Matthew Stuart has written a very good book. In ambition, scope, and attention to text, it most resembles Michael Ayers's Locke: Epistemology and Ontology. Ayers's book is over twenty years old. Stuart's book is a worthy successor, and, in some respects, a worthy replacement.

Stuart sets for himself the mission of describing every part of Locke's metaphysics. He isn't especially concerned with placing these doctrines in their scientific or theological contexts, and, as a result, the book has a certain focus and fullness. Its hallmark is the use of philosophical sophistication and subtlety to show that passages that seem for all the world to be incompatible are actually consistent. He does this so well that I found it often hard to criticize his readings, even where I prefer another one.

For the most part, Stuart avoids evaluating Locke's positions, though his underlying agreement with them often shines through. An...

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