Unit 1, Assignment 2 by Phillip Hazel

“I therefore took it into my hands with all the expectation, and read it through with all the attention due to a treatise that made such a noise at its coming abroad; and cannot but confess myself 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 wise a dust, and would blind the people, the better to mislead them; but in truth 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.”

I chose an excerpt from paragraph one of John Locke’s “Two Treatises of Government” because I really struggled to understand it initially and felt great satisfaction when I figured it out. I also like how important this passage is to the rest of “The False Principles and Foundation of Sir Robert Filmer, and His Followers, Are Detected and Overthrown”; it talks about the issues that Locke has with Robert Filmer and his philosophy of divine right.

This philosophy is what incensed John Locke to write “Two Treatises of Government” in the first place. Understanding why Locke wrote what he wrote can help us determine what exactly his goals were, and can even help us find more, deeper meaning within his essay. It can also help us find faults in his reasoning. This can help us apply his ideas to modern government, without the side effects of anachronistic 

I’m not sure that this passage actually answers any specific questions from our lectures on Thursday, but it does help clarify some topics that were discussed. The concepts and connotations of paternal and patriarchal authority were pretty unclear to me at the end of our Thursday afternoon lecture. After learning a little bit more about them in chapter six of “Concerning the True Original Extent and End of Civil Government”, they were starting to become more clear. After closely reading my selected passage and finally understanding the personal beliefs of Locke and Filmer, the significance (and fallacies) of these authorities become much easier to see, especially with patriarchal authority, which goes hand in hand with divine right.

*For the record, I realized that this is not actually from the required reading. I mistakenly read the first paragraph of the first essay before realizing that I should have been reading the second essay. However, this passage was the one that stood out most to me and I believe that it still relates to the topics discussed in our lecture.

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