Locke, John
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Locke, John

Locke, John

Major contributions

Locke’s originality and influence

WORKS BY LOCKE

SUPPLEMENTARY BIBLIOGRAPHY

John Locke made important contributions in the areas of epistemology, political theory, education, toleration theory, and theology; he also wrote on natural law and on various economic topics.

Born in 1632 in a Somerset village, he was the eldest and ultimately the only surviving child of a family of tradesmen and small landholders. His grandfather had been a tanner and clothier; his father was a notary with landholdings later inherited by his son. He kept his connections with his ramified west-country family and friends, most of whom were Whigs throughout the turbulent years of the later Stuart rule. After living for many years at Oxford and on the Continent, Locke made his headquarters in Essex in 1691 with his friend Lady Masham; in 1704 he was buried among the Mashams in the village church at High Laver.

Intellectual development . Locke studied at the Westminster School and Christ Church, Oxford, where in 1658 he was elected senior student (the equivalent of a fellow in other colleges) and taught moral philosophy. His academic duties were always light, and he consistently sought to lighten them still more, especially after 1666, when he met Lord Ashley (later Lord Shaftesbury), the great Whig leader; thenceforth Locke spent more time in London than at Oxford.

The political parliamentarianism of Locke’s father may have influenced Locke’s own ultimate Whiggery, which was strengthened by his association with Shaftesbury. Many west-country families, like Locke himself, became part of the “Shaftes-bury connection” of Whigs, later supporting William of Orange in his successful coup. By all odds the most influential connection of Locke’s life was with Shaftesbury, who quickened his early, though latent, interest in questions of political philosophy and practice. During his Shaftesbury years Locke sat on the Council of Trade and Plantations, an overseeing body for crown colonies, Ireland, and proprietary holdings in the New World. His interest in economic problems can be dated from that experience. Although he had been only on the fringes of the complicated politics of the late reign of Charles n, in 1683 Locke had to leave Oxford for good, a political refugee in Shaftesbury’s wake.

Locke’s intellectual development was marked by autonomy and autodidacticism. Evidently bored by his studies, he independently followed the medical curriculum at Oxford; though he never took his doctor’s degree, he was qualified to practice medicine and did so, largely for the Shaftesbury family. He also studied chemistry in Robert Boyle’s laboratory; in this way he came to know Boyle and eventually became an executor of his will. Other scientific friends were Richard Lower, Thomas Willis, and David Thomas; in 1688 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Society. Locke’s “corpuscularianism,” or atomic theory of matter, had much in common with Boyle’s; his general curiosity and interest in “things” rather than in their names, as well as his experimental approach to social and scientific matters, can all be connected with his serious interest in the biological sciences. His medical empiricism was much like that of his associate Thomas Sydenham, one of the major experimental physicians of his day, who was especially interested in public health; both Sydenham and Locke voiced their awareness of the “unknowing,” the “probabilism” involved in medical practice, notions which later influenced Locke’s epistemology.

Locke’s fear of Catholicism and absolutism had its roots in the English political scene and was deepened by several journeys to France, where persecution of the Huguenots was then intense. His Dutch sojourn, from 1683 to 1689, was voluntarily undertaken as a prudential flight from a government increasingly hostile to men of his political association and views: he was deprived of his studentship at Christ Church and even put on a proscription list of James II’s real and supposed enemies hidden in Holland. During that time, Locke met many congenial thinkers who in different ways reflected his own biases and concerns: among others, Arminian broad-church theologians, all theorists of toleration; medical men interested in experiment and learned in a tradition other than his own, that of Cartesian medicine; publicists dedicated to the diffusion of both learning and information.

When Locke returned to England in 1689, it was to a government of which he could approve; by that time he himself had become an honored man and was recognized as a major thinker. Thenceforward, he devoted himself to studying and writing, while holding minor government offices and occasionally conferring with political leaders

Writings . From the early 1660s Locke had written many short essays, evidently for his own clarification, on natural law, on the civil magistrate, on toleration. In 1669 these preoccupations fed into Lord Shaftesbury’s Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina, written with the aid of Locke. (Although this item appears in Locke’s collected works—see The Works..., vol. 10, pp. 175-199—it has been established that Shaftesbury was the principal author.) Locke’s Two Treatises (1690a) were written, as we now know, at the time of the Exclusion crisis of 1679–1681, when Shaftesbury unsuccessfully attempted to exclude the duke of York from succession to the throne because he was a Catholic.

While Locke was in Holland, one of his publicist friends, Jean Le Clerc, persuaded him to write for his periodical: thus, in the Bibliothéque universelle et historique, a fortnightly review of issues and books of international interest, Locke published some book reviews—among others, one of Newton’s Principia —as well as original works of his own, the chief of which was his abridgment of the then unpublished Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690b).

In 1689–1690 Locke began his serious publishing career: A Letter Concerning Toleration, Being the Translation of the “Epistola de tolerantia” appeared in 1689 (The Works..., vol. 6, pp. 1-58); the Two Treatises of Government in 1689, bearing the date 1690; the Essay Concerning Human Understanding in the same year. From then on, Locke never ceased publishing: he continually revised and republished his Essay, also supervising its translation into French; between 1690 and 1704 he wrote three more letters on toleration (The Works..., vol. 6, pp. 59-574); in 1690, Some Thoughts on Education (ibid., vol. 9, pp. 1-210); in 1695, The Reasonableness of Christianity (ibid., vol. 7, pp. 1-158); various defenses of the Essay; economic tracts; and paraphrases of Paul’s Epistles. Much of the immediate stimulus to this work was topical: his study of education grew out of private letters to his friend Edward Clarke; the economic tracts all sprang from fiscal and commercial problems of the government; the later writings on toleration were called forth by attacks on his ideas and on William’s efforts to solve the problem of dissent in England. Characteristically, however, even his topical writings contain elements of “philosophy,” generalizations not required by the work’s immediate polemical purpose.

Major contributions

Locke has often seemed a singularly disconnected thinker, an asystematic philosopher with occasional brilliant insights. Since the acquisition by the Bodleian Library of many Locke manuscripts from the Lovelace Collection, the development of Locke’s interests and of his thinking can be more accurately traced than before; further, the ways in which his ideas, apparently so disparate, hang together has become clearer from study of the manuscripts. His earliest work was on natural law, which led him ultimately into his serious work on two branches of that large subject, political theory and human understanding. Though these two interests branched widely apart from one another and seemed far removed from his initial concern with the “covering” aspect of natural law, his friends expected, in vain, that he would eventually write a treatise about natural law, after he had completed his Essay. His early natural-law essays were written between 1660 and 1664 and deal with both the epistemological problem of knowing in natural law and with the natural law as a binding moral and social force; the essays show clear signs of Locke’s later full-scale attack upon innateness and consensus gentium, as well as his incipient psychological sensationalism. As for moral natural law, Locke assumed it as a donnée from God. binding upon man’s reason; this view remains rudimentary both in the Second Treatise ([1690a] 1960, pp. 283-446) and in Locke’s other writings. In his manuscript treatises on the civil magistrate and on toleration, dating from the early years of the Restoration, Locke moved from a restrictive position to a more tolerant one, at first insisting on public order as a primary value and then stressing the irenic power of the civil magistrate, particularly in the regulation of religious practices. From these early works Locke’s philosophical investigations emerged. They will be treated under several headings, with stress laid upon those elements of his thought most significant for the development of the social sciences: political theory, religious ideas, economic ideas, epistemology, psychology, educational theory.

Political thought

Locke’s major contributions to political thought are in his Second Treatise, a document notoriously lacking in system, partly because of its remnant character, partly because of its connection with contemporary events, partly because of Locke’s failure to rewrite it substantially for publication in 1689, ten years after its completion. Within its own time the work contained “dangerous” doctrines, some anathematized by decree in 1683, when Locke fled his country. By the time of its publication, however, it expressed the parliamentarian ideals of mixed government and separation of powers established in England by the political settlement reached after William’s invasion. The origins of the tract seem to have been in the Exclusion crisis; it was designed to justify constitutional change, for which Locke undertook to investigate the origins and structure of civil (political) society. His polemical aim was to diminish popular acceptance of the patriarchalism which gave authority to much of the contemporary argument for absolutism; to do so, he postulated an original, direct relation of every man to God rather than to or through any political intermediary. Each man was in some sense God’s “property”: bypassing the notion of Adam as a model ruler of the social group, Locke postulated a state of nature regulated by laws derived from God, a state of nature in which men were equal and free before the Lord and each other. Paradoxically, the rule of law (in this case, the rule of the law of nature) was requi-site for freedom; without such natural law man’s “freedom” would have been anarchy. In this sense Locke’s conception approached the anarchic state of nature postulated by Hobbes, although his insistence upon fundamental natural law saved him from Hobbes’s pessimism about the lawlessness of basic human nature. From this natural condition, Locke inferred both a “law of reason,” bye which individuals reach and assent to social consensus, and the practical laws requisite to permit, even to insure, personal freedom [see NATURAL LAW]. Originally, in the state of nature, executive power of the natural law was vested in every individual; subsequently—whether suddenly or gradually is not made clear—men consented to live in a common society regulated by the communal executive power of the law of nature. Locke divided this communal power into three—the legislative, executive, and federative powers—with judicial decision a general power of the political commonwealth.

To effect the passage from the state of nature to “civil society,” Locke developed his important variation on the idea of property, which in turn graded into his theory of labor. From the natural-law postulate that a man has property in his own life, Locke derived the view that a man has property in the things necessary to the preservation of that life, so long as those things are rightfully his (that is, taken from the commonwealth at a point when the specific acquisition harmed or deprived no one else). A man has a right in himself and thus in his own labor; in turn, he has a right to what “he hath mixed his labor with,” or a right to his property. A corollary of this is Locke’s formulation of the labor theory of value, almost incidental to his argument: the value and the price of commodities in any society reflect the labor that has gone into them.

There are two sorts of relations between men, the first a natural social contract, entered into by the exercise of rational considerations of self-preservation, the second defined by rights in property. The function and end of government are the preservation of life, liberty, and property. One corollary of this formulation is that political rights derive from property and that the propertyless are either without political rights or are slaves. Such a conception of the commonwealth permits emphasis both on the common interest and on private holdings, which in Locke’s essay (in line with seventeenth-century usage and notions of value) generally means land.

Without in any sense denying the importance and validity of a familial organization of society, Locke demonstrated that the power over children and dependents vested in the father (who shares it with the mother, interestingly enough) is simply a form of trusteeship: the guardian—father has certain obligationse toward his children, especially to educate them; when the children reach full exercise of their reason, they are free “from subjection to the will and command of the father.” The family was, for Locke, important in his theory of the origins of civil society, the conjunction of male and female being both a symbol of a wider assent and obligation and a primary stage in the voluntary community of mankind. Thus, even in families, arbitrary government is “impossible”; in common-wealths the necessary consent of each individual to enter into the bond of civil society (the social contract) eventuates in election, the choice of representatives charged to exercise legislative power. Legislative power is supreme in Locke’s mixed government of separate legislative, executive, and federative powers. His assumption is that a man with political rights (by reason of his property in himself) enters into political life, inheriting with his property his obligations to the government that represents him. In turn, the government may not touch his property (i.e., levy taxes) without his consent through his representative. One implication of this formulation is a doctrine of resistance, or revolution, as expressed in the last chapter of the Second Treatise, the chapter which, above all others, made Locke objectionable to the government before 1688 and valuable to the government thereafter. Unlike the Protestant resistance-theorists of the sixteenth century, Locke did not base his revolutionary theory upon sanctions of conscience or religion; unlike the English parliamentarians of the 1640s, he did not base it on precedents in English law; unlike Algernon Sidney, he did not base it on a metaphysical and metapsychological natural right to liberty; rather, he advocated a restrained and considered revolution for the restoration of proper balance in the body politic. [seesocial contract.]

Locke’s theory of government emphasizes process, both the hypothetical process of human development from a state of nature to civil society and the processes of self-government. He therefore limited the number of specifiable elements in the proper commonwealth and was careful to leave ample room for adjustments to changing social needs. He was, in short, indicating a successful process of representative majority rule rather than setting up an exclusive structure for one. Hence, there are large areas of his thought which seem blank, either because he was unconcerned with total consistency or because he was concerned with leaving social alternatives open, especially in “matters of indifference.”

Views on religion

His toleration theory, taken in conjunction with his religious views, demonstrates his appreciation of practical approaches. Thus, his Letter Concerning Toleration of 1689, Locke dealt with Christian toleration, “the chief characteristical mark of the true church.” Since every man appears orthodox to himself, no one in his right or his wrong mind will accept as just the persecution of himself; furthermore, since in any case persecution cannot touch a man’s inmost conviction, regardless of what he may say under stress, there is no practical merit in persecution. Locke politicized the problem of religious pluralism, assigning to the civil magistrate the protection of various rights (here defined as “life, liberty, and indolency of body”) of members of a commonwealth. The care of souls was no more committed by God to the civil magistrate than the care of one man’s conscience was committed to any other member of society. The magistrate’s power consists only in civil force, which is irrelevant to any church (defined as “a voluntary society of men”).

