It is trial and examination must give it price, and not any antique fashion; and though it be not yet current by the public stamp, yet it may, for all that, be as old as nature, and is certainly not the less genuine.
Your lordship can give great and convincing instances of this, whenever you please to oblige the public with some of those large and comprehensive discoveries you have made of truths hitherto unknown, unless to some few, from whom your lordship has been pleased not wholly to conceal them.
This I am sure, I am under the greatest obligations to seek all occasions to acknowledge a long train of favours I have received from your lordship; favours, though great and important in themselves, yet made much more so by the forwardness, concern, and kindness, and other obliging circumstances, that never failed to accompany them.
To all this you are pleased to add that which gives yet more weight and relish to all the rest: you vouchsafe to continue me in some degrees of your esteem, and allow me a place in your good thoughts, I had almost said friendship.
is the foundational text for modern philosophical empiricism.
This essay set the standard for empirically-based arguments against the traditions of rationalism.This alone were a sufficient reason, were there no other, why I should dedicate this Essay to your lordship; and its having some little correspondence with some parts of that nobler and vast system of the sciences your lordship has made so new, exact, and instructive a draught of, I think it glory enough, if your lordship permit me to boast, that here and there I have fallen into some thoughts not wholly different from yours.If your lordship think fit that, by your encouragement, this should appear in the world, I hope it may be a reason, some time or other, to lead your lordship further; and you will allow me to say, that you here give the world an earnest of something that, if they can bear with this, will be truly worth their expectation.The central symbol in the essay to describe how knowledge is acquired is the “tabula rasa” or blank slate that exists at birth.Only through experience can knowledge be written upon that slate.Furthermore, what of those individuals who are incapable of ever understanding such simple concepts despite supposedly being born with them already in place?In fact, brings empirical philosophy into the modern world, where it can influence every discipline from history to scientific experimentation.Things in print must stand and fall by their own worth, or the reader's fancy.But there being nothing more to be desired for truth than a fair unprejudiced hearing, nobody is more likely to procure me that than your lordship, who are allowed to have got so intimate an acquaintance with her, in her more retired recesses.The historical context within which Locke composed the essay endowed its epistemological issues with a more immediately political dimension.The rough treatment directed toward contesting the widespread belief in innate ideas was manifested in part as an attack upon the power and authority of its most fervent proponents.