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Travel Literature In The Essay Concerning Human Understanding

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Chapter Summary

Locke made his most extensive use of travel literature in the Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Arguing against the theory that some ideas were innate to the human mind he referred to 16 authors who might be classified as travel writers. He chose these authors as reliable and important accounts. Some were eyewitnesses, others could be regarded as trustworthy reporters with access to a number of firsthand accounts, while one of the most frequently cited authors had a particular association with experimental science and a connection with Boyle. He cited Martin Baumgarten, Garcilaso de la Vega, Peter Martyr, Isaac Vossius, Jean de Léry and Th évenot to show that whole societies did indeed transgress, what were often thought by Christians to be, innate moral rules. Edward Terry offered a rather fuller description of the Hottentots because he relied on an English speaking native informant called Cooree.

Keywords: Boyle; Christianity; Edward Terry; Essay Concerning Human Understanding; Garcilaso de la Vega; Hottentot; Locke; Peter Martyr; Th évenot; travel literature

10.1163/ej.9789004181151.i-338.81
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