Locke - European Philosophy - John Locke
Welcome to Quatr.us Study Guides!

Locke

Locke
Locke

John Locke was an English philosopher in the late 1600s AD. He was just starting his career at the height of the Enlightenment, when Hobbes was an old man.

Locke's mother and father were both Puritans; his mother ran the household while his father worked as a lawyer. Locke went to college at Oxford, though he didn't like it much. He studied medicine and became a respected doctor. Though he had a romance with another philosopher Damaris Masham, Locke never got married or had any kids.

Locke became the doctor for a powerful rich politician, and so he got involved with English politics. In the late 1600s, the most important political question in England was how to keep having kings and queens, but set limits on their power. Like Hobbes, Locke thought people needed "social contracts" and governments to stop wars. But Locke didn't believe in absolute rulers. He thought people had natural rights that the government shouldn't take away from them. Having lived through the Thirty Years' War, in which millions of people in Europe died for their religion, Locke followed Roger Williams and Milton in arguing that people had a right to worship God however they pleased. Locke also thought people had a right to life, and to be free, to be healthy, and to keep their own property (as long as it wasn't too much or too unequal). And Locke wrote that if the government interfered with these natural rights, people had a right - even a duty - to revolt and overthrow that government.

Even though Locke was all about freedom for English men, he didn't see any problem with forcing African men to work as slaves in the tobacco fields of the Carolinas. Even though Locke worked with Masham, he didn't think the question of where women fit into society was important enough to worry about, either.

Go on to Hume
Restoration England

Bibliography and further reading about Locke:

Go on to Hume
Modern Europe
Quatr.us home


LIMITED TIME OFFER FOR TEACHERS: Using this article with your class? Show us your class page where you're using this article, and we'll send you a free subscription so all your students can use Quatr.us Study Guides with no distractions! (Not a teacher? Paid subscriptions are also available for just $16/year!)
Please help other teachers and students find us: link to this page from your class page.
Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
Cite this page
  • Author: K.E. Carr
  • Title:
  • Site Name: Quatr.us Study Guides
  • Publisher: Quatr.us
  • Date Published:
Did you find what you needed? Ask your teacher to link to this page so other people can use it too! Send it in and win a Quatr.us "Great Page!" award!
Sign up for more free articles and special offers in Quatr.us' weekly newsletter:
We will never share your e-mail address unless you allow us to do so. View our privacy policy. Easy unsubscribe links are provided in every email.
Comment on This Article

Does your class page honor diversity, celebrate feminism, and support people of color, LBGTQ people, and people with disabilities? Let us know, and we'll send you a Diversity Banner you can proudly display!
Looking for more?
Quatr.us is loading comments...
(Comments will appear after moderation, if they are kind and helpful. Feel free to ask questions, and we'll try to answer them.)
Cite this page
  • Carr, K.E. . Quatr.us Study Guides, . Web. 26 April, 2017
ADVERTISEMENT