The seventeenth century English philosopher, John Locke,
is to be remembered for his wise and brilliant contributions
to three great issues that continue to concern us to this day:
how we should educate our children,
who should rule over us,
and what we should do about people
who have different religious ideas to us.
Locke was born into a quiet Somerset village in 1632.
He was ten years old when the English Civil War broke out,
and his father became a captain in the parlimentary army.
King Charles Ⅰ was publicly executed in 1649,
just a few feet away from where Locke was studying at Westminster School.
The screams of the crowds heard in the library marked him deeply.
Locke went on to study Medicine at Oxford
and planned to be a doctor,
but his life changed significantly when by chance
he became acquainted with the dashing and highly ambitious Whig politician,
Anthony Ashley Cooper, known as the First Earl of Shaftesbury
who’d come to Oxford to look for a cure
for a liver disease he had.
Cooper suggested that Locke move to London
to become part of his household.
The offer was hard to resist
and once a part of Cooper’s entourage,
洛克就开始参与进了当时重大的科学 教育 宗教
Locke began to participate in the great scientific, educational, religious,
and political debates of the day.
Along the way, he also helped to cure Shaftesbury
of his liver complaint,
earning his lifelong gratitude.
The first question Locke grew fascinated by
was what to do with people who don’t agree with your religious views.
In breaking away from the Catholic church and Henry VIII in the 16th century,
English Protestantism has started a process of a noisy questioning of religion
that couldn’t now easily be stopped.
because this was threatening to get out of hand,
there were arguments that there should be total government control over religion
and a hard crackdown on dissenters.
But Locke became one of the foremost advocates of freedom of belief.
In this beautiful essay concerning toleration written in 1667,
here he advocated toleration on the basis of three points:
第一点 因为一般对于普罗大众 尤其对于俗世法官和政府来说
firstly, because Earthly judges, the state in particular, and human beings in general,
当假说未被经验证实 而其中的宗教观点却又互相对立时 是难以做出可靠判断的
cannot dependably evaluate the truth-claims of competing religious standpoints;
第二点 即使可以 强制施行单一的“真正宗教”不会有用
secondly, even if they could, enforcing a single “true religion” would never work,
because you can’t be compelled into belief through violence;
and thirdly, coercing religious uniformity
leads to far more social disorder than allowing diversity.
Locke argued that the ultimate aim of the state
was just to preserve the quiet and comfortable living of men in society,
but that it have nothing to do with the good of men’s souls.
Religion was a personal choice and churches were voluntary organizations
which could set theirs own rules and be left to it.
It was thanks to Locke’s influence
that the idea of locking up people for their beliefs
fell entirely out of favor.
By the 18th century, other European nations looked with envy at England,
a place where what you happen to believe
was simply deemed irrelevant to your status or prospects.
This was a truly remarkable achievement for one book by one man to have set in train.
But Locke didn’t stop there.
In 1689 he published the second extraordinary book:
the Two Treatises of Government.
This tried to answer the question of who should rule the country
and on what legitimate basis.
One common yet increasingly fanciful notion at the time
was that political authority derived directly from God.
But a more recent explanation from Thomas Hobbes
had asserted that the totalitarian power of kings
was justified by their ability to keep order
and prevent repetitions of the chaos that had reigned.
Hobbes had insisted,
in the time before powerful governments,
and that he had called “the state of nature”
by painting the state of nature in the darkest colors
Hobbes had asked his readers to set themselves low expectations
for what a decent ruler was meant to be.
Anything better than the savagery of the Stone Age was legitimate.
And rulers had no responsibility
to guarantee religious freedom or human rights.
But now in the first treatise, Locke thoroughly demolished the scriptural claim
that God had created kings,
and in the second treatise he took on Hobbes’ ideas about the state of nature.
Locke agreed with Hobbes that before and without government
there would have been a state of nature.
but he disagreed what this place would actually have been like.
He argued that it would have been broadly peaceful
and that in agreeing to submit to governments
people had therefore not fearfully agreed to surrender all their rights.
In fact, they possessed a range of inalienable
or natural rights that no ruler could ever take away.
Locke insisted that people had voluntarily consented
to cede some of their personal freedoms
but only insofar as it better preserved their rights.
They couldn’t be expected to give up these rights entirely
as that would just defeat the point of joining society in the first place.
If a ruler started to act like a tyrant,
and unfairly deprived their subjects of their freedom or property,
the subjects were then entirely within their rights
收回约定 推翻统治者 建立新政府
to withdraw their consent, overthrow their ruler and set up a new government.
Locke’s work hugely influenced the development of western societies,
and in particular the American Declaration of Independence.
For example, in its insistence on the separation of church and state,
and in the Second Amendments rights to bear arms,
a clear descendant of Locke’s view that people should always retain
both right and means to overthrow government.
Locke made one other great innovation.
This time in education.
In his book some thoughts concerning education of 1693
this was possibly the most influential book on education ever written.
In 1684, an aristocrat called Edward Clark
asked Locke for advice on raising his son and heir.
Though he was unmarried and never had children of his own,
and by all accounts didn’t actually enjoy their company that much,
Locke responded with a series of letters that eventually turned into a book.
Locke began by saying that all of us start off a life with minds that are blank.
“Tabula rasa” he called them.
In another famous work his essay concerning human understanding of 1689,
idea ran contrary to prevailing views
that our minds are fitted at birth
关于宗教 伦理 道德和政府的各种观念
with all sorts of ideas about religion, ethics, morality and government.
洛克认为我们认为 相信 了解 以及推测的任何事情
Locke argued that everything we think, believe, know or conjecture
is actually derived from experience,
from the simple ideas we receive from sensations in the outside world,
or internal reflections on the processes of our own understandings,
led Locke to the belief that education was absolutely crucial to how people turn out.
I think I may say that of all the men we meet with
无论善恶 有用无用 十之有九都是
nine parts of ten are what they are, good or evil, useful or not,
because of education.
Locke believed that we are very vulnerable to the ideas that people place in our minds when we are children.
He wrote: the little and almost insensible impressions on our tender infancies
have very important and lasting consequences.
He argued that the association of ideas that one makes when young
are more important than those made later
because they are the foundations of ourselves.
So he warned famously against letting a foolish maid
convince a child that goblins and spirits
are associated with the night
for darkness shall ever afterwards bring with it those frightful ideas.
Locke is the forerunner of our own parenting techniques
in which we proceed under the assumption that everything that happens to a child,
whether they have a nice time at the zoo with us or get enough cuddles at the age of four,
plays an enormous role in later life.
These ideas didn’t pop into our heads just like that.
Without us necessarily knowing it
they are the work of a gaunt, wise philosopher of 17th century England.
Locke also had some fascinating thoughts about what should be on the educational curriculum.
He hated the idea of children learning what he called
拉丁语 希腊语 音乐 诗歌这些学科 这些被他称之为“无用的学科”
useless subjects like Latin, Greek, music or poetry,
only to study what would be of practical assistance to them later in life,
也就是科学 伦理学 商科 和我们现在所说的心理学
which meant science, ethics, business and what we nowadays call psychology.
Instructions on how we can best calm ourselves,
be kind and understand others.
He wanted, though he didn’t directly use the phrase,
that we should study at schools of life.
Locke died in October, 1704. He was one of the most famous men in Europe
and continues to influence us hugely to this day.
It is because of him that we believe in religious toleration,
that we believe that govenments should not tyrannize their subjects,
and that we try so hard to give our own children good childhoods.