John Locke is regarded as one of the most fundamental philosophers in the world, being responsible for greatly influencing the ideals behind both the French Enlightenment and the American Revolution, as well as founding the philosophical school of thought called Realism. John Locke was born in 1632, went on to study at Oxford University, where he studied medicine.
As well as being a major driving force behind philosophy, Locke also wrote the often referenced "Two Treatises on Government," which attacked the status quo of power in England. These texts went on to become a fundamental backbone of political thought after the English civil war, before spreading across to Europe and America.
Locke was the first to argue against the God given right of kings, stating that:
- All human beings are born equal, and any power the ruling classes or government have is ultimately derived from the people, not an inherent God given right to rule.
- All individuals have a right to own property, and such property should never be taken without consent.
- If ruling bodies seize property without consent, or refuse to acknowledge the people and their well-being as the source of ruling power, then the people have a right to resist and remove said power structures.
Although much of Locke's political thought was a product of the time, many of these values have formed the foundations for modern democracy, morality, and human rights that continue to this day.