Inspirational Journeys and Trunks of Books: Initial Notes on Locke the Traveller

  • Luisa Simonutti Istituto per la storia del pensiero filosofico e scientifico moderno - C.N.R. Milano
Keywords: travels, Europe, Cleves, correspondence, toleration


The aim of these initial notes is to focus on certain central aspects of John Locke’s thought through a conceptual prism that can cast light on new interpretational pathways. The idea is to accompany the reader through Locke’s intellectual evolution and the experiences connected with his sojourns in Europe: from his early education in London and at Oxford to his meeting with the First Earl of Shaftesbury, and the political and religious reflections that laid the foundations for the consolidation of his concept of tolerance, his political treatises and An Essay concerning Human Understanding.

All his travels were pertinent to Locke’s intellectual development. Most of them took place on the Continent, where he encountered books, writers and living figures for the first time, or got to know them better. It was Locke’s frequentation of these geographical and cultural areas that made him not simply an English philosopher but an intellectual of the Republic of Letters, a thinker who read and wrote, studied and argued and, ultimately, belonged to Europe as a whole.