"This Great and Dangerous Impostor": Locke on Prejudice

  • Sorana Corneanu University of Bucharest
Keywords: Locke, prejudice, principles, medicine, logic


“Prejudice” is an understudied chapter in the history of early modern conceptions of epistemic error. It is also a core, albeit largely neglected, notion in John Locke’s normative and practical account of reasoning. In this paper, I aim to analyze the Lockean contours of this notion by highlighting its relations with the idea of unexamined principles and with two of the most dangerous miscarriages of the Lockean mind: the association of ideas and enthusiasm. I also discuss three explanatory contexts that are variously related with medicine: the methodology of medical inquiry in its relation with the natural history of the erring intellect; the medical model of the prevention and cure of disease behind regulative logic; and the analysis of the epistemic role of the imagination in medico-logical literature. Finally, I comment briefly on Locke’s views on the prevention and cure of prejudice.