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50 Great John Locke Quotes on Character, Wealth, and More

Published on January 17, 2020 7:00 AM EST
Great John Locke Quotes on Character, Wealth, and More

John Locke was an English philosopher, often called the father of Liberalism. You might be more familiar with these John Locke quotes than you think you are, especially if you are an American.

You probably have seen the answers to the questions “What is John Locke known for saying?” and “What are John Locke’s three natural rights”, in our very own Declaration of Independence. You might say our founding fathers were liberals!

Great John Locke Quotes on Character, Wealth, and More

Locke believed that all individuals are equal and are born with certain “inalienable” natural rights: life, liberty, and property. These are God-given and can never be stripped away. Jefferson would come along about a 100 years later and use these teachings to create the foundation of American politics.

Join Locke on his quest for enlightenment by reading these insightful John Locke quotes on government, character, wealth, and life. 

Don’t forget to also check out our list of Thomas Jefferson quotes as well as these wise quotes from George Washington.

John Locke quotes on government and law

1. “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.” – John Locke

2. “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… (and) when his own preservation comes not in competition, ought he, as much as he can, to preserve the rest of mankind, and may not, unless it be to do justice on an offender, take away, or impair the life, or what tends to the preservation of the life, the liberty, health, limb, or goods of another.” – John Locke

3. “In transgressing the law of nature, the offender declares himself to live by another rule than that of reason and common equity.” – John Locke

4. “Freedom of men under government is to have a standing rule to live by, common to every one of that society, and made by the legislative power vested in it; a liberty to follow my own will in all things, when the rule prescribes not, and not to be subject to the inconstant, unknown, arbitrary will of another man.” – John Locke

5. “All mankind, being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions.” – John Locke

6. “Man hath by nature a power to preserve his property – that is, his life, liberty, and estate – against the injuries and attempts of other men.” – John Locke

7. “I have no reason to suppose that he, who would take away my liberty, would not when he had me in his power, take away everything else.” – John Locke

8. “Wherever law ends, tyranny begins.” – John Locke

John Locke quotes about character

9. “All mankind… being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions.” – John Locke

10. “We are like chameleons, we take our hue and the color of our moral character, from those who are around us.” – John Locke

11. “To love our neighbor as ourselves is such a truth for regulating human society, that by that alone one might determine all the cases in social morality.” – John Locke

12. “I have always thought the actions of men the best interpreters of their thoughts.” – John Locke

13. “The discipline of desire is the background of character.” – John Locke

14. “The dread of evil is a much more forcible principle of human actions than the prospect of good.” – John Locke

15. “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.” – John Locke

16. “Our business here is not to know all things, but those which concern our conduct.” – John Locke

17. “All men are liable to error; and most men are, in many points, by passion or interest, under temptation to it.” – John Locke

18. “Our deeds disguise us. People need endless time to try on their deeds until each knows the proper deeds for him to do. But every day, every hour, rushes by. There is no time.” – John Locke

Also check out these memorable Alexander Hamilton quotes from one of America’s brightest minds.

John Locke quotes about wealth and property

19. “Where there is no property there is no injustice.” – John Locke

20. “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.” – John Locke

21. “All wealth is the product of labor.” – John Locke

22. “Every man has a property in his own person. This nobody has a right to, but himself.” – John Locke

23. “The reason why men enter into society is the preservation of their property.” – John Locke

24. “Fashion, for the most part, is nothing but the ostentation of riches.” – John Locke

25. “There are a thousand ways to wealth, but only one way to Heaven.” – John Locke

Wise John Locke quotes about knowledge

26. “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

27. “Education begins the gentleman, but reading, good company, and reflection must finish him.” – John Locke

28. “No man’s knowledge here can go beyond his experience.” – John Locke

29. “It is easier for a tutor to command than to teach.” – John Locke

30. “Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours.” – John Locke

31. “There is frequently more to be learned from the unexpected questions of a child than the discourses of men.” – John Locke

32. “Where all is but dream, reasoning and arguments are of no use, truth, and knowledge nothing.” – John Locke

33. “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 anything else.” – John Locke

34. “It is one thing to show a man that he is in an error, and another to put him in possession of the truth.” – John Locke

35. “The visible mark of extraordinary wisdom and power appear so plainly in all the works of creation.” – John Locke

36. “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.” – John Locke

37. “The only defense against the world is a thorough knowledge of it.”– John Locke

38. “Vague and mysterious forms of speech, and abuse of language, have so long passed for mysteries of science; and hard or misapplied words with little or no meaning have, by prescription, such a right to be mistaken for deep learning and height of speculation, that it will not be easy to persuade either those who speak or those who hear them, that they are but the covers of ignorance and hindrance of true knowledge.” – John Locke

Also check out these Thomas Paine quotes that will make you question your philosophy.

Witty one line John Locke Quotes

39. “What worries you, masters you.” – John Locke

40. “Fortitude is the guard and support of the other virtues.” – John Locke

41. “Things of this world are in so constant a flux, that nothing remains long in the same state.” – John Locke

42. “Liberty is to be free from restraint and violence from others.” – John Locke

43. “Nature never makes excellent things for mean or no uses.” – John Locke

44. “Few men think, yet all will have opinions. Hence men’s opinions are superficial and confused.” – John Locke

45. “Personal Identity depends on Consciousness, not on Substance.” – John Locke

46. “Who are we to tell anyone what they can or can’t do?” – John Locke

47. “We are born to be if we please, rational creatures, but it is use and exercise only that makes us so.” – John Locke

48. “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.” – John Locke

49. “Practice conquers the habit of doing, without reflecting on the rule.” –John Locke

50. “Reading furnishes the mind only with materials of knowledge; it is thinking that makes what we read ours.” – John Locke

What did you learn from these John Locke quotes?

John Locke was instrumental in the creation of American politics nearly 100 years before the Declaration of Independence was drafted. His enlightened view of the world was years ahead of the current mindset.

I think that we could all learn how to be better people by implementing these John Locke quotes. Never let anyone steal your right to happiness and prosperity, as these are basic human goals.

Which of these quotes struck a chord with you? Do you have any other wise John Locke quotes to add? Leave a comment below!

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