Biographies / John Locke

John Locke

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Autor:  anton  02 November 2010
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John Locke was the son of a country attorney and was born on August 29, 1632 . He grew up in and during the civil war, and later in 1652, entered the Christ Church, Oxford, where he remained as a student and teacher for many years. Locke taught and lectured in subjects such as Greek, rhetoric, and Moral philosophy. Lockedisagreed with many of the topics that were taught at the university. Locke, after reading books by Descartes, acquired a strong interest in contemporary philosophical and scientific questions and theories.

In 1666, Locke accidentally met with Lord Anthony Ashley Cooper, 1st of Shaftesbury, and from then on, this lifelong relationship and association helped to change the course of Locke’s career. Cooper made Locke his personal secretary and confidential advisor, and also let him hold a number of governmental posts while his patron was in office. In 1675, Locke became very ill and was forced to leave his employment and reside for four years in France, where he began his writing. After four years, Locke then returned again to England into Shaftesbury where he once again joined Cooper’s service. Four years later, Cooper was forced to flee to Holland, where Locke, shortly after, followed him. They remained there until the Glorious Revolution of 1688.

On his return to England, Locke issued many or works, the chief of these being the Two Treaties of Government, and the Essay Concerning Human Understanding. These writings were immediately successful and they both exerted a vast influence. Between the both of these works, they made the dominant view of English thought through the greater part of the eighteenth century. Also on his return, the new king, William III, appointed Locke to the Board of Trade in 1696, a position from which he resigned because of ill health in 1700.

Locke spent peaceful old age in the country household at Oates, of his friends Sir Francis and Lady Masham. He spent the last couple of years revising the Essay, replying to his critics, and writing a number of other works on economic,philosophical, and religious topics. Locke died in Oates on October 28, 1704.

Locke’s Two Treatises of Government (1690) was a well-known and respected document. In the paper, he attacked the theory of diving right of kings and the nature of the state as conceived by the English philosopher and political theorist Thomas Hobbes. He did not believe that a king should become king because “God told him to be”, but rather, because he was qualified for the position, and also because the people felt he should be there. Locke argued that sovereignty did not reside in the state, but with the people, and that the state is supreme, but only if it is bound by civil and what Locke referred to a “natural” law. Many of these thoughts were later embodied in the constitution. Some of these ideas, such as those relating to natural rights, property rights, the duty of the government to protect these rights and the rule of the majority are used in many places to this day. He also believed that man by his nature had certain inalienable rights and duties. These rights included life, liberty, and ownership of property. By liberty, Locke meant political equality. The task and duty of the government of any state was to protect mans rights. Locke believes that the government should protect human rights better than individuals could on there own, and if it didn’t adequately protect the rights of the citizens, then they had the right to find other rulers.

Locke also said that the government should be split up. There should be three branches, the legislative, executive, and the judicial. He said that revolution was not only a right but often an obligation, and he advocated a system of checks and balances in the government from these three branches. He said that the legislative should be the most powerful branch, but not powerful enough to do damage to the government and state. The executive branch would have certain powers over the legislative and the judicial over the other branches. His reasoning for this was to be sure that no certain group of people would be able to take over the government, and to avoid a king which is only one point of view leading a country. Having the people run the government meant diversity, and compromise to be sure that the country and the people are getting fair laws and rights.

It was Locke that brought the colonies to realize that they were being ruled unfair. It was Locke’s Two Treatises of Government that strongly influenced Thomas Jefferson in writing the Declaration of Independence and the Colonies fighting for their freedom. They were not only fighting for their political freedom, but also their religious freedom. Locke, in the Two Treatises of Government stated that a people as a whole should have the freedom to choose their religion. He also believed that there should be no connection between the state and the church, and neither could make laws concerning the other.

Locke’s influence in modern philosophy has been profound and, with his

application of experimental analysis to ethics, politics, and religion, he remains one of the most important and controversial philosophers of all time. His ideas and writings lived way beyond his time, and have proven to be the reason the colonies broke away from their mother country and learned to expect certain rights from their government.



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