This lesson is divided into two parts, both accessible below. In unrest bubbled through the American Colonies. Britain had severely restricted Massachusetts through the Intolerable Acts; towns were voting to boycott British goods, and British soldiers were becoming a common sight in the American Colonies. In this lesson you will explore a famous speech by Patrick Henry — , member of the Second Virginia Convention. Patrick Henry is not speaking in the Virginia House of Burgesses [the state legislature] in Williamsburg because it had been dissolved the year before by Royal Governor Dunmore.
Resenting this British interference with local government, the members of the House of Burgesses regrouped as a state convention. In order to avoid any interference from British troops, the Second Convention of approximately delegates met in Richmond, Virginia, from March 20 through March But Henry felt that delay would be a major mistake. On March 23, , he asked the Virginia Convention to take a defensive stance immediately against Great Britain by raising an armed company in every Virginia county — an action considered by many to be open treason.
His speech reflected language and actions far more radical that his fellow delegates were willing to go in public, but Henry based his request upon the assumption that even more aggressive military actions by the British would soon follow. Twenty-seven days after this speech was delivered the Battles of Lexington and Concord proved Henry correct. Henry used not only rhetorical devices but also the strategies of classical argument, making a potentially confusing situation simple and straightforward as he attempted to move all his fellow delegates toward the same result. His recommendations were accepted by the Convention.
The speech divides into the four parts of a classical argument, defined below. As you analyze the individual parts of the speech, look also for how these parts of the argument work together. Give an example in this paragraph of an attempt to engage the audience and an example of an attempt to prepare the audience. Henry seeks to engage his audience by showing his respect for them.
He recognizes and compliments the patriotism and abilities of the other members of the Convention in his first sentence note that Henry continues to address the body as the House. Another function of the exordium is to explain the purpose of the speech. What purpose does Henry establish, and to what is he appealing in order to emphasize this purpose?
He is appealing to the ethical integrity of his audience by articulating their earthly and heavenly responsibilities. In order for others to accept a different idea, they must first believe they are being respected. Henry seeks to establish his respect for those who do not agree with him by referring to them as gentlemen. In addition, Henry is hoping to imply that since he is also a member of the Convention that they will give him and his ideas the same respect. This is a rhetorical shift in perspective that helps to prepare his audience.
Even though he is a fellow member of the Convention, he uses a rhetorical shift to explain that what he will say from that point on will be different than that heard before. He means this is no time to simply say things because they might sound conciliatory, since ceremonies are often for visual display rather than actual action. He is emphasizing the time-sensitive nature of this debate and establishing the importance of immediate, serious discussion rather than a postponement of the issue recall that some members of the Convention wished to wait until negotiations had run their course before beginning military preparedness.
Why does he use this phrase? He means that the question under discussion is extremely important with potentially life-changing consequences. He is recognizing the treasonable nature of this discussion, displaying not only his own courage but asking his fellow delegates to show courage as well. The false dichotomy either-or fallacy gives only two options with no choices in between, and Henry uses this intentionally. By eliminating other options he is focusing his argument. He wants the listeners to understand that there are only two options; freedom, which he is advocating, or slavery, which he knows these proud, wealthy men, many of whom are slaveholders, will not tolerate.
How, in this sentence, does Henry suggest that his listeners can trust him? The Convention members consider themselves to be men of integrity and ethics, as Henry acknowledged in sentence 1. He reminds his audience that he, like them, is a believer and is trustworthy. How does the ethical appeal in sentence 7 relate to the ethical appeal in sentence 1? In sentence 1 Henry acknowledges the patriotism of the members of the House who have just spoken.
Statue of Patrick Henry, Richmond, Virginia. In this second paragraph of the exordium, Henry works to explain the importance and timeliness of his argument by setting up a contrast between illusions and truth in sentences 8 and According to Henry, which will his argument contain and which will it NOT contain? One illusion would be the idea that the Colonies and Great Britain could negotiate an acceptable peace without war.
Allusions, unexplained references to other sources, are commonly based upon the Bible or mythology. He is alluding to the sirens found in the epic The Odyssey. Siren calls are alluring and hard to resist even if expected, but they can be deadly. Henry uses multiple biblical allusions with which his educated audience would be familiar.
Henry is implying that not seeing or listening to his argument will lead to destruction. Juxtaposition means to put two elements side by side, often for comparison. Henry does this in sentences 11 and He again sets up a choice for his audience. Would they rather ignore the situation and have dangerous outcomes this choice is defined by the previous allusions to the sirens and Ezekiel or instead know the truth and prepare? He clearly indicates that he chooses the second option. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope.
Henry delivered his speech at St. The Narratio contextualizes the argument, including presenting any background information necessary, while the Confirmatio lays out in order the evidence to support the thesis. Henry lists several negotiation attempts by colonists and British responses. He uses rhetorical strategies and appeals to further develop his argument, making sure that each item is contextualized from the Colonial perspective. Rather than the word of God, which is the lamp found in the Biblical verse, what is the lamp that Henry uses to guide his feet in sentence 13?
