Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 06, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412958660 | Print ISBN: 9781412958653 | Online ISBN: 9781412958660| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Locke, John (1632–1704)
A recent essay on John Locke begins with the claim that he is the “most influential philosopher of modern times.” Although it is difficult to be quite so categorical as this, the judgment expressed is surely a plausible one, particularly in the area of political philosophy. Locke's well-known influence in America is one piece of evidence; the general (although not universal) dominance of the ideal (if not reality) of liberal democracy in the world today, an ideal that Locke had a great hand in fashioning, is another. Locke, of course, was not only a political philosopher. His philosophic activities extended into nearly every area of human inquiry, and his An Essay on Human Understanding (1690), a founding text of modern epistemology, stands as one of the seminal texts in the history of philosophy. Locke's political thought is contained primarily in his Two Treatises of Government (1690), although also of Letter ...