John Locke and Property

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Introduction

John Locke is considered to have a significant influence in the modern day political philosophers. Locke points out that a person has a right to liberty, to life and to own property He quickly points out, however, that “although it is a state of liberty, it is not a state of license,” because it is ruled over by the law of nature which everyone is obliged to obey. Locke stated that people are naturally free and equal to justify understanding of a legitimate government system as opposed to a situation where the governed transfer some their powers to the government in order to enjoy liberty ownership of property and comfortable and stable lives. John believes that a government that cannot protect the interest of its people is a failed government and should be evicted and replaced with a better system.

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John Loke’s Theory

Locke is a firm believer in the natural law as compared to the divine law to the extent that he believed that not all of the Ten Commandments and some of the laws in the Old Testament were binding people (Bell, Stephanie, 59). Locke saw it a problem when the teachings of the Bible went against the natural law. Most scholars have put forth their arguments that Locke regarded rights as key to human existence because rights help in the fulfilment of duties. Locke’s theory on the state of nature has been interpreted differently by commentators. Locke says that the state of nature exists where there are no legislation or political authority to act as a judge in case of dispute in a society. People instead live by the state of reason to solve their differences.

Locke policy on property set three restrictions on the acquisition of property in the state of nature: a person can only have what they can use before it is spoilt, a person has to leave enough for others, and a person may only acquire property through their labour. This claim by Locke is thought to be one of his significant contributions to the political thought and has also earned him as much contradiction. In fact, he argues that the raw materials of the goods men consume daily are really the least part of the pleasures enjoyed from them since “labour makes the far greatest part of the value of things we enjoy in this world.” Macpherson saw Locke as a protector of capitalist accumulation of property and supported Locke’s ideology. Locke’s argument on the political obligation, consent and the Ends of Government has resulted in a problematic conclusion contrary to his intensions. Locke states that individual consent is the mechanism by which political societies are formed, and individuals become part of the system (Macpherson and Crawford, 10). Locke saw political power as a right of creating laws with death penalties and all forms of punishment.

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Locke believed that natural law governed the state of nature. Therefore, an individual is allowed to punish another as opposed to the government as being the judge to render punishment since those in power may set laws that make them superior to punishment. Locke argues that a legitimate government is based on the separation of power. The legislature is bound by nature sets laws that further the agenda of natural law. The executive then applies the laws as set up by the legislature. Locke, however, has a third law, federative power. The federative power states that according to nature every country has a collective to protect the law of nature and can render punishment to another country in violation. Locke’s theory of tolerance establishes a clear line between religion and politics. Religious societies are voluntary institutions, and the government should not force people to be religious. Locke gives an example of Jesus teachings in the New Testament. Those who are quick to judge are exercising some form of hypocrisy since their eternal state is being compromised by the events they condemn.

Thomas Hobbes and the State of Nature

Hobbes claims that the state of nature is characterised by man fighting man for right of ownership of property without considering the interest of the other party. The state of nature according to Hobbes is characterised by poverty, solitary, nasty, short and brutish (Macpherson and Crawford 15). The laws of nature which are principles of common sense save man from himself. The first law of nature according to Hobbes is that man should try to maintain peace as much as he expects the same from someone else and in case it fails he ought to use all leverage of war to obtain it. Hobbes states that when people transfer their self-sovereignty as well as natural rights to a Leviathan in that no authority is supreme or above the law, there exist justice, culture, and commerce. The individuals, however, are allowed to act by the social contrast when the government fails which is very unlikely.

Contrary to Hobbes, Locke believes that man is endowed with the right to liberty, property, and life and the state of nature can be peaceful. Individuals can agree to form a commonwealth to institute a neutral power that can arbitrate their issues and address injuries. Locke’s theory of rights to life, liberty, and property are naturally endowed has been the pillar of modern liberation.

