Tag Archives: Medium

Who did it better?

An Essay concerning Human Understanding, by John Locke is an interesting piece. In chapter 27, he uses an analogy of atoms in order to explain his theory that no two things can exist in the same place.

“let us suppose an atom…if two or more atoms be joined together in the same mass, every one of those atoms will be the same…But if one of these atoms be taken away, or one new one added, it is no longer the same mass, or the same body”(Ch.27;3).

Locke uses scientific concepts in order to reinforce his theory of composition. However, this seems to relate with Plato’s Meno in which Socrates uses mathematics in order to drive his theory.

While different in theory(Socrates trying to prove education, Locke with understanding), they both employ some sort of quantitative medium in which to explain their points.  In regards to who I feel had a stronger analogy, let us analyze the examples. In Meno, Socrates uses a geometric shape with quantitative measurements in the form of numbers. Locke uses atomic theory in its infancy in order to push his point.

I am not saying that Plato’s argument is stronger or better than Locke’s, however in An Essay concerning Human Understanding, Locke employs concepts that were fairly new at the time of his writing, and therefore was not readily understood by everyone. Geometry and measurement has a longer history, with a much more far-reaching audience, explaining how the Slave knew some of what Socrates’ was explaining.