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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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Locke and Descartes on Selves and Thinking Substances

Locke and Descartes on Selves and Thinking Substances

Chapter:
(p.120) 7 Locke and Descartes on Selves and Thinking Substances
Source:
Locke and Cartesian Philosophy
Author(s):

Philippe Hamou

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780198815037.003.0008

Locke’s construal of selves, persons, and thinking substances is notoriously difficult and the subject of wide controversy. In this chapter, it is suggested that we could go some way towards clarifying it by seeing it in the context of Descartes’s construal of the same or similar issues. The chapter argues that there are both strong threads of continuity (which may appear even stronger in the light of the recent reappraisal of Descartes’s so-called dualism) and a quite obvious (but often neglected) anti-Cartesian strand in Locke’s doctrine of the self. The target is to assess precisely where and why Locke departs from Descartes. The chapter shows, contrary to a common but misconceived view of Locke’s aim in Essay II. xvii, that it is not so much the Cartesian ‘substantiation’ of the self that Locke is arguing against, but rather its disembodiment.

Keywords:   self, consciousness, cogito, thinking substances, personal identity

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