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1. Of the Conduct of the Understanding (1697-1704)


MS Locke e.1, pp. i + iv + 1 + 56-261. Analysis of the nature and causes of error and a discussion of the ways to prevent and cure error in the framework of Locke’s logic of ideas. Projected addition to the Essay, but unfinished and not included. Published in PW (1706). The editors have inserted the paragraph numbers. The corrected series of section numbers in PW is given in blue at the start of the normalized texts. Locke’s headwords and keywords are presented in the normalized and diplomatic version of the texts, between the blue symbols indicating the start and end of marginalia. Locke’s headwords and keywords are given in the outer margin. Paragraphs 1-5 and 98-99 of Locke's autograph (A) are collated with a copy by Williams Shaw, MS Locke c.28. fols 121-130 (B); pars 17-29 with a copy by a scribe employed by Peter King, MS Locke c.28, fols 131r-137r (C); and pars 77-79 with a copy, again by Shaw, MS Locke e.1, pp. 210-216 (D).


[1] See [61], [63], [64], [73], [69], [69], [85], [88], [91], [93], [95], and [98].


[2] MS Locke e.1, pp. i, iv, 1, 56-261; see MS Locke e.1 [1]-MS Locke e.1 [10]; and MS Locke. c.28, fols 121-138; see MS Locke c.28, fols 121-138 [1]-MS Locke c.28, fols 121-138 [9].

Short history

[3] Locke’s letter to Molyneux from 10 April 1697 (see [61]), suggests this date minus ‘a few days’ as the start of work on the ‘Conduct’.

[4] Locke’s work on the ‘Conduct’ was resumed on several occasions in the years from 1697 until his death in 1704. MS Locke e.1 shows signs of different layers of corrections and additions (see MS Locke e.1 [10]). In his final letter to King (see [98]) Locke ranged the ‘Conduct’ amongst those projects that he had not laid ‘wholy by upon the first interruption’ but taken ‘in hand again as occasion served’. King’s letter to Locke of 21 January 1704 (see []), where the former announces the transfer by Francis Masham of ‘a manuscript concerning the Conduct of the Understanding’ from London to, presumably, Oates, may mark one such an occasion.

[5] The earliest major interruption of work on the ‘Conduct’ was probably caused by Locke’s controversy with Edward Stillingfleet, Bishop of Worcester. Locke’s First Reply was finished 29 June 1697. On 11 September in the same year Locke complained to Molyneux that the ‘trifling quarrel of the Bishop’ kept him from work on additions to Education and the Essay (see [64]). This is not necessarily a reference to the ‘Conduct’. Other projected additions for the fourth edition of the Essay, apart from a chapter on the ‘Conduct’, were the chapters on ‘Association’ and on ‘Enthusiasm’ (MS Locke e.1 contains substantial parts of these additions, see MS Locke e.1 [6]). However, work on ‘Enthusiasm’ had started already in March 1695 (see 11. Enthusiasm (1695-1697) [8]); for the date of ‘Association’, see 13. Association (1697) [5].

[6] The ‘Conduct’ was not started in MS Locke e.1. At least part of MS Locke e.1 is a copy from another manuscript. The progressive series of numbers in the margin of pp. 56-78 of MS Locke e.1 (see MS Locke e.1 [7] (4)) probably refer to the page numbers of an earlier manuscript that is now lost. The progression of the marginal numbers matches the progression in page numbers 56-78. Work on the ‘Conduct’ in the version of the copy in MS Locke e.1 was probably started later in 1697.

[7] MS Locke e.1 gives the text of the ‘Conduct’ on pp. 52-261. However, there is one interruption: on p. 182 Locke enters a short addition to Essay IV.xii.3: ‘Maximes’; and on p. 184 an addition to ‘Monsieur Menage’, after which he proceeds again with the ‘Conduct’. These additions were included in the fourth edition of the Essay (see 14. Maximes (c. 1699) [3]), which was published June/July 1699. Assuming that Locke had already produced the text of the ‘Conduct’ on pp. 52-182 by the time he had reached pp. 182-184 to produce these two small fragments (see 11. Enthusiasm (1695-1697) [6]), it follows that the part of the ‘Conduct’ comprised by pp. 52-182 of MS Locke e.1 (127 verso sides out of a total of 206) must have been on paper by June/July 1699 at the latest.

