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John Locke on the Human Soul the Way of Henry More

digital John Locke on the Human Soul
the Way of Henry More
section Online First
title John Locke on the Human Soul the Way of Henry More
publisher Vita e Pensiero
format Article | Pdf
online since 06-2020
doi 10.26350/001050_000206
issn 00356247 (print) | 18277926 (digital)
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My aim is to highlight how much some controversial aspects of Locke’s views of the human soul may be clarified by confronting them with the thought of the Neoplatonic Henry More. Sound evidence in the Essay and elsewhere suggests that More’s theory of spiritual substances was congenial to Locke, for it represented an attractive alternative both to Cartesian dualism and Hobbes’ materialism. Locke followed More in considering self-motion, not thinking, as the proper attribute of spirits; like More, he attributed extension and motility to spiritual substances. Both More and Locke insisted on the close union between body and soul; both conceived of the soul as impenetrable by other spirits. As Jasper Reid has noted, More’s idea of spiritual substances introduced a form of «quasi materialism»; the paper suggests that Locke’s views went in this direction, although he did not follow More in attributing a natural immortality to the human soul.


John Locke, Henry More, Soul, Thinking, Body

Author biography

Università degli Studi “G. d’Annunzio”, Chieti-Pescara. Email: