John Locke (1632-1704)

From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

John Locke (b. 1632, d. 1704) was a British philosopher, Oxford academic and medical researcher. Locke’s monumental An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689) is one of the first great defenses of empiricism and concerns itself with determining the limits of human understanding in respect to a wide spectrum of topics. It thus tells us in some detail what one can legitimately claim to know and what one cannot.

Locke’s association with Anthony Ashley Cooper (later the First Earl of Shaftesbury) led him to become successively a government official charged with collecting information about trade and colonies, economic writer, opposition political activist, and finally a revolutionary whose cause ultimately triumphed in the Glorious Revolution of 1688. Among Locke’s political works he is most famous for The Second Treatise of Government in which he argues that sovereignty resides in the people and explains the nature of legitimate government in terms of natural rights and the social contract. He is also famous for calling for the separation of Church and State in his Letter Concerning Toleration. Much of Locke’s work is characterized by opposition to authoritarianism. This is apparent both on the level of the individual person and on the level of institutions such as government and church. For the individual, Locke wants each of us to use reason to search after truth rather than simply accept the opinion of authorities or be subject to superstition. He wants us to proportion assent to propositions to the evidence for them. On the level of institutions it becomes important to distinguish the legitimate from the illegitimate functions of institutions and to make the corresponding distinction for the uses of force by these institutions. Locke believes that using reason to try to grasp the truth, and determine the legitimate functions of institutions will optimize human flourishing for the individual and society both in respect to its material and spiritual welfare. This in turn, amounts to following natural law and the fulfillment of the divine purpose for humanity.

 

An Essay Concerning Human Understanding

An Essay Concerning Human Understanding

ISBN: 0140434828

In An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, first published in 1690, John Locke (1632-1704) provides a complete account of how we acquire everyday, mathematical, natural scientific, religious and ethical knowledge. Rejecting the theory that some knowledge is innate in us, Locke argues that it derives from sense perceptions and experience, as analysed and developed by reason. While defending these central claims with vigorous common sense, Locke offers many incidental – and highly influential – reflections on space and time, meaning, free will and personal identity. The result is a powerful, pioneering work, which, together with Descartes’s works, largely set the agenda for modern philosophy.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

 

Two Treatises on Government

Two treatises of government

ISBN: 0521357306

This is a new revised version of Dr. Laslett’s standard edition of Two Treatises. First published in 1960, and based on an analysis of the whole body of Locke’s publications, writings, and papers. The Introduction and text have been revised to incorporate references to recent scholarship since the second edition and the bibliography has been updated.

 

 

 

 

 

Locke: His Philosophical Thought, by Nicholas Jolley

Locke His Philosophical Thought

ISBN: 0198752008

This book is a general introduction to the philosophy of John Locke, one of the most influential thinkers in modern times. Nicholas Jolley aims to show the fundamental unity of Locke’s thought in his masterpiece, the Essay Concerning Human Understanding. In this work Locke advances a coherent theory of knowledge; as against Descartes he argues that knowledge is possible to the extent that it concerns essences which are constructions of the human mind.

 

 

 

 

George Berkeley (1685-1753)

From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

George Berkeley, Bishop of Cloyne, was one of the great philosophers of the early modern period. He was a brilliant critic of his predecessors, particularly Descartes, Malebranche, and Locke. He was a talented metaphysician famous for defending idealism, that is, the view that reality consists exclusively of minds and their ideas. Berkeley’s system, while it strikes many as counter-intuitive, is strong and flexible enough to counter most objections. His most-studied works, the Treatise Concerning the Principles of Human Knowledge (Principles, for short) and Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous (Dialogues), are beautifully written and dense with the sort of arguments that delight contemporary philosophers. He was also a wide-ranging thinker with interests in religion (which were fundamental to his philosophical motivations), the psychology of vision, mathematics, physics, morals, economics, and medicine. Although many of Berkeley’s first readers greeted him with incomprehension, he influenced both Hume and Kant, and is much read (if little followed) in our own day.

 

Principles of Human Knowledge and Three Dialogues

Principles of Human Knowledge and Three Dialogues

ISBN: 0140432930

Whether viewed as extreme skepticism or enlightened common sense, the writings of Berkeley are a major influence on modern philosophy. Bishop Berkeley (1685-1753) was one of the great British empirical philosophers. He believed that the existence of material objects depends on their being perceived and The Principles of Human Knowledge sets out this denial of non-mental material reality.
At first his views were unfavorably received by the London intelligentsia, and the entertaining Three Dialogues between Hylas and Philonous are a clarification of the Realist argument and a response to accusations of atheism and skepticism.
In the nineteenth century John Stuart Mill wrote that he considered Berkeley’s work to be of “greatest philosophic genius,” and it is true to say that its Immaterialism has influenced many recent philosophers.

