John Locke

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Wherever violence is used, and injury done, though by hands appointed to administer Justice, it is still violence and injury, however colour'd with the Name, Pretences, or Forms of Law, the end whereof being to protect and redress the innocent, by an unbiassed application of it, to all who are under it; wherever that is not bona fide done, War is made upon the Sufferers, who having no appeal on Earth to right them, they are left to the only remedy in such Cases, an appeal to Heaven.
To love truth for truth's sake is the principal part of human perfection in this world, and the seed-plot of all other virtues.
New opinions are always suspected, and usually opposed, without any other reason but because they are not already common.

John Locke (29 August 163228 October 1704) was an influential English philosopher and social contract theorist. He developed an alternative to the Hobbesian state of nature and asserted a government could be good only if it received the consent of the governed and protected the natural rights of life, liberty, and estate. If such a consent was not achieved, Locke argued in favour of a right of rebellion, which he referred to as an "appeal to heaven".


There cannot any one moral Rule be propos'd, whereof a Man may not justly demand a Reason.
  • The three great things that govern mankind are reason, passion and superstition. The first governs a few, the two last share the bulk of mankind and possess them in their turns. But superstition most powerfully produces the greatest mischief.
    • Journal entry (16 May 1681), quoted in Maurice Cranston, John Locke: A Biography (1957; 1985), p. 200
  • Wit and good nature meeting in a fair young lady as they do in you make the best resemblance of an angel that we know; and he that is blessed with the conversation and friendship of a person so extraordinary enjoys all that remains of paradise in this world.
    • Letter to Mary Clarke (7 May 1682), quoted in Maurice Cranston, John Locke: A Biography (1957; 1985), p. 221
  • The good King of France desires only that you would take his word and let him be quiet till he has got the West Indies into his hands and his grandson well established in Spain, and then you may be sure you shall be as safe as he will let you be in your religion, property and trade, to all which who can be such an infidel as not to believe him a great friend?
    • Letter to Peter King (5 April 1701), quoted in Maurice Cranston, John Locke: A Biography (1957; 1985), p. 452
  • Stop Traveller! Near this place lieth John Locke. If you ask what kind of a man he was, he answers that he lived content with his own small fortune. Bred a scholar he made his learning subservient only to the cause of truth. This thou will learn from his writings, which will show thee everything else concerning him, with greater truth, than the suspect praises of an epitaph. His virtues, indeed, if he had any, were too little for him to propose as matter of praise to himself, or as an example to thee. Let his vices be buried together. As to an example of manners, if you seek that, you have it in the Gospels; of vices, to wish you have one nowhere; if mortality, certainly, (and may it profit thee), thou hast one here and everywhere.
    • Epitaph, as translated from the Latin.
  • This is that which I think great readers are apt to be mistaken in; those who have read of everything, are thought to understand everything too; but it is not always so. Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours. We are of the ruminating kind, and it is not enough to cram ourselves with a great load of collections ; unless we chew them over again, they will not give us strength and nourishment.
    • As quoted in "Hand Book : Caution and Counsels" in The Common School Journal Vol. 5, No. 24 (15 December 1843) by Horace Mann, p. 371
  • Sophistry is only fit to make men more conceited in their ignorance.
  • Discourse of Port de Set with P. & Mr. [blank] at Petit Paris, & the teaching biding to cheat the Hugenots: Nulla fides servanda cum Hereticis, nisi satis validi sunt ad se defendendos [faith need not be kept with heretics].
    • Journal entry (25 January 1676), quoted in John Lough (ed.), Locke's Travels in France 1675-1679 (Cambridge University Press, 1953), p. 20.
  • As to the papists, 'tis certain that several of their dangerous opinions, which are absolutely destructive of all governments but the pope's, ought not to be tolerated in propagating those opinions; and whosoever shall spread or publish any of them the magistrate is bound to suppress so far as may be sufficient to restrain it...Papists are not to enjoy the benefit of toleration, because, where they have power, they think themselves bound to deny it to others...It being impossible, either by indulgence or severity, to make papists, whilst papists, friends to your government, being enemies to it both in their principles and interest, and therefore considering them as irreconcilable enemies, of whose fidelity you can never be secured whilst they owe a blind obedience to any infallible pope, who hath the keys of their consciences tied to his girdle, and can, upon occasion, dispense with all their oaths, promises, and the obligations they have to their prince, especially being (in their sense) a heretic, and arm them to the disturbance of the government, [I] think they ought not to enjoy the benefit of toleration.
    • An Essay on Toleration (1667), quoted in Mark Goldie (ed.), Locke: Political Essays (Cambridge University Press, 1997), pp. 151-152.
  • If Papists can be supposed to be as good subjects as others, they may be equally tolerated... If all subjects should be equally countenanced, & imployd by the Prince. the Papist[s] have an equall title.
  • Popery so threatens and so nearly surrounds us...every sober man would think it seasonable at this time that all dissenting Protestants should be brought to a good understanding and compliance one with another...I think all Protestants ought now by all ways to be stirred up against them [Catholics] as People that have declared themselves ready by blood, violence, and destruction to ruine our Religion and Government...[they] are nothing but either Enemys in our bowells or spies among us, whilst their General commanders whom they blindly obey declare warr, and an unalterable designe to destroy us.
    • 'Critical Notes Upon Edward Stillingfleet's Mischief and Unreasonableness of Separation' (c. May 1681), quoted in John Marshall, John Locke: Resistance, Religion and Responsibility (Cambridge University Press, 1994), p. 110
  • For wherever violence is used, and injury done, though by hands appointed to administer Justice, it is still violence and injury, however colour'd with the Name, Pretences, or Forms of Law, the end whereof being to protect and redress the innocent, by an unbiassed application of it, to all who are under it; wherever that is not bona fide done, War is made upon the Sufferers, who having no appeal on Earth to right them, they are left to the only remedy in such Cases, an appeal to Heaven.
    • Two Treatises of Government. The Second Treatise. Chapter 3: The State of War, §20 p. 281
  • [I am] lover of his king and country, a lover of peace and the protestant interest...[Consent] is absolutely necessary to the very being and subsistance of our government and without which our peace and religion cannot possibly be any way secured...the miscarriages of the former reigns gave a rise and a right to King William's comeing and ushered him into the throne...Let us owne King William to be our King by right...[William came] to recover our oppressed and sinkeing laws, libertys, and Religion...They who would not betray England and expose it to popish rage and revenge, who have any regard to their country, their religion, their consciences, and their estates, must maintain the bulwarke have set up against it, and which alone preserves us against a more violent inundation of all sorts of misery than that we were soe lately delivered from.
    • Letter to Edward Clarke (c. April 1690), quoted in James Farr and Clayton Roberts, 'John Locke on the Glorious Revolution: A Rediscovered Document', The Historical Journal, Vol. 28, No. 2 (Jun., 1985), pp. 385-398.
  • This life affords no solid satisfaction, but in the consciousness of having done well, and the hopes of another life.
    • Letter to Anthony Collins (23 August 1704), in The Works of John Locke, Vol. X (London, 1823), p. 298; quoted by William Julius Mickle in Voltain in the Shades (London, 1770), p. 7

An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689)[edit]

