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12. Ballance the difficulties (1697)


MS Locke e.1, pp. 6, 8, 9, 10, 11. Further elucidation of Locke’s point that there is no proof for the opinion that the soul always thinks. Addition to the Essay, IV.iii.6 ‘Of the Extent of Human Knowledge’ and included in the fourth edition. Locke’s autograph (H) is collated with the fourth edition of the Essay (4) (copy Bodleian Library L2742).


[1] MS Locke e.1, pp. 6, 8, 9, 10, 11; see MS Locke e.1 [1]-MS Locke e.1 [10].

Relation with the Essay

[2] Draft for Essay, IV.iii.6, ‘Of the Extent of Humane Knowledge’. The fragment was included in the fourth edition of the Essay, but there are substantive differences between the fragment in MS Locke e.1 and the text included in the Essay. This suggests that the manuscript used for the Essay was not MS Locke e.1 but a later manuscript that has been lost. See the collation of the text with the fourth edition of the Essay. The present text contains no errors that are typical of copying from a previous version, hence it is possible that this is the first version.

Relative order of ‘Ballance’ and ‘Enthusiasm’

[3] See 11. Enthusiasm (1695-1697) [7]


[4] ‘Ballance’ contains a reference to those who ‘have the confidence to conclude that omnipotency it self cannot give life & perception to a substance which has the modification of solidity’. This is probably a reference to Edward Stillingfleet’s attack on Locke’s discussion of the possibility of thinking matter. Stillingfleet attacked Locke’s views on this point first in his Vindication, p. 241-242. This book was advertised in November 1696 (see [59]). Locke’s remark in ‘Ballance’ is probably not a reference to the first, but rather to the second of Stillingfleet’s three attacks, i.e. the First Answer (1697), pp. 54-55 and pp. 78-79. The First Answer is dated 27 March 1697, the Postscript is dated 26 April of the same year, and the book was advertised on 11 May in Flying Post (see [62]). So, if the reference to Stillingfleet is correct, then 11 May 1697 is the terminus a quo for ‘Ballance’. If the texts in MS Locke e.1 were entered chronologically (see 11. Enthusiasm (1695-1697) [6]), and if the ‘Conduct’ was entered after ‘Ballance’ later in 1697 (see 1. Of the Conduct of the Understanding (1697-1704) [6]), then this later date is the terminus ad quem for ‘Ballance’.


[5] Not printed before in the present manuscript version.

Yolton, John Locke a Descriptive Bibliography, nr. 249, p. 299.
MS Locke c.24, fol. 285r, letter 3188, Corr. viii, pp. 676-677.
Cf. Greetham, Textual Scholarship, p. 172 and pp. 211-213.
Cf. Locke’s farewell letter to P. King, 4 and 25 October 1704, letter 3647, Corr. viii, p. 416: ‘If my Paraphrase and notes on the Ephesians are not wholy transcribed before I dye (as I fear they will not. For however earnestly I have pressed it again and again I have not been able to prevaile with Will to dispatch the two first Chapters in three months) you must get it to be transcribed out of my filed papers after I am dead, that so it may be in a condition to be in a condition to be printed. Will after all I think be the fitest to transcribe them because he can read my hand and knows my way of writeing with the use of the references.’
Corr. viii, p. 424.
MS Locke c.35, fol. 6v.
Letter 3647, Corr. viii, p. 417, n. 1.
MS Locke f.10, p. 495.
MS Locke c.1, p. 342.
MS Locke f.10, p. 492.
Op. cit. no page number.
This fact confirms the assertion of the editors that MS Locke c.28 did not function as printer’s copy for PW.
For what probably amounts to an internal reference to the Essay that was left unchanged, see par. 64: ‘this essay’.
That pp. 52-56 give a part of the ‘Conduct’ seems to have escaped Long, A Summary Catalogue, although he remarks, p. 30: ‘The draft [containing both the Essay-part and the ‘Conduct’-part] is longer than the printed version [containing only the Essay-part].’
‘Introduction’ to Locke, Conduct, ed. Yolton, p. vii.
For the relation between the paragraph numbers of the ‘Conduct’ in the present edition and the source manuscripts, the Essay and PW see Table 3).
See Milton, ‘Pierre Des Maizeaux’, pp. 274-278.
Alternative dates: see Sargentich, ‘Locke and Ethical Theory’, p. 24: ‘Although the first manuscript piece, “Morality”, is undated, since it is highly hedonistic, it was probably written relatively late in Locke’s life.’ But ‘pleasure’ is a pervasive element in practically all of Locke’s ethical fragments, so its appearance does not contribute much towards dating the fragment. Goldie, p. 267 suggests as dates c. 1677-1678, but does not give a reason for his choice.
The last part of ‘Ethica C’, captioned under ‘Law’, is dated c. 1693 by Goldie, p. 328, but Goldie does not give a reason for his choice.
Cf. Essay, notes on p. 640 and p. 454 respectively.
See Works, 4, p. 184.
‘Liberty’ is included as letter 1798 in Corr. v, 159-160.
Cf. ‘Enthusiasm’, Essay, IV.xix.15, p. 705: ‘These and several the like Instances to be found among the Prophets of old, are enough to shew, that they thought not an inward seeing or perswasion of their own Minds without any other Proof a sufficient Evidence, that it was from GOD, though the Scripture does not every where mention their demanding or having such Proofs.’
See Milton, ‘Manservant as Amanuensis: Sylvester Brounower’, p. 79, note 4.
See Essay,IV.iii.6; see also ‘Ballance’.