Classical_Liberalism Notes

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Political Science
POS 210

     Unit  Two: Classical  Liberalism  and    John LOCKEE The  foundations  of liberalism  are  not  laid by Hobbes.   Hobbes  at  best   was  a precursor  of liberalism  or a proto­ liberal.   That  means  that   within  his philosophy  are  elements  of liberalism,  but  because  there  are   also  anti­liberal  elements  in it, he  cannot  be  considered  the  "father"  of  liberal  ideology.   That  distinction  belongs  to another  British   philosopher,  John Locke. John Locke  (1632­ 1704)  was  the  son  of a Somerset  solicitor­­lawyer   and  clerk­­for the  Justices  of the  Peace  of Somerset.   His father  did not   do terrifically well financially;  he  owned  some  land  but  not  enough  to  live the  life of the  country  gentleman. His father  fought  in the  Royalist  army  in support  of the  king,  Charles  I,  during  the  British  Civil War.  Thus  he  had  made  many  influential   friends,  one  of whom  got  John Locke  into  Westminster  School.   From   there  he  went  to Christ  Church,  Oxford,  where  he  was  a student  and  a  teacher. At Oxford  he  studied  medicine  and  science  (and  kept  the  lifelong   practice  of consulting  his friends  on their  various  ailments).   But he   was  hired  as  a lecturer  in Greek  and  then  in rhetoric  and  moral   philosophy. Through  a fellow medical  student  Locke  was  introduced  to Lord  Ashley,  later  the  Earl of  Shaftesbury  and  so thereafter  came  into  the   Lord's  household  as  the  Earl's  family doctor.   It seems  that   Shaftesbury  was  about  to undergo  an  operation  to remove  a cyst  from   his liver,  and  Locke  supervised  the  operation­ ­bear  in mind  that  Locke   had  no medical  degree.   Shaftesbury,  against  all the  odds,  survived   and  for 14  years  afterward  Locke  served  as  his secretary  and   factotum,  even  helping  to arrange  marriages  for Shaftesbury's   children. In 1684  Locke  had  to flee  with  Shaftesbury  from  England  to Holland.    Shaftesbury  had  entered  into  a major  conspiracy  to deny  King James  II  the  throne.   This conspiracy  was  called  the  EXCLUSION   CONTROVERSY or Exclusion  Crisis,  in which  Locke  played  a part.    To Shaftesbury  James  was  too  autocratic  and  Catholic;  Shaftesbury   1 wanted  to restrain  the  powers  of the  Crown  and  strengthen   Parliament.   This was  serious  business,  as  many  feared  that  James   would  bring  Catholicism  back  to England  and  would  rule  absolutely.    Shaftesbury  and  his cohorts  had  planned  to kidnap  James  on his  return  from  some  horse  races.   The  plot,  however,  failed;  the  leading   conspirators  were  arrested­ ­all but  Shaftesbury  who  fled  to Holland.    One  conspirator  committed  suicide  in the  Tower  of London;  two  others   were  hanged.   We don’t  know  whether  Locke  was  involved  in the   actual  plot  to kidnap  James,  but  Locke  was  active  in Shafterbury’s   revolutionary  group  and  continued  his involvement  in this  radical   political  movement  even  after  Shaftesbury’s  death. Since  he  had  been  intimately  involved  with  Shaftesbury,  Locke  went   into  hiding  in Holland  and  lived  under  an  assumed  name.   Shaftesbury   died  soon  after  arriving.   Locke  could  have  been  in deeper  trouble.   He   probably  carried  with  him  the  manuscript  for what  would  become  the   Two  Treatises  of Government .  This is the  Bible of classical  political   liberalism  (in which  Locke  argues  against  monarchy.) The  manuscript  was  seditious  because  it could  lead  to the  disruption   of the  peace  of the  state.   In it Locke  endorsed  the  people's  right  to  resist  a legitimate  monarch  when  the  monarch  grossly  abuses  his  powers.  One  of those  abuses  is imposing  religious  beliefs  on people.   Remember  that  in Leviathan  Hobbes  had  argued  that  the  sovereign,   the  king,  had  the  right  to force  his subjects  to worship  whatever   religion  he  wanted.   So Locke  was  writing  to oppose  thinking  such  as   Hobbes’s. Locke  had  also  written  at  this  time  A Letter  on Toleration , which   argues  that  no one  had  the  right  to interfere  with  religious  worship  or  belief­­EXCLUDED WERE CATHOLICS AND ATHEISTS.  