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English philosopher John Locke's works lie at the foundation of modern philosophical empiricism and political liberalism.
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Exiled in Holland, Locke composed An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, another ground breaking work of intellectual might that spanned four books and took on the task of examining the nature of human knowledge.
Just like his Two Treatises, the Essay was published after Locke's return to England in 1688. His arrival back in his homeland had come in the aftermath of the dramatic departure of King James II, who'd fled the country,
allowing the Whigs to rise to power. Later called the Glorious Revolution of 1688, the event forever changed English government, moving the balance of power from the throne to Parliament. It also set Locke up to be a hero to many in his native country.
In addition to his Essay and Two Treatises, Locke's return to England also saw him publish additional work, including A Letter Concerning Toleration, The Reasonableness of Christianity and Some Thoughts Concerning Education.
A hero to the Whig party, Locke remained connected to governmental affairs in his advanced years. He helped steer the resurrection of the Board of Trade, which oversaw England's new territories in North America. Locke served as one of the body's key members.
Long afflicted with delicate health, Locke passed away on October 28, 1704 in Essex, where he'd resided over the last decade of his life.
Years after his death we are still gauging his impact on Western thought. His theories concerning the separation of Church and State, religious freedom, and liberty, not only influenced European thinkers such as the French Enlightenment writer, Voltaire, but shaped the thinking of America's founders, from Alexander Hamilton to Thomas Jefferson.
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