Why does he make this connection? The lamp is experience. He wants to maintain his respect for his audience and remind them that he is one of them. As his argument builds he wants to take them along with him — reiterating the fact that they are esteemed colleagues. Why does Henry use this term?
Henry uses parallelism structuring phrases in similar fashion several times in this paragraph. Consider sentence 40, especially the verbs. How does Henry use both parallelism and verb choice diction to explain that the Colonies have tried many steps to maintain peace? He chooses verbs that are increasingly dramatic to remind his audience that the Colonies have tried everything without result. He is linking this part of his argument to the exordium and explaining that any chance of hope no longer exists. He is moving his audience away from the position of illusive hope that they may have held at the beginning of his speech toward another position.
He believes the British represent Judas and that while they will appear brotherly to the Colonies they will betray, leading to Colonial downfall. Antithesis means to put two ideas together in order to contrast them, pointing out their differences. What is the effect? A hypophora is useful to present to an audience issues they may not have considered in depth.
Henry first mentions slavery in paragraph one when he contrasts it with freedom. Find an example of slave imagery in this paragraph. Convention delegates included slaveholders who would recognize and recoil from this imagery. Rhetorical parenthesis is the insertion into a sentence of an explanatory word or phrase. Metonomy and synecdoche are special types of metaphors.
Find an example of metonomy and synecdoche in this paragraph and identify what each represents. Henry builds to a syllogistic argument, an appeal to logic, at the end of this paragraph. Identify the three parts of his syllogism Major premise [A], Minor premise [B], and Conclusion , citing evidence from the text.
For more information about syllogisms, see Understanding Syllogisms. In this paragraph Henry uses emotional appeals, language intended to create an emotional response from the audience. Choose three examples of emotional language from excerpt 3. You may choose words, phrases, imagery, or other language elements. Answers will vary. The refutatio presents and refutes counter arguments. In paragraph 4 Henry uses procatalepsis, an argumentative strategy that anticipates an objection and then answers it.
What argument does he anticipate and what two rhetorical strategies does he use to refute it? Locke himself acknowledges this point I. The real essence of a material thing is its atomic constitution. This atomic constitution is the causal basis of all the observable properties of the thing, from which we create nominal essences. Were the real essence known, all the observable properties could be deduced from it. Locke claims that the real essences of material things are quite unknown to us. Thus, Ayers wants to treat the unknown substratum as picking out the same thing as the real essence—thus eliminating the need for particulars without properties.
This proposed way of interpreting Locke has been criticized by scholars both because of a lack of textural support, and on the stronger grounds that it conflicts with some things that Locke does say see Jolley 71—3. This is a strong indication that Locke thinks issues about language were of considerable importance in attaining knowledge. At the beginning of the Book he notes the importance of abstract general ideas to knowledge.
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These serve as sorts under which we rank all the vast multitude of particular existences. Without general terms and classes we would be faced with the impossible task of trying to know a vast world of particulars. In his discussion of language Locke distinguishes words according to the categories of ideas established in Book II of the Essay. So there are ideas of substances, simple modes, mixed modes, relations and so on. It is in this context that Locke makes the distinction between real and nominal essences noted above.
Perhaps because of his focus on the role that kind terms play in classification, Locke pays vastly more attention to nouns than to verbs. Locke recognizes that not all words relate to ideas. This thesis has often been criticized as a classic blunder in semantic theory. Kretzmann, however, argues persuasively that Locke distinguishes between meaning and reference and that ideas provide the meaning but not the reference of words. Thus, the line of criticism represented by the quotation from Mill is ill founded. In addition to the kinds of ideas noted above, there are also particular and abstract ideas.
Particular ideas have in them the ideas of particular places and times which limit the application of the idea to a single individual, while abstract general ideas leave out the ideas of particular times and places in order to allow the idea to apply to other similar qualities or things. Berkeley argued that the process as Locke conceives it is incoherent. In part this is because Berkeley is an imagist—that is he believes that all ideas are images. If one is an imagist it becomes impossible to imagine what idea could include both the ideas of a right and equilateral triangle.
Michael Ayers has recently argued that Locke too was an imagist. Locke thinks most words we use are general III. Clearly, it is only general or sortal ideas that can serve in a classificatory scheme. Physical substances are atoms and things made up of atoms. But we have no experience of the atomic structure of horses and tables.
We know horses and tables mainly by secondary qualities such as color, taste and smell and so on and primary qualities such as shape, motion and extension. What the general word signifies is the complex of ideas we have decided are parts of the idea of that sort of thing. These ideas we get from experience. Locke calls such a general idea that picks out a sort, the nominal essence of that sort. One of the central issues in Book III has to do with classification. On what basis do we divide things into kinds and organize those kinds into a system of species and genera?
