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What did John Locke believe?

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Quick Answer

Among his many philosophies, John Locke is most known for his belief in religious freedom and tolerance. Locke was an English philosopher who is considered an important figure in early modern philosophy, and scholars consider him the father of classical liberalism.

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Full Answer

Most notably, Locke wrote about religious tolerance following the European wars of religion. He believed that trying to enforce a single religion was counterproductive and would lead to unintended social disorder. At the time, this belief was considered controversial and far more forward-thinking than the status quo.

In addition, Locke wrote extensively about the "self," meaning a person's consciousness. He posited that a person's mind begins as a blank slate that is then shaped and formed over time through reflections and sensations — in other words, experience. While some philosophers believed that a person's consciousness was separate from his physical being, Locke wrote that "the body too goes to the making of the man."

Locke wrote on many more subjects, including language and politics. His philosophies were highly influential and inspired other well-known philosophers, such as David Hume and Immanuel Kant. Furthermore, he played a large part in political affairs taking place at the time and was involved in British affairs concerning the Americas.

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