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ORIGINS OF MODERNITY

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Condillac, Etienne Bonnot de (1714-1780)
An essay on the origin of human knowledge : being a supplement to Mr Locke's Essay on the human understanding.
London : Printed for J. Nourse, 1756.

Image from Condillac's Essay

Etienne Condillac (1715-1780) was one of the second generation of philosophes of the French Enlightenment. He was greatly influenced by Voltaireís portrayal of Locke and Newton and indeed was gripped by the philosophy of Locke as a young man in the early 1740s. By 1746 he had published his Essai sur líorigine des connaissances humaines which, as one might expect from the title, develops a qualified Lockean theory of knowledge. The esteem in which he held Locke is seen in the pages displayed in this English translation of his Essai. Condillacís main philosophical contribution also represents his major disagreement with Locke. For the Frenchman believed that there is no knowledge without language. The priority he gave to the language of action on the formation of thought in turn impacted upon his compatriot Diderot.

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