In the Aristotelian and Scholastic tradition that Locke rejects, necessary properties are those that an individual must have in order to exist and continue to exist. These contrast with accidental properties. Accidental properties are those that an individual can gain and lose and yet continue in existence. If a set of necessary properties is shared by a number of individuals, that set of properties constitutes the essence of a natural kind. The borders between kinds is supposed to be sharp and determinate.
The aim of Aristotelian science is to discover the essences of natural kinds. Kinds can then be organized hierarchically into a classificatory system of species and genera. This classification of the world by natural kinds will be unique and privileged because it alone corresponds to the structure of the world. This doctrine of essences and kinds is often called Aristotelian essentialism.
Locke rejects a variety of aspects of this doctrine. He rejects the notion that an individual has an essence apart from being treated as belonging to a kind. He also rejects the claim that there is a single classification of things in nature that the natural philosopher should seek to discover. He claims that there are no fixed boundaries in nature to be discovered—that is there are no clear demarcation points between species. There are always borderline cases. The first view is that Locke holds that there are no Aristotelian natural kinds on either the level of appearance or atomic reality.
The second view holds that Locke thinks there are Aristotelian natural kinds on the atomic level, it is simply that we cannot get at them or know what they are. On either of these interpretations, the real essence cannot provide the meaning to names of substances. By contrast, the ideas that we use to make up our nominal essences come to us from experience. Locke claims that the mind is active in making our ideas of sorts and that there are so many properties to choose among that it is possible for different people to make quite different ideas of the essence of a certain substance.
This has given some commentators the impression that the making of sorts is utterly arbitrary and conventional for Locke and that there is no basis for criticizing a particular nominal essence. Sometimes Locke says things that might suggest this. But this impression should be resisted.
Locke claims that while the making of nominal essences is the work of the understanding, that work is constrained both by usage where words stand for ideas that are already in use and by the fact that substance words are supposed to copy the properties of the substances they refer to. Locke says that our ideas of kinds of substances have as their archetype the complex of properties that produce the appearances we use to make our nominal essences and which cause the unity of the complex of ideas which appear to us regularly conjoined.
The very notion of an archetype implies constraints on what properties and hence what ideas can go together. If there were no such constraints there could be no archetype. Let us begin with the usage of words. It is important in a community of language users that words be used with the same meaning. If this condition is met it facilitates the chief end of language which is communication. If one fails to use words with the meaning that most people attach to them, one will fail to communicate effectively with others. Thus one would defeat the main purpose of language.
It should also be noted that traditions of usage for Locke can be modified. Otherwise we would not be able to improve our knowledge and understanding by getting more clear and determinate ideas. In the making of the names of substances there is a period of discovery as the abstract general idea is put together e. Language itself is viewed as an instrument for carrying out the mainly prosaic purposes and practices of every day life. Ordinary people are the chief makers of language. Vulgar Notions suit vulgar Discourses; and both though confused enough, yet serve pretty well for the Market and the Wake.
Merchants and Lovers, Cooks and Taylors, have Words wherewith to dispatch their ordinary affairs; and so, I think, might Philosophers and Disputants too, if they had a mind to understand and to be clearly understood. These ordinary people use a few apparent qualities, mainly ideas of secondary qualities to make ideas and words that will serve their purposes. Natural philosophers i. Scientists are seeking to find the necessary connections between properties.
A whale is not a fish, as it turns out, but a mammal. There is a characteristic group of qualities which fish have which whales do not have. There is a characteristic group of qualities which mammals have which whales also have. To classify a whale as a fish therefore is a mistake. Similarly, we might make an idea of gold that only included being a soft metal and gold color. But the product of such work is open to criticism, either on the grounds that it does not conform to already current usage, or that it inadequately represents the archetypes that it is supposed to copy in the world.
We engage in such criticism in order to improve human understanding of the material world and thus the human condition. In becoming more accurate the nominal essence is converging on the real essence. In contrast with substances modes are dependent existences—they can be thought of as the ordering of substances. These are technical terms for Locke, so we should see how they are defined. First, Modes I call such complex Ideas , which however compounded, contain not in themselves the supposition of subsisting by themselves; such are the words signified by the Words Triangle, Gratitude, Murther, etc.
Of these Modes , there are two sorts, which deserve distinct consideration. First, there are some that are only variations, or different combinations of the same simple Idea , without the mixture of any other, as a dozen or score; which are nothing but the ideas of so many distinct unities being added together, and these I call simple Modes , as being contained within the bounds of one simple Idea. Secondly, There are others, compounded of Ideas of several kinds, put together to make one complex one; v.
Beauty , consisting of a certain combination of Colour and Figure, causing Delight to the Beholder; Theft , which being the concealed change of the Possession of any thing, without the consent of the Proprietor, contains, as is visible, a combination of several Ideas of several kinds; and these I call Mixed Modes. When we make ideas of modes, the mind is again active, but the archetype is in our mind.