 

Berkeley’s Thought, by George S. Pappas

Berkeley's Thought

ISBN: 0801437008

In this highly original account of Bishop George Berkeley’s epistemological and metaphysical theories, George S. Pappas seeks to determine precisely what doctrines the philosopher held and what arguments he put forward to support them. Specifically, Pappas overturns accepted opinions about Berkeley’s famous attack on the Lockean doctrine of abstract ideas.
Berkeley’s criticism of these ideas had been thought relevant only to his views on language and to his nominalism; Pappas persuasively argues that Berkeley’s ideas about abstraction are crucial to nearly all of the fundamental principles that he defends.Pappas demonstrates how an adequate appreciation of Berkeley’s views on abstraction can lead to an improved understanding of his important principle of esse is percipi, and of the arguments Berkeley proposes in support of this principle.
Pappas also takes up Berkeley’s widely rejected claim to be a philosopher of common sense. He assesses the validity of this self-description and considers why Berkeley might have chosen to align himself with a commonsense position. Pappas shows how three core concepts―abstraction, perception, and common sense―are central to and interdependent in the work of one of the major figures of early modern Western thought.

 

David Hume (1711-1776)

From the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy:

Generally regarded as one of the most important philosophers to write in English, David Hume (b. 1711, d. 1776) was also well known in his own time as an historian and essayist. A master stylist in any genre, his major philosophical works—A Treatise of Human Nature (1739–1740), the Enquiries concerning Human Understanding (1748) and concerning the Principles of Morals (1751), as well as his posthumously published Dialogues concerning Natural Religion (1779)—remain widely and deeply influential.
Although Hume’s more conservative contemporaries denounced his writings as works of skepticism and atheism, his influence is evident in the moral philosophy and economic writings of his close friend Adam Smith. Kant reported that Hume’s work woke him from his “dogmatic slumbers” and Jeremy Bentham remarked that reading Hume “caused the scales to fall” from his eyes. Charles Darwin regarded his work as a central influence on the theory of evolution. The diverse directions in which these writers took what they gleaned from reading him reflect both the richness of their sources and the wide range of his empiricism. Today, philosophers recognize Hume as a thoroughgoing exponent of philosophical naturalism, as a precursor of contemporary cognitive science, and as the inspiration for several of the most significant types of ethical theory developed in contemporary moral philosophy.

 

A Treatise Of Human Nature

A Treatise of Human Nature

ISBN: 0198751729

The Oxford Philosophical Texts series consists of truly practical and accessible guides to major philosophical texts in the history of philosophy from the ancient world up to modern times. Each book opens with a comprehensive introduction by a leading specialist which covers the philosopher’s life, work, and influence. Endnotes, a full bibliography, guides to further reading, and an index are also included. The series aims to build a definitive corpus of key texts in the Western philosophical tradition, forming a reliable and enduring resource for students and teachers alike.
David Hume’s comprehensive attempt to base philosophy on a new, observationally grounded study of human nature is one of the most important texts in Western philosophy. It is also the focal point of current attempts to understand 18th-century philosophy The Treatise first explains how we form such concepts as cause and effect, external existence, and personal identity, and how we create compelling but unverifiable beliefs in the entities represented by these concepts. It then offers a novel account of the passions, explains freedom and necessity as they apply to human choices and actions, and concludes with a detailed explanation of how we distinguish between virtue and vice. The volume features Hume’s own abstract of the Treatise, a substantial introduction that explains the aims of the Treatise as a whole and of each of its ten parts, a comprehensive index, and suggestions for further reading.

 

An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding

An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding

ISBN: 0198752482

The Oxford Philosophical Texts series consists of truly practical and accessible guides to major philosophical texts in the history of philosophy from the ancient world up to modern times. Each book opens with a comprehensive introduction by a leading specialist which covers the philosopher’s life, work, and influence. Endnotes, a full bibliography, guides to further reading, and an index are also included. The series aims to build a definitive corpus of key texts in the Western philosophical tradition, forming a reliable and enduring resource for students and teachers alike.
Now one of the most widely read works in philosophy, David Hume’s An Enquiry concerning Human Understanding (1748) introduced his philosophy to a broad educated readership. In it he gives an elegant an accessible presentation of strikingly original and challenging views about the limited powers of human understanding, the attractions of skepticism, the compatibility of free will and determinism, and weaknesses in the foundations of religion. In this volume, an authoritative new version of the text is enhanced by detailed explanatory notes, a glossary of terms, a full list of references, and a section of supplementary readings.

 

An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals

An Enquiry Concerning the Principles of Morals

ISBN: 0198751842

In this highly influential work, Hume sets out his theory of justice and benevolence and the other virtues and argues that morality is founded on the natural feelings or sentiments of humankind. The text printed in this edition is the Clarendon critical edition of Hume’s works. Designed especially for students, this volume includes detailed explanatory notes on the text, a glossary of terms, a full list of references, and a section of supplementary readings.

 

 

The Philosophy of David Hume, by Norman Kemp Smith

The Philosophy of David Hume

ISBN: 1403915075

Norman Kemp Smith’s The Philosophy of David Hume has long been regarded as a classic study by scholars in the field – a ground-breaking book that has since been unsurpassed in its comprehensive coverage of the ideas and issues of Hume’s Treatise. This reissue brings this currently out-of-print and highly sought-after classic up-to-date with a new introduction by Don Garrett. Garrett’s new introduction sets the book in its contemporary context and makes the case for its continuing importance in the field of Hume scholarship.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

**Annotations are taken from Amazon.com**