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treatise Second Treatise Of Government

Lockes The Second Treatise of Civil Government: The Significance of Reason
The significance of reason is discussed both in John Lockes, The Second Treatise of Civil Government, and in Jean-Jacques Rousseaus, Emile. However, the definitions that both authors give to the word reason vary significantly. I will now attempt to compare the different meanings that each man considered to be the accurate definition of reason. John Locke believed that the state all men are naturally in ... is a state of perfect freedom (122), a state in which they live without ... depending upon the will of any other man (122). It is called the the state of nature, and it is something that is within us at birth. The state of nature is a law made by God, called the Law of Reason. This law gives humankind liberty, freedom, and equality and stresses that no man ought to harm another in his life, liberty, or possessions (123). According to Locke, the law of reason is the basis of man as well as society. It restrains men from infringing on the rights of others. In this state, there is no need for a central authority figure to govern the actions of people, for it is the people, themselves, who impose the peace and preservation of mankind (124). One can have perfect freedom as long as one does not disturb others in their state of nature; in this state of perfect equality ... there is no superiority or jurisdiction of one over another (124). Men, thereby, have the power to preserve the innocent and restrain offenders (124) and punish those who transgress against them and disturb their state of nature. Thus, all men are their own executioner[s] in the law of nature, or the Law of Reason. While all men are in charge of their own will according to the Law of Reason in which they are born, some men do, in fact, break or reject this law, which causes them to enter into a state of war with the others. People reject the law of nature for many reasons, especially when their ideas and opinions differ. When people reject the law, two things can happen; the first is that one could enter into a state of war with someone else, and the other is that one could choose to enter into a state of society. It is reason that ultimately leads a person into the state of society through a social contract. In these societies, it is reason, the law of nature, which governs mankind. Reason is not flexible because it is Gods law and it is set in stone. This reason gives you the social contract, leading to life, liberty, and happiness. To Locke, it is crucial for men to enter into the social contract as
soon as possible. Since we are born into the state of nature in which the law of reason governs us, it is easy for us to enter into society when we are young. This is because that very society is based on reason, not upon feelings or intuition. When men leave their state of nature and conform to society and the government, they give up their right to punish others, as they see fit. Instead, the social contract exists to protect people from those who transgress by inflicting due punishment to offenders through the force of the government. Since every person mutually agrees to live amongst the rules of the contract, it protects the good of the majority. The government thus works to benefit the good of the people. The best kinds of government, Locke believed, are absolute monarchies, because they dont take their citizens out of the state of nature. Societies, in fact, are in a form of the state of nature, themselves, so people dont have to give up their rights to reason by entering into the social contract. Reason still exists where conformity flourishes. It doesnt diminish but is
actually enhanced by the merging of natural law (fundamental law) and positive law (the law of the majority of others). John Locke believed that conformity is what enhances society. His ideal was for everyone to be fully integrated into the social contract. ... more

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Locke's Government


The Declaration of Independence, written by Thomas Jefferson, and The Second
Treatise on Civil Government by John Locke, are two similar works. Lockes work seems to
have had an influence on Jefferson when he wrote the Declaration of Independence. Both works
were written on government, what it should and should not be.
Locke brings the view that the state exists to preserve the natural rights of its citizens.
When governments fail in that task, citizens have the right--and sometimes the duty--to
withdraw their support and event to rebel. Locke maintained that the state of nature was a happy
and tolerant one, that the social contract preserved the preexistent natural rights of the
individual to life, liberty, and property, and that the enjoyment of private rights-- the pursuit of
happiness-- led, in civil society, to the common good.
Lockes form of government is simple, yet confusing. Lockes government is broken
down into four main areas, the State of Nature ( SN ), the State of War ( SW ), Civil
Society ( CS ), and Political Society ( PS ). Locke begins by recognizing the differences
between power, in general, and political power in particular. Locke believes political power to
be, the power of a magistrate over a subject. (2) The subject remains under the magistrates
rule by choice. This brings about the State of Nature. The SN is a state of perfect freedom, no
one is controlling others and no one is being controlled, everyone is equal. Locke comes to say
that the only way someone can rule over us is if we let them. By doing this we are not
abandoning our SN, but remaining in it. It is ones choice to let another preside over them. Our
SN is threatened though because we do not have complete control, therefore we come into the
State of War. Under SW we have taken away others SN or given up our own. For us to get it
back we come into Civil Society. By lending out our SN we come together to protect it. We are
given back our SN after it has been restored. We are no longer threatened by someone taking it
away. The problem that arises is the fact that this is not a very solid solution. This leads to the
Political Society. People agree to get together and establish a PC (AKA government) The PC
is responsible for protecting others. We are still in our State of Nature as we have lended it out,
received it back and come to terms with others in arranging a Political Society. Locke is
attempting to understand the proper relationship between a people and a government.
Jeffersons ideas are very close to those of Lockes. Which proves Lockes work had an
impact on him. The first major relationship between Jeffersons Declaration of Independence
and Lockes Second Treatise is that they both believe in the State of Nature and use it as the
basis of their governments. The Declaration of Independence says that, ...and to assume
among the Powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and
of Natures God entitle them... (1) Locke believes this as, ...what state all men are naturally
in, and that is a state of perfect freedom to order their actions, and dispose of their possessions
and persons as they think fit within the bounds of the Law of Nature... ( 2 ) The Declaration
of Independence is saying that when one set of politics is not working, that one must break away
and start over again in the Law of Nature because this is truly the only way to go. For Locke,
The Sate of Nature has a law of Nature to govern it, which obliges everyone, and reason,
which is that law, teaches all mankind who will but consult it, that being all equal and
independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, liberty, or possessions. (2) Jefferson
uses the Law of Nature as the highest government a society can achieve. This being everyone
free, and in their State of Nature, yet under a government.
Another similarity is how they explain their belief that all men are created equal. As the
Declaration of Independence goes on Jefferson comes to say, ...that all men are created equal,
that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are
Life, Liberty, and the ... more

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