John Locke Short Introduction
John Locke Short Introduction
John Locke, who is widely known as the Father of Liberalism, is a great writer, philosopher and physician of the 17th century. He was born on 29 August 1632 and died on 28 October 1704 when he was 72. He was baptized on the same day as he was born. He was a gifted man and David Hume once described him as “wrote like a water-drinking local councilor, his style ungainly, his idioms commercial, his imagination puritanical, his humor labored, his purposes wholly practical.
” As he is a talented thinker and uses different perspectives to see and think on certain things, he revolutionized the Theory of Mind to the world in his masterpiece, “An Essay Concerning Human Understanding”. On the other hand, he also developed the idea of liberty among people in society. His contributions to the world are incredible as his ideas of social contract and state of nature laid the theoretical foundation of the Constitutions of the United States of America.
In Locke’s life, he came from a very intelligent and faithful Baptist family that gave him a good education and took him to a good school — Christ Church, Oxford. Though he studied medicine but not philosophy or other critical thinking courses, he met prominent people (e. g. Robert Boyle, Thomas Wills) who inspired him immensely in every perspective. One eminent scholar was Thomas Sydenham, who imposed a huge impact on the idea of how man accumulates knowledge. Thanks to Sydenham, Locke wrote one of his famous works – “An Essay Concerning Human Understanding”.
Thomas Sydenham gave advice to Locke in treating Shaftesbury’s liver cancer. Locke realized in the file of Shaftesbury that knowledge in a book could be different from the circumstances Locke was facing. Hence, he raised the pivotal question in his essay: “Is the foundation of knowledge based on theory or experience? ” This essay stimulated several fresh ideas to philosophers in the 17th century. One of the famous philosophers who were greatly influenced by Locke was David Hume, who described John Locke as a magnificent man.
After Shaftesbury survived from the liver cancer, he became Lord Chancellor and led Locke to be involved in the field of politics. In the political struggle of Shaftesbury, Locke assisted him by writing another famous work – “Two Treatises of Government”. It is believed that the ideas mentioned in the essay were influenced by Hobbes’ thinking, but Locke never referred or mentioned the name of Hobbes. Locke countered the statements raised by Hobbes in the book of Leviathan that “everyone is living in terror” and “war of every man against every man”.
Locke raised a counter statement that everyone is created equally and everyone in society has rights to fight for their life, freedom and property. To accomplish it, we shall hold together and grant greater power to protect ourselves. This also explains how civilization works. The original purpose of this piece is an argument to attack Shaftesbury’s opponents (supporters of Absolute Monarchy). However, the ideas of natural rights and a new reformation of government mentioned inside the essay are recognized as the most influential ideas on the political system in the 17th century.
The basis of liberty was widely used by the founding fathers of the United States of America to write the American Declaration of Independence and the Constitutions. The influences of John Locke did not just stop in the 17th century. They still last today. Every time we hear about liberty and freedom, the basis of these concepts had been defined by Locke clearly. Besides, the issue of free religion which is still discussed nowadays was also originated by Locke. The theory of religious tolerance was one of the most controversial ideas during Locke’s lifetime.
In this perspective, some historians even regarded the European War as the war between religions. In some statements made by Locke, he argued human knowledge was possibly false unless there was definite proof. By the same token, he considered that religion, which did not have clear proof, was possibly false. Because of this, religious tolerance was necessary. Religious tolerance is still being debated nowadays and it has greatly changed the outlook of modern society after this idea was promulgated. Locke’s life was a legend.
He was born in a Baptist family and his writings are full of elements related to Christianity. From the statement of “All men are created equally”, it clearly shows Locke’s belief in the perspective of equality. Besides, he was also greatly influenced by the idea of knowledge. He questioned the fundamental of knowledge and questioned whether knowledge is true as always. I believe he wrote such ideas because of his experience in the treatment of Shaftesbury’s cancer that led him to start questioning that the things he had learned from the medical books were not really practical.
Instead, to him, they were much more proper to be described as imaginary notions. From this perspective, he was inspired to write the essay concerning human understanding. Besides, Locke also influenced the world and created waves of revolutionary ideas in many fields. The great philosophers Voltaire and Rousseau were deeply inspired by Locke’s theories. Ultimately, Locke – Father of Liberalism – was not simply a gifted person born to be the father of liberalism, but also because of circumstances, situations which he encountered in his life to make him the father of liberalism.
Subject: John Locke,
University/College: University of Chicago
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 16 November 2016
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