Locke (Classic Thinkers)

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Self, State, and Nation in Hobbes and Locke

Still, there is even a modern, non-revelational defense of such synthetic thinking. A master axiom is not necessary or even possible, these thinkers argue, as does Gregory. In Conjectures and Refutations , Popper even gives tradition the pre-eminent place in the process of understanding. Hayek specifically includes Aristotle as opposed to Plato and St. Thomas, as well as Locke, among the epistemological pluralists.

John Locke and the concept of Limited Government

There is no question Locke did move away from Aristotle and the ancients. But so did St. The nature of the break was in Christianity itself. Pure Aristotelianism has been a difficult sell ever since its physics fell to Newtonian mechanics but, even more importantly, the absoluteness of mechanics today has fallen to probability.

The Enlightenment: John Locke

Four decades ago , I argued that one could not understand Locke unless he viewed him as a Christian even in the face of most existing scholarship. Part of the problem was that many merely read his Essay on Human Understanding or the Second Treatise. Locke was orthodox enough to write a discourse defending miracles and in his last years translated and extensively commented upon the Epistles of St. To Locke as in Thomism generally both reason and tradition are needed.

It is not a choice between opposites but a harmony. Where Locke and Thomas differ most is, once again, on this matter of probability. This was the methodology that Locke made part of his synthesis that is arguably reconcilable with the rest. Natural law has long been a central concept but it is questionable how it can fare unsupported in a probabilistic world. As Waldron and Forde show, Locke needed something outside of nature to support it.

Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau on Classic Liberalism

In any case the failure—if it be such—of the synthesis is not unique to Locke. If this is a problem for him, it is likewise a problem for all of Western civilization. The essence of that civilization is its tension between rationalism, empiricism, and tradition—and the need, therefore, for a synthesis. Yet, as rationalism has peeled away successive layers of reason over the years, it has become apparent that more is needed.

Not partially—all of him. Office of Personnel Management during President Reagan's first term.

The Enlightenment’s Dark Side

About the Author. Your email address will not be published. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Running through the center of the diagram was the long line of Enlightenment thought. The Enlightenment included thinkers like John Locke and Immanuel Kant who argued that people should stop deferring blindly to authority for how to live.

Instead, they should think things through from the ground up, respect facts and skeptically re-examine their own assumptions and convictions. Enlightenment thinkers turned their skeptical ideas into skeptical institutions, notably the U.

The Origins of Government

De Tocqueville came along and said that if a rules-based democratic government was going to work anywhere it was going to be the United States. America became the test case for the entire Enlightenment project.


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With his distrust of mob rule and his reverence for law, Abraham Lincoln was a classic Enlightenment man. His success in the Civil War seemed to vindicate faith in democracy and the entire Enlightenment cause.

20 Major Philosophers & Their Big Ideas | The Quad Magazine

In the 20th century, Enlightenment leaders extended the project globally, building rules-based multilateral institutions like the European Union and NATO to restrain threatening powers and preserve a balance of power. The Enlightenment project gave us the modern world, but it has always had weaknesses.

Second, it is thin on meaning. It treats people as bland rational egoists and tends to produce governments run by soulless technocrats. Third, Enlightenment governance fails from time to time. At these moments anti-Enlightenment movements gain power.


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  7. Amid the collapse of the old regimes during World War I, the Marxists attacked the notion of private property. That brought us Lenin, Stalin and Mao. This brought us Hitler and the Nazis. Hill pointed out that the forces of the Enlightenment have always defeated the anti-Enlightenment threats.