Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 66.djvu/193

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THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE.

THE PROGRESS OF SCIENCE.

THE TWO HUNDREDTH ANNIVERSARY OF THE DEATH OF LOCKE.

John Locke, who was born on August 29, 1632, died on October 28, 1704, a century before the death of Kant, and two centuries before that of Spencer. The two hundredth anniversary of Locke's death was commemorated by the British Academy, where papers by Professors Fraser and Sir William Pollock were read, and at Johns Hopkins University, where Principal C. Lloyd Morgan, Professor F. J. E. Woodbridge, Professor J. McBride Sterrett, Dr. Wm. T. Harris and Dr. William Osier made addresses. Locke ranks in eminence with his contemporary Leibnitz, who controverted his teaching, and with the sage of Königsberg, upon whom he was destined to exert a powerful influence, although Lockism and Kantism have come to mean almost diametrically opposite ways of regarding the world. The friend of Boyle and Newton, he was always interested in experimental science. As a student and practitioner of medicine, he was intimately associated with Sydenham, by whom he was frequently consulted.

Locke's education was in some respects unconventional and his life one of varied incident. Taught at home until his fourteenth year, he was sent for a time to public school, thence to Oxford, with which he was connected as a student or a lecturer successively in Greek, rhetoric and philosophy for many years. At one time he was dismissed by order of the king for alleged complicity in schemes against the crown, but he was already securely ensconced in Holland, where he became the recipient of the favor of William of Orange, under whom he resumed his residence in England after the great revolution. During the troublous times which preceded, he had been actively interested in business and particularly in political affairs, chiefly through his connection with the Earl of Shaftesbury, and had held important public offices. While living in the family of Shaftesbury, as physician, adviser and general literary and social factotum, he undertook the education of an only son of the household. He took an active part in the formation of the Colony of Carolina and at one time contemplated emigrating to America. Never strong, he especially suffered from poor health after middle life, yet he was always of a cheerful j and sociable disposition. He was well on towards sixty when he began to publish the series of works which have made him famous. The products of mature reflection, each of his books was nevertheless called forth by some concrete situation and directed to a definite, practical end. This circumstance, together with their candor and common-sense and the freshness of their style, which is remarkably free from technicalities, early won for even the most obscure of his productions a favorable reception among all sorts of readers, and gave his writings a permanent place in literature.

The 'Essay concerning the Human Understanding,' his most important book, contains his philosophy of knowledge and his classic contributions to psychology. Philosophy before Locke had been highly metaphysical as to its problems, and dogmatic in its method. It took a fresh start under the criticism of Locke, who deliberately set himself the preliminary task of inquiring 'into the original, certainty and extent of human knowledge, to-