Talk:John Locke

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Former good article nominee John Locke was a good articles nominee, but did not meet the good article criteria at the time. There are suggestions below for improving the article. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
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Edit request on 19 April 2013[edit]

Alliewashere05 (talk) 15:26, 19 April 2013 (UTC) he was born in sumerset

The article already says this. Is there something specific you want changed? —KuyaBriBriTalk 16:45, 19 April 2013 (UTC)

Political Hebraism[edit]

The section on "Religious Beliefs" needs revision to take account of current scholarship relating to the influence of not just Biblical but also Rabbinic and later Jewish thought on John Locke. In this Locke reflected the wider Protestant "return to the sources" that swept many European countries from the late 16th through to the 18th centuries, seeking new models in the Scriptures to replace the overthrown Catholic ones. During the 17th century in particular, literally hundreds of works on the Continent and in England were published by Protestant thinkers drawing particularly upon Hebrew Scripture and the newly available Talmudic and later Jewish writings to formulate their own divinely guided commonwealths; many of these works had the terms "the Hebrew Republic" in their title or sub-title. As Eric Nelson puts it in the "Introduction" to his The Hebrew Republic: Jewish Sources and The Transformation of European Political Thought (Harvard University Press, 2010), p. 3, they "began to regard the Hebrew Bible as a political constitution designed by God himself for the children of Israel ... (and) the writings of later Rabbinic materials as authoritative guides to the institutions and practices of this perfect republic." Political Hebraism, as it has been called, framed political discourse for generations, especially in The Netherlands and Britain, and through the latter, in the American colonies, where it significantly shaped the ideological and political formation of the United States itself. Parliamentary democracy itself, it turns out, had its roots in Biblical religion and politics, as construed in the 17th century. This applies also to the justifications offered then for religious tolerance as such. On this subject, religious tolerance, the article here on Locke is particularly misleading. The justification for it, Nelson argues in his Chapter 3 ("Hebrew Theocracy and the Rise of Toleration") does not arise historically from the call to separate church and state, but rather through the call for the Erastian unification of church and state under civil authority, as argued for by thinkers of this period on the basis of Biblical precedents. John Locke's own formulations reflect that background, despite his modified application of it. The article associates tolerance with the "natural law" theories of Grotius, Pufendorf, Selden, Milton and others. As the article suggests, "natural law" for these thinkers did not mean what it did for anti-religious thinkers, that basic norms arose simply out of reason and from nature as such, but rather signified what God had commanded as basic norms for all humanity, from their creation onwards, in accordance with ethical monotheism. These divinely revealed norms originated, according to Grotius, Pufendorf, Selden, Milton and Locke, from the Biblical covenants entered into first by Adam and Eve, then with some elaboration by Noah (see Grotius, The Rights of War and Peace [2005 ed.], vol. 1, Book 1, pp. 58-9, 68, and Genesis 9 itself which as explicated by the Rabbis required elementary acknowledgement of God and basic laws of justice and mercy, regardless of cultural diversities), and from the laws in the Mosaic books relating to "resident aliens" (which themselves reflected the Noahite Covenant idea): resident aliens could retain their own views and were not forced to become Jews in the Jewish polity, but were treated entirely equally in civil law matters. (Indeed, Jews were commanded in Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy to love them as themselves.) Adherence to the Noahite Covenant according to the Biblical and Rabbinic tradition was sufficient to assure salvation, no matter what one's nominal religion (even including the polytheism of Nineveh, as we see in the Book of Jonah). Therefore it was unnecessary to enforce a single religious outlook in society. So the reference to Biblical texts drawn upon by Locke should certainly include Genesis 9, relating to the Noahite Covenant, and such passages dealing with the equal and even expressly loving treatment of non-Jews resident in the land as Exod. 12:49, Lev. 17:8-10, 19:33-34, 24:22; Num. 9:14, 15:14-16; Deut. 10:18-19, etc. Locke pointed to these teachings concerning "resident aliens" as the legitimation for his theory of tolerance of religious diversity within the state. See, in addition to the excellent overview by Eric Nelson (with footnote and bibliographic references to the wider literature on the Biblical influence on John Locke), the discussion by Fania Oz-Salzberger, "The Political Thought of John Locke and the Significance of Political Hebraism: Then and Now," in Political Hebraism: Judaic Sources in Early Modern Political Thought, eds. Gordon Schochet, Fania Oz-Salzberger, and Meirav Jones (Shalem Press, 2008), pp. 231-256.122.107.228.214 (talk) 10:54, 6 May 2013 (UTC)

