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Two Treatises of Government and A Letter Concerning Toleration

Two Treatises of Government and A Letter Concerning Toleration

Edited and with an Introduction by Ian Shapiro
John Dunn
Ruth W. Grant
Ian Shapiro
Copyright Date: 2003
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 384
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  • Book Info
    Two Treatises of Government and A Letter Concerning Toleration
    Book Description:

    Among the most influential writings in the history of Western political thought, John Locke'sTwo Treatises of GovernmentandA Letter Concerning Tolerationremain vital to political debates today, more than three centuries after they were written. The complete texts appear in this volume, accompanied by interpretive essays by three prominent Locke scholars.Ian Shapiro's introduction places Locke's political writings in historical and biographical context. John Dunn explores both the intellectual context in which Locke wrote theTwo Treatises of GovernmentandA Letter Concerning Tolerationand the major interpretive controversies surrounding their meaning. Ruth Grant offers a comprehensive discussion of Locke's views on women and the family, and Shapiro contributes an essay on the democratic elements of Locke's political theory. Taken together, the texts and essays in this volume offer invaluable insights into the history of ideas and the enduring influence of Locke's political thought.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-12918-2
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Introduction: Reading Locke Today
    (pp. ix-xv)

    Old books are read for many reasons. Intrinsic enjoyment is one. Coming to grips with the past is another. Understanding the origins of the world we live in is a third. Additional purposes become relevant when old books are part of a received canon. Canonized texts may be heralded as repositories of important truths. They might codify ideologies, whether dominant or subversive. They might be objects of controversy as to their true meaning. When canonized texts are works of political theory, it is usually because they are thought to illuminate enduring fundamentals of political association. Sometimes they gain additional notoriety...

  4. Note on the Texts
    (pp. xvi-xvi)
  5. Texts

    • The Preface.
      (pp. 3-6)
    • The First Treatise: The False Principles and Foundation of Sir Robert Filmer
      (pp. 7-99)

      1. 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. And truly I should have taken sir Robert Filmer’s Patriarcha, as any other treatise, which would persuade all men that they are slaves, and ought to be so, for such another exercise of wit as was his who writ the encomium of Nero; rather than for a serious discourse, meant in earnest : had not the gravity of...

    • The Second Treatise: An Essay Concerning the True Original, Extent, and End of Civil Government
      (pp. 100-210)

      1. It having been shown in the foregoing discourse, 1. That Adam had not, either by natural right of fatherhood, or by positive donation from God, any such authority over his children, or dominion over the world, as is pretended:

      2. That if he had, his heirs yet had no right to it :

      3. That if his heirs had, there being no law of nature nor positive law of God that determines which is the right heir in all cases that may arise, the right of succession, and consequently of bearing rule, could not have been certainly determined:


    • A Letter Concerning Toleration
      (pp. 211-254)

      The ensuing letter concerning Toleration, first printed in Latin this very year, in Holland, has already been translated both into Dutch and French. So general and speedy an approbation may therefore bespeak its favourable reception in England. I think indeed there is no nation under heaven, in which so much has already been said upon that subject as ours. But yet certainly there is no people that stand in more need of having something further both said and done amongst them, in this point, than we do.

      Our government has not only been partial in matters of religion, but those...

  6. Essays

    • Measuring Locke’s Shadow
      (pp. 257-285)

      How well human lives go still turns largely on the relations between our dependence, our intelligence, and our capacities and opportunities to choose for ourselves how to make those lives together.¹ John Locke was one of the great reshapers of how we conceive and interpret those relations. “Measuring Locke’s Shadow” considers how we can best judge today what he contributed to that reshaping, within the context of the history of political thinking in the West, and increasingly in the world as a whole.

      As with any human life, Locke’s can be viewed, at least in intention, both from the inside...

    • John Locke on Women and the Family
      (pp. 286-308)

      Was John Locke a feminist? Certainly not. But just as certainly, this cannot be the right question. For John Locke, the status of women in society was not a central concern. He paid far less attention to the matter than thinkers like Jean-Jacques Rousseau or John Stuart Mill, for example. Locke’s central political concern was to challenge contemporary authoritarian doctrines of Divine Right and patriarchalism that legitimized subjection to absolute monarchical power. To be sure, in launching that challenge, he was led to distinguish between political authority and authority within the family. His reflections on authority within the family, on...

    • John Locke’s Democratic Theory
      (pp. 309-340)

      The democratic tradition has ancient origins, but contemporary formulations are generally traced to Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s discussion of the general will inThe Social Contract,published in 1762. Joseph Schumpeter went so far as to characterize Rousseau’s account as the “classical” theory of democracy, even though his was really a neoclassical view—an eighteenth century adaptation of the ancient Greek theory in which democracy had meant ruling and being ruled in turn.¹ Many commentators have followed Schumpeter’s lead in treating Rousseau as the father of modern democratic theory, yet it is my contention that John Locke merits the distinction. He developed...

  7. Index
    (pp. 341-358)
  8. Back Matter
    (pp. 359-360)