Still pondering over my conversation with the Offshore Pirate I went back to studying. A test about Locke’s ‘An Essay concerning Human Understanding’ was coming up soon and the reading wasn’t going as fast as it should. To be honest, I didn’t really care about John Locke and his big thoughts on whatever he was writing about. His style of writing had the tendency to make me wonder if there was anything good left in philosophy. He made these long and dreary sentences in which he contradicted himself and even disagreed with himself. Why do philosophers do this? Why do they have this crazy need to write in such a way that no one understands them? Are they being pretentious or just crazy?
At the end of the next page I had completely forgotten what I had read not even a minute ago. This wasn’t going anywhere. I needed to find someone who could explain all of this in a nutshell, and I knew just were to go!
Back in Olden England I found John Locke sitting at his desk.
‘Forsooth, Mister Locke! I have come to ask you a question!’ Apparently I frightened him and the surprisingly young man jumped up from his chair.
‘Who are you?!’
‘I’m Polly, from the future.’ I scared him even more. ‘It’s ok. I met a pirate before. We had a nice chat. I was hoping we could do the same.’
‘A pirate? Are you a witch? That can’t be… I don’t believe in witches. At least, I have never really seen one, so I can’t tell you with certainty that they exist or not.’ The confusion made me smile. Philosophers were meant to be confused.
‘I can assure you I am not a witch. Just a girl with a question.’
‘Questions, huh? I know those. I’ve been trying to answer them in my book, but I can’t seem to quite grasp it.’
‘I know how you feel.’
‘Well, to be honest. I’m reading your book and I don’t really get it. I was wondering if you could explain it to me.’
‘Are you referring to my treatise, because I think it pretty much speaks for itself.’
‘I’m talking about An Essay Concerning Human Understanding.’
‘But that’s not even finished yet! How can you expect it to make sense?!’ I had seemed to make him angry. He didn’t seem to be a big fan of criticism.
‘Excuse me, Miss Polly. I have been under a lot of stress. I just can’t seem to put my thoughts into words. How did you read my essay, if I may ask?’
‘I’m from the future, remember. Your book is a pretty big hit. You shouldn’t worry too much about it.’
‘Really? That makes me feel a lot better. I needed a little pick me up.’ He smiled and sat back at his desk. Without a word he started writing like a crazy person. He had forgotten all about me.
‘Mr. Locke, you can’t just forget about me.’ Again he jumped up.
‘Excuse me. I was suddenly overwhelmed with inspiration. You seem to be a positive influence. Who are you?’
‘You should really pay more attention, Mr Locke. I’m Polly, from the future and I came to ask you a question about your book.’
‘Yes, I remember. But you had a question about my unfinished book. I really think you should wait until it is finished. I promise it will answer all your questions.’ I sighed. Derrida had been right after all, conversing was really impossible. I needed to use a different approach to find an answer.
‘John Locke, why do you believe in God if you only believe what you see?’
Locke looked at me inquisitive and I saw him thinking. We stared at each other until it felt uncomfortable and then he began to speak.
‘God is a tricky one. I wouldn’t call the idea of God certain. Do you know that many foreign cultures do not recognize God? They don’t. Not our God at least. So if the idea of God isn’t something that is everywhere how can we be certain he exists? This means the idea of God isn’t intuition. Then what is it? The idea of God must then be demonstrative knowledge. This is a kind of knowledge that shows itself through reasoning. It is clear knowledge, but not anyone is able to put the ideas together to see the knowledge. So what are the ideas we can be curtain of that proves the existence of God? We know with certainty that we exist and that the world around us exists. That is knowledge we cannot doubt. But how did we get into existence? You cannot create something if there is not something there already. If you have nothing, you can only make more nothing. So from this we can reason that there has always been something. This something must have always been there. Because if something exists for an eternity it doesn’t have a beginning in which there was nothing. So this eternal something is also certain knowledge. Combine this with the certainty of our existence and you would have to find the believe that we were created by something eternal, a most powerful and knowledgeable Being. Because without the existence of such a Being, there could be nothing.’
The sudden flood of words had caught me off guard.
‘Does that make sense?’ Locke asked me.
‘I’m not sure. I see where you’re going with this, but to be honest, I’m not convinced. You are the man of ‘seeing before believing’. Then why are you so eager to accept these certainties? I get that you need to explain some of our instincts, but why God?’ John Locke smiled at me.
‘You think in an interesting way. I will come back to you on this. I need time to think. I also need to get back to my writing. Do you mind, Miss Polly?’
‘No, not at all. I need to go home anyways. Need to finish your book.’ He smiled again. ‘I do need to say, Mr. Locke. You make more sense when you talk then when you write. Maybe you should think about writing more like that.’
‘I will do that. It was nice meeting you. I’ll send you a copy of my book when it is finished.’ Knowing that he could never keep this promise I said goodbye. As I walked out his door I remembered one last thing I wanted to tell him.
‘Oh Mr. Locke. I just wanted to say that you look way better than the John Locke from Lost. He has a big scar on his face. It doesn’t look that nice. But you have nice hair.’ I giggled and left the famous philosopher clueless. It was time to go home and study.