Locke, John


Locke, John
born Aug. 29, 1632, Wrington, Somerset, Eng.
died Oct. 28, 1704, Oates, Essex

English philosopher.

Educated at Oxford, principally in medicine and science, he later became physician and adviser to the future 3rd earl of Shaftesbury (1667–72). He moved to France, but after Shaftesbury's fall in 1683 he fled to the Netherlands, where he supported the future William III. Locke returned to England after the Glorious Revolution (1688) to become commissioner of appeals, a post he held until his death. In his major philosophical work, Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690), he argued that knowledge begins in sensation or introspection rather than in innate ideas, as the philosophers of rationalism held. From sensation and reflection the mind receives "ideas," which are the material of knowledge. Some ideas represent actual qualities of objects (such as size, shape, or weight) and others perceived qualities, which do not exist in objects except as they affect observers (such as colour, taste, or smell); Locke called the former qualities "primary" and the latter "secondary." Ideas that are given directly in sensation or reflection are simple, and simple ideas may be "compounded" to form complex ideas. Locke did not succeed in giving a clear account of the origin of the idea of substance (it is "a something-I-know-not-what") or the idea of the "self," though his account of personal identity in terms of memory was influential. In the philosophy of language, he identified the meanings of words with ideas rather than things. In Two Treatises of Government (1690), he defended a doctrine of natural rights and a conception of political authority as limited and conditional on the ruler's fulfillment of his obligation to serve the public good. A classic formulation of the principles of political liberalism, this work influenced the American and French revolutions and the Constitution of the U.S. He is considered the founding figure of British empiricism.

John Locke, oil painting by Sir Godfrey Kneller. In Christ Church, Oxford.

Courtesy of the Governing Body of Christ Church, Oxford

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▪ British philosopher
Introduction
born August 29, 1632, Wrington, Somerset, England
died October 28, 1704, Oates, Essex

      English philosopher who was an initiator of the Enlightenment in England and France, an inspirer of the U.S. Constitution, and the author of, among other works, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, his account of human knowledge, including the “new science” of his day—i.e., modern science.

The life of John Locke

Early years
 Locke was reared in Pensford, six miles south of Bristol. His family was Anglican with Puritan leanings. His father, a country attorney of modest means, fought on the Parliamentarian side in the Civil War—a fact that later helped him to find a place for his son in Westminster School, then controlled by a Parliamentarian committee (though its headmaster, Richard Busby, was a Royalist). The training there was thorough, but Locke later complained of the severity of its discipline. In 1652 he entered Christ Church, Oxford. Puritan reforms at Oxford had not yet altered the traditional Scholastic curriculum of rhetoric, grammar, moral philosophy, geometry, and Greek; Locke found the course insipid and interested himself in studies outside the traditional program, particularly experimental science and medicine. He was graduated with a B.A. degree in 1656 and an M.A. two years later, around which time he was elected a student (the equivalent of fellow) of Christ Church. In 1660, as a newly appointed tutor in his college, Locke enthusiastically welcomed the end of the Puritan Commonwealth and the restoration of Charles II to the throne.

      In 1661 Locke inherited a portion of his father's estate, which ensured a modest annual income. His studentship would eventually be subject to termination unless he took holy orders, which he declined to do. Not wishing to make teaching his permanent vocation, he taught undergraduates for four years only. He served as secretary to a diplomatic mission to Brandenburg in 1665, and on his return he was immediately offered, but refused, another diplomatic post. His papers of this period, his correspondence, and his commonplace books all testify to his chief interests at the time, viz., natural science, on the one hand, and the study of the underlying principles of moral, social, and political life, on the other. To remedy the narrowness of his education, he read contemporary philosophy, particularly that of René Descartes, the father of modern philosophy. But more than all, experimental science engaged his interest. He collaborated with Robert Boyle (Boyle, Robert), one of the founders of modern chemistry, who was a close friend, and, toward the end of the period, with another friend, Thomas Sydenham (Sydenham, Thomas), an eminent medical scientist.

