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Friday, 29 October 2010

John Locke - HCJ

John Locke was crucial for Journalists and philosophy. He had many important ideas such as the social contract which is the way people agreed to be ruled by governments. Locke fled to Europe which is where he wrote most of his books.
History shows why John Locke felt religion should be removed from the public domain. He saw that religion tore the country apart. He felt that religion should be kept private, away from politics and no longer influence it. Many of his views reflect those that now exist in America.

John Locke seemed to have very modern views and ideas at the time he published An Essay of Human Understanding.

In this essay he explored various aspects of the human mind and (similar to Machiavelli) he argues the idea of empiricism. This is the belief that knowledge comes from experience and that you learn from ideas. He feels that we learn from our senses and develop our understandings through our perceptions. There are 2 parts that allow us to gain information – Sensation and Reflection. Sensation is when the senses convey thoughts to the mind. Reflection is the operation of our mind (such as birds knowing to migrate). The mind acts to reflect ideas through reasoning and thinking.
Children understand to food and realise that hunger means they want to eat. However, knowledge varies on the objects that someone converses with. Locke also states that ideas can’t be learnt from sleep. This is because without senses being active, thinking can’t occur which means you cannot collect new information. The example John Locke uses is a looking glass, it retains no remembrance of what it has seen throughout the day.
He also speaks about deductive thinking which is that every promise has a conclusion. Inductive reasoning is based on the ‘leap of faith’.

Social Contract
The social contract was contributed to by both Hobbes and Locke.
.Hobbes Leviathan – State of Nature
. People’s dominant passions are aggressive – people acting on their passions will produce a state of war
. A leader is chosen, and given huge power
. Power comes from the people but they give up all their power to the ruler once they are decided (a mortal god)

At the time of John Locke, Kings were believed to be chosen by God. He stated that God didn’t choose the ruler (‘life would be nasty, brutish and short’). He felt that we needed to create a mortal God/Leviathan.

Choose somebody to be the all powerful ruler and we then give all our rights to that person (they become a God in some senses). The power is choosing an individual and then the power is gone. What we ask of that person is that they protect us from those dangers inside and out of our city/country. If they protect us, then they are doing their job.
A dictatorship is almost what Hobbes proposes.

Locke’s ‘Treatise of Government’
First Treatise
This attacks the concept of the ‘Divine Right of Kings’. It is the idea tha God had given Adam the right to rule.
‘Let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air’ – Genesis
Locke opposed to James II and Hobbes.
Second Treatise
- State of nature – everyone enjoys national freedom and equality but obey natural laws.
- The laws of nature were moral laws which every man knew intuitively – an almost ready made knowledge of right and wrong. ‘Under woven in the constitution of the human mind’ discovered by reason which comes from God.

Locke (like Descartes) felt when we were born there was nothing placed in our mind. He believed that you had ‘original sin’ when you were born and needed to be saved even from the beginning.
Locke disagreed with the churches view of this, saying there was nothing in our brains. However, he felt there was a God, and that he gave us reasoning.

‘We will discover natural laws’
He accepts laws are relevant to certain areas. Senses produce natural laws that we accept and understand.
Locke was important to American constitution. We have a right to life, liberty and property.
He believed in the mind starting with a blank slate, everything comes from senses, from that we can work out natural laws.

Manual for a Revolution
- Locke proposed a concept of government by consent and limited by law – it proves mainly used for the protection of property.
- He insisted that taxes could not be levied without the people’s (parliament) consent.
- He believed that citizens could rebel if their government ceased to respect the law – referred to the tyranny of James II.
- It meant that Locke was suggesting that the right of revolution was of the mutual rights of man.

Locke and Hobbes had slightly different views:-
Locke – Can get rid of a ruler if he oversteps boundaries.
Hobbes – Ruler for life

Human Understanding
- Locke believed that our understanding comes from our experience which is worked on by our powers of reason to produce ‘real knowledge’.
- Against the idea of ‘innate ideas’
- He thought that God had given mankind the ability to discover knowledge and morality so that innate ideas weren’t needed.
- When matters of faith go beyond reason and experience - individuals should be guided by private revelation, but these revelations should never be imposed to church or state.
- He felt God gave us the faculties to find the truth instead of giving us the truth already.
- He didn’t think God intervened in life. God was perfect and created perfect ideas for our mind.


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