By Kevin Rushworth
Where do our ideas come from?
Published in 1690, John Locke’s An Essay Concerning Human Understanding gave the world a truly different epistemology—or theory regarding the formation of knowledge .  Just as it heralded in the beginning of both eighteenth century and modern day thought, it took the place of an age-old tradition of human nature that revolved around man’s original sin.  Such a document is an essay, which was published in manuscript format with numerous different books or chapters. In an attempt to analyze Locke’s rejection of innate ideas and his “blank sheet of paper”, attention was focused on Book I of Locke’s Essay.
An Essay Concerning Human Understanding was written in order to provide educated Europeans with a radical form of epistemology as seen by the increasing natural sciences of the late 17th and 18th centuries.  By writing this for an educated audience, language, style and content included within the document can speak to the increasing importance of rationalism in everyday life. Enlightenment philosopher John Locke—born in 1632 and died in 1704—not only made his mark on classical liberalism and government of the people as outlined in his Two Treatises of Government, but also human nature.