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Locke on Knowledge and RealityA Commentary on An Essay Concerning Human Understanding$
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Georges Dicker

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780190662196

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: July 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190662196.001.0001

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Complex Ideas

Complex Ideas

(p.63) 5 Complex Ideas
Locke on Knowledge and Reality

Georges Dicker

Oxford University Press

This chapter discusses complex ideas, concentrating on those Locke calls modes, arguing for a non-idealist interpretation of those he calls relations, and introducing the one he calls substance. It analyzes the simple modes—space, time, and number—by untangling Locke’s language, which leaves unclear whether they are modes of the simple idea from which they are constructed (e.g., making 117 mode of 1) or of a general idea under which they fall (e.g., making 117 a mode of “number”), and by addressing questions about the simplicity of the ideas from which they are constructed and about the simple modes’ infinity. It contrasts them with mixed modes and discusses the latter’s construction. The chapter defends James Gibson’s view that for ideas of reflection, the relation between mode and simple idea isn’t that of whole to part, but of a universal to its determinations (e.g., making “remembrance” a mode of “perception, or thinking”).

Keywords:   simple modes, mixed modes, relations, substance, space, time, number, infinity, James Gibson, universal

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