Meet The Father Of Liberalism, John Locke.

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John Locke was an English philosopher , economist and physician in the early Enlightenment period.

He was friends with Robert Boyle and Lord Ashley . He was also associated with the Cambridge Platonists , but did not follow them in all aspects. Locke made in his views on unwritten natural law as the basis of the formalconstitutional law the social contract the basis of his advocacy of popular sovereignty , the idea that the monarch or government should reflect the will of the people.

Locke was born into a middle-class family that worked their way up the social ladder. His grandfather was a cloth manufacturer; his father was a lawyer and clerk with the Justices of the Peace in Chew Magna. During the early part of the English Civil War, he served as a captain in the parliamentary armed forces’ cavalry.

He was named after his father, John Locke Sr. His mother, Agnes Keene, was a tanner’s daughter. Both parents were Puritans. His birthplace was a small house near the church in Wrington, Somerset, England, 20 kilometers from Bristol. He was baptized on the day of his birth. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Pensford, south of Bristol. He grew up in a rural Tudor house in the village of Belluton in Somerset.

In 1647 John Locke began his studies at the prestigious Westminster School near London situated Westminster. This study was funded in part by Alexander Popham, a Parliament and former commander of Locke’s father. Locke was a ‘King’s Scholar.’ The King’s Scholars were a selected group of gifted boys with the privilege of attending the school and accelerated training for admission to well-known universities.

In the fall of 1652, he was admitted to Christ Church College, Oxford University, at the age of 20. The Dean of this university was John Owen. He was vice-chancellor of the university.

Locke was a competent student. He studied the three and a half years to obtain his BA ( Bachelor of Arts ) degree, mainly filled with logic, metaphysics, and classical languages. However, he also found time to read the works of modern philosophers, such as René Descartes. Conversations with tutors, even with students in the hallways, were conducted in Latin.

Like Thomas Hobbes before him, Locke found Aristotelian philosophy, which he studied at Oxford, of little use. But there was more to Oxford than just Aristotle.

The new experimental philosophy had arrived. John Wilkins, Cromwell’s brother-in-law, had become the governor of Wadham College. The group around Wilkins became the core of what later became The English Royal Society became. The Society grew out of informal meetings and discussion groups and moved to London, where it became a formal institution. The purpose of these societies was to contrast with the Aristotelian traditions that dominated the other universities.

Their lessons/program was to study nature instead of books. Most of Wilkins’ partners were interested in applying and observing medicine rather than reading old classic books.

In the fall of 1654, Locke’s mother died. She fell ill while visiting friends in Wrington. On October 4, she died in the tiny house where John Locke was born. John attended the funeral. One of Locke’s friends, whom he remembered from Westminster School, Richard Lower, introduced him to medicine and experimental philosophy, teaching taught by the virtuosos at Wadham.

Locke received his BA in February 1656. After college, his career continued at Oxford. In June 1658, Locke qualified as a Master of Arts(MA) and was designated a Major Student of Christ Church.

Locke had yet to determine what his career would be. Locke was elected lecturer of Greek at Christ Church in December of 1660, and he was elected lecturer of Rhetoric in 1663. At this point, Locke had to make a decision. Christ Church statutes required that 55 of the major student seats be reserved for the clergy. Others could take only five, two in medicine, two in law, and one in moral philosophy. So Locke had good reasons to become a clergyman.

However, Locke decided to become a doctor. In 1674 he received his bachelor’s degree in medicine. Robert Boyle, Thomas Willis, Robert Hooke, and Richard Lower. In the meantime, in 1661, his father had died.


Locke knew rationalism well but felt that reason alone was too limited to serve as a foundation for knowledge. This also required experience and reflection on it: experiential knowledge gained by people like Robert Boyle, Thomas Sydenham, Christiaan Huygens, and Isaac Newton. In his time, there was credence to the existence of innate knowledge ( “innate knowledge” ), a view which was rejected by Locke.

According to Locke, every person is born as a “ tabula rasa, “or a blank slate. A person starts with an empty ‘mind,’ and the head is filled with impressions. Locke thus argues that the source of all knowledge lies in experience and subsequent reflection. These two provide the mind with the basic material for the knowledge, the so-called ideas ( ideas).

Ideas are not themselves the actual physical objects or things, but they represent them in mind, as it were. Some ideas represent in mind something directly corresponding to what they represent — those are ideas about the primary qualities of objects (size, extension, tranquility, number); other ideas have no similarities with what causes them — those are the ideas about the secondary qualities (taste, color, temperature); these latter ideas would exist only in consciousness.

These primary and secondary properties of objects together form the singular ideas. Locke defines simple ideas as the knowledge that arises from perception through one sense (for example, the color yellow). They are the simplest building blocks of our thinking.

Labor, Property, and Slavery

As mentioned above, Locke developed a justification for private ownership based on (agricultural) labor. His teaching is based on an abundance of undeveloped land, of which anyone can take possession of a part by having it cultivated. Locke’s thought was probably inspired by the colonization of North America, in which he was involved as an investor.

The original inhabitants (mistakenly mistaken by Locke for hunter-gatherers ) could be expropriated because enough land would remain for them. He did not account for the war that this expropriation unleashed during his lifetime.

His theory of property acquired through labor also names the class of the “labor organizing” early capitalists to which Locke himself belonged. By own labor (working on nature), he also understands hired labor, or, as in his proposal for a constitution for the Carolinas, that of serfs.

In addition to the ownership of land, Locke was, under certain conditions, also in favor of the possession of one person by another: he believed that slavery was justified, but only in the case of prisoners of war in a just war.

Here too, reference has been made to Locke’s mixing of theory and self-interest; he invested in the Trans-Atlantic slave trade, whose victims were usually the losers of inter-African wars (or their children). Count Cooper’s service kept Locke with the pen in drafting the Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina(1669), who gave whites “absolute power” over their African slaves.


John Locke wrote that people form a society together as a social contract concluded voluntarily. In his view, this was not a contract between the government and the ruled, but between free people themselves, based on equality. According to Locke, the people do not cede this freedom to the government; sovereignty still rests with the people. The government’s job is to protect the people, with the individual’s rights to life, liberty, and the property being paramount.

This means that when a government fails by acting dictatorially, the people have the moral right to overthrow this government. It will eventually turn out that in the seventeenth century, this was not an obvious idea. Locke, however, greatly influenced eighteenth-century thinkers. Thus, the conservative faction of America’s founding fathers, who drafted the young republic’s constitution, took inspiration from him.

In his defense of private property and individual rights, Locke is also seen as the founder of liberalism.

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