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On the “Evolution” of Locke’s space and time metaphysics.

Thomas, Emily (2016) 'On the “Evolution” of Locke’s space and time metaphysics.', History of philosophy quarterly., 33 (4). pp. 305-325.


There is a near-consensus in the literature that John Locke's metaphysics of space and time undergo a radical evolution: in the 1670s, Locke holds relationism; by the first, 1690 edition of Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding, he has adopted Newtonian absolutism. This paper argues for an alternative reading, on which Locke's Essay is explicitly neutral or noncommittal with regard to the ontology of space and time; and yet there is reason to believe that the Essay implicitly preserves Locke's earlier relationism. In addition to challenging the existing scholarship, this paper excavates a form of pre- Leibnizian relationism, which may be of interest to twenty-first-century relationists looking to uncover the roots of their position; illuminates Locke's views on space and time, highlighting his opposition to Cartesianism on this head; and provides ammunition to non-Newtonian readings of Locke's Essay.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:From History of Philosophy Quarterly. Copyright 2016 of the Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:30 November 2016
Date of first online publication:01 October 2016
Date first made open access:01 October 2017

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