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Two Treatises of Government

3.80  ·  Rating Details  ·  11,737 Ratings  ·  104 Reviews
Two Treatises of Government is a influential work of political philosophy originally published in 1689 by English philosopher John Locke. This treatise is an attack on patriarchalism and is a sentence-by-sentence refutation of Patriarcha by Robert Filmer. The second treatise outlines the theory of having a civil society which is based on both natural rights and contract th ...more
Paperback, 148 pages
Published January 28th 2008 by Book Jungle (first published 1689)
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Kenghis Khan
Jul 25, 2007 Kenghis Khan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Those of us living in liberal democracies owe tremendous intellectual debt to John Locke. His "Second Treatise" in particular helped lay the foundation for a political system that emphasized "life, liberty, and property." The First Treatise is interesting to skim through, though it is in the second where the Locke is most substantive. His Theory of Private Property, which could also be construed as a theory of value, is an unmistakable revolution in political thought. It is, as Locke contends, w ...more
Robert Owen
As its title states, John Locke’s “Two Treatises on Government” are two separate treatments on the basis of just and legitimate government; the first of which is structured as a rebuttal to the notion, as articulated in Robert Filmer’s “Patriarcha, or The Natural Power of Kings”, of monarchical power authorized by “divine right” whereas the second is a positive articulation of concepts and principles setting the source of authority for any legitimate government within the consent of the governed ...more
Zelda
Apr 03, 2016 Zelda rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
This is not the first time I've signed this book's dance card but it is the first time that I've read the first treatise. It is an energetic decimating of the political theory of someone that no one cares about anymore. That's how bad the theory was. And I have to say that I'm not sure it was the best use of Locke's time and effort to debunk it. But perhaps that's just the perspective of time speaking.

I didn't mind the read, though. Locke is sometimes quite funny in his disgust and I was up any
...more
Kati
Jul 12, 2015 Kati rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Had to read this for one of my classes this semester, if you guys wonder...*hides in a corner*
Zari
"For if it be asked what security, what fence is there in such a state against the violence and oppression of this absolute ruler, the very question can scarce be borne. They are ready to tell you that it deserves death only to ask after safety. Betwixt subject and subject, they will grant, there must be measures, laws, and judges for their mutual peace and security. But as for the ruler, he ought to be absolute, and is above all such circumstances; because he has a power to do more hurt and wro ...more
David Beeson
May 31, 2014 David Beeson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
Jeff Gabriel
Jul 25, 2014 Jeff Gabriel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wasn't expecting the exposition of Genesis to form the first book, but perhaps nobody expects the Genesis Exposition? While this wasn't particularly interesting from a historical or educational point of view it was a great example of rational argument. Locke destroys his opponent by taking him back to his own quotes and source material and turning it against him by superior logic and exposition of the text. It doesn't even matter if he takes the text as a religious document; only that he is ab ...more
Lisa
Apr 06, 2016 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lisa by: Potter's School Classical Track Year 3
Published in 1690.
Chapter II: Of the State of Nature
To understand political power we must look at how man behaves in a state of nature where no one tells him what to do or not to do, and where a state of equality prevails.

Natural law says that man can't murder, steal, or infringe on the health or liberty of another (people have the right to life, liberty, health, possessions)
"The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges every one: and reason, which is that law, teaches all
...more
Drpsychorat
Sep 04, 2013 Drpsychorat rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a must read for understanding social contract theory. Although it is not my cup of tea, it does confront a great many current political issues that were also present in the 17th century. I also liked Locke's. emphasis that government is meant to be supportive of the public & their rights, not the rights of the politicians or corporations.
Thomas Jr.
Jun 25, 2014 Thomas Jr. rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Maria
May 25, 2014 Maria rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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 app ...more
Greg Hickey
Mar 17, 2014 Greg Hickey rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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, ...more
Simon
A great work of political philosophy. Less 'revolutionary' than I thought it would be. And less 'liberal' than I thought it would be.
Patty
Apr 07, 2008 Patty rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
yes . . . ive read it, and you should too . . . this dude was thomas jefferson's BFF!!!!
Nathan
Feb 16, 2015 Nathan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
As much as I do understand the historical importance of this book, reading it now feels redundant and anachronistic. His arguments rely heavily on religious thought and his logical proofs (while then fairly radical), should be commonplace to most Americans now, or I should hope so. I didn't hate the book, the rating description identified 2 stars as being ok, I just didn't get as much out of it as I had hoped. He's long-winded and repetitive, which makes reading it a bit of a trudge; obviously t ...more
Charity
Dec 01, 2014 Charity rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classicsclub, owned
Despite my ambitious plan to at least skim the First Treatise, I only read Locke's Second Treatise.

