Simple Ideas (Locke)

*Simple Ideas *

Having described the origins of ideas, Locke turned his attention to the
ideas themselves. He described certain ideas as being simple. Simple
ideas are “uncompounded appearances” (Book II, Chapter 2, Section 1).
These homogeneous ideas, Locke added, are not of our own making and not
subject to destruction by any act of our mind. Lockean simple ideas
resemble very much the corpuscles of Boyle and the atomists, and they
have come to be known as “psychological atoms.”

Simple ideas are classified in the following way. (The list is partial.)

* Simple ideas of sensation
o Proper to one sense
+ Proper to vision
# Color
# Light
+ Proper to touch
# Heat/Cold
# Solidity
o Common to vision and touch
+ Space or extension
+ Figure or shape
+ Motion/Rest
* Simple ideas of reflection
o Perception
o Volition
* Simple ideas of sensation and reflection
o Pleasure/Pain
o Power
o Existence
o Unity
o Succession

This array of simple ideas is enough raw material for the mind to carry
out all of its functions. We shall return to some of these simple ideas
later, but it should be noted now that all of them are discovered by
mere observation. If you want to know what solidity is, Locke
illustrated, squeeze a football and feel the resistance (Book II,
Chapter 4, Section 6).

[Locke Lecture Notes: UC Davis Philosophy 22N (Mattey)](

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