Why exclude   those  two  groups? Locke  felt that  some  sort  of moral  and  ethical  religious  teaching   was  necessary  to hold  society  together,  but  he  opposed  the  idea  of a  state  religion,  which  Hobbes  permitted.   So Locke  advocated  toleration   of religious  beliefs  and  practices  on the  assumption  that  reason  will  guide  persons  to the  same  kinds  of conclusions  and  will result  in a  consensus  on moral  and  political  ideas,  values,  and  beliefs.   So if  religion  has  reason  in it, then  there  should  be  no problem.    But atheists  must  not  be  protected  in their  false   beliefs,  for those  who  have  no belief  cannot  be  trusted;  nor  should   Catholics  since  they  obey  the  Pope  whatever  the  Pope  says. BOTH OF THESE­­THE RIGHT OF RESISTANCE AND TOLERATION  TOWARD RELIGIOUS PRACTICES­­BECOME ESSENTIAL TO LIBERALISM. 2 Locke  was  offered  a pardon,  but  refused  it, insisting  that  he  had  done   nothing  that  warranted  a pardon.   It is highly  unlikely  that  Locke  would   have  written  a book  such  as  The  Two  Treatises  and  would  have   modified  his positions  so dramatically  had  it not  been  for  Shaftesbury's  role  in politics.   (Early on Locke  favored  government  by  aristocracy,  slave  labor,  and  religious  toleration  for Christians  only.) His objective,  like Thomas  Hobbes's  before  him,  was  to determine   what  kind  of government  was  legitimate  and  what  was  the  best  way  of  life.  He knew  before  he  started  that  he  wanted  his arguments  to show   that  the  best  way  of life had  to be  a Christian  life. What  he  hoped  to do, again  as  did Hobbes,  was  to show  how  reason   would  lead  to inevitable  conclusions­ ­that  Protestant  Christian  life was   without  question  the  best  life.  The  more  Locke  pondered  this  himself,   the  less  convincing  his own  arguments  seemed. HERE LOCKE PRESENTS ANOTHER LIBERAL ELEMENT­­REASON. So far, then,  we  have  seen  in Locke  three  elements  that  make  up   classical  liberalism:   1) right  of resistance,   2) toleration  of religious  practices  (for all but  Catholics  and   atheists),  and   3) the  use  of reason. THE LIBERAL BIBLE In the  Two  Treatises  of Government  Locke  developed  three  themes   central  to liberalism:                   I) a theory  of what  makes  government  legitimate   (THEORY OF CONSENT) II) a theory  of the  RIGHT TO RESIST unjust   government  (which  we’ve  already  been  introduced   to) III) a theory  of how  persons  can  come  to own  and   dispose  of PRIVATE PROPERTY (which,  because  it is  private,  is beyond  the  reach  of government) I)  LEGITIMACY­­How Locke  arrived  at  his notion  of legitimate   government: 3 His first  concern  is to show  with  certainty  the  grounds  for legitimate   government.    He wanted  to establish  the  sort  of government  people   ought  to obey.   [What  did Hobbes  say?] Why all this  concern  with  legitimacy  and  what  government  should  be   obeyed?   First,  Locke  was  Protestant.   On the  Continent  the  Catholic   regime  of the  French  king,  Louis XIV, was  threatening  to conquer  the   small independent  Protestant  countries  like Holland  and  then  force   their  people  to become  Catholics.   In England  English  Catholics  were   subverting  the  political  system  by suggesting  that  the  ecclesiastical   order­ ­the  Church­ ­and  the  political  order  should  be  run  by the  same   power­ ­the  Pope. Locke  wanted  the  Church  out  of all political  affairs;  and  he  thought   that  religious  matters  were  one's  own  personal  business.[ Letter  on  Toleration ]  So Locke  sets  out  to determine  what  is legitimate   government. WHAT IS HIS METHOD? Like Hobbes,  he  wants  a proof  that  is certain,  if not  infallible.   He  starts  with  what  he  calls "self­ evident  truths ," truths  that  need  no  proof  or argument  and  that  all will accept  as  undeniably  true. Locke  begins  with  certain  self­evident  truths  that  he  claims  are   imprinted  on all men's  minds  directly  by God.   Among  these  is that   man  is rational,  which  separates  him  from  all other  creatures.    THUS THE FIRST SELF­EVIDENT TRUTH:  Men have  reason  ordained  by  God  to guide  them  toward  proper  behavior  and  to understand  the  law  of nature­ ­more  on that  later.   