chapter  13
12 Pages

The Standing and Reputation of John Locke


There can be no doubt that Locke occupies a place among the insiders in the history of seventeenth-century philosophy. And as that is so obvious I shall not argue for it here. He, Descartes, Spinoza and Leibniz are the most unproblematic fi gures in the landscape of the century, and it was he, above all, who was to dominate the following century. So the object of this chapter is to say something about the factors which contributed to that outcome rather than to proving that it occurred. It is worth pointing out, however, that for a philosopher to dominate a period of history is not to say that everybody became his disciple. It is, rather, to say that most of the discussions of philosophy began from answers which he gave and issues which he raised. None of the great philosophers of the following century were Lockeans, though many were empiricists, even though they were all indebted to his work. It was in this sense that he set the philosophical landscape for a century or more.