The question becomes whether things in the world fit our ideas, and not whether our ideas correspond to the nature of things in the world. Our ideas are adequate. If we find that someone does not fit this definition, this does not reflect badly on our definition, it simply means that that individual does not belong to the class of bachelors. Modes give us the ideas of mathematics, of morality, of religion and politics and indeed of human conventions in general.
Since these modal ideas are not only made by us but serve as standards that things in the world either fit or do not fit and thus belong or do not belong to that sort, ideas of modes are clear and distinct, adequate and complete. Thus in modes, we get the real and nominal essences combined.
One can give precise definitions of mathematical terms that is, give necessary and sufficient conditions and one can give deductive demonstrations of mathematical truths. Locke sometimes says that morality too is capable of deductive demonstration. Though pressed by his friend William Molyneux to produce such a demonstrative morality, Locke never did so. The terms of political discourse also have some of the same modal features for Locke. When Locke defines the states of nature, slavery and war in the Second Treatise of Government , for example, we are presumably getting precise modal definitions from which one can deduce consequences.
It is possible, however, that with politics we are getting a study which requires both experience as well as the deductive modal aspect. In the fourth book of An Essay Concerning Human Understanding Locke tells us what knowledge is and what humans can know and what they cannot not simply what they do and do not happen to know. This definition of knowledge contrasts with the Cartesian definition of knowledge as any ideas that are clear and distinct.
What about knowing the real existence of things?
Locke, for example, makes transdictive inferences about atoms where Berkeley is unwilling to allow that such inferences are legitimate. This implies that Locke has a semantics that allows him to talk about the unexperienced causes of experience such as atoms where Berkeley cannot. What then can we know and with what degree of certainty?
We can know that God exists with the second highest degree of assurance, that of demonstration. We also know that we exist with the highest degree of certainty. The truths of morality and mathematics we can know with certainty as well, because these are modal ideas whose adequacy is guaranteed by the fact that we make such ideas as ideal models which other things must fit, rather than trying to copy some external archetype which we can only grasp inadequately.
On the other hand, our efforts to grasp the nature of external objects is limited largely to the connection between their apparent qualities. The real essence of elephants and gold is hidden from us: though in general we suppose them to be some distinct combination of atoms which cause the grouping of apparent qualities which leads us to see elephants and violets, gold and lead as distinct kinds. Our knowledge of material things is probabilistic and thus opinion rather than knowledge. We do have sensitive knowledge of external objects, which is limited to things we are presently experiencing.
While Locke holds that we only have knowledge of a limited number of things, he thinks we can judge the truth or falsity of many propositions in addition to those we can legitimately claim to know. This brings us to a discussion of probability. Knowledge involves the seeing of the agreement or disagreement of our ideas. What then is probability and how does it relate to knowledge?
So, apart from the few important things that we can know for certain, e. What then is probability? As Demonstration is the shewing of the agreement or disagreement of two Ideas, by the intervention of one or more Proofs, which have a constant, immutable, and visible connexion one with another: so Probability is nothing but the appearance of such an Agreement or Disagreement, by the intervention of Proofs, whose connection is not constant and immutable, or at least is not perceived to be so, but is or appears, for the most part to be so, and is enough to induce the Mind to judge the Proposition to be true, or false, rather than the contrary.
Probable reasoning, on this account, is an argument, similar in certain ways to the demonstrative reasoning that produces knowledge but different also in certain crucial respects. It is an argument that provides evidence that leads the mind to judge a proposition true or false but without a guarantee that the judgment is correct. This kind of probable judgment comes in degrees, ranging from near demonstrations and certainty to unlikeliness and improbability in the vicinity of impossibility.
It is correlated with degrees of assent ranging from full assurance down to conjecture, doubt and distrust. The new science of mathematical probability had come into being on the continent just around the time that Locke was writing the Essay. His account of probability, however, shows little or no awareness of mathematical probability. Rather it reflects an older tradition that treated testimony as probable reasoning. Thus, when Locke comes to describe the grounds for probability he cites the conformity of the proposition to our knowledge, observation and experience, and the testimony of others who are reporting their observation and experience.
Concerning the latter we must consider the number of witnesses, their integrity, their skill in observation, counter testimony and so on. In judging rationally how much to assent to a probable proposition, these are the relevant considerations that the mind should review. We should, Locke also suggests, be tolerant of differing opinions as we have more reason to retain the opinions we have than to give them up to strangers or adversaries who may well have some interest in our doing so.
Locke distinguishes two sorts of probable propositions. The first of these have to do with particular existences or matters of fact, and the second that are beyond the testimony of the senses.
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Matters of fact are open to observation and experience, and so all of the tests noted above for determining rational assent to propositions about them are available to us. Things are quite otherwise with matters that are beyond the testimony of the senses. These include the knowledge of finite immaterial spirits such as angels or things such as atoms that are too small to be sensed, or the plants, animals or inhabitants of other planets that are beyond our range of sensation because of their distance from us.
