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Toleration and Understanding in Locke$
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Nicholas Jolley

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780198791706

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198791706.001.0001

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(p.91) 6 Enthusiasm
Toleration and Understanding in Locke

Nicholas Jolley

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the contribution made by Locke’s late addition to the Essay, ‘Of Enthusiasm’, to promoting the cause of a more intellectually tolerant society. It is argued that Locke is not concerned with the issue of whether the ‘enthusiasts’, or Puritan fanatics, should be tolerated; Locke is concerned rather to attack the intolerance displayed by the enthusiasts themselves. It is shown that ‘Of Enthusiasm’ has both a diagnostic and a critical side: Locke seeks to explain the enthusiasts’ claims in terms of self-conceit and to criticize the circularity of their arguments. It is argued, against Passmore, that Locke’s critical claims are not inconsistent with his other teachings in the Essay. The chapter concludes by suggesting that one motive for Locke’s addition of ‘Of Enthusiasm’ may have been a desire to defend his theory of knowledge against the objection that it is too close to the claims of the enthusiasts.

Keywords:   dogmatism, enthusiasm, individualism, knowledge, Malebranche, Molyneux

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