Born on this day in Somerset, English philosopher John Locke (1632-1704) observed in his most important work Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690) that human beings are born with a tabula rasa (blank slate) until experience "writes" or imprints on it.
"It's one thing to show a man that he is in error, and another to put him in possession of truth," he said, the founding father of Empiricism, a philosophical celebration of knowledge through experience.
"New opinions are always suspected, and usually opposed, without any other reason but because they are not already common."
Locke believed in the equality of all and attacked the belief of "the divine right of kings." He firmly believed that those in power must have the consent of those being governed. "Whenever law ends, tyranny begins."
His treatises On Civil Government (1690) inspired Thomas Jefferson in the writing of the Declaration of Independence. Locke wrote that rights in property are the basis of human freedom. Government exists to protect these rights and to preserve public order. No one, not ruler or priest, had the right to force another person to change what they believed.
Locke said, "So difficult is it to show the various meanings and imperfections of words when we have nothing else but words to do it with."
Your actions reveal your thoughts.