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Locke

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This is the first comprehensive biography in half a century of John Locke -“a man of versatile mind, fitted for whatever you shall undertake”, as one of his many good friends very aptly described him. Against an exciting historical background of the English Civil War, religious intolerance and bigotry, anti-Government struggles and plots, and the Glorious Revolution of 168 This is the first comprehensive biography in half a century of John Locke -“a man of versatile mind, fitted for whatever you shall undertake”, as one of his many good friends very aptly described him. Against an exciting historical background of the English Civil War, religious intolerance and bigotry, anti-Government struggles and plots, and the Glorious Revolution of 1688, Roger Woolhouse interweaves the events of Locke's rather varied life with detailed expositions of his developing ideas in medicine, theory of knowledge, philosophy of science, political philosophy, philosophy of religion, and economics. Chronologically systematic in its coverage, this volume offers an account and explanation of Locke's ideas and their reception, while entering at large into the details of his private life of intimate friendships and warm companionship, and of the increasingly visible public life into which, despite himself, he was drawn - Oxford tutor, associate of Shaftesbury, dutiful civil servant. Based on broad research and many years' study of Locke's philosophy, this will be the authoritative biography for years to come of this truly versatile man whose long-standing desire was for quiet residence in his Oxford college engaged in the study and practise of medicine and natural philosophy, yet who, after years in political exile, finally became an over-worked but influential public servant and who is seen now as one of the most significant early modern philosophers. Roger Woolhouse is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of York. He is the author of many journal articles and books on early modern philosophy, including The Empiricists, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, and, with R.Francks, Leibniz's “New System”.


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This is the first comprehensive biography in half a century of John Locke -“a man of versatile mind, fitted for whatever you shall undertake”, as one of his many good friends very aptly described him. Against an exciting historical background of the English Civil War, religious intolerance and bigotry, anti-Government struggles and plots, and the Glorious Revolution of 168 This is the first comprehensive biography in half a century of John Locke -“a man of versatile mind, fitted for whatever you shall undertake”, as one of his many good friends very aptly described him. Against an exciting historical background of the English Civil War, religious intolerance and bigotry, anti-Government struggles and plots, and the Glorious Revolution of 1688, Roger Woolhouse interweaves the events of Locke's rather varied life with detailed expositions of his developing ideas in medicine, theory of knowledge, philosophy of science, political philosophy, philosophy of religion, and economics. Chronologically systematic in its coverage, this volume offers an account and explanation of Locke's ideas and their reception, while entering at large into the details of his private life of intimate friendships and warm companionship, and of the increasingly visible public life into which, despite himself, he was drawn - Oxford tutor, associate of Shaftesbury, dutiful civil servant. Based on broad research and many years' study of Locke's philosophy, this will be the authoritative biography for years to come of this truly versatile man whose long-standing desire was for quiet residence in his Oxford college engaged in the study and practise of medicine and natural philosophy, yet who, after years in political exile, finally became an over-worked but influential public servant and who is seen now as one of the most significant early modern philosophers. Roger Woolhouse is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at the University of York. He is the author of many journal articles and books on early modern philosophy, including The Empiricists, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, and, with R.Francks, Leibniz's “New System”.

30 review for Locke

  1. 4 out of 5

    Malcolm Yarnell

    In this authoritative biography of one of the greatest philosophers in human history, Roger Woolhouse has provided us with an excellent presentation of the historical context, personal character, and intellectual basics of this profoundly influential philosopher of nature and the human mind who was also an accomplished and innovative modern political thinker and pious yet critical biblical theologian.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Alp Turgut

