Enquiry Concerning Political Justice
London: Printed for G.G.J. and J. Robinson, 1793.
London: Printed for G.G.J. and J. Robinson, 1793. First edition. Contemporary speckled calf with morocco and gilt to spines. Measuring 270 x 210mm. Collating complete, with half title to each volume and final errata leaf and directions to binder at rear of volume II as called for by ESTC and contents bound at front of volume II: xiii, , 378; , 380-895, . Slight lean to volume I. Joints, spine ends, and corners skillfully renewed. Later bookplates of Harold Matthews to front pastedown of each; illegible early ownership signatures to front endpapers of each. Extensive pencil annotations to front and rear endpapers and throughout the margins of volume I; occasional pencil annotations to margins of volume II. Some offsetting to endpapers of both. Internally with occasional marginal toning and soiling. A pleasing copy in a sturdy, contemporary binding.
Considered the most important philosophical contribution of the novelist and political writer William Godwin, An Enquiry Concerning Political Justice "explored the idea of dismantling the power of the state...In the book, Godwin proposes that there should be no limits on freedom of thought and expression of the individual; and that the pursuit of knowledge should be the primary aim of the individual. Godwin states his belief that crime and moral failings derive from poor thinking and reasoning -- thus they can be corrected and should not be punished. Godwin believes that these measures would ultimately have a fundamental impact both on the individual and on society at large, and that eventually the institutions of government would become redundant" (British Library). Within the wider international context of the French Revolution, Godwin's ideas were shocking to a number of English readers -- something evidenced by the extensive annotations in this copy that are made in a single hand in English, Latin, and Greek, and which contain rebuttals, references, and sometimes outbursts decrying the printed content.
ESTC T94275. (Item #5603)