Locke Studies 25 (1994)

In his New Essays on Human Understanding, Leibniz presents an extended critical commentary on Locke’s Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Leibniz read some of Locke’s work in English and then, a few years later, the whole of it in French, a language in which he was more comfortable. Over a period of about two further years, on and off, he wrote his New Essays, which he finished at about the time Locke died and which was not published until about half a century after Leibniz’s death. (He left them unpublished partly because they had been motivated by a hope of getting Locke to reply, and Locke’s death put an end to that; though his character made it a forlorn hope in any case.) The New Essays has been an important work: for one thing, Kant read it on its first appearance, and scholars say that this was a decisive event in his philosophical development. Anyway, given that this is one of Leibniz’s only two philosophical works of substantial book length, in all the torrent that poured from his pen, and given also that it is focused - critically but with respect and careful attentiveness - on the greatest classic of English philosophy, it is surprising that the New Essays had to wait until 1981 for a usable English translation.1 In 1896 there was published a sort of translation by A. G. Langley;2 but it is inaccurate far beyond the bounds of normal incompetence, as well as being grimly unreadable for stylistic reasons. As Chesterton once said about The Origin of Species, it is surprising how many people think they have read it, but I'll bet that nobody alive has slogged through the Langley version from cover to cover. It is a pity that the work was not decently available in English for nearly three centuries, because even for those who can read the French of, say, Descartes, Leibniz’s French is difficult. He reserved his native German for writings on history and politics, using French and Latin for philosophy and mathematics; presumably French was chosen for the New Essays because Leibniz wanted to respond to a popular work by a popular work..
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories (categorize this paper)
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 53,558
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

No references found.

Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Leibniz: A Collection of Critical Essays.Harry G. Frankfurt - 1972 - University of Notre Dame Press.
Leibniz: Nature and Freedom.Donald Rutherford & J. A. Cover (eds.) - 2005 - Oxford University Press.
Leibniz and Locke and the Debate Over Species.Jan-Erik Jones - 2006 - In François Duchesneau & Jérémie Girard (eds.), Leibniz selon les Nouxeaux Essais sur l'entendement Humain. Vrin & Bellarmin.
On Estimating the Uncertain.Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz - 2004 - The Leibniz Review 14:43-53.
Leibniz and Locke. A Study of the "New Essays on Human Understanding".G. A. J. Rogers - 1986 - Journal of the History of Philosophy 24 (4):556-558.
Kant's Critique of the Leibnizian Philosophy : Contra the Leibnizians, but Pro Leibniz.Anja Jauernig - 2008 - In Daniel Garber & Béatrice Longuenesse (eds.), Kant and the Early Moderns. Princeton, NJ, USA: Princeton University Press. pp. 41-63 (and 214-223 notes).
Leibniz.Harry G. Frankfurt - 1972 - Garden City, N.Y., Anchor Books.


Added to PP index

Total views
68 ( #139,634 of 2,348,582 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
1 ( #512,295 of 2,348,582 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes