John Locke's Philosophy of Science and Metaphysics

Author: Mashhad Al-Allaf
Locke’s account of the problem of cohesion reflects a serious difficulty in his philosophy because of the way in which he relates it to the problem of substance in his search for something that not only underlies all properties in the traditional Aristotelian sense, but also holds the constituents of matter together. Contrary to common interpretation, this book argues that Locke did not have in mind a metaphysical entity which underlies qualities. Rather, he was more inclined to think that something like a cohesive power is what functions as the “bond” that hold holds together, not only the qualities of a substance, but its individual corpuscles, and on a deeper level even the parts of the corpuscle.


"The intimate relation that Al-Allaf uncovers between Locke’s treatment of the problem of cohesion and his theory of substance sheds new light on how we are to read this, perhaps most difficulty, element of his philosophy ... This new and original reading of Locke takes us some way towards patching his doctrine of substance back into the broad sweep of Locke’s philosophy.” - Dr. John Sarnecki, Professor of Philosophy, University of Toledo

“Professor Al-Allaf’s book ... fills an important vacuum in modern thought by drawing attention to an important and frequently neglect problem: the mystery of physical reality ... Dr. Al-Allaf shows, through a careful examination of Locke and his contemporary commentators, that the problem of cohesion is much deeper than is normally supposed in the literature, and in fact concerns the internal cohesion of the most fundamental particles of matter ... This is an important and provocative contribution to the ongoing debates concerning philosophical naturalism.”- Dr. Omar Mirza, Assistant Professor of Philosophy, St. Cloud State University

Table of Contents

Preface by John Sarnecki
I. Qualities, Powers and Relations
1. Three Levels of Locke’s Agnosticism
2. Qualities in General
3. Three Approaches to Qualities
4. Primary Qualities
5. Solidity as Problematic
6. Characteristics of Primary Qualities
7. The Idea of Power
8. The Relational Approach to Secondary Qualities
9. The Reductionist Approach to Secondary Qualities
10. Texture
11. Power and Cohesion
12. Tertiary or the Third kind of Qualities
13. Conclusion
II. Power, Substance, and Real Essence
1. Different Approaches to Locke’s Substance in General
2. Substance in General: Locke’s Non-Traditional Treatment
3. Substance as Support or Substratum of Ideas
4. The Obscurity of the Idea of Substance
5. The Real Essence Approach
6. Real Essence and Nominal Essence
7. Further Commentary on the Problem of Substance
i. Mandelbaum
ii. Ayers
iii. Bennett
iv. Bolton
v. Alexander
8. Conclusion
III. Substance and the Mystery of Cohesion
1. Introduction
2. Locke and Stillingfleet: Substance Not Identified with Real Essence
3. Some Approaches to the Problem of Cohesion
4. Locke’s Response to Prior Approaches
5. Solidity as the “Substance” of Bodies
6. Solidity, Hardness, and Cohesion
7. Cohesion as the “Substance” of Bodies
8. Appendix: Leibniz on Force
9. Conclusion
Epilogue: The Mystery of Nature and the Divine