Concerning this latter category, Locke says we must depend on analogy as the only help for our reasoning. Thus the observing that the bare rubbing of two bodies violently one upon the other, produce heat, and very often fire it self, we have reason to think, that what we call Heat and Fire consist of the violent agitation of the imperceptible minute parts of the burning matter…. We reason about angels by considering the Great Chain of Being; figuring that while we have no experience of angels, the ranks of species above us is likely as numerous as that below of which we do have experience.
This reasoning is, however, only probable. The relative merits of the senses, reason and faith for attaining truth and the guidance of life were a significant issue during this period. As noted above James Tyrrell recalled that the original impetus for the writing of An Essay Concerning Human Understanding was a discussion about the principles of morality and revealed religion.
In Book IV Chapters 17, 18, and 19 Locke deals with the nature of reason, the relation of reason to faith and the nature of enthusiasm. Locke remarks that all sects make use of reason as far as they can. It is only when this fails them that they have recourse to faith and claim that what is revealed is above reason. But he adds:. And I do not see how they can argue with anyone or even convince a gainsayer who uses the same plea, without setting down strict boundaries between faith and reason.
That is we have faith in what is disclosed by revelation and which cannot be discovered by reason. In such cases there would be little use for faith. Traditional revelation can never produce as much certainty as the contemplation of the agreement or disagreement of our own ideas. Similarly revelations about matters of fact do not produce as much certainty as having the experience oneself.
Revelation, then, cannot contradict what we know to be true. If it could, it would undermine the trustworthiness of all of our faculties. This would be a disastrous result. Where revelation comes into its own is where reason cannot reach. Where we have few or no ideas for reason to contradict or confirm, this is the proper matters for faith.
Because the Mind, not being certain of the Truth of that it evidently does not know, but only yielding to the Probability that appears to it, is bound to give up its assent to such Testimony, which, it is satisfied, comes from one who cannot err, and will not deceive. But yet, it still belongs to Reason, to judge of the truth of its being a Revelation, and of the significance of the Words, wherein it is delivered.
So, in respect to the crucial question of how we are to know whether a revelation is genuine, we are supposed to use reason and the canons of probability to judge. Should one accept revelation without using reason to judge whether it is genuine revelation or not, one gets what Locke calls a third principle of assent besides reason and revelation, namely enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is a vain or unfounded confidence in divine favor or communication. It implies that there is no need to use reason to judge whether such favor or communication is genuine or not. This kind of enthusiasm was characteristic of Protestant extremists going back to the era of the civil war.
Locke was not alone in rejecting enthusiasm, but he rejects it in the strongest terms. Enthusiasm violates the fundamental principle by which the understanding operates—that assent be proportioned to the evidence. To abandon that fundamental principle would be catastrophic. Locke wants each of us to use our understanding to search after truth. Of enthusiasts, those who would abandon reason and claim to know on the basis of faith alone, Locke writes:.
Rather than engage in the tedious labor required to reason correctly to judge of the genuineness of their revelation, enthusiasts persuade themselves that they are possessed of immediate revelation. Thus, Locke strongly rejects any attempt to make inward persuasion not judged by reason a legitimate principle. Ruth Grant and Nathan Tarcov write in the introduction to their edition of these works:. The Essay thus shows how the independence of mind pursued in the Conduct is possible. Some Thoughts Concerning Education was first published in This became quite long and was never added to the Essay or even finished.
As Locke was composing these works, some of the material from the Conduct eventually made its way into the Thoughts. Though they also note tensions between the two that illustrate paradoxes in liberal society. The Thoughts is addressed to the education of the sons and daughters of the English gentry in the late seventeenth century. It is in some ways thus significantly more limited to its time and place than the Conduct. Yet, its insistence on the inculcating such virtues as.
In the Middle Ages the child was regarded as. Their education was undifferentiated, either by age, ability or intended occupation. Axtell 63—4. Locke treated children as human beings in whom the gradual development of rationality needed to be fostered by parents. Locke urged parents to spend time with their children and tailor their education to their character and idiosyncrasies, to develop both a sound body and character, and to make play the chief strategy for learning rather than rote learning or punishment.
Thus, he urged learning languages by learning to converse in them before learning rules of grammar. Locke also suggests that the child learn at least one manual trade. In advocating a kind of education that made people who think for themselves, Locke was preparing people to effectively make decisions in their own lives—to engage in individual self-government—and to participate in the government of their country.
The Conduct reveals the connections Locke sees between reason, freedom and morality. Reason is required for good self-government because reason insofar as it is free from partiality, intolerance and passion and able to question authority leads to fair judgment and action. Lord Shaftsbury had been dismissed from his post as Lord Chancellor in and had become one of the leaders of the opposition party, the Country Party. In the chief issue was the attempt by the Country Party leaders to exclude James, Duke of York from succeeding his brother Charles II to the throne. They wanted to do this because James was a Catholic, and England by this time was a firmly Protestant country.
