John Locke and Thomas Hobbes

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John Locke and Thomas Hobbes were two important philosophers from the seventeenth century. The two were born nearly 50 years apart – Hobbes in 1588 and Locke in 1632 – and yet, they each managed to have a major impact on their time and our own. The philosophical viewpoints of Locke and Hobbes are, in most cases, in strict opposition of each other. There are certain points at which the theories of both men collide; however, their synonymous beliefs are exactly the point at which their theories begin to diverge again. John Locke is considered to be the first of the British Empiricists, who believed that in order to truly gain knowledge of a certain thing, any individual would first have to experience something from which they would gain that knowledge. He is thought to be one of the most influential Enlightenment thinkers and contributors to liberal theory. His writings influenced many other famous philosophers, such as Voltaire and Rousseau, as well as the American revolutionaries. The Declaration of Independence clearly shows his influence. Locke attended the Westminster School in London under the sponsorship of Alexander Popham, a member of British Parliament. He would later attend Christ Church at the University of Oxford. It was here that Locke became heavily interested in the works of Modern philosophers, such as Descartes. Locke and other Empiricists rejected the notion of innate ideas – that is, the belief that human beings are born with ideas that are “otherworldly,” or known to us before we enter this life. Locke indulged in a theory which he dubbed tabula rasa, or “blank slate” in Latin. Following this theory, an individual would be born knowing nothing, and would therefore, only learn and gain knowledge by living and experiencing many things in their everyday life. Thomas Hobbes was raised by his uncle, Francis, as were his three siblings. He attended the Westport Church at age four for education, and then moved to the Malmesbury school,...
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