POL 2108 A - Modern Political Thought I - Guy Côté - 15 Feb. 25
John Locke (1632-1704)
• Comes from a bourgeois family, almost noble
• studied philosophy (MA), then did medicine, politics, diplomacy
• wrote a book trying to describe what knowledge is
• also wrote The 2 Treaties of government
The 2 Treaties of Government
• rxn to Robert Filmer’s approach who says the absolute monarchy is the best, b/c the King gets
his power from God
- Filmer also promotes patriarchy, a male King takes care over everything
• John says men are free and equal, opposing Robert
• says the King does not own everything, introduces the idea of private ownership
• Locke’s idea of the state of nature is completely different from Hobbes’
The State of Nature (SON)
• Locke says the state of nature is not pre-political, in contrast with Hobbes’
• The SON is neither a state of war, but a state of harmony. People naturally care for each other.
• The SON of having humans living together is based on reason. There is no common superior
authority, people don’t need it since people live in harmony. The only law is the law of nature, so
monarchy has no place. This is the opposite of a civil society.
• He describes the state of war as when violence/force is used without right.
• The state of peace is the opposite, meaning force is allowed in certain cases, as to enforce
• When the government can’t maintain harmony, enforce laws, a state of war ensues.
• In the SON, there is harmony, b/c there’s a bond between people.
• To Locke, the resources of the Earth is a common good, an equal access to everyone. Based
on the idea that God gave the land of Eden to Adam, and that mankind owns all land, Locke
says private property should exist.
- Labor is an extension of your body. You own your labor.
- This later comes into play with Marx’s idea, who says that people no longer own their
• Since we have labor, so how do we transfer common good to private property? As in the case
of Hobbes’, people are responsible for their own self-preservation. However, what