The necessity of believing without knowledge, nay often upon very slight grounds, in this fleeting state of action and blindness we are in, should make us more busy and careful to inform ourselves than constrain others.
There is reason to think, that, if men were better instructed themselves, they would be less imposing on others.
There are very few lovers of truth, for truth's sake, even amongst those who persuade themselves that they are so.
  • I have always thought the actions of men the best interpreters of their thoughts.
    • Book 1, Ch. 3, sec. 3
    • Variant: The actions of men are the best interpreters of their thoughts.
  • There cannot any one moral Rule be propos'd, whereof a Man may not justly demand a Reason.
    • Book I, Ch. 3, sec. 4
  • Preference of vice to virtue, a manifest wrong judgment.
    • Book II, Ch. 21, sec. 70
  • The boundaries of the species, whereby men sort them, are made by men.
    • Book III, Ch. 6, sec. 37
  • Since sounds have no natural connection with our ideas ... the doubtfulness and uncertainty of their signification ... has its cause more in the ideas they stand for than in any incapacity there is in one sound more than another to signify any idea.
    • Book III, Ch. 9, sec. 4
  • He that uses his words loosely and unsteadily will either not be minded or not understood.
    • Book III, Ch. 10, sec. 31
  • I doubt not, but from self-evident Propositions, by necessary Consequences, as incontestable as those in Mathematics, the measures of right and wrong might be made out.
    • Book IV, Ch. 3, sec. 18
  • He that knows anything, knows this, in the first place, that he need not seek long for instances of his ignorance."
    • Book IV, Ch. 3, sec. 22
  • False and doubtful positions, relied upon as unquestionable maxims, keep those who build on them in the dark from truth. Such are usually the prejudices imbibed from education, party, reverence, fashion, interest, et cetera.
    • Book IV, Ch. 7
  • It is one thing to show a man that he is in error, and another to put him in possession of the truth.
    • Book IV, Ch. 7, sec. 11
  • For where is the man that has incontestable evidence of the truth of all that he holds, or of the falsehood of all he condemns; or can say that he has examined to the bottom all his own, or other men's opinions? The necessity of believing without knowledge, nay often upon very slight grounds, in this fleeting state of action and blindness we are in, should make us more busy and careful to inform ourselves than constrain others. At least, those who have not thoroughly examined to the bottom all their own tenets, must confess they are unfit to prescribe to others; and are unreasonable in imposing that as truth on other men's belief, which they themselves have not searched into, nor weighed the arguments of probability, on which they should receive or reject it. Those who have fairly and truly examined, and are thereby got past doubt in all the doctrines they profess and govern themselves by, would have a juster pretence to require others to follow them: but these are so few in number, and find so little reason to be magisterial in their opinions, that nothing insolent and imperious is to be expected from them: and there is reason to think, that, if men were better instructed themselves, they would be less imposing on others.
    • Book IV, Ch. 16, sec. 4
  • Religion, which should most distinguish us from the beasts, and ought most particularly elevate us, as rational creatures, above brutes, is that wherein men often appear most irrational, and more senseless than beasts.
    • Book IV, Ch. 18
  • He that would seriously set upon the search of truth, ought in the first place to prepare his mind with a love of it. For he that loves it not, will not take much pains to get it; nor be much concerned when he misses it. There is nobody in the commonwealth of learning who does not profess himself a lover of truth: and there is not a rational creature that would not take it amiss to be thought otherwise of. And yet, for all this, one may truly say, that there are very few lovers of truth, for truth's sake, even amongst those who persuade themselves that they are so. How a man may know whether he be so in earnest, is worth inquiry: and I think there is one unerring mark of it, viz. The not entertaining any proposition with greater assurance than the proofs it is built upon will warrant. Whoever goes beyond this measure of assent, it is plain receives not the truth in the love of it; loves not truth for truth's sake, but for some other bye-end.
    • Book IV, Ch. 19 : Of Enthusiasm (Chapter added in the fourth edition).
    • Variant paraphrase, sometimes cited as a direct quote: One unerring mark of the love of truth is not entertaining any proposition with greater assurance than the proofs it is built upon will warrant.
  • All men are liable to error; and most men are, in many points, by passion or interest, under temptation to it.
    • Book IV, Ch. 20, sec. 17

Two Treatises of Government (1689)[edit]

He that will impartially survey the Nations of the World, will find so much of the Governments, Religion, and Manners brought in and continued amongst them by these means, that they will have but little Reverence for the Practices which are in use and credit amongst Men.
Freedom of Nature is, to be under no other restraint but the Law of Nature.
  • The imagination is always restless and suggests a variety of thoughts, and the will, reason being laid aside, is ready for every extravagant project; and in this State, he that goes farthest out of the way, is thought fittest to lead, and is sure of most followers: And when Fashion hath once Established, what Folly or craft began, Custom makes it Sacred, and 'twill be thought impudence or madness, to contradict or question it. He that will impartially survey the Nations of the World, will find so much of the Governments, Religion, and Manners brought in and continued amongst them by these means, that they will have but little Reverence for the Practices which are in use and credit amongst Men.
    • First Treatise of Government
  • To understand political power aright, and derive from it its original, we must consider what estate all men are naturally in, and that is, a state of perfect freedom to order their actions, and dispose of their possessions and persons as they think fit, within the bounds of the law of Nature, without asking leave or depending upon the will of any other man.
    • Second Treatise of Government, Ch. II, sec. 4
  • The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges every one: and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions.
    • Second Treatise of Government, Ch. II, sec. 6
  • A criminal who, having renounced reason ... hath, by the unjust violence and slaughter he hath committed upon one, declared war against all mankind, and therefore may be destroyed as a lion or tyger, one of those wild savage beasts with whom men can have no society nor security. And upon this is grounded the great law of Nature, "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed."
    • Second Treatise of Civil Government, Ch. II, sec. 11
  • Freedom of Men under Government is, to have a standing Rule to live by, common to every one of that Society, and made by the Legislative Power erected in it; a Liberty to follow my own Will in all things, where the Rule prescribes not; and not to be subject to the inconstant, uncertain, unknown, Arbitrary Will of another Man: as Freedom of Nature is, to be under no other restraint but the Law of Nature.
    • Second Treatise of Civil Government, Ch. IV, sec. 21
  • This freedom from absolute, arbitrary power, is so necessary to, and closely joined with a man's preservation, that he cannot part with it, but by what forfeits his preservation and life together: for a man, not having the power of his own life, cannot, by compact, or his own consent, enslave himself to any one, nor put himself under the absolute, arbitrary power of another, to take away his life, when he pleases.
    • Second Treatise of Civil Government, Ch. IV, sec. 23
  • Though the Earth, and all inferior Creatures be common to all Men, yet every Man has a Property in his own Person. Thus no Body has any Right to but himself.
    • Second Treatise of Government, Ch. V, sec. 27
  • The end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom. For in all the states of created beings, capable of laws, where there is no law there is no freedom.
    • Second Treatise of Government, Ch. VI, sec. 57
  • For if it be asked what security, what fence is there in such a state against the violence and oppression of this absolute ruler, the very question can scarce be borne. They are ready to tell you that it deserves death only to ask after safety. Betwixt subject and subject, they will grant, there must be measures, laws, and judges for their mutual peace and security. But as for the ruler, he ought to be absolute, and is above all such circumstances; because he has a power to do more hurt and wrong, it is right when he does it. To ask how you may be guarded from or injury on that side, where the strongest hand is to do it, is presently the voice of faction and rebellion. As if when men, quitting the state of Nature, entered into society, they agreed that all of them but one should be under the restraint of laws; but that he should still retain all the liberty of the state of Nature, increased with power, and made licentious by impunity. This is to think that men are so foolish that they take care to avoid what mischiefs may be done them by polecats or foxes, but are content, nay, think it safety, to be devoured by lions.
    • Second Treatise of Civil Government, Ch. VII, sec. 93
  • Government has no other end than the preservation of property.
    • Second Treatise of Government, Ch. VII. sec. 94
  • Men being, as has been said, by nature, all free, equal and independent, no one can be put out of this estate, and subjected to the political power of another, without his own consent.
    • Second Treatise of Government, Ch. VIII, sec. 95
  • If man in the state of nature be so free, as has been said; if he be absolute lord of his own person and possessions, equal to the greatest, and subject to no body, why will he part with his freedom, this empire, and subject himself to the dominion and control of any other power?
    • Second Treatise of Government, Ch. IX, sec. 123
  • And because it may be too great a temptation to human frailty, apt to grasp at power, for the same persons, who have the power of making laws, to have also in their hands the power to execute them, whereby they may exempt themselves from obedience to the laws they make, and suit the law, both in its making, and execution, to their own private advantage...
    • Second Treatise of Civil Government, Ch. XII, sec. 143
  • The old question will be asked in this matter of prerogative, But who shall be judge when this power is made a right use of ? 1 answer: between an executive power in being, with such a prerogative, and a legislative that depends upon his will for their convening, there can be no judge on earth; as there can be none between the legislative and the people, should either the executive, or the legislative, when they have got the power in their hands, design, or go about to enslave or destroy them. The people have no other remedy in this, as in all other cases where they have no judge on earth, but to appeal to heaven: for the rulers, in such attempts, exercising a power the people never put into their hands, (who can never be supposed to consent that any body should rule over them for their harm) do that which they have not a right to do. And where the body of the people, or any single man, is deprived of their right, or is under the exercise of a power without right, and have no appeal on earth, then they have a liberty to appeal to heaven, whenever they judge the cause of sufficient moment. And therefore, though the people cannot be judge, so as to have, by the constitution of that society, any superior power, to determine and give effective sentence in the case; yet they have, by a law antecedent and paramount to all positive laws of men, reserved that ultimate determination to themselves which belongs to all mankind, where there lies no appeal on earth, viz. to judge, whether they have just cause to make their appeal to heaven. And this judgment they cannot part with, it being out of a man's power so to submit himself to another, as to give him a liberty to destroy him; God and nature never allowing a man so to abandon himself, as to neglect his own preservation: and since he cannot take away his own life, neither can he give another power to take it. Nor let any one think, this lays a perpetual foundation for disorder; for this operates not, till the inconveniency is so great, that the majority feel it, and are weary of it, and find a necessity to have it amended. But this the executive power, or wise princes, never need come in the danger of: and it is the thing, of all others, they have most need to avoid, as of all others the most perilous.
  • As usurpation is the exercise of power which another has a right to, so tyranny is the exercise of power beyond right, which nobody can have a right to...
    • Second Treatise of Government, Ch. XVIII, sec. 199
  • Wherever Law ends, Tyranny begins.
    • Second Treatise of Government, Sec. 202
  • To this I answer: That force is to be opposed to nothing, but to unjust and unlawful force. Whoever makes any opposition in any other case, draws on himself a just condemnation, both from God and man...
    • Second Treatise of Government, Ch. XVIII, sec. 204
  • Whensoever therefore the legislative shall transgress this fundamental rule of society; and either by ambition, fear, folly or corruption, endeavour to grasp themselves, or put into the hands of any other, an absolute power over the lives, liberties, and estates of the people; by this breach of trust they forfeit the power the people had put into their hands for quite contrary ends, and it devolves to the people, who have a right to resume their original liberty, and, by the establishment of a new legislative, (such as they shall think fit) provide for their own safety and security, which is the end for which they are in society.
    • Second Treatise of Civil Government, Ch. XIX, sec. 222

Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693)[edit]

The only fence against the world is a thorough knowledge of it.
  • A sound mind in a sound body, is a short but full description of a happy state in this world.
    • Sec. 1
  • Thus parents, by humouring and cockering them when little, corrupt the principles of nature in their children, and wonder afterwards to taste the bitter waters, when they themselves have poison'd the fountain.
    • Sec. 35
  • Good and evil, reward and punishment, are the only motives to a rational creature: these are the spur and reins whereby all mankind are set on work, and guided.
    • Sec. 54
  • Let me give two cautions. 1) The one is, that you keep them to the practice of what you would have grow into a habit with them, by kind words, and gentle admonitions, rather as minding them of what they forget, than by harsh rebukes and chiding, as if they were wilfully guilty. 2) Another thing you are to take care of, is, not to endeavour to settle too many habits at once, lest by variety you confound them, and so perfect none. When constant custom has made any one thing easy and natural to 'em, and they practice it without reflection, you may then go on to another.
    • Sec. 66
  • Let them have what instructions you will, and ever so learned lectures of breeding daily inculcated into them, that which will most influence their carriage will be the company they converse with, and the fashion of those about them.
    • Sec. 67
  • Children (nay, and men too) do most by example.
    • Sec. 67
  • We are all a sort of camelions, that still take a tincture from things near us; nor is it to be wonder'd at in children, who better understand what they see than what they hear.
    • Sec. 67
  • Virtue is harder to be got than knowledge of the world; and, if lost in a young man, is seldom recovered.
    • Sec. 70
  • A young man before he leaves the shelter of his father's house, and the guard of a tutor, should be fortify'd with resolution, and made acquainted with men, to secure his virtues, lest he should be led into some ruinous course, or fatal precipice, before he is sufficiently acquainted with the dangers of conversation, and his steadiness enough not to yield to every temptation.
    • Sec. 70
  • If pains be to be taken to give him a manly air and assurance betimes, it is chiefly as a fence to his virtue when he goes into the world under his own conduct.
    • Sec. 70
  • He that will have his son have a respect for him and his orders, must himself have a great reverence for his son. Maxima debetur pueris reverentia [The greatest respect is owed to the children].
    • Sec. 71; Note: Here Locke quotes Juvenal
  • You must do nothing before him, which you would not have him imitate. If any thing escape you, which you would have pass as a fault in him, he will be sure to shelter himself under your example, and shelter himself so as that it will not be easy to come at him, to correct it in him the right way.
    • Sec. 71
  • If you punish him for what he sees you practise yourself, he... will be apt to interpret it the peevishness and arbitrary imperiousness of a father, who, without any ground for it, would deny his son the liberty and pleasure he takes himself.
    • Sec. 71
  • None of the things they learn, should ever be made a burthen to them, or impos's on them as a task. Whatever is so proposed, presently becomes irksome; the mind takes an aversion to it, though before it were a thing of delight or indifferency. Let a child but be ordered to whip his top at a certain time every day, whether he has or has not a mind to it; let this be but requir'd of him as a duty, wherein he must spend so many hours morning and afternoon, and see whether he will not soon be weary of any play at this rate. Is it not so with grown men?
    • Sec. 73
  • Children have as much mind to shew that they are free, that their own good actions come from themselves, that they are absolute and independent, as any of the proudest of you grown men, think of them as you please.
    • Sec. 73
  • Long discourses, and philosophical readings, at best, amaze and confound, but do not instruct children. When I say, therefore, that they must be treated as rational creatures, I mean that you must make them sensible, by the mildness of your carriage, and in the composure even in the correction of them, that what you do is reasonable in you, and useful and necessary for them; and that it is not out of caprichio, passion or fancy, that you command or forbid them any thing.
    • Sec. 81
  • There is no virtue they should be excited to, nor fault they should be kept from, which I do not think they may be convinced of; but it must be by such reasons as their age and understandings are capable of, and those propos'd always in very few and plain words.
    • Sec. 81
  • The foundations on which several duties are built, and the foundations of right and wrong from which they spring, are not perhaps easily to be let into the minds of grown men, not us'd to abstract their thoughts from common received opinions. Much less are children capable of reasonings from remote principles. They cannot conceive the force of long deductions. The reasons that move them must be obvious, and level to their thoughts, and such as may be felt and touched. But yet, if their age, temper, and inclination be consider'd, they will never want such motives as may be sufficient to convince them.
    • Sec. 81
  • Of all the ways whereby children are to be instructed, and their manners formed, the plainest, easiest, and most efficacious, is, to set before their eyes the examples of those things you would have them do, or avoid; which, when they are pointed out to them, in the practice of persons within their knowledge, with some reflections on their beauty and unbecomingness, are of more force to draw or deter their imitation, than any discourses which can be made to them.
    • Sec. 82
  • The beauty or uncomeliness of many things, in good and ill breeding, will be better learnt, and make deeper impressions on them, in the examples of others, than from any rules or instructions can be given about them.
    • Sec. 82
  • Beating is the worst, and therefore the last means to be us'd in the correction of children, and that only in the cases of extremity, after all gently ways have been try'd, and proved unsuccessful; which, if well observ'd, there will very seldom be any need of blows.
    • Sec. 84
  • The only fence against the world is a thorough knowledge of it, into which a young gentleman should be enter'd by degrees, as he can bear it; and the earlier the better, so he be in safe and skillful hands to guide him.
    • Sec. 94
  • The scene should be gently open'd, and his entrance made step by step, and the dangers pointed out that attend him from several degrees, tempers, designs, and clubs of men. He should be prepared to be shocked by some, and caress'd by others; warned who are like to oppose, who to mislead, who to undermine him, and who to serve him. He should be instructed how to know and distinguish them; where he should let them see, and when dissemble the knowledge of them and their aims and workings.
    • Sec. 94
  • And if he be too forward to venture upon his own strength and skill, and perplexity and trouble of a misadventure now and then, that reaches not his innocence, his health, or reputation, may not be an ill way to teach him more caution.
    • Sec. 94
  • Reason, if consulted with, would advise, that their children's time should be spent in acquiring what might be useful to them when they come to be men, rather than to have their heads stuff'd with a deal of trash, a great part whereof they usually never do ('tis certain they never need to) think on again as long as they live: and so much of it as does stick by them they are only the worse for.
    • Sec. 94
  • A father would do well, as his son grows up, and is capable of it, to talk familiarly with him; nay, ask his advice, and consult with him about those things wherein he has any knowledge or understanding. By this, the father will gain two things, both of great moment. The sooner you treat him as a man, the sooner he will begin to be one; and if you admit him into serious discourses sometimes with you, you will insensibly raise his mind above the usual amusements of youth, and those trifling occupations which it is commonly wasted in. For it is easy to observe, that many young men continue longer in thought and conversation of school-boys than otherwise they would, because their parents keep them at that distance, and in that low rank, by all their carriage to them.
    • Sec. 95
  • The reservedness and distance that fathers keep, often deprive their sons of that refuge which would be of more advantage to them than an hundred rebukes or chidings.
    • Sec. 96
  • You have not that power you ought to have over him, till he comes to be more afraid of offending so good a friend than of losing some part of his future expectation.
    • Sec. 97