      It was as a physician that Locke first came to the notice of the statesman Lord Ashley (later to become the 1st earl of Shaftesbury). On a visit to Oxford in the summer of 1666, Lord Ashley required some medical attention and was introduced to Locke by a mutual acquaintance; the two immediately became friends. A royal mandate of that November secured Locke's studentship indefinitely. The following year, despite his having no medical degree and no desire to practice medicine, he joined Ashley's household at Exeter House in the Strand in London as family physician. He became Ashley's personal adviser not merely on medical matters but on his general affairs as well.

      Ashley was a forceful, aggressive politician who had many enemies (some of them men of letters—for instance, Locke's schoolfellow, the poet laureate John Dryden). It is doubtful, however—if only in view of Locke's respect for him—whether Ashley was as evil as his enemies sometimes made him out to be. It is known that he stood firmly for a constitutional monarchy, for a Protestant succession, for civil liberty, for toleration in religion, for the rule of Parliament, and for the economic expansion of Britain; and that he continued to make this stand when many influential men were working against these aims. Since these were already aims to which Locke had dedicated himself, there existed from the first a perfect understanding between the statesman and his adviser, one that meant much to both. Ashley entrusted Locke with the task of negotiating his son's marriage with the daughter of the earl of Rutland; he also made him secretary of the group that he had formed to increase trade with America, particularly with the southern colonies. Locke helped to draft a constitution for the new colony of Carolina, a document that extended freedom of worship to all colonists, denying admission only to atheists.

      During the following decades, Locke persevered in his private studies, and many of his social meetings were in effect meetings with friends to discuss philosophical and scientific problems. As early as 1668 he had become a fellow of the newly formed (1663) Royal Society, which kept him in touch with scientific advances. It is known, too, that groups of friends (Lord Ashley; the physician John Mapletoft; Thomas Sydenham; Sydenham's physician colleague, James Tyrrell, who was also a divine; and others) met in his rooms, for one such meeting is mentioned in the preface of his Essay Concerning Human Understanding, in which he reports that, because of the difficulties that beset the participants, they resolved to devote their next meeting to discussing the powers of the mind in order, as they said, “to examine our own abilities and see what objects our understandings were, or were not, fitted to deal with.” Locke himself opened the discussion and, following the meeting, set out his view of human knowledge in two drafts (1671), still extant, which show the beginnings of the thinking that 19 years later would blossom into his famous Essay. In these London years, too, Locke encountered representatives of Cambridge Platonism (Cambridge Platonists), a school of Christian humanists, who, though sympathetic to empirical science, nonetheless opposed Materialism because it failed to account for the rational element in human life. They tended to be liberal (liberalism) in both politics and religion. Insofar as they taught a Platonism that rested on belief in innately known Ideas, Locke could not follow them; but their tolerance, their emphasis on practical conduct as a part of the religious life, and their rejection of materialism were features that he found most attractive. This school was closely related in spirit to another school that influenced Locke at this time, viz., that of latitudinarianism (latitudinarian). For the latter school, if a man confessed Christ, that alone should be enough to entitle him to membership in the Christian Church; conformity in nonessentials should not be demanded. These movements prepared Locke for the antidogmatic, liberal school of theology that he would later encounter in Holland, a school in revolt against the narrowness of traditional Calvinism.

      In 1672 Ashley was raised to the peerage as the 1st earl of Shaftesbury and at the end of that year was appointed lord high chancellor of England. Though he soon lost favour and was dismissed, he did, while in office, establish the Council of Trade and Plantations, of which Locke was secretary for two years. Locke, however, who suffered greatly from asthma, found the London air and his heavy duties unhealthy, and in 1675 he had to return to Oxford.

