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tions to general history, and to the history of philosophy, which is the crown of all.
In order to be faithful to the order which I have just designated to you, I should commence with the first series of the sensualistic school, that is, with the series of metaphysicians. Locke is at the head of the sensualistic metaphysicians of the eighteenth century; he it was who produced all the others, and who furnished for his successors the very subjects with which they were occupied. With Locke, then, it is necessary to commence. His merited glory, his genius, his immense influence of every kind, command us to study him seriously, and to make him the subject of a profound examination.
LOCKE. HIS LIFE.
Locke : his biography.—Sprang from a liberal family.—His first studies.
Descartes disgusts him with scholasticism. He pays particular attention to medicine.-He enters into the political world; his friendship with Shaftesbury. His varied fortunes.-Driven from the University of Oxford.—His refuge in Holland.—Revolution of 1688.-- Favor of Locke until his death. -His character: disinterestedness, prudence, firmness, tolerance.-Review of his works.- The Essay on the Human Understanding.
LOCKE is the father of the whole sensualistic school of the eighteenth century. He is, incontestably, in time as well as in genius, the first metaphysician of this school. And, as we have said, morals, æsthetics, politics, are merely applications of metaphysics, applications which are themselves the bases of the history of philosophy. Moreover, Locke was not simply a metaphysician; he himself carried his metaphysics into the science of government, into religion, into political economy: his works of this class have served as a foundation to analogous works of the sensualistic school. In order to understand this school, it is then necessary to have a thorough understanding of the metaphysics of Locke ; for this reason I propose to examine him with the most scrupulous care, and at sufficient length.
But before exposing to you the philosophy of Locke, it is important that
should know what was the life and character of this man, who has exercised such a powerful influence over the moral and intellectual destiny of so great a number of his fellowbeings.
John Locke* was born at Wrington, a few leagues distant from
* We have made use of the Life of Locke, written in French, by his intimate friend Leclerc, and inserted in the 4th vol. of the Bibliothèque Choisie, 1705; of the Eulogy of Locke by Coste, contained in a letter to the author of Bristol, in the county of the same name, on the 29th of August, 1632. Very little is known of his family, except that his father was the clerk of a justice of the peace, that he took part in the political troubles of 1640, and even served as a captain in the parliamentary army under Colonel Alexander Popham. Young Locke pursued his first studies in Westminster College, London. Here he remained until the age of nineteen or twenty years,
until 1651 or 1652, when he went to the University of Oxford, to the identical Christ's College where, at a later period, he was examiner.
The University of Oxford was then, as it appears to be now, much attached to the cause of the past: and the cause of the past, in philosophy, was then peripatetic scholasticism. A single man turned it aside from this sterile study, and this man was our Descartes, the common master of all the great minds of his times, even the most opposite. Locke, in reading the works of Descartes, admired the perfect clearness of his exposition, without adopting his system; and he became disgusted with the barbarous philosophy that was taught at Oxford; so that Descartes has the honor and the merit of having contributed to the formation of his most redoubtable adversary. * Locke received the degree of Bachelor of Arts in 1655, and that of Master of Arts in 1658. The study to which he applied himself particularly was medicine. He did not take the degree of doctor; nor did he practise, on account of the extreme feebleness of his health ; neither had he any professorship; but procured at Christ's College a simple benefice, that is, a title, that of fellow, a prebend without functions. But although he had never practised nor professed medicine, Locke acquired considerable reputa
the Nouvelles de la Republique des Lettres, and published in these Nouvelles, February, 1705; of the life of Locke in the classical edition of his works ; finally, of the excellent chapter of Dugald Stewart on Locke, in his preliminary discourse in the ENCYCLOPÆDIA BRITANNICA, On the progress of metaphysical and moral sciences in Europe after the revival of letters.
* This curious fact is attested to by Leclerc, who declares that he received it himself from Locke. Dugald Stewart has repeated it.
Oxford, if we may judge by the testimony of one of the most skilful practitioners of that period, Sydenham, who in the dedication of his Observations* on Acute Diseases, congratulates himself on the approbation of Locke. Such were his occupations until the year 1664. Observe the nature of these occupations and their influence on the direction of the mind. The study of medicine supposes that of the physical and natural sciences; it develops the taste and the talent for observation, and, in this respect, it may be said that the study of medicine is an excellent preparation for metaphysics; but, it must be added, for a well-formed mind, for when we are continually surveying phenomena of organic life, it is easy, it is natural to be surprised and carried away by the appearance, and to confound with these phenomena other phenomena which are very different; and I pray you not to forget that, in fact, in the review which I have presented to you of all the philosophical schools, we have seen sensualism and empiricism, as well as skepticism, often proceed from schools of natural philosophers and physicians : call to mind, in antiquity, Sextus Ænesidemus, and more than one successor of Aristotle.
In 1664, Locke accompanied William Swan, as secretary, to the Court of Berlin. At the end of one year he returned to Oxford, and it was there, in 1666, at the age of thirty-four years, that he made the encounter which decided his destiny. Ashley Cooper, afterwards Earl of Shaftesbury, having come to Oxford for his health, made the acquaintance of Locke; and after having consulted him as a physician, he became attached to him as a friend, and never did they separate. Locke shared the prosperity of his friend, but he also shared his adversity; he joined him in his exile, he closed his eyes in a foreign land, and he undertook, at a later period, to write his life and vindicate his memory.
Who was Shaftesbury? History seems to point him out as a man of strong mind, without settled convictions, as an ambitious
* Published in 1676. † In regard to this, see Dugald Stewart, discourse already cited.