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Shortly thereafter, he signed an agreement with Thomas Bassett to publish the book, which duly appeared in December 1689 (although the publisher gave the date 1690 on the title page). In Book I, Locke establishes that our ideas are not innate. In Book II, he goes on to show that ideas are the result of experience, of sensation and the minds reflection upon its experiences.
His conclusion is that, while there can be no certain knowledge of matters of fact involving substance, the nature of moral ideas makes it possible to have certain knowledge of the laws of morality. Four editions were published during his lifetime, and he left material for a revised fifth edition (published in 1706). Lockes contract with Thomas Basset is preserved in MS.
To these editions, he added important discussions on liberty and determinism, identity, perception, enthusiasm and the association of ideas.
Hills, and the booksellers of London and Westminster.
Second issue: An essay concerning humane understanding.
London: printed for Awnsham and John Churchil ; and Samuel Manship , MDCC .
The new material was also issued on slips for insertion in copies of earlier editions; the British Library copy of the 3rd ed.
This I proposed to the Company, who all readily assented; and thereupon it was agreed, that this should be out first Enquiry.
Some hasty and undigested Thoughts, on a Subject I had never before considered, which I set down against our next Meeting, gave the first entrance into this Discourse, which having been thus begun by Chance, was continued by Intreaty; written by incoherent parcels; and, after long intervals of neglect, resumd again, as my Humour or Occasions permitted; and at last, in a retirement, where an Attendance on my Health gave me leisure, it was brought into that order, thou now seest it. Some of the /incoherent parcels still survive, allowing us to trace the development of the work. The textual history of the early editions is described by C. Johnston, The printing history of the first four editions of the Essay concerning human understanding / by Charlotte S.
Although urged by friends to write such a treatise, Locke never produced more than a few tentative notes..
Lockes list of presentation copies is in MS.