London: by Eliz. Holt, for Thomas Basset, 1690. First edition. Elizabeth Holt imprint, the first issue according to Yolton 61A; PMM 164; Pforzheimer 599. Collation: A4; (a)2; B-Ccc4; 198 leaves. With the errors on leaves A(3) and A(4) uncorrected, but with the three misnumbered pages: 287, 296 and 303. Yolton 61A. Collates complete with pages measuring 313 x 192 mm. Folio, bound in 19th century quarter-leather, marbled-paper boards, rebacked and with inner hinges reinforced. Page block tight, with well-margined, crisp leaves, generally unblemished, but with unobtrusive marginal worming affecting the last 12 leaves in "Part 4" (with a few letters obscured) and through the "Contents" leaves (with the occasional word partially obscured, but still quite legible). One small pinhole at the outer margin extends through a majority of the leaves. In all a fresh, honest copy that hasn't been washed or otherwise sophisticated.
A monolith in the landscape of philosophical treatises, Locke was the first "to attempt to estimate critically the certainty and the adequacy of human knowledge when confronted with God and the universe," and concludes that man has a means of controlling his own destiny and is thus not the pure victim of chance. PMM 164. He advanced the concept of people born "tabula rasa," and filled through their lives by experiences. This concept formed the basis for the empiricist camp in modern philosophy, later expanded by Hume and Berkeley. "An Essay" was placed on the Catholic Index in 1700 for its controversial content, where it remains to this day (see Height, "Banned Books," p. 27-8).
While there is a debate surrounding which of the two 1690 issues is first, it seems clear that the Holt issue (offered here) is the less common to market and has traditionally been considered primary. Grolier Club, "One Hundred Books famous in English Literature," 36. Additional images available upon request. (Item #441)
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