All persons  (Women  were  not   considered  persons  at  this  time  in history)  are  therefore  by nature   rational.   This element,  too,  we’ve  already  been  introduced  to. Locke  believed  that  God  provided  men  with  reason  as  the  means   of understanding  how  to order  and  live life.  "God  has  furnished  men   with  faculties  sufficient  to direct  them  in the  way  they  should  take,  if  they  will but  seriously  employ  them  that  way." Locke  thought  that  reason  will lead  men  to their  proper  obligations   and  responsibilities .  Reason  was  a political  force,  because  knowledge   was  power;  it would  produce  concrete  results. Locke,  therefore,  asserts  three  propositions: 1) God  has  ordained  a natural  order  and  given  all men  reason; 4 2) by the  use  of reason  men  can  discover  rules  of social conduct   to be  used  within  that  order­ ­because  these  are  prescribed  by  God  and  are  thus  objectively  valid; and 3) such  rules  can  be  known  certainly  ("if we  but  consult  reason") This view  on the  use  of reason  is important  for politics,  because  Locke   concludes  from  these  propositions  not  that  reason  leads  us  to   God,  but  that  reason  enables  us  to  order  our  affairs  correctly . If we  reflect  carefully  on our  experience,  we  shall come  to the  right   normative  conclusions  and  know  them  with  certainty.   We decide  for  ourselves .  We are  free  to decide  for ourselves.    STATE OF NATURE: Like Hobbes,  Locke  also  conceived  of a state  of nature,  a state  before   society  was  formed,  to understand  what  human  nature  is.  In Locke's   state  of nature  all men  are  in a state  of "perfect  freedom "  (SECOND  SELF­EVIDENT TRUTH):   "Man  being,  as  has  been  said,  by Nature,  all free,  equal  and   independent,  no one  can  be  put  out  of this  Estate,  and  subjected  to  the  Political Power  of another,  without  his own  Consent ."(LOCKE'S  THIRD SELF­EVIDENT TRUTH) ­­By "freedom"  Locke  means  the  ability  of individuals  to order   their  actions  and  dispose  of their  possessions  and  their  persons  as   they  see  fit; ­­By "equality"  Locke  meant  that  no individual  had  any  more   power  or authority  over  another  than  they  had  over  him.   This is part   of the  natural  freedom  that  each  enjoys. ­­By "independence"  Locke  meant  that  no individual  is morally  or   politically dependent  on another. Notice  the  emphasis  above  on liberty,  which  is seen  both  in freedom   and  in independence. Natural  Law : For Locke  this  perfect  freedom,  equality,  and  independence  means   that  man  can  control  his own  life, can  make  decisions  as  to what  he   wants  or needs  to do, and  can  do with  himself  as  he  pleases.   So if  5 man  can  dispose  of his person  as  he  sees  fit, then  unlike  Hobbes  [for  whom  natural  law is what?],  Locke  thinks  men  can  kill themselves.    NO, Locke  tells  us  that  the  state  of nature  is a state  of liberty,  not   license.   Thus  men  can  order  their  actions  "within  the  bounds  of the   law of nature."   They  cannot  do whatever  they  want;  they  don’t  have   license  to kill themselves,  for whom  do their  lives  really  belong  to? Locke  stipulates  that  everyone  is obliged  to obey  reason,  which  comes   to us  from  God.   What  does  reason  teach?   Reason  teaches  all men   who  will consult  it that  no man  ought  to harm  himself  or another  in his   life, Health,  Liberty,  or Possessions . This is natural  law . Every  man  is bound  to preserve  himself.   [But  not  like Hobbesian   natural  law; for Locke  natural  law =  no harm.] Locke  does  not  say  directly  “do  not  harm  yourself”  in terms  of these   rights.   But in the  Second  Treatise  he  does  say  that  our  lives  are  not   ours  to dispose  of, because  they  come  from  God.  We have  no right,  he   says,  to "quit  our  station  wilfully"—that  is, we  have  no right  to kill  ourselves. Natural  right , therefore,  is the  freedom  and  obligation  to "prosecute   the  natural  law"; that  is, again,  to preserve  Life, Liberty,  Health,  and   Possessions .   Another  way  to say  this  is that  we have  a natural  right   to life, liberty,  health,  possessions.  