Last updated on: 5/29/2009 | Author: ProCon.org

John Locke Biography

Title:
Philosopher
Position:
Not Clearly Pro or Con to the question "Should the Words “under God” Be in the US Pledge of Allegiance?"
Reasoning:

“I esteem it above all things necessary to distinguish exactly the business of civil government from that of religion and to settle the just bounds that lie between the one and the other. If this be not done, there can be no end put to the controversies that will be always arising between those that have, or at least pretend to have, on the one side, a concernment for the interest of men’s souls, and, on the other side, a care of the commonwealth.

The commonwealth seems to me to be a society of men constituted only for the procuring, preserving, and advancing their own civil interests. Civil interests I call life, liberty, health, and indolency of body; and the possession of outward things, such as money, lands, houses, furniture, and the like. It is the duty of the civil magistrate, by the impartial execution of equal laws, to secure unto all the people in general and to every one of his subjects in particular the just possession of these things belonging to this life.

…These considerations, to omit many others that might have been urged to the same purpose, seem unto me sufficient to conclude that all the power of civil government relates only to men’s civil interests, is confined to the care of the things of this world, and hath nothing to do with the world to come.

…The end of a religious society (as has already been said) is the public worship of God and, by means thereof, the acquisition of eternal life. All discipline ought, therefore, to tend to that end, and all ecclesiastical laws to be thereunto confined. Nothing ought nor can be transacted in this society relating to the possession of civil and worldly goods. No force is here to be made use of upon any occasion whatsoever. For force belongs wholly to the civil magistrate, and the possession of all outward goods is subject to his jurisdiction.”

Letter on Toleration, 1689

Involvement and Affiliations:
  • Philosopher
  • Oxford academic
  • “Many of the framers, especially Madison, studied history and political philosophy. Two political theorists had great influence on the creation of the Constitution. John Locke, an important British political philosopher, had a large impact through his Second Treatise of Government (1690). Locke argued that sovereignty resides in individuals, not rulers. A political state, he theorized, emerged from a social contract among the people, who consent to government in order to preserve their lives, liberties, and property. In the words of the Declaration of Independence, which also drew heavily on Locke, governments derive ‘their just powers from the consent of the governed.’ Locke also pioneered the idea of the separation of powers.” (MSN Encarta, https://encarta.msn.com, “John Locke”)
  • Member, English Royal Society
  • Commissioner of Appeals, 1689
  • Commissioner of Trade and Plantations, 1696-1700
Education:
  • Bachelor of Medicine, Oxford, 1674
  • MA, Christ Church, Oxford, 1658
  • BA, Christ Church, Oxford, 1656
Other:
  • None found