World's Great Philosophers:
Hobbes And Locke
Berkeley And Hume
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Hobbes And Locke
( Originally Published Early 1900's )
It is not astonishing that a man such as Thomas Huxley should express the highest admiration for a man such as Thomas Hobbes. If Huxley's opinion is valuable no one can withhold from Hobbes a full measure of praise. Hobbes has been condemned as a materialist and an atheist by many persons who have never done him the common justice of reading his works, or at least of reading the works in which his philosophy is defined. But if he has been severely judged by the few who were not informed, or were misinformed, and who were, therefore, incompetent to pass any judgment whatever, he has been as highly commended by the many who have been to the trouble of finding out what he really believed.
To the assertion that Hobbes was a materialist, and perhaps the first materialist, we can readily assent. With the assertion that he was an atheist no one who is at all familiar with his writings can agree. When a man openly and honestly professes that his creed is that "Jesus was the Christ," placing this as the first internal act of faith, and further holds that the other essential to salvation is obedience to the laws of God, it is difficult to see wherein any one can find matter for charging him with atheism. It is not impossible that such charges have grown out of that narrow egotism which can see Deity in nothing but what may be found in the numbered articles of a creed. That Hobbes was a reverent and true Christian there can be no more doubt than that he lived. For he had a way of saying what he thought in such blunt words as to leave no possible room for even the most finical to misconceive his meaning. And in that characteristic of his style is perhaps to be found the cause of his great unwelcomeness to not a few.
Before entering upon the details of his biography, which are full of interest, it will be well to understand what fashion of man he was, and with what clearness and brevity he could discourse upon most difficult matters. To begin with, he did not place much faith in books, although he placed enough to become familiar with the thoughts of men who had preceded him. "If I had read as much as some others I should be as ignorant as they are," he said. Most of the quotations used here have been selected from his two books, Leviathan and Human Nature, and have been considered by Lewes as adequate for the expression of Hobbes' leading doctrine, the doctrine which gives him his place in philosophy. Professor Huxley advises those who would know all that is worth knowing about philosophy to read carefully Hobbes and Hume the materialist and the skeptic and to dispense with all others, a bit of counsel that is intensely Huxleyan if no more.
"Harm I can do none," says Hobbes, "though I err no less than other writers, for I shall leave men but as they are, in doubt and dispute; but not intending to take any principle upon trust, but only to put men in mind of what they know already, or may know by their experience, I hope to err less; and when I do, it must proceed from too hasty concluding, which I shall endeavor as much as I can to avoid." This is the method which leads him to all the conclusions of his philosophy. Hobbes had looked about him, and he was not insensible to the huge delusions entertained by men generally. He observed nature, and he analyzed closely the processes that were going on in his own mind. He had no "respect" whatever for popular opinion. "Man," he remarks, "has the exclusive privilege of forming general theorems. But this privilege is alloyed by another, that is, the privilege of absurdity, to which no living creature is subject but man only. And of men, those are of all most subject to it who profess philosophy. When men have once acquiesced in untrue opinions, and registered them as authenticated records in their minds, it is no less impossible to speak intelligibly to such men than to write legibly on a paper already scribbled over." Hobbes lived at the same time as Descartes, and it was not until much later that men were wise enough to find in general ignorance material for profound philosophical consideration.
Taking up the question of mind, Hobbes proceeds in delightfully simple and easily understood exposition. He says : "Concerning the thoughts of man I will consider them first singly and afterward in a train or dependence upon one another. Singly, they are every one a representation or appearance of some quality or other accident of a body, without us which is commonly called an object. Which object worketh on the eyes, ears, and other parts of a man's body, and by diversity of working produceth diversity of appearance. The original of them all is what we call Sense, for there is no conception in a man's mind which hath not at first, totally or by parts, been begotten upon the organs of sense. The rest are derived from that original [origin].
