Jonathan Edwards, Art and the Sense of the Heart

By Terrence Erdt | Go to book overview

Chapter 2
Edwards on the Sense of the Heart

In its description of the mind, Locke Essay fails in a significant respect, Jonathan Edwards decided, apparently not long after his first acquaintance with the work; it neglects to include as a vital element of psychology the heart. Possibly the full import of the omission did not occur to him in his first excited reading; initially he agreed that personal identity, the determination of the self as an independent entity, rests, as Locke declared, solely in thinking or consciousness, and he wrote in his notes:

Well might Mr. Locke say that identity of person consisted in identity of consciousness, for he might have said that identity of spirit, too, consisted in the same consciousness. For a mind or spirit is nothing else but consciousness and what is included in it. The same consciousness is, to all intents and purposes, individually the very same spirit or substance as much as the same particle of matter can be the same with itself at different times.1

Later, however, he came to see the mistake. "Identity of person," he wrote in a subsequent entry, "is what seems never yet to have been explained." It is not, as Locke implied, merely having the same ideas from a past to a present moment and knowing by means of memory that they have been possessed previously. God could create two beings conscious of the same ideas, yet their minds would not be necessarily identical. They could "be in a very different state, one in a state of enjoyment and pleasure, and the other in a state of great suffering and torment."2Locke tended to ignore the will, the feelings, as he defined the term, of pleasure and pain experienced in reaction to one's

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