TODAY IN SCIENCE HISTORY ®  •  TODAYINSCI ®
Celebrating 24 Years on the Web
Find science on or your birthday

Today in Science History - Quickie Quiz
Who said: “Genius is two percent inspiration, ninety-eight percent perspiration.”
more quiz questions >>
Home > Dictionary of Science Quotations > Scientist Names Index L > John Locke Quotes > Mind

Thumbnail of John Locke (source)
John Locke
(29 Aug 1632 - 28 Oct 1704)

English philosopher, physician and philosopher who was the most important philosopher during the Age of Reason.


John Locke Quotes on Mind (13 quotes)

>> Click for 55 Science Quotes by John Locke

>> Click for John Locke Quotes on | Idea | Knowledge | Reason | Thinking | Truth | Understanding |

Every Man being conscious to himself, That he thinks, and that which his Mind is employ'd about whilst thinking, being the Ideas, that are there, 'tis past doubt, that Men have in their Minds several Ideas, such as are those expressed by the words, Whiteness, Hardness, Sweetness, Thinking, Motion, Man, Elephant, Army, Drunkenness, and others: It is in the first place then to be inquired, How he comes by them? I know it is a received Doctrine, That Men have native Ideas, and original Characters stamped upon their Minds, in their very first Being.
— John Locke
An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690). Edited by Peter Nidditch (1975), Book 2, Chapter 1, Section 1, 104.
Science quotes on:  |  Army (35)  |  Being (1276)  |  Character (259)  |  Consciousness (132)  |  Doctrine (81)  |  Doubt (314)  |  Elephant (35)  |  Employ (115)  |  Express (192)  |  First (1302)  |  Himself (461)  |  Idea (881)  |  Know (1538)  |  Man (2252)  |  Mind (1377)  |  Motion (320)  |  Native (41)  |  Other (2233)  |  Past (355)  |  Stamp (36)  |  Sweetness (12)  |  Think (1122)  |  Thinking (425)  |  Word (650)

For the saving the long progression of the thoughts to remote and first principles in every case, the mind should provide itself several stages; that is to say, intermediate principles, which it might have recourse to in the examining those positions that come in its way. These, though they are not self-evident principles, yet, if they have been made out from them by a wary and unquestionable deduction, may be depended on as certain and infallible truths, and serve as unquestionable truths to prove other points depending upon them, by a nearer and shorter view than remote and general maxims. … And thus mathematicians do, who do not in every new problem run it back to the first axioms through all the whole train of intermediate propositions. Certain theorems that they have settled to themselves upon sure demonstration, serve to resolve to them multitudes of propositions which depend on them, and are as firmly made out from thence as if the mind went afresh over every link of the whole chain that tie them to first self-evident principles.
— John Locke
In The Conduct of the Understanding, Sect. 21.
Science quotes on:  |  Afresh (4)  |  Axiom (65)  |  Back (395)  |  Case (102)  |  Certain (557)  |  Chain (51)  |  Deduction (90)  |  Demonstration (120)  |  Depend (238)  |  Do (1905)  |  Evident (92)  |  Examine (84)  |  Firmly (6)  |  First (1302)  |  General (521)  |  Infallible (18)  |  Intermediate (38)  |  Link (48)  |  Long (778)  |  Mathematician (407)  |  Maxim (19)  |  Mind (1377)  |  Multitude (50)  |  Nature Of Mathematics (80)  |  Nearer (45)  |  New (1273)  |  Other (2233)  |  Point (584)  |  Position (83)  |  Principle (530)  |  Problem (731)  |  Progression (23)  |  Proposition (126)  |  Prove (261)  |  Provide (79)  |  Recourse (12)  |  Remote (86)  |  Resolve (43)  |  Run (158)  |  Save (126)  |  Say (989)  |  Self (268)  |  Self-Evident (22)  |  Serve (64)  |  Settle (23)  |  Settled (34)  |  Several (33)  |  Short (200)  |  Stage (152)  |  Themselves (433)  |  Theorem (116)  |  Thought (995)  |  Through (846)  |  Tie (42)  |  Train (118)  |  Truth (1109)  |  Unquestionable (10)  |  View (496)  |  Wary (3)  |  Way (1214)  |  Whole (756)