"According to the two principal parts of man I divide his faculties into two sorts : Faculties of the body and faculties of the mind. Since the minute and distinct anatomy of the powers of the body is nothing necessary to the present purpose, I will only sum them up in these three heads: Power nutritive, power generative, and power motive. Of the powers of the mind there be two sorts : Cognitive, imaginative or conceptive, and motive.
"For the understanding of what I mean by the power cognitive, we must remember and acknowledge that there be in our minds continually certain images or conceptions of things without us. This imagery and representation of the qualities of the things without us, is that which we call our conception, imagination, ideas, notice, or knowledge of them; and the faculty or power by which we are capable of such knowledge is that I here call cognitive power, or conceptive, the power of knowing or conceiving."
We have knowledge of things about us, he holds, because these things press upon the organs of our bodies and make themselves felt by their motions, and the knowledge we have of their externalities is itself motion only motion within us corresponding to motion without us "for motion produceth nothing but motion."
The father of materialism thus reduces philosophy to problems of the mind, entirely setting aside all questions pertaining to theology as matters without the sphere of reason, having nothing whatever to do with psychology, and being the material quite of faith and not of knowledge. That is why Hobbes could be a materialist and a careful and conscientious believer both in God and Christianity and be thoroughly consistent at the same time.
Materialism today has not lost the reprobation that attached to it in the time of Hobbes. When Spencer, who has gone out of his way to positively declare that whatever he may be he is in no sense of the word a materialist, and when Huxley, who has almost fiercely objected to the word as applied to him, still suffer under the charge, it may be worth while to go on and learn just what this bugbear of a doctrine really is as conceived by the Englishman who originated it.
Hobbes says that we can think of nothing which the body has not first seen, heard, or felt; imagine nothing which has not first been perceived by the senses or which is not compounded of thoughts which came originally into the mind from without through the channel of the senses. Thus, it is possible for us to imagine an animal made up of a man's head, a lion's trunk, the tail of a fish, the wings ,of a bird, and the legs of an elephant. Such a figure may be drawn upon paper. But it is manifest that this fanciful figure is only a compound of the parts of various animals that human eyes have already seen. The same is true of all other ideas. For example, we cannot conceive of an odor that has never been smelled except we mentally compound various odors that have been already sensed by the olfactory nerve. A traveler who returns to the tropics and who has discovered there a flower emitting an odor, the like of which has never been perceived by persons in the temperate zone, could not possibly describe the new odor to such persons. Let him name over all the odors in their experience. The new odor is totally different from them all. Clearly, no conception whatever of that odor can be formed by those who have not actually perceived that odor itself. The mind, with reference to it, is a perfect blank. But let the traveler say, it resembles, or is like, the odor of cinnamon, and a conception is formed at once.
Let us go a step further. The idea of truth or the idea of pure spirit has not surely entered the mind through the channel of sense, the opponent of materialism will say. The materialist will reply, You have no conception of truth except in so far as your senses have told you that experience verifies assertion or conforms with conclusions drawn from the putting together of experiences known . singly. These conformities and these verifications are compounded in the mind, and the notion of truth in general is . thus obtained. Of pure spirit you have no idea whatever. The words convey to the mind no meaning save that involved in the words, no material thing. You cannot draw a picture of a spirit. A spirit is like nothing.
But, the opponent of materialism may argue, we can conceive of a perfectly straight line, of a perfect circle, of a perfect cube, or of two angles that are perfectly equal. Man has never yet seen a geometrical line a line that has length but neither breadth nor thickness. The materialist will reply, I have already answered you in explaining your idea of truth. You have seen with your eyes and felt with your hands lines, circles, cubes, and angles that were as perfect as instrument could make them. It is these that are reflected in your mind. Had the eye not seen such figures the mind could never conceive them in any manner whatever. Had not the eye of a man first seen, or his fingers felt, a physical circle, it would be as impossible for him to conceive a circle, imaginarily perfect, or otherwise, as it would be for him to conceive an odor, the like of which he had never known.
