Explain four similar ideas held by the two philosophers John Locke and Thomas Jefferson.

Expert Answers
beateach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Commonalities exist between the philosophies of John Locke and Thomas Jefferson. These are evident in “Two Treatises of Government” written by John Locke, and in the Declaration of Independence penned by Thomas Jefferson. In Locke’s writings, he describes the rights of people to life, liberty, and property. Jefferson writes about people’s rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Both men believed in the concept of democracy for the people, and a government that had separate branches. In addition, both agreed that citizens of a country should have the right to overthrow government if the rights of the people are violated. They also agree that government has the obligation to protect its citizenry while providing for their safety and protecting their rights.

The following quotes show the similarities in the philosophies of these men.

John Locke writes,

The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges every one: and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions… (and) when his own preservation comes not in competition, ought he, as much as he can, to preserve the rest of mankind, and may not, unless it be to do justice on an offender, take away, or impair the life, or what tends to the preservation of the life, the liberty, health, limb, or goods of another.

The Declaration of Independence says,

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

sjiang88 | Student

Thomas Jefferson basically just took ideas from Locke and put them in the declaration of independence. They both believed in humans having natural rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.