Similarities Between Descartes And Locke Essay

1920 Words Feb 9th, 2016 8 Pages
René Descartes and John Locke, both seventeenth century philosophers, are often seen as two of the first early modern philosophers. Both Descartes and Locke attempt to find answers to the same questions in metaphysics and epistemology; among these: What is knowledge? Is there certainty in knowledge? What roles do the mind and body play in the acquisition of knowledge?

Descartes and Locke do not provide the same answers to these questions. In this paper I will consider the similarities and differences between the philosophies of Descartes and Locke. I will first briefly consider several similarities. I will then discuss a few important differences in their theories of knowledge (namely the distinction between rationalism and empiricism and the question of the existence of innate ideas). Finally, I will consider the more subtle distinction between the Cartesian and Lockean accounts of self, the role of the mind, and the mind/body distinction. Having enumerated similarities and differences, I will conclude that Descartes and Locke offer fundamentally different philosophies.

Part I:

Although I maintain that the philosophies of Descartes and Locke are different, this does not exclude the possibility of similarities. In fact, I believe there are many points of agreement between Locke and Descartes. Locke 's Essay Concerning Human Understanding is not a direct attack on Descartes; in contrast, it is an account of epistemology which, though not Cartesian, was influenced in part…

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