POLITICAL THEORY – John Locke
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POLITICAL THEORY – John Locke

August 24, 2019


The 17th century English philosopher, John Locke, is to be remembered for his wise and brilliant contributions to three great issues that continue to concern us to this day: how we should educate our children, who should rule over us, and what we should do about people who have different religious ideas to us. Locke was born into a quiet Somerset village in 1632. He was 10 years old when the English civil war broke out, and his father became captain in the parliamentary army. King Charles I was publicly executed in 1649, just a few feet away from where Locke was studying: at Westminster School. The screams of the crowds heard in the library marked him deeply. Locke went on to study medicine at Oxford and planned to be a doctor, but his life changed significantly when, by chance, he became acquainted with the dashing and highly ambitious Greek politician, Antony Ashley Cooper– known as the “First Earl of Shaftesbury,” who’d come to Oxford to look for a cure for a liver disease he had. Cooper suggested that Locke move to London to become part of his household. The offer was hard to resist, and once part of Cooper’s entourage, Locke began to participate in the great scientific, educational, religious, and political debates of the day. Along the way, he also helped to cure Shaftesbury of his liver complaint, earning his lifelong gratitude. The first question Locke grew fascinated by, was what to do with people who don’t agree with your religious views. In breaking away from the Catholic Church under Henry VIII in the 16th century, English Protestantism had started a process of noisy questioning of religion that couldn’t now easily be stopped. Because this was threatening to get out of hand, there were arguments that there should be total government control over religion, and a hard crack down on dissenters. But Locke became one of the foremost advocates of freedom of belief in his beautiful, essay concerning toleration, written in 1667. Here, he advocated toleration on the basis of three points. Firstly, ‘because Earthly judges, the state in particular, and human beings in general, cannot dependably evaluate the truth-claims of competing religious standpoints.’ Secondly, ‘even if they could, enforcing a single “true religion” would never work, because you can’t be compelled into belief through violence.’ And thirdly, ‘coercing religious uniformity leads to far more social disorder than allowing diversity.’ Locke argued that the ultimate aim of the state was just to preserve the quiet and comfortable living of men in society, but that it’d have nothing to do with the good of men’s souls. Religion was a personal choice, and churches were voluntary organizations, which could set their own rules and be left to it. It was thanks to Locke’s influence, that the idea of locking up people for their beliefs fell entirely out of favor. By the 18th century, other European nations looked with envy at England; a place where what you happen to believe was simply deemed irrelevant to your statues or prospects. This was a truly remarkable achievement for one book, by one man to have set in train, but Locke didn’t stop there. In 1689, he published a second extraordinary book; The Two Treatises of Government. This tried to answer the question of who should rule the country and on what legitimate bases. One common yet increasingly fanciful notion at the time, was that political authority derived directly from God. But a more recent explanation from Thomas Hobbes had asserted that the totalitarian power of kings was justified by their ability to keep order and prevent repetitions of the chaos that had rained; Hobbes had insisted, in the time before powerful governments and that he had called; the state of nature. By painting the state of nature in the darkest colors, Hobbes had asked his readers to set themselves low expectations, for what a decent ruler was meant to be. Anything better than the savagery of the Stone Age was legitimate, and rulers have no responsibility to guarantee religious freedom or human rights. But now, in the First Treatise, Locke thoroughly demolished the Scriptural claim; that God had created kings. And in the Second Treatise, he took on Hobbes’s ideas about the state of nature. Locke agreed with Hobbes that before without government, there would have been a State of Nature. But he disagreed what this place would actually have been like, he argued; that it would have been broadly peaceful, and that in agreeing to summit to governments, people have therefore not, fearfully agreed to surrender all their rights. In fact, they possessed a range of alienable or natural rights that no ruler could ever take away.

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  1. The best channel on political science/ philosophy…… Keep up the good work guys .
    If u have time please post videos on Indian political thinkers also .
    Once again Great work guys.

  2. Quick question: Trump became president in Nov 2016, this video published in April 2016 featured Trump among other leaders at 3:58 . Did you see into the future or am I missing something?

  3. GREAT PHILOSOPHER! I saw every idea being implemented i america. education is still a concern today and his ideas about it woukd be great. For example there are useless majors at universities for example gender studies, Sexuality and others. These don't help later in life and why it is still a question of why don't the educational system teach us for how to manage life? These include taxes, social interaction etc.

