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55 Essential Quotes by John Locke

Last updated on Sep 7th, 2019

55 Essential Quotes by John Locke

John Locke (born August 29, 1632, Wrington, Somerset, England – died October 28, 1704, High Laver, Essex, England) was an English philosopher, physician, political and social contract theorist, and a leading figure of British empiricism.

Locke’s monumental and most important philosophical work, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689), was one of the main sources of empiricism in modern philosophy. His other major works include A Letter Concerning Toleration (1689), Two Treatises of Government (1689), Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693), and The Reasonableness of Christianity (1695).

In addition to being regarded as one of the most influential Enlightenment thinkers, Locke’s ideas had a tremendous influence on the development of epistemology and political philosophy.

His writings influenced not only many European thinkers such as Voltaire and Rousseau but also the American revolutionaries.

1
All men are liable to error; and most men are, in many points, by passion or interest, under temptation to it.'Book IV. Of Knowledge and Opinion, Chapter XX. Of wrong Assent, or Error,' An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689)
2
It is practice alone that brings the powers of the mind as well as those of the body to their perfection.'Section IV. Of Practice and Habits,' Of the Conduct of the Understanding (1706)
3
I have always thought the actions of men the best interpreters of their thoughts.'Book I. Neither Principles nor Ideas are Innate, Chapter II. No Innate Practical Principles,' An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689)
4
New opinions are always suspected, and usually opposed, without any other reason but because they are not already common.'The Epistle Dedicatory,' An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689)
Every man has a property in his own person: this no body has any right to but himself. - John Locke (Two Treatises of Government Quotes)
5
Every man has a property in his own person: this no body has any right to but himself.'Book II, Chapter V: Of Property,' Two Treatises of Government (1689)
6
It is one thing to show a man that he is in an error, and another to put him in possession of truth.'Book IV. Of Knowledge and Opinion, Chapter VII. Of Maxima,' An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689)
7
Defects and weakness in men’s understandings, as well as other faculties, come from want of a right use of their own minds.'Section IV. Of Practice and Habits,' Of the Conduct of the Understanding (1706)
8
He that would seriously set upon the search of truth, ought in the first place to prepare his mind with a love of it; for he that loves it not will not take much pains to get it, nor be much concerned when he misses it.'Book IV. Of Knowledge and Opinion, Chapter XIX. Of Enthusiasm,' An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689)
9
To prejudge other men’s notions before we have looked into them, is not to show their darkness, but to put out our own eyes.'Section III. Reasoning,' Of the Conduct of the Understanding (1706)
The only fence against the world, is a thorough knowledge of it. - John Locke (Some Thoughts Concerning Education Quotes)
10
The only fence against the world, is a thorough knowledge of it.'Section 94. Forewarned, forearmed,' Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693)
11
The end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom: for in all the states of created beings capable of law, where there is no law, there is no freedom.'Book II. Chapter VI. Of Paternal Power,' Two Treatises of Government (1689)
12
There are a thousand ways to Wealth, but only one way to Heaven.A Letter Concerning Toleration (1689)
13
To love truth for truth’s sake is the principal part of human perfection in this world, and the seed-plot of all other virtues.Letter to Anthony Collins (October 30, 1703)
14
Where all is but dream, reasoning and arguments are of no use, truth and knowledge nothing.'Book IV. Of Knowledge and Opinion, Chapter II. Of the Degrees of our Knowledge,' An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689)
Where there is no property there is no injustice. - John Locke (An Essay Concerning Human Understanding Quotes)
15
Where there is no property there is no injustice.'Book IV. Of Knowledge and Opinion, Chapter III. Of the Extent of human Knowledge,' An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689)
16
We are all a sort of chameleons, that still take a tincture from things near us.'Section 67, 68. Manners acquired by Imitation,' Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693)
17
It is of great use to the sailor to know the length of his line, though he cannot with it fathom all the depths of the ocean.'Book I. Of Innate Notions, Chapter I. Introduction,' An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689)
18
There is frequently more to be learned from the unexpected questions of a child than the discourses of men.'Section 120. Children's Questions,' Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693)
19
Things of this world are in so constant a flux, that nothing remains long in the same state.'Book II. Chapter XIII. Of the Subordination of the Powers of the Commonwealth,' Two Treatises of Government (1689)