The term "political Hebraism" hasn't caught on outside of the circle that published in the short-lived Hebraic Political Thought. Was Locke familiar with the Hebrew Bible? Yes. Does this link him with those who looked to Rabbinic thought in an effort to recover the Bible from Catholic interpretations? No. Should we mention that (some scholars) think that the ancient Israelite polity had religious toleration in the context of Locke's advocacy of religious toleration when he does not draw any such connection? No, per the rule against ascribing undue weight to idiosyncratic research. RJC TalkContribs 15:28, 9 May 2013 (UTC)
There is nothing passe about the terms "Political Hebraism," contrary to the claim just above. Nor is the research "idiosyncratic": consult the footnotes to the cited article by Oz-Salzberger, or the very lengthy bibliography to Nelson's book (itself published by Harvard UP), cited above. Scholars involved publish works in leading academic journals and their books are issued by the most respectable university presses, including Harvard, Oxford, Yale and Cambridge, etc., while they themselves have positions at leading universities around the world. The attempt to discredit their scholarship is itself discreditable and unacceptable, and shows prejudice. Nor is it true that it is incontrovertible that there were no Rabbinic influences on Locke's thought: Locke, like others of his generation, was familiar with the writings of John Selden, the chief 17th century political thinker who influenced the shaping of the British parliamentary system under Cromwell, but Selden's works were presented by him himself frankly as a commentary on and explication of Rabbinic literature dealing with social and political issues, including the Noahite Covenant already mentioned, laws relating to "resident aliens," and much else besides: see Jason P. Rosenblatt, Renaissance England's Chief Rabbi John Selden (Oxford UP, 2006). Quite obviously, the editor just above has not read any of the works cited (and, from the tenor of the remarks, has no intention to do so, no matter how scholarly the documentation).122.107.228.214 (talk) 01:13, 22 May 2013 (UTC)
I think I assumed greater familiarity with WP's policies and guidelines when I wrote that. Sorry. The standard for inclusion of a point of view is not that some respectable scholars hold it. Instead, we try to present what the scholarly consensus is. When there is no such consensus, we try to maintain a neutral point of view. We do not present all views equally, however, and some views are to be excluded entirely. WP:UNDUE is a different policy from WP:FRINGE, and in suggesting that it would be awarding undue weight to the views of those who suggest that there is a thing called "political hebraism" to include those views in the article, I didn't mean to say only no-name hermits work on the idea. The number of scholars who speak of political hebraism is rather small. RJC TalkContribs 02:39, 22 May 2013 (UTC)
There is nothing wrong with my grasp of WP policies. That is a red herring. As is the claim of undue weight being given to a view that in fact is excluded entirely despite the considerable scholarly literature about it. The views regarding Hebraic and even Rabbinic influences on Locke's thought should be mentioned, at least, since highly reputable scholars have developed the case for this: this is not "undue weight," but reflects precisely the "neutrality" and NPOV that is invoked here. That NPOV actually requires fair expression of these views as part of respectable scholarship on Locke. As for the "mainstream" view, it is hard to find, since there is currently quite a considerable range of scholarly opinion about the role of religious sources on Locke's thought, with some like Leo Strauss arguing that he was a secret secularist, while others, probably now the mainstream in fact, accepting that he was not a secularist but sincerely argued from Protestant premises (e.g., John Dunn, Jeremy Waldron, Kim Ian Parker, etc.). Another red herring is making the terminology of "political Hebraism" itself the chief issue. The number of scholars using the terminology in any case is not small, RJC, that is incorrect. It is found now in the text, and even the title or sub-titles, of many books and scholarly articles. In terms of this article, however, the subject remains the actual sources Locke relied on, a matter of fact not opinion nor terminology. Therefore it is in place to note in the article that Locke read John Seldon, Thomas Hobbes and others who discussed at great length not just the Hebrew Scriptural sources but also Rabbinic traditions about them relating to society and politics, and he was definitely influenced by these readings.122.107.228.214 (talk) 08:00, 22 May 2013 (UTC)
Paul Sigmund's Norton Critical Edition on Locke, which includes a variety perspectives, has nothing on the rabbinic influence on Locke. It does include the other viewpoints you mention. This is because of the level of support that those viewpoints enjoy beyond the circle of researchers advancing them. This is not a matter of which press published the book supporting the research or what university the author teaches at, but the impact that research has had. RJC TalkContribs 11:56, 22 May 2013 (UTC)
Locke was influenced by Selden, Hobbes, Grotius, possibly John Milton, and others who themselves referred to Rabbinic sources to buttress their ideas. Not everyone drawing from Biblical and Rabbinic sources had direct knowledge of them in their original Hebrew and Aramaic, even though Hebrew itself was taught fairly widely at that time, but in any case they relied in their writings on those who had direct access to the sources, most especially on John Selden and Hugo Grotius. Both of these authorities filled their voluminous writings with citations, and in Selden's case in particular, extended quotations page up, page down, of the original Aramaic and Hebrew, from the Talmud and the later Rabbinic commentators and thinkers, such as Rashi, Maimonides, Abravanel, and many others. This is not a matter of later scholarly debate: it is a fact on the face of it, known to anyone who reads their books. Moreover, this citation was central to their argumentation and thinking, not peripheral but crucial. This naturally means that anyone influenced by Selden and Grotius, etc., was ipso facto influenced by Rabbinic thinking and thinkers. Both Grotius and Selden were major influences on political thinking in their own and subsequent generations, and in particular had enormous influence on Locke's thought. Sigmund himself acknowledges the importance of these thinkers for Locke's thought in the Critical Edition RJC cites. Sigmund's book came out in 2005 and reflects work before that date. Most of the works I have cited above have been published since then. Sigmund, should he issue a second edition, would certainly mention them as illuminating the background to Locke's use of Selden, Grotius, Hobbes, etc., since the fact of the Rabbinic sources cited in their works is not a matter for debate at all. Case closed. But, one may ask, how can it be, if the Hebrew and Aramaic sources are crucial to their thought, and are manifestly quoted at length on page after page in Seldon, Grotius, et al, that this Rabbinic strand in their thought and influence on later political thought has not been remarked on more widely before the past decade (although it turns out that there have been plenty of scholars in past decades who have discussed it)? We need not wonder at this preference to ignore this as an irrelevancy and marginal idiosyncracy. It is evident on this page, after all. 122.107.228.214 (talk) 11:33, 23 May 2013 (UTC)