They tried a couple of more times without success. Having failed by parliamentary means, some of the Country Party leaders started plotting armed rebellion. The Two Treatises of Government were published in , long after the rebellion plotted by the Country party leaders had failed to materialize and after Shaftsbury had fled the country for Holland and died.
The introduction of the Two Treatises was written after the Glorious Revolution of , and gave the impression that the book was written to justify the Glorious Revolution. We now know that the Two Treatises of Government were written during the Exclusion crisis in and may have been intended in part to justify the general armed rising which the Country Party leaders were planning. The English Anglican gentry needed to support such an action. Passive resistance would simply not do.
The gentry had to be persuaded that there could be reason for rebellion which could make it neither blasphemous or suicidal. Sir Robert Filmer c — , a man of the generation of Charles I and the English Civil War, who had defended the crown in various works. His most famous work, however, Patriarcha , was published posthumously in and represented the most complete and coherent exposition of the view Locke wished to deny. Filmer held that men were born into helpless servitude to an authoritarian family, a social hierarchy and a sovereign whose only constraint was his relationship with God.
Only in this way could he restore to the Anglican gentry a coherent bssis for moral autonomy or a practical initiative in the field of politics. The First Treatise of Government is a polemical work aimed at refuting the theological basis for the patriarchal version of the Divine Right of Kings doctrine put forth by Sir Robert Filmer. In what follows in the First Treatise , Locke minutely examines key Biblical passages.
Natural rights are those rights which we are supposed to have as human beings before ever government comes into being. We might suppose, that like other animals, we have a natural right to struggle for our survival. Locke will argue that we have a right to the means to survive.
When Locke comes to explain how government comes into being, he uses the idea that people agree that their condition in the state of nature is unsatisfactory, and so agree to transfer some of their rights to a central government, while retaining others. This is the theory of the social contract. There are many versions of natural rights theory and the social contract in seventeenth and eighteenth century European political philosophy, some conservative and some radical. These radical natural right theories influenced the ideologies of the American and French revolutions.
When properly distinguished, however, and the limitations of each displayed, it becomes clear that monarchs have no legitimate absolute power over their subjects. Once this is done, the basis for legitimate revolution becomes clear. Figuring out what the proper or legitimate role of civil government is would be a difficult task indeed if one were to examine the vast complexity of existing governments. How should one proceed? One strategy is to consider what life is like in the absence of civil government. Presumably this is a simpler state, one which may be easier to understand.
Then one might see what role civil government ought to play. This is the strategy which Locke pursues, following Hobbes and others. So, in the first chapter of the Second Treatise Locke defines political power. 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 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.
Treatises, II, 1,3. In the second chapter of The Second Treatise Locke describes the state in which there is no government with real political power. This is the state of nature. It is sometimes assumed that the state of nature is a state in which there is no government at all. This is only partially true. It is possible to have in the state of nature either no government, illegitimate government, or legitimate government with less than full political power.
If we consider the state of nature before there was government, it is a state of political equality in which there is no natural superior or inferior. From this equality flows the obligation to mutual love and the duties that people owe one another, and the great maxims of justice and charity.
Was there ever such a state? There has been considerable debate about this. Still, it is plain that both Hobbes and Locke would answer this question affirmatively. Whenever people have not agreed to establish a common political authority, they remain in the state of nature. Perhaps the historical development of states also went though the stages of a state of nature.
An alternative possibility is that the state of nature is not a real historical state, but rather a theoretical construct, intended to help determine the proper function of government. If one rejects the historicity of states of nature, one may still find them a useful analytical device. For Locke, it is very likely both. The chief end set us by our creator as a species and as individuals is survival. A wise and omnipotent God, having made people and sent them into this world:.
So, murder and suicide violate the divine purpose. If one takes survival as the end, then we may ask what are the means necessary to that end. So we have rights to life, liberty, health and property. These are natural rights, that is they are rights that we have in a state of nature before the introduction of civil government, and all people have these rights equally.
There is also a law of nature. It is the Golden Rule, interpreted in terms of natural rights. Thus Locke writes:. The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges everyone: and reason which is that law, teaches all mankind who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions….
Treatises II. Locke tells us that the law of nature is revealed by reason. Locke makes the point about the law that it commands what is best for us. If it did not, he says, the law would vanish for it would not be obeyed. It is in this sense that Locke means that reason reveals the law. If you reflect on what is best for yourself and others, given the goal of survival and our natural equality, you will come to this conclusion.
Locke does not intend his account of the state of nature as a sort of utopia. Rather it serves as an analytical device that explains why it becomes necessary to introduce civil government and what the legitimate function of civil government is. Thus, as Locke conceives it, there are problems with life in the state of nature. The law of nature, like civil laws can be violated. There are no police, prosecutors or judges in the state of nature as these are all representatives of a government with full political power.
The victims, then, must enforce the law of nature in the state of nature. In addition to our other rights in the state of nature, we have the rights to enforce the law and to judge on our own behalf. We may, Locke tells us, help one another. We may intervene in cases where our own interests are not directly under threat to help enforce the law of nature.
