Now consider Locke's claim that a person who is sluggish in all pursuits can be made more vigorous through physical labor. He believes that eventually the child will want to give up the physical labor and return to his studies. He does not consider the possibility that the child will realize that it is physical labor that he really loves. Perhaps the child was always sluggish because he had not found anything he enjoyed so much as physical labor. This scenario, perhaps, is a little less plausible than the former, but it still underscores the point that Locke did not really take the possibility of different natural likes and dislikes seriously.

If we do not take the above examples as conclusive evidence of Locke's dismissive attitude toward the possibility of different natural likes and dislikes, we could always turn to his direct statement to that effect, near the end of the section on toys. When discussing how to cure a strong attachment to a particular toy Locke remarks that children do not inherently like or dislike anything; instead, they simply like what they see others liking and dislike what they see others disliking. Children, he continues, just want to be busy, and busy in the activity of their choice. But what they choose is based entirely on what they see others choosing. While Locke accepts, then, that children have diverging natural behavioral tendencies (cowardly versus brave, empathetic versus cold, open versus reclusive) he does not give any weight to the possibility that children might have different natural preferences in terms of interests and activities. As we will see, this will come into play in several later discussions.

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