John Locke, a liberal thinker and near-contemporary of the conservative Hobbes, disputes Hobbes's thinking in some keys ways and builds on it in others. Locke starts his political theory with a notion of individuals in the state of nature being free, equal and reasonable; the state of nature is not synonymous with the state of war for Locke as it is for Hobbes. Locke argues that states should protect the property of individuals and must govern with the consent of subjects. Unlike Hobbes's strong, unitary sovereign, Locke envisions a separation of the powers of the state into executive, legislative, and federative powers. We examine how Locke's political and social thought assumes an abundance of resources while Hobbes's thought is predicated on an assumption of scarcity.
Locke, Second Treatise of Government
- Chapter 1-5, pp. 267-302
- Chapter 7-13, pp. 318-374
This course provides an overview of major works of social thought from the beginning of the modern era through the 1920s. Attention is paid to social and intellectual contexts, conceptual frameworks and methods, and contributions to contemporary social analysis. Writers include Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Montesquieu, Adam Smith, Marx, Weber, and Durkheim.
This Yale College course, taught on campus twice per week for 50 minutes, was recorded for Open Yale Courses in Fall 2009.