John Locke’s Understanding of Man and SocietyJune 27, 2021
Locke, after refuting the metaphysical conception of sovereignty from Adam to the kings of the new age, in his first Treatise, felt that it was necessary to find another explanation for the emergence of government and another source for political power (the state) and another way to recognize those who held that political power. promises. After that, we see that Locke first defined political power.
According to him, political power is the right to impose the death penalty or less severe penalties to regulate and protect the property area, to enforce these laws and to make laws to protect the state from harm inflicted by foreigners. Locke, who defines political power in this way, put forward his theory based on the state of nature, as his contemporary Hobbes did, in order to prove this characterization of political power.
A. State of Nature
The concept of nature occupied a very important place in the history of political thought. However, what the concept means, like many concepts in political theory, is not clear enough. Although the concept of nature is used in many ways, James Moore states that the views that try to base the society on nature can be grouped into three main groups. The first is the natural emotion moralists, or school of natural emotion, represented by the English moral philosophers Shaftesbury and Hutcheson. The second is the school of natural law, which reached Locke’s time through Ancient Greek thought, Stoics, Roman Lawyers and Dutch jurists and appeared in many schools. The third is the school of natural rights, which Locke appears as the most influential representative and is intertwined with the natural law school.
Natural law theories generally start from the assumption of a state of nature and human nature. The starting point of social theory is human nature, and the basic assumption here is that man is good or bad, peace-loving or war-loving.
Almost all natural lawyers idealized human nature in a positive (as in Locke) or negative (as in Hobbes) sense while trying to develop a political theory. But let us point out right away that when natural lawyers say “natural” or “nature” in general, they mean “a natural rational law”. Natural law arising from reason is eternal, unalterable and always superior to positive law, and positive law must comply with the principles of natural law.
According to Locke, in order to understand political power correctly and to derive it from its source, it is necessary to look at the situation of all people in nature. In Hobbes’ state of nature, man is man’s wolf. In the state of nature, since natural conditions and primitive reactions predominate, people have waged a ruthless war against each other. The reasons for this struggle between people are competition, insecurity and the passion to be superior to everyone. In contrast, according to Locke, human freedom is complete in the state of nature. This is also a case of equality. People are free because they regulate their actions, within the limits of the law of nature, without being dependent on the will of others, and can use their property and personality as they wish. But this state of freedom does not mean idleness. The use of one’s own personality and property cannot be controlled. However, man is not free to destroy himself or any being in his possession without a nobler need than simply to protect them. The law of nature, which governs the state of nature and binds all, teaches all humanity that, since they are equal and free, they should not harm the life, health, freedom and property of others. The equality of people in the state of nature, on the other hand, means that all kinds of power and right of judgment are mutual and that no one has more than another.
According to Dahl, Locke ascribes to humans a kind of natural equality that, while clearly invalid in many cases, can be decisive for certain purposes. Locke shares a fundamental universal belief that all people (or all persons?) are equal, or should be recognized as equal, in some important sense, at least in matters that require collective decisions. This emphasis of Locke also shows that he was inspired by the common teaching of the sacred religions.
Indeed, according to Locke, all human beings are the work of God, an omnipotent sovereign. We are all similarly equipped and share a single state of nature. A gradation between us that would empower each other to destroy is unthinkable. So everyone should respect each other’s rights. The rules for this are determined by the law of nature. In the state of nature, a person whose right has been violated has the right to punish for it. Everyone has the right to punish the aggressor and to apply the law of nature. However, this right of punishment that people have in the state of nature may reveal an extreme situation because of the irrationality of people being the judge of their own cases and other human weaknesses (such as the feeling of revenge, deciding in favor of themselves or their relatives). the question of this