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John Locke

John Locke was an English philosopher and political theorist during the 1600s.

He was also the founder of British empiricism. He is known for his great contribution to

the Enlightenment period, in which he gave people the idea of natural rights and a

government that protects those rights. John Locke also wrote a famous essay called

Concerning Human Understanding and attacked the theory of divine right of kings

in Two Treatises of Government. John Locke was a very important philosopher and his

ideas effected many people.

John Locke was born in Wrinlington, Somerset on August 29,1632. He lived from

1632 to 1704. He was the son of a puritan lawyer who fought for Cromwell in the English

civil war. The father also named John Locke was a very devoted man to his work and

family and an even-tempered man.John Locke was educated at Westminniser School and

Oxford and later became a tutor at the university. His friends urged him to leave the

church and start writing all of his great ideas, but John Locke said he was not fit for that

calling, so he remained at the Church of England. He had long been interested in

Meteorology and the experimental sciences, especially chemistry. He turned to medicine

and became one of the most known practitioner of his time (Microsoft).

In 1669, Locke became confidential secretary and personal physician to Anthony

Ashley Cooper, later Lord Chancellor, and the first earl of Shaftbury. Locke?s association

with Shaftbury enabled him to meet many of the great men of England, but it also caused

him a great deal of trouble. Shaftbury was indicated for high treason, but Locke was

suspected of disloyalty. In 1685 he left England for Holland after the revolution of 1688

(Wolterstorff 83).

Locke was always very interested in psychology, and in about 1670, some of his

friends begged him to write and publish a paper on limitations of human judgment. He

started to write a few paragraphs, but 20 years passed before he finished because he was

interested in Shaftesbury’s political affairs. The result was his great and famous essay

Concerning Human Understanding. In his work he stressed the theory that the human

mind starts as a tabula rasa, which is a wax tablet ready to be used for writing. The mind

has new born ideas, and once men get a greater understanding of the idea, he can learn to

make that idea greater (?John Locke?).

Locke was the founder of British empiricism. Locke’s Essay is one of the classical

documents of British empirical philosophy. The thing that Locke was most concerned

about was epistemology, which means the theory of knowledge. Locke sees the universe

as made up of ?insensible particles? and ?immaterial substances? that associate with

human bodies. He believes these bodies have senses, which produce ideas. These ideas

are what creates our thoughts, perception, and consciousness. Locke believed we have no

knowledge other then our ideas. According to Locke, secondary qualities, such as taste,

?are nothing in the objects themselves but powers to produce ideas in use by their

primary qualities? (Aaron 72)

Locke is also known for the Two Treatises of Government. The first part of the

document talks about the political views of Sir Robert Filmer. Filmer had argued that the

power of a king is the same as a father’s power over his children. Locke didn?t agree with

this concept and thought that the father only has power until his child become an adult

and that the king’s subjects are not the same as children. In the second part of the

document, Locke says that ruler’s must rule by the laws of nature, or natural rights to life,

liberty, and property. The ruler’s powers are given to him with people trusting that the

ruler will follow these natural rights, and if the ruler doesn?t follow these rights his power

can be taken away. He believed that a monarchy with an assembly to make sure the

monarch follows these natural rights was a perfect political arrangement. He also

believed that principles of conduct were possible and humans could be trusted to follow

these principles. These ideas had a tremendous effect on all future political thinking. The

Americans Declaration of Independence clearly reflects Lockes teachings (Aaron 244).

John Locke was one of the most important philosophers in history. His ideas

influenced people around the world, and still today people are inspired by his thoughts.

His writings, such as the Two Treatises of Government, Concerning Human

Understanding, and Locke?s Essay, all have changed the way people use to live and how

they still do.

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