login about faq

So I haven't read John Locke, I intend to, but I have a friend who says Objectivism is just a copy o the ideas of classical liberals, specially Locke's. Can anyone help me at least with the basic differences? As a starting point since I have told my friend I would have to read Locke, I did tell her I'd try asking here to answer at least with something. Thanks.

asked Jan 22 '13 at 01:12

Juan%20Diego%20dAnconia's gravatar image

Juan Diego dAnconia

edited Jan 22 '13 at 10:25

Greg%20Perkins's gravatar image

Greg Perkins ♦♦

The significance of John Locke and other Enlightenment philosophers is concisely explained by Leonard Peikoff in his book, The Ominous Parallels, Chapter 5, "The Nation of the Enlightenment," referring to the founding of America. Dr. Peikoff explains how Thomas Aquinas' reintroduction of Aristotelianism was the beginning of the Renaissance, the beginning of the era of reason. This led to the Age of Enlightenment:

The seventeenth century carried the advance still further, by means of two major achievements: in science, the discoveries that culminated in the Newtonian triumph; in philosophy, the creation (by Descartes, Locke, and others) of the first modern systems, the first attempts to provide Western man with a comprehensive world view incorporating the discoveries of the new science.... [The] universe is intelligible; there is nothing outside man's power to know, if he uses the proper method of knowledge; the method is reason.... For the first time in modern history, an authentic respect for reason became the mark of an entire culture.... thinkers of the West [before Kant] regarded the acceptance of reason as uncontroversial....

[But] the systems of seventeenth-century philosophy were profoundly flawed in every fundamental branch and issue ... [and] were committing all the disastrous errors of omission and commission that would shortly open the door to Hume, and then to Kant, and then to the post-Kantian revolt against the faculty of thought.

(From pp. 101-103.) Regarding John Locke, Dr. Peikoff writes (pp. 115-116):

In epistemology, the European champions of the intellect had been unable to formulate a tenable view of the nature of reason or, therefore, to validate their proclaimed confidence in its power.... John Locke -- regarded during the Enlightenment as Europe's leading philosopher, taken as the definitive spokesman for reason and the new science -- is a representative case in point. The philosophy of this spokesman is a contradictory mixture, part Aristotelian, part Christian, part Cartesian, part skeptic; in short, it is an eclectic shambles all but openly inviting any Berkeley or Hume in the vicinity to rip it into shreds. The philosopher taken as the defender of nature could not establish its reality. The philosopher taken as the defender of scientific law could not validate the concept of causality, held that basic causes are outside man's power to grasp, and stated explicitly that a "science of bodies" (i.e., a science of material entities) is impossible. The philosopher taken as the champion of the senses was promulgating every doctrine necessary to invalidate them. The philosopher taken as the spokesman for the unlimited power of the human mind was proclaiing (in effect) that the field open to human cognition is a precarious island surrounded by a sea of the uncertain, the subjective, the unintelligible, the unknowable.... [It was] a philosophy of reason so profoundly undercut as to be in process of self-destructing.

The same situation existed in ethics. Locke and others had sought to offer "a rational, demonstrative science of ethics," but none of them "could define such an ethics." (p. 116) This left the door open for a rising tide of voices proclaiming that ethical principles are based on feeling, not reason.

Those who skim philosophical issues superficially will readily find striking similarities between Locke's Enlightenment thinking and Objectivism's veneration of reason, individualism and individual rights. Dig just a little deeper and one will also find a world of difference. At the same time, however, Locke's pivotal role in formulating the principle of individual rights, and his influence on America's Founding Fathers (as well as on the transition of Britain from monarchy to parliamentary democracy) cannot be underestimated.

answered Jan 23 '13 at 02:29

Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Ideas for Life ♦

I understand the point. I'll read more about it when I can for future reference. Thanks a lot.

(Jan 23 '13 at 03:23) Juan Diego dAnconia Juan%20Diego%20dAnconia's gravatar image

IFL wrote Locke's pivotal role in formulating the principle of individual rights, and his influence on America's Founding Fathers (as well as on the transition of Britain from monarchy to parliamentary democracy) cannot be underestimated.

I get your drift here, but don't you mean that Locke's influence "cannot be overestimated?" As a figure of speech implying that it is of great value whereas the quoted formulation indicates that it is NOT of great value.

I know this is a nitpick but it might confuse a newby.

(Feb 20 '13 at 17:56) c_andrew ♦ c_andrew's gravatar image

"Underestimated" makes sense if the focus is on reality rather than what people might arbitrarily claim. If the issue of reality-orientation is confusing to newbies, then I hope this will clarify it at least enough to give pause for thought. I supposed I could say, "cannot be emphasized strongly enough," to emphasize the point more strongly.

(Feb 21 '13 at 01:27) Ideas for Life ♦ Ideas%20for%20Life's gravatar image

Good point. Apparently there is some ambiguity in the figure of speech and not just here. I wonder if there is a regional element to the interpretation of it, colloquially speaking. I grew up with the idea that "cannot be underestimated" meant that no matter how low you set the bar, it couldn't be any lower than deserved. And "cannot be overestimated" meant that no matter how hight your evaluation it could not exceed its actual value. I see that the NY Times had a similar issue with the phrase used by Andrew Cuomo. That's why I wonder if it is a regional variance.

(Feb 21 '13 at 22:11) c_andrew ♦ c_andrew's gravatar image
showing 2 of 4 show all

Follow this question

By Email:

Once you sign in you will be able to subscribe for any updates here



Answers and Comments

Share This Page:



Asked: Jan 22 '13 at 01:12

Seen: 1,475 times

Last updated: Feb 21 '13 at 22:11