Today we concluded our discussion of Locke's account of human freedom, or liberty. On Locke's view, liberty, or free action requires two things. (1) The action must be willed, and (2) the agent must have the power to do or not do the action. Now since the using your will is part of the definition of liberty, it doesn't make sense to ask if the will is free. However, Locke does think that the mind is determined by the greatest recent uneasiness - essentially by pain. Locke thinks that most of the time, we act to avoid pain, but sometimes we can suspend our thinking, allowing us to consider before we act. This, Locke thinks, is the heart of human freedom. As we discussed, Locke could be either a libertarian or a soft-determinist.
Next we looked at Locke's argument for the existence of a mind-independent world. If we perceive ideas, rather than directly perceiving the world, how can we be sure that there is an external, mind-independent world? Ideas, which are supposed to reveal the world, instead seem to block it from our view. Ideas are thus the 'veil of perception', the veil that obscures our ability to sense things directly. To put it another way, imagine that God annihilated the external world, but kept providing you with ideas. What would look different? Locke doesn't seem to be able to point to anything.
Locke does think we know that a mind-independent world exists. He supposes that we have a special sort of knowledge, sensitive knowledge, which we can trust because…
Have a good reading week, everybody. See you in two weeks. Remember, the mid-term is now on March 2nd, so we will have one more class before the test.