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Locke: Two Treatises of Government (Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought) Paperback – October 28, 1988

ISBN-13: 978-0521357302 ISBN-10: 0521357306 Edition: 3rd

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 3rd edition (October 28, 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521357306
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521357302
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,773 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Book Description

Originally published in 1960, this analysis of all of Locke's publications quickly became established as the standard edition of the Treatises as well as a work of political theory in its own right.

Customer Reviews

I really enjoy reading historical books.
Joyous
John Locke was read by almost everyone in America in the 1700s including all the founding fathers, which by the way was one of the most literate periods in history!
T. Price
In the Second Treatise, Locke lays down the theory of natural law and how it relates to the individual as well as to government.
eunomius

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

52 of 53 people found the following review helpful By eunomius on February 27, 1999
Format: Paperback
This is one of the most important works ever written. In the Second Treatise, Locke lays down the theory of natural law and how it relates to the individual as well as to government. Although he was not the first or the only writer tp elaborate such a theory, his interpretation is clear and eloquent, as can be seen in its use in the Declaration of Independence. The First Treatise was basically a refutation of the now obscure authoritarian work "Patriarcha" by Sir Robert Filmer. Although it is an interesting piece, it has long been rightfully overshadowed by its partner. If for some reason you are actually seeking a refutation of Filmer, I would refer you to Algernon Sidney's more lengthy "Discourses Concerning Government." By far the finest edition of this work is Peter Laslett's, and I consider the purchase of any other edition a sorry waste of money. In his lengthy introductory essays, he traces the historical,political, and philosophical background of John Locke's life and ideas as well as the actual writing of the work itself. His greatest contribution however, is proving that the work was written well before the Glorious Revolution of 1688.
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63 of 68 people found the following review helpful By C on November 26, 2006
Format: Paperback
I'm no genius. A pedant, perhaps, and an arrogant jerk, but not a guy with the kind of education it seems other reviewers have. I can't tell you who Locke's friends were or what his political connections were, either. I have some vague notion that Locke's and Mill's ideas influenced the philisophical basis of the American founding documents, but I'm just a soldier who sometimes likes to bite off more than he can chew--I wan't to know the stuff them smart people do, and don't see any reason I shouldn't!

So if you're like me, let me encourage you to get this book. Your friends will almost certainly call you a nerd (after all, who reads 17th century political philosophy for FUN?), and it'll take a few pages to cut your teeth on the language, but after you get going, this book is a breeze. I can't tell you the philisophical doctrines nor their framework in several distinct points, but I can tell you this: the language, to one of average education, was a little hard to wrap my brain around, but what worked for me was just to set a pace and trudge through it without getting hung up on the one sentence that twisted my mind into a pretzel. After a few pages (maybe 10 or 15) I found that my brain was correcting for the nature of the wording, and for the rest of the book, I swear, I understood what was going on through the second treatise and the Letter, too.

After I got going, I was all highlighters and folded corners, but it had too many profound and simple statements to save them all in my head. If you're even vaguely political, this book will make points as absolutely applicable to today's world politics as it did to those of the bygone time.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Ryan Mease on February 9, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm a bit torn on this edition of Locke. On the one hand, it begins with an excellent and extensive introduction speaking to Locke's biography and political theory. There is even a theory that directly relates the works to Hobbes. Further, the text is supplemented by clear and copious footnotes.

However, because Laslett decided to keep faith with the original printing, the text is filled with awkward, archaic spelling, punctuation and patterns in capitalization. This only adds to an already difficult language of the 'Treatises.'

So, again, great introduction and footnotes, but a transparent presentation of the original writing detracts from this otherwise fantastic edition.
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29 of 34 people found the following review helpful By R. Albin TOP 500 REVIEWER on November 20, 2003
Format: Paperback
The Treatises of Government, particularly the Second Treatise, are cornerstone works in Western thought. The First Treatise is devoted primarily to demolishing the notion that monarchial rule is divinely sanctioned and is mainly of interest to scholars. The Second Treatise, however, is a fundamental work that can be read profitably by anyone with an interest in philosophy, ethics, and European history. The Second Treatise is relatively short and easy to read. This is the standard edition.
When reading these books, it is important to bear in the mind that one of Locke's aims was to defend the Glorious Revolution which overthrew the Stuart monarchs of Britain. Locke then attempted not only to produce a vigorous attack on traditional justifications for monarchy (the First Treatise) but also a set of positive doctrines (the Second Treatise) which would provide a coherent alternative to the idea of divinely sanctioned monarchial power. The longest, and last, chapter in the Second Treatise is the one in which Locke outlines the circumstances under which governments may be overthrown.
In the Second Treatise, Locke begins implicitly with a view of God as a beneficient Creator who endowed Man with sbustantial rational faculties, intrinsic rights, and dignity. These rational faculties lead to choices that allow the construction of justified and appropriate governments. In terms of rights, the key word is property, by which Locke means not only property in the sense of possessions but also property in themselves, essentially a certain freedom of choice, and what he terms "liberties" or basic human rights. In several important senses, these rights are inalienable.
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