The Second Treatise of Government and A Letter Concerning Toleration

Front Cover
Courier Corporation, Mar 1, 2012 - Literary Collections - 160 pages
A highly influential figure in the Age of Enlightenment in England and France, whose works helped inspire the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, John Locke was one of the most important political theorists in Western history. In The Second Treatise of Government, a major contribution to the principles underlying modern democracies, he achieved two objectives: refuting the concept of the divine right of monarchy, and establishing a theory of government based on the ultimate sovereignty of the people.
In A Letter Concerning Toleration, composed as early as 1667 but not published for political reasons until 1689 — after the "Glorious Revolution" — Locke pleaded for religious tolerance on grounds similar to his argument for political freedom, i.e., that all men are by nature "free, equal, and independent," and are entitled to freedom of thought, freedom of speech, and freedom of worship. To help guarantee the latter freedom, Locke called for separation of church and state.
The basis of social and political philosophy for generations, these works laid the foundation of the modern democratic state in England and abroad. Their enduring importance makes them essential reading for students of philosophy, history, and political science.
 

What people are saying - Write a review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - madepercy - LibraryThing

Locke is one of the many philosophers I am familiar with through secondary sources. but this was my first reading of his work. In the Second Treatise of Government, Locke painstakingly covers power in ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Demosthenes - LibraryThing

Come on, it's John Locke. Enough said. Read it. Read full review

Other editions - View all

Common terms and phrases

About the author (2012)

John Locke's works of political and social philosophy, written in the 17th century, have strongly influenced intellectuals ever since - including the founders of the United States of America. Born in 1632 in Wrington, England, Locke studied at Christ Church, Oxford, where he earned his B.A. and M.A. degrees in the late 1650's. He also studied medicine and earned a medical license. His studies led to an interest in contemporary philosophers influenced by science, such as Rene Descartes. Locke read widely among them while teaching at Christ Church over the next few years. In 1667, Locke became personal physician and adviser to Anthony Ashley Cooper, who later was appointed Earl of Shaftesbury. Through Shaftesbury's patronage, Locke earned some government posts and entered London's intellectual circles, all the while writing philosophy. He was one of the best-known European thinkers of his time when he died in 1704. In An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690), Locke established the philosophy of empiricism, which holds that the mind at birth is a blank tablet. Experience, Locke believed, would engrave itself upon the tablet as one grew. He felt humans should create theories according to experience and test them with experiments. This philosophy helped establish the scientific method. Locke codified the principals of liberalism in "Two Treatises of Government" (1690). He emphasized that the state must preserve its citizens' natural rights to life, liberty and property. When the state does not, Locke argued, citizens are justified in rebelling. His view of liberalism comprised limited government, featuring elected representation and legislative checks and balances. While a Christian, Locke believed in absolute separation of church and state, and he urged toleration of those whose religious views differed from the majorities.

Bibliographic information