Perhaps one of, if not the, most historically influential political thinkers of the
western world was John Locke.
John Locke, the man who initiated what is now known
as British Empiricism, is also considered highly influential in establishing
grounds, theoretically at least, for the constitution of the United States of
The basis for understanding Locke is that he sees all people as having
natural God given rights.
As God's creations,
this denotes a certain equality, at
least in an abstract sense.
This religious back drop acts as a the foundation for
all of Locke's theories, including his theories of individuality, private property,
and the state.
The reader will be shown how and why people have a natural right to
the impact this has on the sovereign, as well as the extent of this
Locke was a micro based ideologist.
He believed that humans were autonomous
individuals who, although lived in a social setting, could not be articulated as a
herd or social animal.
Locke believed person to stand for,
"... a thinking, intelligent being, that has reason and reflection, and can
consider itself as itself, the same thinking thing in different times and places,
which it only does by that consciousness which is inseparable
This ability to reflect, think, and reason intelligibly is one of the many gifts
from God and is that gift which separates us from the realm of the beast.
ability to reason and reflect, although universal, acts as an explanation for
All reason and reflection is based on personal experience and
Personal experience must be completely individual as no one can
experience anything quite the same as another.
This leads to determining why Locke
theorized that all humans, speaking
patriarchially with respect to the time "why all men," have a natural right to
Every man is a creation of God's, and as such is endowed with certain
individual abilities and characteristics as gifts from God.
Not being able to
know God's exact wishes for man, Locke believed that all men have an obligation to
develop and caress these gifts. In essence, each man was in charge of his own body
and what was done with his body.
Of course, for Locke, each man would do the
reasonable thing and develop his natural skills and potentials to the best of his
abilities, in the service of God.
The belief in God given abilities and the obligations that follow are
Man, endowed with reason, could choose not to develop these
Having the ability to choose the development of his potential, each man
is responsible for that potential and consequently is responsible for his own body.
The development, or lack therein, is a consequence of individual motivation and is