Today we talked about the whole of John Locke's philosophy, and also explored his distinction between real and nominal essences, his view of personal identity, and his understanding of (causal) power.
Locke distinguishes between real essences (the way things really are) and nominal essences (the way our complex ideas of things represent them). According to Locke, our knowledge is only of nominal essences. Whether we can get knowledge of real essences is something philosophers disagree about. For my part, I have always thought Locke believes we can get knowledge of real essences if scientific tools advance to a sufficient extent.
Locke distinguishes three sorts of questions we can ask about identity:
Finally, we started into Locke's approach to causal power. According to Locke, there are two sorts of power: active power (the power to cause a change) and passive power (the power to change). We are aware of having active power ourselves, Locke thinks. This connects to Locke's account of liberty, which as we saw has two parts. In order to be free, a human action must be (1) willed, and (2) one must have had the power to do it or not do it. We'll talk more about Locke's account of liberty next week.