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The Second Treatise on Civil Government (Great Books in Philosophy) Paperback – March 1, 1986


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Product Details

  • Series: Great Books in Philosophy
  • Paperback: 132 pages
  • Publisher: Prometheus Books (March 1, 1986)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0879753374
  • ISBN-13: 978-0879753375
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 6.5 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #68,357 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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Every American should read this work.
Raphael Marhefka
And the labor of our body and the work of our hands properly belong to us.
M. A. ZAIDI
Locke is one of the most influential philosophers of all time.
Brian Pacific

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 18 people found the following review helpful By M. A. ZAIDI on August 27, 2003
Format: Paperback
The Second Treatise of Government provides Locke's theorizes the individual rights and involvement with the government; he categorizes them in two areas -- natural rights theory and social contract. 1.Natural state; rights which human beings are to have before government comes into being. 2.Social contact; when conditions in natural state are unsatisfactory, and there's need to develop society into functioning of central government.
Political Power and Natural state: He explains the need for civil government; by detailing life with the absence of civil government. This is the premature state of an entity; through this one can see the need and a role for a government structure. He begins by defining political power; which is the right of making laws with penalties varying with the nature of transgression. The laws are maintained for the preservation of property; the enrichment of the community and its defense.
He determines the need for civil government by expressing the state of society without a government. To maintain harmony; there is a need to maintain equality; this is the state of nature. The chief end for the human species is survival; to attain it we need life, liberty, health and property. These are natural rights that we have in a state of nature before the introduction of civil government, and all people have these rights equally.
The Natural State personifies a state of utopia; as it does not account for the realistic issues of violations of this natural state. There are no police, prosecutors or judges in the state of nature as these are all representatives of a government with full political power. In addition to our other rights, we have the rights to enforce the law and judge on our own behalf.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Bruce H on July 30, 2002
Format: Paperback
The importance of this book, first published in 1690, cannot be denied. The book's most famous and controversial idea is that the people have a right to overthrow their government if the government fails consistently in its responsibilities and duties.
The book, which lacks an introduction or conclusion, may be challenging for modern readers. Locke's writing covers a wide range of topics; conquest, paternal power (i.e. the power that fathers have over their children), despotical power and his over-arching central concern, property.
The main ideas of the book are that government exists by the consent of the governed who found government for the purpose of securing their lives, rights and property. Locke frequently contrasts people who live in a state of nature (i.e. no government; people enjoy considerable personal freedom) and those that live under government. Under Locke's view of the social contract, men give up give up the unlimited freedom they enjoyed in the state of nature so as to secure their life, limb and property more securely under government. There is also some discussion of the idea of separation of powers; what is interesting here is that Locke does not use the traditional formulation (i.e. executive, legislative, and judicial), rather he discusses executive, legislative and "federative" (by which he means the conduct of self-defense and foreign policy) powers.
The type of government that Locke describes more closely resembles the system employed by Britain and Canada, more than the United States. He conceives of a monarch or prince at the top of the government (as in Britain and Canada; the Monarch is the Head of State), with the legislature representing the people (Parliament) and so on.
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Brian Pacific on May 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
"The enjoyment of property that [man] has in this state [the state of nature] is very unsafe, very unsecure. This makes him willing to quit a condition, which, however free, is full of fears and continual dangers: and it is not without reason, that he seeks out, and is willing to join in society with others, who are already united, or have a mind to unite, for the mutual preservation of their lives, liberties and estates, which I call by the general name, property."
Locke is one of the most influential philosophers of all time. In his Second Treatise, Locke lays the foundation for what has become modern western civilization. Locke's arguments are fully developed as he addresses his two greatest adversaries, Sir Robert Filmer and Thomas Hobbes. Though his critique of Filmer's `Patriarcha' is primarily addressed in the First Treatise and only summed up in the first chapter of the Second Treatise, his ideas of the `tabula rasa,' refuting the divine right of Kings is the foundation of the essay.
Locke also gives a profound critique of Hobbes, as he sets forth the true `state of nature.' Locke's rational and logical conclusions make his ideas extremely easy to understand. This is a must read, since having a clear understanding of Locke's state of nature, state of war, property, power, political and civil societies, conquest, usurpation, and tyranny are fundamental to understanding the history and politics of America.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Joe Zika TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on July 23, 2002
Format: Paperback
The Second Treatise on Civil Govenment by John Locke is the foundation of the philosophy with which Jefferson, Madison, Franklin and Hamilton read and determined to make a cornerstone of our government. This is a most influential essay in the history of political philosophy.
John Locke was an early enlightened thinker and philosopher in England and sought to bring reason and intelligent discussion into civil society. His endeavor to reconstruct the nature and purpose of government, a social contract is proposed. Locke sets out with a purpose, a detailed discussion of how society came to be and the nature of its inception. Locke was associated with powerful scientific minds of the time, one in particular was Robert Boyle.
Locke used Natural Law to define his thoughts. The sociopolitical climate of the seventeenth-century England, at that time was in violent civil war, counter-revolution, restoration, deposition of the monarchy and the subsequent Parliamentry rule with the eventual restoration of the monarchy.
Locke matured as a social philosopher and wrote "Two Treatises of Government" (1690) of which the second is most widely read. Locke's dedication to individual liberty, government by consent, the social contract and the right to revolt against governments that endanger the rights of citizens, has made the legacy of Locke. Later read by the Founding Fathers of the United States, Locke's ideas made an important impression and the fight for freedom began.
This is an important treatise and should be read by all as the foundation of a government by its citizens consent.
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