    Düşünceleriyle aydınlanma felsefesinin önünü açan aynı zamanda siyasete de yön veren ünlü İngiliz düşünür John Locke’un hayatını anlatan Roger Woodhouse’un aynı adlı eseri, Locke’un hayatını düşünceleriyle beraber fazlasıyla detaylı bir şekilde okuyucuya veren genel olarak başarılı bir biyografi. Thomas Hobbes’a nazaran insanlıktan umudunu yitirmeyen John Locke’un iç savaşın son zamanlarında büyümesi bu şekilde düşünmesinin en büyük nedeni. Tıp alanındaki araştırmalarıyla doktor ünvanı layık gör Düşünceleriyle aydınlanma felsefesinin önünü açan aynı zamanda siyasete de yön veren ünlü İngiliz düşünür John Locke’un hayatını anlatan Roger Woodhouse’un aynı adlı eseri, Locke’un hayatını düşünceleriyle beraber fazlasıyla detaylı bir şekilde okuyucuya veren genel olarak başarılı bir biyografi. Thomas Hobbes’a nazaran insanlıktan umudunu yitirmeyen John Locke’un iç savaşın son zamanlarında büyümesi bu şekilde düşünmesinin en büyük nedeni. Tıp alanındaki araştırmalarıyla doktor ünvanı layık görülen Locke’un Lord Ashley Shaftesbury’le tanışması hayatının kırılma noktalarından birini oluşturuyor. Bu şekilde devlet işlerinde de rol almaya başlayan Locke’un birbirinden farklı dinlere sahip olan insanların barış içinde yaşamaları için birbirlerine hoşgörü göstermeleri gerektiğini savunması alanında çığır açan düşüncelerinin başında geliyor. Gördüğü savaşlarının çoğunun nedeninin insanların birbirleri üzerine yaptığı din baskısı olduğunu gören Locke’un insanların istediği dini inancı tercih etme özgürlüğüne sahip olduğunu savunması bugünün inanç ve düşünce özgürlüğünün temeli niteliğinde. Dini inancın devletle ilgisini olmadığını, akla uymayan hiçbir ayetin körü körüne kabul edilmemesi gerektiğini öne süren Locke, insanların okuduklarını daima başkalarıyla paylaşarak düşünmeleri gerektiğini belirtiyor. Buna ek olarak Hobbes’un aksine devleti yönetenlerin Tanrı tarafından değil halk tarafından başa getirildiğinin, ve yönetimdeki şahsın halkı korumadığı takdirde görevden alınabileceğinin altını çizen ünlü düşünür, doğal hakların halkın elinden alınmayacağını belirterek demokratik yapılaşmanın da temellerini atıyor. Locke’un en önemli katkılarından bir diğeri de eğitim üzerine. Edward Clarke’ın oğlunu nasıl yetiştirmesi gerektiğine dair yardım almak için Locke’un yanına gelmesi buna büyük katkı sağlıyor. Doğduğumuz da beynimizin boş bir kutu olduğunu, ve Tanrı inancı dahil olmak üzere her türlü bilginin dışarıdan ve deneyimden geldiğini belirten Locke, çocukların gelişiminde aldıkları eğitimin fazlasıyla önemli olduğunu vurguluyor. Hatta çocukların belli bir yaşa gelmeden kutsal kitapları okumaması gerektiğini söyleyen Locke’un kutsal kitapların yetişkin olmayan bireyler için tehlikeli ayetler barındırdığının altını çizdiğini söylemek gerek. Kısaca, "Treatises of Government", "An Essay Concerning Human Understanding" ve "Some Thoughts Concerning Education" eserleriyle çığır açan Locke’un değerini bu kitapla daha net bir şekilde anlıyorsunuz. Kronik bronşiti sebebiyle nefes almakta zorlanan Locke’un hayatını ve düşüncelerini derinlemesine anlatan kitabın zayıf tarafı ise Locke hakkında her şeyi vermesi. Newton ve Leibniz’le aralarında geçen konuşmalara da değinmesine rağmen daha çok ansiklopedi olarak tanımlayabileceğim kitabı okurken açıkçası zaman zaman çok sıkıldığımı belirtmeliyim. Ama aldığım notlara göz attığımda okuduğuma değdiğini söyleyebilirim. 25.02.2019 İstanbul, Türkiye Alp Turgut