      Six months later he departed for France, where he stayed for four years (1675–79), spending most of his time in Paris and Montpellier. In France during the 1670s, Locke made contacts that deeply influenced his view of metaphysics and epistemology, viz., with the Gassendist school and, particularly, with its leader, François Bernier. Pierre Gassendi (Gassendi, Pierre), a philosopher and scientist, had rejected overspeculative elements in Descartes's philosophy and had advocated a return to Epicurean doctrines—i.e., to empiricism (stressing sense experience), to hedonism (holding pleasure to be the good), and to corpuscular physics (according to which reality consists of atomic particles). Knowledge of the external world, Gassendi held, depends upon the senses, though it is through reasoning that man may derive much further information from empirically gained evidence.

      Upon Locke's return to England, he found the country torn by dissension. The heir to the throne, James (the brother of Charles II), was a Roman Catholic, whom the Protestant majority led by Shaftesbury wished to exclude from the succession. For a year Shaftesbury had been imprisoned in the Tower, but, by the time Locke returned, he was back in favour once more as lord president of the Privy Council. When he failed, however, to reconcile the interests of the king and Parliament, he was dismissed; in 1681 he was arrested, tried, and finally acquitted by a London jury. A year later he fled to Holland, where in 1683 he died.

Later life
      No one of Shaftesbury's known friends was now safe in Great Britain. Locke himself, who was being closely watched, crossed to Holland in September 1683.

Exile in Holland
      Locke's sojourn in Holland was happier than he had expected it to be: his health improved, he made many new friends, and he found the leisure that enabled him to bring his thoughts on many subjects to fruition. Locke spent his first winter in Amsterdam and soon became friendly with a distinguished Arminian theologian, Philip van Limborch, pastor of the Remonstrants' church there—a friendship that lasted until Locke's death. The companionship of Philip and other friends made it easier to bear bad news from home: at Charles II's express command, Locke (in 1684) was deprived of his studentship at Christ Church. The next year his name appeared on a list sent to The Hague that named 84 traitors wanted by the English government. Locke went into hiding for a while but soon was able to move freely over Holland and became familiar with its different provinces.

Return to England and retirement to Oates
      Locke remained abroad for more than five years, until James II, who had become king in 1685, was overthrown (see Glorious Revolution). In the autumn of 1688, after it was announced that James had been presented with a male heir (and thus a Roman Catholic successor), the king's opponents invited his Protestant nephew and son-in-law, William of Orange in the Netherlands, to seize the throne. The king offered little resistance. Locke himself in February 1689 crossed in the party that accompanied the princess of Orange, now to be crowned Queen Mary II of England. The triumph was complete; Locke was home again, although not without a nostalgia for the Holland that he had come to love. He now took little part in public life. He refused ambassadorial posts but accepted a membership in the Commission of Appeals. (Much later, in 1696, he was appointed a commissioner in the resuscitated Board of Trade and Plantations, however, and for four years played a leading part in its deliberations.) But the London air again bothered him, and he was forced to leave the city for long visits to his friends in the country. In 1691 he retired to Oates, the house of his friends Sir Francis and Lady Masham in Essex, and subsequently made only occasional visits to London. Nonetheless, he was not without influence in these last years of his life, for he was the intellectual leader of the Whigs (Whig and Tory). Their principal parliamentarians were frequently old friends of Locke, and the younger generation—particularly the ablest of them all, John Somers (Somers, John Somers, Baron), who soon became lord chancellor—turned to him constantly for guidance. In “the glorious, bloodless revolution,” the main aims for which Shaftesbury and Locke had fought were achieved—even though in William's reign strong Tory pressures limited the extent of the reform. First and foremost, England became a constitutional monarchy, controlled by Parliament. Second, real advances were made in securing the liberty of subjects in the law courts, in achieving a greater (though far from complete) measure of religious toleration, and in assuring freedom of thought and expression. Locke himself drafted the arguments that his friend Edward Clarke used in the House of Commons in arguing for the repeal of the restrictive Act for the Regulation of Printing. The act was abolished in 1695 and the freedom of the press was secured.

