Read The Second Treatise of Government by John Locke Free Online
Book Title: The Second Treatise of Government|
The author of the book: John Locke
Edition: Macmillan Publishing Company
Date of issue: 1952
ISBN 13: 9780023933004
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 36.33 MB
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Reader ratings: 3.4
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"3. Political power, then, I take to be a right of making laws with penalties of death, and consequently all less penalties, for the regulating and preserving of [private] property, and of employing the force of the community, in the execution of such laws, and in the defence of the common-wealth from foreign injury; and all this only for the public good."
So I finally have read political philosophy that makes sense. This is the philosopher that Thomas Jefferson and James Madison swore by and who is essential to understanding modern democratic governance. With this treatise, which was a polemic against absolute monarchy, you see the project started by Aristotle in his Politics finally reach its conclusion--for the most part.
This book is not a relatively long read when you consider its subject matter so I will not have to go into a extended summary on it. Basically, humanity starts out in a very free, very equal state of nature were everything is shard with every one and the law of nature which is reason rules all. If you cause conflict you go into a state of war and all just measures can be used to subdue you. It is constant in nature, and after it, that preservation of yourself (first) and others is key which means slavery is not allowed of yourself or anybody else.
When you start to acquire private property though, the state of nature is not a very good place to be any more and this is where [hu]man start[s] to make a civil society and all the laws that come with it. Civil society, while nice, is not perfect and it is when your government starts messing with your ability to have life, liberty, and the pursuit of property then you have a right to revolution.
This treatise, of course, is really known for its establishment of what we now call liberal government. It is the main reason I feel this to be the best work of political philosophy I have read. Locke says that in the end it does not matter what form of government you have. The reason is that two principles have to be in place: a.) the government relies on the consent of the people or citizenry and b.) that the government acts in a limited role, doing only what is necessary for the well-being of civil society. This last point is easily the most confusing because what any society considers necessary is not set in stone.
This is just a very short, abridged and inadequate summary of some of the knowledge in this book. The reason I don't go into more detail is because it is much better that you read this book yourself than hear it second hand. This goes especially if you live under a government that is theoretically limited in its role and based on the consent of the governed because you are basically living in John Locke's commonwealth. If you had to read one book on political philosophy, this is the book.
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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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