Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home
Hostname: page-component-568f69f84b-l2zqg Total loading time: 0.202 Render date: 2021-09-16T20:01:57.329Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "metricsAbstractViews": false, "figures": true, "newCiteModal": false, "newCitedByModal": true, "newEcommerce": true, "newUsageEvents": true }

Locke—Religion—Equality

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 August 2009

Extract

Jeremy Waldron's much noted book, God, Locke, and Equality, has put the topic of “God and Equality in Locke” at the center of many perhaps most, discussions of Locke these days. I am going to raise some critical objections to Waldron's interpretations, but all the more reason to begin by noting the very many things about this book that I admire.

First, he rejects the insistence by many of the most outspoken Locke scholars that a proper understanding of Locke—or any philosopher of the past—must be purely historical—that it must have nothing to do with us or our concerns, questions, or problems. Professor Waldron cuts through this claim as mere arbitrary assertion.

Second, many Locke scholars, often some of the same ones, insist that Locke's political writings must be understood in isolation from his philosophic writings, especially from his Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Locke's editor, Peter Laslett, set the tone long ago when he pronounced judgment: “Locke did not write as a philosopher, applying to politics the implications of his views of reality as a whole.” Rather, according to Laslett, Locke appealed to or drew off of preexisting “modes of discourse.” This approach makes it very difficult to understand Locke as an integral personality, much less as a coherent author or as a thinker to be taken seriously. Waldron thus reopens the lines of communication between Locke's political and his philosophical writings and makes Locke a significant thinker, not just a corpse for the historians.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © University of Notre Dame 2005

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

References

1. Waldron, , God, Locke, and Equality (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), pp. 5459CrossRefGoogle Scholar.

2. Ibid., p. 66.

3. Locke, , Essay Concerning Human Understanding, 3.11.16.Google Scholar

4. Waldron, , God, Locke, and Equality, p. 72Google Scholar.

5. Ibid., p. 75.

6. Ibid., p. 79.

7. Ibid., p. 81.

8. Ibid., pp. 81–82 (emphasis added).

9. Sigmund, Paul E., “Locke's Religion and the (Mis)interpretation of his Political Thought,” Paper prepared for presentation at the American Political Science Association annual meeting, 09 2003, p. 3Google Scholar.

10. Ibid., p. 18.

11. Contra Waldron, , God, Locke, and Equality, pp. 192–93Google Scholar.

12. Locke, Essay Concerning Human Understanding, IV.18.7. It might be added in passing that Locke is quite clear that the human reason cannot prove immortality in any form. It will not do, as some readers of Locke would, to distinguish the resurrection of the body from immortality of the soul, for Locke denies the rational provability of the one as well as of the other. In IV.3.6, he denies that we can know that we have a soul without divine revelation. A fortiori, reason cannot tell us that we have an immortal soul. Much of course hinges on this claim, for Locke made a great deal of the need to prove immortality and future rewards and punishments as part of the preconditions for establishing a natural law. His denials of the rational availability of immortality and reward and punishment therefore has great implications for his moral philosophy. Also see Locke's, “Reply to the Second Letter of the Bishop of Stillinglfleet” (pp. 209210)Google Scholar, where he explains the fourth edition's change of language introduced in IV.18.7. The new language was intended to make the point that all forms of knowledge of “the dead rising again” are unavailable to the unassisted human reason, not just the raising of “the bodies of men.” as Locke had it in the first three editions. Cf. Sigmund, , above, pp. 413–14Google Scholar.

13. See Waldron, , God, Locke, and Equality, p. 95n32Google Scholar.

14. The Workmanship argument is not entirely absent from Waldron's book, for he mentions it in passing (see, e.g., Waldron, , pp. 80–81.111–13, 162–64Google Scholar).

15. Locke, , Second Treatise, 54Google Scholar.

16. Also see Locke, , Essay Concerning Human UnderstandingGoogle Scholar, IV. 3.18.

17. Locke, , Essay Concerning Human Understanding, IV. 10.Google Scholar

18. Or perhaps it is more accurate to say Locke establishes God as the image of man? See Essay Concerning Human Understanding, IV. 10.5–6Google Scholar. Waldron takes up the general problem of the workmanship argument proving too much, and identifies this problem as the main reason for not putting much weight on it (Waldron, , God, Locke, and Equality, pp. 162–63Google Scholar). He does not follow up on the imago dei theme, however.

19. Waldron, , God, Locke, and Equality, p. 80Google Scholar.

20. Ibid., pp. 80–81. Also see pp. 111–13.

21. Ibid., p. 12.

22. Ibid., p. 215.

23. Ibid., p. 278.

24. Ibid., p. 105.

25. Locke, , Essay Concerning Human UnderstandingGoogle Scholar, II. 11.10.

26. Cf. Waldron, , God, Locke, and Equality, pp. 7677Google Scholar.

27. Zuckert, Michael, Natural Rights and the New Republicanism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1994), chap. 9Google Scholar.

28. Zuckert, Michael, Launching Liberalism (Lawrence, KA: University Press of Kansas, 2002)Google Scholar, Introduction.

4
Cited by

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. 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.

Locke—Religion—Equality
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 <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Dropbox.

Locke—Religion—Equality
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 <service> account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

Locke—Religion—Equality
Available formats
×
×

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *