SOME TEXTS FROM

EARLY MODERN PHILOSOPHY

Where Can I Find the Original Texts?

The richest sources of original texts on the internet are the noble websites of

For a beautiful, accurate, helpful presentation of virtually everything Hume ever wrote, go to

Other sites that are worth ransacking for texts or leads to them are

Unmodified versions of works by Reid and by Malebranche seem not to exist on the internet, except for one chapter of one of Reid’s Essays. I made use of my own scanned versions of recent editions of these works.

After its first printing, almost every edition of Jonathan Edwards’s Freedom of the Will reflects the intervention of an early editor who tamed his colourful prose. A version that exists at various places on the internet, usually with sixty pages missing, inherits those tamings, adds many further errors, and contains about a hundred instances of a carefully introduced grammatical mistake. To read the work as Edwards wrote it, go to Paul Ramsey’s excellent edition (Yale University Press, 1957).

The internet contains many copies of something purporting to be Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Woman but actually giving only the first four chapters. A full text is given by Project Gutenberg; I worked from that, but with a constant needed attention to the critical edition by Ulrich H. Hardt (1982) and the edition by Sylvana Tomaselli (Cambridge U.P. 1995).

Various aspects of managing the Boyle texts were greatly helped by the edition of his works edited by Michael Hunter and Edward B. Davis (1999-2000) and The Excellencies of Robert Boyle, edited by J. J. MacIntosh, who has also been generous with other help.

There seems to be only one free version of Shaftesbury’s Characteristics on the internet. It is a wretched affair, but I worked from it, always consulting the good Cambridge U.P. edition by Lawrence E. Klein.

Many websites have Mill’s The Subjection of Women, but they have all lazily inherited a blunder that was presumably initiated only once. Stated in terms of the present version: page 48, left column, line 11, ‘if he is a fool, he thinks’ is given as ‘if he is a fool, she thinks’. Seen in context, this is a worse mishap than it seems here. The other works by Mill are also available on the internet. For work on the System of Logic indispensable help was received from The Collected Works of John Stuart Mill, vols. 7-8, recently re-issued by the Liberty Fund.


The translations that I kept before me (along with the texts in the original languages) when working on my versions were the following.

Bacon: The translation made in 1850+ by R. L. Ellis; and Francis Bacon, The New Organon, edited by Lisa Jardine and Michael Silverthorne (Cambridge University Press, 2000). This is by far the better of the two, and I have learned much from it; but it - like the version given here - has profited from Ellis’s labours.

Condorcet: I followed the French text in Condorcet’s Esquisse d'un tableau historique des progrès de l'esprit humain (Flammarion 1988). The only English translation available on the internet comes from one published in Philadelphia in 1796, clearly derived by scanning and poor OCR. It has dozens of serious errors. A 1965 translation by June Barraclough (now re-issued in a volume of Condorcet's political writings by Cambridge UP) is vastly better, though it has several dozen pretty serious mistakes, and is more free than the one on this website.

Constant: I followed the French text in Constant’s Ecrits politiques (Gallimard 1997), and made some use of an English translation that a friend found for me on the interrnet.

Conway: The translation by Allison P. Coudert and Taylor Corse (Cambridge University Press, 1996; the 17th century translation included in the edition by Peter Loptson (2nd edition, Scholars’ Facsimiles, 1998) is pretty hard to read though it has its charms; Loptson’s Introduction is excellent.

Descartes: The translations by John Cottingham and his colleagues, in The Philosophical Writings of Descartes, vols. 1, 2 and 3 (Cambridge University Press, 1984); and by Elizabeth Anscombe and Peter Thomas Geach, in Descartes: Philosophical Writings, (Nelson,1964).

Descartes (Correspondence with Elisabeth): Much of Descartes’s side of this is in volume 3 of the Cottingham edition listed above; interesting supplementary material is to be found in the edition of the whole correspondence by Lisa Shapiro (Chicago U.P. 2007), but the translation in this is very unreliable.

Descartes (Conversation with Burman): John Cottingham's edition (Oxford University Press, 1976). A good translation, excellent editorial decisions, and 70 outstandingly helpful pages of commentary.

Descartes (The Passions of the Soul): The best available translation is by Stephen Voss (Hackett 1989); a good translation and an amazingly rich apparatus of helps and commentaries.

de Grouchy (Letters on Sympathy): The French text is available in a 1994 edition by L'étincelle éditeur. There is an English translation (2008) by the American Philosophical Society; I worked from a scanned version of this, though the translation is poor: apart from language troubles, the translator was often defeated by the complexity of some of de Grouchy's thought. Some notes by the editor, Karin Brown (not the translator), were useful.

Kant (Inaugural Lecture): The translation in Kant’s Latin Writings (Peter Lang Publishing, 1986). This results from an extensive revision by Lewis White Beck of a 1928 translation by John Handyside; most of it can also be found in Beck (ed.), Kant: Selections (Scribner, 1988).

Kant (Critique): The translations by Kemp Smith (now published by Palgrave Macmillan), and Werner S. Pluhar (Hackett).

