Review of Jacovides's Image of the World

Locke Studies 18 (2018)
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The overarching theme of Locke’s Image of the World, by Michael Jacovides, is that Locke’s belief in the best science of his day shapes his philosophy in important ways. Jacovides contends that “by understanding the scientific background to Locke’s thoughts, we can better understand his work” (1), including both his positions and his arguments for those positions. To a lesser extent, Jacovides’s book also treats Locke as a case study in thinking about how much scientific theory should influence philosophy. While much of the science Locke relies on is incomplete or problematic, and so leads him into errors, Jacovides is sympathetic to Locke’s approach of using the best scientific theories to help develop and justify his philosophical positions. Throughout the book Jacovides shows how science – Locke’s study of medicine, and later Boyle’s corpuscularianism, and then later Newton’s physics – influence Locke’s thinking on a variety of topics. The result is an impressive account of the history of science at a critical point in its development through the lens of one of the great philosophers of that time.

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Nathan Rockwood
Brigham Young University


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