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John Locke

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(1632 – 1704)

John Locke (29 August 1632 – 28 October 1704) was an English philosopher. Locke is considered the first of the British Empiricists, but is equally important to social contract theory. His ideas had enormous influence on the development of and , and he is widely regarded as one of the most influential Enlightenment thinkers, classical republicans, and contributors to . His writings influenced Voltaire and Rousseau, many Scottish Enlightenment thinkers, as well as the American revolutionaries. This influence is reflected in the American Declaration of Independence.

Locke’s theory of mind is often cited as the origin for modern conceptions of identity and “the self”, figuring prominently in the later works of philosophers such as David Hume, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Immanuel Kant. Locke was the first to define the self through a continuity of “consciousness”. He also postulated that the mind was a “blank slate” or “tabula rasa”; that is, contrary to Cartesian or Christian philosophy, Locke maintained that people are born without innate ideas.

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