Wednesday, September 16, 2009

John Locke's Second Treatise, of Civil Government

John Locke has a generally negative view on the nature of man. The man in his examples, the exception to most other people, is content with his own freedom and belongings, and he never desires another man's property. The State of Nature could only be a successful way of organizing humans if all of mankind was as moral and independent as the man in Locke's examples. Locke doesn't even allow the possibility of a wholly good humankind though, saying that there will always be that envious and unjust person who creates the need for a punishment or justice system. Those citizens who are law-abiding and who are nervous about the vulnerability of their possessions, will seek solace in social organization. If government can be considered a system of justice and plan to organize people, then government is only necessary because there are bad people.

The fact that Locke describes law as something that is "plain and intelligible to all rational creatures" suggests that he wants all people to be involved in the government. Nothing should be above the citizens' comprehension for the people have a right to know what they gave up their freedom for. He does admit that there must be a higher, impartial power who will not be carried away by the petty, personal relations of the average man.

How were there laws in the State of Nature? Locke said every man knew it was wrong to harm another man or his possessions and that he only has the liberty to control his own. But in real nature, animals have no sense of property other than the resources they gained by killing their neighbor. Laws seem to contradict the State of Nature for the only true law in nature is survival of the fittest.

Although Locke doesn't name it this, his form of government seems to be a democracy where the power and approval for the government comes directly from the people. The people are also the sole judges of whether or not the government is acting in the best interests of the people.

This document was really confusing.

1 comment:

  1. Nicely done. I am not sure about the idea that Locke thinks the state of nature is a good place and that government is needed because there are just a few bad people. I will have to think about that. I thought he beleived that human nature is the problem and man institutes government to cure that problem. Man consents to be governed for that reason. You are doing very well!! 10/10