An Essay Concerning Human Understanding Peter H. Nidditch

Discussions:   Anstey & Principe, Publication #5 above, pages 400, 496.

Draft A of the Essay concerning human understanding   [c. 11 July 1671]

Location:   Adversaria 1661, pp. 56-89, 94-95.
Scribal copy: PRO 30/24/47/7

Description:   The earliest extant draft of Locke’s Essay concerning human understanding. The draft is in Locke’s hand, in one of his commonplace books. The manuscript bears the title “Sig Cogitavit de Intellectu humano Jo: Locke an 1671.” The first page also has Latin caption that begins in the margin below the title and above the first line of text: “Intellectus humanus cum cognitionis certitudine, et assensus firmate.” Most of the pages containing the text have the marginal caption “Intellectus.” On page 80 (in an extensive passage inserted into the text), Locke says “For haveing seen water yesterday I shall always know … that water did exist 10o Jul. 71.”

A partial copy of Draft A is preserved in the Shaftesbury Papers in the Public Record Office. It is in the hand of an amanuensis, the same hand responsible for the copy of the “Essay concerning toleration” (1667) in the “Adversaria 61” commonplace book. The manuscript consists of ten sheets of paper, each folded once to form a total of 40 pages, c. 290 × 190 mm. It is endorsed “Intellectus.” According to P. H. Nidditch, the text is a copy of an early state of the Draft A manuscript.

Publications:

  1. An early draft of Locke’s Essay : together with excerpts from his journals / edited by R.I. Aaron and Jocelyn Gibb. – Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1936. – p. 1-74. [Locke #932]
  2. Draft A of Locke’s Essay concerning human understanding : the earliest extant autograph version / transcribed with critical apparatus by Peter H. Nidditch. – [Sheffield] : Department of Philosophy, University of Sheffield, 1980. – 200 p. [Locke #933]
  3. Drafts for the Essay concerning human understanding, and other philosophical writings / John Locke ; edited by Peter H. Nidditch and G.A.J. Rogers. – Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1990-  . – (The Clarendon edition of the works of John Locke). – vol. 1, pp. 1-83. [Locke #942]
  4. [French translation:] Draft A : première esquisse de l’Essai philosophique concernant l’entendement humain / John Locke ; traduction, introduction et notes par Marylène Delbourg-Delphis. – Paris : J. Vrin, 1974. – 158 p. [Locke #934]
  5. [Italian translation:] Il primo abbozzo del Saggio / Giovanni Locke ; traduzione e nota illustrativa a cura di Vittorio Sainati. – Bari : Laterza, 1951. – 128 p. [Locke #935]. Also published as an appendix to the 1951 translation of the Essay [Locke #390, vol. 2:449-571]

Discussions:   Introductions to the publications listed above; Aaron, “How the Essay was written.” (1955); [on the PRO copy]: Laslett, “Locke and the first Earl of Shaftesbury” (1952); Johnston, “A note on an early draft of Locke’s Essay in the Public Record Office” (1954)

Draft B of the Essay concerning human understanding   [1671]

Location:
Summary: MS. Locke c. 28, ff. 33-40.
Draft: MS. Locke f. 26.

Description:   The second extant draft of Locke’s Essay concerning human understanding consists of two manuscripts: a summary of the contents and the draft itself.

The summary is written in Locke’s hand on a single quire consisting of four sheets of paper, each folded once to form 16 pages, 145 × 97 mm; pages 1-14 [= 15; two pages are marked “3”; the final page is blank].

The draft is also written in Locke’s hand on a series of folded octavo sheets, sewn in quires into a notebook; with two exceptions, each quire is signed by Locke on the first page. Locke also numbered the pages, but there are many errors. While most of the quires consist of 8 leaves (16 pages), several of them include additional folded sheets. Locke wrote his text on the right-hand (recto) pages, leaving the left-hand (verso) pages for additions and corrections. In several cases, Locke ran out of space for his additions and inserted one or more folded leaves, wrapping them around the quire at the appropriate place for the addition, which typically left the conjugate leaf blank. Details of these added leaves are given below. The volume was rebound by the Bodleian Library, but there is evidence that the quires were sewn together at an earlier date. The following collation represents my best guess about the physical make-up of the volume.

8o. 169 × 102 mm (A-Z); 145 × 83 mm (AA-EE; CC is 153 mm tall)
π4 A8 π4 B10 C-L8 M10 N-T8 U16 W14 X-Y8 Z14 AA-EE8. viii, 474 pages [=514 pages; page 16 appears nine times; pages 30, 178, 190, 203, 308, 312, 318 three times; 328, 335 five times; 306, 314 seven times].

Quire A consists of 16 leaves, containin four folded sheets wrapped around the original quire; the signature appears on the fifth leaf (A5). In quire B, a folded leaf is inserted after B1/8; the pagination of the preceding page is repeated on the pages of the inserted leaf (i.e., page 18 appears three times, as does page 30). In quire M, again a folded leaf is inserted after M1/8; again the pagination of the preceding page is repeates (i.e., pages 178 and 190 appear three times). Four leaves have been inserted in quire V, three following V2/7 and one following V3/6 (original foliation); or, to put it another way, of the 16 leaves in the quire, V3/14, V4/13, V6/12, and V7/10 are insertions; the pagination does not exactly follow the pattern of the insertions in quires A and M. In quire W, a new leaf is wrapped around the original quire (i.e., W1/14 is an insertion; W14 is blank); at some point, Locke replaced the inner three leaves (with a four-leaf inserted quire that shows identical tears indicating that they were formed from the same sheet of paper; these inserted leaves are those now numbered W3/12, W4/11, W5/10, and W6/9; finally, another folded leaf was inserted at the center of the quire, forming what is now W7/8; again the pagination is complex and contains errors. Finally, in quire Z, an entire quire (originally signed × on what is now Z4) has been inserted after Z3/12; of the remaining leaves (the first and last three leaves), the inner two seem to be original, predating the inserted × quire; Z1/14, however, is a leaf inserted to provide for additional text on Z14 (Z1 is blank). The textual implications of all these insertions are explained in Walmsley, “Locke, mechanism and Draft B, a correction” (2006), which also includes a detailed technical description of the manuscript.

