In other words, before we can determine what makes atoms, masses of matter, plants, animals, men, or persons the same over time, we must pin down the nominal essences—or general ideas—for these kinds.
Of this Locke says, A person for Locke is thus the kind of entity that can think self reflectively, and think of itself as persisting over time.
This Study Guide consists of approximately 26 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of An Essay Concerning Human Understanding.
John Locke's An Essay Concerning Human Understanding is a major work in the history of philosophy and a founding text in the empiricist approach to philosophical investigation.
Locke begins his work in Book I by explaining the origin of the content of understanding, ideas.
Ideas originate only from experience, claims Locke.
We can find no such knowledge and, hence, there is no reason to believe in innate ideas.
Having dealt with innate ideas and the origins of ideas, Locke turns in Book II to a detailed analysis of the content of knowledge, ideas.
His main argument in this Book is to argue against the idea that there is some knowledge that arises prior to experience, that is, the idea that some of our ideas or knowledge are innate.
Locke uses several arguments against the innateness hypothesis but his main argument is that for an idea to be innate it would have to be universally shared and present in children and idiots.