What was John Locke's impact on European society?

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John Locke (1632–1704) was a major contributor to the Age of Enlightenment, which was being formed by philosophers in Europe during the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. John Locke’s influence was profound in three important areas: government, religion, and education.

In order to understand Locke’s thinking about government, it is necessary to understand his views on human nature. He believed that humans in a state of nature were born with certain rights. They had the right to physical safety, the right to their own ideas and beliefs, and the right to their property. In order to defend these rights, humans banded together under a social contract into civil societies that could help defend them from encroachment. It was the job of government to protect these rights, although to do so meant that some individual rights had to be given up in order to secure the most basic rights. However, should government overstep their bounds and negate rights through tyranny, people...

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