This right eventually serves as the justification for legitimate rebellion. Still, in the state of nature, the person who is most likely to enforce the law under these circumstances is the person who has been wronged. The basic principle of justice is that the punishment should be proportionate to the crime. But when the victims are judging the seriousness of the crime, they are more likely to judge it of greater severity than might an impartial judge.
As a result, there will be regular miscarriages of justice. This is perhaps the most important problem with the state of nature. In chapters 3 and 4, Locke defines the states of war and slavery. Such a person puts themselves into a state of war with the person whose life they intend to take. This is not the normal relationship between people enjoined by the law of nature in the state of nature. Locke is distancing himself from Hobbes who had made the state of nature and the state of war equivalent terms.
For Locke, the state of nature is ordinarily one in which we follow the Golden Rule interpreted in terms of natural rights, and thus love our fellow human creatures.
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Slavery is the state of being in the absolute or arbitrary power of another. In order to do so one must be an unjust aggressor defeated in war. The just victor then has the option to either kill the aggressor or enslave them. Locke tells us that the state of slavery is the continuation of the state of war between a lawful conqueror and a captive, in which the conqueror delays to take the life of the captive, and instead makes use of him.
This is a continued war because if conqueror and captive make some compact for obedience on the one side and limited power on the other, the state of slavery ceases and becomes a relation between a master and a servant in which the master only has limited power over his servant. Illegitimate slavery is that state in which someone possesses absolute or despotic power over someone else without just cause. Locke holds that it is this illegitimate state of slavery which absolute monarchs wish to impose upon their subjects. It is very likely for this reason that legitimate slavery is so narrowly defined.
Still, it is possible that Locke had an additional purpose or perhaps a quite different reason for writing about slavery. However, there are strong objections to this view. Had he intended to justify Afro-American slavery, Locke would have done much better with a vastly more inclusive definition of legitimate slavery than the one he gives. This, however, is also not the case.
These limits on who can become a legitimate slave and what the powers of a just conqueror are ensure that this theory of conquest and slavery would condemn the institutions and practices of Afro-American slavery in the seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries. Nonetheless, the debate continues. Indeed, some of the most controversial issues about the Second Treatise come from varying interpretations of it. In this chapter Locke, in effect, describes the evolution of the state of nature to the point where it becomes expedient for those in it to found a civil government.
In discussing the origin of private property Locke begins by noting that God gave the earth to all men in common. Thus there is a question about how private property comes to be. Locke finds it a serious difficulty. What then is the means to appropriate property from the common store? Locke argues that private property does not come about by universal consent. Locke holds that we have a property in our own person.
And the labor of our body and the work of our hands properly belong to us. So, when one picks up acorns or berries, they thereby belong to the person who picked them up. Daniel Russell claims that for Locke, labor is a goal-directed activity that converts materials that might meet our needs into resources that actually do Russell One might think that one could then acquire as much as one wished, but this is not the case.
Locke introduces at least two important qualifications on how much property can be acquired. The first qualification has to do with waste.
As much as anyone can make use of to any advantage of life before it spoils, so much by his labor he may fix a property in; whatever is beyond this, is more than his share, and belongs to others. Since originally, populations were small and resources great, living within the bounds set by reason, there would be little quarrel or contention over property, for a single man could make use of only a very small part of what was available.
Note that Locke has, thus far, been talking about hunting and gathering, and the kinds of limitations which reason imposes on the kind of property that hunters and gatherers hold. In the next section he turns to agriculture and the ownership of land and the kinds of limitations there are on that kind of property. Once again it is labor which imposes limitations upon how much land can be enclosed. It is only as much as one can work. But there is an additional qualification.
Nor was this appropriation of any parcel of land , by improving it, any prejudice to any other man, since there was still enough, and as good left; and more than the as yet unprovided could use. So that, in effect, there was never the less for others because of his inclosure for himself: for he that leaves as much as another can make use of, does as good as take nothing at all. No body could consider himself injured by the drinking of another man, though he took a good draught, who had a whole river of the same water left to quench his thirst: and the case of land and water, where there is enough, is perfectly the same.
The next stage in the evolution of the state of nature involves the introduction of money. Locke remarks that:. So, before the introduction of money, there was a degree of economic equality imposed on mankind both by reason and the barter system. And men were largely confined to the satisfaction of their needs and conveniences.
Most of the necessities of life are relatively short lived—berries, plums, venison and so forth. And says Locke:. The introduction of money is necessary for the differential increase in property, with resulting economic inequality. Without money there would be no point in going beyond the economic equality of the earlier stage. In a money economy, different degrees of industry could give men vastly different proportions.
This partage of things in an inequality of private possessions, men have made practicable out of the bounds of society, and without compact, only by putting a value on gold and silver, and tacitly agreeing to the use of money: for in governments, the laws regulate the rights of property, and the possession of land is determined by positive constitutions. The implication is that it is the introduction of money, which causes inequality, which in turn multiplies the causes of quarrels and contentions and increased numbers of violations of the law of nature.
