Locke, John

Locke, John
(1632-1704)
   Perhaps the greatest English philosopher, Locke, a rationalist Protestant, deeply influenced metaphysics, philosophy of language, political philosophy and epistemology. While he pioneered work in religious freedom and the social-contract basis of society, even more important for Christian philosophy is Locke's work in religious epistemology in his Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690). It is here that Locke laid out an ethics of belief that he believed provided a means of establishing societal stability and unity in light of the novel religious toleration of William and Mary's England. Locke saw this role as being fulfilled by the universal appeal to reason, which 'must be our last judge and guide in everything' (Essay: 4.19.4). This set the stage for a pervasive evidentialism concerning the claims of religion, which Locke sought to meet in The Reasonableness of Christianity (1695). This method led Locke to regard Christian special revelation with a diffidence that spurred the growth of deism, however. Among Locke's other contributions is an intriguing argument for the existence of God from consciousness (Essay: 4.3.28), in which divine action is invoked as the means by which primary and secondary qualities are associated in consciousness. A similar argument has been defended in recent years by Robert Merrihew Adams. Locke also wrote a commentary covering most of the epistles of the apostle Paul.
   Further reading: Ayers 1993; Chappell 1994; Locke 1975- and 1999; Lowe 2005; Wolterstorff 1996

Christian Philosophy . . 2015.

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