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A seventeenth-century English philosopher. Locke argued against the belief that human beings are born with certain ideas already in their minds. He claimed that, on the contrary, the mind is a tabula rasa (blank slate) until experience begins to “write” on it. In his political writings, Locke attacked the doctrine of the divine right of kings and argued that governments depend on the consent of the governed.
Note: Locke's political ideas were taken up by the American Founding Fathers; his influence is especially apparent in the Declaration of Independence.