Thomas Jefferson identified John Locke as one of “the three greatest men that have ever lived, without any exception.” Many debates in modern political theory have their roots in the writings of J
In America, the 17th century British philosopher, John Locke is probably best known as one of the inspirations for the Founding Fathers. His Two Treatises of Government argues against the divine right of kings, and in favor of government by the consent of the governed. His views were admired greatly by Jefferson and the other Founders. Locke was a political activist as well as a philosopher.
He lived through the last half of the seventeenth century, exciting times in England. Charles the first was beheaded, Oliver Cromwell governed for a while, followed by two more Stuarts, Charles the second and James the second, and then William came from the Netherlands, married James the second’s daughter Mary, and William and Mary took over as constitutional monarchs — what they call “the glorious revolution”. Locke’s Two Treatises were written, I think, to justify the revolution in England.
Quite independently of his political philosophy, John Locke would still be counted as one of the great philosophers. His Essay Concerning Human Understanding is one of the most important books in the history of philosophy. He more or less invented the subjects of personal identity and the philosophy of language.
Our guest is the prominent Locke scholar Bill Uzgallis, who will be channeling John Locke. It’s a technique they've developed at his Oregon State Philosophy Department, with the help of computer science and astrophysics.
We’ll ask Locke about his life, his political philosophy and his political activism, and his views on slavery and about women. There are some glimmers of rights for women in Locke. But what did he really think?