In Jessica Gordon-Roth & Shelley Weinberg (eds.), The Lockean Mind. Routledge (forthcoming)

Ruth Boeker
University College Dublin
William Molyneux (1656–1698) was an Irish experimental philosopher and politician, who played a major role in the intellectual life in seventeenth-century Dublin. He became Locke’s friend and correspondent in 1692 and was probably Locke’s philosophically most significant correspondent. Locke approached Molyneux for advice for revising his Essay concerning Human Understanding as he was preparing the second and subsequent editions. Locke made several changes in response to Molyneux’s suggestions; they include major revisions of the chapter ‘Of Power’ (2.21), the addition of the chapter ‘Of Identity and Diversity’ (2.27), and the addition of the so-called Molyneux Problem (2.9.8). Molyneux repeatedly requested that Locke develops his views on morality. Additionally, their correspondence turned to questions concerning education and Molyneux’s keen interest in the topic likely prompted Locke to publish Some Thoughts Concerning Education in 1693. Moreover, Molyneux drew on Locke’s anonymously published Two Treatises of Government in his The Case of Ireland’s Being Bound by Acts of Parliament in England, Stated, which was first published in the spring of 1698. Molyneux revealed Locke’s authorship of Two Treatises against Locke’s will, yet their friendship continued until Molyneux’s untimely death in October 1698.
Keywords John Locke  William Molyneux  Revisions of Essay concerning Human Understanding  education  personal identity  liberty
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