Friday, May 4, 2012

John Locke

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John Locke expressed a more positive outlook on man and his natural qualities. He believed that men are instinctively good, moral, and rational, and as a result, are naturally capable of governing themselves. This raises the question as to why such a civil group would enter into a state of governed society and give up their “natural liberty.” “The great and chief end, therefore, of men’s uniting into commonwealths, and putting themselves under government, is the preservation of their property” (P. 1, Two Treatises of Government). Essential to Locke’s works and ideas is the importance placed on private property. One’s property was very important to the family for numerous reasons and it was necessary to protect and secure. Locke describes property as being unsafe and insecure; individuals therefore agree to give up their freedom to protect their estate and the need for a supreme power arises. “The great end of men’s entering into society, being the enjoyment of their properties in peace and safety.........” (P. 4, Two Treatises of Government). Individuals not only give up their liberty to protect and guarantee the safety of their property, but it also makes governing and controlling people more organized and efficient; natural morality can be secured more effectively. “And this puts men out of a state of nature into that of a common-wealth, by setting up a judge on earth, with authority to determine all the controversies, and redress the injuries that may happen to any member of the commonwealth;...” (P. 5, Two Treatises of Government).

Hobbes and Locke may have been philosophers hundreds of years ago, but their ideas are not only relevant in past societies, but also to ours today. In an abundance of societies and cultures, humans hold a certain amount of power amongst family, friends, and acquaintances. There is however a line drawn between the issues we have power over and those which we do not. As was expressed by both Hobbes and Locke, individuals must agree to give up some of their rights and freedoms, and submit to a higher power that can control, regulate, and protect the people. Hobbes believed that without rules and limitations set by a Commonwealth, humans would run free and there would be chaos and anarchy. Locke based his ideas on the preservation of one’s property and how to best run a public efficiently. Although Hobbes and Locke expressed different beliefs about the natural state of man, the two understood that, whether man is naturally good or naturally evil, Commonwealths and governments are essential to our secure and peaceful existence.

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