John Locke (1632 – 1704) was a multi-faceted English intellectual character, where he worked as a scientist, professor and doctor, as well as a politician, philosopher and scholar of ancient Greek, and is considered the father of Western liberalism.
Finally, he would devote himself entirely to political activity, leading the English Whig party of the 17th century, promulgating ideas contrary to absolutism, a fact that would make him clash with Hobbes’ ideas about government. John Locke was a proponent of separation of powers, citizen rights, and religious tolerance.
- “75 philosophical phrases spoken by great thinkers”
- “123 wise phrases to reflect on life”
John Locke’s Outstanding Phrases
Here are the most famous reflections of the British author.
1. Strength is the protection of other virtues
One has to be strong to achieve one’s goals.
2. Laws were made for men and not men for laws
The laws must protect the citizen and preserve his or her integrity, according to Locke.
3. Where there is no property there is no justice
Fierce defender of property, both private and public.
4. Human actions are the interpreters of our thoughts
We are what we do and not how or what we think.
5. Everything that worries us will keep us in check
We must let go of that which limits us.
6. Man is born free but everywhere he is in chains
In their time, citizens had few rights in their countries.
7. Human happiness is a disposition of the mind, not a condition of circumstances
Being happy depends on individual psychology, not on our surroundings.
8. It is one thing to prove a man wrong, another to put him in possession of the truth
It’s very difficult to change people’s minds, to convince them of other ideas.
9. People are chameleons, our tone and the color of our character molds those around us
We often adapt according to the scenario where we find ourselves.
10. Thinking furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that we do what we read our
Interesting reflection by John Locke that instigates us to think deeply.
11. No one has a right to a person’s property except himself
Men are free and no one can deprive them of that.
12. You have to waste half the time to be able to use the other half
You never waste any time. Things will get done one way or another, but it’s always a useful experience.
13. Knowledge is the only defense against the dangerous world
John Locke gave this importance to the intellect.
14. Parents wonder why the streams are bitter, when they themselves poison the source
Criticism of the parental figure?
15. No man’s knowledge here can go beyond his experience
Experience is not only a degree, but it is the whole that shapes people.
16. A healthy mind in a healthy body is what completes a happy state in this world
The sum of both elements will make us happy. They are dependent variables.
17. The government has no other purpose than the preservation of property
Locke seems to be very clear about the concept of property as a model of identity.
18. He who is serious about seeking the truth should prepare his mind to love it
It’s not easy to want to know the truth. Sometimes, we prefer to be in ignorance.
19. Education begins with the gentleman, but reading, good company and reflection must end it
It’s not all about education. Social elements also influence personality.
20. It is easier to command than to teach
21. There is no foreign doctrine that can surpass one’s own experience in this respect
Experience is the last of the states of knowledge.
22. There can be no greater rudeness than to interrupt another in the flow of his speech
You have to know how to listen, tolerate and know how to shut up.
23. There is often more to learn from children’s unexpected questions than from men’s speeches
Adults can also learn a lot from children.
24. Man’s ultimate occupation is to be happy
Happiness is the goal of every person.
25. New opinions are always suspect, and are usually rejected
The novelty, the breakthrough always causes discomfort.
26. Protest is the right of the people
John Locke was very clear about individual rights for the betterment of society.
27. The ancients left much to the industry and sagacity of the coming time
The past is part of the present and future.
28. The reason men enter society is to preserve their property
Property is an essential element for people’s existence and goals, according to John Locke.
29. We are born free and no power of the earth can subject us except our own consent
Freedom has to be understood in all its senses, physical or psychological.
30. All wealth is the product of work
Work is the tool for reaching wealth.
31. The purpose of politicians is the preservation of their property
The policy serves this purpose, that of keeping possessions intact.
32. Power should be governed by declared and welcomed laws
Without the consent of the subjects no legislation should be valid.
33. Each is orthodox with respect to himself
Every point of view is a world.
34. By republic I mean any independent community
Independence and freedom, correlated concepts.
35. Our occupation here is not to know all things, but those that affect our behavior
John Locke had a great interest in human behavior and why he did it.
36. That which is dynamic and random is confusing. In the middle lies art
Art always has to bring out the intrigue and mystery.
37. If we all walk at the same pace, then the path appears
The collective is what moves societies forward.
38. An excellent man is invariable in every way
Good behaviour must occur in all areas, both personal and social.
39. How long have you had those words in your head waiting to say them?
Never shut up. The easy thing is to shut up, the brave thing is to express yourself.
40. It is easier to lead than to teach
Giving orders is easier than educating.
41. In all ages, humanity has been disturbed not by power in the world, but by who should have it
It is not power that corrupts, but the people who hold it.
42. I intend not to teach, but to ask
Locke was insatiable at soaking up knowledge and wisdom.
43. The purpose of the law is to preserve or extend freedom
Laws must always be in people’s interest, not oppressing them.
44. The villain, like the beams of a balance, is always varying
Whoever has a bad conscience will never be useful in this world.
45. All men are prone to make mistakes; and most are tempted to do so
Didn’t we make a mistake on purpose?
46. I can confess that external and internal sensations are the only passages I can find from knowledge to understanding
Knowing is not the same as understanding.
47. The legislature cannot transfer the power to make laws to other hands
The legislature must be independent of any other political entity.
48. The hope of an eternal and incomprehensible happiness in another world, is something that also carries with it constant pleasure
Belief in another happy life is what motivates many people to belong to a creed (religion).
48. Since everyone is equal, no one should harm another in his or her life, health, freedom, or possessions
For Locke, all citizens are equal before the law, the basis of Western liberalism.
49. God has endowed men with language to be the great instrument and common bond of society
The English author was a devotee, and often turned to theology for his reflections.
50. We would have fewer disputes in the world if words were taken for what they are, signs of our ideas only
Sometimes we misunderstand what others want to say.
51. What is static and repetitive is boring
John Locke was a lover of variety and anything that showed novelty (art, music, science)
52. No one can transfer to another more power than that which he holds
The power of each lies in himself, not in others.
53. God created man as a sociable animal, under the need to live with his own kind
Interesting comparison that distinguishes us from animals.
54. The only element that has no property is the freedom of men
Another ode to the freedom of men.
55. Everything about history is killing and fighting
Here he launches a harsh criticism of the field of history.
56. Rulers are only the clients of their fellow citizens
Political representatives serve the people, not the people serve them.
57. It is with tolerance that great collective milestones are achieved
The basis of their political theories was based on tolerance, on understanding others however different they might be.
58. The head and knowledge is the only thing that makes us men
For Locke, force or violence was not a sign of virility.
59. The teacher should teach the student to love and appreciate knowledge
The difficult task of teaching, which often fails in its attempt to transmit knowledge.
60. We are always more willing to lie than to tell the truth
Are people naturally liars?
61. There is nothing in the intellect that was not there before in the senses
All knowledge lies in the human being’s drive to know and to develop.
62. There is only one way to heaven
For John Locke, religion was an important part of society, and he often remembered that an afterlife awaits us.
63. Personal identity depends on conscience
Conscience will determine our actions, nothing else.
64. Beasts do not abstract
It’s what sets us apart from the wild animals.
65. If we let others control our thoughts we will never control our destiny
Freedom begins in the conscience, the mind and our desires. It is the first thing we must protect.