Incogitative being cannot produce a cogitative being

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According to John Locke:[1]

  • There are two sorts of beings: cogitative (thoughtful/contemplating) and incogitative (non-thoughtful/non-contemplating)
  • Incogitative being cannot produce a cogitative being
  • Therefore, there has been an Eternal Wisdom

Locke supports the second axiom as follows:

"Let us suppose any parcel of matter eternal, great or small, we shall find it, in itself, able to produce nothing. For example: let us suppose the matter of the next pebble we meet with eternal, closely united, and the parts firmly at rest together; if there were no other being in the world, must it not eternally remain so, a dead inactive lump? Is it possible to conceive it can add motion to itself, being purely matter, or produce anything? Matter, then, by its own strength, cannot produce in itself so much as motion[1]"

This is reminiscent of the argument of the unmoved mover.

Counter arguments

The assumption that "incogitative being cannot produce a cogitative being" is wrong. A huge amount of evidence supports evolution and that cognitive beings arose from simpler life forms. Locke was also ignorant in how matter can produce motion (fusion within stars was not understood in his day). At the very least, the apologist has not demonstrated this claim is true.

Locke has not ruled out the possibility of an infinite chain of cogitative beings.

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 [1]
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