John Locke: From Self-Preservation to Private Property

John Locke is one of the most important modern philosophers.  He contributed, most famously – though often misunderstood by people who name-drop him – to political philosophy; but Locke also made important contributions to philosophy more broadly (including epistemology, theology, and labor theory in economics).  I have a comprehensive summary of Locke’s Second Treatise which you can … Continue reading John Locke: From Self-Preservation to Private Property

John Locke’s “Second Treatise,” Part V: The Myth of “Perpetual Revolution”

In the final installment of reading Locke’s Second Treatise of Government, we turn to the paradoxes of Locke’s theory of revolution.  Most people are woefully ignorant as to what Locke is actually saying since they’ve never read Locke – they’ve only ever been told lies about Locke’s view of revolution.  Locke’s revolution is not about breaking … Continue reading John Locke’s “Second Treatise,” Part V: The Myth of “Perpetual Revolution”

John Locke’s “Second Treatise,” Part IV: Statism & the Myth of Limited Government

In continuing our reading of Locke’s Two Treatises, beginning with ninth chapter now, we turn to Locke’s understanding of what the end of political governance, the commonwealth, and legislature, is ultimately for.  That is to say, what does political society aim at?  Essentially his answer was already given in the preceding chapters – peaceable and solitary … Continue reading John Locke’s “Second Treatise,” Part IV: Statism & the Myth of Limited Government

John Locke’s “Second Treatise,” Part III: The Origins of Political Society

The sixth Chapter of the Second Treatise is one of Locke’s more self-explanatory chapters.  The exoteric reading is very straightforward: the naturality of parental authority is a precursor to civil authority.  As Locke writes at the end of the chapter, “it be a sufficient proof of the natural right of fathers to political authority, because … Continue reading John Locke’s “Second Treatise,” Part III: The Origins of Political Society

John Locke’s “Second Treatise,” Part II: Anthropology & Theory of Labor

The fifth chapter of the Second Treatise is arguably the most influential writing ever penned by John Locke.  Chapter 5 deals with his anthropology, along with his defense of property and labor – and how “divine workmanship” led to property and how property and labor is leading us out of the state of nature and toward civil … Continue reading John Locke’s “Second Treatise,” Part II: Anthropology & Theory of Labor

John Locke’s “Second Treatise,” Part I: State of Nature & State of War

John Locke is commonly thought of as the “father of limited government” and the progenitor of the rights-based tradition of political philosophy called “liberalism.”  He is often contrasted with the absolutism of Hobbes: Locke’s government is minimal where Hobbes’s government is all-powerful, Locke’s State of Nature is good and benign where Hobbes’s state of nature … Continue reading John Locke’s “Second Treatise,” Part I: State of Nature & State of War

Freedom from Harm: Andrew Jason Cohen’s “Liberalism Reconceived”

Andrew Jason Cohen has written and important book. While I will not quibble over issues of toleration and the metaphysical dilemma of universalism or monism vs. pluralism—wherein the liberal philosophical tradition while advocating “toleration” endorses metaphysical monism—Cohen’s “reappraisal” of liberalism as a philosophy promoting freedom from harm is not so much new as it is … Continue reading Freedom from Harm: Andrew Jason Cohen’s “Liberalism Reconceived”

Karl Marx’s Dialectical Historicism

One of the core elements to Karl Marx’s philosophy was his dialectical materialism and historicism, which come together in his dialectical historicism.  Most people are probably familiar with it.  There are five distinct stages (or epochs) of history: slavery, feudalism, capitalism, socialism, and communism.  But the movement of history is not linear-progressive, it is cyclical; … Continue reading Karl Marx’s Dialectical Historicism

Rousseau: The Second Discourse on Inequality

Rousseau’s second discourse on inequality builds from his first.  The second discourse contains his famous depiction of the noble savage, how man loses his freedom and equality through the establishment of property and society, and his ruminations about how reason corrupts human living and how knowledge is used as a tool of oppression and violence.  … Continue reading Rousseau: The Second Discourse on Inequality

Rousseau: The First Discourse on Inequality

Rousseau begins his Discourses on Inequality by stating he is examining the question of man – quid sit homo – that eternal question that is at the bedrock of philosophy.  Chronologically, Rousseau wrote the Discourses before the Social Contract, but the two works complement one another and should be read together.  Within the Discourses Rousseau’s attacks include Aristotle, natural philosophy, Grotius, Hobbes, and … Continue reading Rousseau: The First Discourse on Inequality