  • He will better comprehend the foundations and measures of decency and justice, and have livelier, and more lasting impressions of what he ought to do, by giving his opinion on cases propos'd, and reasoning with his tutor on fit instances, than by giving a silent, negligent, sleepy audience to his tutor's lectures; and much more than by captious logical disputes, or set declamations of his own, upon any question. The one sets the thoughts upon wit and false colours, and not upon truth; the other teaches fallacy, wrangling, and opiniatry; and they are both of them things that spoil the judgment, and put a man out of the way of right and fair reasoning; and therefore carefully to be avoided by one who would improve himself, and be acceptable to others.
    • Sec. 98
  • Begin therefore betimes nicely to observe your son's temper; and that, when he is under least restraint, in his play, and as he thinks out of your sight. See what are his predominate passions and prevailing inclinations; whether he be fierce or mild, bold or bashful, compassionate or cruel open or reserv'd, &c. For as these are different in him, so are your methods to be different, and your authority must hence take measures to apply itself different ways to him. These native propensities, these prevalencies of constitution, are not to be cur'd by rules, or a direct contest, especially those of them that are the humbler or meaner sort, which proceed from fear, and lowness of spirit: though with art they may be much mended, and turn'd to good purposes. But this be sure, after all is done, the bypass will always hang on that side that nature first plac'd it: And if you carefully observe the characters of his mind, now in the first scenes of his life, you will ever after be able to judge which way his thoughts lean, and what he aims at even hereafter, when, as he grows up, the plot thickens, and he puts on several shapes to act it.
    • Sec. 102
  • Another thing wherein they shew their love of dominion, is, their desire to have things to be theirs: They would have propriety and possession, pleasing themselves with the power which that seems to give, and the right that they thereby have, to dispose of them as they please. He that has not observ's these two humours working very betimes in children, has taken little notice of their actions: And he who thinks that these two roots of almost all the injustice and contention that so disturb human life, are not early to be weeded out, and contrary habits introduc'd, neglects the proper season to lay the foundations of a good and worthy man.
    • Sec. 105
  • That which parents should take care of... is to distinguish between the wants of fancy, and those of nature.
    • Sec. 107
  • Those truly natural wants, which reason alone, without some other help, is not able to fence against, nor keep from disturbing us. The pains of sickness and hurts, hunger, thirst, and cold, want of sleep and rest or relaxation of the part weary'd with labour, are what all men feel and the best dispos'd minds cannot but be sensible of their uneasiness; and therefore ought, by fit applications, to seek their removal, though not with impatience, or over great haste, upon the first approaches of them, where delay does not threaten some irreparable harm. The pains that come from the necessities of nature, are monitors to us to beware of greater mischiefs, which they are the forerunner of; and therefore they must not be wholly neglected, and strain'd too far. But yet the more children can be inur'd to hardships of this kind, by a wise care to make them stronger in body and mind, the better it will be for them.
    • Sec. 107
  • They should always be heard, and fairly and kindly answer'd, when they ask after any thing they would know, and desire to be informed about. Curiosity should be as carefully cherish'd in children, as other appetites suppress'd.
    • Sec. 108
  • Though you give no countenance to the complaints of the querulous, yet take care to curb the insolence and ill nature of the injurious. When you observe it yourself, reprove it before the injur'd party: but if the complaint be of something really worth your notice, and prevention another time, then reprove the offender by himself alone, out of sight of him who complain'd and make him go and ask pardon, and make reparation; which ooming thus, as it were from himself, will be the more cheerfully performed, and more kindly receiv'd, the love strenghten'd between them, and a custom of civility grow familiar amongst your children.
    • Sec. 109
  • As to the having and possessing of things, teach them to part with what they have, easily and freely to their friends, and let them find by experience that the most liberal has always the most plenty, with esteem and commendation to boot, and they will quickly learn to practise it.
    • Sec. 110
  • Covetousness, and the desire of having in our possession, and under our dominion, more than we have need of, being the root of all evil, should be early and carefully weeded out, and the contrary quality of a readiness to impart to others, implanted. This should be encourag'd by great commendation and credit, and constantly taking care that he loses nothing by his liberality.
    • Sec. 110
  • Let him sensibly perceive, that the kindness he shews to others, is no ill husbandry for himself; but that it brings a return in kindness both from those that receive it, and those who look on. Make this a contest among children, who shall out-do one another in this way: and by this means, by a constant practise, children having made it easy to themselves to part with what they have, good nature may be settled in them into a habit, and they may take pleasure, and pique themselves in being kind, liberal and civil, to others.
    • Sec. 110
  • Where danger shews it self, apprehension cannot, without stupidity, be wanting; where danger is, sense of danger should be; and so much fear as should keep us awake, and excite our attention, industry, and vigour; but not to disturb the calm use of our reason, nor hinder the execution of what that dictates.
    • Sec. 115
  • The first step to get this noble and manly steadiness, is... carefully keep children from frights of all kinds, when they are young. ...Instances of such who in a weak timorous mind, have borne, all their whole lives through, the effects of a fright when they were young, are every where to be seen, and therefore as much as may be to be prevented.
    • Sec. 115
  • The next thing is by gentle degrees to accustom children to those things they are too much afraid of. But here great caution is to be used, that you do not make too much haste, nor attempt this cure too early, for fear lest you increase the mischief instead of remedying it.
    • Sec. 115
  • The only thing we are naturally afraid of is pain, or loss of pleasure. And because these are not annexed to any shape, colour, or size of visible objects, we are frighted of none of them, till either we have felt pain from them, or have notions put into us that they will do us harm.
    • Sec. 115
  • Since the great foundation of fear is pain, the way to harden and fortify children against fear and danger is to accustom them to suffer pain. This 'tis possible will be thought, by kind parents, a very unnatural thing towards their children; and by most, unreasonable...
    • Sec. 115
  • How much education may reconcile young people to pain and sufference, the examples of Sparta do sufficiently shew; and they who have once brought themselves not to think bodily pain the greatest of evils, or that which they ought to stand most in fear of, have made no small advance toward virtue.
    • Sec. 115
  • Inuring children gently to suffer some degrees of pain without shrinking, is a way to gain firmness to their minds, and lay a foundation for courage and resolution in the future part of their lives.
    • Sec. 115
  • The softer you find your child is, the more you are to seek occasions, at fit times, thus to harden him. The great art in this is, to begin with what is but very little painful, and to proceed by insensible degrees, when you are playing, and in good humour with him, and speaking well of him: and when you have once got him to think himself made amends for his suffering by the praise is given him for his courage; when he can take pride in giving such marks of his manliness, and can prefer the reputation of being brave and stout, to the avoiding a little pain, or the shrinking under it; you need nor despair in time and by the assistance of his growing reason, to master his timorousness, and mend the weakness of his constitution.
    • Sec. 115
  • When by these steps he has got resolution enough not to be deterr'd from what he ought to do, by the apprehension of danger; when fear does not, in sudden or hazardous occurrences, decompose his mind, set his body a-trembling, and make him unfit for action, or run away from it, he has then the courage of a rational creature: and such an hardiness we should endeavour by custom and use to bring children to, as proper occasions come in our way.
    • Sec. 115
