Locke, Platón a platonismus
Locke, Plato and Platonism
It is often taken for granted that Locke ’s epistemology is about as far away from Plato as it could be. The denial of innate ideas in the first book of the Essay Concerning Human Understanding seems to mark an unbridgeable gulf between them.Yet, a closer look at the actual content of Locke’s book suggests much more agreement than is usually supposed. Although Plato was not much to the fore in Oxford in Locke’s time, matters were very different in Cambridge where Henry More and Ralph Cudworth were the leading philosophers in a group deeply influenced by Platonic and neo-Platonic philosophy. And Locke was well aware of their positions, not least through his close friendship with Cudworth’s daughter, Damaris Masham. Although Locke denied innate ideas he did hold to central claims in Platonic philosophy and his understanding of what we can know was much the same as Plato’s. Thus he argued that we could demonstrate the existence of Deity, that we can know mathematical truths and that moral knowledge was demonstrable. And when it came to knowledge of the physical world he agreed with Plato that it was generally beyond our grasp to reach certainty. The supposed gap between rationalist and empiricist has to be treated with caution when assessing his philosophy.