Item #64538 Essay Concerning Humane [Human] Understanding. John LOCKE.
Essay Concerning Humane [Human] Understanding
Essay Concerning Humane [Human] Understanding
Essay Concerning Humane [Human] Understanding

Essay Concerning Humane [Human] Understanding. In four books.

London: Printed for Tho. Basset, and sold by Edw. Mory, 1690.

The First Modern Attempt to Analyze Human Knowledge

[LOCKE, John]. An Essay Concerning Humane [Human] Understanding. In Four Books. London: Printed [by Elizabeth Holt] for Tho. Basset, and sold by Edw. Mory, 1690.

First edition title-page containing the inverted “SS” of “Essay,” the type ornament composed of twenty-three pieces, and without Elizabeth Holt’s name in the imprint. With the dedication undated, and with the errata uncorrected. It was once thought that the Holt imprint was the priority but recent studies have noted that the priority cannot be established. In his introduction to the Clarendon Press edition of the"Essay", Peter Nidditch changes his former opinion that the Holt imprint is the first issue and John Attig's bibliography records it as a varient. Folio (12 5/8 x 7 7/8 inches; 320 x 200 mm.). [12], 362, [22, Contents] pp. Pages 287, 296, and 303 misnumbered 269, 294, and 230 respectively.

Contemporary brown mottled calf. Boards ruled in blind. Spine in six compartments, lettered in gilt on brown calf spine label. Edges speckled red. Expertly rebacked to style with corners repaired. Title page is short at the fore-edge by half an inch due to the stub being turned behind A4. Marginal paper flaws on D1, P 3 and Dd3, not affecting text. Very small marginal hole on Hh, not affecting text. The errata are corrected by a contemporary hand with ink and there are two contemporary ink notes on the back free endpaper. Locke's name is written in a contemporary hand on the title page as "IOHN LOCK: Gent:" Previous owner's name Brockett on the back pastedown. Previous owner's name Samuel Gaskell on the top margin of title page and previous owner's name Roger Gaskell dated 1813 on front free endpaper. A very clean and crisp copy in an excellent contemporary binding.

Locke (1632-1704), considered the father of English empiricism, “was the first to take up the challenge of Bacon and to attempt to estimate critically the certainty and the adequacy of human knowledge when confronted with God and the universe. In the past, similar enquiries had been vitiated by the human propensity to extend them beyond the range of human understanding, and to invent causes for what it cannot explain. Therefore, Locke’s first task was to ascertain ‘the original certainty and extent of human knowledge’ and, excluding ‘the physical consideration of the mind, to show how far it can comprehend the universe’. His conclusion is that though knowledge must necessarily fall short of complete comprehension, it can at least be ‘sufficient’; enough to convince us that we are not at the mercy of pure chance, and can to some extent control our own destiny” (Printing and the Mind of Man).

Locke’s investigation was continued by Hume and Kant. John Stuart Mill considered him to be the founder of the analytic philosophy of mind.

Attig 228. Grolier, 100 English, 36. Grolier, Wither to Prior, 527. Pforzheimer 600. Printing and the Mind of Man 164. Wing L2739.

HBS 64538.


Price: $32,500.00

Item #64538

See all items in Early Books, Philosophy, PMM
See all items by