Example Of Essay On Discussing John Locke

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Politics, Philosophy, Government, Religion, John Locke, Society, Biography, Democracy

Pages: 3

Words: 825

Published: 2020/10/10


“Every man has a property in his own person. This nobody has a right to, but himself” (qtd. in The Biography Channel, 2015). While this statement sounds like the progressive, individualized thinking that has been the staple of the modern era, it is much older. That said it may surprise many to learn that these progressive and liberating words were spoken by a man born and bred in the 17th century. John Locke is remarked as one on of the founding thinkers in the genre of political liberalism and philosophical empiricism; in fact he is considered on the forefathers of Western philosophy. Born in 1632 in Wrington, Somerset, England, Locke was raised as a Puritan. His father was well respected and well-connected, which afforded Locke’s exceptional education. First he attended the Westminster School and then later at Christ Church at Oxford. Locke’s studied medicine, metaphysics, and classical languages. In the 1670s, Locke met Lord Ashley, who would one day be the Earl of Shaftsbury, he would become the noble’s personal physician. Under his employ he eventually would hold the power of a government official, where he studied politics, trade, and economics (Uzgalis, 2014). His studies would be the foundation of his perspectives that would be shared in his philosophical ideologies and beliefs.


Locke was one the first and most dedicated philosophers to tackle the importance of equal rights. He argued that all men have human rights that no government can or should tread upon, including the right to life, liberty and property. He also believed that it was the responsibility of the government to enforce those rights for all of its “nationals’ without variation or bias. He was an opponent of slavery; he felt that to own another and arbitrarily determine another’s fate, is wrong and an affront to the rights that should belong to each and all human beings. This extends to men owning another man or an oppressive authoritarian government subjugating its citizens. In Locke’s eyes this places the people and their government in a constant “state of war,” where there can be no peace or equality (Broers, 2009).
Locke, also, represent one of the originating supporters of, what today we call, Social Contract Theory, which has been in existence almost as long as philosophy as a discipline. This perspective means that Locke felt that society functions best, when the society has agreed upon a set of rules, laws, or principles that bind the society and are agreeable to all. However, he reminded, that is not possible without a true equality, where the rules, laws and policies established by the government are applied equally and effect citizens in equal ways (The Biography Channel, 2015). Like most philosophy the theories and principles can be extrapolated and refocused on societal aspects of community life, it is not just a political perspective. Locke, also, believed that in the changing world that religious tolerance needs to be supported at all levels of society. Rich or poor the people should have the freedom of religious choice without fear of prosecution. However, this tolerance did not extend to atheists. Locke, was after all, the product of, both a religious home and education, he felt unbelievers should be ex-communicated from the communities (Broers, 2009).
Locke became a respected writer on the subjects that he studied. One of his defining political works is “The Second Treatise of Government,” where Locke argued that the sovereignty of government lies in the people and not in the government. In a letter, titled “Letter Concerning Toleration,” Locke provided one of the first and most popular arguments for the separation between Church and State (Uzgalis, 2014). His works had a very significant impact as they may have aided in fueling the fires of both the French and American Revolutions. That said his controversial views made him a target of the British aristocracy, still he continued to publish works (The Biography Channel, 2015). While Locke was not physically responsible for these Revolutions he still found himself living in exile in Holland. During this time he developed “An Essay Concerning Human Understanding,” written in 1689, which discussed his interpretation on the range of human understanding applied to many differing topics relevant within society. This work also stands as his strongest support of empiricism (Uzgalis, 2014).
In his later years, Locke continued to write and offered works concerning both Christianity and Education. He was an active member of the Board of Trade, which was assigned to overseeing the British territories in the New World. He spent the last decade of his life in Essex, England, and passed away in October of 1704, after battling poor health for some time, at the age of 72 (The Biography Channel, 2015). While his life began and ended centuries ago, his influence and impact to the study of philosophy and politics is still present. He would be the inspiration behind the beliefs of Voltaire in France, and future American founding fathers, like Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. We see his influence in many modern American policies, that work to separate Church and state and prevent discrimination out of intolerance. John Locke’s perspective and works remain relevant today and are still debated and discussed by philosophers, thinkers and lawmakers (Broers, 2009).


History is full of influential philosophers, political scholars, and religious or governmental tyranny proponents and opponents. John Locke’s ideologies began some of the strongest support for human rights and individual equality, he felt these rights cannot be compromised and upholding them was the duty of the ruling government body. He offered many reasons to endorse religious tolerance; people should have the freedom to worship as they see fit; this tolerance, however, will not extend to atheists. Regardless, Locke’s philosophies, works and treatises were and remain relevant to society today. His contribution to the field of philosophy, political thought and religious discussions; have influences on present day sociology this is quite profound. In many ways, at least from a modern perspective, much of Locke’s views could be considered progressive and ahead of their time. John Locke has more than earned the title, a founding father of Western philosophy.


Broers, A. (2009). John locke on equality, toleration, and the atheist exception. Student
Pulse, 1(12), 1-2.
Uzgalis, W. (2014). John locke. The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Winter 2014 Edition,
1-1. Retrieved from http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/locke/
The Biography Channel. (2015, January 1). John locke: Philosophers. Retrieved January 23,
2015, from http://www.biography.com/people/john-locke-9384544#synopsis

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