Locke, John (1632-1704) - Research Article from Encyclopedia of Philosophy

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An Essay Concerning Human Understanding

Purpose of an Essay

In "Epistle to the Reader" Locke related that some friends meeting in his chamber became perplexed about certain difficulties that arose in their discourse about a subject (left unnamed). He proposed that before they could inquire further, "it was necessary to examine our own abilities and see what objects our understandings were, or were not, fitted to deal with." This discussion in 1670 or 1671 first started Locke on the inquiries that were to continue intermittently for twenty years. What Locke first set down for the next meeting is not known, unless it was Draft A (1671) of An Essay concerning Human Understanding. That the initial suggestion became the abiding purpose of Essay is clear from Locke's assertion that his purpose was "to inquire into the original, certainty, and extent of human knowledge, together with the grounds and degrees of belief...

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This section contains 17,450 words
(approx. 59 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Locke, John (1632-1704) Encyclopedia Article
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Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Locke, John (1632-1704) from Encyclopedia of Philosophy. Copyright © 2001-2006 by Macmillan Reference USA, an imprint of the Gale Group. All rights reserved.
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