Passage: Gold, silver, and diamonds are things that fancy or agreement hath put the value on, more than real use and the necessary support of life. Now of those good things which Nature hath provided in common, every one hath a right (as hath been said) to as much as he could use; and had a property in all he could effect with his labour; all that his industry could extend to, to alter from the state Nature had put it in, was his. (paragraph 46)
This passage confused me at first because I couldn’t really get a grasp of what Locke was trying to say about money. He seems to be saying that all men have a right to as much money as he could use, but under that logic, couldn’t people just find other uses for money or other things they wanted to own, like more cows or food? Then I read this passage again in the context of what he says in paragraph 47, which is essentially that money is a good that will never spoil, unlike fruit or meat. Rather than thinking of money the way I would do now in 2019, I tried to think about it in earlier times, when it didn’t hold the power it does today and was just another item to trade or barter. There also weren’t as many options for spending money back then as there are now, so really you couldn’t have infinite uses for it. As he says in paragraph 49 (paraphrased), money doesn’t actually have a use to us since we as a society have to agree on what it means or what its value is, but food and shelter are inherently useful at any time. This definitely connects to Locke’s idea about a hypothetical perfect state of Nature, because I think in the real world people are more greedy and would take as much money as possible. We did not explicitly talk about money in class, but thinking about power and wealth, it’s interesting to consider a time when money did not hold the power it does today, and was just a good that was exchanged for other goods is very interesting. Today, money and power and definitely connected, so it’s interesting to think about the evolution of money and how power came to be so closely linked to it.