Anorak News | Discovering John Locke: ‘Reasons for tolerateing Papists equally with others’

Discovering John Locke: ‘Reasons for tolerateing Papists equally with others’

by | 5th, September 2019

 John Locke

A newly discovered manuscript by John Locke (29 August 1632 – 28 October 1704) -“Reasons for tolerateing Papists equally with others” (1667-8) – sheds more light on the great English liberal and advocate of constitutional liberty.  JC Walmsley spotted the document and has published it online. The work deals mainly with the toleration of Catholics prior to the Epistola de tolerantia.

Frank Furedi provide context:

Today, religious freedom and tolerance of competing beliefs are seen as foundational values of Western societies. However, in historical terms, tolerance is a very recent cultural and moral ideal. Until the 17th century, the toleration of different religions, opinions and beliefs was even interpreted as a form of moral cowardice, if not a symptom of heresy. As late as 1691, the French theologian Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet insisted that Catholicism was the least tolerant of all religions. He declared that: ‘I have the right to persecute you because I am right and you are wrong.’

Locke’s words continue to resonate. Knowledge is about questioning. As he writes in An Essay Concerning Humane Understanding:

All Ideas come from Sensation or Reflection. Let us then suppose the mind to be, as we say, white paper, void of all characters, without any ideas: — How comes it to be furnished? Whence comes it by that vast store which the busy and boundless fancy of man has painted on it with an almost endless variety? Whence has it all the materials of reason and knowledge? To this I answer, in one word, from experience. In that all our knowledge is founded; and from that it ultimately derives itself. Our observation employed either, about external sensible objects, or about the internal operations of our minds perceived and reflected on by ourselves, is that which supplies our understandings with all the materials of thinking. These two are the fountains of knowledge, from whence all the ideas we have, or can naturally have, do spring.


Posted: 5th, September 2019 | In: News Comment | TrackBack | Permalink