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John Locke: The Father Of Liberty

3852 words - 15 pages

The seventeenth century was a difficult time in England. Intense intellectual ferment surged out of the Enlightenment, a turning point in history that ushered in the contemporary age. Ripple effects from previous, bloody religious reforms threatened further persecution, fanaticism, and death between Protestants, Catholics, and Puritans. After the reigns of absolute monarchs James II and Charles I, the public broke out in civil war and overthrew the monarchy. However, an inexperienced republic would not last and soon Charles II was invited to take the throne, restoring the monarchy. Even family life was disrupted. Husbands and sons rode off into battle, where they were usually killed. Only mothers and children were left to defend their own homes. A cascade of condemnation erupted from the public, forced to live a life of fear. By far, the most revolutionary critiques came from the pen of an enlightened philosopher. During the seventeenth century, John Locke had the greatest influence on the formation of liberalism, human rights, and democratic government, all of which still exist today.John Locke was born August 29, 1632 in Wrington, Somerset, England. His mother died during his infancy, so his father, an attorney, raised him. Locke was tutored at home because of the outbreak of civil war in 1642. Beginning at the age of 14, he attended Westminster School for six years. Then he was admitted to Christ Church, Oxford. In 1658, he was elected a senior student at the college, where he was taught Greek and moral philosophy. After a few years, he switched into the faculty of medicine. Eventually, in 1668, he became a member of the Royal Society, an "independent scientific academy of Great Britain dedicated to promoting excellence in science." (Honderich, 493)Locke had many prominent friends who were nobles in government. In 1672, the first Earl of Shaftesbury, Anthony Ashley Cooper, became the lord chancellor of England and promoted Locke into a powerful political position as his secretary and advisor. That year, Cooper was accused of treason and both he and Locke were forced to flee the country from 1684-1689 and take refuge in France and Holland. Once Cooper was acquitted of the charges and William of Orange took the throne, John felt comfortable enough to return home. After his arrival in England, Locke limited his involvement with the government, which allowed him time to compose his philosophies on human nature and politics. Soon after, his most famous works were published: Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690) and Two Treatises of Government (1690). He died on October 28th, 1704. (Honderich, 493)Liberalism is defined as "a set of ideas in social and political thought which emphasizes the value of individuals' rights, and individual freedom of choice and freedom from interference." (Mautner, 240) The role of the state was primarily to protect those rights. It valued the freedom of press and freedom of religion. They were tolerate of all...

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