Now, remembering that Hobbes holds that sensations are only motions within us which are communicated by motions from without, he is led to the conclusion that internal motions do not resemble external motions. And in this crude manner he describes what is to-day almost everywhere admitted as self-evident truth. That ideas, or feelings, or sensations, or thoughts, in nowise are like their external causes, he says, is true "because the image in vision consisting of color and shape is the knowledge we have of the qualities of the object of that sense. It is no hard matter for a man to fall into this opinion, that the sense, color, and shape are the very qualities themselves, and for the same cause that sound and noise are the qualities of the bell or of the air. And this opinion hath been so long received that the contrary must needs appear a great paradox. I shall endeavor to make plain these points : That the subject wherein color and image are inherent is not the object or thing seen. That there is nothing without us (really) which we can call image or color. That the said image or color is but an apparition unto us of the motion, agitation, or alteration which the object worketh in the brain, or some internal substance of the head. That as in vision, so also in conceptions that arise from the other senses, the subject of their inference is not the object, but the sentient."
Sound exists, then, only in the brain, and is very different from the motion of the matter outside the brain that, communicated to the brain, causes the sensation we know as sound. The truth of this is indisputable. So also of all the other operations of sense. It is easy to understand that sound is not identical with the air waves that, beating against the eardrum membrane, agitate the auditory nerve which translates the vibration into terms of sensation when it reaches the brain. But if this is true of the sense of hearing the application of the principle is to be made to every other sensation. Such qualities as hardness, roundness, color, are mental, or cerebral only.* They exist nowhere but in the brain. Such a statement is necessarily false to the common way of thinking. To Hobbes (and to some others who are alive to-day) it is necessarily true. In illustrating this doctrine of Hobbes, Locke makes use of an example that has been the model for all who have attempted the same performance. A knife is plunged into the flesh. The sensation resultant is one of pain. Yet, however we regard it, that sensation is utterly unlike its cause. The external cause of the internal feeling called pain may be said to lie in the knife itself, the motion of the knife through the tissue and the severance of the nerves the blade passes through. The knife is hard, sharp, and blue. The pain is not hard, neither is it sharp nor blue. The knife is cold. The pain is not cold. Tissue is severed. The pain is not severance. Nor is the pain one with or like the motion of the knife or of the disrupted tissue. The knife cutting through the nerves communicates to the nerves motion. This nerve motion reaches and moves the brain. The result is the sensation we call pain.
This is a discovery, and a most important one. The ancients thought of the same thing in an indirect way, but did not so well define it as it is defined here. The thought that ideas are not copies of things was not a new one when Hobbes wrote his book, but what to the ancients was a mere confused notion presented itself as a clear concept to the mind of the father of modern materialism. Hobbes says that the origin of all ideas is in the sense, but he also recognizes other functions of the mind which deal with ideas thus received, which compound and combine sense perceptions, and out of these compounds arise ideas which do not seem to have been derived through the channel of sensation.
Of these functions he places the imagination first. "That when a thing lies still," he says, "unless somewhat else stirs it, it will lie still forever, is a truth which no one doubts of. But when the thing is in motion it will be eternally in motion unless somewhat else stays it, though the reason be the same, namely, that nothing can change itself, is not so easily assented to. For men measure not only other men, but all other things, by themselves; and, because they find themselves subject, after motion, to pain and lassitude, think everything else grows weary of motion, and seeks "repose of its own accord; little considering whether it be not some other motion wherein that desire of rest, they find in themselves, consisteth." This process, which Hobbes calls imagination, is, he says, but "decaying sense. "When a body is once in motion it moveth, unless something hinder it, eternally; and whatsoever hindereth it cannot, in an instant, but in time, and by degrees, quite extinguish it; and as we see in the water, though the wind cease, the waves give not over rolling for a long time after, so also it happeneth in that motion which is made in the internal parts of man; this, when he sees, dreams, etc. For after the object is removed, or the eye shut, we still retain an image of the thing seen, though more obscured than when we see it. The decay of sense in men waking is not the decay of the motion made in sense, but an obscuring of it, in such manner as the light of the sun obscures the light of the stars; which stars do no less exercise their virtue, by which they are visible in the day than in the night. But because among many strokes which our eyes, ears, and other organs receive from external bodies the pre-dominant one is sensible; therefore the light of the sun being predominant, we are not affected with the action of the stars."