[8] For a further attempt at dating MS Locke e.1 we first need to substantiate the proposed identification of William Shaw as the scribe who copied the ‘Conduct’-part on ‘Association’ to pp. 210-216 of MS Locke e.1 (see MS Locke e.1 [9]). The editors already mentioned Shaw as the scribe who copied paragraphs of the ‘Conduct’ from MS Locke e.1 to fols 121-130 of MS Locke c.28 (see MS Locke c.28, fols 121-138 [9]). Although the handwritings on MS Locke e.1 pp. 210-216 and on MS Locke c.28 fols 121-130 at first sight seem to differ from each other (compare ills. 5 and 6), there a good reasons for attributing both to Shaw. The solution starts with MS Locke f.34, which is a small account book that contains a series of entries in which Locke’s servants entered payments on behalf of their master. The first entries are by Sylvester Brownover. The entries from 6 July 1701 (fol. 69v) up to and including 9 August 1704 (fol. 87r) are first headed by ‘J:Locke’, but from 7 April 1703 onwards by ‘Wm Shaw’. The entries from fol. 69v onwards show a clear resemblance with the handwriting of the scribe who filled pp. 210-216 of MS Locke e.1 (compare ill. 6 with ill. 3). Now, it can be proved that the entries on fol. 69v-70r and onwards in MS Locke f.34 are by Shaw. Consider the entries on fol. 70r:

MR J: Locke Cr
1701Jul.7By a Guinea lent me116
8By M. : lent me010
9By ditto002
Sept30By money paid me01811{1}{2}

The money that Locke lent to Shaw was not only noted down by Shaw, but also by Locke himself. MSS Locke c.1-2 consist of two ledgers, containing Locke’s accounts, 1671-1704. These accounts were ordered per person. MS Locke c.1 contains the accounts for the period 1671-1702. Consider the following fragment from the entries booked under the name of William Shaw, p. 342 (see ill. 8):

William Shaw Dr
1701July75To Cash lent him361126
Sept3021To ditto91811{1}{2}

Thus an entry of the money received by Shaw from the creditor Locke is mirrored by an entry of the money given by Locke to the debtor Shaw (the sums of £ 1-1-6 and £ 0-1-0 that Shaw had entered separately were taken together by Locke and entered as £ 1-2-6). So much on the resemblances between the handwriting of the scribe in MS Locke e.1 pp. 52-56 and in MS Locke f.34 fols 69v-70r, and on the attribution of this hand to Shaw. The handwriting in the subsequent pages of MS Locke f.34 starts to change; it closely resembles the hand that filled MS Locke c.28 fols 121-130 (compare ill. 7 with ill. 4). The corresponding entries in Locke’s ledger confirm that these later entries in MS Locke f.34 are still by Shaw. In addition, we have a copy of a letter from Locke to Dr. Daniel Whitby, 17 September 1702, that resembles the handwriting in MS Locke c.28 fols 121-130 and that according to De Beer was by William Shaw (compare ill. 9 with ill. 4). To conclude: although the handwritings in MS Locke e.1 pp. 210-216 and in MS Locke c.28 fols 121-130 differ from each other, they can both be safely attributed to William Shaw. In the early modern period it was not at all unusual for one scribe to use different scripts at different occasions. Shaw seems to use an ‘every-day’ script in MS Locke e.1 pp. 210-216 and a neat English copperplate script in MS Locke c.28 fols 121-130. As a scribe Shaw is a very likely candidate. It is known that at the end of his life Locke intended to make use of his services in transcribing (part of) his Paraphrase and Notes on the Epistles of St. Paul even although the man must have been rather lazy. Yet Locke was to keep this servant until his death. In his last will (11 April 1704) he bequeathed to Shaw ‘five pounds and all my wearing apparell if he shall be in my service at the time of my death’ and the latter duly signed for having received both the money and the clothes on 1 November 1704.

[9] If William Shaw was the scribe of MS Locke e.1 pp. 210-216, than the moment that the man went into Locke’s service can be used for further dating of MS Locke e.1. De Beer states that Shaw succeeded James Dorrington as Locke’s servant in the Summer of 1701. Indeed, the first entry in Shaw’s hand in MS Locke f.34, the account book mentioned above (see [8]), is dated 6 July 1701 and the first entry in Locke’s Journal relating to Shaw can be found on 7 July 1701: ‘Lent Will £ 1-2-6’ (see [8] for this transaction in Locke’s ledger). Also, the last mention made of Dorrington is 20 June 1701 in Locke’s ledger and 21 June of the same year in Locke’s Journal: ‘paid James Dorington £ 5-10-6{1}{2}’.

