An Essay Concerning Human Understanding

John Locke

An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, by John Locke - click to see full size image

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An Essay Concerning Human Understanding is a book by English philosopher John Locke, first published in 1690. Locke presents the concept of the mind as a blank slate during birth, which gradually becomes filled through experiences. Divided into four books, Book I endeavors to challenge the rationalist belief in innate ideas. Book II outlines Locke's theory of ideas, making a clear distinction between passively acquired simple ideas, and actively constructed complex ideas, including numbers, causes and effects, abstract concepts, ideas of substances, identity, and diversity. Locke further differentiates between primary qualities, which are objectively existing qualities of bodies like shape, motion, and the arrangement of particles, and secondary qualities. Additionally, he presents a theory of personal identity, predominantly relying on psychological criteria. Book III focuses on language, while Book IV covers knowledge encompassing intuition, mathematics, moral philosophy, natural philosophy, faith, and opinion. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding played a pivotal role in shaping empiricism within modern philosophy and exerted a significant influence on Enlightenment thinkers like David Hume and George Berkeley.

Part of Anne Haight's List of Banned Books.

Part of the Encyclopaedia Britannica’s Great Books of the Western World set.

This book has 285,868 words, 415 pages in the PDF version, and was originally published in 1690.

Production notes: This ebook of An Essay Concerning Human Understanding was published by Global Grey in 2019, and updated on the 22nd May 2023. The artwork used for the cover is 'Scholar at the Table' by Emile Wauters.

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