Culture Global Presents
100 Heroes of Western Culture
These individuals have most contributed to replacing
ignorance with knowledge, savagery with civilization,
disease with health, tyranny with liberty, poverty with
abundance, and despair with happiness.
#5: John Locke (1632-1704)
John Locke (1632-1704) was an English philosopher and arguably history's
most influential advocate of liberty.
In his work The Second Treatise of Government, Locke explains
how individuals have certain natural rights -- to life, liberty,
health and property. And he explains how government is instituted
by the consent of those governed for the purpose of protecting these
rights. The power of government, according to Locke, must be limited
to this function for the government to be legitimate.
And Locke holds that a government that fails to protect rights or
uses its power to violate rights may be justifiably overthrown by
the citizens and replaced by a new, legitimate government.
These radical ideas of Locke strongly influenced Americas
Founding Fathers and are particularly evident in the Declaration
In addition, Locke's ideas are at least implicitly at the root of
most political and economic freedom that exists in the world today
-- freedom without which proper human survival is not possible.
The protection of individual rights (along with science) made possible
the Industrial Revolution along with the unprecedented wealth and
health it has bestowed on much of the world's population. By contrast,
those parts of the world that do not value and protect individual
rights wallow in primitivism, poverty and premature death.
Locke's other important contribution was arguing that the human mind
is tabula rasa or a "blank sheet" at birth; he held
that all the ideas a person holds ultimately come from sensory experience.
This view helped to undermine the deeply flawed Platonic, Cartesian
and Christian view that a person is born with innate, fixed ideas,
or in the Christian case, with original sin.
Go to #6: Newton
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