Hobbes' psychology is therefore seen to be what is really the psychology of to-day. If man's thoughts all arise out of sense perceptions or impressions, it can hardly be said that the "soul" is immaterial, because everything that is (every real thing) must occupy space, and that which is not material cannot be so extended. Of course, Hobbes' speculations with reference to the action of the mechanism or apparatus that is found in the cerebro-nervous system are as crude as the primitive stage of psychological science in his day would warrant. But no one will deny that the English materialist took a long step forward when he discovered that internal feelings are merely motions communicated to the nervous organism by other material motions outside of it.
To one other matter did Hobbes call attention. It is a matter that has provoked no end of thinking, speculation, and writing among metaphysicians which might as well have been spared, for not one of them advanced any further than did he. This matter he thus describes:
"When a man thinketh on anything whatsoever, his next thought after is not altogether so casual as it seems to be. Not every thought to every thought succeeds indifferently. But as we have no imagination whereof we have not formerly had sense in whole or in part, so we have no transition from one imagination to another whereof we never had the like before in our senses. The reason whereof is this : All fancies (i. e. images) are motions within us, relicts of those made in sense; and those motions that immediately succeed one another in the sense continue also together after the sense; insomuch as the former coming again to take place and be predominant, the latter followeth by coherence of the matter moved, in such manner as water upon a plain table is drawn which way any one part of it is guided by the finger. This train of thoughts, or mental discourse, is of two sorts. The first is unguided, without design, and. inconstant, wherein there is no passionate thought to govern and direct those that follow to itself, as the end and scope of some desire or other passion; in which case the thoughts are said to wander, and seem impertinent to one another, as in a dream. Such are commonly the thoughts of men that are not only with-out company, but also without care of anything; though even then their thoughts are as busy as at other times, but without harmony; as the sound which a lute out of tune would yield to any man; or in tune, to one that could not play. And yet in this wild ranging of the mind, a man may ofttimes perceive the way of it, and the dependence of one thought upon another. For in a discourse of our present Civil War, what would seem more impertinent than to ask, as one did, what was the value of a Roman penny? Yet the coherence to me was manifest enough. For the thought of war introduced the thought of delivering up the King to his enemies; the thought of that brought in the thought of the delivering up of Christ; and that again the thought of the thirty pence, which was the price of that treason, and thence easily followed that malicious question, and all this in a moment of time; for thought is quick."
This is nothing more, with proverbial example, than an exposition of the "association of ideas."
Thomas Hobbes was a man noted for other accomplishments and abilities not concerned with his great work in the field of philosophy. He was a student of law that had few superiors even in that age of England's great lawyers. He was born at Malmesbury on April 5, 1588. His father was a clergyman of the Church of England, and saw that his son was given all the advantages of an university training. He came out of Oxford at the very early age of twenty, and engaged himself to Lord Hardwicke, afterward the Earl of Devonshire, as tutor to Hardwicke's son, the heir to Cavendish. Tutor and pupil went abroad. In the learned centers of France and Italy it may be imagined that while the future philosopher was training the mind of his noble charge he was not neglecting the development of his own. When the young men returned to England Hobbes, upon the invitation of his pupil and patron both, took up his residence with the family. He was the friend of the most learned men of the England of that time. He met Ben Jonson, was the companion of the Scottish poet, Ayton, and knew well the great Bacon, whose method he does not seem to have misunderstood or misapplied.
