John Locke and Modern Philosophy

An Essay Concerning Human Understanding

Tuesday | 15.09.20 | 18:00

A panel discussion

LIVE broadcast |

on the occasion of the publication of a new Hebrew translation of

An Essay Concerning Human Understanding

by John Locke

The British philosopher John Locke (1632–1704 is universally considered one of the intellectual fathers of the modern world. The ideas he expounded in his political writings played a crucial role in shaping the discourse on rights and the concept of toleration, which lie at the foundations of the liberal order. However, despite the great importance of these ideas, the pinnacle of John Locke’s philosophy is undoubtedly his monumental work, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, published in 1689. In this canonical work, inspired by the pathbreaking scientific achievements of the period, Locke renounces both the medieval scholastic tradition and the European rationalism of Descartes and his followers. In their stead, Locke proposes a new, revolutionary approach, which seeks to ground human knowledge solely on experience: empiricism.

To create a solid theoretical basis for empiricism, Locke takes upon himself a colossal task: mapping the powers of human intelligence, systematically and comprehensively, in a way that has no precedent in the philosophical literature. The result is an amazingly ambitious and far-reaching essay, which considers the various types of sensory perception, its sources, the imagination, the perception of space and time, the ability to abstract and conceptualize, logical syllogism, the role of language, and the necessary conditions of knowledge. Locke also points out the limits of understanding and warns—as did Kant after him—that breaching those boundaries may lead to unfounded conclusions.

Editor: David Heyd | Translator: Ofer Kober | The Shalem Press


Chair: Assaf Sagiv

Prof. Yemima Ben-Menahem

Prof. Yakir Levin

Prof. David Heyd

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