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John Locke


John Locke (29 August 1632 – 28 October 1704) was an English philosopher and physician who was largely recognized as one of the most prominent Enlightenment thinkers and was dubbed the "Father of Liberalism." John Locke is also significant in social contract theory. His work had a significant influence on the growth of epistemology and political philosophy. His works impacted Voltaire and Jean-Jacques Rousseau, as well as numerous Scottish Enlightenment philosophers and American revolutionaries.

Locke's early life

Locke's father, also known as John, was an attorney who served as a clerk to the Judges of the Peace in Chew Magna And as well as a captain of the cavalry with the Parliamentarian troops during the early stages of the English Civil War. Agnes Keene was his mother's name. Both of his parents were Puritans. Locke was born on August 29, 1632, in Wrington, Somerset, in a little thatched cottage near the church. Despite being a bright student, Locke was dissatisfied with the undergraduate program at the time. Locke was exposed to medicine as well as the experimental philosophy getting undertaken at other universities and the Royal Society. Ashley, as a Whig movement founder, had a significant influence on Locke's political theories. To support the Glorious Revolution of 1688, Locke authored the Treatises. The essay is today regarded as a more broad argument against the authoritarian state and in favor of individual consent as the foundation of political legitimacy.

Locke's The Social Contract Theory

Governments were first established by force, with no consent involved. As a result, citizens may come to accept a government that was imposed on them. Locke believed that all authority in the world is the result of force and violence and that men live by no other rules than those of the beasts, where the strongest carry it. According to Locke, legitimate government is established by the explicit consent of the governed. Those who sign this agreement relinquish their power to enforce natural law and to judge their own case to the government. These are the powers that they delegate to the central government, and it is because of this that governments' justice systems are legal functions of such governments.
In reality, the establishment of government is a two-step process. To build a political community, universal assent is required. Once given, consent to join a community is irrevocable and cannot be retracted. This ensures the stability of political communities. The idea is that universal permission is required to establish a political community, and majority consent is required to answer the question of who will govern such a society. Thus, universal consent and majority consent differ in character, not simply degree. It is certainly feasible for the majority to bestow community control on a monarch and his successors, a gang of oligarchs, or a democratic assembly. As a result, the social contract and democracy are not intrinsically intertwined. Nonetheless, any government must carry out the lawful functions of a civil government.
Locke, Empiricism and the natural law

For Locke, science embraces three areas:

  • Physics, sometimes known as natural philosophy, is the study of bodies and thoughts.
  • Ethics, which sets the norms that lead to enjoyment and proper behavior,
  • The interpretation of words and thoughts through the science of signs.

Locke’s Philosophy on Ideas

In theory and practice, Locke teaches that man has no innate idea. The senses supply simple notions, the most obvious since they look like their subject, and they concern physical space, bodily shape, rest, or activity. The thoughts and wills are who we are as a result of our ability to reflect. The error might occur when we make judgments based on our understanding. Complex thoughts are the result of mental labor, achieved through the creation and composition of simple concepts. The first is the concept of simple modes, such as space or time: we can always add length to a line, or from time to time.

Locke’s Philosophy on knowledge

Once we've determined the nature of our concepts, we need to figure out what knowledge is. When it comes to proposals that are faithful to the order of our concepts and genuinely appear like what exists in nature, knowledge is assured. Everything would be fine if our concepts were assigned to each number in the order of things. However, most connections are made at random or without thought, and the association of ideas is a constant source of inaccuracy.
It is not an exaggeration to state that the mind is more often than not captive to the imagination rather than the truth. Because the true substance of things eludes us and we can only approach it, our knowledge is frequently simply speculative.
Locke was born into a tradition of knowledge approximation, which is a middle ground between skepticism and dogmatism. Our knowledge has varying degrees of clarity and certainty, depending on how close or far it is to the immediate resemblance of objects.
Nothing is more certain than our rational intuitions, in which we convey our concept of the item itself. Our demonstrations are more detailed, but they span numerous insights, making them more brittle. Objects finally impact us with clear passively accepted concepts, the ideas of sensitive knowing. Overall, science is fully founded on demonstration, yet knowledge is the safest way to passively accept our sensations.