  4. Eighteenth century England looked with envy by European nations for the religious tolerence ? Absolutely not ! There was a profound fear of catholicism or "papism" which led to numerous revolts and rebellions. Heck, the Glorious Revolution even happened AGAINST a the declaration of indulgence of James II that hoped to reintegrate catholics and dissenters in the society, and they forbade a catholic king on the throne. Numerous dissenters had to move to the colonies to live their faith in peace. When the Edict of Nantes was revoked in France, most protestants did not flee to England, because they were afraid of the religious intolerance of england, they fleed to Holland, Brandenburg, or the colonies. Talk about a model of tolerance.

  5. One thing I wonder is how Locke was so intolerant to Atheists,,,,he even quoted that they should be thrown out of the state!!!
    Nonetheless, England is yet tolerant towards Atheists and is rightly dubbed as the heaven for them😉😉
    Locke's concept of Tabula Rasa has made him the father of Psychology👌👌👌

  6. There were more people in the world than Locke preaching for religious toleration than Locke, you cant say hes the reason we believe in it. Definitely influential but js

  7. Locke was used in the writing of the constitution. It works really well depending on the intelligence of the leadership and its implementation.

  8. Separation of church and state isn't in the Declaration of Independence, nor the Constitution. It was a phrase used by Thomas Jefferson in a letter to the Danbury Baptists of Connecticut. Nothing more.

  9. @ 1:05 Shaftesbury it's not a real name sir.
    What do you mean?
    It's a joke name- like Naughtious Maximus or Biggus Dickus

  10. 原来宗教自由、政教分离、政府权力不宜过大、民重君轻、教育的重要性以及一个人的价值观主要来自他们少年时这些观点都是他架构起来的,太了不起了!

  11. I don't know if someone in the commenst has already said it, but locke was not tollerant on atheist and cathtolics

  12. No mention of him being a hypocrite about Slavery? Locke was General Secretary of the Board of Trade and Plantations, which regulated British slave trade. He was also a shareholder in two slave trading companies, including the Royal Africa Company at the time just before the massive expansion of British slave trading. He sold his shares at a profit. Yet he argued that all men were born free and subjected themselves voluntarily to another authority through a social contract. So basically, slaves chose to be enslaved.
    Also, Barbara Arneil (check out her book 'John Locke and America') and many other scholars believe that the effect of Locke's ideas on private property (not really mentioned in this video) was to 1. support English colonialism in North America and 2. provide a justification for taking away from Native Americans and giving it to English and later, American settlers.
    I realise I sound a bit obnoxious, even though I love The School of Life and its videos. I just got upset that there was so much praising of Lock and no introducing the more critical material and ideas he produced.

  13. I think we have to look at the context that Locke was making his arguments, it was a pre-industrial capitalist time, in which members of society outside the aristocracy, were roughly equal in property and status. The inequality lay in the difference between the state and the individual.
    Whereas now, in a later stage of world capitalist development, we see vast inequalities between individuals, aided by deregulated markets and undemocratic totalitarian transnational business structures called corporations. These unaccountable transnational structures hold vast power and influence over both the collective and the individual, in many cases behave like mini-undemocratic states that extract wealth from an country, only subservient to shareholders looking for short term gain.
    I believe, if we follow Locke's reasoning and superimpose it onto today's society, we do not arrive at a laissez-faire approach to markets and governments at all. To reach this conclusion is erroneous and does not do so for the reasons Locke set out in his pre-Capitalist society.

  14. A review of Locke is well overdue in Western schools where the Leftists believe implicitly that they know what is better for us we should follow them like sheep and not complain…

  15. It's a shame that Western society as a whole is subverting and backing away from all these values or applying them selectively to groups modern day monarchs and elites deem worthy or above everyone else.

  16. John Locke also argued that atheists should be "censored" by the government in his Letter Concerning Toleration. Still a victim of his time

  17. A child should be taught how to think , not so much what to think.
    You need fear those who would
    Teach what you are expected to
    Think, and suppress your opinions.

  18. In "A Letter Concerning Toreration" John Locke states “Those are not at all to be tolerated who deny the being of a God.”

