Talk:An Essay Concerning Human Understanding

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needs editing[edit]

This article is in need of editing. There are several grammatical errors but, worse, some sections read as if they were copied verbatim from another source but not cited. The section on knowledge reads in the first person and seems to make specific claims instead of presenting unbiased information.—The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talkcontribs) 04:42, 14 September 2006.

Please do not accuse someone of plagiarism until you have the source(s) from which they copied. I found this page remarkably informative and well-written. Moreover, the first-person examples are explanatory material that would greatly assist the general reader in understanding Locke--they are not the author's POV on Locke. I felt that the previous comment was harsh and unnecessary. Awadewit 20:42, 20 January 2007 (UTC)

latin quote (moved from Talk:Some Thoughts Concerning Education#Latin quote)[edit]

Moved from Talk:Some Thoughts Concerning Education#Latin quote
Well, there's still the Cicero in the cover of "Essay on Humane Understanding".--Ioshus(talk) 19:25, 29 April 2007 (UTC)
That one appears on the first edition cover as well. Uploading now. Awadewit 21:14, 29 April 2007 (UTC)
Weird, we're still dealing with an adaptation... It's quoted as:
Quam bellum est velle confiteri potius nescire quod nescias, quam ista effutientem nauseare, atque ipsum sibi displicere.
But Cicero wrote:
Quam bellum erat, Vellei, confiteri potius nescire, quod nescires, quam ista effutientem nauseare atque ipsum sibi displicere.
My translation, you might find better:
How much more befitting it would have been, Velleius, rather to admit that you didn't know what you didn't know, than to spit forth that nonsense, and arouse your own disgust.
Why does he adapt these parts? The Horace one was a slight deviation, but the way it's quoted on the 4th book, it's completely different than what Cicero wrote...--Ioshus(talk) 23:15, 29 April 2007 (UTC)
First of all, in the eighteenth century authors and publishers most often quoted from memory. Very few people owned a lot of books, so they had to remember a lot of stuff. They usually get it slightly wrong and they are limited by what they remember. Second, I am not sure Locke asked for this quotation to be put on the cover. Locke was usually meticulous about his editions, but I don't know about this title page. I will have do research at some point on that issue. It could, of course, be that the publisher liked this quote, thought it applied, misremembered it, and put it on the title page. (I know nothing about seventeenth- and eighteenth-century editions of Cicero and Horace which adds an additional layer of complexity to the issue - are these standard 17c and 18c translations? That is another question to ask.) For me, this is not a pressing issue for the page and one that will take quite a bit of time to unravel. I'm sure someone somewhere has done it (there is a lot of scholarship on the Essay). I have the page on my list of pages to improve. It needs to be sourced and major sections such as "Reception" and "Historical context" need to be added. Right now, it is pretty much a straight-up explanation of the Essay. Awadewit 00:11, 30 April 2007 (UTC)
Salve, Ioshe! It's so nice to see you here on the English Wikipedia — gratus apus nos! :)
FWIW, I don't see the new version as totaliter aliter. It's just updated from the past tense into the present tense, no? Do you think perhaps Locke wanted to give the quote the force of an ever-valid aphorism
rather than some episode from the past? It's possible that Locke mis-remembered the quote, but that seems unlikely in this case. Willow 00:23, 30 April 2007 (UTC)
Locke misremembered a lot of quotes; the Essay is full of misremembered quotes. Like I said, it was fairly common because writers just didn't have access to a lot of books. Also, again, I am not sure that Locke asked for this quotation to be placed on the front of the Essay. His publisher might have done that. But, now we have a third option - someone intentionally altered the quotation. You can see how this all spirals out of control. Anyway, this whole discussion should be moved the Essay page, I think. Awadewit 00:57, 30 April 2007 (UTC)
Further comments are original to this page.

Hi Willow, good to see you again. Now I realize I abandoned your wikisource project after two chapters, you should have reminded me!!! As for your comment that the meaning isn't changed...well Vellei=>velle goes from vocative of Velleius to imfinitive of volo. It goes from "How much better it would have been, Velleius, to admit you didn't know that which you didn't know" to "How much better it is to prefer to admit that you don't know, what you don't know." This makes more sense for the book, but that's not what Cicero wrote...--Ioshus(talk) 00:58, 1 May 2007 (UTC)

You're totally right; in my haste, I blipped right over the the velle and went straight for the confiteri. ;) I still suspect that Locke deliberately changed the quote, to change it into an aphorism for living and to lend an august aura of antique authority to his work. If he remembered the quote at all, it seems plausible to assume that he remembered it verbatim, or? On the other hand, though, it's funny that Locke misremembered quotes throughout his Essay; it's possible that he had learned the quotes from a poorly edited version of Cicero or a bad Latinate precursor of Bartlett's. I'm beginning to see how this can indeed spiral out of control... ;)
Don't worry about the Wikisource stuff; I just thought that the Leibniz and the physics-y stuff might be fun for you and helpful for your students. I'll get back to it one of these days myself... So nice to see you again, Willow 10:20, 1 May 2007 (UTC)


someone's taken out the material in books III and IV to put in jet life. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:51, 12 November 2011 (UTC)

Books 3 and 4[edit]

I've started filling in these sections. Any comments/help would be appreciated.

I'm using Locke's Works, Vol 1, 2nd Edition, 1722, London (Taylor) edition. Gacggt (talk) 17:11, 19 November 2011 (UTC)


There are very few citations in this article - or even quotes from the work. Myrvin (talk) 10:45, 6 January 2012 (UTC)


I took out

A 17th century Latin translation Philosophus Autodidactus (published by Edward Pococke) of the Arabic philosophical novel Hayy ibn Yaqzan by the 12th century Andalusian-Islamic philosopher and novelist Ibn Tufail (known as "Abubacer" or "Ebn Tophail" in the West) had an influence on John Locke's formulation of tabula rasa in An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Ibn Tufail demonstrated the theory of tabula rasa as a thought experiment through Hayy ibn Yaqzan in which he depicted the development of the mind of a feral child "from a tabula rasa to that of an adult, in complete isolation from society" on a desert island, through experience alone.[1]

partly because picking out just this one influence is very odd, partly because it belongs in the Locke article, not here, and partly because the Locke article has a whole long list of "influenced by" starting with Plato William M. Connolley (talk) 17:48, 11 November 2012 (UTC)

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  1. ^ G. A. Russell (1994), The 'Arabick' Interest of the Natural Philosophers in Seventeenth-Century England, pp. 224-262, Brill Publishers, ISBN 90-04-09459-8.