Locke and Religious Tolerance

In the seventeenth century, religious toleration was a topic of great interest in Europe. The Reformation divided Europe into conflicting religious camps, resulting in civil wars and widespread religious persecution. In the year 1685, Locke penned the First Letter on religious toleration. Toleration can be defined as the absence of state persecution. Neither of these strategies saw significant development during the Restoration.
Religion, especially Christianity, had a profound influence on the development of Locke's philosophy.
It may appear that Locke's writing The Reasonableness of Christianity, in which he argues that the basic doctrines of Christianity are few and compatible with reason, qualifies him as a Latitudinarian (rational theology) of the Anglican church; however, there was a competing dissenting 'rational theology'.
He was most likely an orthodox Anglican in the early 1660s. Locke provides a coherent account of religious tolerance, however, it is mixed up with reasons that apply solely to Christians, and possibly only to Protestants in some circumstances. He denied religious tolerance to both Catholics and atheists. It was because he saw them as agents of a foreign power in the case of Catholics. Because they have no faith in God. Religious persecution by the state is unjust.
"Whatever is permissible in the commonwealth cannot be prohibited by the magistrate in the church," according to Locke. This means that the magistrate could not forbid the use of bread and wine or even the sacrificing of a calf.

Locke's Political Philosophy

Our civic interests, according to Locke, are life, liberty, health, and property. A magistrate or civil authority should be concerned with these matters. The magistrate has the authority to use force and violence to protect civil interests against attack. This is the state's primary function. However, one's religious concerns with salvation are not within the area of civic interests and hence fall outside of the magistrate's or civil government's lawful involvement. Locke, in effect, adds a new right to the fundamental rights of life, liberty, health, and property: the right to select one's path to salvation.

Criticism of Locke's theory

  • Locke's social contract theory is implausible Because a social contract like the one Locke envisions has practically never occurred.
  • Locke's social contract theory implies (or creates) that we are separate, autonomous persons, whereas we are members of families with friends, i.e., we have social bonds when we go to construct the social contract, as well as our independence and rights to life, liberty, and property.
  • Locke's social contract theory is backward-looking: it seeks to preserve the rights we had in our natural state, rather than allowing new governments to improve social conditions if they violate those 'backward-looking' rights.
  • Locke's social contract theory is harsher than Hobbes': with Hobbes, you have a right of distress, i.e., a justification for taking food; but with Locke, the property right is as absolute as the right to life, and you cannot steal someone's property to exercise or continue your right to life.
  • Locke's idea gives more influence to the majority voice, and minority grievances are ignored because governments are founded by majority votes.

Theory of Natural Rights.

Natural rights are bestowed upon man by nature/God, and hence the state cannot deprive a person of these rights against his or her will. Every basic right is a natural right. (This is not correct.) Human rights are also founded on the principle of natural rights. Locke is a capitalist class scholar. He has provided grounds for absolute property rights. As a result, he is also known as a scholar of 'possessive individualism.' Locke proposed the principle of
  1. Separation of powers.
  2. Tolerance principles.
  3. Majoritarian democracy
Locke is also a member of the social contract tradition. Locke is also an Englishman. He observed the 'Glorious Revolution' (1688). He has a more balanced view of human nature now that he has witnessed peaceful progress.

Locke’s Criticism of Filmer

He denies the idea that God creates states. Even if we believe Adam was the first king, such an occurrence occurred in a very distant time in history. With so many kings today, how can one tell who is the true heir of Adam?
As a result, he proposes looking for a new basis of state power rather than the basis of Adam's idea (God created state).
Locke also opposed the theory of the state's absolute authority. He contends that the state's authority cannot be absolute. The state is a family of families, not a family of families. The authority of the king cannot be equal to that of the patriarch or father.
The father's authority in the home is absolute because children are completely dependent on their father. Citizens are adults who rely on the government for only a few things. As a result, state authority cannot be absolute. The labor theory of property is presented by Locke. The property belongs to the person who has put forth the effort.
Aristotle's ideas are extremely similar to Locke's. "The authority of masters differs from the authority of politicians", according to Aristotle.

