John Locke

How much did he influence the Founding Fathers?

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Influence on Declaration of Independence

His most obvious contribution to the D.O.I. was on its most famous line, "We believe that all men are created equal, and endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."-Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence.This is a very obvious parallel to Locke's ideas of human rights including the rights to life, liberty, and possessions rights that he expressed clearly in one of his greatest works ,and the one most referenced in this presentation, The Second Treatise Concerning Civil Government.

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Academic Philosophy

His main outlook on the realms of academia was that the only way to gain knowledge was through one's own experience and scientific experiment this would one day evolve into what we now know as Empiricism. This obviously was very controversial in the background of early 17th century Europe, what with its very religious attitude (luckily tempered by Locke and other enlightenment thinkers). It also was very contradictory to the ideas of Innatism and Nativism which were very popular in the minds of this time's well established philosophers, but despite its rocky reception it would soon go on to be the basis for the United States' ideal that all men are created equal, in a state of tabula rasa as Locke put it or blank slate in English, that we as citizens of this country pride ourselves, perhaps over zealously so, on having in the foundation of our government.
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Political Philosophy

His three greatest political ideas were that the government was bound to the people in what is known as social contract theory, by where the people give up some of their rights in order to have the others protected by the government. The next idea was that in a "natural state" all men would be created equal and would have the right to defend their “Life, health, Liberty, or Possessions". His final great idea was that it was not only the right but the duty of the citizens of a country to rebel if a government became tyrannical and took away the rights of its citizens
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Economic Philosophy

His main idea surrounding this matter was almost word for word the definition of Supply and Demand(the theory stating that the more of something there, the supply, is in a free market the less valuable that thing is, and that the more people want something,the demand, the more it costs). In his words ",that which regulates the price... [of goods] is nothing else but their quantity[Supply] in proportion to their rent[Demand]."-John Locke, Some Considerations on the Consequences of the Lowering of Interest and the Raising of the Value of Money (yes that is all just one title). He also believed that countries should seek to use only silver, gold and other precious metals for money, not paper as we do today, this is obviously the least well used of his ideas.

Religious Toleration

Locke was a big proponent of free religious toleration, mostly on the grounds that a religion should be a free, conscious decision and that violence could never be used to truly instill a religious practice on any group of people. He also argued that enforcing one uniform religion would simply cause a large amount more social chaos then would've been the case had diversity been allowed to flourish. While this is all well and good in theory, he still believed that atheism should not be allowed because the denial of God would bring chaos to the social order.


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Nirala, Satyavrat. "John Locke | Biography - English Philosopher." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. Encyclopedia Britannica, 24 Aug. 2014. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.

Mastin, Luke J. "Empiricism - By Branch / Doctrine - The Basics of Philosophy." Empiricism - By Branch / Doctrine - The Basics of Philosophy. Philosophy Basics, 23 Oct. 2008. Web. 28 Apr. 2015.

Locke, John. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. N.p.: n.p., 1690. Web. 30 Apr. 2015. TO THE READER

Locke, John. The Second Treatise of Civil Government. 6th ed. Vol. 2. London: n.p., 1689. Two Treatises of Government: In the Former, The False Principles, and Foundation of Sir Robert Filmer, and His Followers, Are Detected and Overthrown. The Latter Is an Essay Concerning The True Original, Extent, and End of Civil Government. Web. 30 Apr. 2015.