Kant (Prolegomena): Immanuel Kant, Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysic etc. (Manchester University Press, 1953), edited and translated by Peter G. Lucas (out of print); and secondarily Kant, Prolegomena to any Future Metaphysic, with Selections from the Critique of Pure Reason (Cambridge University Press, 1997), translated and edited by Gary Hatfield.

Kant (Groundwork): The translation in Kant: Selections (Scribner 1988), edited by Lewis White Beck; and Kant, Groundwork of the Metaphysic of Morals, edited by Mary Gregor (Cambridge University Press, 1997).

Kant (Metaphysical Foundations of Natural Science): The translation by Michael Friedman (Cambridge UP 2004), and the translation by James Ellington (Bobbs-Merrill 1970).

Kant (Toward Perpetual Peace): Translations by Lewis White Beck (Liberal Arts Press 1967, by Ted Humphrey (Hackett 1983), and by D. L. Colclasure (Yale University Press 2006)

Kant (Religion Within the Bounds of Bare Reason): I worked from the Greene and Hudson translation (1934) that was available in digital form on the internet, and was greatly helped by Werner Pluhar's translation (Hackett 2009).

Mendelssohn: I worked from the translation by Allan Arkush (Brandeis U.P. 1983), and made some use of Alexander Altmann's notes for that edition. A digital version on the internet, scanned from a very old translation by M. Samuels; is too crude to be useful.

La Mettrie: I worked from the translation of the work by Ann Thomson in La Mettrie, Machine Man and other writings (Cambridge University Press).

Leibniz: For the New Essays I worked from the translation of the work by Remnant and Bennett (Cambridge University Press), with an eye also on the abridged version (same editors, same publisher, now out of print); permission was given for this by Cambridge University Press.

Leibniz: For the Exchange of Views with Bayle I worked from the edition by R. S. Woolhouse and Richard Francks (in their OUP volume of texts associated with Leibniz’s New System).

Leibniz: For the Exchange of Papers with Clarke I worked from the edition by H. G. Alexander (Manchester University Press, 1956).

Leibniz: For the Correspondence with Arnauld I worked from the translation by H. G. Mason (Manchester University Press, 1967); and from a draft of a translation by Stephen Voss, to be published by the Yale University Press and made available to me through Voss’s generosity.

Leibniz: For “Making the Case for God” I was helped by Leibniz: Monadology etc. (Bobbs-Merrill, 1965), translated by Paul Schrecker (long out of print). For all the other short works: G. W. Leibniz, Philosophical Essays (Hackett Publishing Company 1989), translated and edited by Roger Ariew and Daniel Garber. For the Discourse on Metaphysics and everything from 1695 onwards except the Dialogue and Ultimate Origin, I have also been helped by G. W. Leibniz, Philosophical Texts (Oxford University Press, 1998), translated and edited by R.S. Woolhouse and Richard Franks.

Locke: For the Letter on Toleration I used an edition of the work (Nijhoff, 1963) which gives both the original Latin and the English translation by Locke’s contemporary William Popple. The editor Mario Monuori persuasively argues that Locke knew and approved the Popple translation (it’s a controversial issue); but I have kept an eye on the Latin all through.

Machiavelli: The digital version from which I worked is by W. K. Marriott and is at www.gutenberg.org. The other four translations which I continuously consulted are listed on the prefatory page of the text. There is a digital version of the original at Archive.org.

Malebranche: Nicolas Malebranche, Dialogues on Metaphysics (Abaris Books, 1980), translated by Willis Doney; and Nicolas Malebranche, Dialogues on Metaphysics and Religion (the same work) (Cambridge University Press, 1997), translated by David Scott.

Mendelssohn: I gratefully scanned the fine translation of Jerusalem by Allan Arkush (Brandeis University Press, 1983), and was helped by having the good German text edited by David Martyn (Aisthesis Archiv, 2001). The English text that can be found on the internet is a poorly scanned and hard-to-use version of an 1838 translation by M. Samuels.

Newton: For the Latin text (Descartes . . . etc.) I worked from the translation in Unpublished Scientific Papers of Isaac Newton (Cambridge University Press, 1962), edited by Rupert and Marie Boas Hall.

Rousseau: I worked from the 1926 translation by G.D.H. Cole, the only digital one I could find; I also got a lot of help from the translation by Christopher Betts (Oxford U.P., 1993).

Spinoza: Ethics - The Collected Works of Spinoza, vol. 1 (Princeton University Press, (1985), edited and translated by Edwin Curley. And for helpful ideas about colloquial turns of phrase, Baruch Spinoza: The Ethics and Selected Letters (Hackett Publishing Company), translated by Samuel Shirley.

Spinoza: (Theology and Politics): I worked from the translation by Edwin Curley, which he generously made available to me (it will be included in his soon-to-be-published The Collected Works of Spinoza, vol. 2), keeping an eye also on the translation by Michael Silverthorne and Jonathan Israel (Cambridge University Press 2007). Anyone who has become seriously interested in this work should move on from the present version to one of those two translations, both of which have helpful editorial notes.

Spinoza: Correspondence: Here again I worked from Curley's translations, some published in his volume 1 and some forthcoming in volume 2.