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"Beyond The Smoke Of Their Own Chimneys": Travel Literature And Innate Ideas

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Chapter Summary

The subject of Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding was, as Locke told the reader in his opening epistle, "the most elevated Faculty of the Soul". Ferguson claimed that Shaftesbury had adopted Arianism after reading chapter 10 of Locke's Essay. In denying the reality of innate ideas Locke was open to the charge that he was undermining the tenets of revealed religion, and those who challenged religious authority might also be guilty of challenging political authority. Travel literature, which showed the great variety of human social behaviour, customs and beliefs, offered the most serious challenge to the doctrine of innate ideas. Locke allowed that the pursuit of happiness was innate, and in the Two Treatises he argued that the desire for self preservation was planted in man. Locke called on those who argued that there were universally agreed moral principles to look "beyond the Smoak of their own Chimneys"..

Keywords: innate idea; Locke's Essay Concerning Human Understanding; revealed religion; Shaftesbury; travel literature; Two Treatises



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