I have before mentioned mathematics, wherein algebra gives new helps and views to the understanding. If I propose these it is not to make every man a thorough mathematician or deep algebraist; but yet I think the study of them is of infinite use even to grown men; first by experimentally convincing them, that to make anyone reason well, it is not enough to have parts wherewith he is satisfied, and that serve him well enough in his ordinary course. A man in those studies will see, that however good he may think his understanding, yet in many things, and those very visible, it may fail him. This would take off that presumption that most men have of themselves in this part; and they would not be so apt to think their minds wanted no helps to enlarge them, that there could be nothing added to the acuteness and penetration of their understanding.
— John Locke
In The Conduct of the Understanding, Sect. 7.
Science quotes on:  |  Acuteness (3)  |  Add (42)  |  Algebra (117)  |  Anyone (38)  |  Apt (9)  |  Convince (43)  |  Course (413)  |  Deep (241)  |  Enlarge (37)  |  Enough (341)  |  Experimental (193)  |  Fail (191)  |  First (1302)  |  Good (906)  |  Grow (247)  |  Help (116)  |  Infinite (243)  |  Man (2252)  |  Mathematician (407)  |  Mathematics (1395)  |  Mention (84)  |  Mind (1377)  |  Most (1728)  |  New (1273)  |  Nothing (1000)  |  Ordinary (167)  |  Part (235)  |  Penetration (18)  |  Presumption (15)  |  Propose (24)  |  Reason (766)  |  Satisfied (23)  |  See (1094)  |  Serve (64)  |  Study (701)  |  Themselves (433)  |  Thing (1914)  |  Think (1122)  |  Thorough (40)  |  Understand (648)  |  Understanding (527)  |  Use (771)  |  Value Of Mathematics (60)  |  View (496)  |  Visible (87)  |  Want (504)  |  Will (2350)

I have mentioned mathematics as a way to settle in the mind a habit of reasoning closely and in train; not that I think it necessary that all men should be deep mathematicians, but that, having got the way of reasoning which that study necessarily brings the mind to, they might be able to transfer it to other parts of knowledge, as they shall have occasion. For in all sorts of reasoning, every single argument should be managed as a mathematical demonstration; the connection and dependence of ideas should be followed till the mind is brought to the source on which it bottoms, and observes the coherence all along; …
— John Locke
In The Conduct of the Understanding, Sect. 7.
Science quotes on:  |  Argument (145)  |  Bottom (36)  |  Bring (95)  |  Closely (12)  |  Coherence (13)  |  Connection (171)  |  Deep (241)  |  Demonstration (120)  |  Dependence (46)  |  Follow (389)  |  Habit (174)  |  Idea (881)  |  Knowledge (1647)  |  Manage (26)  |  Mathematician (407)  |  Mathematics (1395)  |  Mention (84)  |  Mind (1377)  |  Necessarily (137)  |  Necessary (370)  |  Observe (179)  |  Occasion (87)  |  Other (2233)  |  Part (235)  |  Reason (766)  |  Reasoning (212)  |  Settle (23)  |  Single (365)  |  Sort (50)  |  Source (101)  |  Study (701)  |  Think (1122)  |  Train (118)  |  Transfer (21)  |  Value Of Mathematics (60)  |  Way (1214)