From the privileges of toleration, Locke excluded some—he excluded atheists from the benefits of the law, because they refuse to acknowledge its source—but he included idolators, men simply given to erroneous worship. Toleration is to be withheld from religious groups who deny it to others, a view supported by Locke’s experiences in France, where persecution of Huguenots reached extremes between 1679 and 1685. Whenever religious assemblies endanger the public peace, then the civil magistrate, on civil grounds, may intervene against them; even then, however, he is not to interfere with their belief, which remains in the category of “things indifferent” and is therefore irrelevant to questions of public order. Although in this work Locke did not justify resistance, rebellion, or revolution for religion’s sake, he made it plain that oppression of any kind naturally impels men toward sedition.

In The Reasonableness of Christianity Locke defended the Christian revelation against atheism and against natural religion without revelation, demonstrating by scriptural and historical authority the fact of Christ’s messiahship. The tract defends the necessity of revelation against the idea of a sufficient natural religion, but at the same time it treats Christ’s teachings as the fulfillment and explanation of the moral law of nature. Man’s reason cannot by itself discover the full moral law of nature, but it can confirm it. Nowhere in the tract did Locke sanction a particular form of worship, but instead he endorsed a general scriptural Christianity to which, as it were, all Christians could subscribe. (For this, he was roundly attacked as being a deist.) In ways connected with his toleration theory and his epistemology, he adduced the uncertainties of man’s perceptions and knowledge to support his minimal articles of faith, drawn from scriptural revelation and corroborated by the action of reason.[seechristianity.]

Economic ideas

Locke’s economic interests, stimulated during his early association with Shaf tes-bury, emerged long after in 1691 in Some Considerations of the Consequences of the Lowering of Interest, and Raising the Value of Money (The Works...., vol. 5, pp. 1-130) and in 1695 in Further Considerations ...(ibid., vol. 5, pp. 131-206). In these works, he advocated maintaining the interest rate and not devaluing the currency, on grounds of natural law. His economic laws were (1) that the intrinsic value of any piece of goods is not necessarily reflected in its price; (2) that its market value depends upon the proportion of supply and demand (which he called “quantity” and “vent”); (3) that price is determined by the amount of money relative to the supply and demand for a piece of goods. These laws permit prices to be set with some flexibility, according to varying conditions, and they rely upon a controlling notion in Locke’s thought, that of self-regulation toward equilibrium. When it came to practice, as in the cases of the poor and of Irish manufactures, Locke advocated government intervention in economic affairs.

Psychology

The aim of Locke’s Essay (1690b) was to determine the limits of human knowledge, so that men might address themselves to problems within their power to solve. He set out to describe the process of human understanding, to inquire into probable knowledge, and to determine the nature of ideas. He concluded, very simply, that ideas have two sources, sensation and reflection upon ideas produced by sensation. It turns out, however, in the course of the book, that knowledge can also be intuitional and demonstrative, though in the discussion intuition tends to be assimilated to sensation and demonstration to reflection. Ideas may be either simple or complex: simple ideas are the result of sensation and reflection and are compounded of simple parts which can be found byanalysis. Locke attributed reality to the external world and relied upon intuition to explain the relation between an idea and its referent in the external world. Knowledge derived by intuition (such as that of revelation) is “certain”; certain knowledge can also be derived from demonstration but less reliably than from intuition, since errors in reason and in memory may distort the result of demonstration. Locke’s ontological proof of God‖s existence, much like Descartes’s, is an example of the fusion of demonstration with intuition: that is, one’s own existence is intuited, and from one’s own existence God’s can be demonstrated. He relied upon the skeptical provisionalism inherent in empirical investigations, both in his recognition of the role probability plays in human understanding and assessment of life and in his recognition of the idiosyncratic formation of each man’s personal set of ideas. As in so much of his work, Locke took a middle position in the Essay, incorporating elements of skepticism and elements of idealism, combining what we now call behaviorism with gestalt principles. His empiricism embraced both the particular and the consensual: in the ongoing search for true knowledge individual men are required to check their ideas against those of the group, and the group does so against those of any given individual. [seegestalt theory; thinking.]

Locke’s psychological principles are a by-product of his effort to describe human understanding. His major hypothesis, that the mind is not equipped with innate ideas or principles but is at its formation a “white paper” (his translation of tabula rasa), was reached in part through his own empirical observation of children. He concluded that there are only two ways of human understanding, by sensation and by reflection on ideas derived from sensation. His whole notion of “understanding” is developmental; throughout the Essay he cited examples from his observation of the successive stages of men’s lives. From his observation of children, he demonstrated that their understanding derives from their experience of the external and social world. Approximating modern notions of “control,” Locke cited a great deal of evidence from his observation of human beings who were exceptional in that they lacked some “normal” element of apprehension or reflection—children, not yet developed to full powers; idiots; men born blind (including the famous philosophical example of a man who by an operation got his sight); men suffering from amnesia because their heads had been kicked by horses. In spite of their deficiencies, all such people entertained ideas that seemed to them as authentic as those “clear and distinct” ideas that are the hallmark of proper understanding. Madness, drunkenness, and dreaming interested Locke: the Cartesian criterion for human existence, consciousness, seemed to him too narrow to account for the existence of faultily conscious minds. His solution to the problem of identity turned on assumptions now associated with gestalt psychology: on the continuous existence of an organized body whose parts (including its intellectual store) shift over time in relation to one another. So “the night man” and “the day man,” the drunken man and the sober man, the madman and the sane man may coexist in the same person, even though their control over consciousness may be intermittent or interrupted. To this notion may be connected Locke’s idea of what are nowadays called “roles,” the multiple relations, psychological and social (father, brother, son, son-in-law, servant, master, older, younger, etc.), possible and even inevitable in every man’s experience. Memory (retention), the operation of which was never altogether accounted for in the Lockean philosophy or psychology, plays a major part in maintaining continuous personal identity. One of Locke’s major psychological insights, that arbitrary mental connections are “stamped” on men’s minds by the chance conjunctions of their experience, appears in the famous chapter on the association of ideas, an afterthought in his organization. There he demonstrated, by a kind of negative example, the supremacy of experience over rational powers: a man taught to dance in a room containing a trunk could never dance in the absence of a similar trunk; a man nearly axed in a doorway by a berserk village idiot could never go through a door without glancing behind him. So by experience, governing intellectual and emotional constellations are induced in individual minds. This doctrine and that of the tabula rasa underlie Locke’s precepts for education. [seedevelopmental psychology;learning;role;senses.]

In the sense that he postulated ideas as originating in sensation, Locke’s psychology is certainly mechanistic. His general concern, however, to establish the same organic interrelationship for the contents of the mind as for the members of the body or the state, tempers his mechanism with organic and developmental notions. Although he conceived of the body as made up of elements in a mechanistic organization, he saw that mechanism as having considerable feedback into its own individual, even idiosyncratic, development. Feedback is in turn not automatic, in his view, since the mind’s judgment, the faculty which selects and arranges ideas in relation to one another, is also constantly at work during consciousness.

Locke’s social conception of language may serve as a partial model for his ideas of how men understand as well as of how society functions: Although the designation of words is established by consensus, each man may alter it privately for himself alone, according to his individual associations of words and experience. Furthermore, though encountered as datum in each man’s life, language is not rigid but is subject to modification over time by the social needs of the group using it.

Pedagogy

Locke’s ideas of education follow from his psychology. The child inevitably grows into the man and should grow into as healthy a man as possible. Since each child is strongly individuated, no fixed regime works for all children, but Locke laid down general rules of education, chiefly applicable (as he wrote) to gentry sons whose duty was to undertake public service. Boys were to be educated at home, carefully fed, clothed, and taught to build and preserve good health. The father was to “imprint” obedience on his son but with such care and tact as to turn the child-subject naturally into his friend. Rewards and punishments were to be systematic but moderate (Locke outlawed beating, as making a child slavish). The father, tutor, and governor, charged with educating the child, were to be his moral exemplars; therefore, it was necessary for parents both to regulate them- selves and to choose their surrogates with care. Though children must learn self-denial, some cravings may be gratified, especially since “craving” is so closely allied to “curiosity,” nature’s instrument to correct ignorance. So the child must be allowed to learn whenever ready and can often be cozened into learning by means of games and toys. Children’s questions must always be answered truthfully, and conversation with them must be free of condescension. Instruction in the nature of reality —including the idea of God, excluding the idea of goblins—was to be undertaken early.

As for learning itself, Locke’s program was practical: reading, writing, French, then Latin (for use, chiefly); geography, arithmetic, astronomy, geometry, chronology, history, ethics, civil law, rhetoric and logic, natural philosophy; then Greek and Latin as cultural subjects and, last of all, method. For learning by rote Locke had no use; he also advocated learning such practical subjects as trade and accountancy as well as recreations such as music, dancing, gardening, joinery—all useful to young men of property. Finally, the young man should travel, first at home and later abroad, before settling down to matrimony and his social and political obligations at the age of one and twenty.

Locke’s originality and influence

In its day Locke’s thought seemed strikingly “new,” cast in a new language for any literate man to read; it had, naturally, many sources and analogues in ancient and contemporary thought. His skepticism and empiricism came from deep within the medical tradition; his attitude, and even the words he used, recall Sextus Empiricus and, more often, Montaigne, another essayist concerned with knowing, education, understanding, nescience, and probability. Locke had, too, a recognizably British stoicism, a preference for directness and plainness in morality and rhetoric; he often cited Seneca and the stoical writings of Cicero. His toleration theory derived from a long line of Protestant writers going back to Servetus and Erastus and exemplified by his Arminian friends; there are affinities between his view of church-state relations and the thought of Chillingworth, Falkland, and John Owen. His citations of natural law are to Hooker and Grotius, whose books he certainly knew, though he seems to have referred to them more out of piety and the need for authorities than from any desire to analyze their thought in relation to his own. Although he was a notable revisionist of the Cartesian epistemology and psychology, Locke’ cast in a new language for any literate man to read; it had, naturally, many sources and analogues in ancient and contemporary thought. His skepticism and empiricism came from deep within the medical tradition; his attitude, and even the words he used, recall Sextus Empiricus and, more often, Montaigne, another essayist concerned with knowing, education, understanding, nescience, and probability. Locke had, too, a recognizably British stoicism, a preference for directness and plainness in morality and rhetoric; he often cited Seneca and the stoical writings of Cicero. His toleration theory derived from a long line of Protestant writers going back to Servetus and Erastus and exemplified by his Arminian;s doctrine of ideas owes something to Descartes, his psychological theory of sensationalism shares elements of Carte-sian mechanism, and his ontological proof of God’ cast in a new language for any literate man to read; it had, naturally, many sources and analogues in ancient and contemporary thought. His skepticism and empiricism came from deep within the medical tradition; his attitude, and even the words he used, recall Sextus Empiricus and, more often, Montaigne, another essayist concerned with knowing, education, understanding, nescience, and probability. Locke had, too, a recognizably British stoicism, a preference for directness and plainness in morality and rhetoric; he often cited Seneca and the stoical writings of Cicero. His toleration theory derived from a long line of Protestant writers going back to Servetus and Erastus and exemplified by his Arminian;s existence is brief and efficient partly because Descartes” cast in a new language for any literate man to read; it had, naturally, many sources and analogues in ancient and contemporary thought. His skepticism and empiricism came from deep within the medical tradition; his attitude, and even the words he used, recall Sextus Empiricus and, more often, Montaigne, another essayist concerned with knowing, education, understanding, nescience, and probability. Locke had, too, a recognizably British stoicism, a preference for directness and plainness in morality and rhetoric; he often cited Seneca and the stoical writings of Cicero. His toleration theory derived from a long line of Protestant writers going back to Servetus and Erastus and exemplified by his Arminian;s similar proof was so thoroughly argued. Locke” cast in a new language for any literate man to read; it had, naturally, many sources and analogues in ancient and contemporary thought. His skepticism and empiricism came from deep within the medical tradition; his attitude, and even the words he used, recall Sextus Empiricus and, more often, Montaigne, another essayist concerned with knowing, education, understanding, nescience, and probability. Locke had, too, a recognizably British stoicism, a preference for directness and plainness in morality and rhetoric; he often cited Seneca and the stoical writings of Cicero. His toleration theory derived from a long line of Protestant writers going back to Servetus and Erastus and exemplified by his Arminian;s nominalism had many sources: Greek empiricism, the Scotist tradition in scholasticism, and chiefly Francis Bacon and his followers in contemporary England.

However connected to other strands in the history of thought, Locke was characteristically original in pattern and device. His empirically argued rejection of innate ideas and principles, for example, in the first book of the Essay ran counter to traditional epistemologies ancient and modern. Among his contemporaries, both Cartesians and Cambridge Platonists, as well as most divines, postulated innateness as the basis of human knowing, relying on both Platonic and Stoical authorities. In psychology and epistemology a major contribution was his concept of the association of ideas, an involuntary experiential formation in the thought of individual men caused by the linkage of their simultaneous experiences. In economic thought his is the first full argument for the labor theory of value; his notions of property, revolution, and the social contract, though deriving from natural-law theory and resistance theory, are combined in a new interrelation and based upon assumptions of the rule of law that are neither narrowly legalistic nor generally metaphysical.

