The Essential John Locke

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The Essential John Locke is a new book and video series about the famous English philosopher commonly known as the "Father of Liberalism.” It spotlights his pioneering ideas about equality, individual rights and the role of the state, which helped lay the foundation for modern societies.

Published by the Fraser Institute and written by Eric Mack, professor emeritus of philosophy at Tulane University, the book provides an overview of Locke’s key ideas.

In the year following the Glorious Revolution of 1688, Locke published his two most important works in political theory. The Two Treatises of Government, which argued for limiting the function of government to the protection of individual rights to “life, liberty, and estate” and A Letter Concerning Toleration, one of the great landmark essays in defense of religious toleration. Both works emphasized the value of individual freedom.

Locke’s writings influenced many thinkers and scholars including Voltaire, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the Scottish Enlightenment thinkers and the American revolutionaries. Classical liberalism, as it became known, became a revolutionary force in the western world in the 18th and 19th centuries and remains influential to this day.

John Locke was born in Wrington, a village in England, in 1632. After completing his studies at the prestigious Westminster School in London he was admitted to Christ Church, Oxford where, in addition to philosophy, he studied medicine. In 1667, Locke joined the household of leading liberal politician, the Earl of Shaftsbury, as an intellectual aide and medical advisor. Locke fled to Holland in 1683 due to his suspected support for plots against Charles II. He returned to England after the successful Glorious Revolution. Locke died in 1704 at age 72.


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