Let us then suppose the Mind to be, as we say, white Paper, void of all Characters, without any Ideas; How comes it to be furnished? Whence comes it by that vast store, which the busy and boundless Fancy of Man has painted on it, with an almost endless variety? Whence has it all the materials of Reason and Knowledge? To this I answer, in one word, from Experience: In that, all our Knowledge is founded; and from that it ultimately derives it self. Our Observation employ’d either about external, sensible Objects; or about the internal Operations of our Minds, perceived and reflected on by our selves, is that, which supplies our Understandings with all the materials of thinking.
— John Locke
In 'Of Ideas in general, and their Original', An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690), Book 2, Chap. 1, Sec. 2, 37.
Science quotes on:  |  Answer (389)  |  Boundless (28)  |  Character (259)  |  Derive (70)  |  Employ (115)  |  Endless (60)  |  Experience (494)  |  Fancy (50)  |  Furnish (97)  |  Idea (881)  |  Internal (69)  |  Knowledge (1647)  |  Man (2252)  |  Material (366)  |  Mind (1377)  |  Object (438)  |  Observation (593)  |  Operation (221)  |  Operations (107)  |  Paper (192)  |  Reason (766)  |  Say (989)  |  Self (268)  |  Store (49)  |  Suppose (158)  |  Thinking (425)  |  Ultimately (56)  |  Understanding (527)  |  Variety (138)  |  Vast (188)  |  Void (31)  |  White (132)  |  Word (650)

Not that we may not, to explain any Phenomena of Nature, make use of any probable Hypothesis whatsoever: Hypotheses, if they are well made, are at least great helps to the Memory, and often direct us to new discoveries. But my Meaning is, that we should not take up anyone too hastily, (which the Mind, that would always penetrate into the Causes of Things, and have Principles to rest on, is very apt to do,) till we have very well examined Particulars, and made several Experiments, in that thing which we would explain by our Hypothesis, and see whether it will agree to them all; whether our Principles will carry us quite through, and not be as inconsistent with one Phenomenon of Nature, as they seem to accommodate and explain another.
— John Locke
An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690). Edited by Peter Nidditch (1975), Book 4, Chapter 12, Section 13, 648.
Science quotes on:  |  Accommodate (17)  |  Carry (130)  |  Cause (561)  |  Direct (228)  |  Discovery (837)  |  Do (1905)  |  Experiment (736)  |  Explain (334)  |  Great (1610)  |  Hastily (7)  |  Hypothesis (314)  |  Meaning (244)  |  Memory (144)  |  Mind (1377)  |  Nature (2017)  |  New (1273)  |  Particular (80)  |  Penetrate (68)  |  Phenomenon (334)  |  Principle (530)  |  Rest (287)  |  See (1094)  |  Thing (1914)  |  Through (846)  |  Use (771)  |  Whatsoever (41)  |  Will (2350)

Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge, it is thinking makes what we read ours.
— John Locke
On the Conduct Of Understanding (written 1697, published posthumously 1706), collected in Works (5th Ed. 1751), Vol. 3, 387.
Science quotes on:  |  Knowledge (1647)  |  Material (366)  |  Mind (1377)  |  Read (308)  |  Reading (136)  |  Thinking (425)  |  Understanding (527)

