenant to guide us by revealing the content of the moral law. (shrink)
Berkeley's main aim in his well-known early works was to identify and refute "the grounds of Scepticism, Atheism, and irreligion." This appears to place Berkeley within a well-established tradition of religious critics of Locke's epistemology, including, most famously, Stillingfleet. I argue that these appearances are deceiving. Berkeley is, in fact, in important respects an opponent of this tradition. According to Berkeley, Locke's earlier critics, including Stillingfleet, had misidentified the grounds of irreligion in Locke's philosophy while all the while endorsing the (...) true grounds of irreligion themselves. Locke's epistemology is innocent; matter and abstraction are to blame. (shrink)
John Locke's comments on experimental natural philosophy can plausibly be seen as a part of the physico-theological project of certain Christian virtuosi of the Royal Society to show that the workings of nature reveal the existence of a providential God. As I make clear, Locke thinks that God providentially designs us with limited epistemic capacities in order to check our pride and to motivate us to seek perfection in God. Locke maintains that a true science of nature is possible, but (...) he is pessimistic about the prospects of realizing such a science, given our epistemic limitations. I argue that this seeming tension can be resolved by appreciating that the horizon for obtaining this science is eschatological. In other words, Locke thinks that we will have a true science of nature in a state of perfection, as God transforms the probable knowledge we have of bodies into certain and comprehensive knowledge. (shrink)
The paper examines the copious correspondence between the English philosopher John Locke and the French intellectual Nicolas Toinard ; Locke made the acquaintance of Toinard in Paris in 1677 or early in 1678, and the latter remained his lifelong friend and most assiduous correspondent. An Orléanais and a devout Catholic, Toinard combined an intense interest in the Scriptures with an enthusiasm for experimental science and inventions of every kind; he introduced Locke to all the French official institutions and to a (...) number of private laboratories. Toinard’s principal work, Evangeliorum Harmonia Graeco-Latina, was greatly appreciated by Locke for its new method. The paper attempts to explore the bulk of this correspondence in detail, giving an account of the wide range of topics dealt with in the two hundred letters; it is divided into four paragraphs referring, respectively, to the years 1678-1679, 1679-1681, 1681-1686, 1686-1704. The perspective is diachronic; on some occasions, the focus is on a particular topic which is the object of prolonged discussion between the two correspondents. In the conclusion, attention is drawn to the relevance of this correspondence in the context of the 17th century and of Locke’s philosophical thought. (shrink)
A “recent consensus” has emerged in Locke studies that has sought to place theology at the center of Locke's political philosophy, insisting that the validity and cogency of Locke's political conclusions cannot be substantiated independently of the theology that resides at their foundation. This paper argues for the need to distance Locke from God, claiming that not only can we “bracket” the normative conclusions of Locke's political philosophy from their theological foundations, but that this was in fact Locke's own intention, (...) intent as he was to justify these conclusions to a diverse political audience often divided by faith. In other words, this “recent consensus” in Locke studies is premised on an erroneous understanding of Locke's political philosophy, even as advanced by Locke himself. Locke's own philosophical discourse bears witness to the very “bracketing” of his political conclusions from their theological foundations that these Locke scholars claim is impossible. (shrink)
This essay investigates the idea of self-proprietorship as the concealed ideological basis beneath our most fraught ethical discourses on bodily matters pertaining to birth, health, sex and death. It questions the sense in which such discourses, and their corresponding societal practices, in turn serve as a practical apology for this troubling anthropology that has come to sustain capitalism. ‘Self-proprietorship’ is analysed for its phenomenological basis in the actual task of learning to own one’s body, and traced in its early philosophical (...) instantiations in Hobbes and Locke. These sources are then contrasted with an account of non-proprietary possession of one’s body, rooted in the astonishing authority granted the spouses in Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, a nuanced treatment of porneia and chastity, and the evocative bodily receptions of Christian worship. (shrink)
John Locke holds that matter is solid, the soul thinks, and for all we know the soul may be a material substance divinely endowed with a power to think. Though he openly admits to nothing stronger than the bare possibility of thinking matter, Locke grants that what thinks in us occupies a definite spatial location to the exclusion of other souls. Solidity is the quality that prevents other things from occupying a spatial location. Locke’s general criterion for identity is spatiotemporal (...) exclusion of other things of the same kind. To meet these conditions for identity, souls must be solid. Although Locke refuses to declare that souls really are material things, taking the solidity of souls to be a condition for their identity is consistent with the following of Locke’s other important commitments: nominalism about the essences by which substances are classified, agnosticism about the underlying reality of what supports such “nominal essences,” and the identity of persons is distinct from the identity of any substance. Locke ignores the implication that souls are solid because the solidity of souls is irrelevant to those three aims. Nevertheless he could allow for the solidity of souls without giving up on any of his other important and explicitly held commitments. There is therefore no need for Locke’s commentators to refrain from employing solidity in their accounts of Locke’s general criterion for identity from fear of attributing to Locke the position that souls would be solid. (shrink)
