While histories of philosophy traditionally devote a paragraph to the psychology of each author , it seems to me it is not the case for Locke.

There might be reasons for this: (1) Locke is somewhat agnostic as to the substance of mind, the Self having only a personal identity ( identity of consciousness), which may or may not corrrespond to the substantial identity of a " thinking thing" ( the possibility of a thinking matter not being excluded a priori) (2) Locke rejects all talk of mental " faculties" .

However in the Essay Bk I Locke states that there are 2 main powers in mind (1) Understanding and (2) Will. Strangely he seems to define Understanding as an active power, in spite of the fact that the action of this power is " perception" of ideas and that Locke claims elsewhere that the mind is passive in receiving sensible ideas.

To your knowldge is there a recent book that presents Locke's psychology in a detailed way? What I am interested in is not so much his account of mind in general, as to his ( so to say ) anatomy of mind ( powers, operations, states, etc.)

The only reference I found hitherto is Aaron, Locke ( ch. " The Beginnings Of Psychology") which dates from 1937. This book features in the bibliography of Lowe's guide to Locke's Essay.

Thanks in advance.

1 Answer 1


I'm not sure that there is anything that's exactly what you need but you might consult:

  1. Locke's Ideas of Mind and Body (Routledge Studies in Seventeenth-Century Philosophy) Han-Kyul Kim ISBN 10: 1138241792 / ISBN 13: 9781138241794 Published by Routledge 2019-07-04, 2019

  2. The Hidden Roots of Critical Psychology: Understanding the Impact of Locke, Shaftesbury and Reid Billig, M. ISBN 10: 1412947243ISBN 13: 9781412947244 Published by Sage Publications (2008)

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