It seems that you have proven that what you consider to be the correct answer does not enjoy the support of the scholarly community. It is the support that is important, not whether that the lack of that support is semi-literate. RJC TalkContribs 11:55, 24 May 2013 (UTC)
In your dreams, RJC. I have not "proven" that at all. Read what I actually wrote, giving plenty of evidence of recent scholarship of the highest standard, and pointing out that it is based, as for example the voluminous bibliographic and footnote apparatus of Nelson's book shows, on scholarship of past decades too. It seems that your tendency not to read what was written extends beyond me to those works, too. Let me underline this, since evidently it needs to be spelled out again, and perhaps it was not sufficiently clarified in my earlier remarks: the evidence of Hebraic learning and citation as being of central importance within mainstream Protestant and even to a much lesser degree Catholic thought (e.g., Jean Bodin, Jacques-Benigne Bossuet, Pierre Bayle) from the 16th through to the 18th centuries is now very well established and recognized by historians specializing in that period. There is nothing novel or "idiosyncratic" about stating this. What is novel about the recent rediscovery of "political Hebraism" as a central thread in Protestant political thought is that the role of Rabbinic thought. already cited and presented in the original sources, is now also frankly recognized, as part of a wider recovery of religious liberal thought that had been obscured and effectively written out of existence by the subsequent dominance of militantly anti-religious forms of secular modernity from the late 18th to the late 20th centuries. Thus it became usual to bypass as irrelevant the second half of Hobbes' Leviathan and Locke's Second Treatise because both were filled with Biblical discussion of precedents, citations (and Rabbinic derived interpretations as well). Many students of philosophy did not even know of these sections of Hobbes' and Locke's work, as a result, and the similar references in American political writing up to and after the establishment of the United States were also ignored. The hundred or more Christian books and pamphlets exploring new ways of structuring a godly commonwealth during the 16th and 17th centuries which had as their title or sub-title "The Hebrew Republic" effectively disappeared from view as if they never were. We may call it the post-facto triumph of the French Revolution, Voltaire and Rousseau over the English and American Revolutions and Selden, Milton, Harrington and Locke, not to mention those influenced by them in America. It led to a thorough rewriting of the history of Western thought and the understanding of democracy and modernity itself. That is now being brought into question, quite properly.
Tell you what, since you are so allergic to any suggestion of Rabbinic influence (and that will inevitably come in later versions of this article anyway), maybe for now you can simply add a brief reference in Section 3 of the article on "Religious Beliefs" to Fania Oz-Salzberger's article on the Hebraic elements in Locke's thought, along with a further reference to Nelson's treatment of the Hebraic roots Locke tried to demonstrate for his conception of tolerance, explicitly and forthrightly modelling it on the Hebrew Commonwealth treatment of "resident aliens," in fact, in his 1689 Letter Concerning Toleration (Nelson, op.cit., p. 135, quoting extensively from the Ian Shapiro 2003 edition of Locke's Two Treatises of Government and A letter Concerning Toleration, p. 240 et passim). Reading through this exchange again, I see that RJC states in his first response that there is no evidence that John Locke relied on Biblical precedents for his views concerning tolerance in the state (and therefore it is "Undue weight" to ascribe such influence to him). This is simply incorrect. See Nelson's evidence, just mentioned above. The "Old Testament" references and justifications are explicit in the text (and reflect, in fact, Rabbinic explications of the Hebrew Scriptures, which Locke derived from Selden and Grotius amongst others). So, contrary to RJC, it is simply not true that "Undue Weight" is bestowed upon the subject when one mentions that Locke used Hebraic sources to arrive at his liberal views on tolerance. Locke emphasized these sources, in fact. Go back to the Letter, RJC, and please read it again. 122.107.228.214 (talk) 12:10, 24 May 2013 (UTC)
RJC seems to read very slowly, or has not gotten access to the relevant sources, so I will supply here the cited passage from Nelson, op.cit., p. 135: "To see this [i.e., the central and positive importance of the Israelite example for later liberal political thought, contrary to Spinoza's more anti-Biblical path], one need only look for a moment at the figure of John Locke. In his Letter Concerning Toleration (1689), Locke follows his Hebraic Erastian predecessors in analyzing the religious law of the 'commonwealth of Israel.' Like Grotius and Selden (as well as the Arminian Simon Episcopius, whose works he read quite carefully), he stresses that the Hebrew republic practiced broad toleration, welcoming residents who did not obey the Mosaic law -- and even tolerating idolatry outside its borders:
"'Amongst so many captives taken, so many nations reduced under their obedience, we find not one man forced into the Jewish religion and the worship of the true God and punished for idolatry, though all of them were certainly guilty of it. If any one, indeed, becoming a proselyte, desired to be made a denizen of their commonwealth, he was obliged to submit to their laws; that is, to embrace their religion. But this he did willingly, on his own accord, not by constraint. He did not unwillingly submit, to show his obedience, but he sought and solicited for it as a privilege. And, as soon as he was admitted, he became subject to the laws of the commonwealth, by which all idolatry was forbidden within the borders of the land of Canaan. But that law (as I have said) did not reach to any of those regions, however subjected unto the Jews, that were situated without those bounds.'" [The footnote cites Locke's Letter Concerning toleration as presented in the Shapiro edition of 2003, p. 240.]
Nelson goes on to show how according to Locke these principles should influence contemporary political thinking, and discusses other aspects of Locke's Letter Concerning Toleration from this perspective. So it is manifestly the case, contrary to assertions above, that these Biblical precedents regarding resident aliens were indeed explicitly cited as crucial justifications for and influences on Locke's conceptions of tolerance and political theory. It is not to ascribe "undue weight" to this to cite Locke's own emphasis on it in his Letter Concerning Toleration.122.107.228.214 (talk) 05:33, 27 May 2013 (UTC)