In the Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Locke maintains that ?Reason must be our last Judge and Guide in every Thing,? including matters of religious faith, and this commitment to the primacy of reason is not abandoned in his later religious writings. This essay argues that with regard to the relation between reason and religious faith, Locke is primarily concerned not with evidence, but with consistency, meaning, and how human beings ought to respond to their inclinations, including their inclinations to believe. (...) Leibniz, on the other hand, stakes out an alternative conception of the relationship between faith and reason that assigns to faith the role of a primary truth. For Leibniz, some religious propositions can be believed immediately and without an additional examination and evaluation by reason. The essay maintains that the differences between the two regarding faith and reason are tied to a broader disagreement about how much of the human understanding is due, in Locke's words, to ?Labour, Attention and Industry? (shrink)
With the publication of Locke’s early manuscripts on toleration and the drafts for the Essay, it is possible to understand to what extent Locke’s ideas on religious toleration have developed. Although the important arguments for toleration can already be found in these early texts, Locke was confronted with a problem in his defence of toleration that he needed to solve. If faith, as a form of judgement, is involuntary, as Locke claims, how can one be held accountable for the faith (...) one has? In answer to this question reason comes to play a more prominent role in Locke’s notion of faith and in his defence of religious toleration, and in his philosophy in general. This notion of reason is not the reason we use for mathematical demonstrations. It is rather reason as we use it in discussion, and is thus fallible. It is precisely this kind of reason that played a central role in the Remonstrant religion to which Locke was closely connected at the time he developed a new argument for religious toleration when he was in the Netherlands. (shrink)
the three topics named in the title of this book: Christianity, antiquity, and Enlightenment, are not meant merely to describe the contents of the various chapters it contains. a narrative is implied in their selection and arrangement, and embedded ...
John Perry connects the 'Johannine liberalism' of Locke and Rawls to contemporary debates about the place of religion in public life, arguing that disputes such as the culture wars must be understood theologically as fundamental conflicts of loyalty.
The Catholic polemicist John Sergeant published three major works of philosophy towards the end of his literary career, The Method to Science (1696), Solid Philosophy (1697) and Metaphysics (1700). They were highly critical of what Sergeant saw as the idea-grounded epistemology of the Cartesians and John Locke, whom he labelled 'ideists'. Previous scholars have interpreted Sergeant's texts as manifestations of his lifelong obsession with certainty, as initially developed in his Restoration polemics against Anglican divines. Using a previously neglected autobiographical letter, (...) it is demonstrated that Sergeant's intentions were very different. Like Edward Stillingfleet and other critics, Sergeant saw Locke's philosophy as inspiring contemporary heterodoxy. The article identifies the specific channels by which Sergeant saw Lockeanism seeping into irreligion. Moreover, unlike Locke's Anglican critics, Sergeant resorted not to polemical accusations, but to abstract philosophy. This must also be explained contextually: Sergeant wished his works to become textbooks at the universities, concerned as he was by the pedagogical impact of the Essay. A premise of this article is that reception history is less useful for elucidating on the meaning of the received text than for telling us something about the intentions of the receiver, and about the intellectual culture in which the process of reception occurs. With this in mind, the article finishes by recontextualizing Sergeant's works within a broader narrative: his was an attempt to reassert the place of philosophy as a propaedeutic to theology in an age when such a conception of philosophy's social role was coming under intense scrutiny. (shrink)
The paper tries to show the importance of the writings of John Locke in preparing the way for secularism. He provides a theory for disentangling religion and the state for several main reasons, including the avoidance of religious persecution of minorties; the avoidance of civil strife; and the need to leave it to individuals to work out their own salvation by exercising their conscience free of state interference. Locke is a creative theorist; his creativity shows itself in the new arguments (...) he formulates and publishes on behalf of the freedom of religion from the state and the freedom of the state from religion. The influence of his Letter on Toleration and the Second Treatise in Two Treatises of Government has proved worldwide and lasting. The paper also takes up a later work by Locke, The Reasonableness of Christianity, where Locke retreats to some extent from the religious individualism, but not the religious toleration, of his most famous works. But even that retreat gives only a little comfort to those who deplore secularism. (shrink)
It is typically thought that miracles, if they occur, can provide evidence for the truth of religious doctrine. But what if different miracles occur attesting to the truth of different and incompatible religions? How is one to decide between the truth of the supposed revelations? Much of Locke’s short work, A Discourse of Miracles, is concerned with this question. Here I summarize and evaluate Locke’s answer.