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13. Association (1697)


In MS Locke e.1, pp. 30-56, Locke originally produced one single text on the association of ideas. At a later stage he decided to use pp. 30-52 (the present text) for the new chapter included in the fourth edition of the Essay, II.xxxiii, while the remainder of this text, on pp. 52-56, was copied and used for ‘Of the Conduct of the Understanding’, par. 76-79. The editors have inserted the section numbers used in the fourth edition of the Essay. Locke’s autograph (K) is collated with the fourth edition of the Essay (4) (copy Bodleian Library L2742).


[1] See [49], [50], [86].


[2] MS Locke e.1, pp. 32-56; see MS Locke e.1 [1]-MS Locke e.1 [10].

Relation with the Essay

[3] Draft. Pages 32-52 were used for Essay, II.xxiii, ‘Of the Association of Ideas’ (up to ‘...that follow’, §18, p. 401, line 9 in Nidditch’s edition), while the content of pp. 52-56 reappears (but probably not as a direct copy), in par. 77-79 of the ‘Conduct’, on pp. 210-216 in the same manuscript; see 1. Of the Conduct of the Understanding (1697-1704) [21]. 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. The text on MS e.1, pp. 32-52, contains no errors that are typical of copying from a previous version, hence it is possible that this is the first version.

Section numbers

[4] Locke numbered the second and third paragraphs with the numbers 1 and 2; since this series is abortive it has not been included in the main text, but it is given in the critical apparatus. The editors have used the section numbers used in the fourth edition of the Essay.


[5] Locke announced an addition to the Essay on ‘Connexion’, subsequently called ‘Association’, in his letter to William Molyneux from 26 April 1695. MS Locke e.1 was filled in chronological order (see 11. Enthusiasm (1695-1697) [6]). ‘Association’ was entered in MS Locke e.1 after ‘Enthusiasm’ but before the ‘Conduct’. If ‘Enthusiasm’ in MS Locke e.1 was not concluded earlier then 11 May 1697 (see 11. Enthusiasm (1695-1697) [8]) and if the ‘Conduct’ in the version on MS Locke e.1 was entered later in 1697 (see 1. Of the Conduct of the Understanding (1697-1704) [6]), then these two dates form the terminus a quo and the terminus ad quem for ‘Association’ on MS Locke e.1, pp. 32-65. The year 1697 is rather late, given the fact the Locke had announced his attention to Molyneux to write about this topic already in 1695. However, although the text on MS Locke e.1, pp. 32-65 may contain the first version of ‘Association’ (see [3]) , the possibility that this is a later version cannot be ruled out; and an earlier version could have been produced before 1697.


[6] 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’.