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Locke in America: The Moral Philosophy of the Founding Era (Modern War Studies) Hardcover – January, 1995


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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

The author-a freelance writer with a Ph. D. from the New School for Social Research-states that "this book began as a doctoral dissertation," and, indeed, it has all of the virtues-and faults-of this genre: it's thorough, detailed, and prolix, with an exhaustive review and examination of the pertinent literature and extensive footnotes. Huyler traces the rise and fall of the academy's attitude toward the extent of Locke's influence on the founders of the American nation. Initially, Locke was considered to have greatly influenced the founders, but recent scholarship discounts this theory. This study argues persuasively that the original conception is the correct one. Recommended strictly for academic collections in history, philosophy, and political science.
Leon H. Brody, U.S. Office of Personnel Management Lib., Washington, D.C.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From the Back Cover

"One of Huyler's great strengths is his confrontation with and representation of the historical Locke, which affords his work an important and unusual status and allows him to reinterpret Locke in ways that are often original and insightful. This book makes a substantial contribution to the continuing dismantling of the republican/no Locke interperpretation of eighteenth-century Anglo-American political thought as well as to Locke scholarship itself."--Gordon J. Schochet, author of The Authoritarian Family and Political Attitudes in Seventeenth-Century England

"Huyler carries his new and persuasive interpretation of Locke onto the battlefield of American historiography and plants the flag of Lockean liberalism, rightly understood, atop the high moral and ideological ground of the founding of the American Republic. His passion is evident, but appropriately restrained. He treats the victims of his critique--and it's a long and distinguished list-graciously and fairly. He also writes well, with flashes of eloquence."--Steven M. Dworetz, author of The Unvarnished Doctrine: Locke, Liberalism, and the American Revolution --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Modern War Studies
  • Hardcover: 394 pages
  • Publisher: Univ Pr of Kansas; 1St Edition edition (January 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0700606424
  • ISBN-13: 978-0700606429
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,805,286 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Tim on March 20, 2001
Format: Paperback
The author does an excellent job in demonstrating the influence of John Locke on the great thinkers who founded America. Backed by an enormous amount of scholarship, and written clearly, this book removes any doubt about the roots of classical American liberalism. The ideas on which "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" are based were derived from the writing of Locke (and others). And ideas move men to action. The Founding Fathers were true believers, and not (as the leftist movement in academia would have us think) merely attempting to justify the economic supremacy of the wealthy class over the masses. Their beliefs stemmed from a long British tradition of freedom in which Locke played a major role. The author argues his case with cool and meticulous logic. "Locke in America" makes a major contribution and is a pleasure to read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Q.M. on November 12, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book demonstrates quite convincingly that America was founded on Lockean liberalism which championed individual rights. Our rights, according to Locke, are derived from our Creator and not from society but are simply given formal and legal recognition there. We enter into society - i.e., we form a government - solely to preserve those rights. The "public good" exists, not to triumph over private interests, but to protect and preserve those rights, which are: life, liberty and property. A government that is limited in this way, that does not cater to special interests, allows for true equality so that we may all pursue our dreams. Unfortunately, as this book goes to show, this Lockean philosophy "failed" almost the second that the Republic was founded; though, as Congressman Sam Pettengill pointed out, it failed because, "we have never permitted it to work."

I strongly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in the philosophy that influenced our Founding Fathers. It does an excellent job in explaining the "contradictions" between "public liberty" vs "private liberty". It is well-written, well-sourced and is a hard book to put down.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By JK from NYC on November 20, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Huyler gets to the essence of colonial political thought leading up to and supporting the American revolution. If you’ve read the recent literature on the intellectual history during our republic’s founding, you’ll know this is not an easy task. Over the last 50 years there have been several schools of thought each with its own skew and emphasis. Wading through the literature can be daunting, without a solid basis in philosophy and history. Huyler is one of the few that is equipped to deal with both and bring this combined expertise to help sort out the contentious issues.

The first half of the book reviews and explains Locke. Rather than restrict himself to Locke’s social thought, Huyler shows the benefits of a full analysis of Locke’s whole philosophy. He sorts out Locke’s distinctive Aristotlean, Enlightenment, Calvinist, and Whig influences to explain Locke’s synthesis. Locke’s virtues of rationality and industry explain Locke’s social-political thought. Huyler clarifies some of the misconceptions about Locke’s thought when seen through 20th century conceptual lenses.

The second half of the book reviews American 18th century thought and how Lockean liberalism was at its core. He shows “Cato’s Letters” are thoroughly Lockean in character and not, as some have led us to believe, a disparate “republican” influence. He reviews 30-50 years of academic confusion, detours, and debates that sought to limit Locke’s ideas. He demonstrates the continuity of ethical thinking and the high regard that Locke was held by our founders.

As a bonus, he contrasts the Lockean influence with the utilitarian approach.
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2 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 10, 1997
Format: Hardcover
I really got an insight to the way John Locke must have been thinking at the time
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