Natural  right  is freedom,  not  to do  whatever  we  please,  but  only our  duty  to follow natural  law, which  is  to follow reason  and  not  harm  others. Men have  the  right  to enforce  the  law of nature,  since  there  is no  superior  authority  to do so since  all men  are  "free,  equal,  and   independent."   They  can  kill a robber,  for example,  for the  person   does  not  know  how  far the  robber  is willing  to go to get  what  he   wants,  whether  the  robber  might  wish  to kill or enslave  the  person.   So   the  person  is really preserving  his life and  liberty  by exercising  his  natural  right  to protect  that  life and  his liberty.   The  person  has  the   freedom  to do so, even  though  in protecting  his right  he  is harming   another.   That’s  because  in following  God­given  reason,  the  person   sees  in this  situation  that  he  can  only preserve  his life and  liberty— that  is, follow natural  law—if he  harms  this  other  person.   To fail to  protect  his life and  liberty  would  be  to violate  natural  law or God’s  law. But Locke's  state  of nature,  however,  is not  a violent  place,  not  like  Hobbes's  war  of all against  all.  Rather  it is full of decent,  reasonable   people  living  in harmony  with  nature  and  in peace  and  tranquility  with   one  another.   But, as  with  the  robber  example,  not  always  in peace   6 and  tranquility.   One  commentator  described  Locke's  state  of nature   as  a city  with  the  police  force  and  judiciary  on  strike .  That  is  exact.   Some  people  will be  peaceful  and  peaceable;  others  will take   advantage  of the  absence  of police  to rob  and  plunder. What  Locke's  state  of nature  lacks,  therefore,  are  impartial  judges  to  settle  disputes  and  make  laws.   The  law of nature  declares  that  every   man  is to act  to preserve  both  his life and  that  of others.   He has  no  right  to another's  property  or person,  unless  he  is under  threat. But he  is secure  only so long  as  others  also  recognize  that.   But man  in  the  state  of nature  is insecure.   There  is no common  authority  to  adjudicate  violations  of the  law of nature  and  punish  offenders.   Each   man  is his own  judge  and  policeman,  determining  for himself  when   and  whether  the  law is violated  and  what  the  punishment  should  be­­ as  in the  example  of the  robber.   This lack of independent  judges  and   enforcers  Locke  called  “inconveniences .” The  result  is high  instability.   Because  all men  do not  obey  natural  law  or respect  the  natural  rights  of others,  because  men  will favor  their   own  friends  and  will seek  revenge  against  their  own  enemies,  a civil  government  is needed  to "restrain  the  partiality  and  violence  of men." Thus,  while  the  state  of nature  is far more  peaceful  than  that  of  Hobbes,  it is still a dangerous  place,  and  men  will want  to leave  it.   They  want  to do so, then,  for two  reasons: First , they  do so because  of the  lack of impartial  judges,   because,  Locke  says,  they  wish  to redress  the  defects  and   imperfections­ ­"the  inconveniences ," as  mentioned  above­ ­found   in the  state  of nature.      Second , because  they  wish  to avoid  the  state  of war.   Locke's   state  of nature  is not  Hobbes's  state  of war,  but  for Locke  "every   least  difference  is apt  to end"  in such  a state.   Because  there  will  always  be  differences,  that  is close  to a perpetual  state  of war. What  kind  of government  is best  for protecting  the  life, liberty,  health,   and  possessions  of all?  Locke  says  that  it can’t  be  an  absolute   monarchy,  because  absolute  monarchs  are  still men  (a slap  at   Hobbes).    As men,  they  still have  and  represent  only one  point  of view   and  so will favor  their  own  friends,  family, case,  and  cause.   Also, for  Hobbes,  the  absolute  monarch,  not  being  part  of the  first  promise  of  the  social contract  to surrender  absolute  freedom,  is above  the  law  and  can  do harm. 7 So men  are  looking  for security,  for an  impartial  interpretation  and   enforcement  of the  laws  of nature.   If government  can  provide  that   security,  then  there  is an  advantage  to government  over  the  state  of  nature.   