  • One thing I have frequently observed in children, that when they have got possession of any poor creature, they are apt to use it ill: they often torment, and treat it very roughly, young birds, butterflies, and such other poor animals which fall into their hands, and that with a seeming kind of pleasure. This I think should be watched in them, and if they incline to any such cruelty, they should be taught the contrary usage. For the custom of tormenting and killing of beasts, will, by degrees, harden their minds even towards men; and they will delight in the suffering and destruction of inferior creatures, will not be apt to be very compassionate or benign to those of their own kind. Our practice takes notice of this in the exclusion of butchers from juries of life and death.
    • Sec. 116
  • Children should from the beginning be bred up in an abhorrence of killing or tormenting any living creature; and be taught not to spoil or destroy any thing, unless it be for the preservation or advantage of some other that is nobler.
    • Sec. 116
  • Truly, if the preservation of all mankind, as much as in him lies, were every one's persuasion, as indeed it is every one's duty, and the true principle to regulate our religion, politicks and morality by, the world would be much quieter, and better natur'd than it is.
    • Sec. 116
  • All the entertainment and talk of history is nothing almost but fighting and killing: and the honour and renown that is bestowed on conquerers (who for the most part are but the great butchers of mankind) farther mislead growing youth, who by this means come to think slaughter the laudible business of mankind, and the most heroick of virtues. By these steps unnatural cruelty is planted in us; and what humanity abhors, custom reconciles and recommends to us, by laying it in the way to honour. Thus, by fashioning and opinion, that comes to be a pleasure, which in itself neither is, nor can be any.
    • Sec. 116
  • Children should not be suffer'd to lose the consideration of human nature in the shufflings of outward conditions. The more they have, the better humor'd they should be taught to be, and the more compassionate and gentle to those of their brethren who are placed lower, and have scantier portions. If they are suffer'd from their cradles to treat men ill and rudely, because, by their father's title, they think they have a little power over them, at best it is ill-bred; and if care be not taken, will by degrees nurse up their natural pride into an habitual contempt of those beneath them. And where will that probably end but in oppression and cruelty?
    • Sec. 117
  • Mark what 'tis his mind aims at in the question, and not what words he expresses it in: and when you have informed and satisfied him in that, you shall see how his thoughts will enlarge themselves, and how by fit answers he may be led on farther than perhaps you could have imagine. For knowledge is grateful to the understanding, as light to the eyes.
    • Sec. 118
  • I doubt not but one great reason why many children abandon themselves wholly to silly sports, and trifle away all their time insipidly, is, because they have found their curiosity baulk'd, and their inquiries neglected. But had they been treated with more kindness and respect, and their questions answered, as they should, to their satisfaction; I doubt not but that they would have taken more pleasure in learning, and improving their knowledge, wherein there would still be newness and variety, which is what they are delighted with, than in returning over and over to the same play and play-things.
    • Sec. 118
  • You shall find, that there cannot be a greater spur to the attaining what you would have the eldest learn, and know himself, than to set him upon teaching it his younger brothers and sisters.
    • Sec. 119
  • The native and untaught suggestions of inquisitive children do often offer things, that may set a considering man's thoughts on work. And I think there is frequently more to be learn'd from the unexpected questions of a child than the discourses of men, who talk in a road, according to the notions they have borrowed, and the prejudices of their education.
    • Sec. 121
  • Encourage therefore his inquisitiveness all you can, by satisfying his demands, and informing his judgement, as far as it is capable. When his reasons are any way tolerable, let him find the credit and commendation of it, without being laugh'd at for his mistake be gently put into the right; and if he shew a forwardness to be reasoning about things that come in his way, take care, as much as you can, that no body check this inclination in him, or mislead it by captious or fallacious ways of talking with him. For when all is done, this is the highest and most important faculty of our minds, deserves the greatest care and attention in cultivating it: the right improvement, and exercise of our reason being the highest perfection that a man can attain to in his life.
    • Sec. 122
  • This I think is sufficiently evident, that children generally hate to be idle. All the care then is, that their busy humour should be constantly employ'd in something of use to them; which, if you will attain, you must make what you would have them do a recreation to them, and not a business.
    • Sec. 129
  • Enjoin him to play so many hours every day, and look that he do it; and you shall see he will quickly be sick of it; and willing to leave it. By this means making the recreations you dislike a business to him, he will of himself with delight betake himself to those things you would have him do, especially if they be proposed as rewards for having performed the task in that play which is commanded of him.
    • Sec. 129
  • "How then shall they have the play-games you allow them, if none must be bought for them?" I answer, they should make them themselves, or at least endeavour it, and set themselves about it. ...And if you help them where they are at a stand, it will more endear you to them than any chargeable toys that you shall buy for them.
    • Sec. 130
  • Lying... is so ill a quality, and the mother of so many ill ones that spawn from it, and take shelter under it, that a child should be brought up in the greatest abhorrence of it imaginable. It should be always spoke of before him with the utmost detestation, as a quality so wholly inconsistent with the name and character of a gentleman, that no body of any credit can bear the imputation of a lie; a mark that is judg'd in utmost disgrace, which debases a man to the lowest degree of a shameful meanness, and ranks him with the most contemptible part of mankind and the abhorred rascality; and is not to be endured in any one who would converse with people of condition, or have any esteem or reputation in the world.
    • Sec. 131
  • To teach him betimes to love and be good-natur'd to others, is to lay early the true foundation of an honest man; all injustice generally springing from too great love of ourselves and too little of others.
    • Sec. 139
  • The next good quality belonging to a gentleman, is good breeding [manners]. There are two sorts of ill-breeding: the one a sheepish bashfulness, and the other a mis-becoming negligence and disrespect in our carriage; both of which are avoided by duly observing this one rule, not to think meanly of ourselves, and not to think meanly of others.
    • Sec. 141
  • Though the managing ourselves well in this part of our behavior has the name good-breeding, as if a peculiar effect of education; yet... young children should not be much perplexed about it... Teach them humility, and to be good-natur'd, if you can, and this sort of manners will not be wanting; civility being in truth nothing but a care not to shew any slighting or contempt of any one in conversation.
    • Sec. 145
  • There cannot be a greater rudeness, than to interrupt another in the current of his discourse... To which, if there be added, as is usual, a correcting of any mistake, or a contradiction of what has been said, it is a mark of yet greater pride and self-conceitedness, when we thus intrude our selves for teachers, and take upon us either to set another right in his story, or shew the mistakes of his judgement.
    • Sec. 145
  • I do not say this, that I think there should be no difference of opinions in conversation, nor opposition in men's discourses... 'Tis not the owning one's dissent from another, that I speak against, but the manner of doing it.
    • Sec. 145
  • The Indians, whom we call barbarous, observe much more decency and civility in their discourses and conversation, giving one another a fair silent hearing till they have quite done; and then answering them calmly, and without noise or passion. And if it be not so in this civiliz'd part of the world, we must impute it to a neglect in education, which has not yet reform'd this antient piece of barbarity amongst us.
    • Sec. 145
  • He that thinks diversion may not lie in hard and painful labour, forgets the early rising, hard riding, heat, cold and hunger of huntsmen, which is yet known to be the constant recreation of men of the greatest condition.
    • Sec. 206

