John Locke
JOHN LOCKE  Macroknow Library

An Essay Concerning Human Understanding.


" . . . [W]e do not so constantly love what has done us good; because pleasure operates not so strongly on us as pain, and because we are not so ready to have hope it will do so again."1a

"The power of perception is that which we call the Understanding. Perception, which we make the act of the understanding, is of three sorts:--1. The perception of ideas in our minds. 2. The perception of the signification of signs. 3. The perception of the [connexion or repugnancy,] agreement or disagreement, [that there is between any of our] ideas."1b*

"Good and evil, present and absent, it is true, work upon the mind. But that which immediately determines the will, from time to time, to every voluntary action, is the uneasiness of desire, fixed on some absent good: either negative, as indolence to one in pain; or positive, as enjoyment of pleasure."1c*

" . . . What it is moves desire? I answer,--happiness, and that alone."1d ARISTOTLE

"Happiness, then, in its full extent, is the utmost pleasure we are capable of, and misery, the utmost pain . . . Now, because pleasure and pain are produced in us by the operation of certain objects, either on our minds or our bodies, and in different degrees; therefore, what has an aptness to produce pleasure in us is that we call good, and what is apt to produce pain in us, we call evil . . ."1e*

" . . . [W]e have the power to suspend the prosecution of this or that desire; as every one daily may experiment in himself. This seems to me the source of all liberty; in this seems to consist that which is (as I think improperly) called free-will."1f*

"Liberty, it is plain, consists in a power to do, or not to do; to do, or forbear doing as we will."1g* [352]

" . . .[S]ince consciousness always accompanies thinking, and it is that which makes every one to be what he calls self, and thereby distinguishes himself from all other thinking things, in this alone consists personal identity, i.e. the sameness of a rational being: and so far as this consciousness can be extended backwards to any past action or thought, so far reaches the identity of that person; it is the same self now it was then; and it is by the same self with this present one that now reflects on it, that that action was done."1h

" . . . This may show us wherein personal identity consists: not in the identity of substance, but, . . . in the identity of consciousness . . ."1i

" . . . [W]ithout consciousness there is no person . . ."1j


"Knowledge . . . consists in the perception of the agreement or disagreement of ideas."2a JAMES

" . . . [T]he same is the same, and the same is not different, are truths known in more particular instances, as well as in those general maxims . . ."2b*

" . . . [W]hat is, is; and it is impossible for the same thing to be and not to be."2c* HUME

" . . . [M]atter, incogitative matter and motion, whatever changes it might produce of figure and bulk, could never produce thought . . ."2d BERKELEY

" . . . [M]orality is capable of demonstration as well as mathematics."2e*

" . . . Experience here must teach me what reason cannot: and it is by trying alone, that I can certainly know, what other qualities co-exist with those of my complex idea, v. g. whether that yellow, heavy, fusible body I call gold, be malleable, or no . . ."2f* HOBBES HUME

" . . . [W]e may in reason consider these four degrees: the first and highest is the discovering and finding out of truths; the second, the regular and methodical disposition of them, and laying them in clear and fit order, to make their connexion and force be plainly and easily perceived; the third is the perceiving their connexion; and the fourth, a making a right conclusion."2g HUME

" . . . I ask how shall anyone distinguish between the delusions of Satan, and the inspirations of the Holy Ghost? God when he makes the prophet does not unmake the man. . . Reason must be our last judge and guide in everything."2h* RUSSELL

"They who are blind will always be led by those that see, or else fall into the ditch: and he is certainly the most subjected, the most enslaved, who is so in his understanding."1i

" . . . [O]ne truth cannot contradict another . . ."2j

"Let ever so much probability hang on one side of a covetous man�s reasoning, and money on the other; it is easy to foresee which will outweigh."2k


Second Treatise of Government

". . . [I]f a long train of abuses, prevarications and artifices, all tending the same way, make the design visible to the people, and they cannot but feel what they lie under, and see whither they are going; it is not to be wondered, that they should then rouze themselves, and endeavour to put the rule into such hands which may secure to them the ends for which government was at first erected . . ."2 MENCIUS AYOUB


* Italics in the original.

1 John Locke (1632-1704). An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Collated and Annotated with Prolegomena, Biographical, Critical, and Historical by Alexander Campbell Fraser. Volume 1. New York, NY: Dover Publications, Inc., 1959.
a Chapter XX: Of Modes of Pleasure and Pain, at 306.
b Chapter XXI: Of the Idea of Power, at 314.
c Ibid., at 334.
d Ibid., at 340.
e Ibid., at 340.
f Ibid., at 345.
g Ibid., at 352.
h Chapter XXVII: [Of Ideas of Identity and Diversity], at 449.
i Ibid., at 460.
Ibid., at 464.

2 John Locke (1632-1704). An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Collated and Annotated with Prolegomena, Biographical, Critical, and Historical by Alexander Campbell Fraser. Volume 2. New York, NY: Dover Publications, Inc., 1959.
a Chapter VII: Of Maxims, at 268.
b Ibid., at 270.
Ibid., at 278.
d Chapter X: Of our Knowledge of the Existence of a God, at 313.
e Chapter XII: Of the Improvement of our Knowledge, at 347.
f Ibid., at 348.
g Chapter XVII: Of Reason [and Syllogism], at 388.
h Chapter XIX: [Of Enthusiasm], at 438.
i Chapter XX: Of Wrong Assent, or Error, at 447.
j Ibid., at 449.
Ibid., at

1 John Locke (1632-1704). Second Treatise of Government (1690). Edited with an Introduction by C.B. Macpherson, 1980. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., at 113.

3 John Locke. Two Treatises of Government and a Letter Concerning Toleration. Edited and with an Introduction by Ian Shapiro. With Essays by John Dunn, Ruth W. Grant, and Ian Shapiro, News Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2003.