John Locke, born August 29th, 1632, is probably the single person most responsible for our United States political form of government, or at least its philosophical underpinnings. (Montesquieu can be credited as most responsible for its form, but that’s a story for another time.) The ideas of this Enlightenment, empiricist philosopher and political theorist included arguments in favor of liberal government of and by the people centered on natural rights, including property rights and rights to freedom of thought and belief; an emphasis on reason inspired and restrained by evidence; and the so-called blank slate theory of the human mind, which postulates that experience entirely determines what we think and the kind of person we become.
Learn more about the great John Locke:
‘John Locke’ ~ by William Uzgalis for The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy
John Locke (1632—1704) ~ by Patrick J. Connolly for the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
John Locke, English Philosopher ~ by Graham A.J. Rogers for Encyclopædia Britannica
John Locke Part One and Part Two ~ by Stephen West for Philosophize This
John Locke, 1632-1704 ~ Dr. Rachael Kohn discusses Locke’s life and ideas with Perez Zagorin for The Ark, a program of Australia’s Radio International
The Social Contract ~ Melvyn Bragg and guests Melissa Lane, Susan James, and Karen O’Brien discuss this foundational question of political philosophy, the impetus for Locke’s political theory, for In Our Time.
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*A version of this piece was previously published in Ordinary Philosophy