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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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Modes and Composite Material Things According to Descartes and Locke

Modes and Composite Material Things According to Descartes and Locke

Chapter:
(p.80) 5 Modes and Composite Material Things According to Descartes and Locke
Source:
Locke and Cartesian Philosophy
Author(s):

Martha Brandt Bolton

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198815037.003.0006

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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