Two Treatises of Government (Texts in the History of Political Thought)

ISBN: 052135448X
ISBN 13: 9780521354486
By: John Locke Peter Laslett

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About this book

This is a new revised version of Dr. Laslett's standard edition of Two Treatises. First published in 1960, and based on an analysis of the whole body of Locke's publications, writings, and papers. The Introduction and text have been revised to incorporate references to recent scholarship since the second edition and the bibliography has been updated.

Reader's Thoughts

حسين العُمري

الدولة إنما نشأت لحماية حقوق طبيعية كانت قائمة وتنازل الفرد عن جزء من حقوقه إنما ليضمن لنفسه ما تبقى من حقوق وحريات أساسية ،، وليس في وسع الأفراد منح الحاكم سلطة غير محدودة لأنهم لا يملكون هذه السلطة وبالتالي لايمكن أن تكون سلطة الحاكم مطلقة إذ هي محدودة بطبيعتها وإذا حاول الإستزادة من سلطته أو أساء استخدامها كان من حق الشعب أن يخلعه ، لذلك كان هدف الكتاب الدفاع عن النظام الدستوري فهناك فرق بين الحكومة والدولة ،، الحريات والحقوق أساس في كل هذا ،، الجميع حكومة وبرلمان مسئولون أمام الشعب

Jennifer Smoliga

Eh… I am not really a Locke lover so maybe that is why I didn't like the book. I feel his views are so far from what I know that it is hard to even relate. They don't make sense to me.


Treatise I isn't as useful today as it was in the monarchical times in which Locke lived. He invests this entire treatise in picking apart Sir Robert Filmore's "Patriarcha", a defense of hereditary monarchies. As Western political theory has long since written off the idea of hereditary monarchies as just forms of government, this treatise isn't in any way groundbreaking or innovative the way it was upon first issue.However, anyone interested in the foundations of current western political theory will find Treatise II to be well worth the trudge through Treatise I. Treatise II is filled with the building blocks for liberalism and a constitutional republic that we now take for granted. It's interesting to read the ideas Locke proposed for government when they were just that - ideas. Now we have household names like "separation of powers" and "checks and balances" for some of the concepts Locke was uncovering, but to see them logically constructed rather than distilled down to those household names is quite illuminating.

Steven Peterson

John Locke's major work of political philosophy is often referred to as a major source for the Declaration of Independence, The Second Treatise of Civil Government. This work, authored in 1690, is a major statement of liberalism. Like Thomas Hobbes, Locke begins with humans living in a state of nature, a situation before the development of the state and government. The Lockeian state of nature was not an unpleasant place. Human reason led people to tend to leave one another alone in their respective pursuits. Natural law guides people's actions in the state of nature and their reason allows them to apprehend the essence of these laws. Thus, Locke expressed great confidence in human reason. However, inconveniences did result in the state of nature. If disagreements rose between people, it was not always easy to resolve these. If one person stole something from another, it was up to the victim to redress the injustice. And these shortcomings in the state of nature made individuals ultimately, rationally, decide that they should give up some of their freedom in order to secure order and protection of the fruits of their labor. Locke said: "[T:]he enjoyment of the property he has in his state is very unsafe, very unsecure. . . . The great and chief end, therefore, of man's uniting into commonwealths and putting themselves under government is the preservation of their property." As a result, people contract with one another to form civil society and government in order to preserve their rights under natural law, with the dominant right being termed property. And what happens if government does not protect rights under natural law? Revolution is thereby allowable. For instance, Locke notes one justification for suspending an existing government: "Whenever the legislators endeavor to take away and destroy the property of the people, or to reduce them to slavery under arbitrary power, they put themselves into a state of war with the people who are thereupon absolved from any further obedience, and are left to the common refuge which God hath provided for all men against force and violence. . . .[I:]t devolves to the people to have a right to resume their original liberty, and by the establishment of a new legislative, such as they shall think fit, provide for their own safety and security, which is the end for which they are in society." Locke's work well illustrates basic tenets of liberalism, among which are: 1. Individualism (and its concomitants of limited government and certain rights, such as the right to property and to certain freedoms, and equality); 2. Materialism (material incentives are important; acquisition and enjoyment of material goods is altogether proper); 3. Faith in human reason; 4. Faith in the market as a way of distributing wealth and goods. Is Locke the philosopher of the American Revolution? Probably not. But he well articulated many of the major themes accepted by the Founders of the revolutionary movement in the 1770s.