Publication of his works
      The main task of this last period of his life, however, was the publication of his works, which had been the product of long years of gestation. The Epistola de Tolerantia (A Letter Concerning Toleration, 1689) was published anonymously at Gouda in 1689. Locke had been reflecting on this topic from his early days at Oxford. Though his correspondence and a paper that he wrote in 1667 show his support for toleration in religion, in 1660–61 he wrote two tracts on this theme (not published until 1967) that are surprisingly conservative. Two Treatises of Government (1690) was also the fruit of years of reflection upon the true principles in politics, a reflection resting on Locke's own observations. In all of these social and political issues, Locke saw that the ultimate factor is man's nature. To understand man, however, it is not enough to observe his actions; one must also inquire about his capacities for knowledge. Locke had been conscious of this point in writing his paper on the “Law of Nature” as early as 1663. In 1671, as has been seen, he set out to write a book about human knowledge, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, which was not published, however, until December 1689 (all copies dated 1690)—nor was it wholly completed even then, for Locke made changes, sometimes substantial ones, in three of the four following editions. (See below Locke's philosophy.)

Last years
      Locke's last years were spent in the peaceful retreat of Oates. His hostess was a woman with whom he had been acquainted for many years—Lady Masham, or Damaris, the daughter of Ralph Cudworth, one of the Cambridge Platonists, by whom Locke had been significantly influenced. He found friendship and comfort in this household. Many of his friends visited him there: Sir Isaac Newton (Newton, Sir Isaac), who came to discuss the Epistles of St. Paul, a subject of great interest to both; his nephew and heir Peter King, destined to become lord high chancellor of England; and Edward Clarke with his wife and children, for whom Locke had great affection. Locke had written a series of letters to Edward Clarke from Holland, advising him on the best upbringing for his son. These letters formed the basis of his influential Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693), setting forth new ideals in that field. He wrote and published pamphlets on matters of economic interest, on rates of interest, on the coinage of the realm, and, more widely, on trade (defending mercantilist views). In 1695 he published a dignified plea for a less dogmatic Christianity in The Reasonableness of Christianity.

      John Locke was buried in the parish church of High Laver. “His death,” wrote Lady Masham, “was like his life, truly pious, yet natural, easy and unaffected.” This account of his character by one who knew him well seems singularly appropriate. He was orderly, careful about money, occasionally parsimonious, abstemious, and, though naturally emotional and hot-tempered, controlled and disciplined. He had a great love of children, and friendship was for him a necessity. Both in his books and in his life are found the marks of the prudence and wisdom for which he was famed.

Locke's philosophy

Theory of knowledge (epistemology)
      Locke was thoroughly suspicious of the view that a thinker could work out by reason alone the truth about the universe. Much as he admired Descartes, he feared this speculative spirit in him, and he despised it in the Scholastic philosophers. In this sense he rejected metaphysics. Knowledge of the world could only be gained by experience and reflection on experience, and this knowledge was being gained by Boyle, Sydenham, Christiaan Huygens, and Newton. They were the true philosophers who were advancing knowledge. Locke set himself the humbler task, as he conceived it, of understanding how this knowledge was gained. What was “the original, certainty, and extent of human knowledge, together with the grounds and degrees of belief, opinion, and assent”?

      As for “the original,” the answer was plain. Knowledge of the world began in sense perception, and self-knowledge in introspection, or “reflection” in Locke's language. It did not begin in innate knowledge (innate idea) of maxims or general principles, and it did not proceed by syllogistic reasoning from such principles. In the 17th century there had been much vague talk about innate knowledge, and in Book I of his Essay Concerning Human Understanding Locke examines this talk and shows its worthlessness. In Book II of his Essay he begins by claiming that the sources of all knowledge are sense experience and reflection; these are not themselves, however, instances of knowledge in the strict sense, but they provide the mind with the material of knowledge. Locke calls the material so provided “ideas.” Ideas are objects “before the mind,” in the sense not that they are physical objects but that they represent them. Locke distinguishes ideas that represent actual qualities of objects (such as size, shape, or weight) from ideas that represent perceived qualities, which do not exist in objects except as they affect observers (such as colour, taste, or smell). Locke designates the former primary qualities and the latter secondary qualities.

