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

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.

أحمد البخاري

يوضح هذا الكتاب لمن يقرأه سبب الأزمة التي نعانيها في التحول للدولة المدنية، فنحن قد إتخذنا الدولة المدنية نظاماً وغاية دون أن نمر أو نعي أو نفهم الفلسفة والأفكار القائمة عليها هذه الدولة، وبطبيعة الحال، لم نتشربها، لكي نفهم "الإحتياج القاهر للدولة المدنية".. جون لوك هنا يقول لنا بوضوح : لماذا أصلاً نحن نريد الدولة المدنية..؟ ويبدأ جون لوك بالفرق بينها وبين الحالة "الطبيعية" التي كان عليها الإنسان قبل هذه الدولة ..ومنها ينطلق لمناقشة مبادئ ومفاهيم أساسية مثل : مفهوم العبودية ..الملكية.. السلطة الأبوية.. المجتمع السياسي والمدني..ثم ينتهي بنشأة المجتمع السياسي وغايات الحكومة المدنية..مفاهيم كهذه أصبحت مفاهيم تاريخية عفى عنها الزمن في العالم الأول، وتجاوزها العقل، أما نحن فنحتاج إلى تشربها والنقاش فيها نقطة نقطة خاصة وأنها تصتدم مع ثراتنا بشدة في بعض النقاط، أيضاً الكتاب ذو لغة صعبة ويحتاج إلى تبسيط برؤية أكثر حداثية لتصل فلسفة وإحتياجنا للدولة المدنية بشكل أكثر وضوح..


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.


The edition itself is OK, featuring informative introduction, annotations and rich appendices consists of suggested readings, bibliography and index.As for the contents of the main body of the book, by John Locke, though I know that I am not in a position to criticise such a classic endorsed by countless academicians, I regret to confess that I could not enjoy reading these Treatises for following reasons:1) Though I understand the main purpose for the author to have written it, the First Treatise is too long for establishing a refutation. In addition, in my opinion, the way he uses quotes from the Bible is less convincing nor skilful than Thomas Hobbes's Leviathan.2) The Second Treatise is less organised in its structure and is unfriendly to the readers for mingling general political thoughts and ideas from Locke the thinker and blurred examples and ideas taken from Locke the politician in his real life.3) Too much weigh on the notion of 'property' makes difficult for modern readers to agree with the author, especially in times where the so-called 99% are made to suffer from problems caused by greedy bankers and those who can afford to care about their own properties, which used to guarantee them the franchise and dominion of the politics exclusively, up to the early twentieth century.


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.


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.

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.


John Locke is probably better known for developing the idea of individual freedom into one of self-property - in other words, he ascribed to the list of fundamental, natural rights of every human that of property, and therefore extended the role of the government from the defense of the individuals to the defense of those individuals and their property, which he regarded as fundamentally part of those individuals. The revolutionary character of bourgeois capitalism can often appear a remote, even odd characteristic, in a world where property is more often presented to us, both by it's proponents and by it's critics, as both the natural state of things and the dominant statu quo; Locke's theory of property makes a compelling case for the radicalism of such a concept, expectably, on the political level, but also in a sense, on a theological level: The first of the two treatises, often regarded as a painful read for anyone not specifically interested in early modern history, is indeed excruciating at times, addressing the arguments of a Robert Filmer now completely forgotten, as are his theses -at the time predominant- on the theological character of absolute kingship. Someone with an interest in political theology will none the less be able to salvage from this jungle of biblical quotations and genealogical discussions, at least two things: the religious function, nowadays largely disregarded by a secular republican tradition, of contractual political theory, and the everlasting meeting point of political theology and political philosophy, the "fall", or transition of the state of nature to civilization. The second treatise is the one that has duly received much attention over the past centuries as a defining text of modern politics, and offer to compliment the compelling debunking of absolute monarchy the author proceeded with in the first treatise, with a tentative proposition as to what should replace it. If the same sharp and spirited rhetoric (which makes for the solace of the reader in the previous book) comes to show, here and there, in this one, that is not where our mind is drawn: the concepts developed by the author are compelling, in particular his famous theory of labour as the transition from primitive communism to property, of which complete understanding (and that of the related theological views of Locke) requires -and justifies in my eyes- the reading of the first treatise.Locke is a compelling read, a good writer as well as an original thinker and his text makes it clear how property brought about the collapse of an incredibly enduring political model. It has acquired such a central place in history that little defense should be needed to justify it's reading but I should just add to this that the reading of the first treatise might well be worth for someone interested in gaining a more original insight in the ideological foundations of liberalism.


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.

