John Locke was an influential Enlightenment thinker whose work inspired many of the Founding Fathers. Locke was a philosopher and is commonly regarded as the Father of Liberalism. Since his work has come up in other discussions, like the one I had with Dr. Yenor. Plus, Locke was a focal point of my conversation with Brooke Medina from the John Locke Foundation. Because he’s top of mind, and because we’re ready to tear apart anything anyone tries to build in our society, I wanted to discuss Two Treatises on Government to learn how to criticize government.
“The end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom. For in all the states of created beings capable of law, where there is no law, there is no freedom.”-John Locke
First Treatise: Criticize Government As It Is
In the first treatise, Locke responds to Robert Filmer’s Patriarcha, a work in favor of the divine right of kings. During this time there was a lot of political turbulence in England, and a debate was bubbling up about the monarchy. Locke responded to Filmer because of his contention that all men are born slaves of the divinely ordained king. This idea repulsed Locke because he believed each person is capable of reason. Furthermore, each person is capable of understanding and following God’s Law.
Second Treatise: Offer a Viable Alternative
The second treatise is a long description of what could replace the British system. He juxtaposes the state of nature and the state of war, saying that people enter into society to avoid a state of war. Then, Locke discusses property rights, explaining why they are a right and how to defend them. After laying out these main principles and observations, he goes on to discuss a suitable form of government.
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