      Locke proceeds to group and classify the ideas, with a view to showing that the origin of all of them lies in sensation and reflection. Although ideas are immediately “before the mind,” not all of them are simple. Many of them are compounded, and their simple parts can be revealed on analysis. It is these simple ideas alone that are given in sensation and reflection. Out of them the mind forms complex ideas, though Locke is ambiguous on this point. For while he uses the language of “forming” or “compounding” and speaks of the “workmanship” of the mind, the compounding is frequently in accordance with what is perceived “to go together” and is not arbitrary.

      Locke's reflections upon cause and effect, had they been elaborated, would undoubtedly have led him into acute difficulties. He does admit one failure. As an empiricist he can give no account of the idea of substance; it is, he thinks, essential and not to be denied, and yet it is not a simple idea given in sensation or reflection nor is it derived from simple ideas so given. In fact he can say little of it; it is “a-something-I-know-not-what.” Thus, the case for empiricism cannot be said to be entirely established by Book II, but Locke thinks it strong enough for him to persist in the view that knowledge of the physical world is wholly derived from sense perception.

      Some ideas are not of things outside the mind but are reflexive and internal. Locke finds it necessary to classify these in Book II and in doing so sets down the foundations of empirical psychology. His source of information is introspection and rarely the observation of behaviour. His account of sense perception is celebrated for its appreciation of the part that the interpretative mind plays in perceiving, and some of his farsighted observations on the relations between the senses, particularly vision and touch, have profoundly affected subsequent thought. He makes valuable remarks on memory, on discerning, on comparing, on madness, on pleasure and pain, on the emotions, and on the association of ideas.

      Locke holds that man has an intuitive knowledge of his own existence and supposes that man exists as material and immaterial substance, but he is none too clear about this and at one point plays with the idea that man is simply material substance to which God has “superadded” a power of thinking. Locke's most valuable contribution, however, is his account of personal identity. Having distinguished between different types of identity, he argues that personal identity depends on self-consciousness (that is, I am the person who did so-and-so 20 years ago because I can remember myself doing it).

      According to Locke, Book III on language “cost [him] more pains” than any other book of his Essay; yet it is the book that has been most neglected. To understand thinking and knowing one must understand language as the means of thought and communication. Words are conventional signs; however, according to Locke, signs do not directly represent things but rather ideas of things. Thus, Locke carries a theory of ideas into his account of language. Frequently, the idea signified by the word is not clear, and sometimes words are used even when there are no ideas corresponding to them. This is particularly so in the case of general words, without which language would be so impoverished as to lose most of its worth. The use of general words, in Locke's mind, is bound up with the theory of universals (universal). Does the general word stand for a particular idea that is used in a representative capacity? Or is the universal nothing more than a creation of the mind, through abstraction, to which is attached a name? In considering natural substances, Locke is inclined strongly toward a conceptualism according to which the use of general words is possible only because they signify “nominal essences.” In this view what is meant is not the real essence but an abstract concept, something brought about through the “workmanship of the understanding.” Locke also discusses the names of simple ideas and of relations, and it is interesting to find the crude beginnings of a discussion of what were later to be called logical or operative words. Book III contains also a valuable account of definition, which denies the theory that all definition must be per genus et differentiam (by comparison and contrast). The final chapters deal with the inevitable imperfections of language and with avoidable abuses.

Conclusions
      In Book IV, Locke discusses the nature and extent of human knowledge. The tone is more rationalistic than that of the previous books because the skepticism that emanated from his empiricism drove him to find the ideal of knowledge in the indubitable certainties of mathematics (mathematics, philosophy of). There he was on common ground with the rationalists of his day, and indeed the direct influence of Descartes seems to be observable in the opening chapters of Book IV. Knowledge is perception, not sense perception but intellectual perception or intuition, frequently gained by a deliberate process of demonstration. But, even when this is so, each step in the demonstration is observed intuitionally, so that knowledge in the strict sense is essentially intuitive.