Euripides and/or Nietzsche and the Apollonian/Dionysian Duality

Dionysian and Apollonian are some of the terms used by Nietzsche to bring out the two central principles in the culture of the Greek. Nietzsche and Locke agree that human can progress, but there are fundamental changes that must occur to their condition (Wardell and Lilian, 42). Nietzsche says that if people do not obey themselves, then they won’t be obeyed by others. Nietzsche aim is for man to become Superman (ubermensch) via a process of self-overcoming (Selbstuberwindung). Nietzsche says that man has become complacent through the invention of values which have rendered him nothing and has made humanity tired of man. This critic from Nietzsche has made the society to vindicate him of similar crime. Nietzsche further mentions that in the society where he finds the will to serve he finds a greater desire to be a master and where there is a leaving creature is a will to power. Locke, on the other hand, disagrees with Nietzsche. Locke says that since man was created equal in God’s image, there must be a right to liberty to all humans. Locke adds that man has a duty to serve God and therefore man should surrender the right to liberty and ownership of property to civil society.

The Ars Moriendi and the Denial of Nature

The Ars Moriendi is a body of Christian Literature that provides the practical guide to someone who is dying and to the person attending to them. The document collects all the traditional Christian beliefs about death and the afterlife (Reinis, Austra, 64). In the fifteenth century, there was a need to provide collective judgment to a person at the end of times. The theology of Philippe Aries and the fragility of life during this period, nectitated the church to come up with a program to educate the priests together with the laypeople on death. Some of the scenes recorded in the Ars Moriendi shows demons tempting a dying man and angels on the other hand offer inspiration. Ars Moriendi puts emphasises on the dying to freely decide their destiny. Their free consent to the inspiration by the angels or the demonic call determines their destiny.

Locke is viewed as advocating for equality for all mankind. This is seen in his attack on patriarchy which letter criticises Filmer’s that God gave the earth to Adam and his descendants (Pateman and Carole 14). John Locke receives some positive comments from reviews by Nancy Tuan and Mary Shanley’s on his stand on feminism. Locke is applauded by some of his stand on the role of women in marriage. He says that women have an equal parental power to exercise same to the fathers when it comes to raising the children. Locke says that marriage should be by consent from both parties a comment which has been applauded for a seventeenth-century philosopher. According to reviews done by Shane and Butler, they applaud Locke’s theory as having the seeds of feminism.

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Conclusion

John Lockey’s theory has received several reactions with many reviews giving a lot of credit to the philosopher. Locke’s theory has found its way into modern liberation explaining the importance of the theory. Locke is seen by women such as Shane Butler to have played a role in setting ground for feminism.

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  1. Bell, Stephanie A., John F. Henry, and L. Randall Wray. “A Chartalist critique of John Locke’s theory of property, accumulation, and money: or, is it moral to trade your nuts for gold?.” Review of Social Economy 62.1 (2004): 51-65. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0034676042000183826
  2. Macpherson, Crawford Brough. “The political theory of possessive individualism: Hobbes to Locke.” (2010). https://philpapers.org/rec/MACTPT-7
  3. Pateman, Carole. Sexual contract. John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, 2014. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/9781118663219.wbegss468
  4.  Reinis, Austra. Reforming the Art of Dying: The ars moriendi in the German Reformation (1519-1528). Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2007. https://books.google.co.ke/books?hl=en&lr=&id=rhLCI1Wx2WoC&oi=fnd&pg=PR7&dq=+Reinis,+Austra.+Reforming+the+Art+of+Dying:+The+ars+moriendi+in+the+German+Reformation+(1519-1528).+Ashgate+Publishing,+Ltd.,+2007.&ots=f5aOSDDZ2a&sig=bw0toopib1lYO2XDPkMRiLbAbjg&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q=Reinis%2C%20Austra.%20Reforming%20the%20Art%20of%20Dying%3A%20The%20ars%20moriendi%20in%20the%20German%20Reformation%20(1519-1528).%20Ashgate%20Publishing%2C%20Ltd.%2C%202007.&f=false
  5. Wardell, Lilian Olive. An interpretation of Nietzsche’s Uebermensch through the Dionysian/Apollonian synthesis. Diss. National University of Ireland (Ireland), 2007. https://search.proquest.com/openview/7a7bf3be03488244f737bfbc4f9425b8/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=18750&diss=y
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