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Book Title: Two Treatises of Government|
The author of the book: John Locke
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Loaded: 2937 times
Reader ratings: 3.9
Edition: Cambridge University Press
Date of issue: October 28th 1988
ISBN 13: 9780521357302
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 18.31 MB
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Those of us living in liberal democracies owe tremendous intellectual debt to John Locke. His "Second Treatise" in particular helped lay the foundation for a political system that emphasized "life, liberty, and property." The First Treatise is interesting to skim through, though it is in the second where the Locke is most substantive. His Theory of Private Property, which could also be construed as a theory of value, is an unmistakable revolution in political thought. It is, as Locke contends, when man applies his labor to nature that he is entitled to it. Questions about environmental ethics or indegenous rights aside, this observation, made in a still heavily ecclesiastical society, is a brilliant one. Furthermore, Locke's understanding of the formation of government is based on a hypothetical "state of nature" account. Locke's arguments are intellectually pleasing, and his social-scientific models make intuitive sense. Given that, perhaps the only weakness of the work is its failure to adequately analyze such concepts as the social contract or his theory of labor-property relations. For example, Locke fails to seriously consider what we should do with states that are clearly formed by mere force. Indeed, he doesn't adequately address the possibility that such a state could justify its existence on the grounds that "better tyranny than nothing." While Locke believes that a state that doesn't respect private property cannot last for very long, history says otherwise. Of course, in retrospect it is easier to criticize Locke in these regards, but with Machiavelli before him it was not as though these ideas were not known. There are admittedly other inconsistencies, such as his view on taxation later in the book and on who "owns" the grass his serf cuts. Interestingly enough, Locke is unwilling to expound on the distinction between property garnered for the sake of personal enjoyment (possessions) and property garnered for the sake of profit. Nevertheless, the work is a passionate defense of a liberal government, and the points are persuasively argued. As long as the reader, as Locke himself urges, keeps a skeptical attitude, this work has much to offer.
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John Locke was an English philosopher. Locke is considered the first of the British Empiricists, but is equally important to social contract theory. His ideas had enormous influence on the development of epistemology and political philosophy, and he is widely regarded as one of the most influential Enlightenment thinkers and contributors to liberal theory. His writings influenced Voltaire and Rousseau, many Scottish Enlightenment thinkers, as well as the American revolutionaries. This influence is reflected in the American Declaration of Independence.
Locke's theory of mind is often cited as the origin for modern conceptions of identity and "the self", figuring prominently in the later works of philosophers such as David Hume, Jean-Jacques Rousseau and Immanuel Kant. Locke was the first Western philosopher to define the self through a continuity of "consciousness." He also postulated that the mind was a "blank slate" or "tabula rasa"; that is, contrary to Cartesian or Christian philosophy, Locke maintained that people are born without innate ideas.
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