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Of the Abuse of Words (Penguin Great Ideas) Mass Market Paperback – 27 Aug 2009

3.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (27 Aug. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0141043873
  • ISBN-13: 978-0141043876
  • Product Dimensions: 11.4 x 1 x 18.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 414,425 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

John Locke (1632-1704) was educated at Christ Church, Oxford and held various academic posts at that university, lecturing on Greek and rhetoric. However, his interests lay in medicine and the new experimental sciences and in 1667 he became personal physician to the Earl of Shaftesbury. Under the influence of Shaftesbury, Locke developed his ideas on politics, property, trade, monarchy and the mind. Shaftesbury became a bitter opponent of Charles II and was involved in the plot of 1683. This forced Locke to flee in exile to Holland, but he returned after 1688 and began to publish his most famous works. He wrote also on theology, education, and in defence of religous tolerance, while founding the analytic philosophy of the mind.


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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars
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Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I bought this because I had been thinking about the gap in understanding/expression/meaning between what is felt and thought internally and what can be expressed to another person through words. Although this book does not have an answer for this, it does have some very interesting ideas about how we learn and then put ideas together based on what we have taken in from our learning- ie you only know about an apple if you have encountered an apple and you only know about them growing on trees if you have also learned this- you dont just come up with things that you have not learned.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
I am a fan of the Penguin - Great Ideas series of books, so when I saw this book for sale I thought it would be a great opportunity to further my knowledge of philosophy, since I I knew John Locke and his writings only on a very general level.

As you can probably tell by the title, this is mainly a book about epistemology and etymology. The author starts by exploring the way ideas are formed by the human mind, and explains how some types of ideas are more liable to error than others. He explains what it means for an idea to be "adequate" or not, on the basis that words will always be liable to mistakes if the ideas they are trying to convey aren't clear. He goes on to explore language itself, and how it is prone to mistakes (and, eventually, to "disputes") because men usually believe words to be the thing that they supposedly stand for. Since we mostly learn words before learning about ideas, most of the definitions we have will not be exactly the same everyone else has, and we will be using the same words to signify different things.

The book is interesting but, I must admit, I found it a bit hard to get into, mainly because of the language - some words, specially prepositions, seem to have changed somewhat, which confused me a bit. Also, the sentences are unusually long. I suspect this might not be as big a problem for English native speakers as it was for me (I'm fluent in English and quite used to reading in this language, but it's still not my primary language).

If you're interested in philosophy and language than this is definitely an important book to read. Just keep in mind it's not an easy one.
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By lee on 22 Mar. 2014
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
I found the book to be "old" and typified with the English language of pre-yester year, however excerpts were interesting I did become overall somewhat confused!!
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