The Second Treatise of Government

The Second Treatise of Government

The Second Treatise of Government

The Second Treatise of Government

Excerpt

John Locke (1632-1704) is probably the most representative. thinker in the whole Anglo-American political tradition. Often called the theorist of the English Revolution of 1688, he was also a main source of the ideas of the American Revolution of 1776. This was not because Locke was original in his political ideas, but rather because he gave clear and reasonable expression to beliefs that were the product of centuries of political experience and the stock-in-trade of liberty-loving Englishmen and Americans in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Like Hobbes and Hooker, John Locke was born in the west of England. He came from a substantial middle-class family background, his father being a small landowner and an attorney. The religious leaning of the family was Puritan; its political sympathies were with Parliament, for which cause John Locke's father fought in the Civil War. It seems to have been his father to whom Locke owed his early education. He was then sent to Westminster School where he remained for about six years. In 1652 he entered Christ Church, Oxford, thus beginning an association of some thirty years with that institution. Locke was extremely critical of the education he received both at school and at the university. He was impatient with the scholastic curriculum still in force and not always respectful of his teachers. According to Anthony Wood, indeed, Locke as a student was "ever prating and troublesome and paid little attention to his lecturers." However, he read a great deal, being particularly stirred at this time by the ideas of Descartes, and some years after taking his degree he was made a lecturer in the university.

It was probably Locke's liberal religious ideas that decided him against a career in the Church. Instead, he turned to medicine al-

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.