[ An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. ]
An Essay Concerning Human Understanding concerns the foundation of human knowledge and understanding. Locke describes the mind at birth as a blank slate filled later through experience.
[ An Essay Concerning Human Understanding.]
Oxford University Press is in the process of producing a new edition ofall of Locke's works. This will supersede The Works of JohnLocke of which the 1823 edition is probably the most standard. Thenew Clarendon editions began with Peter Nidditch's edition of AnEssay Concerning Human Understanding in 1975. The Oxford Clarendoneditions contain much of the material of the Lovelace collection,purchased and donated to Oxford by Paul Mellon. This treasure trove ofLocke's works and letters, which includes early drafts of theEssay and much other material, comes down from Peter King,Locke's nephew, who inherited Locke's papers. Access to these papershas given scholars in the twentieth century a much better view ofLocke's philosophical development and provided a window into thedetails of his activities which is truly remarkable. Hence the newedition of Locke's works will very likely be definitive.
John Locke's classic work An Essay Concerning Human Understanding laid the foundation of British empiricism and remains of enduring interest today. Rejecting doctrines of innate principles and ideas, Locke shows how all our ideas, even the most abstract and complex, are grounded in human experience--attained by sensation of external things or reflection upon our mental activities. A thorough examination of the communication of ideas through language and the convention of taking words as signs of ideas paves the way for his penetrating critique of the limitations of ideas and the extent of our knowledge of ourselves, the world, God and morals. This abridgement, based on P.H. Nidditch's acclaimed critical edition, retains in full all key passages, thus enabling Locke's arguments to be more clearly followed. The new introduction by Pauline Phemister provides valuable background on Locke's essay, illuminating its arguments and conclusions. The book also includes a chronological table of significant events, select bibliography, succinct explanatory notes, and an index--all of which supply additional historical information and aids to navigating the text.
About the Series: For over 100 years Oxford World's Classics has made available the broadest spectrum of literature from around the globe. Each affordable volume reflects Oxford's commitment to scholarship, providing the most accurate text plus a wealth of other valuable features, including expert introductions by leading authorities, voluminous notes to clarify the text, up-to-date bibliographies for further study, and much more.
: An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689).38th Edition from William Tegg, London; scanned in three separate excerpts from early in the work.To download your copy of “An Essay Concerning Human Understanding” Part 1 by John Locke please right mouse click on the link, then select “save as” and download to your computer – An Essay Concerning Human Understanding is sectioned into four books. Taken together, they comprise an extremely long and detailed theory of knowledge starting from the very basics and building up.Locke's Some Thoughts Concerning Education andhis Conduct of the Understanding form a nice bridgebetween An Essay Concerning Human Understanding and hispolitical works. Nathan Tarcov and Ruth Grant write in theintroduction to their edition of these works: “The idea ofliberty, so crucial to all of Locke's writings on politics andeducation, is traced in the Essay to reflection on the power of themind over one's own actions, especially the power to suspend actionsin the pursuit of the satisfaction of one's own desires until after afull consideration of their objects (II. xxi 47, 51–52). TheEssay thus shows how the independence of mind pursued inthe Conduct is possible.”(Grant and Tarcov (1996)xvi). John Locke (b. 1632, d. 1704) was a British philosopher, Oxfordacademic and medical researcher. Locke's monumental An EssayConcerning Human Understanding (1689) is one of the first greatdefenses of empiricism and concerns itself with determining the limitsof human understanding in respect to a wide spectrum of topics. Itthus tells us in some detail what one can legitimately claim to knowand what one cannot. Locke's association with Anthony Ashley Cooper(later the First Earl of Shaftesbury) led him to become successively agovernment official charged with collecting information about tradeand colonies, economic writer, opposition political activist, andfinally a revolutionary whose cause ultimately triumphed in theGlorious Revolution of 1688. Among Locke's political works he is mostfamous for The Second Treatise of Government in which heargues that sovereignty resides in the people and explains the natureof legitimate government in terms of natural rights and the socialcontract. He is also famous for calling for the separation of Churchand State in his Letter Concerning Toleration. Much ofLocke's work is characterized by opposition to authoritarianism. Thisis apparent both on the level of the individual person and on thelevel of institutions such as government and church. For theindividual, Locke wants each of us to use reason to search after truthrather than simply accept the opinion of authorities or be subject tosuperstition. He wants us to proportion assent to propositions to theevidence for them. On the level of institutions it becomes importantto distinguish the legitimate from the illegitimate functions ofinstitutions and to make the corresponding distinction for the uses offorce by these institutions. Locke believes that using reason to tryto grasp the truth, and determine the legitimate functions ofinstitutions will optimize human flourishing for the individual andsociety both in respect to its material and spiritual welfare. This inturn, amounts to following natural law and the fulfillment of thedivine purpose for humanity.