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John Locke was born on August 29th, 1632 in Wrington, England. He was raised by two puritan parents: Agnes Keen and John Locke SR. His father was a lawyer and had to raise Locke by himself after Keen died during childbirth. By age 20, Locke went on to study medicine at Christ Church, Oxford in 1652. In 1668, He joined the Royal Society and worked under The Earl of Shaftsbury. He eventually became a well-known philosopher and political theorist who passed away on October 28th, 1704.
Locke has been nicknamed “The Father of Liberalism” for his beliefs in individual liberty and little government intervention in the lives of citizens. He greatly focused on the study of the importance and capabilities of the human mind. Locke’s philosophy on human nature differed with many other philosophers. The state of nature refers to the way people naturally existed before governments were established. Thomas Hobbes believed that human beings were born with thoughts of self-interest and were prone to do wrong. Therefore, he conveyed the state of nature to be filled with solidarity, fear, violence, and death. Hobbes also claimed that people can only achieve salvation through the government keeping them in control. Jean-Jacques Rousseau completely disagreed with Hobbes ideas. Rousseau claimed that people were naturally good and innocent in the state of nature. Humans were born with thoughts of compassion and love for their fellow man but were corrupted by society. Compared to Hobbes and Rousseau, Locke’s thoughts on this fell somewhere in the middle. Locke believes that human beings had neither good or bad thought at birth. He stated that people came into the world with empty minds that fillwith age. Education plays a crucial role in how children turn out as adults. Locke points out that human beings have an ability for selfish tendencies. However, he disagrees with Hobbes on the appearance of the state of nature. He portrays life without government as good and peaceful. People would mostly do right, honor their obligations, and keep promises.
John Locke also had great influence in the making of the Declaration of Independence. He rejected the idea of people becoming Kings and rulers under the command of God. Locke argued that everyone was free and equal by nature. Since humans were created free and equal, everyone had the same natural or individual rights. These natural laws included the right to life, liberty, and property. This was altered to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness” in the Declaration of Independence. People cannot murder, steal, or take away the freedom of someone else. They are also not allowed to give up their rights to anyone. Locke states that people only need to answer to the laws of God. Human beings can do whatever they want if peace and the continuation of mankind are maintained. To do this, people must put effort into the resources God has provided them. For example, a farmer must use a field to grow food to feed himself and others. This is where Locke’s concept of private property comes in. According to Locke, human beings owned their bodies completely. Therefore, anyone can obtain property by creating a good or material through physical labor. A person who grows food or builds a house out of wood would own the final product. However, there are a couple of restrictions on private property. No one can violate another person’s rights by taking something that will hurt him or her in the process. A person also cannot take more than he can use. This would be wasting materials that should go to another person who needs them. Unfortunately, there are individuals that will violate these natural laws and will steal, kill, or indulge in overabundance.
Another influence John Locke had on the American government his policy of religious freedom. There had been arguments for the government to have total control over what its citizens should believe in. Locke disagreed and responded to this by writing an essay called Toleration. He argued that people would not be able to come together and agree on one religion to follow. Locke stated that even if one religion was established, people could not truly believe by force. He also claimed religious uniformity would cause more societal destruction than diversity. Locke’s philosophy got rid of the belief that people should be locked up for having a different faith. This had influenced the separation of church and state in America. Locke also played a role in the creation of the second amendment: the right to bear arms. He believed that people should take down the government if their natural rights were being taken away from them. Locke thought that having easy access to weapons would give citizens the ability to achieve this.
In conclusion, John Locke was a well-known philosopher and political theorist. His ideas about individual rights and little government intervention influenced countries like the United States. Locke had a reasonable balance when it came to the rights of the people and government control. There is not too much government involvement to be a dictatorship and not enough freedom to have anarchy.
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