John Locke: biography
In the 17th century, the first signs of freedom appeared in England. When the universities taught theology and reasoning of Aristotle, medieval philosophy was forgotten, replaced by Natural Sciences. Also, the 17th century for England is associated with the civil war, marked by the gradual transition from absolute monarchy to a constitutional one. The great English philosopher John Locke, whose writings became the basis of universal philosophical practice, was born during that period.
Childhood and youth
The future philosopher was born in 1632 in the small village of Ringtone, located near the County of Bristol.
The boy's father, John Locke, was one of the best lawyers in the area, living in prosperity.
John, the senior, was a freedom-loving man, and at the time when Charles I ruled England, he was the captain in Cromwell's army in Parliament. During the revolution, Locke the elder, through unprecedented generosity, lost all his savings, giving money to the poorest. Thus, the father taught his son that it was necessary to try to live for society.
From the biography of the mother of the scientist, it is only known that her maiden name was King. To this day, historians do not have any more information about the woman who raised the philosopher.
The boy grew up in an opposition family, neither his father nor his mother supported the absolute monarchy, nor did they support the regime of the dominant Anglican Church.
John's parents raised the son together; each of them made their contribution to the development of the boy. So, from his father, Locke Jr. inherited a love of freedom and disgust to everyday trifles, and from his mother, the philosopher inherited piety.
The woman was afraid of losing children because John's brother died in infancy due to poor health. So Locke's mother lived in eternal fear of God and prayed constantly.
The boy was brought up religiously and strictly, according to Puritan rules. For the most part, the tutoring was done by his father, who developed his own method, which John Jr. later praised throughout the years.
John Senior kept his son at a great distance and in complete obedience. Then he slowly allowed the boy to approach, and the menacing tone and orders changed to practical advice. Gradually, the "boss" and the "subordinate" became equal, and a strong friendship bound them.
Locke grew up a gifted and well-read boy. A friend of his father's, Colonel Alexander Popham, advised that John Junior should be sent to Westminster school.
Biographers of the philosopher, without exaggeration, say that Locke was the best student in school: the boy treated all subjects with diligence and respect.
In 1652, Locke entered the University of Oxford, where he studied medicine, Greek and Latin languages, literature, etc. Robert Boyle himself taught natural science to the young student. During his University years, Locke became interested in the philosophy of the mathematician Rene Descartes, who became the starting point in the worldview that the student developed.
His teacher and mentor Robert Boyle played a central role in developing John Locke's interest.
Descartes taught Locke aversion to smart empty words that had no meaning, and so throughout life, John believed that brevity was the soul of wit.
Also, the future philosopher began to adhere to the teachings of John Wilkins, who was passionate about science, and the scientist Richard Lower instilled a love of medicine in the young man.
Theory of knowledge
His vital work, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, John Locke wrote in 1690. Locke's theory was supported by scientific papers on Innatism, which took their origins in the philosophy of the ancient Greek scientist, Plato. Then, in the 17th century, Descartes, whose works John Locke read with profound interest, also considered this theory.
Innatism is a theory that states that human knowledge cannot be obtained because it is not based on feelings. That is those principles that lead to universal social consent by virtue of "instincts."
But John Locke did not support this theory, and on the contrary, made his essay on sensualism basing on the opposite point of view. According to the philosopher, people choose specific ideas (for example, discoveries of medicine) not because of "innatism," but because of utility. The scientist believed that the basis of human knowledge – is a life experience, which is based on sensory perceptions.
Complex ideas are developed by the mind and consist of simple ideas. And simple ideas arise as a result of the life experience of the individual: a person is a "blank sheet of paper" that is filled with vital reflection.
Thus, John Locke disagrees with Descartes, who wrote his famous phrase "cogito ergo sum," which means the soul is always thinking, and thinking is a constant sign of the soul.
According to the English philosopher, knowledge is an experience, and according to Descartes, thinking is a natural state of a person.