Locke’s view on Human Nature

Every thinker is a product of his era. The influence of his time can be seen in his portrayal of human nature. Hobbes sees the turbulent time of British history and presents a pessimistic picture, whereas Locke sees the tranquil period and gives a 'balanced view.' Locke's logic is not as consistent as Hobbes'. Locke's theories are more grounded in logic. While Plato's thesis is logically consistent, Aristotle's idea is based on common sense.

Characteristics of Human Nature.

He believes in enlightened self-interest. According to him, man is self-centered, but that does not exclude him from caring for the interests of others. Reasons and passions coexist in man in a healthy equilibrium. "Reason in man instructs him not to hurt the other in his life, liberty, health, and property," Locke said. Thus, man is logical enough to realize that if he respects another person's life, liberty, and property, the other person will respect his rights as well.

Why contract in Locke?

What is the need for a contract when nature is in a condition of peace and benevolence, and humans have rights?
Though peace and goodwill prevail, it is not sensible to leave matters to man's benevolence. Man, if he has a reason, also has passion. As a result, insurance against such a catastrophe is required. Because men may have a pleasant life even without the state, there is no need for the state to have ultimate power. Locke also discusses several annoyances in the state of nature. What was the annoyance? Absence of a centralized authority to make, implement and adjudicate laws.
Because there was no common authority in the state of nature, everyone interpreted natural law according to his or her preferences. We cannot expect a person who murders his sibling to admit guilt. Common sense also dictates that one cannot be both a lawyer and a judge at the same time. As a result, a man enters into the contract to alleviate these inconveniences and to ensure that peace and goodwill continue to prevail. What is the contract's purpose? The primary goal is to establish common authority. Government is a common authority. Locke's agreement In Locke, there are two contracts, whereas, in Hobbes, there is just one.

Locke’s Theory of Rights & Property

He was the first to present a philosophy of natural rights. Nature, according to Locke, is a source of rights. The man was able to enjoy natural rights in his natural state because he has a reason, and reason instructs him not to endanger the life, liberty, or property of others. Natural law is denoted by reason. Because of the presence of natural law or reason, man was able to enjoy natural rights in the state of nature. It suggests that reason in man is the ultimate guarantee for the protection of rights.

Origin of property according to Locke.

The property was initially held in common. It is self-evident that property can never stay common. Those who were hardworking and enterprising became the owners. Those who were slackers, quarrelsome, and daydreamers remained impoverished.
According to Locke, God created apples, milk, and meat for us to eat and drink, not to sacrifice. As a result, Locke is utilitarian as well. Those who work hard will be able to live a happy life.

Assessment of Locke

Locke is an outright individualist.
Individualists prioritize the self over the whole. Individualism can be traced back to sophism. In modern times, individualism has evolved as a dominant philosophy. Locke is also an individualist in both the methodological and normative senses. He also bases his social contract on man's individualistic character. The individual in Locke, on the other hand, is more enlightened than the individual in Hobbes. Locke produces a restricted state because the individual is more enlightened. Locke is a normative individualist since he:
  1. develops the thesis of man's natural rights.
  2. He proposes consent as a basis for authority.
  3. The government has no inherent powers.
  4. The people have the right to revolt.
  5. Because he grants total property rights, he is also known as the scholar of 'possessive individualism.'
As a result, Locke is also an individualist. Hobbes is regarded as the greatest of all individualists. Locke, on the other hand, is seen as an outright individualist (throughout). A lock is said to be an "out and out individualist" because, unlike Hobbes, who justifies the state's absolutism, Locke never mentions the state's absolutism. e.g. If Hobbes begins as an individualist and concludes as an absolutist (McPherson), Locke remains an individualist throughout.