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NATURAL MAN IN A STATE OF FREEDOM

It is noteworthy that Locke played a strong part in the "Glorious Revolution", the act that brought stability back to England through a mutual agreement between Parliament and the Crown concerning the extent of each others powers. The difference between his thought and that of Thomas Hobbes, lay in his vision of man in the state of nature. As you recall, Hobbes saw man in the state of nature as in a state of war one against another. Locke's vision was almost totally opposite.

To understand political power aright, and derive from its original, we must consider what state all men are naturally in, and that is a state of perfect freedom to order their actions and dispose of their possessions and persons as they think fit, within the bounds of the law of nature, without asking leave, or depending upon the will of any other man.

Compared with Aquinas' state of innocence, Locke saw man more like a free and independent individualist not naturally dependent on a need for socialization. But compared with Hobbes, Locke appears the optimist, while Hobbes a pessimist. However, if we examine the periods in which they lived we can easily understand their differences. Hobbes was a member of Queen Elizabeth's inner circle. She was a strong queen who understood the relationship between the Crown and Parliament. Thus, could keep a strong rein on Parliament without exerting excessive control. But he wrote Leviathan while in exile during the period of Cromwell, for whom the peace of England depended entirely on his control of the military. Locke, on the other hand was one of the architects of the "Glorious Revolution" which brought a sense of sanity back into English government through an open agreement between the Crown and Parliament

We can see this effort as showing that a rational sense of the importance of individual responsibility was uppermost on his mind as he detailed his idea of the state of nature.

A state also of equality, wherein all the power and jurisdiction is reciprocal, no one having more than another; there being nothing more evident than that creatures of the same species and rank, promiscuously born to all the same advantages of nature, and the use of the same faculties, should also be equal one amongst another without subordination or subjection, unless the Lord and master of them all should by any manifest declaration of His will set one above another, and confer on him by an evident and clear appointment an undoubted right to dominion and sovereignty.

Richard Hooker, often called "the Judicious Hooker," was a sixteenth century Anglican theologian who made a strong defence of the Elizabethan church structure. He also introduced the idea of reason as an important source of religious truth by his triumvirate of bible, church, and reason. Because in this quotation Locke took him a little out of context, the attitude shown here reflects Locke's approach more than Hookers.

This equality of men by nature the judicious Hooker looks upon as so evident in itself and beyond all question, that he makes it the foundation of that obligation to mutual love amongst men on which he builds the duties, they owe one another, and from whence he derives the great maxims of justice and charity. His words are:-

"The like natural inducement hath brought men to know that it is no less their duty to love others than themselves; for seeing those things which are equal must needs all have one measure, if I cannot but wish to receive good, even as much at every man's hands as any man can wish unto his own soul, how should I look to have any part of my desire herein satisfied, unless myself be careful to satisfy the like desire, which is undoubtedly in other men, we all being of one and the Same nature. To have anything offered them repugnant to this desire, must needs in all respects grieve them as much as me, so that if I do harm, I must look to suffer, there being no reason that others should show, greater measures of love to me than they have by me showed unto them. My desire, therefore, to be loved of my equals in nature as much as possible may be, imposeth upon me a natural duty of bearing to themward fully the like affection; from which relation of equality between ourselves and them that are as ourselves. What several roles and canons natural reason hath drawn for direction of life no man is ignorant."

You may recall That Aquinas set human reason right alongside Natural Law and Divine law as the three precepts for man living as a social creature. Living through human reason implies for both Aquinas and Locke a responsibility toward the world around them, toward other human beings and toward oneself. As Locke put it, "But though this be a state of liberty, yet it is not a state of license; though man in that state have an uncontrollable liberty to dispose of his person or possessions, yet he has not liberty to destroy himself, or so much as any creature in his possession." Of course, for Aquinas natural law was what every animal must obey in order for their own preservation. But Locke wants to see natural law in a different sense. He interpreted the idea in a fashion consistent with Galileo and Newton. For natural law, like the law of Gravity, compels obedience. But for man that compulsion is through a life of reason. As he put it, "The state of nature has a law of nature to govern it, which obliges every one; and reason, which is that law, teaches all mankind who will but consult it, that, being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty, or possessions." However, this natural law is a law of God and not of man, "For men being all the workmanship of one omnipotent and infinitely wise maker --all the servants of one sovereign master, sent into the world by His order, and about his business-- they are His property, whose workmanship they are, made to last during His, not one another's pleasure." Then, in a sharp blow against any kind of absolutism, he declared the equality of all men.

...and being furnished with like faculties, sharing all in one community of nature, there cannot be supposed any such subordination among us, that may authorize us to destroy one another, as if we were made for one another's uses, as the inferior ranks of creatures are for ours. every one, as he is bound to preserve himself, and not to quit his station wilfully, so, by the like reason, when own preservation comes not in competition, ought he, as much as he can, to preserve the rest of mankind, and not, unless it be to do justice on an offender take away or impair the life, or what tends to the preservation of the life, the liberty, health, limb, or goods of another.

