John Locke's Essay Concerning The Principles Of Human Knowledge

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In his Essay Concerning Human Understanding, John Locke argues that all objects in the world are composed of primary and secondary qualities. However, in his Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge, Bishop George Berkeley presents a convincing refutation to Locke's argument, claiming that there is no distinction between primary and secondary qualities. In this essay, I will discuss the metaphysical positions of Locke and Berkeley, and explain why I prefer Berkeley's stance to Locke's. According to Locke, every object in the world has primary and secondary qualities. Primary qualities are qualities such as extension, figure, and solidity that are part of the physical body and are independent of our perception. One example he gives to support the claim is a grain of wheat: "Take a grain of wheat, divide it into two parts; each part has still solidity, extension, figure, and mobility" (Locke, 333a). That is to say, even if an object is divided into pieces, primary qualities would always remain to the object. Meanwhile, secondary qualities, such as color, smell, and sound, are qualities that do not exist within the object, but are contingent on perception (Locke, 333b). Locke further explains this point with an example of hot and cold water: "Explain how water felt as cold by one hand may be warm to the other. Ideas being thus distinguished and…show more content…
Realism is the philosophical theory that physical bodies continue to exist even when not perceived (primary qualities). For Locke, it is our sensations that convey material objects. In other words, Locke claims that all ideas can be traced back to material object, which Locke calls "substance" (Locke, 332). However, Berkeley denies such distinction and believes only minds and ideas exist, arguing that an object cannot exist unperceived because one cannot create a mental image of unperceived

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