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John Locke’s foundational place in the history of British empiricism and liberal political thought is well established. So, in what sense, can Locke be considered a modern European philosopher? Identity and Difference argues for reassessing this canonical figure. Closely examining the “treatise on identity” added to the second edition of An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Étienne Balibar demonstrates Locke’s role in the formation of two concepts central to the metaphysics of the subject–consciousness and the self–and the complex philosophical, legal, moral and political nature of his terms.
With an accompanying essay by Stella Sandford, situating Balibar’s reading of Locke in the history of the reception of the Essay and within Balibar’s other writings on the subject, Identity and Difference rethinks a crucial moment in the history of Western philosophy.