[10] Assuming again a chronological order within MS Locke e.1 (see 11. Enthusiasm (1695-1697) [6]), and further assuming that Shaw wrote MS Locke e.1 pp. 210-216 (see [8]) and that he went into Locke’s service in June/July 1701 (see [9]), it follows that the last part of MS Locke e.1, starting with the paragraphs copied by Shaw on p. 210, was not written earlier than June/July 1701.

[11] If pp. 52-184 of MS Locke e.1 were written in June/July 1699 at the latest (see [7]) and pp. 210-261 in June/July 1701 at the earliest (see [10]), then there is a period of at least two years in which Locke did not write more than pp. 184-210. (He had been very busy as Commissioner for Trade; he handed over this function in May 1700, thus freeing time to spend his waning energies again more fully on scholarly pursuits.) The existence of a period of at least two years with hardly any work done on the ‘Conduct’, covered by pp. 184-210, is confirmed by four characteristics of MS Locke e.1 that all either start or end in pp. 184-210. Firstly, quire M (pp. 175-190) is the last quire that has a signature on both its first and its last page; quire N (pp. 191-206) has only a signature on its first page; and the remaining quires O-R have no signature at all (see MS Locke e.1 [5]). Secondly, quire N is the last quire to show traces of having had a pen trough its leaves (see MS Locke e.1 [4]). Thirdly, although the quires all vary in size, the length of the quarter sheets of quires N-R is considerably shorter than that of the previous quires (see MS Locke e.1 [2]). Fourthly, from p. 208 onwards, headwords started in the margin are continued into the space reserved for the main text, while no more keywords are given (see MS Locke e.1 [7] (2)).

[12] So far, the genesis of the text of the ‘Conduct’ as contained by MS Locke e.1 has been divided into three major periods: the text up to and including p. 184 was written in June/July 1699 at the latest; pp. 184-210 were written between June/July 1699 or later and June/July 1701 or later; and the last part, pp. 210-261, was written between June/July 1701 or later and Locke’s death in October 1704. This rough chronology is largely confirmed and further refined by the story that is told by the watermarks in the paper of the quires of MS Locke e.1 (see MS Locke e.1 [3]). The quires fall into 5 categories (assuming that quires π and N-O belong in the same category), each with a specific combination of one watermark and one countermark. Each of these 5 combinations has been traced back in letters and other dated manuscript material of Locke, thus enabling a tentative dating of the corresponding quires (results cannot be more than tentative because it is not possible to determine the amount of time that passed between Locke’s purchase and his actual use of a sheet of paper). The results of this exercise are shown in Table 2.

[13] MS Locke e.1 was not stitched when Locke started work on it (see 11. Enthusiasm (1695-1697) [5]), but it was stitched at some later moment (see MS Locke e.1 [4]). The continuous way in which he entered some additions to the ‘Conduct’ on the verso side of the last leaf of one quire and then proceeded with this same correction on the recto side of the first leaf of the next quire, makes it likely that the quires used for the ‘Conduct’ were tied together by the time Locke started to make these relatively late additions. Clear examples of such additions can be found on pp. 64-65 (quires D/E), pp. 144-145 (quires I/K), pp. 158-159 (quires K/L) and pp. 254-255 (quires Q/R).

[14] The ‘working order’ of the ‘Conduct’ in MS Locke e.1 was not meant as a definitive order. On fols 121-130 of MS Locke c.28 Locke made a start with the task outlined by himself on page i of MS Locke e.1 (see MS Locke e.1 [6]): ‘Mem: That these following discourses are to be writ out under their several heads into distinct Chapters, and then to be numberd and ranged according to their natural order’. Folios 121-130 contain two chapters, ‘Introduction’ (numbered ‘I’) and ‘Of Reasoning’ (unnumbered), both consisting of paragraphs that can be found on different places in MS Locke e.1 (see MS Locke c.28, fols 121-138 [6]). Each chapter was stitched separately (see MS Locke c.28, fols 121-138 [4]). Locke himself only wrote the first words of these chapters, while the rest of the work was done by William Shaw. However, Locke’s hand keeps appearing on fols 121-130 in order to make some additions (see MS Locke c.28, fols 121-138 [9]).

