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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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The Cartesian Element in Locke’s Anti-Cartesian Conception of Body

The Cartesian Element in Locke’s Anti-Cartesian Conception of Body

Chapter:
(p.49) 3 The Cartesian Element in Locke’s Anti-Cartesian Conception of Body
Source:
Locke and Cartesian Philosophy
Author(s):

James Hill

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198815037.003.0004

Locke’s conception of body evolves in the Drafts of the Essay in visible engagement with the Cartesian view. The chapter makes the case that Locke’s agnosticism on the essence of matter is paradoxically derived from the most Cartesian elements in his theory of bodies. The sharp differences between the two thinkers are made possible by background agreement. Locke’s distinction between hardness and impenetrability parallels that of Descartes. The parallel is to be found not only in the relativity to sensation characteristic of hardness, but also in the conceptual or demonstrative status of the assertion that all bodies are impenetrable. This makes it impossible to ascribe to Locke a strict adherence to the atomistic view, which considers that the indivisibility of the ultimate particles results from their perfect hardness.

Keywords:   Locke, Descartes, body, hardness, impenetrability, atomism, agnosticism

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