Category: Philosophy & Political Economy

(1689) Second Treatise of Government and a Letter Concerning Toleration by John Locke
(Oxford/Reading the Long 18th Century #3)

This volume, published in 2016 and in an edition with a decent introduction by Mark Goldie, is missing the First Treatise (which attacks theories of absolute monarchy rooted in Adam as the first in his line) and is a bit skimpy on endnotes, but they are sufficiant for a basic understanding of the text.

The second treatise is essential reading for anyone interested in thinking about the inter-grafted nature of the trees of “liberty” and “property” in the 18C, and how their legacy is still with us today (viz. libertarian insistence that the former rights are rooted in the latter).

The First Treatise, and much better notes, can be found in the……

(1690) An Essay Concerning Human Understanding by John Locke
(Penguin/Reading the Long 18th Century #4)

And hence perhaps may be given some reason of that common observation,—that men who have a great deal of wit, and prompt memories, have not always the clearest judgment or deepest reason. For WIT lying most in the assemblage of ideas, and putting those together with quickness and variety, wherein can be found any resemblance or congruity, thereby to make up pleasant pictures and agreeable visions in the fancy…” (Essay 152)

Though Locke himself cautions (late in Book IV, the final volume of the Essay) against the Argumentum ad Vericundeum (from “authority”)—against giving undue credence to an argument merely because of the reputation* of the person making it (e.g. “the Aristotelian unities must be respected by any playwright, because Aristotle”), still there exist certain books……