The Reasonableness of Christianity (1695)[edit]

The Reasonableness of Christianity, as Delivered in the Scriptures (1695)
  • ...when I had gone through the whole, and saw what a plain, simple, reason able thing Christianity was, suited to all conditions and capacities; and in the morality of it now, with divine authority, established into a legible law, so far surpassing all that philosophy and human reason had attained to, or could possibly make effectual to all degrees of man kind; I was flattered to think it might be of some use in the world; especially to those, who thought either that there was no need of revelation at all, or that the revelation of our Saviour required the belief of such articles for salvation, which the settled notions, and their way of reasoning in some, and want of understanding in others, made impossible to them. Upon these two topics the objections seemed to turn, which were with most assurance made by deists, against Christianity; but against Christianity misunderstood. It seemed to me, that there needed no more to show them the weakness of their exceptions, but to lay plainly before them the doctrine of our Saviour and his apostles, as delivered in the scriptures, and not as taught by the several sects of Christians.
    • Preface to the Reader
  • " and repentance, i. e. believing Jesus to be the Messiah, and a good life, are the indispensable conditions of the new covenant, to be performed by all those who would obtain eternal life. (The reasonableness, or rather necessity of which, that we may the better comprehend, we must a little look back to what was said in the beginning"
    • § 106
  • He [Jesus] not only forbids actual uncleanness, but all irregular desires, upon pain of hell-fire; causeless divorces; swearing in conversation, as well as forswearing in judgment; revenge; retaliation; ostentation of charity, of devotion, and of fasting; repetitions in prayer, covetousness, worldly care, censoriousness: and on the other side commands loving our enemies, doing good to those that hate us, blessing those that curse us, praying for those that despitefully use us; patience and meekness under injuries, forgiveness, liberality, compassion: and closes all; his particular injunctions, with this general golden rule, Matt. VII. 12, "All things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do you even so to them, for this is the law and the prophets." And to show how much He is in earnest, and expects obedience to these laws, He tells them, Luke VI. 35, That if they obey, " great shall be their reward".
    • § 116
  • The law of faith, being a covenant of free grace, God alone can appoint what shall be necessarily believed by everyone whom He will justify. What is the faith which He will accept and account for righteousness, depends wholly on his good pleasure. For it is of grace, and not of right, that this faith is accepted. And therefore He alone can set the measures of it: and what he has so appointed and declared is alone necessary. No-body can add to these fundamental articles of faith; nor make any other necessary, but what God himself hath made, and declared to be so. And what these are which God requires of those who will enter into, and receive the benefits of the new covenant, has already been shown. An explicit belief of these is absolutely required of all those to whom the gospel of Jesus Christ is preached, and salvation through his name proposed.
    • § 156
  • I am sure, zeal or love for truth can never permit falsehood to be used in the defence of it.
    • 187
  • As men, we have God for our King, and are under the law of reason: as Christians, we have Jesus the Messiah for our King, and are under the law revealed by him in the gospel. And though every Christian, both as a deist and a Christian, be obliged to study both the law of nature and the revealed law, that in them he may know the will of God, and of Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent; yet, in neither of these laws, is there to be found a select set of fundamentals, distinct from the rest, which are to make him a deist, or a Christian. But he that believes one eternal, invisible God, his Lord and King, ceases thereby to be an atheist; and he that believes Jesus to be the Messiah, his king, ordained by God, thereby becomes a Christian, is delivered from the power of darkness, and is translated into the kingdom of the Son of God; is actually within the covenant of grace, and has that faith, which shall be imputed to him for righteousness; and, if he continues in his allegiance to this his King, shall receive the reward: eternal life.
    • § 228
  • He that denies any of the doctrines that Christ has delivered, to be true, denies him to be sent from God, and consequently to be the Messiah; and so ceases to be a Christian.
    • § 232
  • Whoever has used what means he is capable of, for the informing of himself, with a readiness to believe and obey what shall be taught and prescribed by Jesus, his Lord and King, is a true and faithful subject of Christ's kingdom; and cannot be thought to fail in any thing necessary to salvation.
    • § 233
  • The greatest part of mankind want leisure or capacity for demonstration, nor can carry a train of proofs, which in that way they must always depend upon for conviction, and cannot be required to assent to till they see the demonstration. Wherever they stick, the teachers are always put upon proof, and must clear the doubt by a thread of coherent deductions from the first principle, how long or how intricate soever that be. And you may as soon hope to leave all the day labourers and tradesmen, the spinsters and dairy-maids, perfect mathematicians, as to have them perfect in ethics this way: having plain commands is the sure and only course to bring them to obedience and practice: the greatest part cannot know, and therefore they must believe. And I ask, whether one coming from heaven in the power of God, in full and clear evidence and demonstration of miracles, giving plain and direct rules of morality and obedience, be not likelier to enlighten the bulk of mankind, and set them right in their duties, and bring them to do them, than by reasoning with them from general notions and principles of human reason?
    • § 243
  • "...the church of England, when she baptizes any one, makes him not a Christian [...] the church of England is mistaken, and makes none but socinians Christians"
    • 279


  • That which is static and repetitive is boring. That which is dynamic and random is confusing. In between lies art.
    • This statement has been attributed to John A. Locke, but John Locke did not have a middle name. The words "dynamic," "boring" and "repetitive," found in this quote, were not yet in use in Locke's time. (See The Online Etymology Dictionary [2].) John A. Locke is listed on one site as having lived from 1899 to 1961; no more information about him was available.
  • The people cannot delegate to government the power to do anything which would be unlawful for them to do themselves.
    • This might be a paraphrase of some of Locke's expressions or ideas, but the earliest publication of the statement in this form seems to be one made in Oversight Hearing on the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area Act (1997).
  • We are like chameleons; we take our hue and the color of our moral character from those who are around us.
    • Attributed to Locke on various quotes sites and on social media, this quotation is a false rendering of "We are all a sort of chameleons, that still take a tincture from things near us: nor is it to be wondered at in children, who better understand what they see, than what they hear" from Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693).

