The Social Contract Theory of John Locke Essay

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The Social Contract Theory of John Locke

John Locke was born in Wrington , Somerset , England on August 29 1704 to John Locke and Agnes Keene , who were both Puritans (Uzgalis 2001 , Wikipedia 2006 , Microsoft Encarta 2006 . His father , after whom he was named , served as captain of cavalry for the Parliamentarian forces in the early part of the English Civil War . His family later moved to Pensford and Locke grew up in a rural Tudor house in Belluton . He attended the Westminster School in London in 1647 under Alexander Popham , a member of Parliament and his father ‘s former commander.

Then he was admitted at the Christ Church College at Oxford University , where he developed greater interest in modern philosophy , such as Rene Descartes , than the school ‘s classical material . He earned a bachelor ‘s degree in 1656 , a master ‘s degree in 1658 and a bachelor of medicine degree in 1674 . He worked with renowned scientists and thinkers , like Robert Boyle , Thomas Willis , Robert Hooke and Richard Lower .

In 1666 , he met Anthony Ashley Cooper , the first Earl of Shaftesbury , who was then seeking treatment for a liver infection . Cooper got impressed with Locke and convinced him to move into Lord Ashley ‘s home in 1667 as his personal physician . Locke then resumed his medical studies under Thomas Sydenham who would later influence Locke ‘s thinking . Meantime , Locke coordinated with several other physicians on the life-threatening condition of Shaftesbury ‘s liver condition and persuaded the latter to submit to surgery to remove the cyst .

The surgery was successful and Shaftesbury credited Locke with saving his life . In that period , Locke served as Secretary of the Board of Trade and Plantations and as Secretary to the Lords and Proprietors of the Carolinas (Microsoft Encarta , Wikipedia , Uzgalis Shaftesbury was a founder of the Whig Movement and thus had great influence on Locke ‘s political thinking (Wikipedia 2006 , Microsoft Encarta 2006 , Uzgalis 2001 . Locke got involved in politics when Shaftesbury became Lord Chancellor in 1672 .

Around 1679 , Locke wrote his two treatises of government in defense of the Glorious Revolution of 1688 and to oppose the philosophy of Sir Robert Filmer and Thomas Hobbes . While in the Netherlands in 1683 , he had the chance to rework his Essay and to compose his Letter on Toleration . After the Glorious Revolution , he accompanied the wife of William of Orange back to England in 1688 . He spent time at the country house of his friend , Lady Masham where he met and discussed matters with prominent thinkers like John Dryden and Isaac Newton .

He had bouts of asthma and his health continued to decline until he died in 1704 . Locke never married or have any children . Main events , which occurred in his lifetime , were the English Restoration , the Great Plague of London and the Great Fire of London . He was unable to witness the Act of Union of 1707 although the same monarch ruled both England and Scotland in his lifetime . Constitutional monarchy and parliamentary democracy were new during that period .

Locke ‘s influence was most marked on philosophy and politics , particularly liberalism , and specifically on Voltaire . His arguments on liberty and social contract had impact on the written works of Thomas Jefferson James Madison and other founding fathers of the United States . His critics say that Locke was a major investor in the English slave-trade through the Royal Africa Company and that he participated in the drafting of the Fundamental Constitution of the Carolinas while serving as Shaftesbury ‘s secretary .

This Constitution , Locke ‘s critics say established a feudal aristocracy and absolute power over slaves . They believe that Locke ‘s statements on un-enclosed property as justifying the displacement of Native Americans . His opposition to aristocracy and slavery , expressed through his writings , is viewed as proof of his hypocrisy and his partiality for liberty only of English capitalists (Wikipedia , Microsoft Encarta , Uzgalis.

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