In 1628 Lord Hardwicke's son died, and Hobbes returned to France and there gave himself up to the study of the higher mathematics. Later he went to Pisa, and there met Galileo. During his stay on the Continent he became the intellectual and social intimate of Father Mersenne, Sorbière, and Gassendi. Descartes knew him, and the two were for many years associated in such delightful correspondence as we can imagine possible to two such men. While he was abroad the philosopher became sick, and was convinced that he was about to die. In this extremity he sent for the learned Dr. Cosin, who gave the materialist such religious consolation as he felt in need of. It was while in Paris that he wrote his two famous books, Human Nature and Leviathan. Both were published in England, the first in 165o and the second in 1651.
When he returned to England for the third time Cromwell was in power. Hobbes now began to make new friends, but we still find that his friendships are most fortunate. Cowley, the poet, admired him, Vaughan, the distinguished jurist, was proud to know him, and Harvey, the discoverer of the circulation of the blood, numbered him among his intimates. After the restoration the philosopher was given a pension of one hundred pounds a year, but the peculiar manner of his philosophy and his strange doctrines concerning the knowledge and the mind of man were, it would appear, shocking to the established convictions of the people. We therefore find Parliament in 1666 censuring his books. Force was soon given this act of censure by the passage of a law providing for the suppression of atheists, and Hobbes, who had been so careful in making it perfectly plain that no matter what else he might be he was atheist in no sense, became alarmed. He now abandoned the pursuit of philosophy, possibly because he thought that he had written enough in that field.
At the extreme old age of eighty-four Hobbes under-took the task of writing his autobiography in Latin verse. He was meanwhile busying himself with the translation of Homer's Iliad into English poetry. The translation of Homer was published in parts. He would be a severe critic who could find it in his heart to hold up the work of a man in his ninth decade of life to those standards by which the best performances are ordinarily judged. Pope, who came after him, remarked that he would not criticize Hobbes' translation for the reason that it was beneath criticism, yet there are those who can see in the rough touches of the blunt old philosopher a spirit more Homeric than is to be found in the singing lines of Pope himself.
Although Hobbes is really the father of modern materialism it is Locke who is more frequently given the credit of the paternity. Locke has been more correctly called the father of modern inductive psychology; for although he developed the philosophy of Hobbes he can hardly be said to be a materialist in the complete sense of the word. He denied that he had ever read his great predecessor, but he follows him so closely in many respects that some have not believed his own statement in that regard.
Why discredit him? There is no good reason for thinking that two, or even several, men should not have thought in the same way in close temporal proximity to each other in the range of years that cover the two philosophers. European philosophy, indeed, was ripe for just such a step. But even though Locke did borrow from Hobbes he deserves a no less prominent place among the great minds of England and of the world for that reason.
And Locke did more than merely improve upon, develop, and set forth the ideas of the philosopher of Malmesbury. He led the way for Berkeley and Hume —Hume, of whom a Huxley is the biographer and whom Windelband pronounces to be the greatest philosopher of England. Then, too, it may be said that Locke was the first insular philosopher who set forth a system with great profundity of thought, going into remote analysis and carefully defining his terms so that there can be no dispute about his meaning. In definition and analysis he dived beneath the depths of Hobbes, was not so easily satisfied as his precursor, and brought philosophy to that position that prepared the world for its last efforts. His book, Essay Concerning Human Understanding, is a work from which can never be with-held an admiration as sincere as that which is accorded to any work from the pen of a man.
John Locke was born in the year 1632 in a little cottage in Somersetshire. Bacon had passed out of life just six years before. Spinoza was not yet born; indeed there was but three months' difference between the ages of the English psychologist and the Continental pan-theist. While not wealthy, the family of the Lockes was well descended, and the education of the boy was carefully watched. At nineteen he had finished his preparatory course at Westminster School and then entered Christ Church College, Oxford.
Fortunately for the enlightenment of England the young man was placed under the care of a "fanatical tutor," as his preceptor is called by Anthony Wood. This tutor was the very man to inspire the nascent thinker with a deep-seated conviction that the meta-physics taught at Oxford was not nutritious food for his very capable mental digestion. Yet Locke won some praise as a student, and did not neglect to reap a good harvest of knowledge from the libraries of the university, or at least to gain such knowledge as he could in this way. At twenty-three our philosopher is a Bachelor of Arts a degree he did not disdain as did Bacon. Soon after he had quitted Oxford he began the study of medicine, and medicine was the profession he followed through life.
