John Locke

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John Locke (1632-1704)
English philosopher and empiricist, Locke is known for his Two Treatises of Government (1690), in which a social contract theory is presented, serving to support natural rights and the rule of constitutional law, instead of absolutism or Divine Right. According to Locke, it was the obligation of a governing power to be an instrument of natural law. If it failed to meet this obligation, it must be replaced. Locke's work proved a powerful influence on those behind both the American and French revolutions who viewed with approval Locke's apparent endorsement of rebellion in the face of a ruling power's wrong-doing. Through his writings, Locke strove to establish that "all knowledge is founded on and ultimately derives from sense...or sensation." History has judged Locke to have been as tolerant and moderate as his work.