Locke and Rousseau - Papers on...

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About John Locke and Jean Jacques Rousseau

 


Locke & Rousseau -
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  John Locke and Jean-Jacques Rousseau are quite possibly two of the most important philosophers to have ever lived, particularly with regard to defining our concept of liberty. Locke lived during the seventeenth century while Rousseau lived during the eighteenth century but both contributed their thoughts to a wide range of topics ranging from education to property ownership.

   Locke’s name is most often associated with being the founder of British empiricism, Enlightenment and the belief that there is an inherent goodness in mankind. He would witness the transition of Europe from the seventeenth to the eighteenth century, a transition which would have tremendous changes in the way that basic societal premises were viewed. While Locke would cling to his religious beliefs he would vary considerably from the predominant seventeenth century view that life fell under the dictates of authoritarian regiment.

   In reality, Locke’s beliefs ushered in eighteenth century values. What the seventeenth century held in high esteem, the eighteenth century shunned. The laws of God were replaced by the laws of nature. The many social classes which the seventeenth century accepted without question were expected by eighteenth century standards to mold into one large but equal class. Much like today, and probably tomorrow, the young criticized the ways of the old and proceeded forward in their self-assurance that they would right all the wrongs of old and that their world would have no inequalities and would be a better and broader place. While almost all of John Locke’s work was completed in the seventeenth century they were overall more representative of eighteenth century core beliefs and values.

   Rousseau would both live in and characterize the eighteenth century in terms of his philosophies. His is most remembered for his belief that all should return to nature. He would contribute substantially to our understanding of liberty. Locke would lack the literary brilliance of Rousseau but he also offers much in terms of our contemporary understanding of the concept of liberty. One of Locke’s most remembered contributions to religion in fact was the concept of tolerism, a concept which is critical to the concept of liberty as well. While neither of these men were American, their ideals contributed much to the United States' own system of government and such is commemorated in the colorful theme of this website...

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