The Divine Lamp

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Archive for April 23rd, 2008

On the Fundamental Difficulties of the Philosophy of Reid (Article 11, Conclusion)

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 23, 2008

133.  Such, then, is the nature of the controversy between Locke and Reid.  Both sides find themselves in such a position that, although very well able to destroy, they are utterly incapacitated by their principles from building up a theory that will bear examination.

Reduced to its simplest form, the question upon which they differ may be stated as follows:-

Locke says to Reid, “Ideas must be anterior to judgments, because it is absurd to suppose that a comparison can be made between two things which do not as yet exist;” and his reason seems to be evident.  Reid replies, “Judgments must be anterior to ideas because it is impossible for us to form the idea of a thing before we have judged that the thing exists:” and his reason seems also to be evident.  How are these two propositions, each apparently true, and yet mutually contradictory, to be reconciled?

As we have already seen, the difficulty involved in these propositions ultimately reduces itself to the origin of the idea of existence.  I trust that the theory I shall set forth at length in the second volume will offer a satisfactory solution of this important question, which forms the whole theme of the present work

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