How did John Locke and Rousseau's philosophies about human nature impact them when it came to the creating new constitutions?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Neither Rousseau nor Locke was involved in the creation of a constitution. Locke came the closest, with his "Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina," written when the colony was established as a proprietorship, but that document did not, for the most part, represent Locke's views on government, as it was written in...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Neither Rousseau nor Locke was involved in the creation of a constitution. Locke came the closest, with his "Fundamental Constitutions of Carolina," written when the colony was established as a proprietorship, but that document did not, for the most part, represent Locke's views on government, as it was written in his capacity as secretary to one of the proprietors. Locke's rejection of innate principles –– he believed the human mind was a "blank slate" at birth –– would seem to suggest that most of what we think of as "human nature" was actually acquired through society itself. But both Locke and Rousseau believed that, in the state of nature, humans were inherently independent, and that they only entered into society in order to preserve their property and other rights. Generally, Locke thought this a positive and natural development, while Rousseau saw it as a source of corruption. Both men's understanding of human nature and natural rights led them to believe that the only legitimate government was one based on the consent of the governed.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team