Across the range of Locke’ cast in a new language for any literate man to read; it had, naturally, many sources and analogues in ancient and contemporary thought. His skepticism and empiricism came from deep within the medical tradition; his attitude, and even the words he used, recall Sextus Empiricus and, more often, Montaigne, another essayist concerned with knowing, education, understanding, nescience, and probability. Locke had, too, a recognizably British stoicism, a preference for directness and plainness in morality and rhetoric; he often cited Seneca and the stoical writings of Cicero. His toleration theory derived from a long line of Protestant writers going back to Servetus and Erastus and exemplified by his Arminian;s topics of investigation his preoccupations are clear: his constant interest in the relation of thought to behavior, his concern for the balance of individual right and social obligation, his provisional attitudes to solutions, his distrust of dogmatism, his emphasis on equilibrium and self-stabilization. The last emphasis governs his notion of ’ cast in a new language for any literate man to read; it had, naturally, many sources and analogues in ancient and contemporary thought. His skepticism and empiricism came from deep within the medical tradition; his attitude, and even the words he used, recall Sextus Empiricus and, more often, Montaigne, another essayist concerned with knowing, education, understanding, nescience, and probability. Locke had, too, a recognizably British stoicism, a preference for directness and plainness in morality and rhetoric; he often cited Seneca and the stoical writings of Cicero. His toleration theory derived from a long line of Protestant writers going back to Servetus and Erastus and exemplified by his Arminian;power,” cast in a new language for any literate man to read; it had, naturally, many sources and analogues in ancient and contemporary thought. His skepticism and empiricism came from deep within the medical tradition; his attitude, and even the words he used, recall Sextus Empiricus and, more often, Montaigne, another essayist concerned with knowing, education, understanding, nescience, and probability. Locke had, too, a recognizably British stoicism, a preference for directness and plainness in morality and rhetoric; he often cited Seneca and the stoical writings of Cicero. His toleration theory derived from a long line of Protestant writers going back to Servetus and Erastus and exemplified by his Arminian; according to which, even though a man is limited in his finite existence by certain conditional restraints, he is nonetheless free to exercise his mind and even his will. Notions of stabilization and equilibrium operate in his epistemology too, where individual understanding is, among other things, conceived as a constant altering of the balance and relationship between different experiences and ideas. Connected with this, one of Locke’s personal behavior patterns makes some sense: from the 1650s until the 1690s Locke, wherever he was, joined or organized discussion groups in which ideas could be cooperatively investigated and idiosyncrasies modulated into a permissive consensus.

Locke’s influence can hardly be overestimated; nor can it be accurately measured. His idealism, his concentration upon the autonomy of inward life found an extreme, though corrective, disciple in Berkeley; his skepticism, in Hume. At first his Essay was fiercely attacked. Later, except for such idealists as Leibniz and his own pupil, the third earl of Shaftesbury, for most educated people the book seemed to provide as comprehensive a description and explanation of the mind’s workings as Newton’s of the workings of the cosmos. Locke’s influence on deist thought, perceptible in his lifetime and deplored by him, was considerable both in England and in France; his notions of private education were often cited by eighteenth-century English gentlemen at home and in the colonies; his psychological principles were gradually absorbed into accepted belief and can be traced particularly in the work of eighteenth-century novelists (e.g., Richardson, Sterne, and Diderot). Voltaire’s enthusiasm for Locke’s ideas had considerable effect in popularizing them in prerevolutionary France. As for political thought, the American and French revolutions have been laid at his door: un-questionably his work was widely read in both countries by men concerned for their political rights, but how deeply they read it remains an open question. His epistemology inaugurated a “new way of ideas,” his psychology certainly bore fruit in nineteenth- and twentieth-century psychological theory. Locke’s works turn up in many auction lists of eighteenth-century private libraries and are found in the libraries of ancient educational institutions in England and America: Trinity College, Dublin, incorporated the doctrines of the Essay into its basic curriculum at an early stage, and Locke’s influence at colonial Harvard has also been attested.

Rosalie L. Colie

[see alsocivil disobedience;consensus;conservatism;constitutions and constitutionalism;legitimacy;natural law;politicaltheory;social contract;and the biographies ofbacon;burke;hartley;hobbes;hume.]

WORKS BY LOCKE

(1690a) 1960 Two Treatises of Government. Edited by Peter Laslett. Cambridge Univ. Press.

(1690ib) 1959 An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. 2 vols. Edited by Alexander C. Eraser. New York: Dover.

Essays on the Law of Nature. Edited by Wolfgang von Leyden. Oxford: Clarendon, 1954.→ Contains the Latin text with a translation.

The Works of John Locke. 10 vols. Aalen (Germany): Scientia Verlag, 1963. → A reprint of the 1823 edition.

SUPPLEMENTARY BIBLIOGRAPHY

Aaron, Richard I. (1937) 1955 John Locke. 2d ed. Oxford: Clarendon. Bourne, Henry R. Fox 1876 The Life of John Locke. 2 vols. London: King; New York: Harper.

Christophersen, Hans O. 1930 A Bibliographical Introduction to the Study of John Locke. Norske-videnskaps-akademi i Oslo, Historisk-filosofisk Klasse, Skrifter, 1930: no. 8. Oslo: Dybwad.

Cranston, Maurice W. 1957 John Locke: A Biography. New York: Macmillan.

Dewhurst, Kenneth 1963 John Locke (1632–1704), Physician and Philosopher: A Medical Biography. London: Wellcome Historical Medical Library.

Gibson, James (1917) 1960 Locke’s Theory of Knowledge and Its Historical Relations. Cambridge Univ. Press.

Givner, David A. 1962 Scientific Preconceptions in Locke’s Philosophy of Language. Journal of the history of Ideas 23:340–354.

King, Peter (1829) 1884 Life and Letters of John Locke, With Extracts From His Journals and Common-place Books. London: Bell.

Larkin, Paschal 1930 Property in the Eighteenth Century: With Special Reference to England and Locke. London and New York: Longmans.

Locke, John 1965 The Library of John Locke. Edited by John Harrison and Peter Laslett. Oxford Univ. Press.

Macpherson, Crawford B. 1962 The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism: Hobbes to Locke. Oxford: Clarendon.

Mandelbaum, Maurice 1964 Philosophy, Science, and Sense Perception: Historical and Critical Studies. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press. → See especially Chapters 1 and 2 on John Locke.

Oxford University, Bodleian Library 1959 A Summary Catalogue of The Lovelace Collection of the Papers of John Locke in the Bodleian library, by P. Long. Oxford Bibliographical Society, Publications, New Series, Vol. 8. Oxford Univ. Press.

Polin, Raymond 1960 La politique morale de John Locke. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

Simon, Walter M. 1951 John Locke, Philosophy, and Political Theory. American Political Science Review 45:386–399.

Tuveson, Ernest L. 1955 Locke and the Dissolution of the Ego. Modern Philology 52:159–174.

Viano, Carlo A. 1960 John Locke: Dal razionalismo all’ illuminismo. Turin (Italy): Einaudi.

Yolton, John W. 1956 John Locke and the Way of Ideas. Oxford Univ. Press.

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Locke, John

Locke, John

(b. Wrington, Somersetshire, England, 29 August 1632;d. Oates, Essex, England, 28 October 1704)

philosophy.

John Locke was the most important British philosopher of the Age of Reason, If the modern Western world has been shaped by scientists, merchants, statesmen, and industrialists, Locke was the first philosopher to expound their view of life, articulate their aspirations, and justify their deeds. No philosopher has exercised a greater influence. Yet it could be said that Locke was not a philosopher at all; he was certainly not a metaphysician in the same sense as his contemporaries Leibniz or Spinoza. Locke offered no all-embracing system to explain the nature of the universe. On the contrary, he tried to show that human understanding is so limited that such comprehensive knowledge is beyond man’s reach. Although he did not have the answers to the philosophical problems he formulated, Locke was able to establish the importance of science as an object of philosophical analysis.

Two powerful streams in seventeenth-century thought, the semiskeptical rational theorizing of Descartes and the ad hoc scientific experimentation of Bacon and the Royal Society, merged in Locke. Because the streams were so different, their union was imperfect, but his mind was the meeting point that marked a new beginning, not only in theoretical philosophy, but in man’s approach to the problems of practical life. Locke, one might almost say, had the first modern mind. Descartes was still in many ways a medieval thinker, with his philosophy bound to theology; and even Gassendi, who anticipated much of Locke, did not free himself completely from its hold. By divorcing philosophy from theology, Locke placed the study of philosophy within the boundaries of man’s experience: “Our portion,” he wrote, “lies only here in this little spot of earth, where we and all our concernments are shut up.”

Yet Locke was not an atheist, and in his capacity as theologian he expounded his own thoughts about God. He quarreled with bishops and with the orthodox of most denominations. He maintained that a Christian need believe no more than the single proposition “that Christ is the Messiah”; but to that minimal creed he clung with the firmest assurance. He had a quiet and steady faith in the immortality of the soul and in the prospect of happiness in the life to come. He had no belief in miracles and no patience with people who had mystical experiences or visions of God. He detested religious enthusiasm, but in an unemotional way he was, like Newton, a deeply religious man.

Locke was born at Wrington, Somersetshire, in western England. His grandfather, Nicholas Locke, was a successful clothier in that county. His father, also named John Locke, was a less prosperous lawyer and clerk to the local magistrates. Baptized by Samuel Crook, a leading Calvinist intellectual, Locke was brought up in an atmosphere of austerity and discipline. He was ten when the Civil War broke out, and his father was mounted as a captain of Parliamentary horse by Alexander Popham, a rich local magistrate-turned-colonel. Apart from demolishing some images in Wells Cathedral, the two officers saw little action, but a grateful Popham became the patron of his captain’s eldest son. A few years later, when Westminster School was taken over by the Parliament, Popham found a place for his protégé in what was then the best boarding school in the country.

At Westminster, Locke came under the influence of the Royalist headmaster Richard Busby, whom the Parliamentary governors had imprudently allowed to remain in charge of the school. Locke left Westminster in 1652 to become an undergraduate at Christ Church, Oxford, where he once again came under Puritan influence. Although he did not wholly enjoy the university, he received the M.A. degree and was appointed to a teaching position, lecturing on such subjects as natural law, although he was more interested in medicine.

In the summer of 1666 Locke became friends with Anthony Ashley Cooper, then Lord Ashley and later the first earl of Shaftesbury. Although not yet the leader of a party, Shaftesbury was already the outstanding politician of liberalism and the most forceful champion of religious toleration. In 1667, at the age of thirty-four, Locke went to live at Shaftesbury’s house in London. His Oxford career had not been particularly distinguished: he had been a temporary lecturer and a censor at Christ Church; he had become friends with Robert Boyle, one of the founders of the Royal Society, and helped him by collecting scientific data; and he had studied medicine. But he had done no important laboratory work and had failed to get a medical degree. Even so, it was as a domestic physician that Locke entered Shaftesbury’s household, and he soon proved himself an able doctor by saving his patron’s life (as Shaftesbury believed) when it was threatened by a suppurating cyst of the liver. Convinced that Locke was far too great a genius to be spending his time on medicine alone, Shaftesbury encouraged other pursuits, and under his patronage Locke discovered his own capabilities.

Locke first became a philosopher. At Oxford he had been, like Hobbes before him, bored and dissatisfied with the medieval Aristotelian philosophy that was taught there. Through Descartes, Locke became acquainted with the “new philosophy,” and discussions with Shaftesbury and other London friends led him to write, in his fourth year under Shaftesbury’s roof, the earliest drafts of his masterpiece, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. In London, Locke also met the physician Thomas Sydenham, who introduced him to the new clinical method that he had learned at Montpellier. Shaftesbury himself introduced Locke to the study of economics and gave him his earliest experience in political administration.

Locke stayed with Shaftesbury intermittently until the latter’s death in 1683. In those fifteen years Shaftesbury’s Protestant zeal carried him to the point of organizing a rebellion over the Catholic James’s legitimate right of succession. But the plot was nipped, and Shaftesbury withdrew to Holland, where he died a month later. Locke followed the example of Shaftesbury and fled to Holland, remaining in exile until William of Orange invaded England in 1688 and reclaimed the country for Protestantism and liberty. Locke returned to England in 1689 and devoted his remaining fifteen years to scholarship and public service.

While in Holland, Locke had completed An Essay Concerning Human Understanding and his first Letter for Toleration and may have done some work on his Civil Government. The Letter for Toleration was published in Locke’s original Latin at Gouda in 1689 and an English translation made by the Socinian William Popple—“without my privity” Locke later said—was published in London a few months later. The Essay and the Civil Government were also brought out by various London booksellers in the winter of 1689-1690. Only the Essay bore Locke’s name, but its success was so great that he became famous throughout Europe.

In the “Epistle to the Reader,” which begins the Essay, Locke says that in an age of such “master builders” as Boyle, Sydenham, Huygens, and “the incomparable Mr. Newton” it is, for him, “ambition enough to be employed as an under-labourer in clearing the ground a little and removing some of the rubbish that lies in the way of knowledge.” Despite this modest explanation of purpose Locke provided, among other things, the first modern philosophy of science, in which the Cartesian “idea” was a recurrent theme, Locke says that we have ideas in our minds not only when we think but when we see, hear, smell, taste, and feel as well. The core of his epistemology is the notion that the objects of perception are not things but ideas derived in part from things in the external world and dependent, to some extent, on our own minds for their existence. Locke defines an “idea” as the “object of the understanding,” whether it is a notion, an entity, or an illusion; perception is for him a “species of understanding.”

