Segments in this Video

Locke's Influence (01:30)


Locke laid the foundations of liberal democracy and modern empirical philosophy. Empiricism holds our conceptions about what exist derive from experience and is now dominant in the English-speaking world.

Locke's and Berkeley's Backgrounds (02:34)

Magee discusses Locke's life, background and works, and his involvement in the Glorious Revolution. Berkeley reacted partly against Locke. Magee discusses his life, background and works.

Question of Locke's Originality (02:05)

Like Descartes, Locke was part of a movement to replace the Aristotelian view of the world with a mechanical view. Superficially, his intuitionist view of knowledge looks like Descartes'.

Descartes Versus Locke on Senses (01:50)

For Descartes, sensory data requires interpretation by reason. For Locke, senses deliver knowledge. Descartes accepts the skeptic's challenge to justify belief in an external world; Locke dismisses it.

Limits of Knowledge (02:18)

For Locke, an idea is fundamentally sensory. Hobbes derived dogmatic materialism from this premise. Locke instead derived agnosticism; senses give limited knowledge.

Locke's Belief in External Objects (03:03)

Locke held believed there were external objects behind the sensible qualities, because he thought the world must make sense, and qualities themselves don't give us the regularity of ultimate truth.

Implications of Empiricism (02:38)

Locke sought to refute Descartes' claim to build a deductive science. We can come to only provisional conclusions. He held that Boyles' view was the best explanation of the world in his time, but failed to explain how atoms cohered.

Locke and Newton (01:38)

Locke saw Newton's inverse square law as a brute fact, not revealing the inner nature of things. Newton introduced Locke-influenced philosophical passages in the second edition of the Principia.

Locke on Mathematical Science (01:10)

For Descartes, geometry is part of the science of space, of reality. For Locke, it is a science we create by abstracting out the geometrical properties of things, but does not get at the nature of things.

Primary and Secondary Qualities (02:05)

When objects act on us, we seem to directly observe some properties. Locke thought objects had primary qualities independent of observation and secondary qualities dependent on the observer.

Language (00:31)

The host asks how Locke made the faculty for language consistent with his empiricism.

Locke on Dualism (01:57)

Locke thought that since we don't know the nature of mind or matter, either materialism or dualism may be correct. The idea of thinking matter and the idea of immaterial mind connected to matter both seem impossible, but one must be true.

Locke on Classification (03:33)

Locke rejects the Aristotelian view that the world of natural kinds; everything follows the laws of physics, so there are not separate essences for different things. Rather, classification is human imposed.

Personal Identity (02:39)

Locke agreed with Descartes that one knew one was a thinking thing, but rejected other claims of his to knowledge of ourselves. Descartes' claims about the immortal soul did not provide sufficient continuity of consciousness to allow rewards and punishments.

Locke's Political Philosophy (01:59)

Locke advocates tolerance on the grounds that we don't know much for sure. He has an individualistic view of knowledge- nobody can do my knowing for me.

Importance of Locke's Epistemology (02:06)

Locke supplied a framework for understanding science. Other philosophers took in their own direction his idea that we don't know what is behind sense data; it is valuable to return to Locke as the last great realist before the idealist trend.

Berkeley's Beliefs (01:18)

Berkeley held that knowledge comes from experience, which gives us no warrant for concluding that material objects exist. Rather, sense depends on spirit.

Berkeley's Arguments (01:37)

Berkeley rejected materialism as a displacement of God. Berkeley turned the tables on materialism and empiricism by making the material world mind-dependent, rejecting the "thing in itself."

Berkeley and Scientific Order (02:22)

Berkeley thought he accounted for science better than does Locke, whose belief in a deeper, inaccessible nature made science problematic. Science reflects the order of God's presenting ideas to us; there is no need to postulate matter as "thing in itself."

God as Source of Experience (02:10)

The fact that we can't choose our experiences suggests that there is something independent of us. For Berkeley, there is an idea in God's mind independent of us. This avoids the problem of matter acting on mind.

Berkeley and Modern Science (01:59)

Berkeley's insistence that all knowledge is experience came to be an orthodoxy of science; Popper considered him a precursor to Einstein. Ayers sees Locke as agreeing but being less dogmatic, allowing for something beyond our knowledge.

Credits: Locke and Berkeley (00:47)

Credits: Locke and Berkeley

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Locke and Berkeley

Part of the Series : Great Philosophers
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This program examines the philosophies of British empiricists John Locke and George Berkeley. World-renowned author and professor Bryan Magee and philosopher Michael Ayers of Oxford interpret Locke’s skeptical theory that all knowledge is sensory and speculative, and that the true nature of the world can never be known, as an attack on Descartes’s theory of innate ideas. Conversely, Berkeley insists that we cannot have sensory knowledge of material substances because they exist only in our mind. Even the laws of nature, Berkeley says, are merely the regularities of our own perceptions or ideas. A BBC Production. Part of the series Great Philosophers. (46 minutes)

Length: 45 minutes

Item#: BVL7284

ISBN: 978-1-4213-8712-3

Copyright date: ©1987

Closed Captioned

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