From a man of Locke's scientific bent it would be hard to expect a philosophy other than was his. From his youth he was given to observation and experiment. He was a correspondent for years of the noted physicist Boyle, who improved the air pump and who conducted numerous experiments with the atmosphere. In Boyle's "History of the Air" appears the record of Locke's observations on the weather, kept faithfully by the philosopher for several years.
Something of the young man's character when he was in college may be gathered from Anthony Wood, a sobersided man of the Church, who was a fellow student of the great Boyle's assistant. "This same John Locke," says Wood, "was a man of a turbulent spirit, clamorous and discontented. While the rest of our club took notes from the mouth of our master, the said Locke scorned to do this, but was ever prating and troublesome." In other words, he was one of the men who become great in spite of their schooling rather than because of it.
A physicist, a chemist, a psychologist, a physician, a philosopher, Locke might have been a divine. But he declined a most tempting offer in the last named direction in order that he might pursue the work his mind was most attracted to. For the same reason he took long vacations from the practice of medicine to "descend within himself," and there, in the depths of his own mind, to catch truth as it played at in and out through the shift and the change of his thoughts.
While yet in his early twenties the philosopher went abroad as secretary to Sir Walter Vane, an envoy to the German Princes. He visited many cities of the Rhine, and before his return spent some time in Holland. Diplomacy, with all its seductive allurements of travel among strange peoples, did not attract him. It is probable that even had he yielded to the temptation of entering the diplomatic service, the world had not yet suffered the loss of the great Essay, but its conception and plan were in large measure due to his return to England and to his most fortunate acquaintance with the first Earl of Shaftesbury. At thirty-four Locke met this generous gentleman and found in him a patron whose genial influence nurtured the great design already forming in the wonderful brain.
During the life of the Earl the physician and philosopher was thrown into association with the brightest men of the time. With ample leisure for study, in easy circumstances, and relieved from professional work that had hindered his plans of philosophy, he could devote himself almost wholly to the gratification of his highest desires. His experience in politics, though pleasant enough, did not result in any distinction, and it is no surprise, therefore, to find him retreating to Holland after the death of Shaftesbury in 1683. While in Holland he was charged with having written against the British Government, and he narrowly escaped extradition and punishment. But after the revolution he returned to England, and might have gained a high place in the State had he cared to press his claims. His letters on Toleration had made him the foremost champion of the principles on which the revolution was founded, but he preferred to accept the invitation of his learned friend, Lady Masham, at whose country place he spent the last fourteen years of his life.
The Essay was first published in 1691, but Locke had been at work upon it for more than twenty years. A rough draft of the book was made in 1671. An abridgement of it was published in French in 1688. When it was published in England it was not quite new and came with a reputation before it. It made a tremendous impression, divided thought into two camps, and even in the present day there are found philosophers who, qua philosophers, still criticize its doctrines and endeavor to prove that the principles enunciated in the work are not true. Locke died on the twenty-eighth day of October, 1704, at the age of seventy-three years. Just before his death Lady Masham began to read to him from the Psalms. In the midst of her reading he stopped her, saying the end was come. His last words were that he was "in perfect charity with all men, and in communion with the Church of Christ by whatever name it was distinguished."
The philosophy of Locke is set forth in his book on Human Understanding, which was twice revised and enlarged by its author. It is without the present purpose to inquire into the opinions he held concerning ethics, politics, and religion. It may be said, parenthetically, that he has been called an atheist, and there may be some reason, from some points of view, for this charge. But if Locke's own understanding understood itself, he was as firmly convinced of the existence of a Being which he called God as he was of his own. He might have been assured that some gods did not exist. But he proves to his own satisfaction, at all events, that one God does exist.