Locke continues his Essay with an attack on the currently established opinion that certain ideas are innate. He claims that they have been considered innate only because people cannot remember first having learned them. Locke believed that we are born in total ignorance and that even our theoretical ideas of identity, quantity, and substance are derived from experience. He says that a child gets ideas of black and white, of sweet and bitter before he gets an idea of abstract principles such as identity or impossibility. “The senses at first let in particular ideas, and furnish the yet empty cabinet….” The mind later abstracts these theoretical ideas and so “comes to be furnished with ideas and language, the materials about which to exercise the discursive faculty,” In the child’s development “the use of reason becomes daily more visible as these materials that give it employment increase.”

Locke had thus to defend the assumption that everything which he calls an idea is derived from sensation, although he admits that an idea may also be produced by reflection—“remembering, considering, reasoning.” He classifies ideas as simple (those which the mind receives passively) and complex (those produced by the exercise of the mind’s own powers). ln the chapters on simple ideas he sets out the main lines of his theory of perception. Most people, if asked what it is that they see, smell, hear, taste, or touch, would answer “things,” although they might add “but sometimes illusions, chimeras, mirages, which are not real things.” They would probably maintain that there are two elements in an act of perception: the observer and the object. Locke differs from this view in two respects. First, he claims that what we perceive is always an idea, as distinct from a thing; second, that there are not two but three elements in perception: the observer, the idea, and the object that the idea represents.

The reasoning that led Locke to this conclusion is not difficult to appreciate. We look at a penny. We are asked to describe it. It is round, brown, and of modest dimensions. But do we really see just this? We think again and realize that more often than not what we see is elliptical, not circular; in some lights it is golden, in others black; close to the eye it is large, seen from afar it is tiny. The actual penny, we are certain, cannot be both circular and elliptical, both golden all over and black all over. So we may be led to agree that there must be something which is the one and something which is the other, something which changes and something which does not change, the elliptical “penny” we see and the real circular penny, or, in Locke’s words, the “idea” in the mind of the observer and the material “body“itself.

Today Locke’s theory of perception is defended on the basis of the physicist’s description of the structure of the universe and the physiologist’s description of the mechanism of perception. To a child a penny is something that looks brown, feels warm, and tastes sharp; to the scientist it is a congeries of electrons and protons. The scientist speaks of certain light waves striking the retina of the observer’s eye while waves of other kinds strike different nerve terminals, producing those modifications of the nervous system that are called “seeing.” “feeling,” or “tasting” a penny. Neither the electrons nor the protons, neither the external waves nor the internal modifications are brown or warm or astringent. The scientist then, in a certain sense, differentiates what Locke called the secondary qualities—color, taste, sound—which Locke said depended on the observer’s mind for their existence, At the same time science seems to accept the objective existence of the qualities that Locke called primary and that he thought belonged to material bodies themselves—impenetrability, extension, figure, mobility, and number. Although the language of primary and secondary qualities was used by earlier theorists, it is Locke’s analysis of the distinction which makes it of significance both to science and to common sense. Most people would probably agree that they could imagine an object divested one by one of its qualities of taste, smell, and so forth; but they could not imagine a body divested of impenetrability, shape, size, or position in space. A body without primary qualities would not exist at all.

While there is much to be said for Locke’s epistemology, it is not without its faults. If we are aware in our perceptual experience only of ideas (which represent objects) and never of objects themselves, there can be no means of knowing what, if anything, is represented by those ideas. The human predicament, according to Locke’s account, is that of a man permanently imprisoned in a sort of diving bell, receiving some signals from without and some from within his apparatus but having no means of knowing which, if any, signals come from outside; hence he has no means of testing their authenticity. Man, therefore, cannot have any definite knowledge whatever of the external world.

In later chapters of the Essay Locke places an even heavier emphasis on human ignorance. Our knowledge, he says, “is not only limited to the paucity and imperfections of the ideas we have, and which we employ about it,” but is still more circumscribed. Our knowledge of identity and diversity in ideas extends only as far as our ideas themselves; our knowledge of their coexistence extends only a little way, because knowledge of any necessary connection between primary and secondary qualities is unattainable. However, with the area of certainty thus diminished, Locke does not deny the possibility of an assurance which falls short of perfect knowledge. We can have probable knowledge, even though we cannot have certain knowledge. Moreover, unlike most of his successors in empiricist philosophy, Locke admits the existence of substance, which he says is somehow present in all objects even though we do not see or feel it. What we see and feel are the primary and secondary qualities, which are propped up by substance. Beyond that the subject must necessarily remain a mystery:

It seems probable to me that the simple ideas we receive from sensation and reflection are the boundaries of our thoughts; beyond which the mind, whatever efforts it would make, is not able to advance one jot, nor can it make any discoveries, when it would pry into the nature and hidden causes of those ideas.

The tone of the Essay is at once moral and pragmatic. Its style is homely rather than elegant, its construction informal and even amateurish. The “pursuit of Truth,” Locke says, “is a duty we owe to God … and a duty we owe also to ourselves”; here utility is at one with piety. Truth, as Locke defines it, is the “proper riches and furniture of the mind” and he does not claim to have added to that stock, but rather to have shown the conditions under which the mind could acquire truth:

We have no reason to complain that we do not know the nature of the sun or the stars, that the consideration of light itself leaves us in the dark and a thousand other speculations in nature, since, if we knew them, they would be of no solid advantage, nor help to make our lives the happier, they being but the useless employment of idle or over-curious brains. …

Locke’s theory of knowledge has obvious implications for a theory of morals. The traditional view in Locke’s time was that some sort of moral knowledge was innate in the human person. Locke thought otherwise. What God or Nature had given man was a faculty of reason and a sentiment of self-love. Reason in combination with self-love produced morality and could discern the general principles of ethics, or natural law; and self-love should lead men to obey those principles.

For Locke, Christian ethics was natural ethics. The teaching of the New Testament was a means to an end, happiness in this life and in the life to come. Loving one’s neighbor and otherwise obeying the precepts of the Saviour was a way to that end. The reason for doing what Christ said was not simply that He had said it, but that by doing it one promoted one’s happiness. There was no need to ask why anyone should desire happiness, because all men were impelled by their natural self-love to desire it.

Wrongdoing was thus for Locke a sign of ignorance. People did not always realize that long-term happiness could usually be bought only at the cost of short-term pleasures. Folly drove them to destroy their own well-being. If people were enlightened, if they used their own powers of reason, they would be good; if they were prudent, reflective, calculating, instead of moved by the transitory winds of impulse and emotion, they would have what they most desired. There is perhaps in this system of morals something rather naïve and commonplace; but Locke was in many ways a very ordinary thinker, inspired by a prophetic common sense,

BIBLIOGRAPHY

I. Original Works. See H. O. Christopherson, A Bibliographical Introduction to the Study of John Locke (Oslo, 1930). Collected editions and selections of Locke’s work are The Works, 3 vols. (London, 1714), repr. throughout the eighteenth century; The Works, Edmund Law, ed., 4 vols. (London, 1777), the best collected ed.; The Philosophical Works, J. A. St. John, ed. (1843); and Locke on Politics, Religion and Education, M. Cranston, ed. (1965).

Separate works include Epistola de tolerantia ad clarissinnun virrun… (Gouda, 1689), English trans. (London, 1689); Two Treatises of Government (London, 1690); P. Laslett, ed. (Cambridge, I960), a critical ed. with original text, intro., and commentary; An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (London, 1690), enl. (1694, 1700); A. C. Fraser, ed., 2 vols. (Oxford, 1894), prepared from a collation of 4 eds. published in Locke’s lifetime; John W. Yolton, ed. (London-New York, 1961), the best recent text; see also An Early Draft of Locke’s Essay, R.J. Aaron and J. Gibbs, eds. (Oxford, 1936), prepared from one of three surviving MSS; A Second Letter Concerning Toleration (London, 1690); Some Considerations of the Consequences of the Lowering of Interest, and Raising the Value of Money (London, 1692); A Third Letter For Toleration (London, 1692)—the letters on toleration have been reprinted together several times, see the eds. by A. Millar (London, 1765) and A. Murray (London, 1870); Some Thoughts Concerning Education (London, 1693), enl. (London, 1695); R. H. Quick, ed. (London, 1880); the most useful ed. is in James L. Ax tell, ed., Educational Writings(Cambridge, 1968); Locke’s Travels in France 1675–1679, J. Lough, ed. (Cambridge, 1953), Locke’s French travel diaries published for the first time; Essays on the Laws of Nature, W, von Leyden, ed, (Oxford, 1954), an early Latin text found among the Lovelace papers by the editor, who includes a trans, and an intro, of exceptional interest; and Two Tracts on Government, Philip Abrams, ed, (Cambridge, 1965), drawn from early MSS.

For Locke’s correspondence, see T. Forster, ed., Original Letters of John Locke, Algernon Sydney and Lord Shaftesbury (London, 1830); H. OIlion,ed., Lettres inédites de John Locke (The Hague, 1912); and B. Rand, ed., The Correspondence of John Locke and Edward Clarke (London, 1927). A definitive ed. of Locke’s letters is being prepared by E. S. De Beer.

II. Secondary Literature. Some bibliographical and critical studies (in chronological order) are Lord King, The Life of John Locke With Extracts From His Correspondence, Journals and Commonplace Books, 2 vols, (London, 1829); H. R. F. Bourne, The Life of John Locke, 2 vols. (London, 1876), a substantial Victorian work that has not lost its utility despite later discoveries; J. Gibson, Locke’s Theory of Knowledge (Cambridge, 1917), a useful guide to the Essay; S. Lamprecht, The Moral and Political Philosophy of John Locke (London, 1918); A. I. Aaron, John Locke (Oxford, 1937), the best-known modern commentary on Locke’s philosophy; Willmoore Kendall, John Locke and the Doctrine of Majority Rule (New Haven, 1941), which depicts Locke as a forerunner of modern progressive democratic ideas; J. W. Gough, John Locke’s Political Philosophy: Eight Studies (Oxford, 1952), a well-arranged commentary; M. Cranston, John Locke: A Biography (London, 1957), largely based on the earl of Lovelace’s inherited collection of Locke’s MSS acquired by the Bodleian Library, Oxford, in 1948; R. H. Cox, Locke on War and Peace (Oxford, 1961), a distinctive reinterpretation that stresses Locke’s affinity with Hobbes; C. B. MacPherson, The Political Theory of Progressive Individualism (Oxford, 1962), a critique of Marxian inspiration; Martin Seliger, The Liberal Politics of John Locke (London, 1968), a defense of the liberal interpretation of Locke’s politics; and John W. Yolton, ed., John Locke: Problems and Perspectives (Cambridge, 1969), a series of critical essays by English and American scholars.

Maurice Cranston

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John Locke

John Locke

The English philosopher and political theorist John Locke (1632-1704) began the empiricist tradition and thus initiated the greatest age of British philosophy. He attempted to center philosophy on an analysis of the extent and capabilities of the human mind.

John Locke was born on Aug. 29, 1632, in Wrington, in Somerset, where his mother's family resided. She died during his infancy, and Locke was raised by his father, who was an attorney in the small town of Pensford near Bristol. John was tutored at home because of his always delicate health and the outbreak of civil war in 1642. When he was 14, he entered Westminster School, where he remained for 6 years. He then went to Christ Church, Oxford. In 1658 he was elected a senior student at his college. In this capacity he taught Greek and moral philosophy. Under conditions at the time he would have had to be ordained to retain his fellowship. Instead he changed to another faculty, medicine, and eventually received a license to practice. During the same period Locke made the acquaintance of Robert Boyle, the distinguished scientist and one of the founders of the Royal Society, and, under Boyle's direction, took up study of natural science. Finally, in 1668, Locke was made a fellow of the Royal Society.

In 1665 Locke traveled to the Continent as secretary to the English ambassador to the Brandenburg court. Upon his return to England he chanced to medically attend Lord Ashley, 1st Earl of Shaftesbury, and later lord chancellor of England. Their friendship and lifelong association drew Locke into political affairs. He attended Shaftesbury as physician and adviser, and in this latter capacity Locke drafted The Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina and served as secretary to the Board of Trade. In 1676 Locke went to France for his health. An inheritance from his father made him financially independent, and he remained in Montpellier for 3 years.

Locke rejoined Shaftesbury's service, and when the latter fled to Holland, the philosopher followed. He remained in exile from 1683 to 1689, and during these years he was deprived of his studentship by express order of Charles III. Most of his important writings were composed during this period. After the Glorious Revolution of 1689 Locke returned to England and later served with distinction as a commissioner of trade until 1700. He spent his retirement at Oates in Essex as the guest of the Mashams. Lady Masham was the daughter of Ralph Cudworth, the philosopher. Locke died there on Oct. 28, 1704.

Major Works

Locke, by virtue of his temperament and mode of existence, was a man of great circumspection. None of his major writings was published until he was nearly 60. In 1690 he brought out his major works: Two Treatises and the Essay Concerning Human Understanding. But the four books of the Essay were the culmination of 20 years of intellectual labor. He relates that, together with a few friends, probably in 1670, a discussion arose concerning the basis of morality and religion. The conclusion was that they were unable to resolve the question until an investigation had been made to see "what objects our understandings were or were not fitted to deal with." Thus the aim of this work is "to inquire into the origin, certainty, and extent of human knowledge, together with the grounds of belief, opinion, and assent."

