John Locke Circumscribing Material Items and Possessions Essay

Pages: 4 (1229 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Government

John Locke

Circumscribing Material Items and Possessions

John Locke's views on the rights to possession (both personal and otherwise) are largely elucidated within section 50 of the fifth chapter of the second treatise in his seminal work, Two Treatises of Government. However, in order to properly contextualize this information within the larger purpose of the author's penning of the second treaty, one must consider the relation of property to the greater issues presented within this work about the role of government and its place within society. To that end, Locke certainly advocates a form of government that was most beneficial for the people which it had authority over -- meaning that the people, ultimately, possessed authority over the government itself. This fact is demonstrated in several passages near the conclusion of the second treatise in which the author advocates instances in which the common people have the right (and in more than one occasion, the obligation) to actually overthrow a particular government or form of government to find one more suitable to their needs. Part of those needs, of course, is related to the possession of property, which suggests that the 50th section of the fifth chapter in the second treatise is one of the core principles found within this book. The author believes that one of the primary reasons for forming government is to mediate and distribute equity among its resources to its citizens, which includes "food, raiment, and carriage" (Locke, 1689) as well as monetary goods.

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The crux of what Locke is stating within the fifth chapter of the second treatise is that one of the principle reasons for the existence of government is to regulate the distribution of its resources through currency (typically gold and silver at the time of the author's writing), which was merely a means of attributing value of a lasting duration to goods that were essential to the existence of man's life: such as food and other perishable necessities. This fact can be readily confirmed by the following quotation from the 50th section of this chapter, which states

Essay on John Locke Circumscribing Material Items and Possessions Assignment

…in governments… they…by consent, found out and agreed in a way how a man may, rightfully and without injury, possess more than he himself can make use of by receiving gold and silver, which may continue in a man's possession with decaying for the over-plus and agreeing those metals should have a value (Locke, 1689).

Scholars looking to analyze this passage within the greater work of the second treatise as a whole need to realize that the author is actually stating that such regulation, which he believes will result in a more equitable allocation of the resources of a government, only exists within governments. Outside of governmental regulation, what Locke refers to as "out of the bounds of society and compact," resources may be unfairly distributed and wasted, since without money as the form of regulating those resources "the consent of men have agreed to a disproportionate and unequal possession of the earth" (Locke, 1689). This notion, of course, is due to the fact that there is no common mediator of resources such as the government outside the bounds of "society and compact," and so such an inequitable allocation of goods is naturally begat from the mantra of survival of the fittest, according to the ability and means of each as he or she is able to protect what has been procured.

Locke fairly abhorred the concept of wasted resources. Furthermore, he disliked the notion of resources being wasted due to the fact that one had simply obtained more than he could consume or put to use, which is why the author advocated the usage of currency that was… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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