Quotes about Locke[edit]

  • It is hard on Locke to attribute his success so much to opportunity and current. In the history of thought, especially of thought bearing on action, he is, not the greatest certainly, but the largest of all Englishmen, looming tremendously, and filling an immense space. The Lettres sur les Anglais, which put England into continental circulation, deal most with him and Newton, and he is the master of Voltaire and Condillac. As the—unscientific—inventor of the division of power, he is the master of Montesquieu. By his theory of Education and the Social Contract, he is the master of Rousseau, the most powerful political writer that ever lived. By his political economy he is the master of Adam Smith, and, in a sense, of Turgot. He gave to Whiggism whatever general ideas it mixed with the specific national elements, and is the theorist of government by the great families. Lastly, in the Catena of tradition on Toleration, he is very nearly the principal classic.
    • Lord Acton to William Ewart Gladstone (23 May 1890), quoted in Selections from the Correspondence of the First Lord Acton, Vol. I, eds. J. N. Figgis and R. V. Laurence (1917), p. 230
  • Newton and Locke are examples of the deep sagacity which may be acquired by long habits of thinking and study.
    • John Adams, in a letter to Abigail Adams (29 October 1775), published Letters of John Adams, Addressed to His Wife, Vol. 1 (1841), ed. Charles Francis Adams, p. 72
  • Locke had illegitimately selected those parts of man he needed for his social contract and suppressed all the rest, a theoretically unsatisfactory procedure and a practically costly one. The bourgeois is the measure of the price paid, he who most of all cannot afford to look to his real self, who denies the existence of the thinly boarded-over basement in him, who is most made over for the purposes of a society that does not even promise him perfection or salvation but merely buys him off.
  • Locke was ascribing to men a kind of intrinsic equality that while clearly irrelevant to many situations should definitely be decisive for certain purposes, specifically for purposes of government.
    • Robert A. Dahl, Democracy and Its Critics (1989), Ch. 6: Justification: The Idea of Equal Intrinsic Worth
  • Locke's language in the Second Treatise is as categorical and universalistic as Rousseau's, if not more so. Yet his apparent assertion of an unqualified and categorical claim was limited both explicitly and implicitly by a requirement as to competence. ... Like Rousseau, Locke torpedoed his own view (if indeed it was his view) that every person subject to the laws made by the demos possesses a categorical and unqualified right to membership in the demos.
    • Robert A. Dahl, Democracy and Its Critics (1989), Ch. 9 : The Problem of Inclusion
  • But to return to the Newtonian Philosophy: Tho' its Truth is supported by Mathematicks, yet its Physical Discoveries may be communicated without. The great Mr. Locke was the first who became a Newtonian Philosopher without the help of Geometry; for having asked Mr. Huygens, whether all the mathematical Propositions in Sir Isaac's Principia were true, and being told he might depend upon their Certainty; he took them for granted, and carefully examined the Reasonings and Corollaries drawn from them, became Master of all the Physics, and was fully convinc'd of the great Discoveries contained in that Book.
  • Hayek thought that the state is necessary, though, because, like and following John Locke, he thought that there must be a body— government—in society that possesses the monopoly of coercive power; otherwise, the condition of men and women would be barbarous. The critical goal, in both Locke's and Hayek's minds, therefore became how to control the power of government. As James Madison wrote in The Federalist: “In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.” Both Hayek and Locke thought that this is best achieved by limiting government's potential actions and restricting these potential actions to known general rules applicable to all. Both sought a government of rules rather than commands, the latter of which, by their nature, are not known in advance and may be arbitrary—not applicable to all. Hayek's goal was the society of law.
    • Alan Ebenstein, Hayek's Journey: The Mind of Friedrich Hayek (2003), Ch. 8. “The Abuse and Decline of Knowledge”
  • [O]ne of the greatest men that this country ever saw, considered universal representation to be such an inherent part of the Constitution as that the King himself might grant it by his prerogative, even without the Lords and Commons... [T]he maxim that the King might grant universal representation, as a right before inherent in the whole people to be represented, stands upon the authority of Mr. Locke, the man, next to Sir Isaac Newton, of the greatest strength of understanding which England, perhaps, ever had; high too in the favour of King William, and enjoying one of the most exalted offices in the state.
    • Thomas Erskine, speech in the defence of Thomas Hardy during his trial for treason (1 November 1794), quoted in Joseph Gurney, The Trial of Thomas Hardy, for High Treason, at the Sessions House in the Old Bailey, Vol. III (1795), pp. 243-244
  • The philosopher John Locke once noted that pursuing happiness is “the foundation of liberty.”
    • Carl Hart Drug Use for Grown-Ups: Chasing Liberty in the Land of Fear (2021)
  • I should perhaps immediately qualify what I have just written by adding that there are other strands within what might be called rationalism which treat these matters differently, as for example that which views rules of moral conduct as themselves part of reason. Thus John Locke had explained that 'by reason, however, I do not think is meant here the faculty of understanding which forms trains of thoughts and deduces proofs, but definite principles of action from which spring all virtues and whatever is necessary for the moulding of morals' (1954:11). Yet views such as Locke's remain much in the minority among those who call themselves rationalists.
    • Friedrich Hayek, The Fatal Conceit (1988), Ch. 4: The Revolt of Instinct and Reason
  • "Reason" said Locke, "must be our last judge and guide in everything". In The Reasonableness of Christianity he wrote that "the day labourers and tradesmen, the spinsters and dairy maids" must be told what to think. "The greatest part cannot know, and therefore they must believe." But at least Locke did not intend that priests should do the telling; that was for God himself.
  • When the term “Western civilization” is equated with racism, cultural superiority and pervasive oppression, and students in my political philosophy class refuse to study the works of John Stuart Mill or John Locke (or any other white thinker) because they consider them white supremacists, there is no lower level of educational hell.
  • When I speak of Mr. Locke, I speak not of the man, but of his principles. God will measure no man by his powers, but by his application of them. We must allow that he was a man of uncommon talents, and wise in his generation; but so much the worse, if his foundations were false, and his schemes dangerous. We must also allow that the world is gone after him: worse still, for they are a large body; and if they are out of the way, great must be the power to fetch them back again? We may add, which is worst of all, that he was the oracle to those who began and conducted the American Rebellion; which led to the French Revolution; which will lead (if God permit) to the total overthrow of Religion and Government in this kingdom, perhaps in the whole Christian world; and all this from Mr. Locke; the prime favourite, and grand instrument, with that mischievous infidel Voltaire; who knew what he was about, when he came forward to destroy Christianity, as he had threatened, with Mr. Locke in his hand; and it has answered his purpose: after which, let any person judge, whether the doctrines of Mr. Locke will prepare any young man for preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ.
    • William Jones, A Letter to the Church of England, By An Old Friend and Servant of the Church (1798), pp. 30-31
  • Locke saw clearly that a man's right to his life and the right to own property privately were one in the same. In fact, Locke declared that the only justification for government was that it should serve to protect men's lives and property.
    • Quote from The Fundamentals of Liberty by Robert LeFevre, Santa Ana: CA, Rampart Institute, 1988, p. 332
  • Locke consistently maintained that, inasmuch as government was only an agent for individual men, it had just powers only over those persons who had, in fact, consented to have government protect them. If a man had not consented to be governed, then the government not only had no rightful power over him, but on the contrary, itself became an instrument of the coercion and theft which it was the avowed purpose of the government to eliminate.
    • Quote from The Fundamentals of Liberty by Robert LeFevre, Santa Ana: CA, Rampart Institute, 1988, p. 333
  • From what has been said, I presume it pretty clearly appears, that an Unjust Conquest gives no Title at all; that a Just Conquest gives Power only over the Lives and Liberties of the Actual Opposers, but not over their Posterity or Estates, otherwise than as before is mentioned; and not at all over those that did not Concur in the Opposition.
    They that desire a more full Disquisition of this Matter, may find it at large in an Incomparable Treatise concerning the True Original, Extent and End of Civil Government, Chap. 16. This Discourse is said to be written by my excellent Friend, John Locke, Esq; Whether it be so or not, I know not; this I am sure, whoever is the Author, the greatest Genius in Christendom need not disown it.
    • William Molyneux, The Case of Ireland's Being Bound by Acts of Parliament in England (1698), pp. 26-27
  • Locke would have us begin with the study of spirits and go on to that of bodies. This is the method of superstition, prejudice, and error; it is not the method of nature, nor even that of well-ordered reason; it is to learn to see by shutting our eyes. We must have studied bodies long enough before we can form any true idea of spirits, or even suspect that there are such beings. The contrary practice merely puts materialism on a firmer footing.
  • My method of achieving happiness was discovered by one of the despised race of philosophers, namely, John Locke. You will find it set forth in great detail in his book on education. This is his most important contribution to human happiness; other minor contributions were the English, American, and French revolutions.
  • Locke's treatise on property effectively legitimized this same process of theft and robbery during the enclosure movement in Europe. Locke clearly articulated capitalism's freedom to build on freedom to steal. He clearly stated that property is created in its 'spiritual' form as manifested in the control of capital by removing resources from nature and mixing them with labor. According to Locke, only capital could add value to appropriated nature, and hence only those who own the capital have the natural right to own natural resources; a right that supersedes the common rights of others with prior claims. Though capital is defined as a source of freedom, this freedom is founded upon the denial of freedom to the land, forests, rivers, and biodiversity that capital claims as its own. Because property obtained through privatization of commons is equated with freedom, those commoners laying claim to it are perceived to be depriving the freedom of the owners of that capital. Thus, peasants and tribals who demand the return of their rights and access to resources are regarded as thieves and saboteurs...Locke clearly states that it is not the labor of the horse or the serf that creates "property" but the "spiritual" labor of the one who owns the horse and the serf. Interestingly, it was also Locke who said that there must be "enough and as good left in common for others" and that no person shall take from the commons more than he can use. But the dominant culture took the former, disposed of the latter, and this completely changed how we view ourselves, how we view nature, how we view labor, property, and how we view our natural, 'inalienable' rights.
    • Vandana Shiva Reclaiming the Commons: Biodiversity, Traditional Knowledge, and the Rights of Mother Earth (2020)
  • In the world of thought, it was a political philosophy which made rights the foundation of the social order, and which considered the discharge of obligations, when it considered it at all, as emerging by an inevitable process from their free exercise. The first famous exponent of this philosophy was Locke, in whom the dominant conception is the indefeasibility of private rights, not the pre-ordained harmony between private rights and public welfare.
  • Mr. Locke is also now the Idol of the Levellers of England. ... In the 2d. Part of his Treatise on Government, he supplies them with such Materials, as put it in their Power (were his Scheme to take Effect) to call for thousands and thousands of Alterations in the Forms and Modes, Management and Administration of every Government upon Earth, and to unsettle every Thing. In short, his Principles or Portions [whatever were his Intentions] give them a perpetual Right to shift and change, to vary and alter, without End; That is, without coming to any solid Establishment, Permanence, or Duration. Add to all this, that as the rising Generation are not bound, (according to Mr. Locke's System) to acknowledge the Validity of the Acts of their Fathers, Grandfathers, &c. they must of course have a new Set of unalienable Rights of their own; for they are perfectly their own Masters, absolutely free, and independent of that very Government, under which they were born. In Consequence of this, they also have a Right to demand as many new Arrangements and Alterations, as they please, agreably to their own Taste and Humour: And if they are not gratified therein, have a Right to stir up new Commotions, and to bring about another and another Revolution, &c. What could the most enthusiastic Republican wish for more?
    • Josiah Tucker, Four Letters on Important National Subjects, Addressed to the Right Honourable the Earl of Shelburne, His Majesty's First Lord Commissioner of the Treasury (1783), pp 110-112
  • It is interesting that one of the main uses of Lockean theory these days is in defending the property rights of indigenous people—where a literal claim is being made about who had first possession of a set of resources and about the need to rectify the injustices that accompanied their subsequent expropriation.
  • This Jo. Lock was a man of turbulent Spirit, clamorous and never contented. The Club wrot and took notes from the Mouth of their Master, who sate at the upper End of a Table, but the said J. Lock scorn'd to do it; so that while every man besides, of the Club, were writing, he would be prating and troblesome.
    • Anthony Wood on Locke's behaviour during Peter Sthael's lectures on chemistry; The Life of Anthony À Wood From the Year 1632 to 1672, Written by Himself, and Published by Mr. Thomas Hearne. Now Continued to the Time of His Death from Authentic Materials (1772), pp. 184-185

