The Philosophy of John Locke Term Paper

The Philosophy of John Locke
A look at the work of John Locke, known as the Father of Liberalism.
# 152045 | 1,566 words | 2 sources | MLA | 2010 | US
Published on Nov 16, 2012 in Philosophy (History) , Philosophy (General) , Political Science (John Locke)

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This paper examines the important role John Locke played in establishing a variety of new ideas that address such things as the state of nature, the social contract, the proper rules of people and the make-ups of the legislative and executive branch. It also explains how he was one of the most influential thinkers and writers of the Enlightenment and that his philosophical ideas helped to influence other thinkers such as Voltaire and Rousseau.

From the Paper:

''Locke's theory of liberalism addresses many aspects of human nature, the role of government and the ways in which we think and develop through life. Freedom is an important part of how liberalism is defined, whether through speech, religion, the right to assemble and the way in which economic markets are formed. Limited government is necessary if individuals are to experience any type of freedom and the separation of church and state must be maintained. Laws are put in place "only for the public good" (Second p.2). The economic system must be free of government intervention and allowed to operate openly. Locke's great work A Letter Concerning Toleration primarily addresses the need for Christians to tolerate other religions and allow this freedom of expression. Whether concerning government, religion or the economy, the power of the individual cannot be denied or held back. Locke understood that the ideal forms of government and society would respect the individual as a free and equal being. Liberalism meant a life free to learn, worship and generally conduct a person's life as they see fit.
''Locke's idea of the state of nature has been interpreted in a variety of ways. Locke believed that the state of nature exists whenever there is no political structure with laws and rules that help affect the lives of the citizens. A law of reason would rule in a political society. A state of nature, however, is separate from this force; a man's sense of reason separates him from nature and, therefore, dictates very different rules. Nature can be more chaotic and distinct in its characteristics. Man may experience this chaos if war is present and disputes are not handled with reason and justice. This does not mean, however, that nature is without reason; man's sense of reason and order come about through natural laws. Locke's state of nature theory can be explained as the moral rights and responsibilities that naturally exist in the world where there is no governing body or system to resolve any particular dispute. This belief is closely related to the idea of natural law and the assumption that people are born free and equal simply by the reality of natural rights. As Locke states, there is "equality of men by Nature" (Second 3).''

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Locke, John. A Letter Concerning Toleration. Ed. James H. Tully. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1983. Print.
  • Locke, John. The Second Treatise of Government. New York: Barnes and Noble Publishing, Inc., 2004. Print.

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