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John Locke Biography

John Locke was born in 1632, during the reign of Charles I, and died in 1704, two years after the accession of Queen Anne. His life covered an unusually turbulent period of English history and his fortunes were affected by the stresses of the times in which he lived. He was born at Wrington in Somerset, the son of a West Country lawyer. The Civil War broke out when young John Locke was ten years old and his father joined the Parliamentary army. John Locke spent his childhood in Somerset and at the age of fourteen was sent to Westminster School where he stayed until his election to a junior studentship at Christ Church, Oxford, in 1652. From his Thoughts on Education, published in 1693, John Locke seems not to have been favorably impressed either by the curriculum at Westminster or with the savage discipline of the English public school of his time.
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Of the Conduct of the Understanding

Of the Conduct of the Understanding by John Locke 1706 Section 01. Introduction. The last resort a man has recourse to in the conduct of himself is his understanding; for though we distinguish the faculties of the mind and give the supreme command to the will as to an agent, yet the truth is, the man which is the agent determines himself to this or that voluntary action upon some precedent knowledge or appearance of knowledge in the understanding. No man ever sets himself about anything but upon some view or other which serves him for a reason for what he does; and whatsoever faculties he employs, the understanding, with such light as it has, well or ill informed, constantly leads; and by that light, true or false, all his operative powers are directed. The will itself, how absolute and uncontrollable however it may be thought, never fails in its obedience to the dictates of the understanding. Temples have their sacred images, and we see what influence they have always had over a great

An Essay Concerning Human Understanding - Book IV Chapter XXI: Of the Division of the Sciences

1. Science may be divided into three sorts. All that can fall within the compass of human understanding, being either, First, the nature of things, as they are in themselves, their relations, and their manner of operation : or, Secondly, that which man himself ought to do, as a rational and voluntary agent, for the attainment of any end, especially happiness : or, Thirdly, the ways and means whereby the knowledge of both the one and the other of these is attained and communicated ; I think science may be divided properly into these three sorts : –

An Essay Concerning Human Understanding - Book IV Chapter XX: Of Wrong Assent, or Error

1. Causes of error, or how men come to give assent contrary to probability. Knowledge being to be had only of visible and certain truth, error is not a fault of our knowledge, but a mistake of our judgment giving assent to that which is not true. But if assent be grounded on likelihood, if the proper object and motive of our assent be probability, and that probability consists in what is laid down in the foregoing chapters, it will be demanded how men come to give their assents contrary to probability. For there is nothing more common than contrariety of opinions ; nothing more obvious than that one man wholly disbelieves what another only doubts of, and a third stedfastly believes and firmly adheres to.

An Essay Concerning Human Understanding - Book IV Chapter XIX: Of Enthusiasm

1. Love of truth necessary. He that would seriously set upon the search of truth ought in the first place to prepare his mind with a love of it. For he that loves it not will not take much pains to get it ; nor be much concerned when he misses it. There is nobody in the commonwealth of learning who does not profess himself a lover of truth : and there is not a rational creature that would not take it amiss to be thought otherwise of. And yet, for all this, one may truly say, that there are very few lovers of truth, for truth’s sake, even amongst those who persuade themselves that they are so. How a man may know whether he be so in earnest, is worth inquiry : and I think there is one unerring mark of it, viz. The not entertaining any proposition with greater assurance than the proofs it is built upon will warrant. Whoever goes beyond this measure of assent, it is plain, receives not the truth in the love of it ; loves not truth for truth’s sake, but for some other bye-end. For the evide

An Essay Concerning Human Understanding - Book IV Chapter XVIII: Of Faith and Reason, and their Distinct Provinces

1. Necessary to know their boundaries. It has been above shown, 1. That we are of necessity ignorant, and want knowledge of all sorts, where we want ideas. 2. That we are ignorant, and want rational knowledge, where we want proofs. 3. That we want certain knowledge and certainty, as far as we want clear and determined specific ideas. 4. That we want probability to direct our assent in matters where we have neither knowledge of our own nor testimony of other men to bottom our reason upon.

An Essay Concerning Human Understanding - Book IV Chapter XVII: Of Reason

1. Various significations of the word « reason ». The word reason in the English language has different significations : sometimes it is taken for true and clear principles : sometimes for clear and fair deductions from those principles : and sometimes for the cause, and particularly the final cause. But the consideration I shall have of it here is in a signification different from all these ; and that is, as it stands for a faculty in man, that faculty whereby man is supposed to be distinguished from beasts, and wherein it is evident he much surpasses them.

An Essay Concerning Human Understanding - Book IV Chapter XVI: Of the Degrees of Assent

1. Our assent ought to be regulated by the grounds of probability. The grounds of probability we have laid down in the foregoing chapter : as they are the foundations on which our assent is built, so are they also the measure whereby its several degrees are, or ought to be regulated : only we are to take notice that, whatever grounds of probability there may be, they yet operate no further on the mind which searches after truth, and endeavours to judge right, than they appear ; at least, in the first judgment or search that the mind makes. I confess, in the opinions men have, and firmly stick to in the world, their assent is not always from an actual view of the reasons that at first prevailed with them : it being in many cases almost impossible, and in most, very hard, even for those who have very admirable memories, to retain all the proofs which, upon a due examination, made them embrace that side of the question. It suffices that they have once with care and fairness sifted the mat