Secondly, the study of mathematics would show them the necessity there is in reasoning, to separate all the distinct ideas, and to see the habitudes that all those concerned in the present inquiry have to one another, and to lay by those which relate not to the proposition in hand, and wholly to leave them out of the reckoning. This is that which, in other respects besides quantity is absolutely requisite to just reasoning, though in them it is not so easily observed and so carefully practised. In those parts of knowledge where it is thought demonstration has nothing to do, men reason as it were in a lump; and if upon a summary and confused view, or upon a partial consideration, they can raise the appearance of a probability, they usually rest content; especially if it be in a dispute where every little straw is laid hold on, and everything that can but be drawn in any way to give color to the argument is advanced with ostentation. But that mind is not in a posture to find truth that does not distinctly take all the parts asunder, and, omitting what is not at all to the point, draws a conclusion from the result of all the particulars which in any way influence it.
— John Locke
In Conduct of the Understanding, Sect. 7.
Science quotes on:  |  Absolutely (41)  |  Advance (298)  |  Appearance (145)  |  Argument (145)  |  Asunder (4)  |  Carefully (65)  |  Color (155)  |  Concern (239)  |  Conclusion (266)  |  Confused (13)  |  Consideration (143)  |  Content (75)  |  Demonstration (120)  |  Dispute (36)  |  Distinct (98)  |  Distinctly (5)  |  Do (1905)  |  Draw (140)  |  Easily (36)  |  Especially (31)  |  Everything (489)  |  Find (1014)  |  Give (208)  |  Habit (174)  |  Hold (96)  |  Idea (881)  |  Influence (231)  |  Inquiry (88)  |  Knowledge (1647)  |  Laid (7)  |  Little (717)  |  Lump (5)  |  Mathematics (1395)  |  Mind (1377)  |  Necessity (197)  |  Nothing (1000)  |  Observe (179)  |  Observed (149)  |  Omit (12)  |  Other (2233)  |  Part (235)  |  Partial (10)  |  Particular (80)  |  Point (584)  |  Posture (7)  |  Practise (7)  |  Present (630)  |  Probability (135)  |  Proposition (126)  |  Quantity (136)  |  Raise (38)  |  Reason (766)  |  Reasoning (212)  |  Reckon (31)  |  Reckoning (19)  |  Requisite (12)  |  Respect (212)  |  Rest (287)  |  Result (700)  |  See (1094)  |  Separate (151)  |  Show (353)  |  Straw (7)  |  Study (701)  |  Summary (11)  |  Thought (995)  |  Truth (1109)  |  Usually (176)  |  Value Of Mathematics (60)  |  View (496)  |  Way (1214)  |  Wholly (88)

Such propositions are therefore called Eternal Truths, not because they are Eternal Truths, not because they are External Propositions actually formed, and antecedent to the Understanding, that at any time makes them; nor because they are imprinted on the Mind from any patterns, that are any where out of the mind, and existed before: But because, being once made, about abstract Ideas, so as to be true, they will, whenever they can be supposed to be made again at any time, past or to come, by a Mind having those Ideas, always actually be true. For names being supposed to stand perpetually for the same ideas, and the same ideas having immutably the same habitudes one to another, Propositions concerning any abstract Ideas that are once true, must needs be eternal Verities.
— John Locke
An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690). Edited by Peter Nidditch (1975), Book 4, Chapter 11, Section 14, 638-9.
Science quotes on:  |  Abstract (141)  |  Being (1276)  |  Call (781)  |  Eternal (113)  |  Exist (458)  |  Form (976)  |  Idea (881)  |  Mind (1377)  |  Must (1525)  |  Name (359)  |  Past (355)  |  Pattern (116)  |  Perpetually (20)  |  Proposition (126)  |  Stand (284)  |  Time (1911)  |  Truth (1109)  |  Understanding (527)  |  Whenever (81)  |  Will (2350)

The senses at first let in particular Ideas, and furnish the yet empty Cabinet: And the Mind by degrees growing familiar with some of them, they are lodged in the Memory, and Names got to them.
— John Locke
An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690). Edited by Peter Nidditch (1975), Book I, Chapter 2, Section 15, 55.
Science quotes on:  |  Degree (277)  |  Empty (82)  |  First (1302)  |  Furnish (97)  |  Growing (99)  |  Idea (881)  |  Memory (144)  |  Mind (1377)  |  Name (359)  |  Sense (785)  |  Understanding (527)

