John Locke (1632 – 1704) is the English empiricist philosopher who is considered the father of Classical Liberalism. The actions of men are the best interpreters of their thoughts.
John Locke quotes
But there is only one thing which gathers people into seditious commotion, and that is oppression.
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.
New opinions are always suspected, and usually opposed, without any other reason but because they are not already common.
There cannot any one moral Rule be propos’d, whereof a Man may not justly demand a Reason.
It is one thing to show a man that he is in error, and another to put him in possession of the truth.
False and doubtful positions, relied upon as unquestionable maxims, keep those who build on them in the dark from truth. Such are usually the prejudices imbibed from education, party, reverence, fashion, interest, et cetera.
He that uses his words loosely and unsteadily will either not be minded or not understood.
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.
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.
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.
One unerring mark of the love of truth is not entertaining any proposition with greater assurance than the proofs it is built upon will warrant.
All men are liable to error; and most men are, in many points, by passion or interest, under temptation to it.
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.
Let me give two cautions. 1) The one is, that you keep them to the practice of what you would have grow into a habit with them, by kind words, and gentle admonitions, rather as minding them of what they forget, than by harsh rebukes and chiding, as if they were willfully guilty. 2) Another thing you are to take care of, is, not to endeavor to settle too many habits at once, lest by variety you confound them, and so perfect none. When constant custom has made any one thing easy and natural to ’em, and they practice it without reflection, you may then go on to another.
Let them have what instructions you will, and ever so learned lectures of breeding daily inculcated into them, that which will most influence their carriage will be the company they converse with, and the fashion of those about them.
You must do nothing before him, which you would not have him imitate.
The only fence against the world is a thorough knowledge of it, into which a young gentleman should be enter’d by degrees, as he can bear it; and the earlier the better, so he be in safe and skillful hands to guide him.
The scene should be gently open’d, and his entrance made step by step, and the dangers pointed out that attend him from several degrees, tempers, designs, and clubs of men. He should be prepared to be shocked by some, and caress’d by others; warned who are like to oppose, who to mislead, who to undermine him, and who to serve him. He should be instructed how to know and distinguish them; where he should let them see, and when dissemble the knowledge of them and their aims and workings.
Reason, if consulted with, would advise, that their children’s time should be spent in acquiring what might be useful to them when they come to be men, rather than to have their heads stuff’d with a deal of trash, a great part whereof they usually never do (’tis certain they never need to) think on again as long as they live: and so much of it as does stick by them they are only the worse for.
COMMENTS on John Locke
The actions of men are the best interpreters of their thoughts. The present world is awash in self-promoting in the form of advertising and personal presentation. It becomes paramount for a sensible person to see through these masks if they are to live a self-directed life. Actions, which require real commitment and effort, are what people are known by. Their motives are unknown, and their past actions are better than their words as predictors of their future actions.
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. This is ancient wisdom, perhaps going all the way back to Imhotep. “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all your getting get understanding.”