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John Locke

Locke (1632-1704) was the grandfather of British Empiricism, today best remembered for his political theory, which set the foundation for American democracy. What Locke is less well-known for are his contributions to theory of knowledge and theory of mind. Locke rejected Cartesian notions that individuals were born with innate ideas, but rather that they were clean slates, and that all knowledge was reducible to matters of sense perception. Locke's political writings famously defined government as a social contract between individuals, who retain the right to life, liberty, and property, and are free to disband government if it infringes on these rights or no longer serves their aims.