Thinker: Locke

John Locke


John Locke


Locke is famous to some as the "Father of Liberalism".

John Locke was a British doctor and philosopher. His ideas about the "self" and the conscious mind were new at the time. He believed that people were born as a blank slate, and they learn everything about right and wrong and how to live through experience. He also believed that people have fundamental natural rights to life, liberty, and property. He did not believe the monarchy had a God-given right to rule, but he believed that political authority should come from the people.

Watch this 10 minute video to better understand Locke's contributions to classical liberalism.

Main Ideas

  • All people have natural rights to life, liberty, and ownership of property.
  • People have a "social contract" or unwritten agreement to entrust power in a government to protect these natural rights. If a government fails to protect these rights, it loses its right to rule, and citizens are entitled to set up a new government.

Famous Statements

  • Government has no other end but the preservation of property.
  • No man's knowledge here can go beyond his experience.
  • The end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom. For in all the states of created beings capable of law, where there is no law, there is no freedom.

Famous Works

Interesting Trivia

Locke fell in love with a female philosopher named Damaris Cudworth. He went into exile in Holland because his views about freedom of religion and the rights of citizens were considered to be a challenge to the rule of the King of England. Damaris married another man. She and Locke remained close friends, and he lived with her and her husband in his final years.

Last modified: Monday, 10 February 2020, 10:41 AM