Posted by Peter Lawler
Here’s a new review of a book by ME.
I don't even know if I agree with you or not. By which I mean I am not sure if you captured exactly what the author intended to say.
Lets put it this way...John Locke himself was a shameless self promoter...and among other curiousities never really claimed authorship...some critics attributed his work to Descartes...which is interesting because I think your Locke sounds more like Descartes...now I know that it is a commonly accepted pratice to actually read the work of someone else before you review it...but I share the sentiment of John Locke who 'utterly refused to read any books upon that subject' so as to keep other men's notions out of his head.'
Now I know that the notion of keeping other notions out of ones head is attributable to Locke...but certainly it seems to be more perfectly in keeping with Descartes...so I can understand why some of your Locke sounds like Descartes to me...but the project that you draw out for Locke seems to me to sound much more like the Cartesian project...What I mean is that Locke recommends taking hot and cold baths as a part of a good education/acclimatization, and in general even Locke's espistemology should lead on to David Hume who would be most excellently infuriating to those who wish to reduce humanity to an infalible system, even when teamed with his good friend Adam Smith, Hutchison and the scottish enlightenment in general.
How many times did Locke re-work and struggle with the Two Treatises?
And yet Lawler says of Locke: "Lawler shows that, since this ideal is an abstraction it will never be fully realized since it leaves out certain important aspects of what it means to be human." But Locke was quite aware of this...and anyone who bothers to read Locke as seriously as Dr. lawler would have to be aware of this...unless I am under the influence of the evil genuis...but I digress. The figure who instead of Locke was not really aware of this was Descartes... Descartes is the one who thinks his Meditation is possible...Descartes is the one who (while Locke probably was slightly dishonest about reading others) believed that all great systems are the product of a single mind...and that Mathmatics was to be the means by which human beings purge themselves of passion so as to become autonomous and epistemically pure foundationaly from all superstition. In other words it seems to me that the stark view of human beings that you would have as Lockeian would in many ways be rejected by Locke as impossible in much the same way as you might have it. Rather it is a drastically Cartesian impulse, born of the promise that human beings can establish for themselves perfectly failsafe and logical thinking capable of translation into the universal language of mathmatics. Notice that for the true Cartesian the fear of being alone...all the things you discuss as human are themselves signs of "weak minds", while certainly Locke/Hume and the Scottish Enlightenment and the Spectator would speak differently.
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