Government has no other end but the preservation of property. - John Locke (Two Treatises of Government Quotes)
20
Government has no other end but the preservation of property.'Book II, Chapter VII. Of Political or Civil Society,' Two Treatises of Government (1689)
21
Anger is uneasiness or discomposure of the mind upon the receipt of any injury, with a present purpose of revenge.'Book II. Of Ideas, Chapter XX. Of Modes of Pleasure and Pain,' An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689)
22
In short, herein seems to lie the difference between idiots and madmen, that madmen put wrong ideas together, and so make wrong propositions, but argue and reason right from them; but idiots make very few or no propositions, and reason scarce at all.'Book II. Of Ideas, Chapter XI. Of Discerning, and other Operations of the Mind,' An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689)
23
Thus parents, by humouring and cockering them when little, corrupt the principles of nature in their children, and wonder afterwards to taste the bitter waters, when they themselves have poisoned the fountain.'Section 32-35. Self-denial must be taught early,' Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693)
24
To what purpose all this, but to shew that the difference so observable in men’s understandings and parts, does not arise so much from natural faculties as acquired habits?'Section IV. Of Practice and Habits,' Of the Conduct of the Understanding (1706)
Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge: it is thinking that makes what we read ours. - John Locke (Of the Conduct of the Understanding Quotes)
25
Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge: it is thinking that makes what we read ours.'Section XX. Reading,' Of the Conduct of the Understanding (1706)
26
False and doubtful positions, relied upon as unquestionable maxims, keep those in the dark from truth, who build on them. Such are usually the prejudices imbibed from education, party, reverence, fashion, interest, et cetera.'Section X. Prejudices,' Of the Conduct of the Understanding (1706)
27
A man is not permitted without censure to follow his own thoughts in the search of truth, when they lead him ever so little out of the common road.'Book I. Of Innate Notions, Chapter II. No Innate Principles in the Mind,' An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689)
28
Good and evil, reward and punishment, are the only motives to a rational creature: these are the spur and reins whereby all mankind are set on work, and guided.'Section 53-55. Rewards and Punishments,' Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693)
29
Knowledge is grateful to the understanding, as light to the eyes.'Section 118-120. Knowledge a Pleasure,' Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693)
Virtue is harder to be got, than knowledge of the world; and, if lost in a young man, is seldom recovered. - John Locke (Some Thoughts Concerning Education Quotes)
30
Virtue is harder to be got, than knowledge of the world; and, if lost in a young man, is seldom recovered.'Section 46. Home versus School,' Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693)
31
No man’s knowledge here can go beyond his experience.'Book II. Of Ideas, Chapter I. Of Ideas in General, and their Original,' An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689)
32
There cannot any one moral rule be proposed whereof a man may not justly demand a reason.'Book I. Of Innate Notions, Chapter III. No Innate practical Principles,' An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689)
33
God is the place of spirits, as spaces are the places of bodies.'An Examination of P. Malebranche's Opinion of Seeing All Things in God,' The Posthumous Works (1706)
34
There cannot be greater rudeness than to interrupt another in the current of his discourse.'Section 145. Rudeness of Interrupting,' Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693)
Fashion is, for the most part, nothing but the ostentation of riches. - John Locke Quotes
35
Fashion is, for the most part, nothing but the ostentation of riches.'Some Considerations of the Consequences of lowering the Interest and raising the Value of Money.' The Works of John Locke, Volume 5
36
We should have a great fewer disputes in the world if words were taken for what they are, the signs of our ideas only, and not for things themselves.'Book III. Of Words, Chapter X. Of the Abuse of Words,' An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689)
37
Fortitude is the guard and support of the other virtues.'Section 95. True Courage,' Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693)
38
Any one reflecting upon the thought he has of the delight, which any present or absent thing is apt to produce in him, has the idea we call “love.”'Book II. Of Ideas, Chapter XX. Of Modes of Pleasure and Pain,' An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689)
39
There is only one thing which gathers people into seditious commotion, and that is oppression.A Letter Concerning Toleration (1689)
The understanding, like the eye, whilst it makes us see and perceive all other things, takes no notice of itself; and it requires art and pains to set it at a distance and make it its own object. - John Locke (An Essay Concerning Human Understanding Quotes)
40
