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“The First Modern Attempt To Analyse Human Knowledge”:


Essay Concerning Humane Understanding,

An Excellent

And Rare First-Issue Copy Of His Great Work, 1690

5. LOCKE, John.

An Essay concerning Humane Understanding.

In Four

Books. London, 1690. Folio, period-style full dark brown calf.


Rare first edition, first issue, of Locke’s remarkable study of the nature of

knowledge, a fundamental work in the history of Western thought.


text was added to the Catholic Church’s Index Librorum Prohibitorum

in 1734.

This is an excellent, wide-margined copy of Locke’s most famous

work, a touchstone of the Age of Enlightenment, with extensive margina-

lia in a neat early hand indicating that this copy was well-read.

“Locke was the first to take up the challenge of Bacon and to attempt

to estimate critically the certainty and the adequacy of human knowl-

edge when confronted with God and the universe” (PMM 164). Locke’s

conclusion—that while man can never attain a perfect and universal

understanding of the world, he can gain sufficient knowledge to secure

his ownwell being—became a touchstone for the Age of Enlightenment.

With the


Locke initiated the criticism of human knowledge and

further opened the discourse on free inquiry. “

The Essay Concerning