The first of the two treatises is fairly irrelevant. It's a very witty refutal of Robert Filmer's theory of divine right, which was a relevant case in the 18th Century, but now it's become so ingrained in the democratic/republican tradition (and I use that term very, very, very broadly) as to be an essential component of most every state on Earth.I cannot argue with the fact that history has vindicated John Locke's political philosophy. His writings were a necessary step in the evolution of a liberal political mindset, and I respect that. However, I can't help but thinking that his philosophy of markets that seems pretty accepting of conquest is decidedly self-interested. It's the philosophical approach of a rising bourgeoisie.

Greg Hickey

In his seminal work, English philosopher John Locke details the establishment of a just government. In the First Treatise, Locke eviscerates the arguments of Sir Robert Filmer, who attempted to derive monarchical authority from God's charge to Adam to subdue the Earth. This section reads a bit slow, especially if you're short on Biblical familiarity (as I am), since very few monarchies exist in the world today, and those that do are not justified through Judeo-Christian traditions. As expected, the language is a touch antiquated, but far from unreadable. The Second Treatise is the highlight of the text. Here, Locke derives a framework for legitimate government from the consent of naturally free individuals who seek to protect themselves and their property against the aggression of others. The concepts of a State of Nature and social contract proposed here by Locke (and also by Thomas Hobbes in Leviathan) reflect the America of Locke's lifetime and still influence modern political philosophy. Though Locke leaves unanswered important questions like the description of a just war and an justification for the African slave trade, his Treatises remain a foundation for Western political thought.

Mohammad Sakr

بداية الترجمة ليست جيدة.يقرر جون لوك أن الناس جميعا خلقوا سواء لا يتميز أحد منهم عن الآخر بحق و ليس لأحد أن يزعم أن له حق إلهي بالحكم و التسلط على الآخرين .و يحدد الحرية بأنها هي حق التصرف فيما يخص المرء لا أن يفعل ما يريد و أن القانون هدفه توسيع نطاق الحريات و ليس الحد منها بحيث تأمن تعدي الآخرين و العنف من جانبهم . لا قيمة للقانون ما لم ينفذ و تكون هناك قدرة على إلحاق العقوبة بمن يخالفه بهدف ردع الآخرين و و مجازاة المخطيء فضلا عن تعويض المتضرر .ثم يميز بين حالتين الأولى حالة الطبيعة و هي البدائية التي لا قانون و لا مجتمع يميز بين حقوق الأفراد و واجباتهم بل كل فرد هو السلطة التنفيذية و التشريعية لذاته و في هذه الحالة تكون دوافع الانتقام و حب الذات عاملا مؤثرا فيما يصدر عن المرء من أفعال تجاه الآخرين و الثانية هي حالة المجتمع التي يتنازل فيها المرء عن بعض حقوقه يفوض المجتمع ممثلا في القانون الذي يحكم الجميع و يلجأون إليه في حالة النزاع و في هذا حماية للناس جميعا و صيانة لحقوقهم و إلا كان البقاء للأقوى . الملكية هي أصل البلاء و الشرور فاندفاع المرء للمزيد من الثروة و رغبته في التميز عن الآخرين ثم استعلائه عليهم بما يتميز به ولد حقدا و كراهية بين الناس دفعهم للاقتتال فلولا الملكية لم يصب أحد بسوء .كل جماعة من الناس يرغبون في العيش المشترك كونوا بتلك الرغبة مجتمعا سياسيا و فوضوا مجموعة منهم بوضع نظام يعاقب من يخالفه و بانضمام الفرد إلى الجماعة كان هذا قبولا ضمنيا منه بالانصياع لرأي الغالبية .الأنظمة السياسية على عيوبها و انحرافها هي الضمانة في حال انعدام الطغيان من غلبة القوي على الضعيف


The heinous liberalism.The whole world needing an impartial judge to protect private property, John Locke won't say that the state of nature is men against men, in fact, the state of nature is pacific, there is no war of all against all but mutual assitance, but is it the corruption of the natural law, the one that puts men into war. So he will talk about state in terms of parliamentary monarchy, with devision of power, not to assure equality as god give all comun goods to men, but to assure appropiation, so John locke won't really talks about barbarism, we actually installs bases of what we will discover as capitalism, and the real war of leaving nature of men, and arriving at liberalism as men's money.

