John Locke (1632–1704) was one of the greatest philosophers in Europe at the end of the seventeenth century.Locke grew up and lived through one of the most extraordinary centuries of English political and intellectual history.His father was a country lawyer who served in a cavalry company on the Puritan side in the early stages of the English Civil War.
One of Locke’s friends from Westminster school, Richard Lower, introduced Locke to medicine and the experimental philosophy being pursued by the virtuosi at Wadham. The rank was equivalent to a Fellow at any of the other colleges, but was not permanent.
Locke had yet to determine what his career was to be.
The Society saw its aims in contrast with the Scholastic/Aristotelian traditions that dominated the universities. Many of Wilkins associates were people interested in pursuing medicine by observation rather than the reading of classic texts. His career at Oxford, however, continued beyond his undergraduate days.
Bacon’s interest in careful experimentation and the systematic collection of facts from which generalizations could be made was characteristic of this group. In June of 1658 Locke qualified as a Master of Arts and was elected a Senior Student of Christ Church College.
The collapse of the Protectorate after the death of Cromwell was followed by the Restoration of Charles II—the return of the monarchy, the House of Lords and the Anglican Church. It was marked by continued conflicts between King and Parliament and debates over religious toleration for Protestant dissenters and Catholics.
This period ends with the Glorious Revolution of 1688 in which James II was driven from England and replaced by William of Orange and his wife Mary.The final period during which Locke lived involved the consolidation of power by William and Mary, and the beginning of William’s efforts to oppose the domination of Europe by the France of Louis XIV, which later culminated in the military victories of John Churchill—the Duke of Marlborough.Locke was born in Wrington to Puritan parents of modest means.In 1647 Locke went to Westminster School in London.From Westminster school he went to Christ Church, Oxford, in the autumn of 1652 at the age of twenty. John Wilkins, Cromwell’s brother in law, had become Warden of Wadham College.Thus, there was good reason for Locke to become a clergyman. John Wilkins had left Oxford with the Restoration of Charles II.The new leader of the Oxford scientific group was Robert Boyle. Boyle (with the help of his astonishing assistant Robert Hooke) built an air pump which led to the formulation of Boyle’s law and devised a barometer as a weather indicator.Locke’s association with Anthony Ashley Cooper (later the First Earl of Shaftesbury) led him to become successively a government official charged with collecting information about trade and colonies, economic writer, opposition political activist, and finally a revolutionary whose cause ultimately triumphed in the Glorious Revolution of 1688.Among Locke’s political works he is most famous for in which he argues that sovereignty resides in the people and explains the nature of legitimate government in terms of natural rights and the social contract.Locke believes that using reason to try to grasp the truth, and determine the legitimate functions of institutions will optimize human flourishing for the individual and society both in respect to its material and spiritual welfare.This in turn, amounts to following natural law and the fulfillment of the divine purpose for humanity.