The first of three volumes of essays by Quentin Skinner, one of the world's leading intellectual historians. This collection includes some of his most important philosophical and methodological statements written over the past four decades, each carefully revised for publication in this form. In a series of seminal essays Professor Skinner sets forth the intellectual principles that inform his work. Writing as a practising historian, he considers the theoretical difficulties inherent in the pursuit of knowledge and interpretation, and elucidates the methodology which finds its expression in his two successive volumes. All of Professor Skinner's work is characterised by philosophical power, limpid clarity, and elegance of exposition; these essays, many of which are now recognised classics, provide a fascinating and convenient digest of the development of his thought.