Those intervening ideas, which serve to show the agreement of any two others, are called proofs; and where the agreement or disagreement is by this means plainly and clearly perceived, it is called demonstration; it being shown to the understanding, and the mind made to see that it is so. A quickness in the mind to find out these intermediate ideas, (that shall discover the agreement or disagreement of any other) and to apply them right, is, I suppose, that which is called sagacity.
— John Locke
In An Essay concerning Human Understanding, Bk. 6, chaps. 2, 3.
Science quotes on:  |  Agreement (55)  |  Apply (170)  |  Being (1276)  |  Call (781)  |  Clearly (45)  |  Demonstration (120)  |  Disagreement (14)  |  Discover (571)  |  Find (1014)  |  Find Out (25)  |  Idea (881)  |  Intermediate (38)  |  Intervene (8)  |  Mean (810)  |  Means (587)  |  Mind (1377)  |  Nature Of Mathematics (80)  |  Other (2233)  |  Perceive (46)  |  Plainly (5)  |  Proof (304)  |  Quickness (5)  |  Right (473)  |  Sagacity (11)  |  See (1094)  |  Serve (64)  |  Show (353)  |  Suppose (158)  |  Two (936)  |  Understand (648)  |  Understanding (527)

We have hitherto considered those Ideas, in the reception whereof, the Mind is only passive, which are those simple ones received from Sensation and Reflection before-mentioned, whereof the Mind cannot make anyone to it self, nor have any Idea which does not wholy consist of them. But as these simple Ideas are observed to exist in several Combinations united together; so the Mind has a power to consider several of them united together, as one Idea; and that not only as they are united in external Objects, but as it self has joined them. Ideas thus made up of several simple ones put together, I call Complex; such as are Beauty, Gratitude, a Man, an Army, the Universe; which tough complicated various simple Ideas, made up of simple ones, yet are, when the Mind pleases, considered each by if self, as one entire thing, and signified by one name.
— John Locke
An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690). Edited by Peter Nidditch (1975), Book 2, Chapter 12, Section 1, 163-4.
Science quotes on:  |  Army (35)  |  Beauty (313)  |  Call (781)  |  Combination (150)  |  Complex (202)  |  Complicated (117)  |  Consider (428)  |  Consist (223)  |  Exist (458)  |  Gratitude (14)  |  Idea (881)  |  Man (2252)  |  Mention (84)  |  Mind (1377)  |  Name (359)  |  Object (438)  |  Observed (149)  |  Please (68)  |  Power (771)  |  Reception (16)  |  Reflection (93)  |  Self (268)  |  Sensation (60)  |  Simple (426)  |  Thing (1914)  |  Together (392)  |  Tough (22)  |  Universe (900)  |  Various (205)

Would you have a man reason well, you must use him to it betimes; exercise his mind in observing the connection between ideas, and following them in train. Nothing does this better than mathematics, which therefore, I think should be taught to all who have the time and opportunity, not so much to make them mathematicians, as to make them reasonable creatures; for though we all call ourselves so, because we are born to it if we please, yet we may truly say that nature gives us but the seeds of it, and we are carried no farther than industry and application have carried us.
— John Locke
In Conduct of the Understanding, Sect. 6.
Science quotes on:  |  Application (257)  |  Better (493)  |  Born (37)  |  Call (781)  |  Carry (130)  |  Connection (171)  |  Creature (242)  |  Exercise (113)  |  Far (158)  |  Farther (51)  |  Follow (389)  |  Give (208)  |  Idea (881)  |  Industry (159)  |  Man (2252)  |  Mathematician (407)  |  Mathematics (1395)  |  Mind (1377)  |  Must (1525)  |  Nature (2017)  |  Nothing (1000)  |  Observe (179)  |  Opportunity (95)  |  Ourselves (247)  |  Please (68)  |  Reason (766)  |  Reasonable (29)  |  Say (989)  |  Seed (97)  |  Teach (299)  |  Think (1122)  |  Time (1911)  |  Train (118)  |  Truly (118)  |  Use (771)  |  Value Of Mathematics (60)


See also:
  • 29 Aug - short biography, births, deaths and events on date of Locke's birth.

