I studied John Locke in college, and still had his
Second Treatise of Government
. It’s rained a week straight so I skimmed thru it. Here are a few significant and relevant details I remember, that I haven’t seen discussed on this site. They are a bit unorganized and out of order.
1. He was a proponent for limited government. Individuals should control their own destiny free from interference from others.
2. He stressed private land ownership and rights. He believed a person could use any means necessary to protect his property. He suggests a landowner has the right even to kill someone if it is the only way to ensure he and his property remains safe.
3. Locke said no man has ‘intrinsic’ authority over any other man; only the authority he bestows willingly.
4. As far as government, because there is no intrinsic authority other then that which is given, the people can take it back and overthrow the government if it fails to keep the people safe from arbitrary actions. [He even goes as far as suggesting the government can be overhthrown if 51% believe it is necessary!] Also, its powers are limited since it only has that authority specifically bestowed by the people. Its job is only to enforce the authority given it by man.
5. It is presumed that the Creator made all men naturally equal and no one has more power than another. Thus, man can dispose of property and belongs as he sees fit and can act as he pleases, so long as it is within the framework that: all are equal, one cannot harm others and for the preservation of oneself and mankind.
6. Morals are not innate. They were developed by Religion and Government to prevent men from acting according to their nautre.
7. Human nature is motivated by man’s pursuit of happiness and desire to not experience pain and misery. (Appetites and Aversions)
8. The Moral Code was created to ensure man treats others equally and respects rights, which is enforced via a system of rewards and punishments. There is also the need for a collective to punish because there are some men who, despite the consequences, will always take what they want. This is why we need an all-powerful government to enforce laws and morals.
9. The job of a government is convenience so one is not always a judge, magistrate and policeman.
In different sections he states men are rational, and in others he says they’re irrational. It seems he uses it for his own convenience to help prove his point. I also interpret his explanation of government inconsistent as well, because he says it is ‘all-powerful’ and also states it has limited powers, does jobs indivuduals should not be expected to do and can be overthrown at any given time. There are only a few examples of this. All in all he has a pretty straight-forward line of thinking and explains it well.
How do you think this applies to our John Locke? I look forward to your thoughts