/outdent/ Is that a quotation from Nelson, The Hebrew republic: Jewish sources and the transformation of European political thought? Google Scholar shows 33 citations to that book. The issue, again, is not the existence of reputable scholars who hold a given view. It is the impact those scholars have upon the field. RJC TalkContribs 03:37, 28 May 2013 (UTC)

Again you skirt the issue, RJC: the point is that Locke himself cited the Biblical precedent of the laws regarding "resident aliens" to justify and ground in Scripture his own argument for toleration in religion. I showed this with a quote from Locke himself as given in Nelson's book (I made that clear, so it is not my own "original research" but already an acknowledged scholarly datum). Locke of course drew his view of the Biblical texts from his reading of Selden and Grotius, amongst others, who in turn based themselves on Rabbinic commentaries. Thus Locke's indebtedness to Rabbinic sources is demonstrated, which you had denied. But we will let that go for now, as I wrote above. However, beyond that, you had claimed: "Should we mention that (some scholars) think that the ancient Israelite polity had religious toleration in the context of Locke's advocacy of religious toleration when he does not draw any such connection? No, per the rule against ascribing undue weight to idiosyncratic research." This is now demonstrated to have been false. Locke did draw the connection himself, and thus the claim of "ascribing undue weight to idiosyncratic research" is also unfounded. It is not a matter of what Nelson says. It is a matter of what Locke says, as Nelson rightly pointed out. It is a matter of fact, really not a matter of debate at all (or should not be, to any unbiased reader).122.107.228.214 (talk) 08:04, 28 May 2013 (UTC)