[15] Folios 121-130 of MS Locke c.28 are clearly copied from MS Locke e.1; the numbers in the margins of fols 121-130 (see MS Locke c.28, fols 121-138 [7]) correspond with the pages of the respective passages in MS Locke e.1 (for a similar procedure see [6]). The pages in MS Locke e.1 that were copied in MS Locke c.28 are marked by a vertical line in the margin of MS Locke e.1 (see MS Locke e.1 [7] (5)).

[16] It is not clear when Locke started work on fols 121-130 of MS Locke c.28, but it must have been after practically all of MS Locke e.1 had been written. One of the passages covered by fols 121-130 of MS Locke c.28 is on pp. 248-261 of MS Locke e.1. The only thing that Locke was to write in MS Locke e.1 after these pages was the unfinished last paragraph on ‘Custom’ on p. 260. If the manuscript sent from London to Oates in January 1704 (see [EMPTY REF]) was MS Locke e.1, then Shaw’s partial transcription of this manuscript to fols 121-130 of MS c.28 and Locke’s writing of ‘Custom’ in MS Locke e.1 probably took place between this time and the latter’s death on 28 October 1704.

[17] The next folios of MS Locke c.28, fols 131-138 (quires D-F), differ from the previous fols 121-130 (quires π-2π and A-C) in various respects. Folios 131-138 no longer show any trace of Locke’s handwriting. Also, there are no signs of previous binding (see MS Locke c.28, fols 121-138 [4]). Finally, the size of the quires that contain fols 131-138 is different from the previous quires (see MS Locke c.28, fols 121-138 [2]). Locke had probably started to work on fols 121-130 only during the last six months of his life (see [16]). In his farewell letter to Peter King (see [98]) he confirmed that his instructions on the first page of MS Locke e.1 (see [14]) still had to be carried out. The last sentence in this letter about the ‘Conduct’ gains extra urgency by the fact that it was inserted later and in a different colour of ink than the rest of the letter: ‘But the heads and chapters must be reduced into order.’ Since Peter King was the recipient of these instructions, he is the most likely candidate for being their executor. After Locke’s death he took over responsibility for the transcription of MS Locke e.1 to MS Locke c.28. Whereas fols 121-130 had still been produced under Locke’s own direction, King was responsible for the production of fols 131-138; this explains the differences between fols 121-130 and fols 131-138. The task of transcribing the text of MS Locke e.1 to MS Locke c.28 fols 131-138 was not carried out by King himself, but by a scribe in his service. However, King did set up the chapter ‘Of Mathematicks’ on fol. 132v for this scribe (as had been the habit of Locke himself). These few lines on fol. 132v show indeed a close resemblance with King’s hand, which can be found in various Locke manuscripts in the Bodleian Library (compare ill. 5 with ill. 10). Locke must have died even before he had been able to thoroughly check and correct Shaw’s transcription on fols 121-130. This task was finished by King, which explains why these folios bear witness to interventions in the hands of both Locke and King.

[18] King was probably the editor of the ‘Conduct’ as it would appear for the first time in PW. The passage about the ‘Conduct’ in Locke’s farewell letter to King (see [98]) was repeated almost verbatim in the ‘Advertisement to the Reader’ in PW:

The Conduct of the Understanding he always thought to be a Subject very well worth Consideration. As any Miscarriages in that point accidentally came into his Mind, he used sometimes to set them down in Writing, with those remedies that he could then think of. This Method, tho’ it makes not that Haste to the End which one would wish, yet perhaps [is] the only one that can be followed in the Case. It being here, as in Physick, impossible for a Physician to describe a Disease, or seek Remedies for it, till he comes to meet with it. Such Particulars of this kind as occurr’d to the Author at a time of Leisure, he, as is before said, sat down in Writing; intending, if he had lived, to have reduc’d them into Order and Method, and to have made a complete Treatise; whereas now it is only a Collection of casual Observations, sufficient to make Men see some Faults in the Conduct of their Understanding, and suspect there may be more, and may perhaps serve to excite others to enquire farther into it, than the Author hath done.