The understanding, like the eye, whilst it makes us see and perceive all other things, takes no notice of itself; and it requires art and pains to set it at a distance and make it its own object.'Book I. Of Innate Notions, Chapter I. Introduction,' An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689)
41
He that judges without informing himself to the utmost that he is capable, cannot acquit himself of judging amiss.'Book II. Of Ideas, Chapter XXI. Of Power,' An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689)
42
Religion, which should most distinguish us from the beasts, and ought most particularly elevate us, as rational creatures, above brutes, is that wherein men often appear most irrational, and more senseless than beasts themselves.'Book IV. Of Knowledge and Opinion, Chapter XVIII. Of Faith and Reason, and their distinct Provinces,' An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689)
43
He that uses his words loosely and unsteadily will either not be minded or not understood.'Book III. Of Words, Chapter X. Of the Abuse of Words,' An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689)
44
If to break loose from the conduct of reason, and to want that restraint of examination and judgment which keeps us from choosing or doing the worst, be liberty, true liberty, madmen and fools are the only freemen: but yet, I think, nobody would choose to be mad for the sake of such liberty, but he that is mad already.'Book II. Of Ideas, Chapter XXI. Of Power,' An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689)
Our business here is not to know all things, but those which concern our conduct. - John Locke (An Essay Concerning Human Understanding Quotes)
45
Our business here is not to know all things, but those which concern our conduct.'Book I. Of Innate Notions, Chapter I. Introduction,' An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689)
46
We are born with faculties and powers capable almost of any thing, such at least as would carry us farther than can easily be imagined: but it is only the exercise of those powers, which gives us ability and skill in any thing, and leads us towards perfection.'Section IV. Of Practice and Habits,' Of the Conduct of the Understanding (1706)
47
The only thing we are naturally afraid of is pain, or loss of pleasure. And because these are not annexed to any shape, colour, or size of visible objects, we are frighted of none of them, till either we have felt pain from them, or have notions put into us that they will do us harm.'Section 115. What is Fear?,' Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693)
48
As usurpation is the exercise of power which another has a right to, so tyranny is the exercise of power beyond right, which nobody can have a right to.'Book II. Chapter XVIII. Of Tyranny,' Two Treatises of Government (1689)
49
Zeal or love for truth can never permit falsehood to be used in the defense of it.The Reasonableness of Christianity, as Delivered in the Scriptures (1695)
The improvement of understanding is for two ends: first, our own increase of knowledge; secondly, to enable us to deliver that knowledge to others. - John Locke Quotes
50
The improvement of understanding is for two ends: first, our own increase of knowledge; secondly, to enable us to deliver that knowledge to others.'Some thoughts concerning Reading and Study for a Gentleman,' The Works of John Locke, Volume 3
51
The necessity of believing without knowledge, nay, often upon very slight grounds, in this fleeting state of action and blindness we are in, should make us more busy and careful to inform ourselves than constrain others.'Book IV. Of Knowledge and Opinion, Chapter XVI. Of the Degrees of Assent,' An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689)
52
There are very few lovers of truth, for truth’s sake, even amongst those who persuade themselves that they are so.'Book IV. Of Knowledge and Opinion, Chapter XIX. Of Enthusiasm,' An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1689)
53
He that will have his son have a respect for him and his orders, must himself have a great reverence for his son.'Section 1-5. Harfening the body,' Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693)
54
The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges every one: and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions.'Book II, Chapter II: Of the State of Nature,' Two Treatises of Government (1689)
A sound mind in a sound body, is a short, but full description of a happy state in this world. He that has these two, has little more to wish for; and he that wants either of them, will be little the better for any thing else. - John Locke (Some Thoughts Concerning Education Quotes)
55
A sound mind in a sound body, is a short, but full description of a happy state in this world. He that has these two, has little more to wish for; and he that wants either of them, will be little the better for any thing else.'Section 70, 71. Example. Pueris reverntia,' Some Thoughts Concerning Education (1693)

No Source

1
What worries you, masters you.No source
2
All wealth is the product of labor.No source
3
The dread of evil is a much more forcible principle of human actions than the prospect of good.No source
4
Our incomes are like our shoes; if too small, they gall and pinch us; but if too large, they cause us to stumble and to trip.No source