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Locke's Image of the World$
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Michael Jacovides

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780198789864

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198789864.001.0001

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Hypotheses and Derivations

Hypotheses and Derivations

(p.4) 2 Hypotheses and Derivations
Locke's Image of the World

Michael Jacovides

Oxford University Press

We can uncover the causes and reasons for Locke’s acceptance of corpuscularianism by considering his life and projects before he writes the first draft of the Essay, and looking at the illustrations and arguments in the Essay itself. At Oxford, Locke is exposed to corpuscularianism but also engages in physiological inquiries in the chemical traditions of Jan van Helmont and Thomas Willis. After moving to London, collaborating with Thomas Sydenham, and practicing medicine, Locke begins to doubt our ability to explain empirical phenomena, but he still thinks of corpuscularian explanations as being justified by way of analogy. In particular, he thinks there are interesting analogies between deductive inferences and inferences concerning seventeenth-century machines. In contrast, Aristotelian inferences concerning living things fall short of this mathematical ideal since they are only reliable for the most part, but they fail in cases of malformation.

Keywords:   John Locke, Jan van Helmont, Thomas Willis, Thomas Sydenham, Aristotle, analogy, deduction, malformation

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