I was surprised at how much I liked this book, especially since I started out pretty disgusted by Locke's viewpoint. The two main things that irritated me:

1) His opinion that the primary goal of government is to preserve property. This just felt really materialistic to me. I felt better about this one when I read the parenthetical aside in chapter XV that read, "By property I must be understood he
...more
Dan
Jun 22, 2009 Dan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ...more
Steven Peterson
Dec 31, 2009 Steven Peterson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 respec ...more
Eric
Feb 01, 2010 Eric rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Sadly, neither of my public or private school educations required the reading of John Locke. Glad I discovered him on my own! I read Two Treatises of Government for the first time as a 33 year old during a time when I was discovering the preciousness of liberty on a daily basis after unknowingly taking my own for granted for the majority of my youth. This book was massively influential in developing my own political and moral philosophy.

John Locke's ideas are powerful and based in natural law an
...more
M. Ashraf
May 02, 2014 M. Ashraf rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I think the second treatise is the main base of all liberal democracies nowadays , as it focused on two main thing: Liberty and Property. Unlike (The Social Contract) in which Liberty and Freedom were the main focus.

I didn't like the first treatise, as I think there is no one talk like that anymore,these kind of monarchies that existed. It was frustrating talking about divine monarchy and relate every thought to the divine right of Adam ??? it was very strange theory coming from Robert Filmer an
...more
Even
Mar 07, 2012 Even rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Two Treatisies of Government provides a decent introduction to some of the basic elements of political philosophy, but can leave the modern reader a bit unsatisfied. A good portion of the book is dedicated to refuting absolute monarchism, and many of its shortcomings for a modern audience can be understood as coming from this perspective. It is heavily (overly) dependent of Judeo-Christian phiosophy and history, but obviously so was 17th century England. Locke's idea of the origin of property ri ...more
Kei
Aug 23, 2012 Kei rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 Treati
...more
Bertrand
Jan 11, 2013 Bertrand rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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, eve
...more
Jonathan
Aug 19, 2011 Jonathan rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 theor
...more
Steven P.R.
Jun 13, 2014 Steven P.R. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Fahed
Unless you suffer from a Lockean fetish, get the 2nd treatise alone. The first treatise is long and very boring, as John Lock tries to refute Robert Filmer's absolutist, theocratic, and divine theories of kings line by line. It quotes the bible quite extensively. The 2nd treatise is a classic work on political philosophy, and is the foundation of modern day liberalism.

I would give the first treatise a 1.9 star (no not even a 2) because unless you live in the Middle-East OR the Middle-Ages, this
...more
Bry Willis
The book is a Classic and worth the read, but my commentary is on the quaint philosophy it defends. It frightens me that so much of the fabric of our government is predicated on Classical material such as this, where the premise relies on God. Whether, Locke, Descartes, or Paine, or the Declaration of Independence, or the Constitution of the United States, these all rely on vapour as a foundation.
George Slade
Sep 01, 2015 George Slade rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
After reading this, I can certainly see why it so heavily influenced the writings of the founding fathers. I was just about ready to get up and start a revolution myself after reading this. Locke's philosophy is as poignant today as it was, when the founding fathers used it as the moral justification of our country's founding revolution. More people should read over this and take lessons.
Iain
Mar 12, 2014 Iain rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
John Locke was an analytical thinker who lived in a time shackled with non-analytical thinking. Living in the 17th century shaking off the dogma of monarchy and the church it must have been frustrating to try and rationalize the dictums of the day so he rationalized his way towards a fair system exposing the folly involved in the one he resided. A read of historical interest but laborious at times.
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John Locke was an English philosopher. Locke is considered the first of the British Empiricists, but is equally important to social contract theory. His ideas had enormous influence on the development of epistemology and political philosophy, and he is widely regarded as one of the most influential Enlightenmen
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“Methinks Sir Robert should have carried his Monarchical Power one step higher and satisfied the World, that Princes might eat their Subjects too.” 1 likes
“I therefore took it into my hands with all the expectation and read it through with all the attention due to a Treaties, that made such a noise at its coming abroad and cannot but confess my self mightily surprised, that in a Book which was to provide Chains for all Mankind, I should find nothing but a Rope of Sand, useful perhaps to such, whose Skill and Business it is to raise a Dust, and would blind the People, the better to mislead them, but in truth is not of any force to draw those into Bondage, who have their Eyes open, and so much Sense about them as to consider, that Chains are but an Ill wearing, how much Care soever hath been taken to file and polish them.” 0 likes
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