[19] Neither MS Locke e.1 nor MS Locke c.28 fols 121-138 functioned as printer’s copy for the ‘Conduct’ in PW, but both were used as a source. MS Locke e.1 is the main source, but PW has a (slightly altered) passage that was added in Locke’s hand on fol. 123r of MS Locke c.28 (see MS Locke c.28, fols 121-138 [9] (3) and below, [20]), but that is absent in MS Locke e.1. This suggests that MS Locke c.28 was also used as a source.

[20] Peter King did make a start with the task of ordering and correcting the text of the ‘Conduct’. He corrected Shaw’s work on fols 121-130 of MS Locke c.28 and he was responsible for the transcription by what was probably his own scribe on fols 131-138 of the same manuscript (see [17]). However, it is clear that King did not finish his job. The elements of MS Locke e.1 that were presented as the ‘Conduct’ in PW were not ‘writ out … into distinct Chapters’, nor were they ranged ‘according to their natural order’ (see [14]). King must have felt that this task went above his capacities. Locke’s instructions, combined with such information as King could have gathered from marginal headwords and keywords (see MS Locke e.1 [7]) and from the content of the rather loose remarks that make up the ‘Conduct’, did not provide him with the necessary information. Instead, he presented the parts of MS Locke e.1 in roughly the same chronological order as they had been written down by Locke, without any additional ordering. He divided these parts into 45 rather arbitrary sections (whose headings were derived from the marginal headwords and keywords in MS Locke e.1) and omitted the unfinished last paragraph on p. 260. There is even an example of King undoing a case of Locke’s own ordering in MS Locke c.28. Locke had ranged three parts of MS Locke e.1, one on p. 62 (headword ‘Introduction’), the next on pp. 114-116 and the last on pp. 62-64 (headword ‘Parts’) together in chapter 1, ‘Introduction’, of MS Locke c.28, fols 121r-123r. King decided to ignore this ordering and to go back to a more fragmented presentation. He presented the first two parts as ‘§1 Introduction’ and the third as ‘§2 Parts’. Since King failed to order Locke’s ‘discourses’ into chapters, it is only fitting that his edition does not consist of chapters, but of sections. We have seen (MS Locke c.28, fols 121-138 [9] (3)) that at the end of chapter 1 in MS Locke c.28, fol. 123r. Locke had added the following sentence: ‘Some of them [errors] I shall take notice of and endeavour to point out proper remedies for in the following Chapters.’ King decided to include this sentence in PW, but since he had not ordered the material of MS Locke e.1 into chapters he duly substituted the word ‘Discourse’ for ‘Chapters’. He knew his task but he also understood that he had been unable to fulfil it.

Relation with the Essay

[21] The ‘Conduct’ was projected as an addition to the Essay. The title ‘Of the Conduct of the understanding’ in MS Locke e.1 p. 62 is preceded by its planned chapter number in the Essay: ‘B:IV C:XX’. This heading was never deleted. Also, on pp. 113-114 Locke gives the following instructions about the desired place of two introductory paragraphs to the ‘Conduct’ on pp. 114-116 (these instructions may have been added later, so we cannot be sure about their chronology in relation to the rest of the text): ‘NB what here immediately follows concerning Logic is to begin this Chapter of the conduct of the understanding’. The implication of this entry is that the ‘Conduct’ is here still regarded as a chapter of the Essay. However, MS Locke e.1 provides us with proof for a change of mind concerning the status of the ‘Conduct’. Occasionally, in the ‘Conduct’ Locke refers back to the Essay. There are at least four clear cases in MS Locke e.1 of corrections or additions that amount to changing an internal reference to the Essay into an external reference. By the time that these conversions were made, Locke must have decided that the ‘Conduct’ would not be a part the Essay.

(1) On p. 72 of MS Locke e.1 (par. 10) Locke writes: ‘Those hindrances of our understandings in the pursuit of knowledg I have sufficiently enlarged upon in an other place so that noe thing more needs here to be said of those matters’. However, the manuscript shows that he first wrote ‘other parts of this treatise’ and only later changed this in ‘an other place so’.

(2) On p. 98 of MS Locke e.1 (par. 30) Locke briefly mentions the problem of the relation between words and ideas: ‘… what I have said in the 3d booke of my Essay will excuse me from any other answer to this question’. Initially he had written ‘this Essay’, and replaced ‘this’ only later by ‘my’.