Steven P.R.

This book is a fascinating exploration of the nature of government and our rights. The first treatise makes a case against the divine right of kings. The second goes into the origins of government (the state of nature), the aim of government, and of our rights. What I particularly like is John Locke's prose, which is eloquent and simple. This is an amazing book to read if you're interested in political philosophy.

Danijel Brestovac

str. 16 - …da je vsaka oblast absolutna monarhija. temelj, na katerem zida, pa je, DA SE NIHCE NE RODI SVOBODEN. str. 92 - veliko vprašanj, ki je človeštvo vznemirjalo v vseh obdobjih in mu povzročilo večino tistega zla, ki je uničilo mesta, deželo oropalo prebivalstva in porušilo mir na svetu, ni bilo, ali obstaja oblast na svetu, niti od kod izvira, temveč KDO NAJ BI JO IMEL.


Often considered the foundation of political liberalism, John Locke's Two Treatises of Government was first published anonymously in 1689, in the wake of England's Glorious Revolution. In The First Treatise of Government, Locke refutes the idea of divine monarchy, while The Second Treatise of Government articulates Locke's philosophy of government, which he based upon his theories of natural rights and the social contract. In Locke's view, governments' legitimacy is based upon their performance of their proper functions-preservation of the life, liberty, and property rights of their citizens, and protection from those who seek to violate these rights.Listen to Two Treatises of Government on your smartphone, notebook or desktop computer.

Joel Blunt

Fascinating. John Locke is a great read for those interested in understanding the intellectual climate of the era when the founders drew up the constitution for the u.s.a. I wish his views on property were clearer. Some of what he said in the first treatise, on those who gather resources only to waste them are wrongdoers, I feel could almost justify Keynesian spending and progressive taxation. Overall, his strong emphasis on the right of property as being fundamentally linked to our right as free human beings is an important concept that I should remember more often. Definitely should be read in conjunction with John Rawls.


The fifteen years since my first attempt at this book have, in some ways, been a preparation for my current reading of it. Locke waxes poetical in the treatises, in a way that he does not in the Essay Concerning Human Understanding. At first, this lead me to the false perception that the treatises were elegant writing about democracy, rather than the thoroughly-worked out analysis of democracy's true nature that they, the Treatises, are. We all make mistakes when we're young and that perception was one of mine.One of Locke's most important contributions -- and one that usually takes a back seat to the political importance the Treatises took on after 1776 -- is his distinction between parental authority [which he claims exists in the state of nature:] and political authority. Not only does this distinction allow him to engage with family law -- always a challenge to any political idealist from Plato on down -- it also allows him to avoid Hobbes's unsustainable notion [later picked up by Hegel and Herbert Hoover:] of a prehistory in which humans existed on a completely individualistic level. When you eliminate the impossible whatever remains, however improbable, must be true. And this innovation of Locke's strongly, though perhaps not decisively, advances his claim to replace Hobbes as the greatest of the social-contract philosophers.

Steven Rhodes

pretty safe to say that one could just skip the first treatise; just read Laslett's excellent introduction. locke is given far too much credit in u.s. history classes, but his definition of property (II, ¶ 25-51) is priceless. also interesting is how much power locke gives the legislative; looking at u.s. politics, all i could do was shake my head wistfully as i read II, ¶ 134-168).

Stephen Schutt

OMG! So good.Christianity had a causal relationship with democracy - and natural law is the key. Not the faith of the founders of America (as some falsely believe).This is dry in most parts (like 90%), but if you can stomach it, the 10% left is amazing! I also think women's rights has its base here as well.

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