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John Locke

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John Locke was the son of a country attorney and grew up amid the civil disturbances which were plaguing 17th century England. He attended Christ Church, Oxford, where he remained a student for many years, becoming increasingly disenchanted with the scholastic curriculum offered there.

Locke became interested in the great philosophical and scientific questions of his time and this interest brought him into contact with distinguished scientists such as Robert Boyle. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1668 and it was then he began to form his views on politics and religion.

An accidental meeting with Lord Ashley in 1666 led to a lifelong friendship with the man who would later become the first Earl of Shafesbury. This association would change the whole course of Locke's career. He became a secretary and confidante of Lord Ashley's and held a number of government posts while Ashley was in office.

In 1675, Locke became ill and was forced to leave his employment, choosing to recuperate in France for nearly four years, spending his time in studying and writing. He reentered Ashley's service upon his return to England but four years later Ashley had to flee to Holland because he supported the wrong leader during the Monmouth rebellion in 1685.

Shortly after Ashley left England, Locked followed him and remained there until the Revolution of 1688. Returning to England, Locke began to rapidly issue a number of his works, the result of years of study and meditation.

Chief among these were his Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Two Treatises on Government, and Letters on Toleration. These exerted an immediate and profound influence on English thought and helped to provide a philosophical foundation for the American Revolution.



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