The Influence of John Locke

Topics: Political philosophy, United States Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson Pages: 6 (970 words) Published: April 16, 2002
The Influence of John Locke

John Locke was someone more than just an ordinary man. He was the son of a

country attorney and born on August 29, 1632. He grew up during the civil war and later

entered the Church of Christ, Oxford, where he remained as a student and teacher for

many years. (Rivitch 23) With a wide variety of political and religious views, he

expressed most of his personnel views on education and social and political

philosophies. Once he noted the five lasting pleasures throughout his career were health,

good news, knowledge, doing good, and eternal paradise. Many of his views both

political and religious were found to be famous throughout history in many countries.

Locke was one of the first people that thought religion and state should be separated.

(Jenkins 123) Locke considered the formation of government from man's own nature,

whether or not government is formed because man is a social animal or if government is

formed to preserve society. According to Locke, man must not think that all government

in the world is the product only of force and violence, and that men live together by no

other rules but that of beasts. Locke also felt that to understand political power right, and

derive it from its origin. We must also consider what state all men are naturally in, and

that is, a state of perfect freedom to order their actions, and dispose of their possessions

and persons, as they think fit, within the bounds of the law of nature.

Locke later published anonymously his Two Treaties of Government, and the essay

Concerning Human Understanding. These writings were immediately successful and

they both exerted a vast of influence. Between the both of these works, they made the

dominant view of English thought through the greater part of the eighteenth century.

J. Mathis 3

(Jenkins 56)

John Locke's Two Treatises of Government (1690) was a well-known and respected

document. In the paper, he attacked the theory of diving right of kings and the nature of

the state as conceived by the English philosopher and political theorist Thomas Hobbes.

He did not believe that a king should become king because "God told him to be", but

rather, because he was qualified for the position, and also because the people felt he

should be there. Locke argued that sovereignty did not reside in the state, but with the

people, and that the state is supreme, but only if it is bound by civil and what Locke

referred to a "natural" law. (Squadrito 43) Many of these thoughts were later embodied

in the constitution. Some of these ideas, such as those relating to natural rights, property

rights, the duty of the government to protect these rights and the rule of the majority are

used in many places to this day. He also believed that man by his nature had certain

inalienable rights and duties. (Rivitch12) These rights included life, liberty, and

ownership of property. By liberty, Locke meant political equality. The task and duty of

the government of any state was to protect mans rights. Locke believes that the

government should protect human rights better than individuals could on there own, and

if it didn't adequately protect the rights of the citizens, then they had the right to find

other rulers. (Squadrito 34)

Locke also said that the government should be split up. There should be three

branches, the legislative, executive, and the judicial. He said that revolution was not only

a right but often an obligation, and he advocated a system of checks and balances in the

government from these three branches. He said that the legislative should be the most...
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