Friday, October 23, 2020

John locke

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John Locke was probably one of the most influential thinkers and philosophers of the late 1600's. John Locke's views about government and politics are expressed in his Second Treatise of Government written in 160. Locke advocates God-given rights for all human beings and that government is established to protect these individual rights. He argues that government exists by the consent of the governed. Locke also talks about the individual rights to property given by God for the use of the people. He discusses the possibility of tyranny in the government as well. Throughout his Second Treatise of Government, Locke's view is that sovereignty rests with the people and not with the government.

In chapters one through three of his Second Treatise of Government, Locke explains how God gave all human beings individual rights. He says the power resides with the people and not with the government or a monarchy. Locke says "…yet the knowledge if which is the eldest line of Adam's posterity being so long since utterly lost…" (pg.). Locke is implying that even if Adam was given political power over the people by God, his heirs have been lost in the races of mankind. The Divine Rights of kings were understood to be the right of a king to rule directly from God. Locke argues that since there is no proof that the kings were directly related to Adam, political power is solely in the hands of the people. Locke says, "…we must consider what state all men are naturally in, and that is a state of perfect freedom…" (pg.). Government, by nature, has no rule over man, man by nature seeks freedom, not authority, however, government is established to protect individual rights.

Locke believed that the right to private property, which is an individual right, originated from God when the earth was created. God wanted man to make use of all the things on the earth. God also gave man the ability to reason, to take full advantage of what the earth had to offer and use it for their own benefit. Locke says "whatsoever then he removes out of the state of nature hath provided, and left it in, he hath mixed his labour with, and joined to it something that is his own, and thereby makes it his property"(pg.1). He explains that once a person removes something out of its original state of nature, applies his own labor to it, the object becomes his own property

To be in a place where there is no government or jurisdiction and all the freedom in the world, seems like a good idea. This kind of freedom will allow you to do as you please, without the consent of anyone. It gives you the right to punish those who have committed crimes against you, as you may see fit. You are endowed with all the God-given rights, including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. This would seem as the perfect place to live. But if one were to carefully examine this type of living, one would realize the importance of a government.

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This type of environment is discussed in John Locke's, Second Treatise of Government. In the state of nature, there is perfect freedom, no one is controlling others and no one is being controlled, everyone is equal. Locke comes to say that the only way someone can rule over us is if we let them. There is no need for a central authority figure to govern the actions of people, in the state of nature, for it is the people, themselves, who impose the "peace and preservation of mankind". Freedom can be obtained as long as one does not bother others in their state of nature. In this state, superiority and jurisdiction does not exist, whereby, men have the power to punish those who offend him. This element in the state of nature, where men are their own executioners of their offenders, can cause problems. The executioner can be more lenient on a person he prefers, and harsher on someone else, who committed the same crime. While all men are in charge of their own will according to the Law of Reason in which they are born, some men do, in fact, break or reject this law, which causes them to enter into a state of war with the others. People reject the law of nature for many reasons, especially when their ideas and opinions differ. One of two things may occur when people reject the laws of nature. The first is that one could enter into a state of war with someone else, and the other is that one could choose to enter into a state of society. It is reason that ultimately leads a person into the state of society through a social contract. The rights to punish others as they see fit is given up by men, when he leaves the state of nature and conforms to society and government. Instead, the social contract exists to protect people from those who transgress by inflicting punishment to offenders through the force of the government.

A further significant point that Locke made in his Second Treatise of Government was tyranny. A tyrant government often violates the rights of the people and abuses their power. Consideration of individual rights and freedom of the people are not cared for. Locke discusses how in such a government, the ruler works for themselves, and not for the benefit of the people, in which dissolution can occur. If the leader or the government neglects its obligations, the government is probable to failure. However Locke says that the conditions for dissolution are not likely to occur, "…such revolutions happen not upon every little mismanagement in public affairs" (pg.70). Due to the ability that God has given us to reason, Locke is implying that revolts are infrequent. He is saying that since humans are capable of thinking and rationalizing, revolts do not occur for every minuscule problem the people may have with the government. Conditions for dissolution are based upon long term abuse by the government. Locke argues that dissolution creates a state of nature because a government would not be present. The tyrant puts themselves in a state of war with the citizens. In a state of nature, you give up the right to be protected by the laws and legislation. Civil Society differs in that you have a higher authority to seek protection or defense from. When the people's liberties are dissolved, they are forced to establish a new government. Locke says, "…in these and like cases, when the government is dissolved, the people are at liberty to provide for themselves by erecting a new legislative…" (pg. 67). The pervious chapters in Locke's Second Government of Treatise, he discusses the individual rights given by God. The chapter of tyranny can be linked to the other chapters because it totally disenables these God given rights.

John Locke's views seem to be clear. Locke supports the idea that all human beings have individual rights given by God and government is constructed to protect these rights. He establishes that the power resides in the hands of the people. Locke says that the government exists only by the consent of the governed. John Locke believes that with his ideology of individual rights and the government, a better life is achievable. Although, the absence of government seems like a good idea, it is still necessary. Government exists to protect the individual rights of human beings. It allows you the opportunity to prove your innocence if falsely accused, unlike in the state of nature.

Locke often refers to religion in his Second Treatise of Government, and is the foundation upon which most of his theories are built. The bases of Locke's theories are constructed from the idea that all human beings have natural God-given rights. In further exploring with John Locke's Second Treatise of Government, I would focus on his religious aspects of individuality, private property, and the state. I would also discuss how and why people have natural right to property and the impact it has on the ruler or government.

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