Augustine acolyte John Locke 1632-1704 — Locke’s political convictions derive from his religious beliefs — Locke was the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers. Considered one of the first of the British empiricists, following the tradition of Francis Bacon, he is equally important to social contract theory. His work had a great impact upon the development of epistemology and political philosophy. His writings influenced Voltaire and Rousseau, many Scottish Enlightenment thinkers, as well as the American revolutionaries. His contributions to classical republicanism and liberal theory are reflected in the United States Declaration of Independence.

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John Locke

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Locke#Religious_beliefs

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Locke’s religious trajectory was set in Augustinian fundamentalism &  Calvinist trinitarianism.    The reality of evil is that Man was capable of waging unjust wars and committing untold crimes.

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Locke’s theory of mind is often cited as the origin of modern conceptions of identity and the self, figuring prominently in the work of later philosophers such as Hume, Rousseau and Kant. Locke was the first to define the self through a continuity of consciousness. He postulated that the mind was a blank slate or tabula rasa. Contrary to pre-existing Cartesian philosophy, he maintained that we are born without innate ideas, and that knowledge is instead determined only by experience derived from sense perception.

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Locke retained the doctrine of the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures.   The miracles were proofs of the divine nature of the biblical message. Locke was convinced that the entire content of the Bible was in agreement with human reason (The reasonableness of Christianity, 1695).    Although Locke was an advocate of tolerance, he urged the authorities not to tolerate atheism, because the denial of God’s existence would undermine the social order and lead to chaos.   That excluded all atheistic varieties of philosophy and all attempts to deduce ethics and natural law from purely secular premises, for example, man’s “autonomy or dignity or human flourishing.”  In Locke’s opinion the cosmological argument was valid and proved God’s existence. His political thought was based on “a particular set of Protestant Christian assumptions.”

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Locke’s concept of man started with the belief in Creation. We have been “sent into the World by [God’s] order, and about his business, [we] are his Property, whose Workmanship [we] are, made to last during his, not one anothers Pleasure.”   Like the two other very influential natural-law philosophers, Hugo Grotius and Samuel Pufendorf, Locke equated natural law with the biblical revelation, since in their view both had originated in God and could therefore not contradict each other.   “As a philosopher, Locke was intensely interested in Christian doctrine, and in the Reasonableness he insisted that most men could not hope to understand the detailed requirements of the law of nature without the assistance of the teachings and example of Jesus.” Locke derived the fundamental concepts of his political theory from biblical texts, in particular from Genesis 1 and 2 (creation), the Decalogue (Exodus 20), the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12), the teachings of Jesus (e.g. his doctrine of charity, Matthew 19:19), and the letters of (Paul).   The Decalogue (Ten Commandments) puts a person’s life, his or her honourable reputation (i.e. honour and dignity), and property under God’s protection. Freedom is another major theme in the Old Testament. For instance, God’s actions in liberating the Israelites from Egyptian slavery in the Decalogue’s prologue (Exodus 20:2) were the precondition for the following commandments. Moreover, Locke derived basic human equality, including the equality of the sexes (“Adam and Eve”) from Genesis 1:26–28, the starting point of the theological doctrine of Imago Dei.    To Locke, one of the consequences of the principle of equality was that all humans were created equally free and therefore governments needed the consent of the governed.    Only when Locke had derived the fundamental aspects of his concept of man and ethics from the biblical texts – life, equality, private property, etc. –  did he examine as a philosopher which consequences they had in the above-mentioned way. Following Locke, the American Declaration of Independence founded human rights on the biblical belief in creation: “All men are created equal, (…) they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, (…) life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.” Locke’s doctrine that governments need the consent of the governed is also central to the Declaration of Independence.

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Influence

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Locke exercised a profound influence on political philosophy, in particular on modern liberalism. Michael Zuckert has argued that Locke launched liberalism by tempering Hobbesian absolutism and clearly separating the realms of Church and State. He had a strong influence on Voltaire who called him “le sage Locke”. His arguments concerning liberty and the social contract later influenced the written works of Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and other Founding Fathers of the United States.

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In fact, one passage from the Second Treatise is reproduced verbatim in the Declaration of Independence, the reference to a “long train of abuses.” Such was Locke’s influence that —

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Thomas Jefferson wrote: “Bacon, Locke and Newton… I consider them as the three greatest men that have ever lived, without any exception, and as having laid the foundation of those superstructures which have been raised in the Physical and Moral sciences.”  Today, most contemporary libertarians claim Locke as an influence.

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But Locke’s influence may have been even more profound in the realm of epistemology. Locke redefined subjectivity, or self, and intellectual historians such as Charles Taylor and Jerrold Seigel argue that Locke’s An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690) marks the beginning of the modern Western conception of the self.

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3 Responses to Augustine acolyte John Locke 1632-1704 — Locke’s political convictions derive from his religious beliefs — Locke was the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers. Considered one of the first of the British empiricists, following the tradition of Francis Bacon, he is equally important to social contract theory. His work had a great impact upon the development of epistemology and political philosophy. His writings influenced Voltaire and Rousseau, many Scottish Enlightenment thinkers, as well as the American revolutionaries. His contributions to classical republicanism and liberal theory are reflected in the United States Declaration of Independence.

  1. Pingback: Augustinian mystic Martin Luther — Aquinas cognition John Calvin — and yet, Bertrand Russell & Apostle John are Augustinian & Plato logos (analytical) acolytes — huli ‘au (upside down in Hawaiian), baby!! | Curtis Narimatsu

  2. Pingback: Here we have Augustinian mystic Martin Luther — and Aquinas cognitive John Calvin — and yet, Bertrand Russell & Apostle John are Augustinian & Plato logos (analytical) epic movers — huli ‘au (upside down in Hawaiian), baby!

  3. Pingback: Here we have Augustinian mystic Martin Luther — and Aquinas cognitive John Calvin — and yet, Bertrand Russell & Apostle John are Augustinian & Plato logos (analytical) epic movers — huli ‘au (upside down in Hawaiian), baby!

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