Two Treatises of Government and A Letter Concerning Toleration by John Locke & Ian Shapiro

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Two of Locke's most mature and influential political writings and three brilliant interpretive essays have been combined here in one volume. Among the most influential writings in the history of Western political thought, John Locke's "Two Treatises of Government" and "A Letter Concerning Toleration" remain vital to political debates more than three centuries after they were written. The complete texts are 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 the "Two Treatises of Government" and "A Letter Concerning Toleration" and 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 insights into the history of ideas and the enduring influence of Locke's political thought.

About John Locke & Ian Shapiro

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John Locke's works of political and social philosophy, written in the 17th century, have strongly influenced intellectuals ever since - including the founders of the United States of America. Born in 1632 in Wrington, England, Locke studied at Christ Church, Oxford, where he earned his B.A. and M.A. degrees in the late 1650's. He also studied medicine and earned a medical license. His studies led to an interest in contemporary philosophers influenced by science, such as Rene Descartes. Locke read widely among them while teaching at Christ Church over the next few years. In 1667, Locke became personal physician and adviser to Anthony Ashley Cooper, who later was appointed Earl of Shaftesbury. Through Shaftesbury's patronage, Locke earned some government posts and entered London's intellectual circles, all the while writing philosophy. He was one of the best-known European thinkers of his time when he died in 1704. In An Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690), Locke established the philosophy of empiricism, which holds that the mind at birth is a blank tablet. Experience, Locke believed, would engrave itself upon the tablet as one grew. He felt humans should create theories according to experience and test them with experiments. This philosophy helped establish the scientific method. Locke codified the principals of liberalism in "Two Treatises of Government" (1690). He emphasized that the state must preserve its citizens' natural rights to life, liberty and property. When the state does not, Locke argued, citizens are justified in rebelling. His view of liberalism comprised limited government, featuring elected representation and legislative checks and balances. While a Christian, Locke believed in absolute separation of church and state, and he urged toleration of those whose religious views differed from the majorities. Ian Shapiro is William R. Kenan, Jr. Professor and Chairman of the Department of Political Science at Yale University.
Published November 10, 2003 by Yale University Press. 384 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction

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