Locke and French Materialism

Hardcover | April 30, 1999

byJohn W. Yolton

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One particular feature of Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding - the suggestion that God could add to matter the power of thought - stimulated an extensive debate in Britain between immaterialists (those who defended two substances, mind and matter) and materialists (those whoconsidered matter to be self-active). That debate was also transmitted to the Continent, especially to France, where Locke's suggestion about thinking matter was given prominence by Voltaire. His defence of the suggestion was in turn attacked by a number of writers, thereby implicating Locke inthe growth of materialism in France. By the middle of the eighteenth century, Locke's `famous hypothesis' had become the centre of many attacks, mainly by followers of Malebranche. This book tells for the first time the long and complex story of the involvement of Locke's suggestion in the growth of French materialism. There is a discussion of the `affaire de Prades', in which Locke's name was linked with a censored thesis at the Faculty of Theology in Paris. Thesimilarities and differences between English `thinking matter' and the French `matiere pensante' of the philosophes are discussed in the last chapter.

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One particular feature of Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding - the suggestion that God could add to matter the power of thought - stimulated an extensive debate in Britain between immaterialists (those who defended two substances, mind and matter) and materialists (those whoconsidered matter to be self-active). That debate w...

General Editor of The Clarendon Edition of the Works of John Locke

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:248 pages, 8.5 × 5.43 × 0.79 inPublished:April 30, 1999Publisher:Oxford University Press

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0198242743

ISBN - 13:9780198242741

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'Yolton does not confine himself to the household names; he delves deeply in the works of minor writers and in the extensive journal literature of the age ... he contributes a wholly new chapter to the intellectual history of the early modern period. His command of the primary sources is trulyimpressive. Yolton also has a good eye for some of the ironies of the story he has to tell.'Nicholas Jolley, International Studies in Philosophy, Vol. XXVI, No. 1, 19946R