Advertisement

Three Problems in Locke’s Ontology of Substance and Mode

  • Antonia LoLordo
Chapter
Part of the Studies in History and Philosophy of Science book series (AUST, volume 29)

Abstract

Locke holds that we have two radically different types of ideas. Ideas of substances like a horse, a pig, and the metal gold are designed to correspond to things in the world that exist and have their properties independently of our ideas. Mode ideas have the opposite direction of fit. They are not meant to capture independently existing archetypes but rather function as categories that we impose on the world. Examples of mode ideas are the idea of a rainbow, a tune, a duel, and etching. But this category is important for Locke because it includes the key ideas of mathematics and morality. Thus, Locke’s distinction between two types of ideas corresponds to a distinction between bodies of knowledge that derive norms from observation (the various sorts of natural philosophy) and those intended to prescribe norms (mathematics and ethics). But although this way of thinking is fundamental to Locke’s moral epistemology, I argue that he has some difficulty accommodating the substance-mode ontology with his other metaphysical and semantic commitments.

Keywords

Mixed Mode Natural Kind Mode Direction Dependence Relation Complex Idea 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

References

  1. Anstey, Peter. 2011. John Locke and natural philosophy. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Ayers, Michael. 1991. Locke, vol. 2. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  3. Bolton, Martha. 1998. Substances, substrata and names of substances in Locke’s essay. In Locke, ed. Vere Chappell. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  4. Carson, Emily. 2005. Locke on simple and mixed modes. Locke Studies 5: 19–38.Google Scholar
  5. Descartes, René . 1988. In Oeuvres de Descartes, 11 volumes, ed. Charles Adam and Paul Tannery. Paris: J. Vrin.Google Scholar
  6. Locke, John . 1979. In An essay concerning human understanding, ed. Peter H. Nidditch. Oxford: Clarendon Press.Google Scholar
  7. LoLordo, Antonia. 2008. Locke’s problem concerning perception. Philosophy and Phenomenological Research 72.3: 705–724.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. LoLordo, Antonia. 2012. Locke’s moral man. Oxford: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordecht. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhilosophyUniversity of VirginiaCharlottesvilleUSA

Personalised recommendations