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Locke: Political Writings

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John Locke's Second Treatise of Government (c. 1681) is perhaps the key founding liberal text. A Letter Concerning Toleration, written in 1685 (a year when a Catholic monarch came to the throne of England and Louis XIV unleashed a reign of terror against Protestants in France), is a classic defense of religious freedom. Yet many of Locke's other writings, not least the Con John Locke's Second Treatise of Government (c. 1681) is perhaps the key founding liberal text. A Letter Concerning Toleration, written in 1685 (a year when a Catholic monarch came to the throne of England and Louis XIV unleashed a reign of terror against Protestants in France), is a classic defense of religious freedom. Yet many of Locke's other writings, not least the Constitutions of Carolina, which he helped draft are almost defiantly anti-liberal in outlook. This comprehensive collection brings together the main published works (excluding polemical attacks on other people's views) with the most important surviving evidence from among Locke's papers relating to his political philosophy. David Wootton's wide-ranging and scholarly introduction sets the writings in the context of their time, examines Locke's developing ideas and unorthodox Christianity, and analyzes his main arguments. The result is the first fully rounded picture of Locke's political thought in his own words.


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John Locke's Second Treatise of Government (c. 1681) is perhaps the key founding liberal text. A Letter Concerning Toleration, written in 1685 (a year when a Catholic monarch came to the throne of England and Louis XIV unleashed a reign of terror against Protestants in France), is a classic defense of religious freedom. Yet many of Locke's other writings, not least the Con John Locke's Second Treatise of Government (c. 1681) is perhaps the key founding liberal text. A Letter Concerning Toleration, written in 1685 (a year when a Catholic monarch came to the throne of England and Louis XIV unleashed a reign of terror against Protestants in France), is a classic defense of religious freedom. Yet many of Locke's other writings, not least the Constitutions of Carolina, which he helped draft are almost defiantly anti-liberal in outlook. This comprehensive collection brings together the main published works (excluding polemical attacks on other people's views) with the most important surviving evidence from among Locke's papers relating to his political philosophy. David Wootton's wide-ranging and scholarly introduction sets the writings in the context of their time, examines Locke's developing ideas and unorthodox Christianity, and analyzes his main arguments. The result is the first fully rounded picture of Locke's political thought in his own words.

30 review for Locke: Political Writings

  1. 5 out of 5

    David Rooker

    Not enough people in the US even understand the theory underlying private property. This book will fill that educational gap to some degree.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Stuart Dean

    John Locke was the father of Classical Liberalism, closer today to libertarianism than anything else. This contains his best known works and some of his letters. Includes The Second Treatise of Government, The Letter Concerning Toleration, and the Constitution of the Carolina Colony. The first 100 pages are a history lesson placing his works in context. The historical preface sets the stage for Locke's works. He lived through the English Civil War, the protestant reign of Charles II, the Catholi John Locke was the father of Classical Liberalism, closer today to libertarianism than anything else. This contains his best known works and some of his letters. Includes The Second Treatise of Government, The Letter Concerning Toleration, and the Constitution of the Carolina Colony. The first 100 pages are a history lesson placing his works in context. The historical preface sets the stage for Locke's works. He lived through the English Civil War, the protestant reign of Charles II, the Catholic reign of James II, and the seizing of the Crown by William of Orange (William and Mary). He worked in the protestant government and was forced into exile by the Catholics. He returned with the success of William III. It's interesting to see the different writings over time and his evolution of thought. At first a strict monarchist he later moved to limited government, although he was always a monarchist and had total disdain for democracy. As a government employee writing potentially treasonous work he wrote much of his stuff under a pseudonym. So you have a man preaching limited government also writing the Carolina Constitution which established a landed nobility ruling over a legal serfdom. The only really consistency was his stance on religious tolerance, always in favor of tolerance and separation of church and state. Locke spent an inordinate amount of time disputing the writings of Sir Robert Filmer, who had written a famous treatise espousing absolute monarchy based upon the fact that God had given Adam dominion over all men, so his descendants should have the same ability to rule uncontested. Locke focused heavily on this because he disagreed on many levels and because at the time many members of the Church were preaching Filmer's ideology to the masses. Locke is rightly credited with being a founding philosopher concerning religious tolerance, and his views on limited government are best taken in context of his times, not so much the current times as he wrote much on how the government was only legitimate if supported by the people but he still believed it should be led by a strong monarch, preferably hereditary.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Izzy H

    I give this book only three stars for several reasons: 1. I read this book for school, meaning that I had several meaningful discussions and seminars about Locke's philosophy and how it relates both to history and current affairs. These discussions were probably the only interesting part about reading Locke. 2. While Locke is a good author and brings up many, many interesting and thought-provoking points, his writing is EXTREMELY dry and hard to willingly get through. If I were reading this for p I give this book only three stars for several reasons: 1. I read this book for school, meaning that I had several meaningful discussions and seminars about Locke's philosophy and how it relates both to history and current affairs. These discussions were probably the only interesting part about reading Locke. 2. While Locke is a good author and brings up many, many interesting and thought-provoking points, his writing is EXTREMELY dry and hard to willingly get through. If I were reading this for pleasure, I would have definitely given up. 3. I didn't actually read the whole book. I mostly read from his Second Treatise of Government. Thus, he deserves a higher rating simply for the fact that he has written so much that can be discussed today and is still relevant to a point.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Justin Holiman

    Although I have fundamental issues with Locke's extension of the covenant to almost every aspect of life, I found his political rebellion theory to be fascinating. Locke is tremendously sarcastic which was a very fun surprise. Although I have fundamental issues with Locke's extension of the covenant to almost every aspect of life, I found his political rebellion theory to be fascinating. Locke is tremendously sarcastic which was a very fun surprise.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Madeleine

    259-340 270 364-366

  6. 5 out of 5

    saizine

    Read Second Treatise on Government and A Letter Concerning Toleration for a university course. The Hackett edition is very well produced and curated, and Wooton's introduction is a lovely introduction to both the expressly political texts and Locke's writing on religious toleration. For anyone looking for a compendium of Locke's work, this edition is strong on both context and primary source documents. Read Second Treatise on Government and A Letter Concerning Toleration for a university course. The Hackett edition is very well produced and curated, and Wooton's introduction is a lovely introduction to both the expressly political texts and Locke's writing on religious toleration. For anyone looking for a compendium of Locke's work, this edition is strong on both context and primary source documents.

  7. 4 out of 5

    John Yelverton

    One of the few philosophy books that was actually a joy to read in college.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Claire

    Gotta love Locke.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Newswander

    Excellent! Describes the social contract, civil society, toleration, and the true foundations of government and democracy.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Saya

    I can only do John Lock on a very limited basis. I'll have to pick this up in a month or two. I can only do John Lock on a very limited basis. I'll have to pick this up in a month or two.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Claude

  12. 4 out of 5

    Asma

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ilia

  14. 5 out of 5

    Esther Huszar

  15. 5 out of 5

    Marianne Melleka

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jason g

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jim Miller

  18. 4 out of 5

    Dominic Pfister

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tiffany

  20. 5 out of 5

    Jenniffer Baltzell

  21. 5 out of 5

    Rola

  22. 5 out of 5

    Walter-andy smith

  23. 4 out of 5

    Amanda Shaffer

  24. 5 out of 5

    Frank

  25. 5 out of 5

    Louis Morin

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lillie Jones

  27. 4 out of 5

    Pritam Chattopadhyay

  28. 5 out of 5

    Tamara

  29. 4 out of 5

    Brianna

  30. 4 out of 5

    Spencer

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