An Essay Concerning Human Understanding Short Essay - Answer Key

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1. What benefits do humans receive from understanding, according to Locke?

In Locke's account, understanding allows us to reason, to create technology, and to organize our environment.

2. In what way is understanding limited, according to Locke?

Understanding is bound by perception, and it is an instrument of perception which is closed to direct perception itself, since it is always working on, and interpreting sensory information.

3. What arguments does Locke make against Descartes' philosophy?

Locke argues against two points made by Descartes: first, that introspection can give a person access to workings of their understanding; second, that knowledge begins in doubt. Locke argues against the first by pointing out that we are excluded from witnessing understanding, only its consequences and forms. He argues against the second by saying that understanding comes from God, and it ought to be up to the task of inquiring into the nature of ideas and things.

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