Some Thoughts On the Conduct of the Understanding

John LOCKE

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Item#: 114695 price:$2,200.00

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"AN INTEGRAL PART OF LOCKE'S LOGIC OF IDEAS": FIRST SEPARATE EDITION OF LOCKE'S SEMINAL POSTHUMOUS WORK, SOME THOUGHTS ON THE CONDUCT OF THE UNDERSTANDING IN THE SEARCH OF TRUTH, 1741

LOCKE, John, Esq. Some Thoughts On the Conduct of the Understanding In the Search of Truth. (London): 1741. Small octavo (4 by 6-1/2 inches), period-style full calf gilt, red morocco spine label, raised bands, marbled endpapers. $2200.

First separate edition, preceded only by inclusion in Posthumous Works (1706), of Locke's provocative attack on Aristotelian logic, a work that shares with his Essay Concerning Human Understanding "the challenge of Bacon… to estimate critically the certainty and adequacy of human knowledge" (PMM), with Jefferson owning a later edition in his library.

"A champion of liberty and toleration, of common sense and healthy measure in all things, England's John Locke became in many respects the guiding spirit for America's Founding Fathers" (Maurice Cranston). In the Conduct, which Locke began while working on a 1700 revision of his Essay Concerning Human Understanding, he analyzes how to enable people to "engage in individual self-government—and to participate in the government of their country. The Conduct reveals the connections Locke sees between reason, freedom and morality" (Stanford Encyclopedia). He did not complete the Conduct before his death, having once described it as "a subject that I know not how far it will lead me… but the matter, the farther I go, opens the more upon me" (Yolton 299).

Above all, "the Conduct forms an integral part of Locke's logic of ideas." With human error as a "central theme," he examines why and how reason and logic fail. "The first to take up the challenge of Bacon and to attempt to estimate critically the certainty and the adequacy of human knowledge" (PMM 164), Locke here "launches an attack against Aristotelian logic with a quotation from Bacon… [who] is one of the few philosophers mentioned by name in the Conduct" (Schuurman, Of the Conduct of the Understanding, 17, 31-51). Just as "Aristotle had written a separate treatise on the errors that are relevant for his syllogistic logic (De sophisticis elenchis), the Conduct can be seen as an analysis of error in the context of Locke's new logic of ideas" (Continuum Companion, 44, 275-6). Jefferson was among the Founding Fathers who owned a copy of the Conduct (Sowerby 1297). Initially included in the Posthumous Works (1706), this is the "first separate issue of the Conduct… undoubtedly not authorized." The publisher and place of its printing remain undetermined. One source cites Belfast, "ESTC 'London' and Attig suggests Glasgow" (Yolton 300). Early owner initials above title page. Small printed date below imprint.

Text fine, beautifully bound.

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