  3. 4 out of 5

    Zandra

    This is the second biography of John Locke I have read, and this one is better for giving a detailed explanation of all of Locke's most important lines of thought. It felt like quite a long book, yet I must still say I got little sense of where Locke's ideas came from. I would have liked more about the intellectual climate he shared with other thinkers and how the events of his life influenced him, and how he may have been reacting against them. I suspect Locke's views resulted from his friendsh This is the second biography of John Locke I have read, and this one is better for giving a detailed explanation of all of Locke's most important lines of thought. It felt like quite a long book, yet I must still say I got little sense of where Locke's ideas came from. I would have liked more about the intellectual climate he shared with other thinkers and how the events of his life influenced him, and how he may have been reacting against them. I suspect Locke's views resulted from his friendships with others who were part of an intellectual elite, but this book makes me feel he climbed a solitary, lonely path to the heights of original, revolutionary thinking. It is odd that he really was a devout Christian, yet his most important writing was grounded on purely secular premises: that we can only know anything empirically, and that reason should be our one true guide in matters both secular and religious. Yes, he acknowledged that we can know God through the revelations and miracles in the Bible, but he seems to believe these belong to Biblical history, not to the workings of his own contemporary society. Different religious people can interpret God's will and power and manifestation in the world so variously, so what can we be sure of? What is actually universally true? And a conclusion, I think, of Locke's writings on 'human understanding' is that a scientific hypothesis (Locke was, apparently, the first to express the understanding that science is based on testable hypotheses.) is the closest we can get to a truth that we can be sure about, that is not open to debate or interpretation. Locke's most controversial claim, perhaps, was that we have no innate ideas. We are not born with an idea of God or morality. These are only taught to us, in our childhood, as we learn about Christianity from the Bible and from other Christians. It would seem it would be so easy for Locke the devout Christian thinker, to claim that we do have innate ideas, but no, he takes the position of a relativist. I say that Locke was a devoutly Christian man yet he did not, it seems, have had much time for the established church. At least, Woolhouse says at one point that we simply do not know if Locke attended Church regularly. Certainly, he avoided taking Holy Orders when at Oxford. Yet he believed wholeheartedly in the revelations of the Bible, and spent his later years writing his own interpretations of St Paul's letters. I get the feeling that Locke was the original, defining member of the real Church of England. He was that very English version of Christian that does not like any religion that is based on 'enthusiasm'. He did not believe in fairy-tales becoming reality through Divine intervention, or that a moral society is achieved by regular church-going, or that God loves us all to be very happy and very clappy. Rather, he believed that parents and communities have a duty to bring up children well, so they gain both good breeding, and a strong moral sense, and the capacity to regulate their own desires and irrational longings. 'Sin' seems to be the inability to regulate our behaviour according to a strongly reasoned sense of what is in our best interest, and such weakness of will results, at least partially, from a poor education and upbringing. Locke's religion is non-judgemental in the sense that he does not think any denomination has a monopoly on the truth. Tolerance is of central importance and is based on a sense of doctrinal and ceremonial humility. Locke was the sort of Anglican who did not actually believe in the Church of England. But he did believe in the innocence of the child, the importance of education and having a strong sense of public duty.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Philbro

    What an insight into a major epoch for humanity - the liminal space between pre and post Enlightenment, pre and post scientific revolution - lived as Locke himself lived it. Locke's insight into empiricism even while he held fast to his pious upbringing is nothing short of Kuhnian in its radicalness, and he suffered barbs for it in his day. Yet this biography is also insightful for revealing what 17th century Europe still did not know. For example, at one point Locke postulates that life forms a What an insight into a major epoch for humanity - the liminal space between pre and post Enlightenment, pre and post scientific revolution - lived as Locke himself lived it. Locke's insight into empiricism even while he held fast to his pious upbringing is nothing short of Kuhnian in its radicalness, and he suffered barbs for it in his day. Yet this biography is also insightful for revealing what 17th century Europe still did not know. For example, at one point Locke postulates that life forms are powered via respiration which adds nitrate salt to the blood (nitrate salt was known to give action to gunpowder and invigorate soil for agriculture); Locke also considered the viability of perpetual motion. In a time which foreshadows the eventual Revolution in the colonies, the time of Newton, Boyle, and Leibniz (all of whom make appearances in Locke's life), this look into the life of an eminent 17th century philosopher is a testament not only to Locke's genius, but the genius of humanity itself.