The flyleaf/cover (p. i) is marked “Intellectus 1671 J.L.” The title “De Intellectu humano 1671 An Essay” appears on p. [1]. The title “An Essay concerning The Understanding, Knowledge Opinion & Assent” appears above the beginning of the text on p. 3. The text breaks off abruptly in mid-sentence in § 162.

Publications:

  1. An essay concerning the understanding, knowledge, opinion and assent / by John Locke ; edited with an introduction by Benjamin Rand. – Cambridge, Mass. : Harvard University Press, 1931. [Locke #936]
  2. Draft B of Locke’s Essay concerning human understanding : the fullest extant autograph version / transcribed with critical apparatus by Peter H. Nidditch. – [Sheffield] : Department of Philosophy, University of Sheffield, 1982. [Locke #937]
  3. Drafts for the Essay concerning human understanding, and other philosophical writings / John Locke ; edited by Peter H. Nidditch and G.A.J. Rogers. – Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1990-  . – (The Clarendon edition of the works of John Locke). – vol. 1, pp. 85-270. [Locke #942]
  4. [selections] Political essays / Locke ; edited by Mark Goldie. – Cambridge : Cambridge University Press, 1997. – p. 359-360. Includes §157 of the draft. [Locke #867+]
  5. [Italian translation:] La conoscenza umana / Giovanni Locke ; a cura di Armando Carlini. – Bari : G. Laterza, 1948. – 305 p. – (Piccola biblioteca filosofici) [Locke #938]
    Reprinted as: Saggio sull’intelligenza, secondo abbozzo / Locke ; introduzione di C.A. Viano. – Bari : Laterza, [1968]. – 272 p. – (Piccola biblioteca filosofici) [Locke #939]

Discussions:   Introductions to the publications listed above; Aaron & Gibb, “Introduction” to An early draft of Locke’s Essay (1934), p. xi-xxviii, 127-130; Aaron, “How the Essay was written.” (1955); Walmsley, “Locke, mechanism and Draft B, a correction” (2006)

Doc Yoder's Notes
Essay concerning Human Understanding
            by John Locke (1690, 1694, 1695, 1700, 1706, 1710)

Page numbers are keyed to Peter H. Nidditch's edition of the Essay (1975)

Outline of how John Locke thinks understanding works:

Locke operates with three basic principles:
  1. There are no innate ideas; the mind is blank at birth.
  2. The mind's most basic function is to receive ideas, which it does passively through the senses;
    these "simple ideas" are irreducible.
  3. The mind has the power to construct new "complex" ideas by reflecting on its simple ideas
    and on its own operations.
Mental functions and their components:
Locke's general method is to move from particular/simple to general/complex in various hierarchies.
  • perception (NOT the same as sensation)
  • retention
    --pleasure/pain
    --contemplation
    --memory (secondary perception, p152)
    • --attention
    • --repetition --renewing memories (cf. Wordsworth's "Tintern Abbey") (152-3)
  • discerning
    --wit recognizes likeness/similarity (156)
    --judgment recognizes difference (156)
  • comparing (157)
  • composition (158)
  • enlarging (158)
  • abstraction (159) -- very important
3 actions of the mind on simple ideas
  • COMBINING into complex ideas
  • setting in RELATION
  • ABSTRACTION -- separating the idea from its actual existence (163)
3 kinds of complex ideas (164-66)
  • modes -- objects not in material reality
  • substances -- objects w/ material reality
  • relation -- considering one object w/ another
Locke's idea of how the mind apprehends reality.

The PERCEPTIBLE WORLD is made up of SUBSTANCES.
SUBSTANCES are only detectable through their QUALITIES which might be understood
            as a sort of cloud that surrounds the SUBSTANCE.
The mind NEVER has access to the SUBSTANCE, but only to its QUALITIES.
    SUBSTANCES have QUALITIES (sometimes called POWERS)
  • QUALITIES are detected by the body as SENSATIONS
  • once SENSATIONS reach the brain, they create PERCEPTIONS
  • PERCEPTIONS are assigned NAMES
  • RETENTION of the NAMED IDEAS is facilitated by:
    • pleasure/pain
    • contemplation
    • memory or "secondary perception"
      enhanced by
The mind also works / reflects upon ideas by
  • discerning
    • "wit" identifies likeness
    • "judgment" identifies difference
  • comparing
  • composition
  • enlarging
  • abstraction
The hierarchy of moral relations
  • divine law: the most binding, revealed by
    • light of nature, most reliable revealed by natural perceptions and tradition
      Locke asserts that God will not contradict the laws of nature
    • voice of revelation, least reliable
      Locke asks, "What is more likely, that you are insane, or that God has spoken to you alone?"
  • civil law
  • law of opinion or reputation


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