Skip to main content
×
Home
    • Aa
    • Aa

“Men Being Partial to Themselves”: Human Selfishness in Locke's Two Treatises

  • Greg Forster (a1) and Kim Ian Parker (a2)
Abstract
Abstract

Conventional wisdom describes Locke as an “optimist” about human nature; some scholars go further and say that he denied the Christian view that human beings are naturally sinful. But Locke's works, including the Two Treatises, clearly and firmly hold that human nature has a consistent tendency to desire selfishness and evil. Locke's view of the origin of human sinfulness is unorthodox – he dissents from the traditional doctrine of “original sin” – but on the question of whether human nature is in fact sinful his views are perfectly orthodox, and are in harmony with the Calvinism of the Church of England in his time. Understanding this is crucial to grasping the fundamental problem of the Two Treaties, which is the need to cope with humanity's selfishness. Locke argues that the persistent moral corruption of human nature is the primary reason government exists.

  • View HTML
    • Send article to Kindle

      To send this article to your Kindle, first ensure no-reply@cambridge.org is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about sending to your Kindle.

      Note you can select to send to either the @free.kindle.com or @kindle.com variations. ‘@free.kindle.com’ emails are free but can only be sent to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘@kindle.com’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

      Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

      “Men Being Partial to Themselves”: Human Selfishness in Locke's Two Treatises
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Dropbox

      To send this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

      “Men Being Partial to Themselves”: Human Selfishness in Locke's Two Treatises
      Available formats
      ×
      Send article to Google Drive

      To send this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

      “Men Being Partial to Themselves”: Human Selfishness in Locke's Two Treatises
      Available formats
      ×
Copyright
Corresponding author
Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Greg Forster, Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice, Indianapolis, IN 46282. E-mail: greg_forster@hotmail.com; Kim Ian Parker, Department of Religious Studies, Memorial University, St. John's, NL, A1C 5S7, Canada. E-mail: kparker@mun.ca
Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

Steven Forde . 2001. ‘Natural Law, Theology, and Morality in Locke.’ American Journal of Political Science 45:396409.

Ian Harris . 1994. The Mind of John Locke. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

John Locke . 1983. A Letter Concerning Toleration, ed. James Tully . Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill.

W.M. Spellman 1997. John Locke. New York: St. Martin's.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Politics and Religion
  • ISSN: 1755-0483
  • EISSN: 1755-0491
  • URL: /core/journals/politics-and-religion
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 7
Total number of PDF views: 39 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 75 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 28th May 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.