Philosophers tend to be of those rare breed of individuals who have their unique outlook on life and on the world in general. When looking at the philosophers who lived around the end of the Renaissance period, common themes of mortality, human nature, and the divine all tend to get blurred into overarching ideologies about the world and the nature of humanity in general. While not all philosophers focus on the same idea of humanity and the human condition, John Locke and David Hume both took particular interest in the ways that humans view themselves, the world around them, and the subject of identity of self in contrast to the universe. Through analysis of John Locke’s perspectives as shown in An Essay Concerning Human Understanding and that of David Hume in his Treatise of Human Nature, it is possible to see both the way in which these philosophers have similar perspectives on the world and man’s place in the universe as well as differences of opinion on the understanding of one’s sense of self-identity.
In order to see how they directly compare to one another, it is first important to understand the perceptions of each philosopher individually. When looking at the theories of John Locke, there are a number of key components that are showcased in An Essay Concerning Human Understanding as well as in his overall philosophies about life. For Locke, the primary focus of his philosophy was on the law of the natural world and the way in which man is able to navigate these trials and tribulations through the sense of self. While his philosophy looks at the natural world and the way in which man plays a part in the grander scheme of the universe, it is interesting to note that like many other Renaissance philosophers, ...
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..., are those that “arise immediately from good or evil, from pain or pleasure” that we experience or think about in prospect” (Hume’s Moral Philosophy). Similarly, David Hume argued that while some will utilize previous experiences to determine how they interact with the world around them, this is not an absolute truth because of the fact that they do not necessarily believe strongly one way or another. Overall, the idea Hume proposes is that by focusing on a specific piece of knowledge and then using a rational approach to determine a course of action can be problematic but that it helps create the sense of identity through action. The idea that he puts forth is that we are the sum of our ability to reason and the knowledge that we have accumulated to help us determine what is the best course of action when our passions dictate that we must act according to stimuli.
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