Who is John Locke?

Who is John Locke?

June 25, 2021 Off By Felso

John Locke (August 29, 1632 – October 28, 1704) was an English philosopher. John Locke is one of the most important thinkers of the 18th century. Locke is considered to be the true founder of the Enlightenment and the Age of Reason in Europe, as he was the first philosopher to most widely advocated freedom of thought and organizing our actions according to reason.

John Locke was born in Wrington, near Bristol. He comes from a family engaged in the fabric trade. His father preferred notary public rather than dealing with trade and became a staunch supporter and member of the Puritan sect that wanted simplicity in worship. The great influence of his father can be felt in the learning theories that Locke later put forward.

Locke received his higher education at Oxford University, where he studied natural sciences and medicine.

Locke, who worked as both a writer and a politician after his life, first worked as a British embassy clerk in the Duchy of Brendenbur, and after returning to England, he worked as a private physician for an English aristocrat named Shaftsbury for 8 years.

Locke left England in 1683 after Shaftsbury was forced to flee to the Netherlands. He was only able to return to England in 1689, when the Second English Revolution was successful.

In all his works, Locke argues that it is necessary to get rid of all kinds of tradition and authority, and that only reason can guide human life. With these thoughts, he became the pioneer of liberalism, a natural understanding of religion, and rational pedagogy.

Locke went down in history as the first person to shake the rule of absolutism. As a result of the shocks it caused to the absolutism administration, deep rifts were formed over time and the foundations of the British, American and French revolutions were formed. Locke is the philosopher who formed the basis of these revolutions.

Statue of John Locke at Trinity College.
Locke and Empiricism

Locke, who is considered the founder of empiricism, opposed the idea of ​​innate ideas and argued that all kinds of ideas in our minds are derived from sense data.

The human mind is initially like a blank sheet of paper (tabula rasa). This paper begins to be filled with sense data obtained from external bodies, and thus the simple and ideas of sensation emerge. The mind arrives at complex ideas by processing and combining these simple ideas in various ways. In addition, the inner sensations and operations on what is acquired from sensation give rise to what we call the ideas of reflection.

The body idea is such a complex idea. The ideas that make up this idea become the qualities of the body, which are divided into two as primary and secondary. The idea of ​​substance is the idea that is accepted as the carrier of all these properties. Apart from corporeal substances, it also accepts a spiritual substance that is the carrier of mental ideas.

God is such a complex idea. Knowledge also arises from the relations between these ideas and is divided into three degrees according to the perception of agreement or disagreement between ideas; intuitive, demonstrative and sensory.

According to Locke, morality, like mathematics, is suitable for demonstration because the essences of the bodies to which moral judgments correspond can be known. Good and evil are none other than pleasure and pain, or what causes pleasure and pain in us, and whether our willful actions conform to ethical laws. There are three kinds of laws:

holy law,
citizenship law,
Moral law.

The natural state of man is not a war of all against all, but of freedom, but there is a law of nature that governs this condition. This law is the law of reason; teaches people to be equal and independent.

The natural rights of human beings are the right to self-preservation and defense, the right to freedom and the right to property.

Since people are naturally free, no one can be subordinated to the political power of another without their own approval. However, people give up their rights in order to establish a safer environment and contract to transfer some of their rights and powers to the majority of the society.

Thus, they connect their individual will to the will of the society in order to get out of the state of nature and pass into the civil society. The government established in this way has to protect the rights and freedoms of the society and work for its welfare. It falls to the executive power to implement the laws enacted and the judiciary to settle the disputes.

Related topics:

John Locke’s philosophy
John Locke’s view of religion
John Locke’s view of politics
John Locke’s understanding of the contract and political society
John Locke’s moral and political views
What is the state of nature?
John Locke’s concept of property
Locke’s concept of freedom
John Locke and the legislative power
John Locke’s understanding of man and society
John Locke’s understanding of knowledge and language
What is a social contract?
Personal identity and moral responsibility
John Locke’s critique of innate ideas
What are the sources of our ideas?
What are the types of ideas?
Locke’s materialism
John Locke and Liberalism: The Case of England
John Locke’s understanding of language
The problem of whatness of knowledge in John Locke
What are degrees of knowledge at John Locke?

Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Ataturk University Sociology Department 1st Grade “Philosophy”