By Frederick Charles Copleston
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Additional resources for A History of Philosophy [Vol V]
The human mind is not a tabula rasa; rather does it resemble a closed book which is opened on the presentation of sense-experience. And experience would not be possible without these 'common notions'. On this last point Lord Herbert, as commentators have pointed out, anticipated in some degree a conviction which at a much later date was defended by Kant. But Lord Herbert does not provide any systematic deduction of these a priori notions or truths; nor does he attempt to tell us what they all are.
If we confined our attention to matters which fall within the scope of the human intellect, we should make progress in knowledge, and less occasion would be given for scepticism. But though it is understandable that he asked the question, its formulation, as given above, is unfortunate. For how, it may be asked, can we distinguish between the objects with which the mind is capable of dealing and those with which it is incapable of dealing without passing beyond the scope of the mind? Or the objection can be expressed in this way.
When Locke started studying philosophy at Oxford, he found there a debased and rather petrified form of Scholasticism for which he conceived a great distaste, regarding it as 'perplexed' with obscure terms and useless questions. No doubt, like some other Renaissance and modern philosophers who revolted against Aristotelian Scholasticism, he was more influenced by it than he himseU was aware; but his interest in philosophy was aroused by his private reading of Descartes rather than by what was then being taught at Oxford.
A History of Philosophy [Vol V] by Frederick Charles Copleston