See also[edit]

Social and political philosophers
Classic AristotleMarcus AureliusChanakyaCiceroConfuciusMozi LaoziMenciusMoziPlatoPlutarchPolybiusSeneca the YoungerSocratesSun TzuThucydidesXenophonXun Zi
Conservative de BenoistBolingbrokeBonaldBurkeBurnhamCarlyleColeridgeComteCortésDurkheimDávilaEvolaFichteFilmerGaltonGentileHegelHeideggerHerderHobbesHoppeHumede JouvenelJüngerKirkvon Kuehnelt-LeddihnLandde MaistreMansfieldMoscaOakeshottOrtegaParetoPetersonSantayanaSchmittScrutonSowellSpenglerStraussTaineTocqueville • VicoVoegelinWeaverYarvin
Liberal ArendtAronBastiatBeccariaBenthamBerlinBoétieCamusCondorcetConstantDworkinEmersonErasmusFranklinFukuyamaHayekJeffersonKantLockeMachiavelliMadisonMaineMillMiltonMenckenMisesMontaigneMontesquieuNietzscheNozickOrtegaPopperRandRawlsRothbardSadeSchillerSimmelSmithSpencerSpinozade StaëlStirnerThoreauTocquevilleTuckerVoltaireWeberWollstonecraft
Religious al-GhazaliAmbedkarAugustine of HippoAquinasAugustineAurobindoCalvinChestertonDanteDayanandaDostoyevskyEliadeGandhiGirardGregoryGuénonJesusJohn of SalisburyJungKierkegaardKołakowskiLewisLutherMaimonidesMalebrancheMaritainMoreMuhammadMüntzerNiebuhrOckhamOrigenPhiloPizanQutbRadhakrishnanShariatiSolzhenitsynTaylorTeilhard de ChardinTertullianTolstoyVivekanandaWeil
Socialist AdornoAflaqAgambenBadiouBakuninBaudrillardBaumanBernsteinButlerChomskyde BeauvoirDebordDeleuzeDeweyDu BoisEngelsFanonFoucaultFourierFrommGodwinGoldmanGramsciHabermasKropotkinLeninLondonLuxemburgMaoMarcuseMarxMazziniNegriOwenPaine RortyRousseauRussellSaint-SimonSartreSkinnerSorelTrotskyWalzerXiaopingŽižek

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