John Locke’s contributions to the enlightment

John Locke, a seventeenth century philosopher, is best known for his theory of Enlightment. In fact, Enlightment went on to become a little more then a theory and has turned into a movement, a way of life. Locke’s ideas, although at first may appear difficult were in reality fairly simple. He believed that men naturally live in a State of Nature. In the State of Nature all men are equal to each other there is no government above them. They are all entitled to freedom of their actions, but within the bounds of the law of nature. People could appropriate land and things needed to live, but 3 limitations applied.

  1. They could only take what they needed.
  2. They could only take so much that it wouldn’t spoil.
  3. They could only take the things that they put their labor into.

These three limitations made life a lot simpler. Locke believed that each man is entitled to his natural rights.

John LockeThe natural rights of a man are life, liberty and property. These rights have originated from the very beginning, from G-d. In the later years, The Declaration of Independence started out with these rights. However, The State of Nature underwent two stages, introduction of money is what divided it in two. Locke believed that human nature is naturally good, however with the introduction of money they become corrupt greedy and class stratification is established. In fact, with the introduction of money the tree limitations of appropriation were immediately disregarded due to the fact that money does not spoil. Hence, you can take as much as you need and everyone knows no one ever has enough money. Further more the point of putting your labor into the things you can take, well with the introduction of money people were immediately able to employ others to work for them, which was almost the same as putting your own labor into it.

With the introduction of money, men were no longer equal as in the State of Nature. Some people had more money and with that more property, some had less and some had none at all. For that reason a civil government should emerge, to protect non-landowners from landowners and vice versa. Locke believed that people should establish a limited government to prevent any kind of tyranny and total control of the government. If however the government does take over complete control the people have what Locke referred to as the right of revolution.

Romanticism shortly followed or may be even evolved from Enlightment. The characteristics of Enlightment contained ideas concerning industriousness and productivity. Ideas about G-d instigated revolutionary ideas about art and politics. Believed that reason was the strongest science. Romanticism was all about love, nature, beauty, truth and compassion. The commonalities of them are that they both were interested in seeking the truth. Their differences were huge. Romanticism claimed individually where as Enlightment preached self-interest. Romanticism movement was all about returning to nature and appreciating the beauty around us. Enlightment thinkers wanted productivity in industrialization. Romanticism which started out as a rebellion against Enlightment thinking originated somewhere in the first half of the Nineteenth Century and swept every national culture. Some of today’s greatest poets emerged during this time among who are Blake, Wordsworth, Whitman and many others.

These poets inspired people and at the same time developed ideas that even led to the French Revolution. The idea of Spirit of the Age was introduced during the time of Romanticism. It proclaimed equality, liberty and simplicity. Romantics in their effort of trying to get away from the idea of dark and dusty industrialization where every person is exactly the same as the next believed in the beauty of each person. Each person has something new and unique about them that they can bring to the society. Therefore individualism was at the center of every idea during the time of Romanticism.

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