An Essay Concerning Human Understanding

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These readings comprise chapters 3 and 4 from Locke’s famous work An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Chapter 3 talks about the impossibility of having innate practical principles. It is important to distinguish that this chapter is very different from the previous one, which was chapter 2. Chapter 2 talked about the impossibility of having innate speculative principles. This refers to speculative reason. Speculative reason is theoretical, certain, and has no real dependence on life. It is the one that gives an individual the universal truths of life and the principles of logic. This chapter, on the other hand, talks about practical reason. This type of reason is active, involved, and depends on the life of a human. It is the one that guides a human and helps him decide what to do with things. So, in a sense, speculative principles are the ones that talk about the theory in general and practical principles, as their denomination states, are the ones that put in practice these principles in life. As Locke has said in the previous chapter, it is completely impossible that we are born with these innate principles in our mind. Locke gives 27 statements in this chapter to defend his point of view. Reviewing all of them would not be of much use because this presentation would wind up as a small, compressed version of the readings. Instead, the main points of his argumentation will be seen. Locke starts by stating that if speculative principles are not innate and agreed upon by all mankind, then it follows that the moral principles of the world are not agreed upon by all mankind. By this it is then evident that they are not innate to humans. Even further, he explains that speculative maxims do carry some truth in themselves, but t... ... middle of paper ... ...e is an argument that states that differences of men’s discoveries depend upon their application of their faculties. This is really self-explanatory. It just means that the reason why men make different discoveries is because each one applies its faculty to what pleases him the most. They decide on what to apply their faculties and knowledge. The chapter ends by saying that men should think for themselves and apply reason to their life. This means questioning principles, not taking everything for granted, and not believing that they were born with innate ideas. Because of this, Locke ends his readings by telling the reader not to assume that his ideas presented are not true. He encourages the reader to reach his own conclusions and determine himself if Locke’s ideas hold absolute veracity or not. Works Cited http://www.earlymoderntexts.com/pdfs/locke1690book1.pdf
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