Locke, John (West's Encyclopedia of American Law)
John Locke was a seventeenth-century English philosopher whose writings on political theory and government profoundly affected U.S. law and society. It is chiefly from Locke's Two Treatises of Government (1690) that U.S. politics takes its core premises of the ultimate sovereignty of the people, the necessity of restraints on the exercise of ARBITRARY power by the executive or the legislature, and the ability of the people to revoke their social contract with the government when power has been arbitrarily used against them. The Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution are testaments to many of Locke's central ideas.
Locke was born in Wrington, Somerset, England, on August 29, 1632. His father, also John Locke, was an attorney, and a Calvinist with Puritan sympathies who supported the parliamentary side in England's struggle against King Charles I and fought on that side in the English Civil War of 1642. Despite this background Locke developed monarchist leanings while attending boarding school, which remained with him throughout his life.
In 1652 Locke entered Oxford University, where he became interested in medicine and the newly developed discipline of experimental science. He collaborated with Robert Boyle, a founder of modern chemistry. Locke studied natural science and philosophy, concentrating on the principles of moral, social, and political laws....
(The entire section is 1261 words.)
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