John Locke Philosopher defends the right of the people to overthrow any ruler..

John Locke Philosopher

John Locke Philosopher argued that there was no divine right or basis for arguing for the divine right of monarchs in scripture or by the application of reason. This was a radical liberal position to adopt, he was anti-authoritarian, had an empirical approach to knowledge that he expounded and was an advocate for religious tolerance. His enlightened thought is too easily overlooked in recent history but his thinking was ahead of his time and a great influence during the period of enlightenment and has much resonance with liberal thoughts and beliefs applicable to the present day.

His beliefs and major thoughts and principles, to give you just a flavour:

  • he referred to natural laws, with no government police or private property, he believed those natural laws suggest an ability to achieve a social equilibrium or social contract that was workable and from which could evolve the proper evolution and establishment of government.
  • “he believed it is our God-given obligation to obtain knowledge and not always to acquire our beliefs by accepting the word of authorities or common superstition.”
  • ” Locke asserted that in order to help children not develop bad habits of thinking, they should be trained to base their beliefs on sound evidence, to learn how to collect this evidence, and to believe less strongly when the evidence is weaker.”

Life summary:

  • born in Wrington, a village in Somerset, on August 29, 1632.
  • son of a country solicitor and small landowner who, when the civil war broke out, served as a captain of horse in the parliamentary army
  • He entered Westminster school in 1646
  • Christ Church, Oxford, as a junior student, in 1652
  • 1674 that he graduated as bachelor of medicine.
  • His medical occupation led him to meet   Lord Ashley (afterwards, from 1672, Earl of Shaftesbury the 7th earl, involved in soccial reform, the ragged schools and the factory acts).
  • Once again it is a small world with some intriguing connections, possibly showing how intellectual enlightenment was at least connected to the drivers of philanthropic and social reforms of the time and his contemporaries.
  • His association with lord Shaftesbury was long-standing becoming a trusted member of his household and subsequently being appointed as Secretary to the Board of Trade.
  • He was made commissioner of appeals in May 1689, and, from 1696 to 1700, he was a commissioner of trade and plantations
  • In 1691 he was persuaded to make his permanent home at Oates in Essex, in the house of Francis and Lady Masham, who was the daughter of the liberal Cudworth the Cambridge Platonist, he stayed living with them until his death in 1704.

John Locke’s is impact was lasting if not often headlined in reviews and chronologies of intellectual thinking and philosophy, his thinking was a cornerstone of the period of Enlightenment. His Essay Concerning Human Understanding and Second Treatises of Government ably defined the rights of the common man to overthrow any ruler who fails to protect the rights of his/her people…in essence the basis of modern democratic thought…

Research additional notes: 

  • Westminster school in 1646, and passed to Christ Church, Oxford, as a junior student, in 1652
  • he had a home there (though absent from it for long periods) for more than thirty years
  • deprived of his studentship by royal mandate in 1684.

For a comprehensive review of his work and contributions the IEP  reference is well worth a read…


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