2000 NewFoundations


W. Gussie, J. Jingeleski


edited 9/20/18

I. THEORY OF VALUE: What knowledge and skills are worthwhile learning? What are the goals of Education?

The skill and knowledge needed to order our actions in accordance with the laws of nature; to treat our possessions and persons responsibly, and to avoid coming under the absolute control of others (Yolton, p. 16)

Acquiring knowledge frequently establishes a habit of doing so -satisfying natural curiosity frequently establishes the habit of loving and esteeming all learning (Deighton, p. 23)

Pursuit of truth is a duty we owe to God and ourselves (Cranston, p. 23)

The goal of education is the welfare and prosperity of the nation -Locke conceived the nations's welfare and prosperity in terms of the personal happiness and social usefulness of its citizens (Deighton, p. 20)

Education for Locke provides the character formation necessary for becoming a person and for being a responsible citizen (Yolton, p. 3)

His education philosophy is an effort to show how democratic constitutional monarchy might be preserved and improved (Deighton, p. 20)

II. THEORY OF KNOWLEDGE What is knowledge? How is it different from belief? What is a mistake? A lie?

Knowledge is publicly verifiable, measurable, plain, demonstrable facts - not imagination (Cranston, p. 17) the best instance of knowing is intuiting - by intuiting is meant a power which the mind possesses of apprehending truth (Aaron, p. 221)

Knowledge, like good character, is a set of mental habits rather than a body of belief (Deighton, p. 21)

Knowledge is limited to imperfections of ideas we have; we can have probable knowledge even when we can't have certain knowledge (Cranston, p.22)

Knowledge is the perception of the agreement or disagreement of two ideas (Hutchins, p. 347) - may be four sorts: identity or diversity, relation, co-existence and real existence

Knowing is an infallible intuition; opening is coming to a conclusion after weighing the evidence, but without certainty (Aaron, p 248). Mistakes and lies would be a lack of evidence and defiance of evidence.

III. THEORY OF HUMAN NATURE What is a human being? How does it differ from other species? What are the limits of human potential?

Man becomes moral through education - humans have no innate ideas of God, no innate moral truths, no natural inclination of virtue - Locke defined man as both rational and moral (Yolton, p. 26, 27)

Man is subject to the rule of natural law which was ultimately God's law made known to man through the voice of reason (Cranston, p. 11)

Locke's denial of innate ideas put a premium on individual effort, on the labor necessary to gain knowledge from experience (Tarcov, P. 83). Man could be ruled and be free - man is endowed with natural rights such as life, liberty and property (Cranston,, p. 12)

IV. THEORY OF LEARNING What is learning? How are skills and knowledge acquired?

The learning that gentlemen should possess is general, according to Locke (Deighton, p 21). Learning is the last and least part of education. Learning is a great help to virtue and wisdom, but without them it produces only the more foolish or worse men (Tarcov, p. 198)

From infancy onwards, the child's efforts toward bodily pleasure and toward power in possessions and over others should be thoroughly frustrated. The result will be that habits of self-centered, aggressive behavior and of preferring ignorance to learning will not become established (Deighton, p. 22)

Skills and knowledge are acquired by example and practice instead of charging of children's memories with rules and principals (Cranston, p. 16)

Unconscious habits are bred by practice and manners learned by example (Cranston, p. 16)


Who is to teach? By what methods? What will the curriculum be?

The goal of the gentlemen's education cannot be achieved by sending him to a school. Learning should be superintended by a tutor assisted by genuinely interested parents (Deighton, p. 22

For working classes, poor children of both sexes between the ages of 3-14 should be compelled to attend school with "teachers" (Deighton p. 20)

Locke attacked ordinary method of teaching - manners learned by example, latin learned by speaking (cranston p. 16)

The best way to get men to do what is wanted is not t terrify or force them but to motivate them, to arouse and then rely on desires, while letting them think, not without justice, that they are acting for their own sakes and of their own free will (Tarcov, p. 98)

Methods for poor - learn by practice; for gentlemen - bring pupil to practice the activities of the gentlemanly ideal until they become habitual (Deighton, p., 22)

Curriculum for the poor: focus on regular worship for sake of religion and moral improvement, handicrafts and agricultural skills, vocational arts - may have intended that young should learn to read, write and do math but made no statements to that effect (Deighton, p. 20)

Curriculum for gentlemen: health - the first ingredient of personal happiness; development of good character - consisting of three groups of habits - virtue, wisdom and breeding; to include reading, writing and arithmetic, Latin, language and literature (Greek for scholars only) ; literature of France and England, the natural and social sciences; the arts should occupy a minor place -which Locke considered a useless or dangerous thing (Deighton, p. 21-22)

Learning -that gentlemen should possess is general; detailed learning is only for those who would become scholars; one should know in detail what is directly useful in managing personal affairs. (deighton, p. 21)

VI. THEORY OF SOCIETY What is society? What institutions are involved in the educational process?

Men once lived in a state of natural anarchy but had banded together to form political society (Cranston, p. 11) Men entrusted power to rulers on the condition that natural rights were respected by rulers. Natural rights and natural law are rooted in edicts of God which were inalienable (Cranston, p. 12, 13)

Men possess these traits: 1) natural freedom - right to life and liberty; 2) necessity for labor; and 3) capacity of reason - from # 1 & 2 - f lows right of property in things which is chief factor in foundation of society (Cranston, p. 24-25)

The child enters both a family and a nation. The family's duty being slowly to awaken the child to virtue. The government must perform its part in the social contract - to preserve the rights to life and liberty of all the citizens (Deighton, p. 23) Each of these communities should be guided by moral laws, laws devised from the laws of nature which are God's laws (Yolton, p. 20)

VII. THEORY OF OPPORTUNITY Who is to be educated? Who is to be schooled?

The citizens of the nation fall into two kinds: those who posses property to some significant degree and those who do not. The f first group is made up of gentlemen, the second of workingmen. Both gentlemen and workingmen ought to be personally happy and socially useful, but since they occupy different stations in society, their happiness and usefulness must differ. The welfare and prosperity of the nation demand that children of the propertied class be educated in a way quite different from children of the poor (Deighton, p. 21). Locke believed that the daughters of gentlemen should be education in much the same way as their sons (Deighton, p. 24)

Children of the poor class should be kept away from schools - even the best - because they would fall into the company of undesirables (Cranston, p. 17)


VIII. THEORY OF CONSENSUS Why do people disagree? How is the consensus achieved? Whose opinion takes precedence?

Wrong doing is a sign of ignorance; people should be enlightened, use own power of reason, be prudent, reflective and calculatory instead of being moved by impulse (Cranston, p. 24).

The mind perceives the agreement between our idea and itself, and a disagreement in this respect between it and all others (for example, white is white and not black). The mind also perceives a violation between its ideas. In one sense all the agreements are violations, for an agreement is a violation. (Aaron, p. 225)


Aaron, R. (1971). John Locke. Oxford: The Oxford University Press

Cranston, M. (1969). John Locke (rev. ed. Green and Co., Ltd. London: Longmans,

Deighton, L.C. (Ed.) (1971). The encyclopedia of education, volume 6. New York: The Macmillan Company and the Free Press.

Hutchins, R.M. (Ed.) (1971). Great books of the western world: Volume 35 - Locke, Berkeley and Hume (rev. ed). Chicago: Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc.

Tarcov, N. (1984). Locke's education for liberty. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Yolton, J. W. (1968) John Locke and the way of ideas. Oxford: The Oxford University Press