The Foundations for a Civil Society
Seventeenth century English philosopher, John Locke, was a brilliant scholar, medical physician, and political truth-seeker; his pioneering ideas have gone on to shape the ethos of Western civilization as we know it today. Locke being a rational man opposed oppressive authoritarian governments, advocated liberty, the nature of freedom, and the right to preserve property. His idea of following ones own path of reason in search for truths opposed to merely accepting the opinions and answers of authorities became his driving force in his spiritual and political belief systems. His writings went on to form the fundamental ideas of our American revolutionaries and became the backbone of the United States Constitution and our Declaration of Independence.
As an empiricist, Locke believed in the theory of tabula rasa, or “blank slate”, when it comes to an individual’s soul.[i] He theorized that humans are innately born free from prejudices, knowledge, or faults, and that our sense data and rules for processing are shaped exclusively from our own experiences after birth. This theory, first introduced by the 13th century Italian philosopher and theologian Saint Thomas Aquinas supported Locke’s philosophy on the state of Nature.[ii]
Before Locke so earnestly embarks on his vision of a just body politic, he insists that an illustration on the domain of mans’ natural instincts be introduced, which is “a state of perfect freedom to order their actions, and dispose of their possessions and persons as they think fit, within the bounds of the law of Nature, without asking leave or depending upon the will of any other man” (2, 4). This condition all men were born under allows all human beings the freedom to liberty, safety, and the right to defend ones’ environment, but does not give one the license to abuse the right of perfect freedom. Locke’s theory of man being born with a clean slate had a noteworthy and rather substantial...