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John Locke

Birthdate: 29. August 1632
Date of death: 28. October 1704

John Locke was an English philosopher and physician, widely regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers and commonly known as the "Father of Liberalism". Considered one of the first of the British empiricists, following the tradition of Sir Francis Bacon, he is equally important to social contract theory. His work greatly affected the development of epistemology and political philosophy. His writings influenced Voltaire and Jean-Jacques 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.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 David Hume, Rousseau, and Immanuel Kant. Locke was the first to define the self through a continuity of consciousness. He postulated that, at birth, the mind was a blank slate or tabula rasa. Contrary to Cartesian philosophy based on pre-existing concepts, he maintained that we are born without innate ideas, and that knowledge is instead determined only by experience derived from sense perception. This is now known as empiricism. An example of Locke's belief in empiricism can be seen in his quote, "whatever I write, as soon as I discover it not to be true, my hand shall be the forwardest to throw it into the fire." This shows the ideology of science in his observations in that something must be capable of being tested repeatedly and that nothing is exempt from being disproven. Challenging the work of others, Locke is said to have established the method of introspection, or observing the emotions and behaviours of one's self.

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Quotes John Locke

„The Indians, whom we call barbarous, observe much more decency and civility in their discourses and conversation“

—  John Locke, book Some Thoughts Concerning Education

Sec. 145
Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693)
Context: 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.

„Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours.“

—  John Locke

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
Context: 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.

„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.“

—  John Locke, book Two Treatises of Government

Second Treatise of Civil Government, Ch. VII, sec. 93
Two Treatises of Government (1689)
Context: 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.

„False and doubtful positions, relied upon as unquestionable maxims, keep those who build on them in the dark from truth.“

—  John Locke, book An Essay Concerning Human Understanding

Book IV, Ch. 7
An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689)
Context: 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.

„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.“

—  John Locke, book Some Thoughts Concerning Education

Sec. 130
Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693)
Context: "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.

„The end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom.“

—  John Locke, book Two Treatises of Government

Second Treatise of Government, Ch. VI, sec. 57
Two Treatises of Government (1689)
Context: 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.

„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.“

—  John Locke, book An Essay Concerning Human Understanding

Book IV, Ch. 16, sec. 4
An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689)
Context: 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.

„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.“

—  John Locke, book Some Thoughts Concerning Education

Sec. 115
Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693)
Context: 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...

„Bred a scholar he made his learning subservient only to the cause of truth.“

—  John Locke

Epitaph, as translated from the Latin.
Context: 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.

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„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“

—  John Locke, book Some Thoughts Concerning Education

Sec. 131
Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693)
Context: 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.

„Teach them humility, and to be good-natur'd“

—  John Locke, book Some Thoughts Concerning Education

Sec. 145
Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693)
Context: 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.

„Children should not be suffer'd to lose the consideration of human nature in the shufflings of outward conditions.“

—  John Locke, book Some Thoughts Concerning Education

Sec. 117
Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693)
Context: 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?

„Freedom of Nature is, to be under no other restraint but the Law of Nature.“

—  John Locke, book Two Treatises of Government

Second Treatise of Civil Government, Ch. IV, sec. 21
Two Treatises of Government (1689)
Context: 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.

„He will better comprehend the foundations and measures of decency and justice, and have livelier, and more lasting impressions“

—  John Locke, book Some Thoughts Concerning Education

Sec. 98
Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693)
Context: 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.

„They would have propriety and possession, pleasing themselves with the power“

—  John Locke, book Some Thoughts Concerning Education

Sec. 105
Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693)
Context: 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.

„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“

—  John Locke, book Some Thoughts Concerning Education

Sec. 81
Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693)
Context: 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.

„There are two sorts of ill-breeding“

—  John Locke, book Some Thoughts Concerning Education

Sec. 141
Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693)
Context: 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.

„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.“

—  John Locke, book An Essay Concerning Human Understanding

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.
As paraphrased in Peter's Quotations : Ideas for our Time (1979) by Laurence J. Peter, p. 500; also in The Demon-Haunted World : Science as a Candle in the Dark (1994) by Carl Sagan, p. 64
An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689)
Context: 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.

„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.“

—  John Locke, book Two Treatises of Government

Second Treatise of Civil Government, Ch. II, sec. 11
Two Treatises of Government (1689)
Context: 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."

„Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Etiam egestas wisi a erat. Morbi imperdiet, mauris ac auctor dictum.“

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