'Things for Actions': Locke's Mistake in 'Of Power'

Locke Studies 10:85-94 (2010)
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Abstract

In a letter to William Molyneux John Locke states that in reviewing his chapter 'Of Power' for the second edition of An Essay Concerning Human Understanding he noticed that he had made one mistake which, now corrected, has put him "into a new view of things" which will clarify his account of human freedom. Locke says the mistake was putting “things for actions” on p.123 of the first edition, a page on which the word 'things' does not appear (The Correspondence of John Locke. E.S. de Beer, ed. (Oxford: Clarendon, 1976), Vol.4, no.1643, 15 July, 1693.) It is the aim of this paper to (1) elucidate where the correction occurs, (2) give an analysis of why the correction is needed, and (3) give an explanation of why Locke believed replacing 'things' with 'actions' was an important change.

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Julie Walsh
Wellesley College

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