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Quotes by John Locke

Welcome to our collection of quotes (with shareable picture quotes) by John Locke. We hope you enjoy pondering them and that you will share them widely.

Wikipedia Summary for John Locke

John Locke (29 August 1632 – 28 October 1704) was an English philosopher and physician, widely regarded as one of the most influential of Enlightenment thinkers and commonly known as the "Father of Liberalism". Considered one of the first of the British empiricists, following the tradition of Sir Francis Bacon, Locke is equally important to social contract theory. His work greatly affected the development of epistemology and political philosophy. His writings influenced Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and many Scottish Enlightenment thinkers, as well as the American Revolutionaries. His contributions to classical republicanism and liberal theory are reflected in the United States Declaration of Independence.

Locke's theory of mind is often cited as the origin of modern conceptions of identity and the self, figuring prominently in the work of later philosophers such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau, David Hume, and Immanuel Kant. Locke was the first to define the self through a continuity of consciousness. He postulated that, at birth, the mind was a blank slate, or tabula rasa. Contrary to Cartesian philosophy based on pre-existing concepts, he maintained that we are born without innate ideas, and that knowledge is instead determined only by experience derived from sense perception, a concept now known as empiricism. Demonstrating the ideology of science in his observations, whereby something must be capable of being tested repeatedly and that nothing is exempt from being disproved, Locke stated that "whatever I write, as soon as I discover it not to be true, my hand shall be the forwardest to throw it into the fire". Such is one example of Locke's belief in empiricism.


So difficult it is to show the various meanings and imperfections of words when we have nothing else but words to do it with.



All mankind being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions.



Consciousness is the perception of what passes in man's own mind.



I esteem it above all things necessary to distinguish exactly the business of civil government from that of religion and to settle the just bounds that lie between the one and the other.



Understanding like the eye; whilst it makes us see and perceive all things, takes no notice of itself; and it requires art and pains to set it at a distance and make it its own subject.





We are all a sort of chameleons, that still take a tincture from things near us: nor is it to be wondered at in children, who better understand what they see, than what they hear.



Man is not permitted without censure to follow his own thoughts in the search of truth, when they lead him ever so little out of the common road.







The rising unto place is laborious, and by pains men come to greater pains; and it is sometimes base, and by indignities men come to dignities.



'Tis true that governments cannot be supported without great charge, and it is fit everyone who enjoys a share of protection should pay out of his estate his proportion of the maintenance of it.



Methinks Sir Robert should have carried his Monarchical Power one step higher and satisfied the World, that Princes might eat their Subjects too.





Those are not at all to be tolerated who deny the being of God. Promises, covenants, and oaths, which are the bonds of human society, can have no hold upon an atheist. The taking away of God, though but even in thought, dissolves all.



So that, in effect, religion, which should most distinguish us from beasts, and ought most peculiarly to elevate us, as rational creatures, above brutes, is that wherein men often appear most irrational, and more senseless than beasts themselves.



He that will have his son have respect for him and his orders, must himself have a great reverence for his son.



Practice conquers the habit of doing, without reflecting on the rule.



A criminal who, having renounced reason ... hath, by the unjust violence and slaughter he hath committed upon one, declared war against all mankind, and therefore may be destroyed as a lion or tiger, one of those wild savage beasts with whom men can have no society nor security.



The only thing we are naturally afraid of is pain, or loss of pleasure. And because these are not annexed to any shape, colour, or size of visible objects, we are frighted of none of them, till either we have felt pain from them, or have notions put into us that they will do us harm.



Knowledge being to be had only of visible and certain truth, error is not a fault of our knowledge, but a mistake of our judgment, giving assent to that which is not true.



The visible mark of extraordinary wisdom and power appear so plainly in all the works of creation.













Beating is the worst, and therefore the last means to be us'd in the correction of children, and that only in the cases of extremity, after all gently ways have been try'd, and proved unsuccessful; which, if well observ'd, there will very seldom be any need of blows.







A king is a mortal god on earth, unto whom the living God hath lent his own name as a great honour; but withal told him, he should die like a man, lest he should be proud, and flatter himself that God hath with his name imparted unto him his nature also.



It is vain to find fault with those arts of deceiving wherein men find pleasure to be deceived.



Faith is the assent to any proposition not made out by the deduction of reason but upon the credit of the proposer.



I do not say this, that I think there should be no difference of opinions in conversation, nor opposition in men's discourses... 'Tis not the owning one's dissent from another, that I speak against, but the manner of doing it.



Truth certainly would do well enough, if she were once left to shift for herself...She is not taught by laws, nor has she any need of force, to procure her entrance into the minds of men.



For it will be very difficult to persuade men of sense that he who with dry eyes and satisfaction of mind can deliver his brother to the executioner to be burnt alive, does sincerely and heartily concern himself to save that brother from the flames of hell in the world to come.



Power to do good is the true and lawful act of aspiring; for good thoughts (though God accept them), yet towards men are little better than good dreams, except they be put in act; and that cannot be without power and place, as the vantage and commanding ground.



God, when he makes the prophet, does not unmake the man.



Try all things, hold fast that which is good.







The Church which taught men not to keep faith with heretics, had no claim to toleration.





The care of souls cannot belong to the civil magistrate.



Business of man is to be happy,.





Mathematical proofs, like diamonds, are hard and clear, and will be touched with nothing but strict reasoning.



As it is in the body, so it is in the mind; practice makes it what it is, and most even of those excellencies, what are looked on as natural endowments, will be found, when examined into more narrowly, to be the product of exercise, and to be raised to that pitch, only by repeated actions.



