Locke's Touchy Subjects: Materialism and Immortality

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Oxford University Press, 2015 - History - 142 pages
In seventeenth-century philosophy the mind-body problem and the nature of personal immortality were two of the most controversial and sensitive issues. Nicholas Jolley seeks to show that these issues are more prominent in Locke's philosophy than has been realized. He argues further that Locke takes up unorthodox positions in both cases. Although Locke's official stance on the mind-body problem is agnostic, in places he presents arguments that, taken together, amount to a significant case for a weak form of materialism. Locke also seeks to show that the solution to the mind-body problem is irrelevant to the issue of personal immortality: for Locke, such immortality is conceptually possible even if the same body is not resurrected at the Day of Judgment. Jolley throws new light on such central topics in An Essay Concerning Human Understanding as substance and personal identity: he also pays close attention to such neglected topics as his account of the status of animals and his polemic against the thesis that the mind always thinks. Throughout, the book examines Locke's arguments against the background of Descartes' views. Jolley argues that Locke's criticisms of Descartes are no mere defences of common sense against dogmatism; rather, they are controversial responses to some of the most challenging metaphysical and theological issues of his time.


Introduction Themes and Background
Dull Souls
Thinking Matter
An Eternal Thinking Being
Personal Identity and Resurrection
Mortalism and Immortality

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About the author (2015)

Nicholas Jolley, University of California, Irvine Nicholas Jolley was educated at King's School, Canterbury, and Clare College, Cambridge where he was both an undergraduate and a research student. He was a Research Fellow at Christ's College, Cambridge from 1974 to 1978, and has taught at the University of California, San Diego (1978-99), Syracuse University (1999-2000), and the University of California, Irvine (2000-2009), where he was Chair of the Department of Philosophy from 2004 to 2007.