The procedure employed is what he called the "historical, plain method, " which consists of observations derived from external sensations and the internal processes of reflection or introspection. This psychological definition of experience as sensation and reflection shifted the focus of philosophy from an analysis of reality to an exploration of the mind. The new perspective was Locke's major contribution, and it dominated European thought for at least 2 centuries. But if knowledge consists entirely of experience, then the objects of cognition are ideas. The term "idea" was ambiguously defined by Locke as "whatsoever is the object of the understanding when a man thinks." This broad use means that sensations, memories, imaginings, and feelings as well as concepts are ideas insofar as they are mental. The danger of Locke's epistemology is the inherent skepticism contained in a technique which describes what is "in" the mind. For if everything is an idea, then it is difficult to distinguish between true and false, real and imaginary, impressed sensations and expressed concepts. Thus Locke, and the subsequent history of philosophy, had to wrestle with the dilemma that a psychological description of the origin of ideas seriously undermines the extent of their objective validity.

Nonetheless the intention of the Essay was positive in that Locke wished to establish the dependence of all human knowledge upon everyday experience or sensation. The alternative theory of innate ideas is vigorously attacked. Although it is not historically certain whether anyone seriously maintained such a doctrine, Locke's general criticism lends indirect support to an experiential view of knowledge. Innatism can be understood in a naive way to mean that there are ideas of which we are fully conscious at birth or which are universally acknowledged, so that the mind possesses a disposition to think in terms of certain ideas. The first position is refuted by observation of children, and the second by the fact that there are no acknowledged universal ideas to which everyone agrees. The sophisticated version falls into contradiction by maintaining that we are conscious of an unconscious disposition.

Theory of Knowledge

Having refuted the a priori, or nonexperiential, account of knowledge, Locke devotes the first two books of the Essay to developing a deceptively simple empirical theory of knowledge. Knowing originates in external and internal sources of sensation and reflection. The objects or ideas present to consciousness are divided into simple and complex. Simple ideas are primitive sense data, which the mind passively receives and cannot alter, delivered by one sense (seeing blue), by several senses (eating an orange as a synthesis of taste, touch, and smell), by reflection (hunger), or by a combination of sensation and reflection (pleasure and pain). The objective orientation of simple ideas follows from the fact that we cannot add or subtract from their appearance or conception in the mind. In relation to simple ideas, at least, the mind is passive, a "blank" or "white" tablet upon which sensations are impressed. Complex ideas are formed by actively combining, comparing, or abstracting simple ideas to yield "modes, substances, and relations." Modes are class concepts or ideas that do not exist independently, such as beauty. Substance is a complex idea of the unity of substrate of the simple qualities we perceive. And relations are the powers in objects capable of causing minds to make comparisons, for example, identity and cause and effect. The difficulty is that complex ideas do not relate to perceivable existents, but hopefully, complex ideas do express elements or characteristics of the real world.

Locke is faced with an acute dilemma. If the immediate object of knowledge is an idea, then man possesses only a derivative knowledge of the physical world. To know the real world adequately requires a complex idea which expresses the relation between the qualities that we perceive subjectively and the unperceived existent. The substance which unites the common perceived qualities of figure, bulk, and color into this one existing brown table is, in Locke's terms, an "I don't know what." His honesty almost brought Locke to a modern relational definition of substance instead of the traditional notion of a thing characterized by its properties. But the conclusion drawn in the Essay is that knowledge is relational; that is, it consists in the perception "of the agreement or disagreement among ideas." For if Locke had argued that knowledge expresses an adequation between the complex idea in the mind and the real object, then man would have the power to go beyond ideas to the object itself. But this is impossible, since every object is, by definition, an idea, and thus ironically, experiential knowledge is not about real objects but only about the perceived relations of ideas.

The third book of the Essay deals with words, and it is a pioneer contribution to the philosophy of language. Locke is a consistent nominalist in that for him language is an arbitrary convention and words are things which "stand for nothing but the ideas in the mind of the man that has them." Each man's understanding can be confirmed by other minds insofar as they share the same linguistic conventions, although one of the singular abuses of language results from the fact that we learn names or words before understanding their use.

The purpose of Locke's analysis is to account for generalization, abstraction, and universals in terms of language. Generalizations are the result of drawing, or abstracting, what is common to many. In this sense, generalizations and universals are inventions of the mind which concern only signs. But they have a foundation in the similitude of things. And those class concepts which have a fixed meaning and definition can be understood as essences, but they are only nominal and not real. The difference between our knowledge and reality is like that between seeing the exterior of Big Ben and understanding how the clock works.

The final section of the Essay deals with the extent, types, and divisions of knowledge. This work seems to have been written earlier than the others, and many of its conclusions are qualified by preceding material. The agreement or disagreement of ideas, which constitutes knowledge, consists of identity and diversity, perceived relations, coexistence or real existence known by way of intuition, and demonstration or sensation of a given existent.

In this view the actual extent of man's knowledge is less than his ideas because he does not know the real connections between simple ideas, or primary and secondary qualities. Also, an intuitive knowledge of existence is limited to the self, and the only demonstrable existence is that of God as an eternal, omnipotent being. With the exception of the self and God, all knowledge of existing things is dependent upon sensation, whose cognitive status is "a little bit better than probability." The poverty of real knowledge is compensated to some extent by human judgment, which presumes things to be true without actually perceiving the connections. And, according to Locke's commonsense attitude, the severe restrictions placed upon knowledge merely reflect that man's mental capacity is suitable for his nature and condition.

Further Reading

The best modern editions of Locke are An Essay concerning Human Understanding (2 vols., 1961; rev. ed. 1965), edited by John W. Yolton, and Two Treatises of Government (1960), edited by Peter Laslett. There are various editions of Some Thoughts concerning Education, A Letter concerning Toleration, and The Reasonableness of Christianity. Maurice Cranston, John Locke: A Biography (1957), is the best study. Excellent studies of his philosophy include James Gibson, Locke's Theory of Knowledge and Its Historical Relations (1917), Richard I. Aaron, John Locke (1937; 2d ed. 1955), and John W. Yolton, John Locke and the Way of Ideas (1956). Other useful studies of Locke and his thought are Willmoore

Kendall, John Locke and the Doctrine of Majority Rule (1959); Crawford B. Macpherson, The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism: Hobbes to Locke (1962); James D. Collins, The British Empiricists: Locke, Berkeley, Hume (1967); Charles B. Martin and D. M. Armstrong, eds., Locke and Berkeley: A Collection of Critical Essays (1968); and John W. Yolton, John Locke: Problems and Perspectives: A Collection of New Essays (1969). For general background see George N. Clark, The Seventeenth Century (1929; 2d ed. 1947), and Basil Willey, The Seventeenth-century Background: Studies in the Thought of the Age in Relation to Poetry and Religion (1934). □

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Locke, John

John Locke

1632-1704
English philosopher and political theorist who attempted to center philosophy on an analysis of the extent and capabilities of the human mind.

John Locke was born on August 29, 1632, in Wrington, in Somerset, where his mother's family resided. She died during his infancy, and Locke was raised by his father, who was an attorney in the small town of Pensford near Bristol. John was tutored at home because of his always-delicate health and the outbreak of civil war in 1642. When he was 14, he entered Westminster School, where he remained for six years. He then went to Christ Church, Oxford. In 1658 he was elected a senior student at his college. In this capacity he taught Greek and moral philosophy. Under conditions at the time he would have had to be ordained to retain his fellowship. Instead he changed to another faculty, medicine, and eventually received a license to practice. During the same period Locke made the acquaintance of Robert Boyle, the distinguished scientist and one of the founders of the Royal Society, and, under Boyle's direction, took up study of natural science. Finally, in 1668, Locke was made a fellow of the Royal Society.

In 1665, Locke traveled to the Continent as secretary to the English ambassador to the Brandenburg court. Upon his return to England he chanced to medically attend Lord Ashley, First Earl of Shaftesbury, and later lord chancellor of England. Their friendship and lifelong association drew Locke into political affairs. He attended Shaftesbury as physician and adviser, and in this latter capacity Locke drafted The Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina and served as secretary to the Board of Trade. In 1676 Locke went to France for his health. An inheritance from his father made him financially independent, and he remained in Montpellier for three years.

Locke rejoined Shaftesbury's service, and when the latter fled to Holland, the philosopher followed. He remained in exile from 1683 to 1689, and during these years he was deprived of his studentship by express order of Charles III. Most of his important writings were composed during this period. After the Glorious Revolution of 1689 Locke returned to England and later served with distinction as a commissioner of trade until 1700. He spent his retirement at Oates in Essex as the guest of the Mashams. Lady Masham was the daughter of Ralph Cudworth, the philosopher. Locke died there on October 28, 1704.

Major works

Locke, by virtue of his temperament and mode of existence, was a man of great circumspection. None of his major writings was published until he was nearly 60. In 1690 he brought out his major works: Two Treatises and the Essay Concerning Human Understanding . But the four books of the Essay were the culmination of 20 years of intellectual labor. He relates that, together with a few friends, probably in 1670, a discussion arose concerning the basis of morality and religion. The conclusion was that they were unable to resolve the question until an investigation had been made to see "what objects our understandings were or were not fitted to deal with." Thus the aim of this work is "to inquire into the origin, certainty, and extent of human knowledge, together with the grounds of belief, opinion, and assent."

The procedure employed is what he called the "historical, plain method," which consists of observations derived from external sensations and the internal processes of reflection or introspection. This psychological definition of experience as sensation and reflection shifted the focus of philosophy from an analysis of reality to an exploration of the mind. The new perspective was Locke's major contribution, and it dominated European thought for at least two centuries. But if knowledge consists entirely of experience, then the objects of cognition are ideas. The term "idea" was ambiguously defined by Locke as "whatsoever is the object of the understanding when a man thinks." This broad use means that sensations, memories, imaginings, and feelings as well as concepts are ideas insofar as they are mental. The danger of Locke's epistemology is the inherent skepticism contained in a technique which describes what is "in" the mind. For if everything is an idea, then it is difficult to distinguish between true and false, real and imaginary, impressed sensations and expressed concepts. Thus Locke, and the subsequent history of philosophy, had to wrestle with the dilemma that a psychological description of the origin of ideas seriously undermines the extent of their objective validity.

Nonetheless the intention of the Essay was positive in that Locke wished to establish the dependence of all human knowledge upon everyday experience or sensation. The alternative theory of innate ideas is vigorously attacked. Although it is not historically certain whether anyone seriously maintained such a doctrine, Locke's general criticism lends indirect support to an experiential view of knowledge. Innatism can be understood in a naive way to mean that there are ideas of which we are fully conscious at birth or which are universally acknowledged, so that the mind possesses a disposition to think in terms of certain ideas. The first position is refuted by observation of children, and the second by the fact that there are no acknowledged universal ideas to which everyone agrees. The sophisticated version falls into contradiction by maintaining that we are conscious of an unconscious disposition.

Theory of knowledge

Having refuted the a priori, or nonexperiential, account of knowledge, Locke devotes the first two books of the Essay to developing a deceptively simple empirical theory of knowledge. Knowing originates in external and internal sources of sensation and reflection. The objects or ideas present to consciousness are divided into simple and complex. Simple ideas are primitive sense data, which the mind passively receives and cannot alter, delivered by one sense (seeing blue), by several senses (eating an orange as a synthesis of taste , touch , and smell ), by reflection (hunger), or by a combination of sensation and reflection (pleasure and pain ). The objective orientation of simple ideas follows from the fact that we cannot add or subtract from their appearance or conception in the mind. In relation to simple ideas, at least, the mind is passive, a "blank" or "white" tablet upon which sensations are impressed. Complex ideas are formed by actively combining, comparing, or abstracting simple ideas to yield "modes, substances, and relations." Modes are class concepts or ideas that do not exist independently, such as beauty. Substance is a complex idea

of the unity of substrate of the simple qualities we perceive. And relations are the powers in objects capable of causing minds to make comparisons, for example, identity and cause and effect. The difficulty is that complex ideas do not relate to perceivable existents, but hopefully, complex ideas do express elements or characteristics of the real world.

Locke is faced with an acute dilemma. If the immediate object of knowledge is an idea, then man possesses only a derivative knowledge of the physical world. To know the real world adequately requires a complex idea which expresses the relation between the qualities that we perceive subjectively and the unperceived existent. The substance which unites the common perceived qualities of figure, bulk, and color into this one existing brown table is, in Locke's terms, an "I don't know what." His honesty almost brought Locke to a modern relational definition of substance instead of the traditional notion of a thing characterized by its properties. But the conclusion drawn in the Essay is that knowledge is relational; that is, it consists in the perception "of the agreement or disagreement among ideas." For if Locke had argued that knowledge expresses an adequation between the complex idea in the mind and the real object, then man would have the power to go beyond ideas to the object itself. But this is impossible, since every object is, by definition, an idea, and thus ironically, experiential knowledge is not about real objects but only about the perceived relations of ideas.