(3) On p. 148 of MS Locke e.1 (par. 63) we read: ‘I have copiously enough spoken of the abuse of words in an other place …’ He first wrote ‘spoken in this tract’. Probably he then substituted ‘treatise’ for ‘tract’, then deleted ‘in this treatise’ and finally added ‘in an other place’.

(4) The clearest indication for a parting of ways between Essay and ‘Conduct’ is given by the paragraphs on ‘Association’ (par. 76-79). In 1697 (see 13. Association (1697) [5]) Locke entered ‘Association’ in MS Locke e.1, pp. 32-56. He only included the first part of this material in the fourth edition of the Essay, while the remaining part was to be included in the ‘Conduct’. Consider the following passage in MS Locke e.1, pp. 50-52: ‘[50] when two things [52] in them selves disjoynd appear to the sight constantly united. if the eye sees those things rivited which are loose where will you begin to rectifie the mistakes that follow [*] from it. Tis a [**] hard thing to convince any one that things are not soe, & naturaly soe as they constantly appear to him’. The part from p. 32 until * on p. 52 was included in Book II, Chapter xxxiii ‘Of the Association of Ideas’ in the fourth edition of the Essay. In this edition (and in subsequent editions), the text until * was continued with the following words (sect. 18), which cannot be found in MS Locke e.1: ‘[*] in two Ideas, that they have been accustom’d so to join in their Minds, as to substitute one for the other, and, as I am apt to think, often without perceiving it themselves?’ Since the fourth edition went to the press in June/July 1699 (see [7]), it was at the latest by then that Locke decided not to include pp. 52-56 of MS Locke e.1 on ‘Association’ in the new chapter for the Essay. It was only later that he decided to use this remaining material for the ‘Conduct’. By the time he ordered William Shaw to copy the remaining material on ‘Association’ to pp. 210-216 of MS Locke e.1, it was June/July 1701 at the earliest (see [9]). It is certain that Shaw copied at least part of the text on pp. 210-216 from another source than pp. 52-56 (see MS Locke e.1 [9]). However, it is likely that Shaw’s unknown source was similar to pp. 32-56 of MS Locke e.1, in that the ‘Conduct’-part on ‘Association’ was not yet set apart from the previous Essay-part on the same subject. This meant that Locke first had to provide an acceptable beginning for a new paragraph in the ‘Conduct’. He could not simply ask Shaw to start at (the place in the unknown source that was parallel to) ** on p. 52 in MS Locke e.1. Something had to be entered before ** in order to produce a decent introductory sentence for what in the ‘Conduct’ was to be the new subject on ‘Association’. This is what Locke added in his own hand on pp. 208-210 of MS Locke e.1:

[208] Though I have in the 2d book of my Essay concerning humane understanding treated of the Association of Ideas yet haveing donne it there historicaly as giveing a view of the understanding in this as well as its several other ways of operateing rather than designeing there to enquire into the remedies ought to be applied to it, It will under this later consideration afford other matter of thought to those who have a minde to instruct them selves throughly in the right way of conducting their understandings and that the rather because this if I mistake not is as frequent a cause of mistake and error in us as perhaps [210] any thing else that can be named, and is a disease of the mind as hard to be cured as any. It being a very [**]

With these words he had set up a new paragraph for Shaw, who could now start at ** with copying the text from (the unknown source that ran parallel to) MS Locke e.1 pp. 52-56 to pp. MS Locke e.1 210-216. It is not clear why exactly Locke chose to include in the ‘Conduct’ a part on ‘Association’ that he first had discarded as an addition to the Essay, but wrong association of ideas is certainly an important aspect of the central theme of the ‘Conduct’, i.e. that of errors relevant for his logic of ideas. Given the intimate connection between the Essay and the ‘Conduct’ in general, and the Essay-part and the ‘Conduct’-part on ‘Association’ in particular, it is doubtful whether Locke’s characterization of these parts in the quotation above amounts to much more than a posterior rationalization. What is clear however, is that for all practical purposes he had started to regard the ‘Conduct’ as a work separate from the Essay. All this provides detailed confirmation of John Yolton’s remark that ‘In some ways, the ‘Conduct’ picks up from the Essay chapter on the association of ideas …’

