Locke's Science of Knowledge: 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Locke's Science of Knowledge

1st Edition

By Matt Priselac


240 pages | 19 B/W Illus.

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John Locke’s An Essay Concerning Human Understanding begins with a clear statement of an epistemological goal: to explain the limits of human knowledge, opinion, and ignorance. The actual text of the Essay, in stark contrast, takes a long and seemingly meandering path before returning to that goal at the Essay’s end—one with many detours through questions in philosophy of mind, metaphysics, and philosophy of language. Over time, Locke scholarship has come to focus on Locke’s contributions to these parts of philosophy. In Locke’s Science of Knowledge, Priselac refocuses on the Essay’s epistemological thread, arguing that the Essay is unified from beginning to end around its compositional theory of ideas and the active role Locke gives the mind in constructing its thoughts. To support the plausibility and demonstrate the value of this interpretation, Priselac argues that—contrary to its reputation as being at best sloppy and at worst outright inconsistent—Locke’s discussion of skepticism and account of knowledge of the external world fits neatly within the Essay’s epistemology.


"This study of Locke's epistemology in An Essay Concerning Human Understanding is an original, ambitious, and complex monograph that also shows command of the relevant recent Locke scholarship … Locke scholars who work through Priselac's rich book will profit from the effort."Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Simple Ideas, Ideas of Qualities, and the Simple Idea of Power

Chapter 2: The Genetic Structure of Ideas of Substances

Chapter 3: Locke’s Account of Knowledge

Chapter 4: Locke’s Account of Knowledge of the External World

Chapter 5: Locke’s Response to Skepticism

Chapter 6: Locke and Idealism

About the Author

Matthew Priselac is Assistant Professor of Philosophy at the University of Oklahoma, USA

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Seventeenth-Century Philosophy

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PHILOSOPHY / Epistemology
PHILOSOPHY / History & Surveys / Modern