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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

Modes and Composite Material Things According to Descartes and Locke

Modes and Composite Material Things According to Descartes and Locke

(p.80) 5 Modes and Composite Material Things According to Descartes and Locke
Locke and Cartesian Philosophy

Martha Brandt Bolton

Oxford University Press

This chapter deals with the ontology of bodies in Locke’s Essay. In Descartes’s ontology, a created substance, or its principal attribute, unifies the many modes that belong to that substance; by contrast, Locke’s ontology includes not only substances and their qualities, but also composite entities which contain substances but are unified by modes. Locke, it is argued, seeks to adapt the apparent unity of living things, e.g. oaks, horses, and human beings, to the (Cartesian) mechanistic doctrine that matter is a substance. His concepts of inner constitution and identity are designed to give a metaphysical account of the unity of the ordinary entities that are salient in our experience. There is nothing corresponding to this in the Cartesian texts. They purport to explain the unity among qualities of mercury, salt, etc., and the processes carried on by plants and animals on the basis of physical theory, not metaphysics.

Keywords:   ontology, body, mode, corporeal substances, composite, living beings, metaphysics

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