more from John Locke

Single Idea 12507

[catalogued under 9. Objects / C. Structure of Objects / 5. Composition of an Object]

Full Idea

Whilst they exist united together, the mass consisting of the same atoms must be the same mass, ...but if one of those atoms be taken away, or one new one added, it is no longer the same mass, or the same body.

Gist of Idea

A mass consists of its atoms, so the addition or removal of one changes its identity


John Locke (Essay Conc Human Understanding (2nd Ed) [1694], 2.27.03)

Book Reference

Locke,John: 'Essay Concerning Human Understanding', ed/tr. Nidditch,P.H. [OUP 1979], p.330

A Reaction

This is clearly a 'strict and philosophical' usage, rather than a 'loose and popular' one - indeed, so strict as to be ridiculous. Knowing what we do now of quantum activity (emission of photons etc), we would abandon 'identity' totally.