But when, for instance, Muhlstein notes parallels in Zola between the representation of landscape and a character’s state of mind, this is not something new to literature: this is the Wordsworthian “egotistical sublime”—or, to take a more local example, the pantheistic trance of Emma Bovary after she has been seduced by Rodolphe in the forest. Contact with painters doubtless suggested new angles of looking and tweaks of lighting. But the book’s subtitle—“How Passion for Art Shaped Nineteenth-Century French Novels”—is overreaching. The fact remains that we don’t read Maupassant for the colors, or Zola for the lighting. We read Zola for the psychological truth, the social observation, and the tragic working-out of determinism. Further, the world of Zola—that “Homer of the sewers,” as the duchess so jauntily puts it in À la Recherche —is essentially one of darkness; the world of Impressionism essentially one of light.
Locke attacks both the view that we have any innate principles (for example, the whole is greater than the part, do unto others as you would have done unto you, etc.) as well as the view that there are any innate singular ideas (for example, God, identity, substance, and so forth). The main thrust of Locke’s argument lies in pointing out that none of the mental content alleged to be innate is universally shared by all humans. He notes that children and the mentally disabled, for example, do not have in their minds an allegedly innate complex thought like “equals taken from equals leave equals”. He also uses evidence from travel literature to point out that many non-Europeans deny what were taken to be innate moral maxims and that some groups even lack the idea of a God. Locke takes the fact that not all humans have these ideas as evidence that they were not implanted by God in humans minds, and that they are therefore acquired rather than innate.