Locke's Theory of Knowledge and Its Historical Relations

By James Gibson | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XI
LOCKE AND LEIBNIZ

§ 1 . In this and the following chapter I propose to consider the light which is thrown upon the historical significance of the Essay concerning Human Understanding, by the elaborate commentary and criticism contained in the Nouveaux Essais sur l'Entendement Humain of Leibniz, and to make some comparison between the theories of knowledge of the two writers. We must not, indeed, expect to find in the work of Leibniz an attempt to lay bare the fundamental principles of the philosophy he criticises, or to show in what respects these need correction, or wherein there is a failure in their consistent development; for criticism of such a kind would have been an anachronism in the eighteenth century. The aim of Leibniz is rather to develop and set forth his own views on the questions which arise, under the stimulus afforded by the thought of another. We must, too, at the outset, disabuse our minds of the prepossession which would see nothing but an irreconcilable opposition between the positions of the two. Even if we are not prepared to maintain with Hartenstein1 that the differences between them concerning the foundations of human knowledge are of less importance than the agreement, we shall at least find a large area of common doctrine, within which Leibniz is prepared simply to accept the views put forward in the Essay. And although,

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1
Locke's Lehre von der menschlichen Erkenntniss in Vergleichung mit Leibniz's Kritik derselben.

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