Deriving little satisfaction from the contemplation of other men's writings or of other men's thoughts, he set himself the task of finding out for himself whence are derived the thoughts with which men's minds are busied. When he has once analyzed his own mind and discovered its laws, he has arrived at certainty for human understanding in general, for he assumes that the minds and understandings of all men are alike.
Some things, he discovers, are beyond the comprehension of any mind whatever. With these, he says, it is worse than useless to meddle. Better to sit down in quiet ignorance of things that are hopelessly beyond our comprehension than try to decipher the undecipherable. He hopes to teach men to consider these matters that may be of some use and purpose in their limited lives and to leave alone the incomprehensible. His plan, then, is to find out whence human ideas are derived; i. e., the origin of ideas. Ideas he calls by that name itself, or "notions, or whatever else one may please to call them, which a man observes and is conscious to him-self he has in his mind." He will attempt to discover how the mind is furnished with these ideas, or notions; on what the certainty of its knowledge is based, and the grounds for faith.
In the very beginning he rejects the doctrine of "innate ideas," ideas or thoughts born with the mind. An idea is "whatever the mind can be employed about in thinking" a sweeping definition. If there are innate ideas they must be common to all minds. Now, there are precisely no such ideas. For example, such a self-evident truth as that expressed in the words "What is, is," is not universally known. If the mind has not always had in it a certain idea, or present to it a certain some-thing of consciousness, such idea cannot be said to have been born in the mind with the mind's birth. Of course, the mind is born with a receptivity for ideas. It is like a newly made cabinet, in which may be placed certain curios or articles. But who will say that a cabinet is made with such contents already it it? The mind is like a white page, upon which words may be written. Who will say that all white pages have some words already written upon them when they are manufactured? That no white page can exist without words so pre-written?
Neither can it be said truly that there are innate principles. Conduct is right or wrong because it is profitable or hurtful. The golden rule, and "honesty is the best policy," are absurd to the savage. Locke, therefore, reduces conscience to a mere matter of habit, usage, education, or experience. No mind is born with a con-science ready made. To prove this he refers to children and savages, a method that is now very popular, but which drew from Locke's critics smiles of derision or cataracts of vituperation. All such principles as right and wrong, moral responsibility, and conscience, are the products of experience and education. The mind comes into the world perfectly clear of all of them. Innate ideas, such as the idea of God, which Descartes held to have been born with the mind, because the mind could not get it from without, Locke rejects. We will presently see how he derives them.
Whence then, come all ideas, thoughts, notions, feelings, and all with which consciousness has to do? Locke answers, by two processes: First, the process by which the body becomes aware of things without it; second, the process by which the mind, in ordering and comparing the sensations so generated, originates ideas that do not come directly from the things without. The first process is sensation; the second, reflection, or internal sense. This latter process of the mind, called by Locke reflection, is called reason by Hobbes, but Hobbes did not go so far as Locke in his distinction between it and sensation directly. Indeed, Hobbes taught not so much that the mind has power to combine ideas in forms different from these in which things seem combined to the sense, so much as that the mind has the power to conjoin ideas in manners different from experiences of the sense. Yet when we say that Hobbes anticipated Locke in the doctrine of reflective combination of ideas we do not read into Hobbes much more than is to be found in his philosophy.
But whether or not Locke drew the suggestion of reflection from Hobbes, it was Locke who stated it clearly and understandingly for the first time. The truth might have presented itself to Hobbes, but he lacked the ringingly clear expression that Locke gave it.
Reflection, then, serves to make another set or kind of ideas than these directly derived from the sense, and so serves by considering the first set, separately and together, to evolve apparently original ideas that seem not to have sprung from the sense at all. Throughout "all that good extent wherein the mind wanders," says Locke, "in those remote speculations it may seem to be elevated with, it stirs not one jot beyond those ideas which sense or reflection have offered for its contemplation." The mind has a quality whereby ideas are impressed upon it. Things have qualities whereby they are empowered to impress ideas on the mind. Bodies have two qualities, primary and secondary. The first are motion, form or shape, extension, dimension, rest, and number. The secondary qualities are those such as smell, taste, color, etc. God annexes certain ideas to certain qualities; why, we do not know.
