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An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. 2 vol.-set (Complete)
Edmund Parker, London 1731 - Octavo (8 x 5"). [4], IV, [26], 372pp (Vol. 1); [2]pp (Publisher's advertisement), [16], 340, [27, index], [1]pp (Vol. 2). 19th-century black- and blind-stamped full calf, with gold numerotation on spines. Raised bands. First volume with an engraved frontispiece portrait of John Locke by Vertue, after a painting by G. Knetter. Decorative headpieces and initials.Tenth and enlarged edition of John Locke's Essay "Concerning Human Understanding," a philosophical landmark originally published in 1689 (although dated 1690).One of the principal sources of empiricism in modern philosophy, this essay presents a detailed, systematic philosophy of mind and thought, and wrestles with fundamental questions about how we think and perceive, and it even touches on how we express ourselves through language, logic, and religious practices. In the introduction, entitled 'The Epistle to the Reader,' Locke describes how he became involved in his current mode of philosophical thinking. He relates an anecdote about a conversation with friends that made him realize that men often suffer in their pursuit of knowledge because they fail to determine the limits of their understanding. The Essay is divided into four books (two per volume):First volume:- Book I is devoted to an attack on nativism or the doctrine of innate ideas. Locke allowed that some ideas are in the mind from an early age, but argued that such ideas are furnished by the senses starting in the womb: for instance, differences between colors or tastes. If we have a universal understanding of a concept like sweetness, it is not because this is an innate idea, but because we are all exposed to sweet tastes at an early age. One of Locke's fundamental arguments against innate ideas is the very fact that there is no truth to which all people attest. He took the time to argue against a number of propositions that rationalists offer as universally accepted truth, for instance the principle of identity, pointing out that at the very least children and idiots are often unaware of these propositions. - Book II: Whereas Book I is intended to reject the doctrine of innate ideas proposed by Descartes and the rationalists, Book II explains that every idea is derived from experience either by sensation - direct sensory information - or reflection - "the perception of the operations of our own mind within us, as it is employed about the ideas it has got". Furthermore, Book II is also a systematic argument for the existence of an intelligent being: "Thus, from the consideration of ourselves, and what we infallibly find in our own constitutions, our reason leads us to the knowledge of this certain and evident truth, that there is an eternal, most powerful, and most knowing being; which whether any one will please to call God, it matters not!" Second volume:- Book III focuses on words. Locke connects words to the ideas they signify, claiming that man is unique in being able to frame sounds into distinct words and to signify ideas by those words, and then that these words are built into language. Chapter ten in this book focuses on "Abuse of Words." Here, Locke calls out metaphysicians for making up new words that have no clear meaning. He also criticizes the use of words which are not linked to clear ideas, and to those who change the criteria or meaning underlying a term. Thus he uses a discussion of language to demonstrate sloppy thinking. Locke followed the Port-Royal Logique (1662) in numbering among the abuses of language those that he calls "affected obscurity" in chapter 10. Locke complains that such obscurity is caused by, for example, philosophers who, to confuse their readers, invoke old terms and give them unexpected meanings or who construct new terms without clearly defining their intent. Writers may also invent such obfuscation to make themselves appear more learned or their ideas more complicated and nuanced or erudite than they actually are. - Book IV and last, focuses on knowledge in general [Attributes: Hard Cover]
Last Found On: 2017-01-26           Check availability:      AbeBooks    


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