      Unfortunately, what can be intuited and demonstrated is limited. Strict knowledge is not confined entirely to mathematics, but the intuition of relations within the physical world is impossible. Books II and III have shown that ideas and nominal essences can be grasped directly and that the inner nature of real things cannot be known, so that “science,” in the exact sense of perfectly certain knowledge, is not possible in this sphere. The only possibility of intuiting is that within the world of ideas, an ideal world that is for Locke empirically derived and not intellectual in character. Knowledge in general terms he accordingly defines as the intuition or “perception of the connection of and agreement, or disagreement and repugnancy, of any of our ideas.” Within the realm of ideas indubitable knowledge can be gained, but when dealing with ideas “whose archetypes are without them” the position is uncertain.

      In spite of this, and somewhat inconsistently, Locke thinks that knowledge approaches certainty in the “sensitive knowledge” of the existence of physical things. Further, knowledge of one's own existence is intuited. In these cases knowledge that is not an apprehension of a relation between ideas is nonetheless certain. But Locke makes it clear that, for the most part, knowledge of the physical world or of oneself is probable and rests not on intuition but on judgment; it is assenting to a proposition on the strength of the evidence, and there may be degrees of assent and wrong assent or error. Locke recognizes the need for a logic of probability, though he does little himself to meet that need. Yet it should be added that the important regular-sequence theory of induction, afterward developed by George Berkeley and David Hume, is put forward in the pages of Locke's Essay.

Political theory
      Locke's most important work on political philosophy is that entitled Two Treatises of Government. The first treatise is a refutation of Sir Robert Filmer's Patriarcha, a defense of the divine right of kings that was written in the mid-17th century; the second and more important treatise refutes the absolutist (absolutism) theory of government as such.

      Locke defines political power as

a right of making laws, with penalties of death, and consequently all less penalties for the regulating and preserving of property and of employing the force of the community in the execution of such laws, and in the defence of the commonwealth from foreign injury, and all this only for the public good.

      Government is thus a trust (social contract), forfeited by a ruler who fails to secure the public good. The ruler's authority, that is to say, is conditional rather than absolute. Nor does the individual surrender all his rights when he enters a civil society. He has established his right to property by “mixing his labour” with things originally given to mankind in common but now made his own by his labour. (Here in germ is the labour theory of value.) He has the right to expect political power to be used to preserve his property, in his own person and in his possessions, and the right to freedom of thought, speech, and worship. In fact the one right that he gives up in entering a civil society is the right to judge and punish his fellow man, which is his right in the state of nature. He quits his “executive power of the law of Nature” and “resigns it to the public”; he himself makes himself subject to the civil law and finds his freedom in voluntary obedience. To secure this freedom, Locke favoured a mixed constitution—the legislative should be an elected body, whereas the executive is usually a single person, the monarch—and he argues for a separation of legislative and executive powers. The people are ultimately sovereign, although it is not always clear in Locke's theory where the immediate sovereignty lies. But the people always have the right to withdraw their support and overthrow the government if it fails to fulfill their trust.

Moral philosophy
      One searches in vain for a consistent moral theory in Locke. His view that morality can be a science, as certain as mathematics, is well known. This might imply a rationalism, and there are indeed rationalist trends in his moral philosophy—although sometimes when advocating a science of morals he seems to have in mind simply the possibility of an exact analysis of the terms used in moral discourse and the clarification of moral statements. At other times, he puts forward a hedonist theory.

That we call good which is apt to cause or increase pleasure or diminish pain in us.

      But not every good is moral good:

Moral good and evil is only the conformity or disagreement of our voluntary actions to some law, whereby good or evil is drawn on us, from the will and power of the law-maker.

      In this view law rests on God's will, “the true ground of morality,” though in saying this Locke does not appear to be consistent with what he says elsewhere of the law of nature.

