Locke on Knowledge of Existence
Locke, epistemology, knowledge, external objects
The standard objection to Locke's epistemology is that his conception of knowledge inevitably leads to skepticism about external objects. One reason for this complaint is that Locke defines knowledge as the perception of a relation between ideas, but perceiving relations between ideas does not seem like the kind of thing that can give us knowledge that tables and chairs exist. Thus Locke's general definition of knowledge seems to be woefully inadequate for explaining knowledge of external objects. However, this interpretation and subsequent criticism ignore a special category of knowledge Locke calls 'real knowledge', which is Locke's own account of how we can have knowledge of the real world. Rather than evaluating whether Locke's definition of knowledge in general can get us knowledge of external objects, we should instead focus our attention on whether Locke's account of real knowledge can explain how we have knowledge of external objects.
Original Publication Citation
“Locke on Knowledge of Existence,” Locke Studies vol. 16 (2016)
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Rockwood, Nathan, "Locke on Knowledge of Existence" (2016). Philosophy Faculty Publications. 21.