Vol. 12 No. 1 (2021): "In solis locis turba". Studi offerti a Graziano Ruffini

John Locke’s algorithm and the commonplace books

Gianfranco Crupi
La Sapienza Università di Roma

Published 2021-01-15


  • Commonplace books,
  • Ars excerpendi

How to Cite

Crupi, Gianfranco. 2021. “John Locke’s Algorithm and the Commonplace Books”. JLIS.It 12 (1):63-72. https://doi.org/10.4403/jlis.it-12674.


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.


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