Theory of education (education, philosophy of)
      A good education, as set forth by Locke in Some Thoughts Concerning Education, attends to both the physical and the mental. The body is not to be coddled; on the contrary, it is necessary that it should be hardened in various ways. The good educator insists on exercise, play, and plentiful sleep, “the great cordial of nature.” Young children should be allowed to give vent to their feelings and should be restrained rarely. As for mental training, character comes first before learning; the educator's aim is to instill virtue, wisdom, and good breeding into the mind of the young. Parents, too, must interest themselves in their children's upbringing and, as far as possible, have them near; for no educative force is more powerful than the good example of parents. A stock of useful knowledge must be imparted: modern languages and Latin; geography and history; mathematics, as “the powers of abstraction develop”; and later civil law, philosophy, and natural science. For recreation, training in the arts, crafts, and useful hobbies should be available.

      Locke's reaction against the “enthusiasm” of the sects in his youth had been sharp, and he disliked religious fanaticism throughout his life. He was a broad, tolerant Anglican anxious to heal the breach in English Protestant ranks. His own views on church government and on the priesthood were close to those of the dissenters, and he favoured the liberal views of the latitudinarians, of the Cambridge Platonists, and of the Remonstrants of Holland. This becomes manifest in The Reasonableness of Christianity. Two essentials, and two alone, he thinks, are involved in being a Christian: first, that a man should accept Christ as God's Messiah and, second, that he should live in accordance with Christ's teaching. His point of view is not far removed from that of the Deists on the one hand and the Unitarians on the other, yet he cannot be grouped with them. Christianity, though reasonable, needs revelation as well as reason, for human reason alone is inadequate: there is an experience of God “through His Spirit” without which all religion is empty. However, any act of persecution in the name of religious truth is wholly unjustified, since our knowledge and understanding are so confined. Each individual is a moral being, responsible before God, and this presupposes freedom. By the same token, no compulsion that is contrary to the will of the individual can secure more than an outward conformity.

Influence
      Locke's faith in the salutary, ennobling powers of knowledge justifies his reputation as the first philosopher of the Enlightenment. In a broader context, he founded a tradition of thought that would span three centuries, in the schools of British empiricism and American pragmatism. In developing the Whig ideology underlying the Exclusion Controversy and the Glorious Revolution, Locke formulated the classic expression of liberalism, which was to inspire both the shapers of the American Revolution and the authors of the U.S. Constitution. Locke's influence remained strongly felt in the West in the 20th century, as notions of mind, freedom, and authority continued to be challenged and explored.

Richard I. Aaron Ed.

Major Works

Philosophy, religion, and education
An Essay Concerning Humane [sic] Understanding (1690); Epistola de Tolerantia (1689; A Letter Concerning Toleration, trans. by William Popple, 1689); A Second Letter Concerning Toleration (1690); A Third Letter for Toleration (1692); Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693); The Reasonableness of Christianity, as Delivered in the Scriptures (1695); A Vindication of the Reasonableness of Christianity (1695); A Second Vindication of the Reasonableness of Christianity (1697); Of the Conduct of the Understanding, in Posthumous Works of Mr. John Locke (1706).

Political philosophy and economics
Two Treatises of Government (1690); Some Considerations of the Consequences of the Lowering of Interest, and Raising the Value of Money (1692); Short Observations on a Printed Paper, Intituled, for Encouraging the Coining Silver Money in England, and After for Keeping It Here (1695); Further Considerations Concerning Raising the Value of Money (1695).

Recommended editions
A complete edition is The Works of John Locke, new ed. corrected, 10 vol. (1823, reprinted 1963). There is no complete modern edition of Locke's works, although several volumes have appeared in the Oxford Press series, “The Clarendon Edition of the Works of John Locke”; the first of these was a critical edition of An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, edited by Peter H. Nidditch (1975, reprinted 1979). Useful editions of other single works include A Letter Concerning Toleration, edited by James Tully (1983); Two Treatises of Government, edited by Peter Laslett, 2nd ed. (1967, reprinted 1970), a critical edition; and The Educational Writings of John Locke: A Critical Edition with Introduction and Notes, edited by James L. Axtell (1968).

