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John Locke
1632 - 1704

English philosopher author of An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Treatises on Civil Government and other works. Locke's theories of citizens' duty of participation in a social contract were a powerful influence in the 18th century. They helped inspire the founders of the United States, and particularly the framers of its proven-successful Constitution.

Books by John Locke
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A Letter Concerning Toleration
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An Essay Concerning Human Understanding
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Political Essays
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The Second Treatise on Civil Government
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Two Treatises of Government
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The great question which, in all ages, has disturbed mankind and brought on them the greatest part of their mischiefs, which has ruined cities, depopulated countries and disordered the peace of the world has been, not whether there be power in the world, nor whence it came, but who should have it.

1690 - from The Second Treatise on Civil Government
The great and chief end, therefore, of men uniting into commonwealths, and putting themselves under government, is the preservation of their property; to which in the state of Nature there are many things wanting.

1690 - from The Second Treatise on Civil Government
The State of Nature has a Law of Nature to govern it, which obliges every one: And Reason, which is that Law, teaches all Mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his Life, Health, Liberty, or Possessions.

1690 - from The Second Treatise on Civil Government
The reason why men enter into society, is the preservation of their property; ... whenever the legislators endeavour 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 farther obedience, and are left to the common refuge, which God hath provided for all men, against force and violence.

1690 - from The Second Treatise on Civil Government