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Two Treatises of Government

3.83  ·  Rating details ·  15,904 ratings  ·  148 reviews
Paperback, 480 pages
Published October 28th 1988 by Cambridge University Press (first published 1689)
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 ·  15,904 ratings  ·  148 reviews

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Kenghis Khan
Jul 25, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 19, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: philosphy
Inoffensive, agreeable, well written, but also rather dull and useless.
Natalie Clarke
This book is almost as dense as I am.
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
Thomas Mick
Oct 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the volumes that helped our founders form the Republic in the Convention of 1787. I highly recommend that anyone who wishes to understand what principle we started out to live under were and therefore better understand what we've become in ignorance of them.
Lovely Fortune
Feb 18, 2019 rated it liked it
Definitely shows some very fundamental ideas that have shaped our country to this day! I had to read this for class, heavily focusing more so on the Second Treatise. Although, I didn't read the entire thing, what we did read consisted of things I mostly agreed with (inalienable rights and whatnot). Following this up after reading Leviathan was a bit boring, though. I had more fun disagreeing with Hobbes, than I did agreeing with Locke.
Steven Peterson
Dec 31, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 28, 2013 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.
Jul 12, 2015 rated it it was ok
Had to read this for one of my classes this semester, if you guys wonder...*hides in a corner*
A great work of political philosophy. Less 'revolutionary' than I thought it would be. And less 'liberal' than I thought it would be.
Jun 01, 2013 rated it it was ok
A basic work in political theory and the growth of democracy in the West. Not Always very clear thinking, and not Always very consistent (e.g. no tolerance for catholics).
Apr 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
yes . . . ive read it, and you should too . . . this dude was thomas jefferson's BFF!!!!
Arno Mosikyan
Jul 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: philosophy, politics

that in a Book,15 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,

Though the Earth, and all inferior Creatures be common to all Men, yet every Man has a Property in his own Person. This no Body has any Right to but himself. The Labour of his Body, and the Work of his Hands, we may say, are properly his. What-soever then
Peter Tasich
Apr 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Two Treatises of Government
By: John Locke

“Slavery is so vile and miserable an estate of man, and so directly opposite to the generous temper and courage of our nation, that it is hardly to be conceived that an Englishman, much less a gentleman, should plead for it.” Revolutionary words proclaimed by whom that is conceived in great intelligence and liberal thought. Two Treatises of Government is an essay regarding problematic issues that contradicted the welfare of England’s po
Michael G
Listened to a Librivox recording. Featured some very strong readers (all of book one was read with passion and eloquence) aside from about 3 chapters which were nearly unlistenable. It's easy enough to find this text online, so I read through the unlistenable chapters and went on my way.

While the second treatise still raises some interesting questions concerning consent and government, I anticipate the first treatise will be nigh unreadable for modern readers. The first treatise uses scripture
John Lucy
It goes without saying that it is worthwhile to read these treatises for historical and philosophical background for much of Western government, particularly the United States's constitution. For that purpose, the second treatise in particular, which is a companion piece to the first, is useful. The first treatise is mostly only a refutation of an idea that many today would be entirely unfamiliar with, that all naturally ordained government is monarchical because of Adam. Reading the first treat ...more
Jun 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the first treatise, Locke goes against Sir Robert Filmer who wrote a book defending monarchy via scripture, giving the king a scriptural claim to power. Locke uses scripture against him to show that Filmer is mistaken, and ends up defending the individual(or in the sense of family, the parents) as the one with legitimate power over his own life. IT's more theology than political philosophy, so it is understandably not going home as an argument with the modern atheist. In the second treatise, ...more
Andonu R.
Jun 12, 2019 rated it did not like it
Seriously? An old male, with political rights, in a period when only few had those, will tell us about freedom? I quote from this:
When you hear “founding fathers”, it can’t end well. It only suggests a different kind of nationalism: “patriotism” they call it. It’s like LGBTQIetc. (ch. 5) in the place of binary identifications: it’s still identities. Why care? Why care where you live, or about names? We’re talking about 19th and 18th century: that was not freedom. Also, the “ancient romans”: you ca
Mike Bloom
Mar 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Obviously one of the primary bases for Thomas Jefferson's thinking in writing the Declaration of Independence. In fact, "a long train of abuses" comes directly from the final chapter of the second treatise in this book. This is the second book of 17th century political philosophy that I have read with the specific motive of further understanding the thinking underlying the framing of the Constitution of the United States. Like "Leviathan," this book contrasts the so-called "state of nature" with ...more
Cole Trent
Jan 30, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great read with a deep modern relevance.

John Locke has an eloquent way of explaining things that that we inhabitants of modern day western society seem to take for granted. You may read these books and think to yourself "How stupidly obvious! Why is he going to such great lengths to explain things which are so commonly known?" but soon you begin to understand that, in the days of the enlightenment, a time of monarchies and auto-da-fés, putting forth such liberal ideas was truly ground breaking.
Kien Pham
Dec 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Many of the concepts here may appear obvious, for Locke himself, in writing this, laid the concrete and complex foundation for which liberal democracies became. It is certainly interesting, albeit controversial now, how he based the creation of a republican government upon family ties and values. Locke’s emphasis on preservation of property and will of the people is admirable indeed, yet can make way for majority rule and populist politics.
Oh let’s not forget the notable absence of separat
Eric Feller
Jun 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is obviously not going to keep you awake at night in terms of riveting content and you know what to expect, but it's amazing that this content was written in the 17th century before The Revolution. I read this book to get a better idea of how this influenced Jefferson and his writings for The Declaration. Something else to consider is that this writing was published pre-Age of Enlightenment. Locke is certainly an underrated character in regards to American History especially when you consid ...more
May 05, 2017 rated it liked it
A lot of it is wasted on pointless argumentation about what exactly does the Bible say about the right to rule. There's a lot of Bible quoting and it doesn't get sensible until halfway through. The rest of it is groundbreaking nevertheless quite common sense nowadays. Except the bit about rulers not being allowed to appoint other rulers who were not elected directly by the people and ceding any law making power to them. Sounds like what is annoying people about the EU.
Apr 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: politics
The first treatise is a clear and insightful criticism of Monarchy via Divine Right that splits the argument up into its constituent parts, refuting them in turn.

The second treatise is Locke's vision of a society that operates on the fundamental principles of liberty, with all power vested in government existing with the consent of the populace via a social contract.

Overall, a fantastically written couple of essays, and a good introduction to early enlightenment political
M. Ashraf
Jul 24, 2012 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 Robe
Pierre Franckx
Sep 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
One realizes in what privileged society on lives when one reads what Locke had to defend. Although impressed by the texts in general, I'm disappointed by his (blunt and awfull) justification of slavery. These were the times right? I'm glad subsequent generations of liberals dropped this.
Jul 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Read for school.
Jul 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: philosphy
Required reading with Prof Arnold Ricks in his Bennington course from Hobbes to Marx.
David Beeson
May 31, 2014 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 it a litt
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name.

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 Enlightenment thi
“The end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom.” 5 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.” 3 likes
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