The third book of the Essay deals with words, and it is a pioneer contribution to the philosophy of language. Locke is a consistent nominalist in that for him language is an arbitrary convention and words are things which "stand for nothing but the ideas in the mind of the man that has them." Each man's understanding can be confirmed by other minds insofar as they share the same linguistic conventions, although one of the singular abuses of language results from the fact that we learn names or words before understanding their use.

The purpose of Locke's analysis is to account for generalization, abstraction, and universals in terms of language. Generalizations are the result of drawing, or abstracting, what is common to many. In this sense, generalizations and universals are inventions of the mind which concern only signs. But they have a foundation in the similitude of things. And those class concepts which have a fixed meaning and definition can be understood as essences, but they are only nominal and not real. The difference between our knowledge and reality is like that between seeing the exterior of Big Ben and understanding how the clock works.

The final section of the Essay deals with the extent, types, and divisions of knowledge. This work seems to have been written earlier than the others, and many of its conclusions are qualified by preceding material. The agreement or disagreement of ideas, which constitutes knowledge, consists of identity and diversity, perceived relations, coexistence or real existence known by way of intuition, and demonstration or sensation of a given existent.

In this view the actual extent of man's knowledge is less than his ideas because he does not know the real connections between simple ideas, or primary and secondary qualities. Also, an intuitive knowledge of existence is limited to the self, and the only demonstrable existence is that of God as an eternal, omnipotent being. With the exception of the self and God, all knowledge of existing things is dependent upon sensation, whose cognitive status is "a little bit better than probability." The poverty of real knowledge is compensated to some extent by human judgment, which presumes things to be true without actually perceiving the connections. And, according to Locke's commonsense attitude, the severe restrictions placed upon knowledge merely reflect that man's mental capacity is suitable for his nature and condition.

Further Reading

Yolton, John W., ed. An essay concerning human understanding. 2 vols. 1961. rev. ed. 1965.

Laslett, Peter, ed. Two treatises of government. 1960.

Cranston, Maurice. John Locke: a biography. 1957.

Yolton, John W. John Locke and the way of ideas. 1956.

Kendall, Willmoore. John Locke and the doctrine of majority rule. 1959.

Martin, Charles B. and D.M. Armstrong, eds. Locke and Berkeley: a collection of critical essays. 1968.

Yolton, John W. John Locke: problems and perspectives: a collection of new essays. 1969.

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Locke, John (1632–1704)

LOCKE, JOHN (16321704)

LOCKE, JOHN (16321704), English philosopher, political and educational theorist, political economist, scholar, statesman, and sometime physician. John Locke, one of the leading figures in the history of English letters, was born on 29 August 1632 in the village of Wrington, Somerset, and was immediately surrounded by the political and religious controversies that were always to be at the center of his life. His parents were Puritans, and his father later fought on the Parliamentary side in the Civil War. Locke attended Westminster School from 1646 to 1652, when he was elected to a studentship at Christ Church, Oxford, from which he graduated in 1656. During this period, he wrote but did not publish a pair of essays criticizing the extensive conceptions of religious indifference and toleration advocated by Edward Bagshawe's The Great Question concerning Things Indifferent in Religious Worship (1660), and he delivered a series of lectures on natural law.

At Oxford, Locke was a friend of the scientist Robert Boyle and other original members of the Royal Society, to which Locke himself was elected in 1668. Rather than take religious orders, he changed his studies to medicine and was trained and influenced by the physician Thomas Sydenham. On a diplomatic mission to Cleves in Brandenburg in 1665, Locke experienced an unanticipated degree of toleration, which seems to have had a major impact on his philosophical and political thinking. In 1666 he had met Anthony Ashley Cooper, subsequently the Earl of Shaftesbury, into whose household he moved in 1667 as the earl's personal physician and advisor, political aide, and author of political documents.

Shaftesbury, who fell into and out of grace with the king, was at the center of Restoration politics, and Locke was invariably at his side. For Shaftesbury Locke wrote a tract defending toleration in 1667, a draft constitution for the Carolina colony of which Shaftesbury was a proprietor, a defense of the king's prerogative power to issue a declaration of religious toleration in 1669, andmost importantthe Two Treatises of Government. It was also while he was a member of the Shaftesbury household that Locke's interest in philosophy deepened, and he completed various drafts of his Essay concerning Human Understanding.

Locke returned to Oxford in 1675, but like Shaftesbury he later went into political exile in the Netherlands, where he remained until 1689. There he enjoyed the friendship and support of Jean Leclerc, to whose Bibliothèque universelle et historique (16861693) he made several contributions, and Phillip Limborch, to whom he would dedicate the Epistola de tolerantia, published anonymously in the Netherlands in 1689 and translated into English (also anonymously) the next year as the Letter concerning Toleration. During his exile, Locke completed much of the final version of the Essay, an abstract of which was published by Leclerc in 1688.

While in the Netherlands, Locke presumably was involved in Monmouth's Rebellion in 1685 and in the politics of the Glorious Revolution of 1688, which brought the Dutch sovereign William of Orange and his wife Mary, daughter of James II, to the English throne. Locke himself returned to England in 1689 and began his public literary career, publishing the works that would establish his status in the pantheon of western philosophy and political theory. The Essay concerning Human Understanding appeared in December 1689 (dated 1690), and the Two Treatises were published anonymously in 1690.

The Essay is regarded as one of the foundational works of modern empirical, or rather "experiential," philosophy. It opens with an extensive attack on the notion that some ideas are "innate," arguing, on the contrary, that the human mind at birth is a "blank slate" (tabula rasa) but has the capacity to perceive and reason. Locke went on to claim that all ideas and knowledge are acquired from experience, which can be either sensationalist or rational, and that they bear direct relationships to a real, external world. The Essay also deals with language, its relationship to ideas, and its imperfections and abuses, and with reason and its role in the acquisition and assessment of knowledge. This "rationalism," albeit less extreme than that of René Descartes (15961650), is sometimes seen as conflicting with the rest of the Essay, but the apparent contradiction between the two positions can be found throughout the work. In a move that would be anathema to modern empiricists, Locke occasionally sidestepped difficult philosophical issues by referring to their resolution in the ultimately unknowable mind of God, for faith, as the acceptance of revelation, was one of the cardinal supports of Locke's entire system.

The Two Treatises are equally foundational for subsequent political philosophy as is the Essay for empirical philosophy, and their reliance upon divine will is even more overt. Written in the early 1680s as part of Shaftesbury's exclusion campaign, the work was not published until 1690, when it was issued as a theoretical support of the successful Glorious Revolution. The Two Treatises were directed against the patriarchal theory of Sir Robert Filmer (c. 15881653); the First Treatise, in particular, was a detailed and sometimes page-by-page attack on patriarchalism. In the Second Treatise Locke developed his own political theory, which was also an implicit assault on Thomas Hobbes (15881679), whom Locke never identified. Locke replaced Filmer's divine right sovereignty, derived from the paternity of Adam, with a conception of government and politics based on vaguely articulated notions of natural law and natural rights. He posited a pre-political state of nature characterized by human equality and freedom, the ownership of the world in common by God's grant, and legitimacy based on consent. Personal property was acquired by the mixing of one's labor with that which was common.

The most important part of Locke's criticism of Filmer was his insistence that fatherhood and political government are distinct forms of authority. Filmer had asserted their identity. Locke, however, was at pains to argue that while political or civil society had emerged historically and anthropologically from the household, paternal and political dominion were altogether distinct. The act of consent transformed fatherhood into government and undergirded all subsequent legitimacy.

The Two Treatises are perhaps best known for their theories of property and revolution. Government, according to Locke, is a human contrivance made necessary by the growing complexities of the state of nature and especially by the increasing insecurity of personal property. Locke had two conceptions of "property." In the state of nature (through chapter V of the Second Treatise ), "property" meant land and goods, including money; in civil society, however, it almost always meant "life, liberty, and estate," which was the more widely accepted meaning in seventeenth-century England. Locke's initial reliance upon the former definitionand the subsequent importance of the Two Treatises undoubtedly played a large role in popularizing that narrower understanding among modern English speakers, but his shift back to the more conventional and broader meaning was the source of some ambiguities in his political theory.

The purpose of government according to Locke is to protect property, and it is in return for that protection that people agree to transfer to the government their individual rights to interpret and enforce the law of nature. When the government no longer provides that protection, or if it becomes an enemy to property, the duty to obey is superseded by a right of revolution, whereby the power and authority conveyed to the government revert to the people (or their representatives) who may then establish a new government.

The Letter concerning Toleration is a specific application of the principles of the Two Treatises. What was innovative and radical about the Letter was the argument that religious imposition went so far beyond the legitimate competence of the magistrate as to be a ground for resistance. Locke drew a firm distinction between the secular ends of magistracy and the religious ends of churches. In doing so, he made a bolder move toward genuine religious liberty than had any of his contemporaries. But Locke excluded Roman Catholics from this toleration, alleging, like many of his contemporaries, that they owed their primary political loyalty to the pope rather than to civil rulers. He was confident, however, that Protestant Christians could live at peace within one civil society despite their diverse religious beliefs.

Locke spent the rest of life in public service and writing. He was a member of the Board of Trade and published revisions of the Essay, replies to criticisms of the Letter concerning Toleration, and tracts on education, religion, and money, some of which were published after his death. Locke died on 28 October 1704 at Oates, Essex, at the home of Sir Francis and Lady Masham (the daughter of the Cambridge Platonist Ralph Cudworth), where he had been living since 1691. He is buried in High Laver Church in Essex. Much of his massive collection of personal manuscriptsincluding journals, diaries, letters he received, and copies of those he sentand a substantial part of his library have survived and are now in the Bodleian Library at Oxford.

See also Constitutionalism ; Empiricism ; Epistemology ; Glorious Revolution (Britain) ; Natural Law ; Philosophy ; Political Philosophy ; Rights, Natural ; Toleration .

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Primary Sources

Locke, John. An Essay concerning Human Understanding. Edited by Peter Niddich. Oxford, 1975.

. Two Treatises of Government. Edited by Peter Laslett. 2nd edition. Cambridge, U.K., 1988.

Secondary Sources

Ayers, Michael. Locke. New York, 1991.

Franklin, Julian H. John Locke and the Theory of Sovereignty: Mixed Monarchy and the Right of Resistance in the Political Thought of the English Revolution. Cambridge, U.K., and New York, 1978.

Marshall, John. John Locke: Resistance, Religion, and Responsibility. Cambridge, U.K., and New York, 1994.

Yolton, John W. Locke: An Introduction. Oxford and New York, 1985.

. Locke and French Materialism. Oxford and New York, 1991.

Gordon Schochet

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SCHOCHET, GORDON. "Locke, John (1632–1704)." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. 2004. Encyclopedia.com. 26 Sep. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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SCHOCHET, GORDON. "Locke, John (1632–1704)." Europe, 1450 to 1789: Encyclopedia of the Early Modern World. 2004. Retrieved September 26, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-3404900652.html

Locke, John (1632–1704)

Locke, John (16321704)


English thinker John Locke insisted both that children are potentially free and rational beings, and that the realization of these crucial human qualities tends to be thwarted through imposition of the sort of prejudice that perpetuates oppression and superstition. It was, Locke believed, upbringing and education that stymied development of children's humanity when the older generation, itself enmeshed in prejudice, preferred to maintain the status quo rather than to examine whether their lives qualified as truly human through the rational and free action characteristic of autonomous individuals. Locke argued that when an older generation imposes unquestioned beliefs and ways of action on its youth, the outcome is bondage rather than actualization of freedom.

The problem of the actualization and preservation of human freedom and rationality occupied Locke in all of his major works, from the Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690) and the Two Treatises of Government (1690), through his four letters Concerning Toleration (1689, 1690, 1692, 1704), The Reasonableness of Christianity (1695), Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693), and the posthumous Of the Conduct of the Understanding (1706). Both the promise of and danger to childhood emerged in each of these influential writings on philosophy, politics, religion, and education.

The Tabula Rasa

Locke characterized a newborn child's mind as a blank sheet of paper, a clean slate, a tabula rasa. Implicit is a doctrine of egalitarianism, well-known from the fourth paragraph of the Second Treatise of Government : There is "nothing more evident, than that Creatures of the same speciesborn to all the same advantages of Nature, and the use of the same faculties, should also be equal amongst one another without Subordination or Subjection. " This egalitarianism isone of the aspects of the modern view of human nature, so different from the Platonic or medieval outlooks with their inborn inequalities foundational to nature-or God-ordained hierarchies in society, church, and state. For Locke, there are no natural obstructions that would block development of children's native potential for acting freely and rationally. True, some possess more agile intellects or stronger wills than others; but all are innately equipped to become persons capable of freely following their own reason's pronouncements, that is, to become autonomous beings.

Egalitarianism is one of two consequences of the doctrine of the tabula rasa. The second is vulnerability. Young children are at risk because through their senses their environment inscribes on their minds all sorts of beliefs and practices. Reason would disapprove of most of these. But even if the inscriptions are rational, the young child's mind is still incapable of discerning them to be so; for all the child knows these so-called truths may be falsehoods. Hence their presence saddles the child with prejudice, and action based on prejudice will tend to be confining instead of liberating. So when he proclaimed all human beings equal from birth, Locke also had in mind the precarious position of children, their equal vulnerability to being habituated to wrong patterns of thought and behavior. Locke viewed prejudice as the root of evil. It is contracted especially through children's forced exposure to myopic parents or teachers and the self-serving powers of church and state. Thus early upbringing and education, guided by prevailing custom rather than by reason, can be disastrous as it rivets to the mind that which has the appearance of truth or goodness but which, once believed or enacted, blocks development of one's humanity.

