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 (far, far pricier) Cambridge edition (Two Treatises of Government), which lacks this volume’s (first) Letter on Toleration, which from the distance of 300 years on reads like a no-brainer: people who profess to different faiths (or who have different colour of hair!) should not have their civil liberties denied them—not even Catholics! He wasn’t so sure about atheists, though, and (surprise, surprise) herein I found no particular mention of slaves….
Those self-styled “conservatives*”, however, who wish to deny that America is a secular nation, will find no succor here, however much they are attempting to rehabilitate this patron saint of 1776 [https://jacobinmag.com/2019/03/john-l…].
Where do human rights “come from”, then? Or, what justifies them? If not the Author of all Creation, then property rights (with Robert Nozick’s attempt to secularize Locke in Anarchy, State, and Utopia), or some etheric, eternal “law of nature”? Dunno. But am easing on down the road to the flying island of Laputa next, to read me some Leibniz and thereby obtain some sorely-needed deets on the best of all possible worlds….
*As Disraeli’s Coningsby exclaims (in Coningsby, or The New Generation) “Conservatism, sure, whatevs, I’m down with that—but what shall we conserve?”
From the Introduction:
The continuum between good conduct in individuals and in rulers is visible, Locke holds, if we consider that everyone exercises office, whether a widow governing a household, a constable a village, or a ‘supreme magistrate’ the commonwealth. ‘Office’ pertains to any of our duties, however modest, and office is a trust, it is ‘fiduciary’, exercised on behalf of communities, small and large. When we fail…” (xii)
Staying within our OxPen (Oxford/Penguin) remit, but out of print is the voluminous, 1993 Penguin Classics edition of Locke’s collected Political Writings (ISBN 978-0140433104), which I have not laid eyes on but about which Goodreads has to say:
John Locke’s Second Treatise of Government, c. 1681, is perhaps the key founding liberal text. A Letter Concerning Toleration, written in 1685 (a year when a Catholic monarch came to the throne of England and Louis XVI unleashed a reign of terror against Protestants in France), is a classic defense of religious freedom. Yet many of Locke’s other writings, not least the Constitutions of Carolina, which he helped draft, are almost defiantly anti-liberal in outlook.
This comprehensive collection brings together the main published works (excluding polemical attacks on other people’s views) with the most important surviving evidence from among Locke’s papers relating to his political philosophy. David Wootton’s wide-ranging and scholarly Introduction sets the writings in the context of their time, examines Locke’s developing ideas and unorthodox Christianity, and analyzes his main arguments. The result is the first fully rounded picture of Locke’s political thought in his own words.