For though the law of nature be plain and intelligible to all rational creatures; yet men, being biased by their interest, as well as ignorant for want of study of it, are not apt to allow of it as a law binding to them in the application of it to their particular cases.



The end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom.



Who hath a prospect of the different state of perfect happiness or misery that attends all men after this life, depending on their behavior, the measures of good and evil that govern his choice are mightily changed.



He that in the ordinary affairs of life would admit of nothing but direct plain demonstration would be sure of nothing in this world but of perishing quickly.







He that makes use of another's fancy or necessity to sell ribbons or cloth dearer to him than to another man at the same time, cheats him.



Freedom of men under government is to have a standing rule to live by, common to every one of that society and made by the legislative power vested in it and not to be subject to the inconstant, uncertain, arbitrary will of another man.





Firmness or stiffness of the mind is not from adherence to truth, but submission to prejudice.



The thoughts that come often unsought, and, as it were, drop into the mind, are commonly the most valuable of any we have.







Where there is no desire, there will be no industry.



If we will disbelieve everything, because we cannot certainly know all things, we shall do much what as wisely as he who would not use his legs, but sit still and perish, because he had no wings to fly.



Children have as much mind to show that they are free, that their own good actions come from themselves, that they are absolute and independent, as any of the proudest of you grown men, think of them as you please.



The least and most imperceptible impressions received in our infancy have consequences very important and of long duration.





He that judges without informing himself to the utmost that he is capable, cannot acquit himself of judging amiss.



In short, herein seems to lie the difference between idiots and madmen, that madmen put wrong ideas together, and so make wrong propositions, but argue and reason right from them: but idiots make very few or no propositions, and reason scarce at all.





The inclination to goodness is imprinted deeply in the nature of man; insomuch, that if it issue not towards men, it will take unto other living creatures; as it is seen in the Turks, cruel people, who, nevertheless, are kind to beasts, and give alms to dogs and birds.



Whosoever will list himself under the banner of Christ, must, in the first place and above all things, make war upon his own lusts and vices. It is in vain for any man to usurp the name of Christian, without holiness of life, purity of manners, benignity and meekness of spirit.



In transgressing the law of nature, the offender declares himself to live by another rule than that of reason and common equity.





Moral laws are set as a curb and restraint to these exorbitant desires, which they cannot be but by rewards and punishments, that will over-balance the satisfaction any one shall propose to himself in the breach of the law.





When ideas float in our mind, without any reflection or regard of the understanding, it is that which the French call reverie.



Virtue is everywhere that which is thought praiseworthy; and nothing else but that which has the allowance of public esteem is called virtue.





Everyone is orthodox to himself.



Whenever legislators endeavor to take away and destroy the property of the people, or to reduce them to slavery under arbitrary power, they put themselves into a state of war with the people, who are thereupon absolved from any further obedience.







Inuring children gently to suffer some degrees of pain without shrinking, is a way to gain firmness to their minds, and lay a foundation for courage and resolution in the future part of their lives.



When the sacredness of property is talked of, it should be remembered that any such sacredness does not belong in the same degree to landed property.







I thought that I had no time for faith nor time to pray, then I saw an armless man saying his Rosary with his feet.











As usurpation is the exercise of power which another has a right to, so tyranny is the exercise of power beyond right, which nobody can have a right to.

Longer Version:

As usurpation is the exercise of power, which another hath a right to; so tyranny is the exercise of power beyond right, which no body can have a right to. And this is making use of the power any one has in his hands, not for the good of those who are under it, but for his own private separate advantage. When the governor, however intitled, makes not the law, but his will, the rule; and his commands and actions are not directed to the preservation of the properties of his people, but the satisfaction of his own ambition, revenge, covetousness, or any other irregular passion.





It is therefore worthwhile, to search out the bounds between opinion and knowledge; and examine by what measures, in things, whereof we have no certain knowledge, we ought to regulate our assent, and moderate our persuasions.





The picture of a shadow is a positive thing.



It is labour indeed that puts the difference on everything.



He that uses his words loosely and unsteadily will either not be minded or not understood.



If any one shall claim a power to lay and levy taxes on the people by his own authority and without such consent of the people, he thereby invades the fundamental law of property, and subverts the end of government.



The most precious of all possessions is power over ourselves.



Since the great foundation of fear is pain, the way to harden and fortify children against fear and danger is to accustom them to suffer pain.



That which is static and repetitive is boring. That which is dynamic and random is confusing. In between lies art.



How long have you been holding those words in your head, hoping to use them?



Curiosity in children, is but an appetite for knowledge. The great reason why children abandon themselves wholly to silly pursuits and trifle away their time insipidly is, because they find their curiosity balked, and their inquiries neglected.



I am sure, zeal or love for truth can never permit falsehood to be used in the defense of it.



Anger is uneasiness or discomposure of the mind upon the receipt of any injury, with a present purpose of revenge.



Nothing is in the intellect that was not first in the senses.



Good and evil, reward and punishment, are the only motives to a rational creature.



Revolt is the right of the people.



Who are we to tell anyone what they can or can't do?



With books we stand on the shoulders of giants.



Logic is the anatomy of thought.



Struggle is nature's way of strengthening it.



Where there is no law there is no freedom.



Don't tell me what I can't do!





The only defense against the world is a thorough knowledge of it.



A sound mind in a sound body, is a short, but full description of a happy state in this world: he that has these two, has little more to wish for; and he that wants either of them, will be little the better for anything else.



Where all is but dream, reasoning and arguments are of no use, truth and knowledge nothing.



Few men think, yet all will have opinions. Hence men's opinions are superficial and confused.


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