17th century English philosopher
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  • John Locke

    John Locke (29 August 1632 - 28 October 1704), was an English philosopher and physician regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers and known as the "Father of Classical Liberalism". Considered one of the first of the British empiricists, following the tradition of Francis Bacon, he is equally important to social contract theory. His work greatly affected the development of epistemology and political philosophy. His writings influenced Voltaire and Rousseau, many Scottish Enlightenment thinkers, as well as the American revolutionaries. His contributions to classical republicanism and liberal theory are reflected in the United States Declaration of Independence.


    John Locke, by William Uzgalis, Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, 10 Jul 2012
    Major sections: Historical Background and Locke's Life - The Limits of Human Understanding - Locke's Major Works on Education - The Two Treatises Of Government - Locke and Religious Toleration - Bibliography - Other Internet Resources
    "John Locke (b. 1632, d. 1704) was a British philosopher, Oxford academic and medical researcher. Locke's monumental An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689) is one of the first great defenses of empiricism and concerns itself with determining the limits of human understanding in respect to a wide spectrum of topics."
    John Locke (1632-1704), The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics
    Includes list of selected works
    "Born in England, John Locke was a persistent champion of natural rights—the idea that each person owns himself and should have certain liberties that cannot be expropriated by the state or anyone else. When someone labors for a productive end, the results become that person's property, reasoned Locke. ... Locke also sketched out a quantity theory of money, which held that the value of money is inversely related to the quantity of money in circulation."
    John Locke (1632-1704), by Patrick J. Connolly, Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
    Major sections: Life - Method - Human Nature - Religion - Moral Philosophy - Political Philosophy - Assessment - References and Further Reading
    "For much of his life Locke held administrative positions in government and paid very careful attention to contemporary debates in political theory. So it is perhaps unsurprising that he wrote a number of works on political issues. In this field, Locke is best known for his arguments in favor of religious toleration and limited government. Today these ideas are commonplace and widely accepted. But in Locke's time they were highly innovative, even radical."


    29 Aug 1632, in Wrington, Somerset, England


    28 Oct 1704, in Oates, Essex, England


    John Locke
    Oregon State University, Philosophy Department: includes short biography, detailed timeline, links to his principal works (three at the same site) and list of selected texts about Locke
    "Locke's Two Treatises of Civil Government were published after the Glorious Revolution of 1688 brought William of Orange and Mary to the throne, but they were written in the throes of the Whig revolutionary plots against Charles II in the early 1680s. In this work Locke gives us a theory of natural law and natural rights which he uses to distinguish between legitimate and illegitimate civil governments, and to argue for the legitimacy of revolt against tyrannical governments."

    Web Pages

    John Locke | Foundation for Economic Education
    Includes short profile, picture and link to related articles by James Bovard, Roderick Long, Wendy McElroy, Jim Powell, Joseph Stromberg and others
    "John Locke (1632-1704) was an english philosopher. He is considered by many to be the father of classical liberalism, and is known for his contributions to political philosophy as well as epistemology."
    John Locke - Online Library of Liberty
    Includes portrait, short biography, links to several related articles, to various versions of Locke's works and to selected quotations
    "John Locke (1632-1704) was an English philosopher who is considered to be one of the first philosophers of the Enlightenment and the father of classical liberalism. In his major work Two Treatises of Government Locke rejects the idea of the divine right of kings, supports the idea of natural rights (especially of property), and argues for a limited constitutional government which would protect individual rights."


