John Locke’s algorithm and the commonplace books


The paper examines the bibliographic genre of the collections of loci communes, better known in the Anglo-Saxon world with the expression of commonplace books, heirs to the fertile and flourishing tradition of ars excerpendi, i.e. the art of compiling collections of extracts and reading notes. In particular, we analyze the indexing system devised by the English philosopher John Locke (1632-1704) and the word-subject coding device: an algorithm that governs the order of texts, thus relieving memory of such a quantity of data that it is inevitably subject to forgetfulness.


Commonplace books; Ars excerpendi; John Locke.

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