Choice of copy-text

[22] Either MS Locke e.1 or MS Locke c.28, fols 121-138 can be chosen as copy-text for an edition of the ‘Conduct’. Another candidate, the text in PW (used for all subsequent editions of the ‘Conduct’), must be discarded. It is a posthumous text that is based on these two sources. MS Locke c.28 gives a copy of the draft version in MS Locke e.1. However, MS Locke c.28 covers only a small part of the text presented in MS Locke e.1. I will chose MS Locke e.1 pp. 52-182/184-261 as copy-text for the present edition of the ‘Conduct’. The ‘Conduct’-part on ‘Association’ demands special attention, since it appears twice in MS Locke e.1. The first version on pp. 52-56 is in Locke’s own hand. The second version appears on pp. 210-216; it is in the hand of William Shaw, but contains corrections in the hand of Locke. Shaw’s copy follows in most cases the wording of Locke’s holograph, but is probably copied from another version that has been lost (see MS Locke e.1 [9]). Shaw’s copy differs from Locke’s holograph in punctuation, orthography, and in some wordings. In addition, this copy has one sentence (at the end of par. 77 in the present edition) that is absent from Locke’s holograph. Although Shaw’s copy is more recent than Locke’s holograph and although it contains corrections in Locke’s hand, the choice for this copy as copy-text would imply that Shaw’s orthography and punctuation would be given priority over Locke’s own writing on pp. 52-56. The fact that Locke did not bother to correct Shaw’s orthography and punctuation does not imply that he preferred his scribe’s idiosyncrasies to his own habits. However, Locke’s corrections indicate that he did check the wording of the text. The editors have therefore taken Locke’s holograph as copy-text, but in the few cases of differences in wording they have opted in most cases for Shaw’s copy (in cases where substantive differences are likely to be due to scribal errors that Locke failed to correct, preference has been given to Locke’s holograph). The complete sentence that is present in Shaw’s copy but not in Locke’s holograph, is included in the present edition (it is also included in PW). Differences in wording between Locke’s holograph and Shaw’s copy are registered in the annotation.

Order of the text

[23] The editors have concluded that, apart from additions and corrections on the recto side of the leafs, the text of the ‘Conduct’ on pp. 52-182, 184-261 of MS Locke e.1 is in chronological order (see 11. Enthusiasm (1695-1697) [6]); that this was not meant to be a definitive order; that Locke started ordering the material of MS Locke e.1 on fols 121-130 of MS Locke c.28 (see [14]); and that King failed to complete this job (see [20]). A modern editor of the ‘Conduct’ has two choices. He can either try to finish King’s job or present the parts of MS Locke e.1 in the ‘working order’ in which they have come down to posterity. The former option presents us with grave difficulties. We are in no better position than King was, and the editors have noted that he did not have the necessary information to bring the job to a successful and unambiguous end (see [20]). The editors have therefore opted for the second possibility, which is also the disposition to which King eventually fell back. Once this general choice is made, some particular problems still remain to be solved.

It is only on p. 62 of MS Locke e.1 that we meet the starting paragraph of the ‘Conduct’, headed ‘Introduction’ by a marginal entry and preceded by ‘B:IV C: XX Of the Conduct of the understanding’. The text that follows from this point onwards contains the bulk of the ‘Conduct’ and runs to the end on p. 260. The editors will call this ‘A’. However, before p. 62 there are already two ‘Conduct’-fragments. The question is what place should be assigned to these fragments relative to A. Pages 52-56 contain the ‘Conduct’-part on ‘Association’ (see [22]). It is not difficult to give this a part an acceptable place. It reappears in a second version on pp. 210-216, where it is included in the running text of A. So, in the present edition the ‘Conduct’-part on ‘Association’ will be given the place that corresponds with the place of pp. 210-216 relative to the previous and subsequent pages in A (this is also the place given to ‘Association’ in PW).

