Locke John 1632 - 1704 (72)

What worries you, masters you.


An Essay Concerning Human Understanding

John Locke (August 29, 1632 - October 28, 1704) was born in the village of Somerset, 15 miles outside of Bristol, with his parents coming from traditional puritanical families. His father did not earn enough money as a lawyer in Somerset to provide him with a good education, however he had made an acquaintance as a cavalry officer, who changed his son's fate. The friend from the military had risen politically and offered John a place at Westminster School and then at Christi Church College in Oxford, where he studied medicine, anatomy and natural history.

A second acquaintance with the Earl of Shaftsbury, Ashley, would change his life in 1667; he was hired as the Earl's personal physician and moved to his home in London, where he continued his studies and had time for philosophical studies and writing. In 1672 Asley became lord chancellor and at his side, Locke became involved in the political situation of the time, with the result that he was persecuted as a supporter of the Liberals and exiled twice. In 1675, Locke spent time traveling throughout France as a teacher and medical adviser while in 1683 he took refuge in the Netherlands for 5 years.

In 1690 he published his major work "An Essay Concerning Human Understanding" with which his reputation as a philosopher spread throughout Europe, making him a very famous man with whom the most important thinkers of the time began to correspond. He became a leading exponent of Anglo-Saxon empiricism, and sought to demonstrate how ideas are formed and knowledge is constructed, starting with tangible experience. John Locke expressed the rise of the liberal bourgeoisie in politics and was the first to formulate the theory of representative democracy, influencing the revolutions that would follow in England, France, and America.

He did not marry and had no children. He died at his friends' cottage in Essex, in 1704.