Additional Reading

Biographies
Early works include Lord King, The Life and Letters of John Locke, new ed. (1858, reissued 1984), an amateurish work but based on the Lovelace Collection of Locke papers in the possession of Peter King's family; and H.R. Fox Bourne, The Life of John Locke, 2 vol. (1876, reprinted 1969), a detailed study, based on secondary sources. Maurice W. Cranston, John Locke: A Biography (1957, reissued 1985), is now the standard biography. An outstanding resource is E.S. De Beer (ed.), The Correspondence of John Locke (1976– ), part of “The Clarendon Edition of the Works of John Locke”; 7 of 8 vol. have appeared to 1986.

Commentaries
John W. Yolton, Locke: An Introduction (1985); and John Dunn, Locke (1984), provide general accounts of Locke's life and work. For Locke's theory of knowledge, see R.S. Woolhouse, Locke (1983); and James Gibson, Locke's Theory of Knowledge and Its Historical Relations (1917, reprinted 1968), another useful introductory essay, if somewhat old-fashioned in its approach. For a survey of Locke's thought, see Richard I. Aaron, John Locke, 3rd ed. (1971, reprinted 1973); D.J. O'Connor, John Locke (1952, reissued 1967); and John W. Yolton, John Locke and the Way of Ideas (1956, reprinted 1968), a study based on Locke's unpublished as well as his published writings.Specialized commentaries on Locke's epistemology are found in John W. Yolton, Locke and the Compass of Human Understanding: A Selective Commentary on the “Essay” (1970); J.L. Mackie, Problems from Locke (1976); and I.C. Tipton (ed.), Locke on Human Understanding: Selected Essays (1977). Political theory is covered in Sterling Power Lamprecht, The Moral and Political Philosophy of John Locke (1918, reprinted 1962); Geraint Parry, John Locke (1978); J.W. Gough, John Locke's Political Philosophy: Eight Studies, 2nd ed. (1973); and M. Seliger, The Liberal Politics of John Locke (1968), an exposition and a defense of Locke's arguments for political freedom. W. Von Leyden, Hobbes and Locke: The Politics of Freedom and Obligation (1981); Richard H. Cox, Locke on War and Peace (1960, reprinted 1982); and C.B. Macpherson, The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism: Hobbes to Locke (1962, reprinted 1983), explore the relationship between Locke's political thought and that of Thomas Hobbes. See also John Dunn, The Political Thought of John Locke: An Historical Account of the Argument of the “Two Treatises of Government” (1969, reprinted 1982), a survey of Locke's thought in the context of his intellectual environment; and Raymond Polin, La Politique morale de John Locke (1960, reprinted 1984), on Locke's liberalism from the perspective of a French historian of ideas. James Tully, A Discourse on Property: John Locke and His Adversaries (1980, reissued 1982); Gordon J. Schochet, Life, Liberty and Property: Essays on Locke's Political Ideas (1971); and J.G.A. Pocock and Richard Ashcraft, John Locke (1980), discuss Locke's defense of the natural right to property. See also Karen Iversen Vaughn, John Locke: Economist and Social Scientist (1980), for Locke's ideas on economics; and Kenneth Dewhurst, John Locke, 1631–1704, Physician and Philosopher (1963, reprinted 1984), on his career as a practitioner and theorist of medical science. Research in progress, queries, and corrections to published work on Locke are reported in The Locke Newsletter (annual).

Bibliographies
H.O. Christophersen, A Bibliographical Introduction to the Study of John Locke (1930, reprinted 1968), is still useful, although its references have been assimilated into a larger, more recent work, Jean S. Yolton and John W. Yolton, John Locke: A Reference Guide (1985)—both cover mainly secondary sources. John C. Attig (comp.), The Works of John Locke: A Comprehensive Bibliography from the Seventeenth Century to the Present (1985), tracks the various editions and translations of Locke's writings and places them in historical context. See also Roland Hall and R.S. Woolhouse, 80 Years of Locke Scholarship: A Bibliographical Guide (1983); and P. Long, A Summary Catalogue of the Lovelace Collection of the Papers of John Locke in the Bodleian Library (1959), a guide to the most important source of manuscript material.Richard I. Aaron Ed.

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Universalium. 2010.

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