The second ‘Conduct’-fragment before p. 62 is an entry on ‘Reasoning’ (pp. 56-62). It is continued with a late addition on pp. 248-261. Pages 56-62 and pp. 248-261 make up what the editors will call ‘B’. The text on pp. 248-261 is clearly marked by Locke as a continuation of the first part of B on pp. 56-62. There can be no doubt about B being a part of the ‘Conduct’. The two subfragments, pp. 56-62 and pp. 248-261, were taken together by Locke and copied by Shaw as the chapter ‘Of Reasoning’ on fols 125-130 of MS Locke c.28. At the top of the margin of fol. 125r Locke himself wrote ‘Conduct’ (see MS Locke c.28, fols 121-138 [7]). However, the number of this chapter was repeatedly and conspicuously left open (see MS Locke c.28, fols 121-138 [6]). Apparently Locke had not yet made up his mind about its definitive place in a finished version of the ‘Conduct’. This leaves us with the problem of where to place B in relation to A. There are three options: B can be placed before, somewhere within, or after A. The obvious start of the ‘Conduct’ is formed by its introduction as given in A, which eliminates the first possibility. King settled for the second alternative. He inserted B as sect. 3 between sect. 2 and sect. 4 of his edition (where it has remained in all subsequent editions), i.e. between par. 5 and 6 of the present edition. However, neither MS Locke e.1 nor MS Locke c.28 contain any justification for this solution. We can only guess here at King’s motives. So far as we know, ‘Of Reasoning’ (=B) is the only chapter in MS Locke c.28 fols 121-138 that was ordered by Locke himself, apart from the introductory chapter. This may have prompted King to place B immediately after this introductory chapter (i.e. after sect. 1-2 in his own edition), thus starting his edition with the only two chapters that were arranged by Locke himself. However, it is clear that the place assigned by King to B is not only unmotivated but also destroys the connection between par. 5 and 6 in A. Par. 5 ends with a remark about the errors that are caused by a lack of exercise of our mental faculties: ‘And it is easy to perceive that men are guilty of a great many faults in the exercise and improvement of this facultie of the mind which hinders them in their progresse and keep them in ignorance and error all their lives.’ And par. 6 continues with the importance of exercising these faculties (‘powers’): ‘We are borne with faculties and powers capable almost of any thing such at least as would carry us farther then can be easily imagined. But tis only the exercise of those powers which gives us ability and skill in any thing and leads us towards perfection’. The manuscript material does not provide us with clear clues for another place of B within A. What remains is the third option: placing B after A.

An easier problem is that of the internal order of the introductory paragraphs. We have seen that p. 62 of MS Locke e.1 gives a paragraph marked ‘Introduction’, but that there are also two introductory paragraphs on pp. 114-116 of the same manuscript, also marked ‘Introduction’ in the margin. These latter paragraphs are unconnected with the entries before and after them (see 11. Enthusiasm (1695-1697) [6]). However, Locke himself had entered the following instructions concerning these introductory paragraphs on pp. 113-114 : ‘NB what here immediately follows concerning Logic is to begin this Chapter of the conduct of the understanding’. Does this mean that the introductory paragraphs on pp. 114-116 should precede even the introductory paragraph on page 62, or should they be placed after this paragraph? When Locke asked Shaw to copy this material as the chapter called ‘Introduction’ on fols 121-123 of MS Locke c.28, he chose for the latter possibility. This order was also taken by King in PW and it is the order for which the editors have opted as well.

Finally, in addition to the text comprising A and B, MS Locke e.1 contains some secondary material pertaining to the ‘Conduct’ (see MS Locke e.1 [6]). This material is included as items C-K in an appendix to the main text. The Ciceronian motto on page iv of MS Locke e.1, ‘Quid tam …’, cannot with certainty be regarded as the motto of the ‘Conduct’. However, it is included as such in the present edition (as it was also included in PW). Its subject is that of error, which very well fits the main theme of the ‘Conduct’.

The order of the present edition, with the exception of the place assigned to B, is the same as the one given by King in PW. However, since the editors have not ordered the material into chapters and since an ordering into sections, as practised by King, is bound to remain an arbitrary procedure, they have taken the successive paragraphs (as marked by Locke himself) as the basic unit for this edition (the well-established section numbers are also given, in the inner margin of the text). These paragraphs will be referred to by means of Arabic numbers. For the sake of easy reference the series of paragraph numbers that starts with the first paragraph of A, will be continued with the two paragraphs of B. The over-all result is a text that starts where it should, that continues in an order that is based on the evidence provided by the manuscripts and that does not assume more than the evidence warrants.

Section numbers

[24] The section numbers used by King in PW are given between brackets in the inner margin. However, in King’s edition there are two cases of misnumbered sections (numbers 13 and 38 were used twice). In later editions these errors were corrected. The editors will give these corrected section numbers.

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’.