Of the Conduct of the Understanding, by John Locke


The editor’s General Introduction is divided into two parts. The first part, ‘Context’, discusses Locke’s analysis of the nature of error, the causes of error and the prevention and cure of error in the Conduct. His enquiry is placed in the context of his way of ideas as given in his Essay concerning Human Understanding. Locke’s two-stage way of ideas, his occupation with our mental faculties and with method form the interrelated main ingredients of his logic of ideas. There is a complicated relation of continuity and change between the content and the structure of this new logic on the one hand and the content and structure of works by both scholastic predecessors and novel philosophers on the other hand. Once this context is taken into account, the Conduct can be understood as work that has a function within the structure of Locke’s logic of ideas that runs parallel to the function of the De sophisticis elenchis in the Aristotelian Organon. The second part of the General Introduction, ‘Text’, gives a description of the relevant MSS, an overview of references to the Conduct in Locke’s correspondence, a history of the genesis of the Conduct until its first publication in 1706 in the Posthumous Works, an analysis of the evidence provided by the MSS on how the Conduct grew out of the Essay, and a statement of the principles that underlie the present editon.



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Paul Schuurman
Erasmus University Rotterdam

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References found in this work

Ideas and objective being.Michael Ayers - 1998 - In Daniel Garber & Michael Ayers (eds.), The Cambridge History of Seventeenth-Century Philosophy. Cambridge University Press. pp. 2--1063.
John Locke and the Changing Ideal of Scientific Knowledge.Margaret J. Osler - 1970 - Journal of the History of Ideas 31 (1):3.
Method and the Study of Nature.Peter Dear - 1998 - In Daniel Garber & Michael Ayers (eds.), The Cambridge History of Seventeenth-Century Philosophy. Cambridge University Press. pp. 1.
Humanistic logic.Lisa Jardine - 1988 - In C. B. Schmitt, Quentin Skinner, Eckhard Kessler & Jill Kraye (eds.), The Cambridge History of Renaissance Philosophy. New York: Cambridge University Press. pp. 173--98.

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