  19. Now show how Jean-Jaques Rousseau proved the 'truth' is somewhere in the middle.. There is no such thing as a 'natural right' without someone else present to agree you have it. Explain to a bear that you have the right o freedom of movement, or freedom of speech, or the right to not be eaten. Bear don't give a shit. Rights come from other people 'granting' them to you… So JJR argued you shouldn't give one man a right without giving it to another equally and without hesitation. JJR's philosophy is what inspired a ton of the abolitionists in the USA and modern government, as well as the basic structures of modern education in the known world.

    Locke progressed Hobbes, but gets too much credit. JJR, the Swiss flamer, finished off the theory.

  20. My favorite part of Locke's Letter Concerning Toleration is when he says all religious views should be tolerated…except atheism

  21. Treatise On Rights
    This app has a great collection of different articles on human rights and responsibilities.

    Click on below link to download
    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=velani.treatiseonrights

  22. The man that built the bases of liberalism: life, freedom and private property.

    The word "Liberal" in the US means a totally different thing, but in the rest of the world I believe it holds its true meaning.

  23. Whoever doesn't address 'distribution of wealth', and betrays 'Magna Carta' and prescribes authoritarian rule, is destined to the dust bin of history.

  24. You notice that even in these supposedly educational video we see the liberal bias against President Trump? These left wing bums will do anything to destroy the man who's making America great again.

  25. How our children should be educated -By the educated ??
    How we are to be led – Not by people who are at the bottom of the totem pole ??
    How to deal with people opposite our religion we don't agree with ?? Provided that the other religion is not designed to kill you like Muslims ??

  26. Doing a Progressive Tax on (Just) the “Greedy Part” of Wealth & Conservatively Spending (Just it) on Social Programs gets us a “Stable Society” (the “True Creator” of All Wealth!!) AND we do it with “Direct Democracy” where WE Directly Propose, Enact & Enforce “Merit Based Standardized” Laws & “Money” isn’t a factor!! – "Like" this so we all See & Do this!!

  27. To me it is strange, weird, to hear people call him a "conservative". He sounds much more like a Democrat. More individual rights, freedoms. Separation of church and state, no religion is above another. Those are Democratic ideals. The Republicans do the exact opposite of what Locke wrote. Feeding the rich, ( themselves) through tax breaks..and loading the deficit on "The Peoples backs". And Republicans have definitely chosen a "religion" to climb into bed. Bush bought the "Evangelical" vote, when he signed the illegal "Faith Based Initiative" into law…Where our TAX DOLLARS are given to Religious organizations. Billions have been funneled into these Right wing political organizations. Going against what our founding fathers believed. And what this nation was founded upon.They further dismantled our Democracy, when they made "Corporations" …"People". So thanks to Republicans it is no longer illegal for Corporations to give ANY amount to those politicians who tow the line, for them. The "Patriot" act is also extreme and over reaching, signed into law by Bush. Giving the government the power to arrest and hold someone without charges, indefinitely . And a myriad of other "powers" over us all. Scary but true…that was on the Republican agenda. Also, having the Supreme court choose the winner of a tight election as in Florida with Bush V Gore…was illegal, and unconstitutional because the constitution states that the "Legislature" shall decide the winner of a close election…NOT the courts. That, was done through the "conservative agenda"…because They wanted their stooge as president to play their rehearsed role, as 911 unfolded. and as Trillions went to corporations through Cheney's "no bid contracts". Corporations tied at the hip to "conservative politicians". Too many "coincidences", obvious evidence like building #7 imploding…all by itself is proof enough, but there are hundreds of other "coincidences" too. All camera's shut off at the Pentagon that day…all except one, which did not show a 757 hitting the Pentagon…no way, no how. Strange. Also Radar was filled with false blips because it just so happens that they were having a test that day..google it..stranger and strangerer. So we do know what party is for "WE the PEOPLE" and for our Constitution..and it aint the Republican Party my friend. They have robbed our nations coffers, used our nations military, started wars, for their own personal gain. What else do you need ?

  28. @8:50: Really? Locke is the primary reason we try to give our children good childhoods? Locke is the sole origin of religious tolerance? Come on.

  29. I don't think we should say that it's because of Locke that we believe in religious freedom and education, he was just one of the first Europeans to put it in writing.

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