You are on page 1of 2

The purpose of this paper is to depict the condition of man in the modern state shaped by the political ideas

of John Locke. It aims to response to the issue that man is better off in the modern state, given that man came from a period when God is at the center of everything. This new age paved way for the emergence of new ideas, putting man at the focal point of the domain of ideas. This era focuses on the status of man and in the development of modern state. This idea came about in England not for no reason. His discussion and idea of toleration, property, civil authority, rebellion and much else are not detached reflections on perennial themes; rather they are engaged contributions to real political debate and concrete events (Ebenstein, 1960). There is this event that took place during that time which gave way for the development of this idea. English Civil War is a constitutional issue between a king who claimed to rule by divine right and a Parliament that professed itself to have rights and privileges independent of the crown. During that time, the English people were represented by nobility and not by Parliament. This was witnessed firsthand by John Locke when he was young at the age of ten. Aside from this, Locke also witnessed the Glorious Revolution also known as Bloodless Revolution where the appointment of another monarch took place. The events mentioned above contributed a lot for his idea about freedom of religion and the rights of the citizen that in turn, was deemed a challenge to the government of England. Because of this he was been into exile in Holland. He sided with the parliament and his concern over the appropriate political constitution to rule England is evident to his works. Lockes whole political thinking was considered to be a generalization of the assessment of the 1688 Revolution (Curtis, 1981). In his entire field of inquiry politics, education, theology and philosophy he emphasized the significance of reason, toleration and moderation (Curtis, 1981). His concept of knowledge was not innate, nor revealed, nor did it rest on authority, it is consisted of seeing relations among ideas derived from sense experience (Curtis, 1981). This is his concept of tabula rasa, that men are born blank, with no knowledge or faults. The Two Treatises of Civil Government was published on 1690; his First Treatise was an attack on Filmers account of divine right theory and hereditary concepts. It is a destructive criticism of Filmers Patriarcha, a work designed to establish the claims of absolute monarch y as inherited from Adam (Alexander, 1993). His Second Treatise was a tacit reply to his predecessor; it explains the nature of civil society, through tracing its root from the state of nature or primitive condition of man (Alexander, 1993). Behind both doctrines lies the idea of the freedom of the individuals. In his political philosophy, there is also a concept of state of nature, where people live in harmony despite the absence of a government. People are govern by law of nature (Locke, 1988). Natural law exists even in the state of nature. Natural law sought the peace and preservation of all mankind (Locke, 1988). In this state of nature of Locke, all men are experiencing equality. No man is bound to hurt or harm another man. All the power and jurisdiction is reciprocal, no one having more than another (Curtis, 1981). In

the state of nature, every man has the right to punish an offender. They may requite him as reason and conscience dictate (Alexander, 1993). However, because of the absolute freedom rendered to the individuals and because of the absence of single authority, it is inevitable that a particular man can cause harm to another man especially when he envies his neighbor for its possession and when this happen, the great inconvenience arises. This inconvenience is the reason why the state of nature becomes state of war (Curtis, 1981). Locke defines war as a state of enmity and destruction brought about by one persons pre-meditated attempts upon anothers life (Locke, 1988). He also stated the law of self-preservation, essential to the law of nature, which dictates that a person may kill another person in self-defense (Locke, 1988). This means that, killing a thief for instance is justifiable when the thief attempted to attack ones possession thus became a danger to ones security. State of war differs in the state of nature as it was explained by Locke in his Second Treatise. State of nature involves people living together, governed by reasons and moral laws, without a common authority, where the state of war ensues when people intends force upon other people, without common superior (Locke, 1988). However, there is also a distinction between war in society and war in nature which depends on how they come to an end. In society, war ends when the actual force is over, since both parties can then resort to the common authorities for arbitration of past wrongs (Locke, 1988). While in nature, war does not end until the aggressive party offers peace and reparations for the damage done, until then, the innocent party has a right to try to destroy the aggressor (Locke, 1988).