For Locke, the only natural disposition all children and adults share is that which makes them pursue pleasure and avoid pain. In this pursuit or avoidance they are not naturally inclined to either good or evil. Originally, human beings occupy a position of neutrality: Children are born neither "trailing clouds of glory" (as Wordsworth would have it a century later) nor burdened with original sin (as Augustine proclaimed before the dawn of medieval times). To be human, children must acquire the inclination to act on what is true and good, and each must acquire it for herself or himself. Because there is neither original depravity nor original inclination to knowledge or goodness, the egalitarianism of the tabula rasa has moral import: to be human, each must personally stake her or his claim to truth and goodness. But because they cannot do so during the years of early childhood, this thorough egalitarianism remains coupled with thorough vulnerability. Each generation, itself imposed upon by the one that preceded it, tends to be more than willing to impose on children such principles and practices as will enhance their own power. And so each new generation is vulnerable to the bondage of prejudice, as custom habituates children into compliance with prevailing beliefs and practices.

The Role of Mathematics

How to escape the bondage of prejudice and develop childhood potential? Though central to these acts, children depend for their instigation on sensitive adults for whom life itself militates against prejudice. Oppressive social, religious, and political structures chafe and irritate these adults, forcing them to examine their legitimacy, which in turn reveals their irrational and hence immoral principles. During such examinations, sensitive persons will introspect and become aware of the workings of their rational minds and recognize that rational procedures are most clearly revealed in mathematics where prejudiceunlike in religion or politicshas no purchase. When such enlightened persons guide children, actualization of childhood potential becomes possible. As Locke writes in the sixth and seventh paragraphs of the Conduct of the Understanding, "mathematics should be taught not so much to make them mathematicians, as to make them reasonable creatures," for "having got the way of reasoning, which that study necessarily brings the mind to, they might be able to transfer it to other parts of knowledge."

Early upbringing guided by the prevailing custom of overprotecting and spoiling children will not equip them with the habit of self-discipline needed to give mathematical studies the focused attention they demand. Hence, in the early parts of Some Thoughts Concerning Education, Locke propounds a regimen that will make for strong and disciplined children. His instructions are very specific: children's winter clothes should be as light as their summer clothes; their shoes should be thin to let in water, and their feet should be washed daily in cold water; they must spend much time in the open air without a hat whether in wind, sun, or rain and little time by the heat of the hearth; they must not overeat, and their diet should be very plain with little sugar, salt, or spices, no wine, and lots of dry brown bread; they should get plenty of sleep on a hard bed, but rise early. With this routine "there will not be so much need of beating children as is generally made use of"; their growing self-discipline will tend to make the rod superfluous. For "the principle of all virtue and excellency lies in a power of denying ourselves the satisfaction of our own desires where reason does not authorize them," a power "to be got and improved by custom, made easy and familiar by an early practice" (para. 38).

Mastery in mathematics allows children to recognize and use the procedures of reason, to discern and reject prejudice where it occurs (so cleaning the slate of its irrational inscriptions), and to develop a life in which their own will and reason begin to determine them. It allows children to develop into autonomous, useful individuals who will understand "the natural rights of man," "will seek the true measures of right and wrong," and will apply themselves "to that wherein [they] may be serviceable to [their] country" (para. 186187).

See also: Child Development, History of the Concept of; Education, Europe; Enlightenment, The.

bibliography

Gutman, Amy. 1987. Democratic Education. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

Locke, John. 1960 [1690]. Two Treatises of Government, ed. Peter Laslett. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

Locke, John. 1975 [1690]. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, ed. P. H. Nidditch. Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press.

Locke, John. 1989 [1693]. Some Thoughts Concerning Education, ed. John W. Yolton and Jean S. Yolton. Oxford, UK: Clarendon Press; New York: Oxford University Press.

Locke, John. 1996. Some Thoughts Concerning Education; and Of the Conduct of the Understanding, ed. Ruth W. Grant and Nathan Tarcov. Indianapolis: Hacket Publishing Company.

Schouls, Peter A. 1992. Reasoned Freedom: John Locke and Enlightenment. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.

Peter Schouls

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Locke, John

LOCKE, JOHN

John Locke was a seventeenth-century English philosopher whose writings on political theory and government profoundly affected U.S. law and society. It is chiefly from Locke's Two Treatises of Government (1690) that U.S. politics takes its core premises of the ultimate sovereignty of the people, the necessity of restraints on the exercise of arbitrary power by the executive or the legislature, and the ability of the people to revoke their social contract with the government when power has been arbitrarily used against them. The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution are testaments to many of Locke's central ideas.

Locke was born in Wrington, Somerset, England, on August 29, 1632. His father, also John Locke, was an attorney, and a Calvinist with Puritan sympathies who supported the parliamentary side in England's struggle against King Charles I and fought on that side in the English Civil War of 1642. Despite this background Locke developed monarchist leanings while attending boarding school, which remained with him throughout his life.

In 1652 Locke entered Oxford University, where he became interested in medicine and the newly developed discipline of experimental science. He collaborated with Robert Boyle, a founder of modern chemistry. Locke studied natural science and philosophy, concentrating on the principles of moral, social, and political laws. Following graduation in 1656, he earned a master of arts degree and was appointed a tutor at Oxford. He left teaching in 1662 and in 1666 decided to pursue medicine. In 1668 Locke was elected to the Royal Society.

In 1675, plagued with the symptoms of consumption, Locke moved to France in the hope of improving his health. He studied philosophy while abroad, then returned to England in 1679. His friendship with the duke of Shaftsbury made his stay in England a short one. Shaftsbury had been discovered as having been involved in a conspiracy to overthrow the king. Though Shaftsbury was acquitted of the charges, he fled to Holland in 1683. The king became suspicious of Locke and other friends of Shaftsbury, and had Locke closely watched. Knowing that his personal safety was at risk, Locke also chose exile in Holland in 1683. In 1684 his name appeared with eighty-three others on a list sent to The Hague by the English government, with the accusation that those named had committed treason and a demand for their extradition by the Dutch government. Locke went into hiding for a while, but soon returned to public life when the Dutch refused the extradition request.

While in Holland, Locke wrote Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690) and Two Treatises. Essay set forth Locke's theory that all human knowledge comes from experience. It stated that people are born without ideas—that is, with a blank mind—directly challenging the belief that people are born with certain knowledge already implanted. It further stated that as a result people must formulate their ideas based on experience. This theory became the basis for the school of English philosophy called empiricism.

Two Treatises was written when England was divided over the rule of King James II. The Protestants wished to remove the king, who was a Roman Catholic. In the Glorious Revolution of 1688, James abdicated the throne and Parliament offered the crown to the Dutch prince William of Orange and his wife, Mary. The revolution reformed government along the lines outlined by Locke in Two Treatises, which was published in 1690. England became a constitutional monarchy, controlled by Parliament, and greater measures of religious toleration and freedom of expression and thought were permitted.

Two Treatises was a blow to political absolutism. The first treatise was a refutation of the theory of the divine right of kings, which posits that monarchs derive their authority from God. The second treatise had the most lasting effect, for it set out a theory of politics that found its way into U.S. law.

In this second treatise, Locke maintained that people are naturally tolerant and reasonable, but that without a governing force, a certain amount of chaos and other inconvenience will occur. In his view people are basically pacific, communitarian, and good-natured. This belief contrasts with that of philosopher thomas hobbes, which is that if left to their own devices, people will live in violent, selfish anarchy.

For Locke all people are inherently equal and free to pursue "life, liberty, health, and property." To do this they engage in a social contract in which they consent to give up a certain amount of power to a government dedicated to maintaining

the well-being of the whole. They also give up one right, the right to judge and punish other persons, which is permitted in the state of nature. Apart from that concession to government, Locke argued, a person's individual right to freedom of thought, speech, and worship must be preserved. In addition, a person's private property must be preserved by the government. This compact between the people and their rulers legitimizes the government and explains the source of the rulers' power.

Locke believed that the people's consent to give up some power is the essential element of the social contract. Government is the trustee of

the people's power, and any exercise of power by government is specifically for the purpose of serving the people. By extending the trust analogy, Locke legitimized the concept of revolution. If their trust is abused by their governors, the people—the grantors of the trust—have a right to revoke the trust. Once the trust has been revoked, the people can assume the reins of government themselves or place them in new hands.

Locke attempted to soften this justification for revolution by claiming that revolution is appropriate only as a last resort and only in extreme circumstances. But he gave no real guidance as to how the people can be trusted to distinguish between inevitable temporary aberrations, which are to be endured, and a long series of abuses that justifies rebellion.

Two Treatises was well received in England, making Locke a respected figure once more and the intellectual leader of the whig party. He returned to England in 1689, following the Glorious Revolution. He lived in semiretirement in Essex, in the company of friends such as the scientist Sir Isaac Newton. He died October 28, 1704, in Oates, Essex.

Two Treatises commanded great interest in the eighteenth century, providing justification for the American Revolution in 1776 and the French Revolution in 1789. The U.S. Declaration of Independence uses Locke's ideas of the law of nature, popular sovereignty, and the sanctity of the right of private property to set forth the premises of U.S. political thought. The U.S. Constitution, with its separation of church and state and its guarantee of personal freedoms, draws on Locke's work.

"It is one thing to show a man thatheisin error, and another to put him in possession of truth."
—John Locke

In the United States, Lockean thought continues to justify resistance to executive tyranny, such as the despotism that was exhibited by President richard m. nixon in the watergate affair in the early 1970s and led to his resignation in 1974. Locke's second treatise provides support for U.S. constitutional ideals of inalienable rights and personal liberty. The first amendment would be unthinkable without Locke's philosophical foundation.

further readings

Damstedt, Benjamin G. 2003. "Limiting Locke: A Natural Law Justification for the Fair Use Doctrine." Yale Law Journal 112 (March): 1179.

Heyman, Steven J. 2000. "Natural Rights and the Second Amendment. Chicago-Kent Law Review 76, (fall): 237–90.

Richards, Peter Judson. 2002. "The Law Written in their Hearts?: Rutherford and Locke on Nature, Government and Resistance." The Journal of Law and Religion 18 (winter): 151–89.

cross-references

Constitution of the United States; Natural Law; "Second Treatise on Government" (Appendix, Primary Document).

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Locke, John

John Locke

Born: August 29, 1632
Wrington, England
Died: October 28, 1704
Oates, England

English philosopher and political theorist

The English philosopher and political theorist (a person who forms an explanation based upon studying and observing politics and politicians) John Locke began the empiricist tradition (the source of knowledge comes from experience and the senses) and thus started the greatest age of British philosophy (the study of knowledge). He attempted to center philosophy based on the study of importance and capabilities of the human mind.

Early years and school

John Locke was born on August 29, 1632, in Wrington, in Somerset, England, to Agnes Keene and John Locke, the elder. His mother died during his infancy, and Locke and his only brother, Thomas, were raised by their father, who was an attorney in the small town of Pensford near Bristol, England. John was tutored at home because of his delicate health and the outbreak of civil war in 1642. When he was fourteen, he entered Westminster School, where he remained for six years. He then went to Christ Church, Oxford. In 1658 he was elected a senior student at his college. As such he taught Greek and moral philosophy. In order to continue his work at the school he would have to have been ordained (officially consecrated) a minister. Instead he changed to another study, medicine, and eventually received a license to practice. During the same period Locke met Robert Boyle (16271691), the distinguished scientist and one of the founders of the Royal Society, and, under Boyle's direction, took up study of natural science. Finally, in 1668, Locke was made a member of the Royal Society.

Political affairs

In 1665 Locke traveled to Europe as secretary to the English ambassador to the Brandenburg court. Upon his return to England he happened to medically treat Lord Ashley, Earl of Shaftesbury, and later lord chancellor of England. Their friendship and lifelong association drew Locke into political affairs. He attended Shaftesbury as physician and adviser, and Locke drafted The Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina and served as secretary to the Board of Trade. In 1676 Locke went to France for his health. An inheritance from his father made him financially independent, and he remained in Montpellier for three years.

Locke rejoined Shaftesbury's service, and when Lord Ashley fled to Holland, he followed. He remained in exile from 1683 to 1689. Most of his important writings were composed during this period. After the Glorious Revolution of 1688 (a revolution that overthrew King James II [16331701]) Locke returned to England and later served as a commissioner of trade until 1700. He spent his retirement at Oates, in Essex, and died there on October 28, 1704.

Major works

None of Locke's major writings were published until he was nearly sixty. In 1690 he brought out his major works: Two Treatises and the Essay Concerning Human Understanding. The four books of the Essay were the result of twenty years of intellectual work. The aim of this work was "to inquire into the origin, certainty, and extent of human knowledge, together with the grounds of belief, opinion, and assent."

The procedure used was what Locke called the "historical, plain method," which consists of observations of external (outside of a person's body) sensations and the internal (within a person's mind) processes of thinking. This psychological definition of experience as sensation and reflection shifted the focus of philosophy from an analysis of reality to an exploration of the mind. The new perspective was Locke's major contribution, and it dominated European thought for at least two centuries.

