The Educational Writings of John Locke: A Critical Edition with Introduction and Notes

By James L. Axtell; John Locke | Go to book overview

SOME THOUGHTS CONCERNING EDUCATION

§1. A Sound Mind in a sound Body,1 is a short, but full Description of a Happy State in this World: He that has these Two, has little more to wish for; and he that wants either of them, will be but little the better for any thing else. Men's Happiness or Misery is most part of their own making. He, whose Mind directs not wisely, will never take the right Way; and he, whose Body is crazy2 and feeble, will never be able to advance in it.3 I confess, there are some Men's Constitutions of Body and Mind so vigorous, and well framed by Nature, that they need not much Assistance from others, but by the Strength of their natural Genius, they are from their Cradles carried towards what is Excellent; and by the Privilege of their happy Constitutions, are able to do Wonders. But Examples of this Kind are but few, and I think I may say, that of all the Men we meet with, Nine Parts of Ten4 are what they are, Good or Evil, useful or not, by their Education. 'Tis that which makes the great Difference in Mankind. The little, and almost insensible Impressions on our tender Infancies, have very important and lasting Consequences: And there 'tis, as in the Fountains of some Rivers, where a gentle Application of the Hand turns the flexible Waters into Chanels, that make them take quite contrary Courses, and by this little

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1
This reads 'Mens sana in corpore sano' ( Juvenal, Satire X, 356) in the letter and the manuscripts prior to the first edition. The change reflects Locke's concern for publishing a non-academic, highly practical work that could be read by the largest possible audience.
2
crazy 'frail', originally 'full of cracks or flaws'.
3
Locke's concern for the sound mind in the sound body dates from at least 1659 when he wrote to his ailing father expressing concern for the state of his own health. MS Locke c. 24, fol. 177, 10 April 1660.
4
The first letter to Clarke said 'nine parts of ten, or perhaps ninety-nine of one hundred'. See below, p. 341, the letter of 19 July 1684. In the Conduct Locke reemphasized that 'the difference so observable in men's understandings and parts, does not arise so much from the natural faculties as acquired habits' (§4). But he was not blind to the importance of hereditary characteristics. See below, p. 159. Gailhard, 1678, pp. 3-5, as many other writers of the period, emphasized with Locke the singular importance of education in the formation of human character: 'Let Nature be what it will, it may be changed by Education.' This emphasis marks a significant reversal of the attacks on education and learning which poured out during the Civil War period. See Wood, 1891-2, 1, 294-6, for a list of these attacks.

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The Educational Writings of John Locke: A Critical Edition with Introduction and Notes
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgments xiii
  • NOTE ON REFERENCES TO SOURCES AND AUTHORITIES xv
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - The Book 3
  • 2 - The Tutor and his Pupils 18
  • 3 - The 'Education' in Context 49
  • 4 - Locke and Scientific Education 69
  • 5 - Pierre Coste and the European 'Education' 88
  • EEDITORIAL NOTE TO THE TEXT 105
  • Some Thoughts Concerning Education 114
  • The Collation 326
  • Appendixes 399
  • Bibliography 423
  • Index 437
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