How do men  find this  kind  of government? LOCKE'S SOCIAL CONTRACT First,  they  have  to leave  the  state  of nature.   So how  do men  leave  the   state  of nature?   They  can  only leave,  says  Locke,  through  a compact   in which  men  "agree  together  mutually"  to enter  into  one  community,   one  body  politic.      Since  all are  independent,  equal,  and  free,  only by consent  can  one   divest  himself  of natural  liberty,  the  natural  power  to punish  offenses   and  preserve  property,  health,  life, liberty. CONSENT This political  community  then  becomes  the  protector  of  "Property"­ ­including  the  property  one  always  possesses  in his or her   self­­by  1) becoming  an  impartial  umpire/police  force  and   2) becoming  one  authority  to decide  controversies­ ­that  is, a  judiciary;   and   3) by establishing  laws.  These  laws  are  valid only so long  as  they   conform  to the  law of nature.[Follow  reason  and  preserve   natural  rights.] Then  how  is political  power  exercised?   It can  only be  exercised  by rule   of the  majority , because  the  body  politic, says  Locke,  moves  the  way   "whither  the  greater  force  carries  it."  That  force  is the  majority.    Because  everyone  is equal,  no one  can  have  more  influence  or power   than  anyone  else.   So, we  see  what  all these  free  and  equal  people   (men)  want  and  then  go with  the  majority. Is Locke's  consent  theory  perfect?   No. There  are  two  problems        1)  majority  rule        2)  historical  precedents­ ­express  and  tacit  consent 1)  First  is the  unanimity  problem;  decisions  should  be  made   unanimously,  just  as  Hobbes  argued,  because  everyone,  as  said,  is  equal.   That  would  be  splendid,  says  Locke,  but  decisions  are  not  often   8 favored  unanimously.   It would  be  "unreasonable"  to expect  them  to  be.   So we  need  another  way.   The  only other  way  is through  majority   rule.   That  does  not  favor  any  one  vote  more  than  any  other.   To favor   the  minority  is to treat  people  unequally,  for it favors  the  minority   views.   To treat  all equally,  we  must  treat  each  one  as  one  and  as  no  more  than  one.   EXPRESS  AND TACIT CONSENT  2) When  do people  ever  agree  to join a society?   Aren't  they  born  into   one? Historical  evidence  is scant  on consent.   It doesn’t  show  us  people   outside  of society  giving  consent  to form  one.   We see  no state  of  nature;  we  see  only societies  that  already  exist  in some  way.   That   doesn't  mean  the  state  of nature  did not  exist,  any  more  than  it  means  that  George  Washington's  soldiers  were  never  children­ ­Men  race  to society  to overcome  the  "inconveniences"  and  hazards  of the   state  of nature. To form  a commonwealth  requires  differentiating  between  two  forms   of consent,  only one  of which,  according  to Locke,  is strong  enough  for   that  formation: a) express  consent , in which  one  openly  and  expressly   declares  loyalty  to a government;  this  act  makes  one  a  subject  and  member  of that  commonwealth.   Naturalized   citizens  are  giving  express  consent  when  they  are  sworn  in  as  citizens.   Citizens  give  express  consent  when,  for  example,  they  register  to vote. b) tacit  consent , which  is not  overt  but  which  includes   having  any  possessions;  enjoying  any  of the  works  of the   government;  residing  in that  country,  traveling  its  highways;  or any  similar  act  by which  we  benefit  from   being  in a society.   Here  we  give  tacit  consent  to abide  by  and  to be  subject  to the  laws  of the  land.     Foreigners  can   and  must  do this  as  well.  So what  makes  one  a member  of  society,  a citizen  and  not  a visitor?   A foreigner  can  live all  his life in a country  and  not  be  a citizen.   What  is missing  is  an  active  declaration,  such,  as  said,  as  voter  registration   or draft  registration.   It is an  active  declaration  that,  again,   is necessary  to form  a commonwealth. 9 But when  may  we  withdraw  consent?   When  may  we  break  the  laws;   when  do we cease  to be  subjects  and  are  no longer  obligated  to obey   the  laws  and  lawmakers? II) LOCKE ON RIGHTS AND RESISTANCE Locke,  like Hobbes,  was  determined  to preserve  individual  liberty   while  granting  to government  the  power  to make  laws.   