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Locke's Metaphysics shows Locke to be a more consistent, systematic and interesting metaphysician than is generally appreciated. It defends him against charges of muddling the definition of 'quality', of waffling between two conceptions of secondary qualities, and of vacillating in his commitment to mechanism. It shows how his rejection of essentialism leads him to embrace relativism about identity, and that his relativism about identity is the key to defending his account of personal identity against several objections.
Yet the picture of Locke that emerges is not always a familiar one. Stuart's account reveals that he is a philosopher who denies the existence of relations, who takes bodies to be colored only so long as we are looking at them, and who is not committed to mechanism. He shows that Locke takes persons to be three-dimensional beings whose pasts are 'gappy' rather than continuous. Finally, he shows that Locke is a volitionist who holds that we can will only our own thoughts and bodily motions, and not such episodes as lighting a candle or turning the pages of a book.
Matthew Stuart is Professor of Philosophy at Bowdoin College. He is the author of several articles on early modern philosophy in journals including Journal of the History of Philosophy, British Journal for the History of Philosophy, and Philosophical Review.