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14. Maximes (c. 1699)


MS Locke e.1, p. 182. Knowledge is not derived from general maxims. Addition to the fourth edition of the Essay, IV.xii.3, ‘Of the Improvement of our Knowledge’. Locke’s autograph (L) is collated with the fourth edition of the Essay (4) (copy Bodleian Library L2742).


[1] MS Locke e.1; see MS Locke e.1 [1]-MS Locke e.1 [10].

Relation with the Essay

[2] Addition to the fourth edition of the Essay, IV.xii.3, starting on p. 640, line 32 of Nidditch’s edition. There are substantive differences between the fragment on pages 32-52 and the version included in the fourth edition of the Essay. This suggests that the copy-text 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.


[3] The text of the ‘Conduct’ is interrupted late in MS Locke e.1 by ‘Maximes’ on p. 182 and by ‘Monsieur Menage’ on p. 184. Locke gives page numbers and line numbers of the third edition to stipulate the intended place of these additions within the existing text of the Essay, and this is indeed exactly where they appear in print in the fourth edition. So these fragments must have been written before the fourth edition was printed in June/July 1699. Work on the ‘Conduct’ was started in 1697 (see 1. Of the Conduct of the Understanding (1697-1704) [3], but would drag on until 1701 or later (see 1. Of the Conduct of the Understanding (1697-1704) [10]). Given the late appearance of ‘Maximes’ and ‘Monsieur Menage’ in the ‘Conduct’ and assuming a chronological order of the entries in MS Locke e.1 (see 11. Enthusiasm (1695-1697) [6]), it it is likely that the date of composition of the two small fragments is closer to 1699 than to 1697.


[4] 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’.