  5. 4 out of 5

    JR Snow

    This is a thorough biography that does a good job of showing the many talents and interests of John Locke, and it especially excels at narrating the correspondence between him and rivals/respondents to his books, such as Bolder, Newton, Stillingfleet, etc. But, there is very little "meta" analysis, or contextual analysis: historical, philosophical, etc. It is a very narrow biography, simply tracing Locke's life from birth to death by being closely tethered to his personal correspondence. Unfortun This is a thorough biography that does a good job of showing the many talents and interests of John Locke, and it especially excels at narrating the correspondence between him and rivals/respondents to his books, such as Bolder, Newton, Stillingfleet, etc. But, there is very little "meta" analysis, or contextual analysis: historical, philosophical, etc. It is a very narrow biography, simply tracing Locke's life from birth to death by being closely tethered to his personal correspondence. Unfortunately, I haven't read any other Locke biographies to compare this one to, but I would probably look for another one, unless you REALLY like John Locke.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Carl Rollyson

    Book Review Locke: A Biography by Roger Woolhouse The English philosopher John Locke (1632-1704) left behind not only "An Essay Concerning Human Understanding" (1690) but also his laundry lists and many other records, documents, and correspondence — quite an abundant stock of material — that should enrich the work of his biographer. Roger Woolhouse draws deeply on this awesome archive, and yet to my biographer's mind, "Locke: A Biography" (Cambridge, 548 pages, $39.99) is a let-down. Following the Book Review Locke: A Biography by Roger Woolhouse The English philosopher John Locke (1632-1704) left behind not only "An Essay Concerning Human Understanding" (1690) but also his laundry lists and many other records, documents, and correspondence — quite an abundant stock of material — that should enrich the work of his biographer. Roger Woolhouse draws deeply on this awesome archive, and yet to my biographer's mind, "Locke: A Biography" (Cambridge, 548 pages, $39.99) is a let-down. Following the well-established procedures of academia, Mr. Woolhouse presents Locke's life in strict chronological order, paying heed to every treatise, even when there is considerable overlap between these works resulting in tiresome repetitions. If this Locke scholar is obliged to be so rigidly faithful to the order of his subject's oeuvre, is there not a corresponding fealty to the demands of biography? Certainly, Mr. Woolhouse lays bare a good deal about his subject, but he never lingers to take the measure of the man who argued that government is founded on the consent of the governed, and that the individual begins life as a piece of "white paper" on which experience writes his ideas and values. In his early writings, for example, Locke was doubtful that there could be comity between different Christian denominations, let alone between different faiths. After traveling to Cleves in Germany and witnessing how a diverse community of Christians managed to live in harmony, he began to change his views, becoming, in the end, an outspoken champion of toleration. Why not write, then, a Lockean biography? Instead of giving every piece of the philosopher's writing equal weight, focus precisely on those experiences that gave rise to his treatises. And attach those experiences and works to the portrayal of a man with strikingly modern ideas about self-invention. When Locke rejected an opportunity to pursue a diplomatic post in Spain, he wrote in a letter: "Whether I have let slip the minute that they say everyone has once in his life to make himself, I cannot tell." Step aside, Andy Warhol, for the original philosopher of self-creation. Locke observed himself learning from experience, and consequently he launched a series of arguments against the notion of innate ideas. The mind expanded through the senses. God gave humankind a sensory apparatus for a purpose, Locke contended, even if not everything in creation can be comprehended through empirical investigation. All this can be gleaned from Mr. Woolhouse's very learned book, but it becomes rather a chore to assemble. And some aspects of Locke are never integrated into a whole view of the man. Why, for example, was Locke so interested in medicine and chemistry? Surely his fascination with the functioning of the human body is connected to his fixation on a corporeal self, where ideas result from physical sensations. Even more intriguing are Locke's chronic illnesses. He thought he had consumption (tuberculosis), although it now seems more probable that he suffered from asthma, bronchitis, and eventually emphysema from inhaling all that horrid coal smoke in London. He almost never visited the city without returning home to Oxford with a racking cough. Did Locke see in his own ailments — which interrupted but perhaps also stimulated his medical studies — proof of the way ideas and sensations mesh? Mr. Woolhouse might object that evidence is lacking for the answers to my questions. But surely it is duty of any biographer to pose questions that arise out of the patterns of a subject's life. Biography is not merely a matter of reporting what the biographer knows; it is also a work of interpretation seeking out the subject's motivations. For example, Mr. Woolhouse seems to think that Locke was rather cowardly when he disavowed the politics of his employer, the Earl of Shaftsbury, who was suspected of plotting against Charles II. Locke had been Shaftsbury's secretary and was certainly privy to, if not a full participant in, Shaftsbury's intrigues. Mr. Woolhouse quotes "someone who knew him [Locke] during his worrying years" as having a "peaceable temper, and rather fearful than courageous." He might here have pointed out that Locke's aim was to preserve his life as a thinker, even if it meant — to use Mr. Woolhouse's term — resorting to "disingenuity." Experience taught Locke to bide his time. In 1699, he returned to England from a six-year exile in Holland, understanding that his new sovereign, William, would look favorably on his work. Thus began Locke's triumphant years of publication. So Locke did not miss his minute, and it is unfortunate that Mr. Woolhouse's biography does not present his subject's grand return and triumph with the kind of fanfare it deserves.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    I don't read biographies as a habit, so I have lttle with which to compare this book on its own. My purpose, though, was to glean some insight into Locke's life and understand how he came to his conclusions on liberty. My hypothesis was that his religious views equating salvation with freedom bled over to his political inclinations, and I found that mosty true, but weakly supported. The author wasn't helpful to my thesis in most regards, and awkwardly projected a quixotic claim of homosexuality I don't read biographies as a habit, so I have lttle with which to compare this book on its own. My purpose, though, was to glean some insight into Locke's life and understand how he came to his conclusions on liberty. My hypothesis was that his religious views equating salvation with freedom bled over to his political inclinations, and I found that mosty true, but weakly supported. The author wasn't helpful to my thesis in most regards, and awkwardly projected a quixotic claim of homosexuality in a few brief sentences. Locke, though, was quite interesting even though we seem to have more records concerning his hobbies than anything else. Didn't actually finish on purpose. I didn't much care what happened after the Glorious Revolution and his Two Treatises.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Atila Demirkasımoğlu