Theory of knowledge

Locke devoted the first two books of the Essay to developing a seemingly simple empirical theory of knowledge. Knowledge begins in the external and internal sources of sensation (use of the five senses) and careful thinking. The conclusion drawn in the Essay was that knowledge is relational; that is, it consists in the understanding "of the agreement or disagreement among ideas."

The third book of the Essay deals with words, and it was a pioneering contribution to the philosophy of language. Locke was a consistent nominalist in that for him language was a custom that was subject to judgement and words were things which "stand for nothing but the ideas in the mind of the man that has them."

The final section of the Essay deals with the sections of knowledge. In this view, with the exception of the self and God, all knowledge of existing things is dependent upon sensation. The shortage of real knowledge is fulfilled to some extent by human judgment, which assumes things to be true without actually being aware of the connections. And, according to Locke's commonsense attitude, the major limitations placed upon knowledge reflect that man's mental capacity is appropriate for his character and situation.

For More Information

Cope, Kevin Lee. John Locke Revisited. New York: Twayne, 1999.

Cranston, Maurice. John Locke: A Biography. London: Longmans, 1957.

Romanell, Patrick. John Locke and Medicine: A New Key to Locke. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1984.

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Locke, John

John Locke (lŏk), 1632–1704, English philosopher, founder of British empiricism. Locke summed up the Enlightenment in his belief in the middle class and its right to freedom of conscience and right to property, in his faith in science, and in his confidence in the goodness of humanity. His influence upon philosophy and political theory has been incalculable.

Life and Work

Educated at Christ Church College, Oxford, he became (1660) a lecturer there in Greek, rhetoric, and philosophy. He studied medicine, and his acquaintance with scientific practice had a strong influence upon his philosophical thought and method. In 1666, Locke met Anthony Ashley Cooper, the future 1st earl of Shaftesbury, and soon became his friend, physician, and adviser. After 1667, Locke had minor diplomatic and civil posts, most of them through Shaftesbury. In 1675, after Shaftesbury had lost his offices, Locke left England for France, where he met French leaders in science and philosophy.

Returning to England in 1679, he soon retired to Oxford, where he stayed quietly until, suspected of radicalism by the government, he went to Holland and remained there several years (1683–89). In Holland he completed the famous Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690), which was published in complete form after his return to England at the accession of William and Mary to the English throne. In the same year he published his Two Treatises on Civil Government; part of this work justifies the Glorious Revolution of 1688, but much of it was written earlier. His fame increased, and he became known in England and on the Continent as the leading philosopher of freedom.

Philosophy

In the Essay Concerning Human Understanding Locke examines the nature of the human mind and the process by which it knows the world. Repudiating the traditional doctrine of innate ideas, Locke believed that the mind is born blank, a tabula rasa upon which the world describes itself through the experience of the five senses. Knowledge arising from sensation is perfected by reflection, thus enabling humans to arrive at such ideas as space, time, and infinity.

Locke distinguished the primary qualities of things (e.g., solidity, extension, number) from their secondary qualities (e.g., color, sound). These latter qualities he held to be produced by the impact of the world on the sense organs. Behind this curtain of sensation the world itself is colorless and silent. Science is possible, Locke maintained, because the primary world affects the sense organs mechanically, thus producing ideas that faithfully represent reality. The clear, common-sense style of the Essay concealed many unexplored assumptions that the later empiricists George Berkeley and David Hume would contest, but the problems that Locke set forth have occupied philosophy in one way or another ever since.

Political Theory

Locke is most renowned for his political theory. Contradicting Thomas Hobbes, Locke believed that the original state of nature was happy and characterized by reason and tolerance. In that state all people were equal and independent, and none had a right to harm another's "life, health, liberty, or possessions." The state was formed by social contract because in the state of nature each was his own judge, and there was no protection against those who lived outside the law of nature. The state should be guided by natural law.

Rights of property are very important, because each person has a right to the product of his or her labor. Locke forecast the labor theory of value. The policy of governmental checks and balances, as delineated in the Constitution of the United States, was set down by Locke, as was the doctrine that revolution in some circumstances is not only a right but an obligation. At Shaftesbury's behest, he contributed to the Fundamental Constitutions for the Carolinas; the colony's proprietors, however, never implemented the document.

Ethical Theory

Locke based his ethical theories upon belief in the natural goodness of humanity. The inevitable pursuit of happiness and pleasure, when conducted rationally, leads to cooperation, and in the long run private happiness and the general welfare coincide. Immediate pleasures must give way to a prudent regard for ultimate good, including reward in the afterlife. He argued for broad religious freedom in three separate essays on toleration but excepted atheism and Roman Catholicism, which he felt should be legislated against as inimical to religion and the state. In his essay The Reasonableness of Christianity (1695), he emphasized the ethical aspect of Christianity against dogma.

Bibliography

See biographies by M. W. Cranston (1957) and R. Aaron (3d ed. 1971); R. S. Woolhouse, Locke's Philosophy of Science and Knowledge (1971); J. W. Gough, ed., John Locke's Political Philosophy; Eight Essays (2d ed. 1973); E. Tagart, Locke's Writings and Philosophy Historically Considered (1977); R. W. Grant, John Locke's Liberalism (1987).

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Locke, John

Locke, John 1632-1704

BIBLIOGRAPHY

John Locke was an English philosopher who is often seen as the founder of liberalism and a major source of inspiration for the American founding. Born into a Parliamentarian family near Bristol, Locke attended the prestigious Westminster school in London and then Christ Church College at Oxford. In 1666 he became a friend and secretary of Anthony Ashley Cooper (16211683), later the first earl of Shaftesbury, a prominent Whig politician. After the arrest of Shaftesbury and a number of other Whigs for their opposition to royalism and Catholicism, Locke fled to Holland in 1683, returning to England only after the Glorious Revolution of 1688 expelled James II (16331701) and installed William of Orange (16501702) on the throne. While he had been working on what were to become his major writings for several decades, it was not until this time that they were published: A Letter Concerning Toleration, which advocated religious toleration and a separation of church and state, the Two Treatises of Government, which argued for limited government and private property, and An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, which advanced an empiricist view of human knowledge, were all published in 1689. While the former two works appeared anonymously, the latter was published under Lockes name and quickly made him famous. Other important works of his later life included Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693) and The Reasonableness of Christianity (1695). By the time he died in 1704, Locke had become one of the most prominent and influential philosophers of his time.

The second of Lockes Two Treatises of Government is often regarded as the founding text of liberalism. In this work, he posits that there is no natural or divine source of legitimate political power and thus that government must be based on consent. In the state of nature that exists when there is no political authority, he claims, the law of nature (which obliges people not to harm others) tends to be inadequately obeyed and enforced, and so people agree to create a government through a social contract. The purpose of the contract and hence of government is to protect peoples lives, liberties, and property, and to achieve this end Locke advocates a limited government with institutional safeguards such as separate legislative and executive branches, common judges, and standing laws that apply equally to everyone. Locke puts a special emphasis on the protection of property rights, as he claims this will encourage people to be industrious and thus to increase productivity and raise the societys standard of living. While people are understood to have tacitly consented to the government under which they live even if they were not a part of the original social contract, the people always remain supreme, and thus when the government violates its trust the people can and should exercise their right to revolution. With his arguments for natural rights, government by consent, constitutionalism, private property, and religious toleration, Locke is one of the major sources of the ideology of the American founding and indeed of the modern world.

SEE ALSO Enlightenment; Hobbes, Thomas; Labor Theory of Value; Natural Rights; Property; Rousseau, Jean-Jacques; Social Contract; State of Nature

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Dunn, John. 1969. The Political Thought of John Locke: An Historical Account of the Argument of the Two Treatises of Government. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press.

Grant, Ruth. 1987. John Lockes Liberalism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Locke, John. [1689] 1988. Two Treatises of Government. Ed Peter Laslett. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press.

Zuckert, Michael P. 2002. Launching Liberalism: On Lockean Political Philosophy. Lawrence: University Press of Kansas.

Dennis C. Rasmussen

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Locke, John

Locke, John (1632–1702) An English philosopher and political theorist. The seventeenth-century revolution in physical science found in Locke one of its principal philosophical advocates. With dubious consistency, Locke combined together the leading doctrines of the empiricist theory of knowledge (that there are no ‘innate ideas’ and that all of our substantive knowledge is derived from experience) with a commitment to the prevailing mechanical view of the nature of reality and our perception of it. Some properties (colours and tastes for example) were held to be ‘secondary’, and functions of the effects of external bodies upon our senses, whereas others, the ‘primary qualities’ (solidity, shape, state of motion, and so on) were held to be ‘really in’ things themselves. However, at the same time Locke also held that all we are directly acquainted with in perception are our own ideas, so it is difficult to see how this distinction could be sustained. Nevertheless, Locke remains important as one of the founding figures of the enduring alliance between modern science and the empiricist tradition in epistemology.

Locke's poltical philosophy is also of continuing importance as an early rational justification for modern constitutional monarchy. As was characteristic for his time, Locke's argument takes the form of a hypothetical state of nature in which humans were supposed to live together without benefit of law or sovereign power. The disadvantages of such a state, though not approaching the catastrophic vision offered by Thomas Hobbes, would be sufficient to provide good reasons for individuals to enter into a voluntary contract to put themselves under the rule of law and government. However, the state of nature is not so dire that unlimited or absolute power on the part of the sovereign should be tolerated. The citizenry pool their powers in the person of the sovereign on trust that it will be used for their good, and so retain their right to rebellion. Of particular interest in Locke's political philosophy is his analysis of the sources and limits of private property rights, in a world initially held in common by humankind. Since all individuals are held to be owners of their own persons, the mixing of their labour with some part of the material world gives them property rights in what they produce.

However, this is so only on condition that what they take does not go to waste, and that enough remains for others. The institution of money (whose establishment, like governmental power, Locke takes to have been a matter of voluntary agreement) allows for the transfer of property rights, and for the potentially limitless accumulation of wealth. See also LIBERALISM.

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GORDON MARSHALL. "Locke, John." A Dictionary of Sociology. 1998. Encyclopedia.com. 26 Sep. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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Locke, John

Locke, John (1632–1704). Perhaps the most influential English-language philosopher and political theorist, Locke is regarded as the founding thinker of liberalism. However, his influence on contemporaries was restricted by the political conditions of Charles II's last years. Locke lived in the household of Shaftesbury the Whig leader and like him had to go into exile. Locke's important works could not be published until after 1688, although written earlier. He advocated religious toleration, including it in the constitution he drafted for Shaftesbury's Carolina colony. His Letter Concerning Toleration (1689) contains two fundamental assumptions: that religion is a matter for each individual, and that churches are voluntary associations. These rule out religious coercion and uniformity, but political considerations led Locke to deny toleration to the intolerant (catholics, he argued) and atheists. His arguments lead logically to the principle and practice of separation of church and state. The Two Treatises of Government bases government on the consent of the governed, who need an authority to defend their property. A ruler who turns himself into a tyrant, as Charles II and James II had been doing, forfeits his authority and may be resisted. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Locke's main philosophical work, appeared in 1690. It and The Reasonableness of Christianity (1695) provoked more controversy than the political works.

J. R. Jones

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JOHN CANNON. "Locke, John." The Oxford Companion to British History. 2002. Encyclopedia.com. 26 Sep. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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JOHN CANNON. "Locke, John." The Oxford Companion to British History. 2002. Retrieved September 26, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O110-LockeJohn.html

Locke, John

Locke, John (1632–1704). English philosopher who became a major source for British empiricism and for liberal democracy, and who applied his thought to the support of Christian theistic belief. In addition to his Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690), The Letter on Toleration and (anonymously) Two Treatises on Government, he wrote Thoughts on Education (1693), Reasonableness of Christianity (1695), and works which appeared later, The Conduct of the Understanding (1706) and Miracles (1716).

That things are ‘well-ordered’ was important for Locke. Far from being ‘a blind, fortuitous concourse of atoms’, we are able to make sense, from our senses, of the universe, in which ‘Nature never makes excellent things for mean or no uses’. From this, the existence of God is able to be demonstrated; and given that demonstrable truth, Locke was able to argue that certain rights which humans possess by nature are God-given and cannot be taken away: toleration becomes a primary virtue, to be exercised everywhere except where the rights of others are threatened. Locke's views were thus influential in forming the attitudes of the founders of the USA.

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JOHN BOWKER. "Locke, John." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. 1997. Encyclopedia.com. 26 Sep. 2016 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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JOHN BOWKER. "Locke, John." The Concise Oxford Dictionary of World Religions. 1997. Retrieved September 26, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O101-LockeJohn.html

Locke, John

Locke, John (1632–1704) English philosopher and exponent of empiricism. In 1679 his friendship with the Earl of Shaftesbury, accused of conspiracy against Charles II, made him a target of suspicion and he went into exile in the Netherlands (1683–89). He returned to England only after the Glorious Revolution. Locke rejected the concept of ‘innate ideas’, arguing that all ideas are placed in the mind by experience. In 1690, he published Two Treatises on Civil Government, in which he advocated the social contract, the right to freedom of conscience, and the right to property.

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"Locke, John." World Encyclopedia. 2005. Retrieved September 26, 2016 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1O142-LockeJohn.html

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