John Sergeant Bibliography

Solid Philosophy Asserted, against the Fancies of the Idealists: or, the Method to Science farther illustrated. With Reflexions on Mr. Locke’s Essay concerning Human Understanding 1697
Solid Philosophy Asserted occupies pp.1-112, and the remainder of the text is taken up with twenty-two Reflexions on Locke’s Essay.  “Concerning this treatise Locke writes in a letter to Molyneux: ‘Mr. Sergeant, a Popish priest, whom you must needs have heard of has bestowed a thick octavo upon my Essay’.  It was Sergeant’s intention to restore the Aristotelian philosophy and to undermine the doctrines of Descartes and Locke. He treats of these two modern philosophers equally and indifferently and charges their way of certainty by ideas with scepticism: ideas are mere fancies. Sergeant will show a new way to truth, a method built on things as they are in nature, not on ideas or similitudes.”  Christophersen, p.43. Locke annotated his copy of this work; the notes were published in Locke’s unpublished marginal replies to John Sergeant by John W. Yolton in ‘Journal of the History of Ideas,’ 1951.

Sergeant was ordained as a Roman Catholic priest in 1650 and in 1652 he was sent to Lisbon to defend the Catholic cause. In 1675 he lived in France with Bossuet. He published 34 works, mainly pamphlets, in which he engaged in controversies with Bishop Stillingfleet, Jeremy Taylor, Bishop Tillotson and Archbishop Peter Talbot.