But Hobbes   claimed  that  individuals  entering  the  social contract  surrender  all their   natural  right  to the  sovereign  but  keep  the  right  of natural  law­­to  preserve  oneself.   Men could  do as  they  pleased,  provided  they  kept   the  peace­ ­so Hobbes  thought,  but  the  sovereign  might  have  other   ideas.   Hobbes  is really after  protection  to assure  our  life, which  is our   right  to life.  Locke  thought  this  wrong.   Some  natural  rights  beyond   the  right  to life must  be  retained  to serve  as  "trumps"  against   tyrannical  government. In Locke's  scheme,  individuals  surrender  only  the  right  to make  laws   and  to execute  and  enforce  them.   But they  relinquish  that  right  in  order  to secure  their  other  rights  more  tightly,  especially  their  right  to  life and  property. Locke's  social contract  theory  is the  first  to suggest  limiting  political   authority  through  the  idea  of inalienable  individual  rights .  This  is  the   key  to  liberalism .      An invasion  of a subject's  rights  by political  authority  is a "breach   of the  ruler's  trust"  and  is grounds  by which  the  "government  can  be   dissolved." The  purpose  of the  civil society  and  political  authority  is to protect  the   natural  rights  of citizens  to life, liberty,  and  property.   That,  according   to Locke,  is its only function.   It is no part  of government  to monkey   about  with  an  individual's  soul.    Religion  is a private  matter,  not  be   intruded  upon  by the  state.   As beings  of reason,  individuals  know   their  ends  better  than  anyone  else. RIGHT TO RESIST:   Locke  argues  that  citizens  have  a right  to active  resistance  of an   unjust  political  authority.  Locke  holds  the  view  that  all citizens  have   the  right  and  the  duty  to judge  for themselves  (using  reason)  what  to  preserve  in society  and  how  to preserve  it.  Locke  has  now  extended   his notion  of the  people  judging  for themselves  from  religious  matters   to governmental  concerns. 10 Most  of the  time,  argues  Locke,  men  have  a duty  to obey  the  ruler   because  society  is peaceful  and  orderly.   Peace  and  order  are   preconditions  of living  a decent  human  life.                         But if the  ruler  himself,  through  his laws  and  other   actions,  threatens  the  peace  and  order,  then  subjects  have  every  right   to judge  the  degree  of the  threat,  and  if it is severe,  to resist  the   threat  as  best  they  can. HERE IS AN IMPORTANT LESSON: IT IS PART OF GOD'S LAW TO RESIST.  Anytime  anyone­ ­king,  soldier,  commoner­ ­violates  the  law of nature   or the  natural  rights  of another,  that  person  is rebelling  against  God   and  must  be  resisted .  Note  the  distinction  between  rebellion  and   resistance . Natural  rights  are  ordained  by God.   Therefore,  anyone   violating  them  defies  God.  The  violator  of God's  law is the  rebel,  not   the  person  who  resists  that  violation.    TO REPEAT: Natural  law and  natural  rights  come  from  God.   This is, for   Locke,  self­evident.   To violate  anyone’s  rights,  regardless  of your   authority,  is to rebel  against  God.   That  person,  or those  persons,   must  be  resisted. Locke  concludes  in the  Second  Treatise  that  since  the  chief end  of  government  is to preserve  and  protect  property­ ­any  invasion  or  seizure  of property  by the  government  or its agents  is a violation  of  the  end  of government  and  a breach  of trust.   Authority  is then   illegitimate,  and  persons  revert  to the  state  of nature. WHICH MEANS WHAT?  Those  persons  must  seek  to keep  the  peace   and  to protect  themselves  any  way  they  can­ ­that  is, on their  own. When  can,  or should,  persons  resist? a) anytime  anyone  violates  one's  rights. b) if anyone  tries  to seize  the  power  of the  legislature  without  the   consent  of the  people,  or if anyone  tries  to make  laws  without   consent,  these  laws  and  this  authority  shall not  be  obeyed. c) if the  legislature  or the  monarch  tries  to buy  off, unduly  influence,   regulate,  or otherwise  corrupt  representatives  or elec
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