This leads to the decision to create a civil government. Before turning to the institution of civil government, however, we should ask what happens to the qualifications on the acquisition of property after the advent of money? One answer proposed by C. Macpherson in The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism is that the qualifications are completely set aside, and we now have a system for the unlimited acquisition of private property.
This does not seem to be correct. It seems plain, rather, that at least the non-spoilage qualification is satisfied, because money does not spoil. The other qualifications may be rendered somewhat irrelevant by the advent of the conventions about property adopted in civil society. This leaves open the question of whether Locke approved of these changes. Macpherson, who takes Locke to be a spokesman for a proto-capitalist system, sees Locke as advocating the unlimited acquisition of wealth.
James Tully, on the other side, in A Discourse of Property holds that Locke sees the new conditions, the change in values and the economic inequality which arise as a result of the advent of money, as the fall of man. Tully sees Locke as a persistent and powerful critic of self-interest. This remarkable difference in interpretation has been a significant topic for debates among scholars over the last forty years. Covetousness and the desire to having in our possession and our dominion more than we have need of, being the root of all evil, should be early and carefully weeded out and the contrary quality of being ready to impart to others inculcated.
Just as natural rights and natural law theory had a florescence in the seventeenth and eighteenth century, so did the social contract theory. Why is Locke a social contract theorist? Is it merely that this was one prevailing way of thinking about government at the time which Locke blindly adopted? One might hold that governments were originally instituted by force, and that no agreement was involved. Were Locke to adopt this view, he would be forced to go back on many of the things which are at the heart of his project in the Second Treatise , though cases like the Norman conquest force him to admit that citizens may come to accept a government that was originally forced on them.
Treatises II, 1, 4. So, while Locke might admit that some governments come about through force or violence, he would be destroying the most central and vital distinction, that between legitimate and illegitimate civil government, if he admitted that legitimate government can come about in this way. So, for Locke, legitimate government is instituted by the explicit consent of those governed.
Those who make this agreement transfer to the government their right of executing the law of nature and judging their own case. These are the powers which they give to the central government, and this is what makes the justice system of governments a legitimate function of such governments. Ruth Grant has persuasively argued that the establishment of government is in effect a two step process. Universal consent is necessary to form a political community. Consent to join a community once given is binding and cannot be withdrawn. This makes political communities stable.
The answer to this question is determined by majority rule. The point is that universal consent is necessary to establish a political community, majority consent to answer the question who is to rule such a community. Universal consent and majority consent are thus different in kind, not just in degree. Grant writes:. When the designated government dissolves, men remain obligated to society acting through majority rule. It is entirely possible for the majority to confer the rule of the community on a king and his heirs, or a group of oligarchs or on a democratic assembly.
Thus, the social contract is not inextricably linked to democracy. Still, a government of any kind must perform the legitimate function of a civil government. Locke is now in a position to explain the function of a legitimate government and distinguish it from illegitimate government. The aim of such a legitimate government is to preserve, so far as possible, the rights to life, liberty, health and property of its citizens, and to prosecute and punish those of its citizens who violate the rights of others and to pursue the public good even where this may conflict with the rights of individuals.
In doing this it provides something unavailable in the state of nature, an impartial judge to determine the severity of the crime, and to set a punishment proportionate to the crime. This is one of the main reasons why civil society is an improvement on the state of nature. An illegitimate government will fail to protect the rights to life, liberty, health and property of its subjects, and in the worst cases, such an illegitimate government will claim to be able to violate the rights of its subjects, that is it will claim to have despotic power over its subjects.
Since Locke is arguing against the position of Sir Robert Filmer who held that patriarchal power and political power are the same, and that in effect these amount to despotic power, Locke is at pains to distinguish these three forms of power, and to show that they are not equivalent. THOUGH I have had occasion to speak of these before, yet the great mistakes of late about government, having as I suppose arisen from confounding these distinct powers one with another, it may not be amiss, to consider them together.
Paternal power is limited. It lasts only through the minority of children, and has other limitations. Political power, derived as it is from the transfer of the power of individuals to enforce the law of nature, has with it the right to kill in the interest of preserving the rights of the citizens or otherwise supporting the public good.
Legitimate despotic power, by contrast, implies the right to take the life, liberty, health and at least some of the property of any person subject to such a power. At the end of the Second Treatise we learn about the nature of illegitimate civil governments and the conditions under which rebellion and regicide are legitimate and appropriate.
As noted above, scholars now hold that the book was written during the Exclusion crisis, and may have been written to justify a general insurrection and the assassination of the king of England and his brother. The argument for legitimate revolution follows from making the distinction between legitimate and illegitimate civil government. A legitimate civil government seeks to preserve the life, health, liberty and property of its subjects, insofar as this is compatible with the public good.