January 18, 2017

"Locke, Arnauld, and Abstract Ideas"

I've posted a new draft to my writings page, "Locke, Arnauld, and Abstract Ideas". Current work in the history of philosophy mostly treats Arnauld as a footnote to other philosophers, but the fact that he's needed as a footnote in discussions of Descartes, Malebranche, Leibniz, and Locke suggests that his historical importance is greater than his 'footnote' status suggests. Further, what little English-language secondary literature on Arnauld exists is mostly divided into three categories: work on the Port-Royal Logic and Grammar (including, especially, the influence of these works on Locke), work on the controversy with Malebranche (and the direct realism...
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January 12, 2017

Berkeley and Hobbes

From a certain point of view (or perhaps several points of view), one might think that no two early modern philosophers are more opposed than Berkeley and Hobbes. True, both are empiricists, and the disagreement between rationalists and empiricists is often treated as the 'main event' of early modern philosophy. However, a comparison between Berkeley and Hobbes might well be regarded as a vivid and compelling illustration of the failings of the traditional rationalist-empiricist narrative. Note, for starters, that the ontologies of Berkeley and Hobbes are disjoint: Hobbes believes only in material substances, Berkeley believes only in spiritual (immaterial) substances....
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