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Locke on Personal IdentityConsciousness and Concernment$
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Galen Strawson

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780691161006

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691161006.001.0001

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“Consciousness … is inseparable from thinking”

“Consciousness … is inseparable from thinking”

(p.42) Chapter Six “Consciousness … is inseparable from thinking”
Locke on Personal Identity

Galen Strawson

Princeton University Press

This chapter examines John Locke's statement that consciousness is “inseparable from thinking, and, as it seems to me, essential to it: it being impossible for any one to perceive without perceiving that he does perceive.” It suggests that Locke, as well as the most sensible of philosophers, doesn't think that we spend our whole lives having—and indeed principally occupied with—explicitly second-order thoughts or experiences. It also considers Locke's argument that “when we see, hear, smell, taste, feel, meditate, or will anything, we know that we do so,” something that we ordinarily take to be straightforwardly true, but we don't for a moment think (obviously falsely) that all these things necessarily involve some sort of explicit or express or reflective or “full” self-consciousness. The chapter asserts that Locke in this case is simply talking about the “immediate givenness” of experience.

Keywords:   experience, John Locke, consciousness, thinking, second-order thought, self-consciousness, immediate givenness

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