European man, even back in the days of Charlemagne, has always been extremely jealous of his own independence. Whether a peasant or a knight in a ninth century manor, or a master craftsman in a fourteenth century guild, European man felt secure in his own individuality. Hobbes saw this as a problem, a source of inevitable tension leading to a state of constat war and a need for powerful leadership. The kind of leadership England experienced under Elizabeth. Aquinas saw it tempered by an inner need for a social life. John Locke's natural law is a constraint on individuality. But it is a rational constraint because as he saw it, reason will direct any sensible man that its requirements are necessary in order for a state of society to become stable.

Individuality aside, man must still live in society. But if this is to be a rational society, man's role in it must be validly derived from the power he held as an individual in a state of nature. From the above discussion we see that the law of nature, or as Locke would have it, the law of reason, compels man to behave in a responsible manner with his fellow men. The details of this interaction direct us to understand the limits of social control.

And that all men may be restrained from invading others' rights, and from doing hurt to one another, and the law of nature be observed, which willeth the peace and preservation of all mankind, the execution of the law of nature is in that state put into every man's hand, whereby every one has a right to punish the transgressors of that law to such a degree as may hinder its violation. For the law of nature would, as all other laws that concern men in this world, be in vain if there were nobody that, in the state of nature, had a power to execute that law, and thereby preserve the innocent and restrain offenders. And if any one in the state of nature may punish another for any evil he hath done, every one may do so. For in that state of perfect equality, where naturally there is no superiority or jurisdiction of one over another, what any may do in prosecution of that law, every one must needs have a right to do.

But because of the effect of the natural law of reason this will not result in the kind of constant warfare espoused by Hobbes because natural law prescribes its own limitations.

And thus in the state of nature one man comes by a power over another; but yet no absolute or arbitrary power, to use a criminal, when he has got him in his hands, according to the passionate beats or boundless extravagance of his own will; but only to retribute to him so far as calm reason and conscience dictate what is proportionate to his transgression, which is so much as may serve for reparation and restraint. For these two are the only reasons why one man may lawfully do harm to another, which is that we call punishment. In transgressing the law of nature, the offender declares himself to live by another rule than that of common reason and equity, which is that measure God has set to the actions of men, for their mutual security; and so he becomes dangerous to mankind, the tie which is to secure them from injury and violence being slighted and broken by him. Which, being a trespass against the whole species, and the peace and safety of it, provided for by the law of nature, every man upon this score, by the right he hath to preserve mankind in general, may restrain, or, where it is necessary, destroy things noxious to them, and so may bring such evil on any one who hath transgressed that law, as may make him repent the doing of it, and thereby deter him, and by his example others, from doing the like mischief. And in this case, and upon this ground, every man hath a right to punish the offender, and be executioner of the law of nature.

Since government is a social contract, an agreement entered into freely by all those who desire to live within its jurisdiction, it can only be derived from the powers owned by the individual prior to entering into the contract. Therefore government is inexorably bound to the same natural law that binds the individual. And it only applies to those who have freely accepted, by their free choice of living within it, the terms of the contract. The contract, then does not extend beyond the jurisdiction of that particular government.

I doubt not but this will seem a very strange doctrine to some men: but before they condemn it, I desire them to resolve me by what right any prince or State can put to death or punish an alien, for any crime he commits in their country. 'Tis certain their laws, by virtue of any sanction they receive from the promulgated will of the legislature, reach not a stranger: they speak not to him, nor, if they did, is he bound to harken to them.

Since the justification for government in Locke's sense is derived from a state of nature where everyman is free yet constrained by a common law of nature, a law described as reason, its power will of necessity be limited by that same law of nature. The only two powers that the individual has over others in a state of nature are first; the power of punishing another who has injured the individual, though only to the extent that it tends to discourage further transgressions by that individual or others. And second, the power of seeking reparation for the harm done by another. Therefore, the only powers that a government may have are those that can be derived from these.

From these two distinct rights -the one of punishing the crime. For restraint and preventing the like offense, which right of punishing is in everybody; the other of taking reparation, which belongs only to the injured party comes it to pass that the magistrate, who by being magistrate hath the common right of punishing put into his hands, can often, where the public good demands not the execution of the law, remit the punishment of criminal offenses by his civil authority, but yet cannot remit the satisfaction due to any private man for the damage he has received. That he who has suffered the damage has a right to demand in his own name, and he alone can remit. The damnified person has the power of appropriating to himself the goods or service of the offender, by- right of self- preservation, as every man has a power to punish the crime, to prevent its being committed again, by the right he has of preserving all mankind, and doing all reasonable things he can in order to that end. And thus it is that every man in the state of nature has a power to kill a murderer both to deter others from doing the like injury, which no reparation can compensate, by the example of the punishment that attends it from everybody, and also to secure men from the attempts of a criminal who having renounced reason, the common rule and measure God hath given to mankind, hath by the unjust violence and slaughter he hath committed upon one, declared war against all mankind, and therefore may be destroyed as a lion or a tiger, one of those wild savage beasts with whom men can have no society nor security. And upon this is grounded that great law of nature. "Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by mall shall his blood be shed." And Cain was so fully convinced that every one had a right to destroy such a criminal, that after the murder of his brother he cries out, "Every one that findeth me shall slay me;" so plain was it writ in the hearts of mankind.

The limits of government then are derived from two directions. first from the rights of man in the state of nature. Since it is man who must create government, he can bestow on it nothing he did not possess prior to the creation. Second, through the natural law, which for Locke meant laws dictated by reason.