John Locke was the most celebrated English thinker of the 19th century, but all the conclusions of the scientist were not developed independently, but with the support from other figures. Therefore, despite the exciting interpretation of thought, John Locke was not the original author of the philosophical concept.
Locke's concept is that the time-and space-limited world is subordinate to the Supreme mind – God. Each creature interacts with others and has its own purpose. The purpose of a person is the knowledge and worship of God because he brings bliss on Earth and in the other world.
After graduating with honors from the University of Oxford, Locke taught ancient languages for a few years but soon left this office, accepting the offer of Anthony Ashley Cooper, Lord Ashley. When Anthony was seriously ill, John Locke made the correct diagnosis. Grateful Earl suggested that John should work as the family doctor and help him raise two boys.
At the time, Locke wrote letters to his friend Clarke and gave his opinion on parenting. Edward carefully collected letters of the philosopher, which served as the basis of his work Some Thoughts Concerning Education and of the Conduct of the Understanding.
John was sure that a person's actions depended not on his own perception, but on the education that influenced the personality, will, and moral discipline of a human being. And, according to Locke, physical education should develop simultaneously with a spiritual one. The physical consists of the development of hygiene and health, and the spiritual - of the development of morality and dignity.
The thoughts expressed in the letters to Clarke reflect the way his father raised Locke:
- Body development, strict discipline, daily routine, and simple food;
- Educational exercises and games;
- The child should go against the desire and do what the mind suggests and what does not contradict morality;
- From an early age children need to be taught elegant manners;
- Physical punishment of the child takes place only in systematic disobedience and daring behavior.
The political outlook of John Locke was formed in childhood because of parents.
Of the political philosophies of Locke's most famous one is the idea of a democratic revolution, expressed in the writings of the philosopher: "The right of the people to revolt against tyranny" and "Treatises" written to defend the Glorious Revolution of 1688.
According to the philosopher of the state, it should guarantee personal freedom and natural human rights. Of government, Locke says that the people must elect the representatives of power, the man must obey the generally accepted law, and not the spontaneous despotism of superiors.
John was also the first to put forward the idea of separation of powers and was an adherent of the theory of social contract.
The state should guarantee the protection of every human being and his or her heritage, as well as to deal with cases of a criminal nature. Thus, Locke formed the concept of Rechtsstaat based on constitutional laws and legislative power.
In seclusion and loneliness, John Locke had surpassed Kant. It would seem that the great philosopher was a worldly man who loved life. However, if Kant had a house and a servant by the end of his life, Locke had neither. Johnn was a homeless man who spent his life in other people's homes as an educator; an example of it is the story of Anthony.
John did not set out to acquire a central activity, and all his passions were fleeting. He practiced medicine when he was asked, studied politics when he could, and so on.
Pious John Locke did not give value to the material world and prepared for the future life, which, according to Scripture, was waiting for the man in the afterlife. This may be explained by Locke's piety as well as his poor health. Sometimes sick people live long but continuously prepare for death, considering themselves guests in this world.
The scientist had no wife and children. Locke tried to combine two opposing concepts – religion and science.
The last years of his life, Locke spent in the country house of a friend Lady Masham, who was like a daughter to him. The woman admired the philosopher, so Locke's morals prevailed in her family.
At an advanced age, Locke lost his hearing, which was very sad, because he did not hear his interlocutors.
The philosopher died of asthma on October 28, 1704, at the age of 72. The scientist was buried near his last place of residence.
"All men are liable to error; and most men are, in many points, by passion or interest, under temptation to it."
"I have always thought the actions of men are the best interpreters of their thoughts."
"Truly, if the preservation of all mankind, as much as in him lies, were everyone's persuasion, as indeed it is everyone's duty, and the true principle to regulate our religion, politics, and morality by, the world would be much quieter, and better natured than it is."
"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."
"There cannot be greater rudeness than to interrupt another in the current of his discourse."