    John Locke: Natural Rights to Life, Liberty, and Property, by Jim Powell, The Freeman, Aug 1996
    Extensive biographical essay, including summaries of his major works
    "Thomas Jefferson ranked Locke, along with Locke's compatriot Algernon Sidney, as the most important thinkers on liberty. Locke helped inspire Thomas Paine's radical ideas about revolution. Locke fired up George Mason. From Locke, James Madison drew his most fundamental principles of liberty and government. ... The French philosopher Voltaire called Locke 'the man of the greatest wisdom. What he has not seen clearly, I despair of ever seeing.'"
    John Locke - Hero of the Day, The Daily Objectivist, 2000
    Short biographical essay including details on how the Essay Concerning Human Understanding came about
    "Locke's Second Treatise<.cite> offers a theoretical justification of private property—which could be acquired by 'mixing one's labor' with the land—and of political rebellion. He doubtless had recent rebellious doings in England in mind as he drafted it. The work exerted a profound influence on the thought (and action) of the American Founding Fathers."
    John Locke: His American and Carolinian Legacy, by George M. Stephens
    John Locke Foundation: explores Locke's principle of property rights and government's role in protecting them
    "The political philosophy of Locke's mature years stemmed from the commonly-accepted Natural Law, under which man had Natural Rights, not given to him by any ruler. ... Locke was rather vague about the organization of government. He said that the legislative and executive power 'come often to be separated.' While Locke thought that the legislature should be supreme among the branches, the establishment of legislative, executive and judicial powers and their separation in our governmental tradition came from Montesquieu."
    Boxer's Confusion about Ownership, by Tibor R. Machan, 4 May 2007
    Explains the absurdity of California Senator Barbara Boxer's statement that public lands are "owned ... by the American people"
    "The American idea, laid out in the political theory of John Locke, is the right to private property. It is this right that makes possible, if property defended in the legal system, the freedom of diverse uses of lands and other property, uses that will serve the purposes of a highly diverse population."
    Related Topics: Property Rights, Communism
    Liberalism, by Friedrich A. Hayek, New Studies in Philosophy, Politics, Economics and the History, 1978
    Chapter 9; originally written in 1973 for the Enciclopedia del Novicento; covers both the history of both strands of liberalism as well as a systematic description of the "classical" or "evolutionary" type
    "It was in the course of the debates during the English Civil War and the Commonwealth period that the ideas of the rule or supremacy of law became finally articulated ... The classical formulations were supplied by John Locke's Second Treatise on Civil Government (168g) which, however, in some respects provides a still more rationalist intcrpretation of institutions than came to be characteristic of eighteenth-century British thinkers ."
    NewMurray Rothbard's Philosophy of Freedom, by David Gordon, The Freeman, Nov 2007
    Examines the arguments made by Rothbard from the premise that slavery is wrong, self-ownership, private property rights and a free market without government interventions follows
    "In Rothbard's view, then, one acquires property through 'mixing one's labor' with unowned land, or by acquiring such property in gift or exchange from someone else. This doctrine of course comes from John Locke, though Rothbard embraces this principle of initial acquisition without Locke's numerous qualifications. Rothbard displays great dialectical ingenuity in anticipating objections to his theory. One of the most important of these is that if one may acquire property through Lockean labor mixture, does this not unfairly bias matters in favor of the first possessor?"
    The Growth of Libertarian Thought, by Murray N. Rothbard, Conceived in Liberty
    Volume II, Part II "Intercolonial Developments", Chapter 33: Starts by considering the influence of English writers Sidney and Locke and then considers Trenchard and Gordon's Cato's Letters
    "There were two strains in Locke's Essay: the individualist and libertarian, and the conservative and majoritarian ... But the individualist view is the core of the philosophic argument, while the majoritarian and statist strain appears more in the later, applied portions of the theory."
    Related Topic: Algernon Sidney
    Would-Be Rulers without Clothes, by Sheldon Richman, Future of Freedom, May 2008
    Examines Hillary Clinton's assertion about "wanting" a universal health care plan
    "Roderick Long ... reminds us that Jefferson borrowed the Declaration philosophy from John Locke, who was quite clear on what he meant by equality. In his Second Treatise of Government, Locke writes that equality is a state 'wherein all the Power and Jurisdiction is reciprocal, no one having more than another ...'"


    A Letter Concerning Toleration, 1689
    Originally "Epistolia de Tolerentia", translated by William Popple
    "First, Because the Care of Souls is not committed to the Civil Magistrate any more than to other Men. It is not committed unto him, I say, by God; because it appears not that God has ever given any such Authority to one Man over another, as to compell any one to his Religion. Nor can any such Power be vested in the Magistrate by the Consent of the People; because no man can so far abandon the care of his own Salvation, as blindly to leave it to the choice of any other, whether Prince or Subject, to prescribe to him what Faith or Worship he shall embrace."
    Related Topic: Freedom of Religion

    Books Authored

    An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, 1689
    Electronic text available at Wikisource; contents: Book I: Neither Principles nor Ideas Are Innate - Book II: Of Ideas - Book III: Of Words - Book IV: Of Knowledge and Probability
    Related Topic: Epistemology
    The Second Treatise of Civil Government, 1690
    Electronic text available at The University of Adelaide; partial contents: Of the State of Nature - Of the State of War - Of Slavery - Of Property - Of Paternal Power - Of Political or Civil Society - Of the Beginning of Political Societies
    Related Topic: Government

    The introductory paragraph uses material from a Wikipedia article, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.