John Locke 1632 - 1704 was a medical researcher, physician, political operative, economist and ideologue for a revolutionary movement, as well as being one of the great philosophers 16-1700s


John Locke was born in Bristol, England, on August 29, 1632.Locke's father was an attorney who collected taxes from seaport towns. He wanted his son to become a minister, but Locke rejected this and studied medicine. Locke entered Oxford University in England and was influenced by John Owen, Dean of Christ Church College. It was Owen who first introduced Locke to the idea of religious freedom and the idea that people should not be punished for having different views of religion. Locke believed that all sides had the right to be heard. Moreover, he felt that all conflicts could be solved if the two groups could settle their differences by seeking middle ground and compromise.

After college, Locke continued to study and read with passion. He expressed his views about freedom of religion and the rights of citizens. In 1682 his ideas were seen by the English government as a challenge to the King's authority. He fled to Holland, and then returned to England in 1689 after the Glorious Revolution of 1688 brought William of Orange and Mary to the throne. Shortly thereafter, Locke began publishing his writings, many of which focused on government.

Throughout his writings, Locke argued that people had the gift of reason, or the ability to think. Locke thought they had the natural ability to govern themselves and to look after the well being of society. He wrote, "The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which {treats} everyone {equally}. Reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind... that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health or possessions."

Locke did not believe that God had chosen a group or family of people to rule countries. He rejected the "Divine Right", which many kings and queens used to justify their right to rule. Instead, he argued that governments should only operate with the consent of the people they are governing. In this way, Locke supported democracy as a form of government. Locke wrote, "{We have learned from} history we have reason to conclude that all peaceful beginnings of government have been laid in the consent of the people." Governments were formed, according to Locke, to protect the right to life, the right to freedom, and the right to property. The rights were absolute, belonging to all the people. Locke also believed that government power should be divided equally into three branches of government so that politicians will not face the "temptation... to grasp at {absolute} power." If any government abused these rights instead of protecting them, then the people had the right to rebel and form a new government.

John Locke spoke out against the control of any man against his will. This control was acceptable neither in the form of an unfair government, nor in slavery. Locke wrote, "The natural liberty of man is to be free from any superior power on earth, and not to be under the will or legislative authority of man, but only have the law of nature for his rule." In addition, Locke felt that women had the ability to reason, which entitled them to an equal voice - an unpopular idea during this time in history.

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He believed that morality was set down by god and was absolute. The U.S. constitution relies heavily on his writings.

In 1690 he managed to invent 8 new words all in one sentence: " show how much distinct names conduce to our well reckoning, let us see all these following figures in one one continued line:--Nonillions Octillions Septillions Sextillions Quintillions Quadrillions Trillions Billions Millions" ('million' was not his invention. The others were).

He was also a forerunner of behaviorism, and as such he will be mentioned in any child psychology textbook. He is also known for his view of the child as a tabula rasa, or blank slate. In his view children start out neither evil nor good, but are shaped by their parents.

"The child repeatedly beaten in school cannot look upon books and teachers without experiencing fear and anger."

John Locke is the name of my comparative literature professor. I swear I am not making this up. His classes are not about comp lit, but about enlightenment practices. His aim is to help you make your life better. You name an interesting religion or spiritual practice, and he's tried it. He's been all over Japan, travelling with Shinto priests, has taught kung-fu, and takes his classes on shamanic journeys. And he fought in World War II. Yes, he has a bit of a guru complex, but he's mad cool and I hope I'm half that wild when I'm that old.

John Locke died August 28, 2000, in a murder-suicide on the first day of school, in Kimpel Hall at the University of Arkansas; I wrote about it under Eulogy for Dr. John Locke.

Quotes attributed to John Locke

Quotes havested from alt.quotations

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