The English philosopher John Locke (born August 29, 1632, in Wrington, Somerset; died October 28, 1704, in High Laver, Essex) is often credited with laying the groundwork for contemporary philosophical empiricism and political liberalism. He was a major influence on the European Enlightenment and the American Constitution.
His philosophical views were similar to those of the Royal Society’s founding fathers, including Robert Boyle, Sir Isaac Newton, and others. His political philosophy centered on the idea of a social compact between citizens and the significance of toleration, particularly with regards to religion. After the Glorious Revolution in 1688–89 and the American Declaration of Independence in 1776, many of his political ideas were widely adopted.
Early years Of John Lockie
Because of his family’s sympathy for Puritanism but continued membership in the Church of England, Locke’s adult life and philosophy were influenced by this context. Locke, who grew up in Pensford, near Bristol, was 10 years old when the English Civil Wars began, pitting King Charles I of England against Parliamentary forces led by Oliver Cromwell.
A barrister, Locke’s father served as a captain in the parliamentarian cavalry and saw considerable battle. Thus, it is safe to believe that Locke had always disapproved of the monarchy and its claim to a divine right to rule.
Upon the conclusion of the first English Civil War in 1646, Locke’s father was able to secure a spot for his son, who had already demonstrated academic promise, at the prestigious Westminster School in London. Locke, then 14 years old, attended this illustrious school. Richard Busby, the school’s headmaster and a great scholar in his own right,
opposed the new republican administration that had taken over the school. Locke had remained under Busby’s tutelage and supervision for a whole four years (Busby was a strong disciplinarian who much favoured the birch). Charles was executed by Cromwell in January 1649, a mere half mile from Westminster School. The lads were barred from entering the execution site, but they were aware of what was going on.
At the age of 20, Locke enrolled in the University of Oxford’s largest college, Christ Church, which served as Charles I’s court during the English Civil War. However, the time of royalist rule at Oxford was long over, and Puritan supporters of Cromwell now occupied most of the administrative positions. Cromwell himself served as chancellor, while his former chaplain John Owen also served as vice chancellor and dean. But Owen and Cromwell cared about getting things back to normal at the institution as soon as possible, and they did.
Senior censor in Christ Church from 1663, Locke was tasked with overseeing the education and conduct of undergraduates as well as lecturing on various topics. Because of this, Essays on the Law of Nature (first published in 1954) represents an early declaration of his philosophical views, many of which he maintained more or less intact for the remainder of his life.
Two of his most influential ideas were his belief in a natural moral rule that determines what is right and wrong in human behavior and his adherence to the empiricist notion that all information, including moral knowledge, is acquired via experience and is not innate. These assertions would become cornerstones of his developed political theory and epistemology.
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Association with Shaftesbury
A friend of both men introduced them in 1666; Lord Anthony Ashley Cooper would become the 1st Earl of Shaftesbury. Ashley was one of the most influential people in England in the two decades following the Restoration, when he was a member of and later became the leader of the opposition political party known as the Whigs. Locke’s first impression on Ashley was so favorable that the next year, despite
Locke’s lack of formal medical training at the time, Ashley invited him to join his household in London at Exeter House on the Strand as an aide and personal physician. Ashley was a supporter of the constitutional monarchy, a Protestant succession, civil liberties, religious tolerance, Parliamentary rule, and England’s economic growth from a political and economic standpoint.
All of Locke’s goals were his own, or he quickly came to share them with him, and the two quickly came to a mutual, profound, and consequential understanding. It’s possible that Locke wrote the papers on toleration so that Ashley could reference them in his parliamentary addresses. As a doctor,
Locke participated in a miraculous operation to drain a tumor from Ashley’s liver on a daily basis, reducing his suffering significantly. This condition persisted throughout Ashley’s entire life. Locke also arranged for Ashley’s son to marry a good match.
Exile in France
Ashley became the first earl of Shaftesbury in 1672 and, at the end of the same year, was named lord chancellor of England. But Charles II quickly lost his favor with him, and he was removed from office. Shaftesbury and Locke were in grave danger for a period, prompting Locke’s 1675 trip to France. By this stage, he had graduated with a BM from Oxford and been offered a studentship in medicine at Christ Church.
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Who is John Locke and what did he do?
John Locke, an English philosopher and political theorist from the 17th century, is often credited with helping to pave the way for the Enlightenment and the rise of liberalism.
Why is John Locke important to social contract theory?
Although he is best known for his contributions to social contract theory, he is also regarded as one of the earliest British empiricists in the tradition of Sir Francis Bacon. Read on for 30 more reasons why John Locke is a fascinating figure in history. His contributions were significant to the growth of the disciplines of epistemology and political philosophy.
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