Carl Sagan Thumbnail In science it often happens that scientists say, 'You know that's a really good argument; my position is mistaken,' and then they would actually change their minds and you never hear that old view from them again. They really do it. It doesn't happen as often as it should, because scientists are human and change is sometimes painful. But it happens every day. I cannot recall the last time something like that happened in politics or religion. (1987) -- Carl Sagan
Quotations by:Albert EinsteinIsaac NewtonLord KelvinCharles DarwinSrinivasa RamanujanCarl SaganFlorence NightingaleThomas EdisonAristotleMarie CurieBenjamin FranklinWinston ChurchillGalileo GalileiSigmund FreudRobert BunsenLouis PasteurTheodore RooseveltAbraham LincolnRonald ReaganLeonardo DaVinciMichio KakuKarl PopperJohann GoetheRobert OppenheimerCharles Kettering  ... (more people)

Quotations about:Atomic  BombBiologyChemistryDeforestationEngineeringAnatomyAstronomyBacteriaBiochemistryBotanyConservationDinosaurEnvironmentFractalGeneticsGeologyHistory of ScienceInventionJupiterKnowledgeLoveMathematicsMeasurementMedicineNatural ResourceOrganic ChemistryPhysicsPhysicianQuantum TheoryResearchScience and ArtTeacherTechnologyUniverseVolcanoVirusWind PowerWomen ScientistsX-RaysYouthZoology  ... (more topics)
Sitewide search within all Today In Science History pages:
Visit our Science and Scientist Quotations index for more Science Quotes from archaeologists, biologists, chemists, geologists, inventors and inventions, mathematicians, physicists, pioneers in medicine, science events and technology.

Names index: | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |

Categories index: | 1 | 2 | A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | N | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z |
Thank you for sharing.
- 100 -
Sophie Germain
Gertrude Elion
Ernest Rutherford
James Chadwick
Marcel Proust
William Harvey
Johann Goethe
John Keynes
Carl Gauss
Paul Feyerabend
- 90 -
Antoine Lavoisier
Lise Meitner
Charles Babbage
Ibn Khaldun
Euclid
Ralph Emerson
Robert Bunsen
Frederick Banting
Andre Ampere
Winston Churchill
- 80 -
John Locke
Bronislaw Malinowski
Bible
Thomas Huxley
Alessandro Volta
Erwin Schrodinger
Wilhelm Roentgen
Louis Pasteur
Bertrand Russell
Jean Lamarck
- 70 -
Samuel Morse
John Wheeler
Nicolaus Copernicus
Robert Fulton
Pierre Laplace
Humphry Davy
Thomas Edison
Lord Kelvin
Theodore Roosevelt
Carolus Linnaeus
- 60 -
Francis Galton
Linus Pauling
Immanuel Kant
Martin Fischer
Robert Boyle
Karl Popper
Paul Dirac
Avicenna
James Watson
William Shakespeare
- 50 -
Stephen Hawking
Niels Bohr
Nikola Tesla
Rachel Carson
Max Planck
Henry Adams
Richard Dawkins
Werner Heisenberg
Alfred Wegener
John Dalton
- 40 -
Pierre Fermat
Edward Wilson
Johannes Kepler
Gustave Eiffel
Giordano Bruno
JJ Thomson
Thomas Kuhn
Leonardo DaVinci
Archimedes
David Hume
- 30 -
Andreas Vesalius
Rudolf Virchow
Richard Feynman
James Hutton
Alexander Fleming
Emile Durkheim
Benjamin Franklin
Robert Oppenheimer
Robert Hooke
Charles Kettering
- 20 -
Carl Sagan
James Maxwell
Marie Curie
Rene Descartes
Francis Crick
Hippocrates
Michael Faraday
Srinivasa Ramanujan
Francis Bacon
Galileo Galilei
- 10 -
Aristotle
John Watson
Rosalind Franklin
Michio Kaku
Isaac Asimov
Charles Darwin
Sigmund Freud
Albert Einstein
Florence Nightingale
Isaac Newton


by Ian Ellis
who invites your feedback
Thank you for sharing.
Today in Science History
Sign up for Newsletter
with quiz, quotes and more.