//John Locke: Separation of Powers and Individual Rights

John Locke: Separation of Powers and Individual Rights

John Locke is one of the most influential philosophers in human history. This English thinker greatly influenced our concepts of political organization, religious tolerance and pedagogy. He is undoubtedly one of the men who changed the course of history and humanity.

Among some of the notables who took it as an influence we can find Voltaire and the Baron de Montesquieu. Many thinkers of the French enlightenment and protagonists of the American revolution took it as a reference.

Locke was a man who revolutionized an era with his thinking. But in turn, Locke was influenced by great thinkers such as Lord Francis Bacon.

That is why today we will talk about this man, his influence in the modern world. We will detail the life and work of John Locke, the “father of classical liberalism”.

His ideas were the basis of the idea of a modern republic and liberal theory.

But he also made great contributions to the theory of mind and consciousness. For Locke, experiences determined the formation of our mind and consciousness, so they were not predetermined.

The most interesting thing about Locke is that his main profession was not that of politician or philosopher but that of a doctor, with which he had great renown and fame. But the mark left by Locke was associated with his role as a philosopher and thinker.

An interesting character that we will learn more about next. Let’s get to know a little more about the life of this eminent philosopher and thinker of the seventeenth century.

Influences and Political Thought of John Locke

Given Locke’s influences and his rise from a poor rural nobility to the highest professional standards in the noble courts, Locke did not believe in determinism or the innate conditions of man. For Locke, knowledge was acquired through experiences. In this way, according to John Locke, human beings were modeled through their education and experiences.

The development of consciousness and mind would be given by man’s interaction with his environment and the stimuli provided by this interaction. Not being innate and not determined then establishes the responsibility of everyone in his actions and in his own life.

Locke argues that the mind is at zero at birth and it is “experiences” that shape man’s mind. For Locke the feelings (internal) and reflections (external) are the source of all ideas and thoughts.

Based on this thought, he breaks with the idea of predestination for political exercise. That is why he begins to reflect on the political structure and how to limit the power of individuals who are corruptible according to experiences and not by “seal” of birth.

John Locke Quotes
John Locke Quotes

Particular forms of political thought

For Locke, rights are determined by the natural law. That is why he argues that individual rights are: freedom, life, private property (the product of man’s labor) and the right to defend those rights.

It is these rights and the interaction between men that make the state necessary. For Locke, the state has no other reason to exist but to defend those four rights. The role of the state should be to serve as an arbiter to sustain peace through the defense of those rights.

This requires a political structure that defends those rights even of those in power. That is why he believed that there should be a division of power between the one who makes the law and the one who enforces it. With this in mind, the king or the representative of the state must submit to the laws of the parliament which is the organ that expresses popular sovereignty.

In this way, his ideas do not stipulate the separation of powers. Locke stipulates the division of these, distributing tasks in the defense of the rights of men. Montesquieu, who was influenced by Locke’s thinking, went a step further by stipulating the separation of powers to create a balance between them.

John Locke - Much has been written about him
John Locke – Much has been written about him

Individual Rights According to John Locke

As mentioned earlier John Locke raises the division of powers to ensure defense against abuse of power. In this way the laws must be respected even by kings.

But all of this is intended to focus the state on its essential functions, such as defending the four essential freedoms. Next, we’ll dig deeper into the topic.

For Locke man in nature possesses life and liberty. That is why these are the essential freedoms. After this through his freedom he exercises the work that allows him to transform nature. Nature in its essential state belongs to no one. But it is through the exercise of work that man makes himself of what he calls private property.

Established this point, man transforms nature and turns it into property through his effort. Therefore, to avoid conflicts, the state must defend that man can transform and make use of what he transforms with his effort.

Finally, there is the right to defend your rights, which is nothing more than to defend yourself against others and against the state of what has by nature been given to you.

Conclusions and contributions of his life

No doubt Locke made great contributions thanks to his life experience. One of the most influential philosophers in history and who transformed not only the concepts of law, but the very idea of the state.

Someone from whom we can continue to learn if we read his works. Cheer up.