John Locke - Philosophy and Government
John Locke (1632-1704)
English philosopher (pictured right),
Thomas Jefferson's (pictured right
Declaration of Independence was greatly influenced by Locke's ideas on government and people’s
What did his three major works say?
A Letter Concerning Toleration
a) health and liberty for everybody
But you can’t force people to be healthy. They must want to be healthy and help
b) religious toleration
Different religions must be tolerated and protected, because religion is a private
matter for each individual.
People can’t be forced to believe something, because belief he is “an inward persuasion of the
An Essay Concerning Human Understanding
Everything we know comes from experience, based on:
- what our five senses tell us (particularly seeing and hearing).
Locke divided ideas into:
- simple ideas (which cannot be created by us e.g. hot and cold).
- complex ideas (produced by the mind).
His tips for creativity are:
a) think for yourself
- don’t follow other people’s ideas.
b) question everything
Don’t accept any idea until it has been proved by
fact, observation and experimentation.
c) welcome other people’s ideas
Accept the good ones, because nobody knows everything.
So love humility and hate arrogance.
Second Treatise of Government
- born with certain natural (or inalienable) rights that can’t be taken
away by the government
These rights include:
- liberty (freedom to do what you want so long as you don’t harm anybody else).
- ownership and possession of property.
- rebel and overthrow an unelected government (like the Americans did).
- health and the pursuit of happiness.
To be happy you must have:
- morality (making the right choices).
- responsibility (helping yourself).
The government must be elected by the people.
Key quote on
Tyranny is the exercise of power beyond right.
Key quote on knowledge
No man’s knowledge can go beyond his experience.
Key quote on ethics and
The discipline of desire is the background of character.