Locke’s Fourth Argument Essay - Essay Prowess

Locke’s Fourth Argument Essay


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Locke’s Fourth Argument

Thesis statement

In this paper, I tend to delve into the insights of Locke’s fourth argument.

Short explanation of Locke’s fourth argument

Locke’s fourth argument was an attempt to grasp at the nature of what knowledge is and how knowledge can be found. According to Locke, knowledge in its most basic form involves what the mid is able to perceive by making reasonable judgment of a given connection or the lack of such a connection in a case where an individual has more than one idea in a given place and time (Marshall,1994). Knowledge therefore involves the relationship between ideas possessed by the mind and what human beings consider as knowledge and are capable of having is not limited to the knowledge of the world.

Locke sought to provide disagreements and agreements through which reason can be perceived to produce knowledge. These include diversity and identity; relationship between objects or ideas; coexistence between different ideas and objects and the inherent reality that existence of objects and ideas not because of what is in the mind but because they do exist. Locke went on to further discriminate among three degrees or grades of knowledge. The first degree being intuition which is the ability to instantly perceive a disagreement or agreement once an idea is understood. The second degree he explained was demonstration which involves the need for proof (Williams and Waldron, 2008). The third degree of knowledge is what is referred to as sensitive knowledge which involves the acknowledgement of the existence a peripheral world which bears an approximate resemblance to the world as human beings perceive it to be.

Phantom pains in amputees in relation to locks argument

Locke argued that the peripheral world had a significant impact on the ideas we conceive. It is common to hear of amputees who have lost part of their body organs to whatever incident report of pains in a part of the body that is no longer there. As such Locke suggests that perceptions are not only found in memories and products of our imaginations but also through the relations of the other senses such as sight, hearing which interact to strengthen the effect of an overall sensation (Marshall,1994).

False external sensation leading to false perceptions

As such he points out that a man born with no sense of sight can in no way be able to perceive the sight of the sunset as is perceived by others as he will only relate to it through warmth of the sun and the description offered to him by other as they perceive it. Taking that organs do remain constant, the experiences we encounter appear to change infinitely thus the deduction that organ are in no way limitations of what we perceive as ideas from the outside world. The correlations among the five common senses are indeed supplemented by the ideas which belong to different people. An amputee will thus experience phantom pains in a part of the body no longer their based on past experiences stored as memories coupled with perceptions of the existing five senses (Walton, 1998). Thus false external sensations will ultimately lead to unreal perceptions.

Locke’s argument re-analyzed

Arguments founded on inference towards the best possible explanation fail to approach a conclusive proof. It is important to note that Locke seems to be aware of such a limitation. He therefore hopes only to form some robust likelihood with regard to the existence of an external world. It is thus necessary for one to query as to how available knowledge with regard to the existence of the peripheral world. The skeptical reality is such that Locke’s theory most of the knowledge he perceives people to have is in essence beyond grasp (Williams and Waldron, 2008).

To try and understand how knowledge of the external word can be acquired there is the need to reanalyze Locke’s theory on human understanding.  This can be done in two ways, both of which were apparently unavailable to Locke. The first way is to make an attempt towards proving the existence of a peripheral world priori based on both reason and intrinsic concepts (Walton, 1998). This was unavailable to Locke as he was an empiricist. The epistemology on which Locke based his work was founded on the precept all the knowledge that one has is based on past experiences.

Empirical knowledge can be acquired in two ways, that which we acquire by respect of our experiences and that which get through explanations of what is immediately made available to us. The first kind of empirical knowledge is what is referred to as intuitive knowledge. This aids us in getting more to the certain truth rather than the second form of knowledge (Marshall,1994). From an ontological point of philosophy one can deduce that to show the truth of this claim provides the most probable truth for the presented evidence.


John Locke’s arguments are purely philosophical in nature and thus do not have a profound effect of how one tends to perceive nature and the world around him or her by extension. Whether or not there can be proof of the existence of a peripheral world is of no concern to him but rather the need to convey the idea that experiences do give rise to meaningful ideas.


Marshall, J. (1994). John Locke: Resistance, Religion and Responsibility. Cambridge Studies in Early Modern British History. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Walton, D. N. (1998). The New Dialetic: Conversational Contexts of Argument. Toronto Studies in Philosophy Series. Toronto: University of Toronto Press.

Williams, M. S. and Waldron, J. (2008).Toleration and Its Limits. New York: NYU Press.