Locke is the founder of Liberalism. Not "Classical Liberalism"[edit]

Please remove the word classical.

Classical Liberalism came a hundred years later and is a corporate sellout of Liberalism.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Classical_liberalism

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberalism

Locke was the creator of Liberalism, not classical Liberalism, and I guess the ill begotten corporatism sellouts like to "claim" Locke as their father. But clearly Classical liberalism is NOT Locke liberalism. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 70.103.109.147 (talk) 01:19, 21 September 2013 (UTC)

Typical[edit]

John Locke's attitude towards African slaves and the robbery of American Indian land was typical of the time. It was the fashion at the time and place to quote Biblical verses. Royalists did this, also. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 86.181.10.231 (talk) 12:13, 6 January 2014 (UTC)

Naming Error[edit]

In the section "The philosopher and novelist Rebecca Newberger Goldstein argues that during his five years in Holland, Lock chose his friends" the name Locke is incorrectly spelled Lock. Please correct. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 84.82.177.149 (talk) 08:34, 28 January 2014 (UTC)

Thank you - now corrected. TFD (talk) 08:49, 28 January 2014 (UTC)

Semi-protected edit request on 20 April 2014[edit]

New Source In Pears Cyclopaedia 1989-1990, Ninety-eighth Edition, Category B-38 KrisCoyle (talk) 16:50, 20 April 2014 (UTC)

Are you adding this source to an existing statement in the article? if so, which statement? Cannolis (talk) 20:17, 20 April 2014 (UTC)
Red question icon with gradient background.svg Not done: it's not clear what changes you want made. Please mention the specific changes in a "change X to Y" format. — {{U|Technical 13}} (tec) 13:50, 27 April 2014 (UTC)