Ideas, Qualities, and Corpuscles: Locke and Boyle on the External World

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Cambridge University Press, 1985 - Knowledge, Theory of - 336 pages
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This study presents a substantial and often radical reinterpretation of some of the central themes of Locke's thought. Professor Alexander concentrates on the Essay Concerning Human Understanding and aims to restore that to its proper historical context. In Part I he gives a clear exposition of some of the scientific theories of Robert Boyle, which, he argues, heavily influenced Locke in employing similar concepts and terminology. Against this background, he goes on in Part II to provide an account of Locke's views on the external world and our knowledge of it. He shows those views to be more consistent and plausible than is generally allowed, demonstrating how they make sense and enable scientific explanations of nature. In examining the views of Locke and Boyle together, the book throws light both on the development of philosophy and the beginnings of modern science, and in particular it makes a considerable and original contribution to our understanding of Locke's philosophy.
  

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Contents

Introduction i
9
Boyle on empirical investigation
15
Boyle and the peripatetics 3 5
35
Boyles corpuscular philosophy
60
Ideas
91
Qualities
114
Which qualities are primary?
131
Powers
150
Patterns and resemblance
189
Substanceingeneral
204
Language and meaning
236
Essences species and kinds
263
Knowledge
280
Collation of editions
307
Bibliography
318
Index
327

What are secondary qualities?
168
Observability
183

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

A History of Irish Thought
Thomas Duddy
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