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

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

Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy (3/5): Libido Dominandi, Individualism, and Greatness

One of the peculiar twists of Machiavelli is how he inverts the Augustinian worldview. Saint Augustine of Hippo famously said that man, in his fallenness, lusted for domination. Man, in his estrangement and depravity, lusted to control others. Fallen man lives in conflict. Machiavelli inherits this anthropological truth but turns it on its head. It … Continue reading Machiavelli’s Discourses on Livy (3/5): Libido Dominandi, Individualism, and Greatness

The Anatomy and Specters of Fascism, IV: Nazism

Of all the fascist movements, German fascism (or “National Socialism”) is probably the most famous and least understood.  Fascism in Germany was the epicenter of the brief life of fascism, produced a number of intellectuals – serious and forgotten – from which we are able to derive a lineage of fascist philosophy.  While antecedent roots … Continue reading The Anatomy and Specters of Fascism, IV: Nazism

The Roman Stoics: Cato and Seneca

Cato and Seneca (the Youngers) are two of the most important pre-Christian Roman philosophers.  While Cicero is the most famous of the Stoic philosophers, the issue of them being “stoic” philosophers is a matter of strong contention since they’re not fully “stoic” in the original Greek sense.  Stoicism is another classical rationalist school of thought.  … Continue reading The Roman Stoics: Cato and Seneca