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 Arnauld advocates in that controversy), and work on the correspondence with Leibniz. Almost none of the literature bothers to interpret what Arnauld says in one of these contexts in light of what he says elsewhere. (2016 brought two exceptions to this general rule: Eric Stencil's paper and my own.) I'm working to change this situation! Here I (implicitly) advocate for Arnauld's importance by arguing that scholars who have seen Locke as following Arnauld on abstraction have misunderstood Arnauld's theory and this has led them to misread Locke.

Posted by Kenny at January 18, 2017 3:25 PM
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