Ideas are simple and complex. It is impossible for mind to conceive a perfectly new simple idea, nor can it destroy any of such as it possesses. The mind by combining simple ideas can invent an infinite variety plex ideas. It is in this manner we arrive at the God. This idea is formed by the mind's adding idea of infinity the idea of intelligence. It may be difficult to understand how one who can so ingeniously construct a theory for accounting for the idea of God could himself place much faith in the existence of such a Being as any reality without his own mind. But Locke, be it remembered, was dealing with his own mind, and when he comes to discuss the question of the true existence of God, he seems in no doubt whatever. We know God is, he argues, by the fact that we ourselves are. "There was a time," he says, "when there was no knowing being and when knowledge began to be, or else there must have been also a knowing being from eternity. If it be said there was a time when no being had any knowledge, when that eternal being was void of all understanding, I reply that then it was impossible there should ever have been any knowledge, it being as impossible that things wholly void of knowledge and operating blindly and without any perception, should produce a knowing being as it is impossible that a triangle should make itself three angles bigger than two right ones.
I presume I may say that we more certainly know there is a God than there is anything else without us."
Locke was totally unacquainted with the teachings of Buddha, who rejected matter as having any real existence whatever, and who was thereby led to the conclusion that there could be no God. Nor did he know of Brahminism, which resolves all that is into God. Modern evolution, with its "promise and potency" of all forms of life in the "primordial atom" was yet to come.
Was Locke an atheist? To this question, if we judge by the conclusions to which his "first philosophy" drives us, we must answer, Yes. If we judge by his earnestness in attempting to prove Deity from his premises, there can be no answer but a negative one.
To sum up his philosophy we may say that he held that the mind derives its ideas primarily from the sense and remotely from the combination of sensational impressions; that what is called intuitive knowledge is no more than knowledge derived from the sense itself or by the relations between ideas so derived; and that scientific knowledge reaches no farther than the existence of the things that are actually present to the senses. Locke's whole philosophy might be stated in the theorem which came afterward much into fashion : "There is nothing in the intellect which was not first in the sense."
Locke had many critics both in England and on the continent, the most important of whom was Leibnitz, but none of these are worthy of much attention. The sensational school had said, "There is nothing in the intellect that was not first in the sense." Leibnitz replied, "Except the intellect itself." Lewes disposes of this answer by comparing it with the absurdity, "I have no money in my purse except my purse itself." But these are matters that are concerned only with philosophy. In the course of more than two centuries the famous Essay has been read and wrangled over by philosophers who, if they could agree on nothing else, were all one in condemning Locke because he retired within his own mind, made observations there, and then told mankind the results of his inquiries. He lived in an age when science was adding victory after victory to its achievements and rapidly thrusting aside the old ways of thought.
The Greeks and the Scholastics had had their day. Men were engaged in weighing the sun and counting the stars. Bacon's influence was rising higher and higher and in Locke's time found its most able follower in the author of the Essay; physical science was reaching out into new avenues of investigation; the Eighteenth Century, with its great leaps in knowledge, was about to begin. Locke, in the spirit of the age, did all he could to rescue philosophy from the absurdities that had dominated it. He wrote down his thoughts in plain words intelligible to all men. He advised men to think about those things which they could understand; to try to know the knowable and to leave the unknowable alone. His success in that respect, at least, was notable. More scientific than Bacon, he managed with Bacon's method to evolve a rational theory of knowledge and its origin, and to leave behind him a symmetrical, solid system which, if not all true and proved, was not shocking to those minds who, like Thomas Hobbes, did not desire to take anything upon trust. His theories of morals and law were based upon the same self-reliant and courageous foundation as that upon which he based his psychology, and necessarily.
Locke's name stands out like a mighty mountain seen from distant plains, rising in a range beside other mighty mountains. His critics are the unseen foothills.