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

Thomas Umstattd

I've been wanting to read John Locke for a while to see why he had such an influence on the American Founding Fathers. I found this book fascinating. It turns out that patriarchy is the foundation for monarchy. In the first treatise Locke demolishes a lot of the arguments for patriarchy with arguments from the Bible itself and from simple logic. I can see why some conservatives are hesitant to let their children read Locke. His arguments shoot out dictatorial parental powers in the crossfire of attacking monarchy. On the downside the book is dry and long. Thomas Jefferson says more in three sentences than Locke says in a whole chapter. Of course Jefferson just held truths to be "self evident" that Locke went to great pains to prove from logic, nature and scripture which explains why this is so much longer.

Jon Wexford

This is the essence of the Enlightenment, which America's founding documents were loosely based on.

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.

David Beeson

A short but extraordinarily important book, Locke’s Two Treatises of Government are a must-read for anyone keen to understand the roots of what we think of today as our Western democracies.
In fact, it’s even shorter than it looks, if that understanding is our main goal: the whole first part is a demolition of arguments in favour of the divine right of Kings by Sir Robert Filmer, a leading political writer of the generation before Locke’s, now sunk into probably well-deserved oblivion. That makes it a little tedious to work through, unless you’re interested in understanding the nature of polemic at the time and the extraordinary role that close argument from Scripture played in it: the Bible was seen as a major source of authority on political matters (an authority on authority, in fact).The second part is far more engaging, and a modern reader could certainly skip straight to it. This is where Locke outlines his own view of the nature of government and how it should run. His is a contract model, in which man in the state of nature compacts with others to set up a government over them all, the price in sacrificed freedom being well worth the benefit in greater safety and opportunities. This leads him to a model of power based on the consent of the governed and even, most radical of all, to principles which would allow the citizen to withdraw that consent and resist government if it becomes tyrannical and oppressive (though not to threaten the person of the Prince: Locke is moderate in everything, even in action permissible in extremis...)This is fascinating material in itself, but it’s even more valuable for how it prefigures so many of the concepts that inspire the way of life to which we at least aspire, even though we perhaps don’t fully achieve it. For instance, he tells us:The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges every one: and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind, who will but consult it, that being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions: for being all the workmanship of one omnipotent, and infinitely wise maker; all the servants of one sovereign master, sent into this world by his order, and about his business, they are his property, whose workmanship they are, made to last during his, not one another’s pleasure: and being furnished with like faculties, sharing all in one community of nature, there cannot be supposed any such subordination among us, that may authorise us to destroy one another, as if we were made for one another’s uses, as the inferior ranks of creatures are made for ours.Reason governs nature, which may sound like an atheistic position, except that for Locke all nature is the creation of God and that creation has consequences for the character of man and of the relations among men (and women, I’d like to add, though Locke was certainly enough a man of his time to be no feminist).This thinking immediately recalls the words of the US Declaration of Independence:We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.Those words were written by Thomas Jefferson, who in his own words claimed to have a “trinity of the three greatest men the world had ever produced”, composed of Sir Francis Bacon, Isaac Newton and John Locke.In a passage that is a personal favourite of mine, Locke goes on a page or two later to consider the case where one man may have power over another, because the latter has committed a crime. He is clear, however, that men can have:... no absolute or arbitrary power, to use a criminal, when he has got him in his hands, according to the passionate heats, or boundless extravagancy of his own will; but only to retribute to him, so far as calm reason and conscience dictate, what is proportionate to his transgression, which is so much as may serve for reparation and restraint.Again, there is an echo of another fundamental American text here, in this instance the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution:Excessive bail shall not be required, nor excessive fines imposed, nor cruel and unusual punishments inflicted.Why is this passage a favourite of mine? Because I believe that we are far too inclined to pursue punishments, and increasingly cruel ones at that, to avenge ourselves on offenders; it would be to all our benefit to reassert Locke’s principle, that decisions on punishment need to be taken with calm reason and conscience, and their aim should be to obtain reparation and restraint (which would include deterrence), not vengeance.This second Treatise contains many such examples, of wisdom, moderation, tolerance, and many of the golden threads that most of us believe should govern the societies in which we live. That makes the book well worth reading over 300 years later, or if, like me, you’re disinclined to sit and read it, well worth listening to in the version excellently read by James Langton.

Giovanni Gigliozzi Bianco

Obra máxima de John Locke Para a Ciência Política. Um clássico. Nela estão as bases do pensamento liberal ea Aplicação de conceitos como o estado de natureza, o estado de guerra, uma formação da sociedade civil, bem como o direito à propriedade como base do contrato social.Tradução magistral da Martins Fontes. Sem dúvida a melhor tradução deste texto para o português. Uma introdução muito esclarecedora - e longa - de 180 páginas. Além disso, um terço do livro é constituído de notas de rodapé muito minuciosas e pertinentes, perfeitas para quem Deseja uma leitura sistemática e profunda.

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