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Ideas, Locke observes, can become linked in the mind in such a way that having one idea immediately leads one to form another idea, even though the two ideas are not necessarily connected with each other.
Locke was careful to distinguish the notion of sameness of person from the related notions of sameness of body and sameness of man, or human being.
Sameness of body requires identity of matter, and sameness of human being depends on continuity of life (as would the sameness of a certain oak tree from acorn to sapling to maturity); but sameness of person requires something else.
Locke’s account of personal identity became a standard (and highly contested) position in subsequent discussions.
A further influential section of Book II is Locke’s treatment of the association of ideas.
His discussion is the first sustained philosophical inquiry in modern times into the notion of linguistic meaning.
Locke Essay Toleration
As elsewhere, he begins with rather simple and obvious claims but quickly proceeds to complex and contentious ones.
In the course of his account, Locke raises a host of related issues, many of which have since been the source of much debate.
One of them is his illuminating distinction between the “primary” and “secondary” qualities of physical objects.
Whereas complex ideas can be analyzed, or broken down, into the simple or complex ideas of which they are composed, simple ideas cannot be.
The complex idea of a snowball, for example, can be analyzed into the simple ideas of whiteness, roundness, and solidity (among possibly others), but none of the latter ideas can be analyzed into anything simpler.