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Locke and Cartesian Philosophy$
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Philippe Hamou and Martine Pécharman

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780198815037

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198815037.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 16 October 2021

Locke and Malebranche

Locke and Malebranche

Intelligibility and Empiricism

(p.205) 12 Locke and Malebranche
Locke and Cartesian Philosophy

Nicholas Jolley

Oxford University Press

This chapter addresses the issue of whether Locke’s own empiricist theory of ideas offers, as Locke often suggested, a more intelligible way of explaining human understanding than Malebranche’s doctrine of Vision in God. Drawing on Locke’s statements about the corpuscularian hypothesis, it argues that although the empiricist theory may satisfy some criteria of intelligibility, it is forced to recognize the existence of processes that are ‘incomprehensible’; to that extent, Locke’s theory of ideas runs parallel with his mature philosophy of matter. The epistemic status of the empiricist theory of ideas is thus more problematic than it is often taken to be.

Keywords:   empiricism, vision in God, corpuscularian hypothesis, theory of ideas, matter, incomprehensibility

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