    Kitabı okumayı bitirdim. Önce verimli ve ahlaklı bir hayat anlatıyor biyografisi. 7/10 olsun notum. Kitabın anlatımını çok beğenmedim. Gereksiz kısımlar var bence ve esası saklıyor kimi ayrıntılar. Akıcılık yakalanamamış. Locke'un fikirlerinin derli toplu bir özet gibi sunulduğunu da söyleyemeyiz. Kötü kitap mı? Hayır! 7/10 vermezdim herhalde!.. :) Kitabı okumayı bitirdim. Önce verimli ve ahlaklı bir hayat anlatıyor biyografisi. 7/10 olsun notum. Kitabın anlatımını çok beğenmedim. Gereksiz kısımlar var bence ve esası saklıyor kimi ayrıntılar. Akıcılık yakalanamamış. Locke'un fikirlerinin derli toplu bir özet gibi sunulduğunu da söyleyemeyiz. Kötü kitap mı? Hayır! 7/10 vermezdim herhalde!.. :)

  9. 5 out of 5

    William Dillon

    Author does a great job staying focused on the man John Locke and didn't overemphasize his philosophical works (though they were thoroughly discussed). The best takeaway from this book was his definition of true knowledge. I have even inherited this into my personal views! Author does a great job staying focused on the man John Locke and didn't overemphasize his philosophical works (though they were thoroughly discussed). The best takeaway from this book was his definition of true knowledge. I have even inherited this into my personal views!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Elise

    I read first chapter and a few pages of the second. I couldn't get into it. I read first chapter and a few pages of the second. I couldn't get into it.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Mert

  12. 5 out of 5

    John P.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Andy C.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Michael

  15. 4 out of 5

    Glenn Taylor

  16. 5 out of 5

    David Noack

  17. 4 out of 5

    Gaston Goyret

  18. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

  19. 4 out of 5

    Beornn McCarthy

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ken

  21. 5 out of 5

    Hailey

  22. 4 out of 5

    Cass

  23. 5 out of 5

    Timothy E. Drew

  24. 4 out of 5

    Baris Ozkul

  25. 5 out of 5

    Steve

  26. 4 out of 5

    Ray Walker

  27. 4 out of 5

    Brian

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jeremy

  29. 5 out of 5

    Bradford

  30. 4 out of 5

    Smyrnall

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