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!
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.
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
If you’re enjoying these quotes, make sure to read our collection of character quotes about the power of integrity.
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
You might also like these Francis Bacon quotes from the iconic English philosopher.
More John Locke quotes
51. “New opinions are always suspected, and usually opposed, without any other reason but because they are not common.” – John Locke
52. “It is only practice that improves our minds as well as bodies, and we must expect nothing from our understandings any farther than they are perfected by habits.” – John Locke
53. “It is ambition enough to be employed as an under-labourer in clearing the ground a little, and removing some of the rubbish which lies in the way to knowledge.” – John Locke
54. “The legislative cannot transfer the power of making laws to any other hands: for it being but a delegated power from the people, they who have it cannot pass it over to others.” – John Locke
55. “When we find out an Idea, by whose Intervention we discover the Connexion of two others, this is a Revelation from God to us, by the voice of Reason.” – John Locke
56. “Truths are not the better nor the worse for their obviousness or difficulty, but their value is to be measured by their usefulness and tendency.” – John Locke
57. “There are some Men of one, some but of two Syllogisms, and no more; and others that can but advance one step farther.” – John Locke
58. “Virtue is harder to be got than knowledge of the world; and, if lost in a young man, is seldom recovered.” – John Locke
59. “He that takes away reason to make way for revelation puts out the Light of both , as one who pokes out the eye to see.” – John Locke
60. “The better to understand the nature, manner, and extent of our knowledge, one thing is carefully to be observed concerning the ideas we have; and that is, that some of them are simple and some complex.” – 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!